Friday, October 18, 2019

#PregnantAthlete

My first symptom of pregnancy was my inability to sprint.

It was the beginning of July, so while running I just blamed it on the humidity.

But in the pool, I had no excuse. I had the ability, I had the desire, I had the sprint set written down on the piece of paper I keep behind my lane…but I could not pick up the speed and I was getting winded way too easily. Maybe I was out of shape? But the decline was too rapid.

One Saturday morning, I was at a boot-camp-type HIIT workout and I got dizzy and breathless and I thought maybe my heart was failing and I was going to die.

I finished the workout and I did not die; however, I connected the dots between my dizzy breathlessness with my inability to sprint, three weeks of sore breasts, and even more weeks without a period and voilĂ ! That's the story of how I found out I was pregnant.

Baby bump or extreme bloating? Circa 15 weeks.
Athletes Who Are Pregnant

At my first prenatal appointment, my first questions were: "Can I keep swimming?" and "I'm training for a marathon…can I keep doing that?"

My doctor laughed and said I could keep running and swimming if I was feeling up for it, but that I probably wouldn't keep feeling up for it. As long as I didn't get too out of breath and could carry out a conversation and didn't try anything new or anything at a higher intensity than what I had already been doing, then I was good to keep on keeping on.

Well. First of all. I was getting out of breath walking up the stairs. Also, the thought of trying to carry out a conversation while swimming sounds daunting, even at the best of times. But what I heard loudest was "keep on keeping on." So that's what I've been trying to do.

There are not many resources for competitive athletes who are pregnant because there hasn't been much attention or formal research of pregnant athletes. It's been kind of a taboo topic until the past few years. Now there are more women athletes, professional and high-level amateurs, and there's a greater demand for resources. I did find a new-ish (2014) book called The Pregnant Athlete. And I've been following #pregnantathlete and other similar variations of hashtags on social media, and reading/writing messages on message boards for pregnant women to get more information about sports and pregnancy.

One of Those Women

I never thought I would be one of those women who wanted to talk/write about being pregnant all the time, and I try not to do it all the time; but I can see why women do it. Growing another human being is a pretty big deal.

Given that there are so few resources for pregnant competitive athletes, I'm going to keep writing about and sharing my experiences to contribute to the growing collection of narratives on social media about pregnant athletes. It helps me to keep a record of my athletic journey and maybe it will help someone else someday, too.

Shameless Self-Promotion

In three weeks, at 21-week pregnant, I will participate in the Harrisburg Marathon. It'll be a much different kind of adventure than the one I anticipated when I signed up for the marathon. To keep me motivated, I'm doing this as a fundraiser. Find out more about my new journey and fundraiser and please consider contributing to help children & youths in central PA. 

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