Baby-Led Healing

By Bristol Posatko


March 5, 2015

23 weeks, 5 days since my cesarean section.

5 weeks back at work.

Hundreds of miles walked.

And finally, I feel like I can pull out the yoga mat and do a workout in my living room, next to my baby. For the first time, he’s content laying on the blanket, playing with his toys, not needing me for a little bit. (Or at least I can distract him for a couple minutes with his reactions to my silly faces.)

He’s ready. I’m ready. I take off my work pants, throw on the spandex, change into a cute stretchy bra. Nothing else. This has got to be cute. I look at my body in the mirror. Nope…My core is loose. I probably have diastasis recti. My butt is nearly gone (at least I feel like it is). I’m worried about having to buy mom jeans (even though they’re coming back into style). I’m motivated to get back into shape. At the moment, it doesn’t occur to me to question how I will forever define “in shape” now that I’m a mom. But for the time being, it’s all alright; all I’m concerned about is being able to feel strong again.

That’s what’s important for getting back into shape – being able to walk in regular shoes without my back hurting. Being able to bend down and not feel an acute pain in my spine from, well, probably where the epidural went in, but maybe that one time I twisted too fast while carrying baby in the carseat, wobbling with it on my right side, not yet strong enough to hold it. I miss being able to run. Being active. But for the time being, I’m realistic. Running doesn’t mean I can do a triathlon in a couple months. I know it means it’s going to hurt, and I’m going to feel like a wobbly colt, bending my knees, crackling like a campfire, aching like I just finished hiking across the Sierras.

Getting strong again means feeling like I worked out, after I have actually worked out, not after having carried my boy around the block for a walk.

Let’s go.

I run around his blanket for a warmup. He looks up at me and laughs, turning his head like a ballerina as I circle him three times, his eyes meeting mine in a shared joy. I stop and stretch on the mat as he smiles. I run again. Stop and touch my toes a few times. Add in a gibberish song. He starts getting up in plank, so I do too. I try it a few times. But I hesitate. My back feels tight. Too tight. It’s not right. I have to stop. After only about two minutes of a workout. What am I doing wrong? What can I do to fix it? This isn’t a workout. I try to stretch up in cobra position, but that doesn’t work. I don’t know what to do.

I don’t know.

I don’t know this person. This isn’t me. This isn’t my body. This is a different body. It’s foreign to me.

I lay down. Exhausted. My baby starts crying from exhaustion too, from playing on his belly. I’m exhausted from being on my belly. From that cobra stretch to the sky that instead of relaxing me caused pain in my pelvic bones, pressing against my c-section scar, stopping me from doing what used to be easy. I don’t know what else to do at that moment. I cry with my baby.

We’re in the same position, tummy on the ground, tears in our eyes. It’s our tummy time, and it feels like a failure.

Then I look him in the eyes and feel deeply connected to him. I feel like a mother. I feel an intense bond resonating from the shared experience of pregnancy, childbirth, and building our strength together.

I am a mom. It’s my mom body. And I’m okay with that. But it’s a challenge to accept it completely. Mixed emotions. Pride at having a body that can endure pregnancy, labor, major surgery, healing, and strengthening again, enough to wear my baby and go to work while still breastfeeding and pumping. Yet pain – emotional and physical – for which I had no way to prepare.

This is new for me. This is new for him. No, everything is new for him. We are together in this experience of human growth – of growing our human strength, emotional and physical; of growing our compassion, for ourselves and others.

And as I sit there connected to my baby, understanding exactly the frustrations he feels in figuring out his new body, I realize that I should not feel like a failure. I am motivated to become stronger by following his example.

Literally! I’m going to do the exact movements he does, because who knows better the challenge of getting a body into workable condition than a baby? If he can start from zero, so can I! If he can endure the frustrations and joys every day, so can I.

He planks, I planks. He rests, I rest. I sigh, he sighs. I hug the cutie, he tries to eat my hair. So I stop all of this worrying and feed him, knowing his cues.

I’m going to continue following his cues.

This is baby-led healing.

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