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Rescued by 'the recovery'

Posted: January 27, 2012 - 1:00am

Finding the motivation to begin a new exercise regime can be as hard as obtaining a natural tan in Juneau … in January.

But unlike the challenges of producing melatonin in a whiteout (which, let’s face it, is nearly impossible), getting fit is doable if daunting.

After the birth of my second child, I was ready to reclaim my body. Through diet and exercise I was going to try to tip the scales back a few notches.

After a few weeks of enthusiastic exercising, I was bushed. The motivation to continue, to do all of it all over again — the juggling of kids, the rain, the snow and constantly having wet toes — seemed overwhelming. Then, the holidays arrived. A few weeks of “being too busy” slipped by. Then, a vacation. Another few weeks, gone.

In an odd way I didn’t miss those runs. Mentally, I was ready for those feel-good hormones to lift me out of winter’s darkness. Physically, however, things were not at all like they had been a year ago.

You see, the birth of my second baby went nothing like I expected. She was born healthy and beautiful but she chose to come into the world via cesarean section.

Red light. Cesarean procedures are not something to take lightly; it’s major surgery. So my recovery was one that needed to be honored. I had to take it truly easy and be conscious of my healing process.

I listened to my doctor. I took some time off from heavy exercise. But runs were not quite the same. In fact, one 5-mile loop took two full minutes longer to run last week than it did when I ran it 30 weeks pregnant.

Recovery is completely individual when it comes to the timeline and the milestones. Sure, there’s general similarities such as when the stitches can come out and when a walk around the block will likely be OK. But the timeline on when things will be back to “normal” is extremely unique.

When the time came to begin it all again, I was soft from months of a leisurely lifestyle. I found my body hurt in new and surprising ways.

But I listened to the experts. They told me to take it slow and be patient; these things are easier said than done. But listen I did, and I’m so happy. Some women report suffering from severe pain or complications many months following a c-section procedure. Many state they believe they took on too much, too soon. As a result these women faced many more months of recovery than is typical.

I’ve also learned about the power of massage. Simply massaging the incision area every day will help it disappear. My doctor told me to get hands-on with a little circular massage with pure vitamin E oil or a mild vegetable oil. Over time, she said, the scar and any accompanying bulky tissue will likely dissolve completely. I’ve made it part of my daily ritual and I’ve already seen an improvement. Massaging the layers of tissue that are healing will also help exercise become more comfortable as layers of scar tissue are rubbed away. My doctor said to rub as firm as is comfortable at least once a day.

When it comes to recovering, it’s also important to talk about it. At follow-up appointments I was often asked “how are you?” It was an important question and my honesty was equally important. Women should be open and honest about postpartum depression; it’s treatable and beatable.

So I’m a little off my game these days, but clearly that’s OK. It’s likely runs will continue to feel weird before they feel “like the good ol’ days.”

There’s no rush. I’ve been instructed to take it easy.

• Contact Abby Lowell at abby.lowell@juneauempire.com.

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