written by Kerry Maher Shaffer
From the moment you find out you are pregnant and you make your first doctors appointment, to the hours after birth there is always someone holding your hand. They make sure you and baby are healthy and walk you through getting your baby into the world. Then, the second you walk out of the hospital (depending on where you live & your choice of care givers) you are alone. Just you, and if you’re lucky your partner, walking into a quiet house thinking “now what?”, as you stare at this tiny human with so much love that it hurts.
I am almost 4 months postpartum. If you look at the photo above you will likely notice an extra chin, an ill-fitting sports bra, a soft belly and dark circles under the eyes, and a smile. Would you believe me if I said this is an improvement from the last couple months?
The smile in this photo has a story. It grew out of late-night feedings, a baby who wouldn’t stop screaming, a condition called DMERS that makes pumping a literal nightmare, a husband who is away a lot for work, trying to keep up the house, and trying to take care of and feed myself.
It came after finding out that our baby wasn’t getting enough food, after having to change our breastfeeding plan so she would start growing, after building our “village”, after learning to trust our baby to tell us when she needed something - and ultimately stepping past the fear of “what if”.
Fear. Yup, fear. I felt like a shell of the strong fit high performing athlete I once was and had no idea how I was even going to have time, let alone energy, to get in the saddle again. But I did. It took overcoming the fear of not completing a workout because the baby woke from a nap, or the fear of only being capable of slow and steady because my body was still recovering from labor, delivery, and lack of sleep. I still struggle with some anxiety when I get into a workout and worrying about the baby waking before I finish - but I am slowly realizing that my once seemingly selfish goals are shifting. They involve this little girl: our sweet, beautiful, and strong little girl.
My goals are not just about me being my best, or standing on a podium. They are about teaching my daughter about perseverance, overcoming adversity, facing challenges head on, and adapting to them. It’s about teaching her how to compete and win with grace and humility. And right now, if she wakes up from a nap and I have to pause a workout to trudge in my cycling shoes up the wood staircase, wrap her in a dry towel (so I don’t soak her in sweat), and put her in her bouncy chair next to me so we can finish the workout together, so be it. Because although I am a new mom, I have big goals, and the journey just got a whole lot more exciting.