Prenatal: In the first photo, taken a year ago at my goal meet of the season, I was in the best shape of my life and swam my adult best times that ranked me 6th and 7th in the nation in my age group in the 500 and 200 free.
Pregnant: In the next photo, I’m 37-weeks pregnant. I had a fit-enough pregnancy. I trained for an ran a half marathon then a full marathon and continued swimming, walking, and strength training a few days a week.
Postpartum: In the third photo, taken exactly a year after the first photo, is my 3.5-week postpartum body: 20 pounds lighter than my maximum pregnancy weight and 20 pounds over my fighting weight. I’ve been walking 1-3 miles a day and doing easy exercises to start to strengthen my core and supporting muscles so I’ll be ready to run, swim, and strength train in a few more weeks.
First of all, it never went anywhere. Believe me, I fully experienced my body through the whole pregnancy, labor, and delivery. My body was very much present for all of that.
Second, my body just did an amazing thing that it has never done before. It had to grow, expand, flex, stretch, and then deflate again. It's had these new experiences and it will never be the same. And that's OK. When you experience something life changing, you don't just go back to "normal" when the event is over.
I have no doubt I'll be able to get fit again, in time. And, at some point, that will probably be my goal. But right now, my body goal is to rest, heal, and nurture the baby. Yes, I would like to swim and run again soon, but more for mental health.
I know so many amazing mother athletes who look like strong athletes but more importantly accomplish amazing athletic feats. I'm lucky to have so many role models to look to so I don't feel panicked or rushed to get into competitive shape again. It will happen.