My crossfit mom journey began quite a while before I was pregnant. In 2003 I stopped getting my cycle, I attributed it to stress, job change, running ~20mi/wk and weight loss (lost the college “beer fat” down from ~138lbs to ~118lbs at the lowest, I am 5’4½“). After a year of no period, I went to the doctor and was put on the Nuva ring. Life stabilized and my weight also stabilized at about 120-125lbs. Fast forward 5 years, I decide to go off birth control in April 2008 to see what my body is up to, sure enough I do not get my cycle. After a full medical workup that rules out premature ovarian failure, polycystic ovaries, thyroid dysfunction, etc., I am diagnosed with “functional hypothalamic amenorrhea.” Basically, this is what anorexic marathon runners and female athletes with bodyfat <12% get -- I was confused as I was healthy weight, ate plenty of calories, protein, fat, etc., and did not over-exercise. At most I ran 20-25 miles/wk and once I started CrossFit in November 2009, I decreased my running to leisurely 10-15 mi/wk. So I just waited it out for about 2 years, hoping my healthy Paleo eating and CrossFit training would get me in balance. In February 2011 I decided to actively try to resume my cycle. My husband suggested “just try not to be so competitive.” Easy for him to say! I’m an intermediate athlete at best, but I do admit I like to win. I had met personal goals of a 2x BW dead (255lbs@127lbs) and BW OHS (128lbs @ 127lbs). I looked at this as a new goal of getting my cycle back and preparing my body for growing a baby. This is when I turned to CrossFit Mom (February 2011). I dropped my intensity in CrossFit to match the suggestions for pregnancy (no looking at the clock, avoiding getting too out of breath, and not trying to win.) It was really hard at first but then became surprisingly doable – of course I had to tell the trainers and others at the gym what I was up to so they wouldn’t think I was slacking. I emphasized form and continued to lift heavy, just lowered intensity of WODs. I also stopped stepping on a scale, EVER. I initially only ran ~5-10 miles/wk, but then I quit running entirely in March 2011. I figured I may as well go all-in on this new goal. I started seeing an acupuncture fertility specialist 1x/wk and cannot say enough about how big a role I feel the eastern medicine approach played in this journey. At the end of May 2011, I got my cycle on my own for the first time in 8 years. I weighed myself that day out of curiosity and I was 135lbs. The summer was really tough, I didn’t fit in any of my clothes and my hormones seemed out of whack, but I did not get my cycle again until August 2011. I tracked ovulation after that and got a faint + pregnancy test, which turned out to be a chemical pregnancy (never implants). I got my cycle again right after that, tracked ovulation and found out I was pregnant for real in November 2011!
My pregnancy was pretty typical in the beginning. I weighed ~140lbs to start so I hoped that the 13lbs of fat I had gained would mean I didn’t need to gain much first trimester. NO SUCH LUCK! I continued to avoid the scale and listen to my body. I felt nauseas 24 hours/day from weeks 5-11, craved carbs and fried foods and could barely drag my butt to CrossFit a few times a week for some half-assed workouts. I felt like I was already de-trained from taking it easy for 8 months, could barely do 3 consecutive pull-ups, and felt incredibly out of breath and tired all the time.
Like magic, a fog lifted as I entered 2nd trimester and the nausea went away. It was easier to get to CrossFit but I felt slow and fat, not at all cute and pregnant. At 20 weeks I weighed 152lbs (gained 12lbs) and I was on track to get up to ~170lbs. I was accepting that it was whatever my body needed to do to grow a healthy baby, but still a little frustrated at how hard I would have to work to get back to a bodyweight O-squat! However, I was still very thankful to be having a healthy pregnancy with no complications.
Unexpectedly, my third trimester was amazing! I had increased energy and felt great doing CrossFit. I could do kipping pull-ups on my due date and never had to give up barbell cleans and snatches. I jogged short distance until 36.5 weeks when I felt the baby drop and it became uncomfortable. Squats felt awesome and I had to refrain from going too heavy because it felt easy! Strangely, I only gained 6 lbs the entire 2nd half of pregnancy, final pregnant weight was 158lbs. I felt cute and fit and pregnant and very thankful for CrossFit Mom for guiding me throughout the journey.
If I had a dime for every person that told me my labor would be easy because I was so fit, I think I’d be a millionaire. Unfortunately, it was not the case. On my due date I awoke with a few contractions that felt slightly stronger than the Braxton Hicks, so I thought the maybe may be right on schedule (July 9). The day turned out uneventful and everything checked out normal with the baby and me at my doctor’s appointment the next day. By the 11th I was having fairly frequent Braxton Hicks contractions. On the 12th the painless Braxton-Hicks became fairly regular ~10-12 min apart, and by evening they were progressively more uncomfortable. I was awake the entire night of the 12th with painful contractions every 7-10 minutes, bearable with breathing and acupressure techniques but not something I could sleep through. A 3am walk around the neighborhood brought them closer together to about 6 min. I called my doctor early in the morning on the 13th and he advised me to meet him at the hospital. After >12hrs of painful contractions, I was disappointed to find out I was only 1.5cm. He broke my water around 9am and assured me it would move things along. Contractions became more painful and drawn out (about 2 min every 7 min), they were not unbearable but I was exhausted! At 12noon I was only 2cm and decided to have an epidural. I had wanted to try naturally but I did not see this going anywhere anytime soon and I simply couldn’t imagine doing this for another unknown number of hours. The epidural was surprisingly not too bad, I could still control my muscles and feel the contractions but I could also get some much-needed rest. Trouble started just a couple hours later. I had been lying propped on my left side and when they turned me to the right side the baby’s heart rate dropped. It was a very scary couple of minutes as they struggled to find a heart rate on the monitors, but it came back when I got back to the left side. I had been given Pitocin to help speed things along and managed to get up to 6cm, but baby’s HR dropped with each contraction as they got stronger and closer together, and still never getting under 6-7 minutes apart. By this time, the epidural was wearing off on my right side because I was stuck lying on the left, so I was feeling contractions almost as strong as the night before and was unable to sleep or rest. By that evening they were unable to up the Pitocin dose without compromising the baby’s heart rate and I had not progressed past 6 cm. I sent my husband home to let out the dog, thinking it would just be a long wait. Unfortunately, the baby was not cooperative, heart rate kept dropping, and c-section became the only option. As they prepped me for surgery, baby’s heart rate dropped even without me moving or having a contraction and they struggled again to find it on the monitors. My husband was rushing back to the hospital and fortunately made it in time.
Jack was delivered at 10:39pm, a healthy 7lb3oz baby boy! It was a very strange experience being on an operating table as they delivered the baby, but a miracle nonetheless.
A c-section was not something I had prepared for at all, and major abdominal surgery is no joke. Days 3 and 4 were probably the worst, as I struggled to stand up long enough to brush my teeth or change a diaper without having to sit down. I cried to the nurses as I tried to push the bassinet down the halls, I couldn’t believe I had been doing pull-ups and 95lb squat cleans at 9 months pregnant and now couldn’t even walk down the hallway. Fortunately, the pity party did not last very long at all. By day 10 I was able to push the stroller on a 1hour walk in my hilly neighborhood. At our 2 week follow-ups, Jack was already 1lb over his birthweight and I was down to 136.5lbs, already below my pre-pregnancy weight, and less than 10lbs from my starting weight. My doctor advised me to listen to my body and get back into things as I felt ready, so I did my first CrossFit-ish workout 2 weeks out: 5 rounds: 10 press 33#, 10 front squat 33#, 10 ring rows, 10 walking lunges, 400m walk with stroller. I felt great and have continued to ease back into things slowly, listening to my body. I know I have CrossFit to thank for being able to recover and get back so quickly.
Anyways, sorry for the super long post! I got a lot out of reading everyone else’s stories and learned that every woman and every baby is very different. I think listening to our bodies and having the support of the amazing CrossFit Mom community leads to cute, healthy babies no matter how easy or difficult the journey!