We continue our three-part series by talking to Jess about what it was like to be pregnant, what considerations did she have to take planning and entering motherhood with her training and what was it like being a mother for those first few weeks.
Last year you welcomed your first son, Billy into your family. Was this something that you had been planning for a while and what hurdles did you have to overcome to feel that you were ready to take on the transition from elite athlete into motherhood. Was this transition a difficult one? What kind of support did you have along the way?
After an intense lead up to the 2018 Commonwealth Games and a Marathon on the Gold Coast three months later, I was hanging out for a physical and mental rest. Dylan and I planned a three-month trip to Europe with the option of potentially picking up a little bit of work whilst away. It was a timely opportunity to step away from our regular routines and to chat about our hopes for the future. We both dreamed of starting a family but were well-aware that it may not happen straight away.
Whilst celebrating our recent Engagement over New Year’s Eve nibbles and bubbles on the Mornington Peninsula in 2018, Dylan and I made the decision to get married in April of 2019. A few months later we were elated to find out that I had fallen pregnant. Like with Marathon preparation, I was focused on doing everything I could look after my body but with an even greater sense of responsibility (and appetite!) My family, coach, sponsors, friends, health care providers and running Mums in the community were very supportive throughout.
Did you continue to run during your pregnancy? What kind of training did you do and did you enjoy it? What was most enlightening to you about running when pregnant?
I had reduced my running training load significantly following the Toronto Marathon in October of 2018 to let my body recover and give myself the best opportunity to conceive. I continued to jog and do some light tempo runs until I was 14 weeks pregnant. At that point I had a month off due to pain in my pubic symphysis which resolved with rest from running, avoiding the temptation to ‘brace’ my abdominals and sitting down to tie my laces! I started regular sessions in the pool and on the Elliptical trainer to maintain my cardio fitness and to my surprise, really enjoyed cross training during this phase. I got creative with my Fartlek sessions and listened to all sorts of podcasts about sport, pregnancy, childbirth, health and business. From week 18-27 I got back into jogging once or twice per week but found the bladder irritation pretty distracting. At 27 weeks into pregnancy Billy moved into a breech position and at that point I backed right off the running as it started to cause more significant discomfort. My final little jog was at about 32 weeks into my pregnancy.
How were those first weeks of motherhood for you? What is one thing you could share with a young first time mum to help them get through?
It is hard to describe the rush of love that bringing a baby into the world triggers. Despite some intense discomfort, adjusting to new sleep patterns, times of confusion, emotional moments (when my breastmilk came in) and needing Dylan’s help to get in and out of bed initially, the first few weeks hold so many special memories. Some of these include watching Dylan and Billy playing and napping together, trying to perfect the burrito wrap in the middle of the night, getting to know Billy’s little facial expressions and hand movements, proudly walking/shuffling along the river path with our little bundle in his new Thule sleek pram, enjoying the company of visitors and venturing out to training to introduce Billy to our training squad. I don’t think I have ever felt as ‘present’ as I have since Billy came into our lives.
One thing that I can recommend to first time Mums is to focus on enjoying the moment you are in. It is easy to slip into the habit of counting up the hours of sleep (or lack of) that you’ve had and feeling overwhelmed about jobs that could be done around the house but if you clear your mind of these concerns and focus on what you have achieved for the day, you will find every moment with your baby a lot more rewarding. I used my pockets of energy to get some housework done and although it was sometimes awkward carrying Billy in one arm and a vacuum or dishcloth in the other, I think my legs and upper body are stronger for it!
If you are used to an active lifestyle, I would recommend trying to maintain a routine of getting out of the house for a walk and some fresh air with your baby. I look forward to my morning walks with Billy each day and whilst I am frequently caught out talking gobbledygook to him by neighbours, I’m sure they understand!
To be continued…..