Unlike many, I knew that 2020 was going to be life-changing. Happily pregnant, my husband and I were eagerly awaiting the birth of our first daughter, Lucy, who was due at the end of May.
But the world that Lucy was born into was radically different than what we expected.
I was thankful that I was able to run throughout my entire pregnancy, especially as the pandemic turned our lives upside down. Already an anxious person, I worried about exposure to COVID-19, hospital restrictions that could impact our delivery experience, and the increasing likelihood that our loved ones wouldn’t be able to be there for Lucy’s birth. It was a lot to grapple with.
But running continued to have its calming effect, giving me some time to focus on Lucy. I was 7 months pregnant when the pandemic reached the United States. By then, Lucy was kicking a lot, especially while I ran. Those flutters took my mind off of COVID and reminded me that our dream baby was doing well. I just needed to do everything possible to protect her.
Even at 39 weeks, I ran 3-5 miles every other day, albeit at a much slower pace than I had been accustomed to, and taking great pains to socially distance from others. Thankfully, my pregnant belly was enough of a warning sign for people to stay away as I ran through our neighborhood.
On May 25th, I went for a 5-mile run, knowing my due date of May 30th was around the corner. It was a beautiful spring day and I made sure to take it all in, knowing it could be one of my last runs for a while. Eight hours later, my water broke, and we welcomed Lucy at 8:35AM on May 26th.
I can say confidently now, having run 7 marathons, childbirth is much harder, but the payoff surpassed the pain. She was, and remains, healthy and perfect.
As new parents, the first few weeks with a newborn were challenging and exhausting. The nonstop feeding and little sleep, coupled with recovering from delivery and a third-degree tear, made the thought of moving beyond walking our dog around the block unfathomable.
But once I got back to running, beginning off with a very cautious 3-mile run, I started to feel like myself again. Working its usual magic, the run shut my brain off from thoughts about the pandemic, or worries I had about my daughter, just like those of any new mom.
I knew from so many other mothers that taking the time for myself to run would make me a better mom, but I feel that’s even more true now that I’m raising a baby in a pandemic.
Lucy is such a joyful baby and, thankfully, has no idea what’s going on outside our little bubble. She deserves a mom who is present for her, and running has helped to ensure that I can do that.
Read more Seven Months into the Pandemic essays.