During my pregnancy I didn’t let much stop me. I was the most rotund gym bunny at the YMCA (which reminds me of the time my husband honestly asked me, “who’s Jim Bunnie?”). I ate well, stayed positive, lived in the moment, took lots of naps, and read everything I could about healthy pregnancies. I read a study that said only 11% of women who exercised during pregnancy got a diastasis recti, so I barely even considered it a risk. In retrospect, I would not have been doing side arm balances at 8 months. Pregnancy is not a contest and I am surely not the winner if it were.
My prize for being Most Prepared was two days of labor, 6 hours of pushing, and organs spilling out all over the place afterward (oh, and I got the tiniest, cutest BFF). At my 8 week appointment – right after the world’s longest PAP clumsily performed by a resident in training – the doctor told me I had a diastasis recti and would need surgery if I ever wanted a flat stomach again. She told me to wait until my last kid and she’d just do a C-section and the surgery at the same time. (!!) She told me to do 10 kegels three times a day to keep all the rest of my innards in and stop that whole incontinence business. She presented this data as if she had told me I had a common cold and should take two pills and call her when I was ready for her to cut me open. I was devastated.
I tried to resume my normal life. I lifted weights at the gym and felt that I had 40% of the strength I used to have. My guts were doming out of me like a giant hotdog whenever I tried to do my normal activities. I was having serious snapping pain and numbness in my upper back and constant headaches. My former exercise teachers were full of misinformation and bad advice. It was clear this was going to take something my doctor and my gym could not offer me.
After some googling, I found Wendy Powell’s Mutu System. It was a ray of light in the midst of the discouragement. I created this blog to help track my progress and hopefully find some other mamas in the same boat. In the midst of the first two months of the program, I found that I was coming up against some roadblocks. I was doing the exercises but was in some serious back pain along my upper spine. Things just didn’t feel right. I felt like Mutu was great (and I’m still working on getting through the program!) but the investigator in me needed more. I needed the whys behind Mutu so that I could understand what was not working for me and how to fix it.
Enter Katy Bowman, bless her. Many of Wendy’s exercises are based on Katy’s research as a biomechanist. Biomechanists study the human body as a machine and Katy has developed a system of movement and therapeutic exercises to address many problems, but her thesis research was all around pregnancy and postpartum health for women. You can learn more at the Restorative Exercise Institute. I have found Katy’s work so influential in helping me understand why things aren’t working, and that they likely weren’t working well before I even got pregnant, that I’ve signed up for her certification program.
SO, all that to say, I am still on my road to recovery. I still have a gap, even though I’m finally feeling stronger now that I’m two years out. I am finally not incontinent, though, and thankful for some progress! I still look in the mirror sideways every morning and wonder, “did it get smaller today?” I’m working on not feeling compelled to do that. Patience. Grace. Acceptance. A lot of that going on daily to combat the Frustration, Pain, and Sadness.
Can you resonate with any of this? If so, please join me! I do not want to go this road alone and I hope that I can help other women by passing on the things I’m learning as I put the pieces back together.
Thanks for listening and I hope you’ll join me,