• June 16, 2024

The Postpartum Run – A Inspirational Short Story by Radhika Nair – Reedsy Prompts

February 20th, 2020

On the day of the C-section, a part of me was scared and dreading what was to come next. My whole body had become alien at this point, things stretched to a point that I feared I would not be whole again. But today was the day I would be free.

Year Before – June 1st, 2019

“I am almost done, coming home” I texted my husband, “just one more mile to finish my 8 miles for today” I was proud. The next day brought me a surprise, I was expecting. One part of me was happy and the other part preparing for a long mental marathon.

August 15th – 2019

“She needs to be on bed rest, starting 12 weeks, she needs injections every day, one more every week..…” the nurse gives instructions, her voice slowly fading. I knew all this, but here I was faced with it, with the moment. Let alone run I might just walk a few times a day, maybe not even that. This too shall pass I thought, but I had not anticipated the impact.

Day one was excruciatingly slow, the clock seemed to stop. The first shot was still hurting today. At least I had a view – kids coming home, people walking by, and someone running, seems a good pace, could be 10 minutes per mile I guess.

My brain was a fog, as much as I tried I could not move away from the fact that I was lying there. I felt parts of me wither away during that time.

Nov 15th 2019

”This is the best we can do, we all knew the risks, from the beginning”, I was having contractions at 24 weeks. She was coming!! She was not ready!! I was not ready!!

I was put on more extreme bed rest, and no walking except for bathroom breaks, I was on the verge of going to the hospital. Outside a mess, inside a storm, my stress was not helping. I put on my running music playlist. My body, so conditioned to breathing with the beat, slowly calmed down.

After a horrifying night of contractions, 4 AM brought a fresh day, and I was stable.

A part of me was sad because I had to go through it, the “why me” question always lurked in the shadows. With my fuzzed brain I started to focus on what next, what after the baby was born. How do I get back to running again? I read a lot about diastasis, how it affects the core, and what I should and should not do with a C-section.

Feb 20th 2020

As I lay with the baby on my chest, I was lighter, although I couldn’t even feel half of my body yet. I felt vindicated, my body was not the cause of failure, something ingrained inside me by my social norms.

“Let’s try to take a few steps..” the nurse practitioner offered me her arm, my husband by my side.  I put my foot on that cold floor and the next instant a sharp pain radiating from my body, nothing that I ever experienced before, I fumbled and dropped back on the bed. I didn’t even notice the tears in my eyes.

June 2020

It took weeks to walk to be able to sit with support. Even with an amazing family supporting me, I felt lost. I tried to walk but felt no motivation, no drive to even walk for 5 minutes, let alone do any kind of workout. I felt like a mass just moving forward, with no identity, and no purpose. I was angry all the time, for not being able to move, for not being able to do everything that I should be doing as a mom. As everybody moved around the house, I found myself staring at oblivion, with no energy from within to move forward.

August 2020

“Anything else you feel?.. pain, discomfort…” asked my OB. Yes, all of the above, my mind shouted in silence… “Hmm nothing much, sometimes hours pass by and I don’t realize, feel like some chains holding me back in one spot” I replied. My OB stared at me, and for the next half hour, I filled out a form, where every question seemed familiar. “Yes that is me, how did you know? ”.

“I will never have postpartum depression…”, this was me a few years ago. How wrong… it can happen to you because it is not up to you or your grit or your willpower, it is about how your body and mind react to the whole process.

Sep 2020

I spent 3 sleepless nights reading every research paper I could find about breastfeeding, about its effects on the child. I decided to take the first step with advice from my OB. I took the anti-depressant, the first day nothing, the second day, I got up much faster, I wanted to cook something, and got angry that I burnt it but I had made something. I felt the urge to move, to complete something.

Nov 2020

I wanted to get back to my workouts. Muscle memory means something I guess. Not quite. The first battle starts with fitting into your clothes, second battle, timing your workout while you are breastfeeding. Somehow you fit everything in, while I am still wondering where this flab comes from.

The first lunge and the first squat were familiar, but everything else felt like I was in an inflated suit, it was going to be hard.

Mar 2021

“Let’s take a selfie..” I told my almost 1-year-old. As I was fumbling with my phone and my super energetic child, I clicked the photo from the angle I generally wouldn’t. As I looked back at it, my heart skipped a beat. The woman staring back was not me, it was not the extra pounds, but my smile. It was a fake pretend smile hiding so much behind it.

That moment changed everything. I wanted something to shock my system and get back to what I was before my pregnancy. It had to be something that I absolutely loved, so that I would push on even when things get tough. I decided to go for my first run. I had recovered and other forms of workout were making me stronger but I was still not there in terms of feeling more in control of myself, feeling happy.

I chose the route of least familiar faces, 2 mins in, my lungs and throat were burning. I was bobbing, not even running. I felt a million imaginary eyes on me thinking “How slow”, “You need to run faster”, “good you are running, need to lose all those pounds.”

I put on my headphones, the familiar tune of Top Gun theme music … I let the music wash over me. I decided to try and keep running for one song, no hills, flat ground, keeping moving, don’t stop. Panting and heaving when I stopped, for the first time in ages, I had pushed myself and achieved something, I was accepting the change and ready to move and make progress.

I signed up for my first 5K after giving birth, with a clear image in my mind – my daughter at the finish line. This was dedicated to her.

October 2021

5K should be easy, hmm… not when you cannot even run 0.25 miles. I still had around 15 pounds to lose and train for the race.

Being hangry is a real thing, and it is even harder with a kid screaming at you with every part of you hurting at the end of the day. You have to eat, you have to balance, and sometimes compromise and hope to do better the next day, need to keep moving, one step in front of the other.

December 2021

The runs were my “me” time, listening to songs, podcasts, anything to engage my mind, my body eventually took over. My daughter was almost 2 years old and I felt like I was back. Brain fog cleared, and I looked forward to my runs. For every run, I increased my distance by a small amount – 0.25 miles. Some days were hard but slowly I was able to run beyond 3 miles.

March 2022

When D-Day arrived, I stood at the end of the line, with the parents and strollers and hoping no one would see me. I would just trot along and watch the trees and the plants and the children. My daughter hugged me and wished me luck.

A huge roar from the crowd, the race had started. I trotted slowly, people whizzed past me.

”You can do it” my mind and body spoke with one voice. “Today you can fly, don’t hold back”….. I took a deep breath, slowly and steadily. It is a different experience to run with others. It pushes you to limits you don’t even know. The adrenaline rush is amazing…

I was flying, my heartbeat was louder than the music. Even when I thought I should stop, my legs had a life and mind of their own.

I ran that day to my fullest desire, and even though it was not even an hour, I relived my journey over the 3 years, with every step.

The finish line was a blur, all I saw were two faces, my husband and my daughter, the two people I love the most. My whole being was vibrating by the time I reached them. The hug was the best trophy I could ever get. It took hours before I came back to a calm state.

Current day:

“Mumma let’s go for a run”, we both trot along, she is trying some breathing techniques, proud that she is imitating her mother. We talked about how her day was and how school was, as we bobbed down the street. I pass on to her my grit, my tenacity, and my love for running.

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