One step and the next and the next, Saanvi ran her way to the finish line. Sweat beads running down her face, her legs giving out under her, she had never felt more alive. It was five years since she had started running. She had never imagined herself as a runner. She had never been the athletic types in school- the last one in races, never the one to participate on sports day. As she sat doing her post run stretches, her thoughts drifted back to the time when she had started feeling the need to get in touch with her body.
Saanvi had delivered her second baby after a difficult pregnancy, and had immediately slipped into postpartum depression. Only at that time, she had no idea what had hit her. She was never sure that she wanted a second child, and now, after the delivery, she felt drained and exhausted. Her body did not seem to support her, with her back suffering a severe injury during the course of pregnancy. Just a year ago, as she was thinking of getting back to work after her first child started school, she had found out that she was pregnant again. It was a chance pregnancy, and her husband (and everyone else around her) said this was a gift of God, and no way should she be considering terminating the pregnancy. Finally she got convinced, and tried her best to be happy the remaining term of her pregnancy. But it was as if somehow the child in the womb knew that she was unwanted. Complications arose, and the baby weight was not growing. Near end of term, the doctor decided that inducing delivery was safer for the baby.
Post-delivery, everyone around her seemed happy. ‘The family is now complete’, gushed her in-laws. ‘Lucky you, such gorgeous kids!’ said her friends. But Saanvi did not feel any of this. She felt detached from the baby and her family. She would shut herself in the bathroom, and cry silent tears when no one was watching. She never felt the joy of new baby arriving in the family.
As she lay nursing her baby one night, she began flipping through old photos of her first born. She saw how happy they both looked. How she played, fed, bathed her and all the while, smile reaching her eyes. She wasn’t being fair to this child. She wasn’t being fair to her own self. She had to get better, for this baby, and for herself. She had to seek help.
She reached out to her best friend one day. Over cups of chai and cookies, she poured her heart out. ‘Saanvi, what you are feeling is much more common than you think’, her friend said. ‘Let me introduce you to my post-delivery support group. Trust me, you will feel much better talking it out.’
The support group turned out to be a group of similar new mums who talked about their highs and lows meeting twice a week. Taking this time out was difficult as a new mum, but Saanvi realised she had to do it- for her sake and her baby’s. They practised post-natal yoga, meditation and sometimes, just talked. As she would take a deep breath in, and stretch into a cobra pose, she felt the knots in her shoulders and back melting away, along with the stress of sleepless nights and the new baby. She always felt lighter at the end of the session.
And then, after six months, she decided she wanted to go a step further. She still got tired running around her two children. She wanted to build her stamina and strength. That day, she decided to run. She got out the door next morning, downloaded the beginners running app, and began to follow the instructions. Walk, run, walk, and run, instructed the app and she started getting into the rhythm. When the app said ‘Run for 60 seconds’, she groaned, ‘Are you kidding me?’ She could barely manage 10 seconds. Her legs ached badly later in the day. As she put her baby to bed, she thought that this wasn’t worth it… it was too much effort.
But the next morning, with enormous amount of effort, she got up again. And then again. And then again. There were days her muscles ached badly, but she each time felt stronger mentally, sticking to her routine, making a commitment to herself to become fitter every day. She made a schedule of running one day and yoga on the next, giving her body a much needed rest on weekends. Finally, a year later, as Saanvi looked into the mirror, wearing one of her pre-pregnancy dresses, she knew she had bounced back. Stronger, fitter, healthier than ever before. She hugged both her kids, and gave them a kiss each as all three girls walked out for an evening play date in the neighbourhood park. Yummy Mummy was back with a bang!
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