Many women are frustrated when their plan for their life, or maybe just their day, is interrupted. Whether it be the big disruptions of death, job loss, divorce…. or the little interruptions from the demands of infants, a leaky dishwasher, or a nasty headache, learning how to turn these obstacles into opportunities is the topic of my “interruption story” below. ~Carrie Skarda
As a dedicated amateur runner over the last 19 years my motto has been “I don’t go far, and I don’t go fast, but I go 5 times a week.” I’ve been accused, even by hardcore marathoners, of being insane regarding the lengths I’ve gone to in maintaining my five a week habit. Sickness is ignored. Hotels are chosen by treadmill accessibility. Bedtimes are put off to wee hours in order to get a run in on an otherwise packed day. My husband knows to preface family scheduling discussions with the question “how many times have you been running this week?” Running is more than a workout, it’s my respite, my therapy, and my absolute addiction. There have been hurdles to work around, but nothing blocked my running path, until I hit a surprising bump in the road. The baby bump.
When I saw that little line on that little stick, I firmly expected to keep running until the delivery. We’ve all heard the benefits of ongoing exercise during pregnancy, including an easier labor, faster recovery, and quicker weight loss afterwards. So I crawled out of bed and into my running shoes despite the bone wearying fatigue and the completely debilitating nauseas. Ultimately, however, my running nemesis, sciatica, sent crippling nerve pain down my hip and leg that was so excruciating it forced me to use my grandmother’s walker just to stand up. I admitted that daily runs were aggravating the condition, and had to be put on pause. “Admitted” sounds too genteel. I screamed and cried in frustrated protest, throwing tantrum fits that even the most sleep deprived two year old would have admired.
Being forced to let go of my cherished, if admittedly rigid, exercise routine stretched me in uncomfortable ways. Increased flexibility is only one of the valuable take-aways I’ve come to appreciate from that interruption to my running habit. Practically speaking, I’ve learned not to snub walking, swimming, and yoga. I’ve also learned that sacrifices on behalf of another, when made with the right attitude, cultivate love and increase gratitude. I’ve learned there really is a season for all things, and I don’t have to have all things this season. I’ve learned that slowing down, getting off the treadmill (literally or otherwise), and relaxing into the flow of the moment has it’s place. I’ve come to recognize a certain type of beauty in imperfection, and my ability to remain hopefully calm in the midst of messiness has gradually increased. These seedling lessons on personal empowerment amidst a seeming loss of control were planted during pregnancy with the “loss” of my running. Flexibility, selflessness, love, gratitude, mindfulness, and the ability to see beauty and remain at peace, even in the midst of chaos, were exactly the parenting attributes I needed training in to prepare me for the real workout, the days and years of motherhood after the birth-day.
I will never be one of those women who sings joyful praises regarding the “glowing” experience of pregnancy. Pregnancy was a tough interruption to my (admittedly limited plan) of a perfectly controlled, pain-free life. And I’m not going to sugar coat it, the seismic shifts that have come from becoming a parent have not just jostled my workout routine, but me. And you know what? I couldn’t be more glad!