In my desperate attempt to get fit and lose these blasted, oh-so-stubborn post baby love handles (Where’s the love, by the way ???), I have been mustering the little energy that I have left to actually take our new super-duper-bigger-than-Ben-Hur City Jogger out and doing just that: Jogging…with the twins.
Talk about attention-grabbing. There I am. Weaving through our neighbourhood that’s full of terrain fit for a mountain trekker. Pushing at least 25 kilos of mechanical equipment and 2 babies…in temperatures hovering in the high 20’s.
Without fail, from many a motorist or pedestrian, there are side comments.
While trudging up a hill with a 45 degree gradient, a postman – who himself looked a little worse for wear – delivering mail by foot in the stinking heat, took a quick glance at my heavy load then me, and muttered, “Geez, that’d be a workout…”
Then reaching the peak, there was a lovely old man who happened to be in his front yard as I trotted past:
“You know, you’d be jogging a LOT more slowly if you had triplets !!!”
He calls out and has a chuckle at his own little joke.
“Ha, ha…so true !” I politely reply between all the heavy breathing.
Despite all these lovely terms of endearment and encouragement, I couldn’t help but question: “What is the big deal ???”
Why is there the common notion that motherhood leads to weakness and physical limitations ?
Why are new mothers stereotyped as being fragile or frail ?
Why is the idea of being physically (and mentally) stronger after childbirth considered unrealistic ?
I must admit. I have been guilty of succumbing to these low expectations.
I remember being 3 months pregnant when Hubby and I decided to go for a stroll up to the street which is part of Sydney’s famous, yet gruelling 14 km City to Surf trail. We went to cheer on the runners as they past by.
Taking part in this tough race was a goal I held onto for several years. I was disappointed that I had missed my opportunity. It may have actually been my last. I became distraught. I was certain that childbirth would see the downfall in my fitness levels.
“City to Surf after twins ? No way.” I had convinced myself.
Then, Hubby, who’s a bit of a sports buff – and an eternal optimist – told me about sportswomen who had children, THEN went on to breaking records, winning tournaments, achieving gold medals.
He assured me that the female body is actually tougher and stronger after having children.
Pah. What did he know ?
But you know what…he was actually right. (Ssshhh…don’t tell him I said so).
Scientific studies have shown that hormonal changes during and after pregnancy can produce up to 60% of blood volume which can help improve the body’s ability to carry oxygen to the muscles by 30%.
But, hey, I ain’t no doctor. Instead, the living evidence was right there in front of me:
Kim Clijsters winning this year’s Australian Open.
Ignoring her initial bad taste in men (Lleyton Hewitt ??? Come on !!!), let’s focus on her comeback. Retiring in 2007, she decided to start a family instead (With a bloke much cuter than Lleyton…thank God !)
One baby and 18 months later she achieves the unthinkable. She thrashes the invincible Williams sisters to win the US Open. Her recent triumph at the Australian Open shows that Kim has still lots to offer. Talk about Mama kicking butt…
Even beyond the celebrity circuits, just take a moment to look within your own circles. I have Mama friends on FaceBook with inspiring status updates that talk about the intense training they go through for the “100 kms in 36 hours Oxfam walk”or their thrill in completing a fun run. All the power to these amazing women.
So, a year after watching all those City to Surf participants whizz by and 6 months after giving birth to my twin sons – I actually ran the race. All 14 kms of it. I ran like I had never run before. It was an indescribable feeling.
The buzz from finishing the race was so addictive, I ran two more Fun Runs after that. In the second run, I reached my personal best time. (I guess this is where I should say: I will never doubt my Hubby again…)
Who knows if there is any truth in these studies about the post-birth female body.
But something needs to be said about all us mothers who time, after time, after time, keep surprising ourselves with that extra burst of energy.
The sleepless nights, carrying heavy babies here and there, the stackload of washing that needs to be done, the meals that are yet to be cooked: Remember it all takes extreme levels of endurance and stamina. It could even put a professional athlete to shame.
So, go on. Get out there. If there’s a challenge – physical or mental – that you want to try out, do it. In defiance of what society dictates or the portrayed image of a too delicate mother; Prove them wrong.
Show them that we’re tough. Tooth and nail tough. Tougher than you probably give yourself credit for.