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Feeling really deflated and need some advice
7

Mamabear04 · 26/04/2021 07:52

My LO is almost 18mo. Before she was born I was very active - would go to the gym 2-3 times a week and was very active outdoors at the weekend. Even in pregnancy I was very active and was at the gym 4 days before she was born (probably why she was 9 days early oops! Grin ) Recently though I just have nooo energy to do anything. I had an emergency c-section and I found it a real struggle to recover- because I was so active and strong before and because my LO had reflux so I didn't sleep for the first 6 months longer than 4 hours (on a good night) and i don't feel like I've ever recovered to my usual self. I just feel like as time has gone on that I am getting worse and worse at exercise and I am starting to really hate my body but am doing nothing about it.
My DH is so supportive and helps out as much as he can (and more) with our DD and tells me whenever I want he will watch her while I do exercise but when I am not watching my LO I am exhausted and all I want to do is sit down and have a cup of tea because she is 100mph from the moment she wakes.
My DH and DM made me go to the GP to see if I was iron deficient but they just sent me to the hospital to get checked out for blood cots because I've not long had the AstraZeneca vaccine. I don't even know if they checked for anything else and I don't particularly want to go back there.

Can someone give me some advice? I feel absolutely awful in myself.

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WhiskeryWoman · 26/04/2021 11:33

Urgh. Bless you. That sounds incredibly tough. Your body has also been through so much in terms of the c section and not getting proper rest to recover. Then on top of all that, you’ve had to do the last year through a pandemic which has added new unprecedented levels of stress and uncertainty. All of which is tiring!

I had a dreadful tear during childbirth and I only really felt fully recovered 3 years on. A tear is nothing like a c-section. I’m not trying to say that to scare you at all. Recovery does just take a long time anyway, longer when you are a mum especially breastfeeding. It doesn’t help we are bombarded with imagines of women returning to full activity very quickly.

Small children are utterly exhausting as well. Physically and mentally. They really are.

I had the help of a great NHS women’s health physio and also did post natal Pilates to help get my core back in shape. 18 months - 2 years on my back was still giving me agro cycling... due to a weak core from pregnancy. Again that probably took a good three years.

You don’t mention if you work or if DD attends childcare? Work can easily add to stresses, strains and tiredness, or, make them feel easier.

How is your diet? Is it the same as pre-pregnancy (that was clearly working for you given how you describe yourself)? Or do you rely on quick energy fixes and comfort foods now? Nothing at all wrong with that. I’ve been there!! It does impact energy levels though and not in a good way?

Do you remember that feeling that (up to a point) the more you exercise, the more energy you have? Often the hardest thing is getting motivated to do it, but a few minutes in or once the endorphins kick in you feel alive! So give it a whirl and take it from there. Tell yourself you can quit after 10 minutes - it’s unlikely you will though. But sometimes a thought like that keeps me going.

People were always shocked at me. I used to (and still do!) take DS out in a child trailer, just so I could get a ride in. I’m a cyclist. The only way I’d get to ride around work/ childcare was to take him with me. It’s very hilly where we live. Even now. And he’s 4.5 I still say three hours of towing him is much easier and less tiring than three hours running round after him!! I’m not suggesting you should go down that route though. You’ve just got to be creative and adaptive to fit exercise in with kids, unless you have a nanny.

I found I’ve had to massively adjust and change how I exercise. But. Even at my worst (symptoms wise post tear, dealing with teething, sleepless nights etc). I always prioritised it as I knew how good it made me feel. It wasn’t just the endorphins and post exercise glow, but, doing something for me, investing in myself, doing something that made me feel physically strong and awesome (despite the fact I was pissing and shitting myself😂 that really upset me at times so feeling great in other ways helped). More often than not, early days it’d involve dragging DS along for the ride (literally)! I actually plan my exercise for the week ahead. It’s not unusual for it to involve 5am getups to get 2 hours in on the bike before everyone else gets up. It’ll fire me up for the rest of the day so I know it’s worth it. I used his nap times to exercise, fuck tidying the house or doing dinner 😂

I mention planning. Planning is great! Have a think about your aims and objectives with exercise. Have a goal and time frame if necessary. Then draw yourself a realistic programme for the coming days, weeks and months. It could be as straight forward as couch to 5k and entering a 5k fun run in 6 months. Basically anything that you can break down into manageable chunks, work towards a goal and you’ll see results and progress. Your DH sounds supportive so get a time commitment from him eg three evenings a week and Saturday morning. Whatever works! I just can not exercise in the evening, I can never be bothered, hence my early starts. So plan round what is likely to work best for you.

View getting your fitness back as a long term project. A marathon not a sprint. Keep a record of your progress - it’s so motivating looking back on where you’ve come from.

You can definitely do this. You’ve done it before.

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WhiskeryWoman · 26/04/2021 11:36

And please do pester your GP about blood testing!! There are a few conditions like low iron, as you say, that are easily picked up on and resolved.

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Mamabear04 · 03/05/2021 14:12

@WhiskeryWoman thank you so much for your reply it actually made me cry! I really appreciate taking the time. You are so right that getting fitness back is a marathon not a sprint. I guess because I was doing so well before Christmas - not as well as pre pregnancy but still gaining strength and going in the right direction and then everything seemed to stop and fall apart. I think you're idea of goals is a really good one so I need to think about that. I'm a runner and also a climber so being unable to attend the gym and the winter weather over lockdown have really had an impact on me.

I also guess in hindsight I felt like my c-section recovery should have been a lot faster and easier- maybe I have been treating it as a muscle injury rather than an actual full blown operation.
I look after my LO 3 days a week and my parents look after her 2 days while I work and then I work 2 evenings on top of that. I'm not quite sure how to fit exercise in when I have to go to work in the evenings evenings then when I work my 2 full days I am absolutely swamped so I cant always fit in a workout on my lunch break. I eat relatively healthy too - most meals made from scratch, mainly vegetable based and low fat.

I honestly can't tell you how much your reply has meant. You are a very wise and strong woman x

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WhiskeryWoman · 04/05/2021 11:53

Awww. I’m glad I could say something helpful. I’m really nothing special, just a bit stubborn and I just know how amazing exercise makes me feel, mentally and physically. Likewise I know how ridiculously tough it is as mum to a very little child.

Your schedule sounds hectic and three full days with an 18 month old, just, eep and 12 months of it through restrictions!! No wonder you feel so tired. Your diet sounds great by the way! Mine was shite early on, quick sugar fixes and processed food. Did you get a followup with blood tests to rule out low iron etc?

I think because you get told something like 6 weeks for a c-section. We can be forgiven for thinking at that point we’ll be back to where we were. It’s major abdominal surgery!! Just recovering from pregnancy and relatively easy birth takes months even years!! Excluding my tear as I said before it took 3 years for my core to recover. I’m someone that cycled through my pregnancy, did pregnancy yoga 5 x a week (I had a DVD) and specific pregnancy core stuff, then really focussed on rebuilding it after DS was born. That was 3 years!!!!! Three blooming years. I remember my WH Physio telling me how long it took for muscle to recover (relevant to my tear as it was so severe and your c section). Just to heal was some months, then a lot longer to put the strength back. That’s if you are focussing on recovery, rehabilitation and rebuilding which you absolutely can’t once you become a mum, you dabble when you can!!

If I was you, I’d be looking at borrowing a running buggy and giving it a few weeks to see how DD copes. When I started towing DS, I’d only do it during nap times. I’d put him down in it, be ready to go and leave as soon as he was asleep. So you could try that. It turned out he actually blooming loves the trailer and quite happily sits in it watching the world go by. Even now as a super active 4.5 year old he loves trailer rides. I’ve no idea if you’ve started running again - if not couch to 5k with DD in tow in the running buggy has your name on it.

Maybe use an app like Strava. It’ll log your progress, but you can chose to
make stuff Public or share with followers. I found all the kudos and comments I got from my followers super motivating.

You can make a bit of a trip out of it now the weather is improving. Chuck a picnic blanket and picnic in, find a nice field (where DD can’t ‘escape’) and enjoy! I did that a lot with DS. Picnics with toddlers are ace, no mess to cleanup!! DS always seemed quite satisfied with the change of scenery to not be as full on. You wouldn’t necessarily have to run back... nice gentle easy walk. A really lovely (free!) way to spend a day together and you get some ‘you time’ and ‘exercise time’ with the running and walking. I’ve loved every second of our trailer rides, it just feels like such special time with my boy (we stop a lot!).

I towed DS through freezing winters, hammering rain, strong wind. He was fine! The rain cover kept him dry and the many layers kept him warm. If you are just going for a run, You’d only be out for a short time too so the weather isn’t your enemy to stop you in winter.

Could you afford a secondhand treadmill and would you have the space? That’s another option if running buggy fails or you don’t have anywhere to run with one (I’m sure you’ll find somewhere! even if it’s laps round a local park). Likewise if it’s just too grim to get motivated to go out. When I couldn’t be bothered to do a trailer ride, I’d go on my rollers during nap time to get my fix. (Rollers are like an indoor treadmill for a bike, you ride your bike on them).

Is there anyway you could actively travel as a commute or part of a commute? So walk, run or cycle? When DS was 18 months I was effectively a single parent as DP got seriously injured, was in hospital ages, then bed bound for months. So I was left caring for him and DS 🤪 I’d drop DS off at childcare early in the car as soon as it opened, then collect a few minutes before it shut. It meant I got a 40 min window for a ride each end of the day, before and after work. I’d pack my bike in the car the night before. Change of clothes etc. I’ve also done stuff like part run, part bus to work. Or turn up at work early (when I’ve needed the car) to run. I also do full cycle commutes, DP does drop off. So I get up before them and do a 2 hour ride to work (it’s only 25 minutes away on the bike, so I’m home fast!).

Dunno what the climbing is like round your way... it’s ace here. I know friends who take their little ones, they’ll boulder whilst the kids join in too. Now they are older (3!) the kids have climbing harnesses and climb. It’s not so great for them (the mums!) as it’s not like they get to climb as the kids are obviously too little to belay!! But it’s getting them ready for a few years when they can 😂 I guess if you have decent outdoor climbing locally, there could be other climbing mums you could hook up with via Facebook etc. Most people seem to climb round here.

When DS was 18 months he started balance biking. I’d often take the BB in the trailer (I bet you could attach one to a running buggy) and he’d potter about on that when we stopped. I got him peddling at 3 (he took to it straight away as he was so good on his BB). I’d push him with a stick, he’d peddle, I ran. I got a 40 min run in, we stop half way for a flask of tea and sugary treats ((which he carried in a little back pack) 😂 For me it’s been really important to indoctrinate DS into my way of life and get him active from tiny (balance biking!). So it’s always been possible for me to exercise one way or another with him. That way I’ve not had to rely on childcare to exercise as he comes along too. Pre-pregnancy I’d never have dreamed of this stuff!! You just take being able to exercise for granted 😂

I know I have an all or nothing mentality. I know if I’m not careful I’ll give up or a series of events will derail me. This was an issue years ago, so a week off would turn to 6. Having a plan helps. But. I know my triggers for giving up. It’ll never be one thing in isolation, just lots of small things. Now. I always know I’m coming up to a ‘give up point’ so I work round it. Eg the next few months are hectic, a family holiday and visits to stay with friends and family. We’ll have phases of no childcare. I’ve temporarily increased my hours at work. The long range weather looks grotty! So I’ll be doing stuff like a one hour interval session on the bike indoors, rather than a 4 hour endurance ride. We’ll do lots of family rides which are effectively junk miles for my training (we won’t have the trailer), so I’ll do some sprint efforts. If the weather is bad so we don’t ride, I’ll nip out for a run. For the long weekends away, I’ve loaded my training around the days I’m home. Lots of very early starts. None of its ideal. But. It’s all better than just thinking sod it, I’ll just take a few months off 😂 I’ve actually got my first race in 6 weeks, so that’s helping with the motivation. If I’m not careful I could just cry off because I can’t train how I’d like. But with a child and a life and a job and a partner, I’d never race with that attitude. Being realistic about life and planning, then being flexible and adaptable mean I stick with it. I never train so hard or schedule so much in because I know I’ll overdo it and give up. So I really really advise picking a very basic plan that’s easy to stick to. You’ll get much more gain from 6 months of that vs one that’s utterly over ambitious which you quit after a month, have a month off and repeat. You can always add more time in as you build back up.

Because you are coming from a great place - clearly very fit and focused pre-pregnancy, it won’t be that hard to get back. You’ll have muscle memory and residual fitness, so will be starting from a far higher base than someone literally beginning from scratch. You also clearly have the discipline and drive as you’ve done it before. I think the motivation, discipline and drive are the toughest things.

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SSwimCycle21 · 04/05/2021 12:59

That’s a brill answer from whiskey, I too was swimming in a pool at 10days overdue had two c-sections four years apart. It takes a long time to get “you” back, especially if you have a non-sleeping child. Survival is the first stage then abit of self care, sleep, headspace, healthy eating. I walked initially everywhere with a buggy, then started doing The Shred DVD 3x a week, lost 40lbs over my maternity leave. I too had a bike seat then a bike trailer for a youngest so I used to take them with me as we were both happier being outside exploring. I also used the commute to work cycling or id stop enroute home and have a walk before getting to the childminders. An extra hour at the Childminder’s was my exercise or headspace time, and don’t feel guilty doing it as a happier person is a happier mum. Find what works for you and slowly build in what you need to feel more human again. Good luck it’s tough having young kids.

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TheLongRider · 04/05/2021 14:19

I don't have much extra to add to the previous excellent posts but I will say that you could view this as your lowest point and realise that it's only upwards from here. I'd chase up the blood test results because it could be anything from anaemia to a dodgy thyroid to Vitamin D deficiency. Those are all fixable.

Lack of sleep will make you feel like shit on a stick and there's very little that will help with that other than more sleep.

Again be nice to yourself, you gave birth to a baby, you're working and caring for another human being. That's a lot on your plate. Yes, you have support but you also have to believe in yourself.

I had an emergency section with DD it was 12 weeks before I was back cycling. As with PP I towed DD around in a trailer until she cycled independently. When she was 3 I went back to racing and long-distance cycling. It was tough but I reckoned if I was running the world on five hours sleep I could do long-distance too! I got into Audax cycling and it's been fantastic for the last eight years.

I like planning routes and events and the training and I always find the motivation to go and do something new. I do have a supportive DH and DD is now old enough to do her own racing.

Best of luck, you can do it, it will take time but you will find yourself again.

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Mamabear04 · 04/05/2021 18:53

@WhiskeryWoman how do you honestly find the energy to do so much on top of everything else? When my LO naps I literally need to sit down and often have a nap myself! Right now exercise seems such a luxury because I guess I associate it with having energy. I've started to give myself little goals starting with just working out one day a week with anything on top of that a bonus and plan to gradually increase it. I'm not sure how I'm going to fit looking after LO with exercise. I don't think a running buggy is so good an idea purely because I like having the time to myself without having to please anyone else but I do have a small hill nearby so I could stick LO in the backpack and go for a long walk that way. I think she's too young for the climbing wall just now and there's no toddler groups that I know of but will look into this. I do like the idea of being out all day so maybe hiking with her in the backpack is key for me. I guess because we've started our journey basically in lockdown - we'll since she was 4mo - I don't quite know how to do it but your tips have really helped and your replies do make me really motivated (I just did a work out!)

I've found my postpartum really hard to process. I fit all my pre pregnancy clothes but I find the lack of core strength so difficult- it's like a wall- not to mention the excess skin/what feels like flab in my stomach and back. I'm so glad you said 3 years because I have been beating myself up about it - I should probably stop looking at social media!

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