So, let's reflect...
But before we reflect, I'll tell you why I began a running recap throughout pregnancy: because at the beginning of this pregnancy, I searched other mothers' blogs who had done the same thing and found them to be uber helpful and inspiring while providing a sense of community, a sense that women who run while pregnanct do exist. So, here you go!
Now, reflection time. To begin, here are some thoughts about the previous weeks and months...
Around week 19, energy began to slowly fade, and in week 20, it plummeted. I had to hold onto the edge of the bed when I woke up in the morning to steady the dizziness that occurred. I was sleeping in two hours later than usual. After 30-45 minutes of gentle morning prenatal yoga, I had to lie down for a nap before my son awoke, otherwise I'd crash, eyes slamming shut, around 11 a.m. In other words, I was EXHAUSTED!
During weeks 19, 20, 21 and 22, when I'd start out for a jog, heaviness and shortness of breath erupted along with leg cramps and zero energy for anything but slowing to a walk. At night, my hips began to cramp wihile my lower extremeties battled restless leg syndrome. At least three times a week I'd see stars that would fade to black at any given time throughout the day, and I'd hurry myself to the ground and lie there for as long as possible before slowly emerging. Several times I had to call my mom to take over my stay-at-home mom duties.
My overall emotional feelings were of the depressed kind, with little excitement for anything and lots of anxiety about everything, especially labor, wondering how on earth I would endure if merely driving 20 minutes, walking into the yoga studio and lying down my yoga mat before teaching were taking the life right out of me.
Something was clearly not right! Finally, my home birth midwife tested my hemoglobin levels and diagnosed me as anemic, nearing the level of blood transfusion (my level was 8.6, and blood transfusion begins at 7.9). She asked me how on earth I was functioning. My answer: lots of praying, and saying lots of rosaries. Then she got serious, explaining what can go wrong (lots) if I didn't take care of this as soon as possible. AGH!!! Scary? Yes! Easily fixable? Yes, thank goodness!
I left her office with Avie and cried as we drove to my sister's house, worrying about my unborn baby, though fetuses are rarely affected by an expectant mom's anemia unless it goes untreated for extended periods of time. I had full intentions of making major changes.
This is what I did:
First, I finally purchased the plant-based liquid iron supplement, Floradix (see below for where to buy), which my midwife prescribed me in my first trimester when my hemoglobin levels were mildly low, and began taking it like she, this time, demanded that I do. I wish I had listened the first time!
Next, I used my worrying effectively by researching the highest iron-rich plant-based foods and began incorporating them into my diet. I added molasses to warm almond milk every morning and stewed dried apricots with oats. For lunch, I replaced my typical warm bread, olive oil, greens and avocado salad with hearty vegetable bean soups. Between meals I'd sip on juices high in vitamin C, which aids in the absorption of iron, or eat citrus fruits. And here's the big one... for dinner, I began to eat red meat.
As a vegan for more than two years, and one who attempted to eat animal products in the first trimester with bad reactions and little success, one might think I would be apprehensive to eating the flesh of animals. But when it comes to the health of my fetus and myself for the sake of caring for Avie and my unborn baby, I would do anything. I decided this time around not to include cheese, eggs or any animal prodcut except the ones highest in iron, and that is red meat. It worked! Within five days, my hemoglobin levels rose by four points, up to 12!
With daily doses of Floradix, which provides all B-vitamins as well, and meat for dinner, I made a complete turnaround, and all the symptoms of the previous months faded away. These include: insomnia, restless legs syndrome, muscle cramps, lethargy, weepiness, depression, fainting, dizziness, seeing black stars, shortness of breath, exhaustion, anxiety and confusion.
Whew! I'm glad that problem has been solved! Now I'm loving pregnancy and feeling confident and eager about the final trimester and the birth journey! I might even include Floradix in my next marathon fueling!
Let's return to the point of this post - to share my running experience during month five. With anemia going strong, I had to time my running with a nap beforehand or shortly after, though I did not know that it was anemia (I assumed that this was just a very exhausting pregnancy). Weeks 20-22 were exceptionally difficult, with shortness of breath taking over. Even though physical fitness was taking a toll on my energy levels, the bit of mood lifting that it provided at this time was paramount to my sanity!
Here, you can read about what was running was like for me in the First Trimester and Fourth Month.
Below is how I ran and stayed fit during Month Five, with weekly mileage listed after the week dates and other workouts listed below that.
Week 18 (Oct. 24-30): 11.58 miles of running
*Other workouts included: one hour of vinyasa/power yoga per day, and one day of spinning for 20 minutes
Week 19 (Oct. 31-Nov. 6): 10 miles of running
*Other workouts included: lots of yoga, at least one hour per day, and sometime two hours! (I did a three-day advanced Hands-on Assists 300-hour Yoga Teacher Training at the Asheville Yoga Center Nov. 4-6!)
Week 20 (Nov. 7-13): 6.29 miles of running
*Other workouts included: one to two hours of vinyasa/power yoga per day plus a little bit of yin yoga; one day I jogged around the house, rode the spinning bike, lifted light weights and did pull-ups
Week 21 (Nov. 14-20): 6.72 miles of running
*Other workouts included: 30 to 60 minutes of yoga per day; 26 minute bike ride while pulling Avie in the bike cart; and 30 minutes of spinning, jogging around the house, lifting light weights and pull-ups.
Week 22 (Nov. 21-27): 6.02 miles of running
*Other workouts included: 30 to 60 minutes of yoga per day and a 1.4 mile walk
Month six looks much different from month five - I'll be posting the recap soon (hopefully before month seven ends!)!
Until then, I'll keep taking this pregnancy one step at a time, remembering that each day is different, each hour is different, and that running races, logging lots of miles and doing as many handstands as possible within my yoga practice will come again. Races will always be there, hot power yoga classes will always be there, but the blessing and awesomeness of my pregnancy, though it feels long some days, will be over before I know it.
Thus, for now, I'm finding nourishment and support in doing less, experiencing my body in a different way through prenatal yoga, praying more and sitting in silence with the movements of my baby within the womb.