Day 19/30: Motivation
Have you ever heard the comparison between natural childbirth and running a marathon? The midwives gave all of us Mamas-to-be this handout on Monday that goes through the many similarities and subtle differences between running a marathon and experiencing natural childbirth. A quick search of the internets confirms that as clever as my midwives might be, they weren't the first to draw this conclusion.
Check it out:
- Midwife uses marathon running principles to coach women through childbirth | WLKY.com
- Natural Childbirth vs. Marathon Running | Teach mom Run
- So you want a natural childbirth? It's a lot like running a marathon | Clinical Advisor
- 5 Ways Natural Childbirth is Like Running a Marathon. And 5 Ways It’s Not. | Motherhood Miscellany
- Preparing For Birth Is Like Preparing For A Marathon | Fitabulous Moms
So, what exactly makes the two things similar? Well, the major factors that need to be trained for in both situations are endurance and mental focus. The midwives keep talking about how much physical stamina we'll need to get through what could potentially be a long, hard labor. In prenatal yoga, our instructor is constantly putting us through exercises that are meant to help us learn how to focus past pain and discomfort.
Look at this girl, glowing with athleticism, her feet pounding the pavement, every step bringing her closer to her goal. This lady is an icon of determination. This lady is a phenom. This lady IS NOT ME. This is my sister, Heather, running the Austin Marathon.
My sister, Heather, is a marathon runner, and I've heard her talk about both of these factors in spades. She runs on a strict schedule, training her body and her mind to take on a 26.2 mile run than generally lasts in the neighborhood of five hours. When was the last time you tried to do anything for five hours straight, let alone something so demanding on your body?
Then there's me. I get bored during a two hour movie, and "strict" is the last word I would dream of using to describe my own workout schedule. I wasn't super concerned until now. I guess I just sort of figured if I took decent care of myself and didn't go CRAZY with food, I'd be good. But then Tuesday night, the day after I read all about marathon comparisons, I went through an especially difficult exercise at Prenatal yoga, and everything changed.
Our instructor asked us to kneel down, sit up very straight, raise our arms to shoulder height, then bend our elbows to touch our hands over the tops of our heads, all while flexing our middle fingers in and out, and breathing quick, shallow breaths. In. Out. In. Out. In. Out. The pace was rapid, and it wasn't long before I ran out steam. In fact, my arms were ready to rip off of my shoulders, but the group just kept going, faster and faster. In. Out. In. Out. In. Out. I finally dropped my arms, rubbing them protectively against the aching pain and discomfort. I tried going at it again after that, but I was burned out, plain and simple.
When she finally called a stop to the torture she smiled, and asked "So how did that feel?"
She just waited patiently for someone to respond as we all sat staring awkwardly at one another. Finally, one of the bolder mamas admitted "That was kind of awful."
It was a relief to know that I wasn't the only one struggling through that manouver, but it was also really shocking to find out that the entire thing had only lasted two minutes. She explained to us, gently but gravely, that we needed to prepare ourselves for getting through much worse, for much longer. Childbirth would make that little exercise feel like a walk in the park.
That's when I had my "oh shit" moment. I have to admit that this revelation really freaked me out. I'm a wimp! A pansy! A weak muscled fatty who runs out of breath climbing the stairs. In other words, boy, am I in trouble.
So the very next evening, after I finished work at 8:00 pm, I threw on some sweat pants and I drove my sorry ass to the gym. I have just about twenty two weeks to get myself in shape. The last thing I want is to have to be driven to the hospital and shell out an extra (insert ungodly amount of money here) to give birth there because I was just too out of shape to keep up with a natural birth.
Medical emergencies, breech babies, and unforseen complications are one thing. If I have to leave the birthing center for one of those reasons, so be it. But I don't want to end up there because I was too lazy to build up stamina or too weak to give up junk food. From now on, I am determined to get myself into the best possible shape for this birth I can. Dammit.
P.S. This post is part of my 30 Days With a Grateful Heart series. You can see my other posts in this series on Mary Makes Dinner, Mary Makes Pretty, and here on Mary Makes Babies. Check out Bless Her Heart to find other bloggers participating in this series.