I joined Solcana in April 2017, when I was twelve weeks pregnant. If you’ve ever been pregnant, known anyone who was pregnant, or somehow gotten sucked up in the (awful) social conversation surrounding pregnancy, you probably know two things. First, you’re not supposed to try new physical activities because you might hurt yourself or the fetus. Second, lots of people have Opinions — Strong ones! Mostly very negative ones! The kinds strangers tell you when you didn’t ask and don’t care! — about women who work out while they’re pregnant. And this is the story of why I did it anyway.
I’d lived a mostly sedentary life growing up, but started running my last year of college, and became committed to it. I read about it, spent money on it, and scheduled my life in part around it. In graduate school, I credited daily running and weekly long runs with helping keep my depression and anxiety largely at bay (although the medication helped too). I ran a few marathons. I wasn’t strong, and I wasn’t fast, but I was persistent. I could grind out a half-marathon with no actual training. It was a pretty good existence.
But when I moved to Minneapolis for work in the summer of 2016, everything changed. I had trouble balancing running with the demands of my new job. My depression and anxiety crept back in. The winter weather provided a good excuse to obey my anxiety and not leave my apartment except to go to work. I sometimes worked out in the apartment gym. Some squats here. Some running there. Doing things the internet told me to do with kettlebells, mostly badly. Then, in February of 2017, I found out I was pregnant.
Now, in a lot of ways, when you’re pregnant everyone wants to remind you that your body isn’t just yours anymore. And mostly this is used to political ends I oppose. And mostly this rhetoric makes me really mad. But I also realized that my health and lifestyle weren’t just about me anymore. I needed to be healthy for my kid. I needed to grow a healthy baby. While my brain has always been bad about caring about my own well-being, it was easier to care about my future child. It wasn’t just about me anymore. I decided I needed structure and guidance. I needed to join a gym.
You won’t be surprised to learn that “prenatal CrossFit” is, according to Google, not A Thing. I ended up coming to Solcana because my friend Elizabeth posted on Facebook that a coach (Coach Ariel) had brought her baby to powerlifting. I figured that meant at least one person knew how to work out while pregnant. After I joined, I cleared it with my OBGYN, who was very supportive of my fitness plans. (“Just don’t do anything that risks abdominal trauma,” she said. “It’s not a good time to start playing rugby.”)
I spent my first class trying not to vomit. My memories of the actual workout are hazy — there were sit-ups and medicine balls — but what stuck with me was that I sucked and everyone was extremely supportive anyway. As the kid who was bullied in gym class from first grade until I realized they couldn’t make me take gym anymore, this was mind-blowing. Coach Kaitlin was my partner for the metcon, and I remember thinking they were the kindest human I had ever met for sticking with me the whole time and not being disappointed to be paired with did everyone wrong, and slowly.
I kept with it. I got better. I started coming 3-4 times a week. I lifted progressively heavier things. My pregnancy progressed. I felt better, had more energy, and my depression and anxiety started to lift. Coaches scaled all the workouts as I became increasingly constrained by the human in my uterus. First, no burpees, situps, or rowing. Then no Olympic lifts. Then no hanging from a bar. By the end of my third trimester, I was sometimes doing entirely different workouts than everyone else. But I was still there. The week before my due date, I tried to run and jump-rope the baby out. (Didn’t work.) I deadlifted on my due date. Two days later I was induced. Two days after that, my son was born via C-section. 6lbs 12 ozs of perfectly healthy baby.
Since I had a C-section, for six weeks I wasn’t allowed to lift more than fifteen pounds, do any cardio, or use my core. Coach Hannah wrote me C-section-friendly programming, and 2-3 weeks after my kid was born, he was laying on a blanket on the floor during Open Gym, watched over by Babysitter Petey, while I worked out and recovered. After I was cleared for normal activity, I was back in the 11:30 class. Continuing to attend Solcana and focusing on functional fitness has been the best thing I’ve done for my parenting, too — having an infant is mostly doing a bunch of Turkish get-ups, over and over, and chasing my kid in a bear crawl is, apparently, hilarious. Now that my son is running everywhere, I am continually grateful that I can chase him, pick him up, throw him, and play with him on the floor. Solcana is helping me to be the parent I want to be.