RUNNING OUT OF SLEEP.
Find a boy, get married, have a baby and live happily ever after.....
That’s what I thought would happen, but nowhere in this charming little tale was I pre-warned about the very real possibility of losing my fucking mind as well as my pelvic floor muscles.
Things were going well, pregnancy was a doddle, the birth - not so much and looking back I think that’s where the cracks in my mental health started to show. I couldn’t talk or even think about ‘my birth story’ without sobbing uncontrollably, a forceps birth with no pain relief apart from the injection before the barbaric slice of my never regions will do that to even the strongest of women. Add to that the midwife not believing you were in active labour because it was happening abnormally fast, which resulted in me nearly popping my bubba out on the waiting room floor.
Don’t worry thought, she did start believing me when she saw the head making its way out of my distressed vagina.
Let’s fast forward a smidge.
Home again, back in my old home with my new life, all this new responsibility. Colic, sleepless nights, shitty nappies, a baby screaming and more sleepless nights, it sent me into a tailspin.
I felt ridiculously unprepared and totally out of my depth, I didn’t know what I was doing or how to get the baby to just stop crying. I wasn’t washing as I should or even wearing my own clothes, I just picked up the nearest thing I found (usually my husband’s clothes that he had left on the floor) my hair was predominantly dry shampoo and I never seemed to find time to feed myself. Things weren’t looking good for me, my daughter was my main focus and I didn’t even think to care for myself as long as she was catered for. This obviously doesn’t work and isn’t the best route for anybody concerned.
But most of all I was lonely, I felt isolated and trapped within my own life. I love my daughter but getting used to being a parent is incredibly hard, and so tiring. The doctor said I was suffering from post-natal depression and offered me some pills. I said I was suffering from sleep deprivation and did he know that it is in fact a form of torture? Lack of sleep can cause depression, increase stress, headaches, irritability and confusion and can also develop false memories. This is all pretty scary stuff, all I needed was a bloody good nap and thanks to my sister I finally got one. A motherhood lesson I did learn the hard way was that if you need help ask for it, and if people are offering it, take it. Don’t be proud or ashamed, the old saying is true, it takes a whole village to raise a child.
But you find ways of coping; build routines to get not just the baby through the day but also surviving it yourself. One routine from my former life I was keen to get back into again was getting my post-preggo arse to the gym.
And that’s what I did, I started slow and tried different things from weights to body pump to yoga and finally settled on good old trusty running. I ran through my youth and the simplicity of it appealed to me, no equipment to figure out, nobody else’s standards to compete with, just me and my thoughts and the open road.
Running, it became my ‘ME’ time, the part of the day I knew I could do my own thing and not have to tend to somebody else’s needs before my own. It was the part of the day where I could get my thoughts in order; I became addicted to the time out before I did the actual running. But that was soon to follow.
I signed up to take part in my first marathon, which definitely got me running!
Before long I started to crave the run, I just felt better within myself afterwards. I had the chance to put the day into perspective instead of letting my mind go AWOL, over thinking every little thing that I had ‘done wrong’ concerning my little girl in the last 24 hours. And as an added bonus, low and behold, I got my body back (ok, maybe not in the boob department but you can’t have everything).
Two and a half years later and because of running I’m a much happier, healthier person. I completed that marathon and several half’s along the way with some 10k’s thrown in too. But more importantly, I’m sane, I wash now and I eat! I’ve got the running bug and hope to pass it on to Florence when she’s older. I want to be a positive role model for her and show her that running is more than just trying to look like the girls in the magazines, it’s much more than that, it’s about being strong, both mentally and physically.
Because as I now know, it takes a very special kind of mental strength to force your body to run 26.2 miles!