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OPINION | April Wallace: Mom has to make different New Year’s resolutions

Lessons learned after pregnancy by April Wallace | January 12, 2023 at 1:00 a.m.

I love the spirit of a new year just beginning.

You can just feel the fresh start wafting off the page of a new planner. Looking around at others' enthusiasm for their new goals is contagious.

Those elusive health and fitness goals are among the most common New Year's resolutions, and if you have hopes of making a healthier habit or taking better care of yourself, I applaud you.

Speaking from experience, I can only hope that what you set is realistic and not (whether intentionally or subconsciously) punishing -- especially if you're a mother who has the added challenges of taking care of others and needing a deep well of energy upon which to do so.

The story of my most wildly changing mindset for a wellness-centered New Year's resolution started four years ago when I was late in my pregnancy with my second and final baby.

He was due around Valentine's Day and not only was I looking forward to meeting him, I was very much looking forward to having my body back and getting it in shape.

But at the beginning of 2019, my OB was slowly realizing that Elliott wasn't very big for his gestational age. At first that didn't seem too surprising. Neither my husband nor I is very big, and our first child was born at 5 pounds 10 ounces.

Even still, our new little guy was so far under normal percentiles that they eventually determined he had intrauterine growth restriction -- he was not getting enough nutrients in the womb and would be better off growing in the outside world.

After a period of in-hospital monitoring every other day, the OB determined the safest date to bring our baby into the world after only 37 weeks gestation.

He arrived and we truly lucked out that his jaw and his lungs were fully developed, meaning he needed no assistance with breathing or eating. They ran several tests, which he passed, and we joyfully brought him home.

It seems crazy to me now how quickly, even in my relief for my baby's well being, I managed to be disappointed in my body. But I think a lot of women are after childbirth.

My first order of business was to forgive my body for not carrying the baby to full term. One day I would come around to feeling thankful I was able to carry him as long as I did.

But next I had to acknowledge my physical limits. Recovering from a second c-section and living with diastisis recti, separation of the abs due to pregnancy and childbirth, meant allowing myself time to heal.

I had to remember not to jump into typical workout routines that could further damage my body, and I had to learn new ways to strengthen it, at first with the help of physical therapists.

A few things were comforting during this phase and one of them was a book.

"Body After Baby" by Jackie Keller helped me internalize the importance of taking care of my own health and feeling strong, all while caring for my babies. It helped mold my thinking around many important aspects: the perspective of food as your body's fuel, what types of food might be best for certain times of day and being mindful of the reason I'm eating.

In the four years of mothering since, my workout routines (and when I do them) look very different day-to-day. Frankly I think they have to if I'm going to continue to keep up with my kids' individual phases! But I'm working on accepting that.

Movement, but also rest and fuel, are all critical for moms if we're to keep our children's worlds going round.

Print Headline: Realistic resolutions important

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