At about this time last year, I was snuggling a sweet, six-week old baby. I fell in love with my precious Annabelle each time she smiled up at me while I stroked her soft tufts of hair. But then she would cry. And need a new diaper. And want to nurse. All. Night. Long. My heart was so full, but life was seriously hard. The first few weeks had been dream-like. Curt had been able to spend time home with us, family came by frequently to check in and give some much-needed attention to Asher, and we were treated with delicious meals from friends every other day. But then–all of a sudden, it seemed–life went back to the way it was before. Except now I was responsible for an almost two-year old and a baby. Changing diapers, dressing, and carrying them both down the stairs each morning felt like a monumental feat.
We struggled through those days, trying to find a new rhythm. I desperately wanted to enjoy this time with my kids, but I was stuck in survival mode. I needed something, anything to help me emerge from the sleep-deprived and completely overwhelmed haze. Fortunately, my six-week follow-up went well and my doctor cleared me to exercise. (This was a bit shocking to me as my body definitely didn’t feel anything close to ok. An inflatable donut is not my idea of a neat fashion accessory!) So needless to say, I wasn’t dying to get back to burpees and squats, but I did think it would be helpful to have a little bit of time each morning dedicated to taking care of myself while the kids were safely restrained in the stroller. I had found Fit4 Mom Boise’s Stroller Strides program when Asher was six months old, and it had been a lifesaver in so many ways. It was time to go back.
Now people hear “stroller strides” and often think of a bunch of yoga pants-wearing moms pushing strollers while sipping on lattes. This is only partially true. We work out really hard before treating ourselves to coffee or a Guru donut! And while it is actually great exercise, the community is what makes Stroller Strides special. I have met the most wonderful women in the program. Through rounds of bicep curls and lunges, we sing silly songs and swap stories, advice, and encouragement. I’m definitely an introvert and can be super awkward, but over time I’ve really gotten to know and love these ladies and their children.
It was not always easy getting out of the house in time to make it to class, and when we did make it, a diaper blowout or nursing session occasionally necessitated cutting the workout short. But Asher, Annabelle, and I eventually settled into a routine and were able to enjoy most mornings with our friends at Stroller Strides. (And I stopped pleading, “Please don’t leave me!!” as Curt kissed me goodbye each morning.) As I gradually regained my strength, I also got so much support becoming a better mom. Rachel and Jessica had great advice for ways to give both kids the attention they need. Megan and Joslyn helped me figure out baby sleep issues. Hayley and Maria had some very creative solutions for dealing with the dreaded I’m-going-to-take-off-my-diaper-during-naptime phenomenon that seems to plague the mothers of little boys. The internet is an amazing resource for new moms, but there are some things that are impossible to Google! And my computer doesn’t hug me when I’ve been up all night with a teething baby or help me find the humor in potty learning.
It feels good to have mostly emerged from survival mode and be able to be much more intentional about how the kids and I spend our time. Each day presents new challenges and I do not always deal with them very gracefully, but I know I have a whole village of kind and generous women to help me out.