Perception vs. Reality

Never have I struggled with this concept more than I have these past 5 months.  It was early September when I found out I was pregnant and to say it was unexpected would be the understatement of the century.  Did I ever tell you I’m not big on surprises?

The first few weeks were the toughest and I cried, a lot.  I felt very guilty for all of the negative feelings I was having.  I mean, I should have been excited and joyful, like my husband.  Thousands of women would give almost anything for the privilege of growing another human being.  But, I wasn’t.  I was absolutely terrified.

That's me hoisting a #70 dumbbell over my head at the 2012 Regionals.

That’s me hoisting a #70 dumbbell over my head at the 2012 Regionals.

One of the things I like best about myself, one of the attributes I use to define me, is that I am a competitive CrossFitter.  As that person I was happier, healthier, and more fit that I ever had been.  Training intensely 5-6 days a week, sometimes with double sessions, was just part of my normal routine.  I took a lot of pride in being able to do what I could do and I was more comfortable in my own skin than I ever had been.  But, I couldn’t be that person and pregnant at the same time.   So, who was I?

In those early weeks when visible changes had not yet begun to happen it was easy to keep my perception of myself.  I didn’t look any different and I could still keep doing what I’d always done.  Until one day I couldn’t.  I remember trying to move a weight that earlier that same year would have been a piece of cake.  Instead it felt like a million pounds and I was forced to confront the reality that my body was indeed changing.

More often than not I am finding it hard just to keep up with the regular programming and make it to class 3-4x per week.  Week by week, the list of things I would have done with ease a few weeks ago and now know I will struggle just to get through gets longer and longer.   This time of year is also Team training season and, for three consecutive years, since I began CrossFit, I have been a part of my gym’s competitive Regionals team.  This year I can not be a part of my team, or participate in training, and I desperately miss being a part of it all.

Me, at 23 weeks pregnant.  Taken 1.18.13

Me 23 weeks pregnant. Taken 1.18.13

My perception is, because I can not do what I used to do, I have lost what makes me – me.  The reality, that part is just on hold.  But, what drove me be strong and compete is still – and will always be – a part of me.  Every day is not going to be a good training day.  I may not use same weights or be able to do the same movements, but every day I am able train I make myself, and this tiny human, stronger.  The goal has shifted from increasing strength to be a better competitor, to maintaining my strength in an effort to facilitate a healthy pregnancy, to ease labor and delivery, and to facilitate a healthy recovery.

I have good days and bad days.  On good days I am able to appreciate and find joy in the changes I am experienceing.  I can look forward to the future, and feel confident in who I am.  On bad days think only of the negative and what I can no longer do.  It is on  those days that I am most grateful to have a husband, friends, coaches, and a community that help bring me out of my perceptions and back into reality – the reality that  this is a precious experience…one that deserves to be savored , enjoyed, and appreciated because it will all be over before I know it.

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10 Comments on “Perception vs. Reality”

  1. Jen Araza says:

    Kathryn,
    First of all, I think you are so awesome, and so strong, for sharing your honest feelings here on this subject. I think more people than we both know have these feelings (maybe not so much about being a competitive Crossfitter, but about not being able to do what they thought made them- them) ALL the time, and very few ever share them.
    Second, you are an animal, my friend. We all know that you will continue to do what you can do throughout this pregnancy…which WILL, like you said, make that labor and delivery SO much easier…and you will be able to be back at it before you even know it.
    One of our clients, who was Crossfitting the entire way through her pregnancy (literally up to 2 days before she delivered), said that this pregnancy and delivery was NIGHT and DAY! The first, she thought she was pretty healthy…this one, she started Chiro…started Paleo, and started Crossfit. She said she could not believe how much EASIER this pregnancy was…and the delivery…piece of cake. The best part was that three days after her delivery, she was feeling like she didn’t even just have a baby.
    I’m not saying this will be your situation…obviously everyone is different…but just trust that all that time, energy and heart that you’ve put in the gym will NOT go away, and will make this pregnancy and delivery SO MUCH easier for you. You are so inspiring Kathryn…and I’m so excited to watch your journey through this SUPER exciting, precious time :) love you lots.
    Jen

    • Kathryn says:

      Thank you, Jen Araza. This was hard to write… I’ve watched you write about so many different topics, touching on so many different emotions, and through your writing allowing others to feel OK about what they are feeling, too. Even though I may not have commented, I didn’t feel so alone after reading a post in which we shared a similar experience.
      Many of the women I’ve talked to have expressed feeling similarly during their pregnancies as the roles of their lives change. It feels very taboo to admit that you are feeling anything but pure bliss about being pregnant, but the reality is that it isn’t all happiness and rainbows. There will be tears, there will be grief over the life you are leaving behind…but I don’t think we should be afraid to talk about it.

  2. jen flynn says:

    I love that you are excepting this journey and finding ways to find solace and remain confidant in who you are and your abilities….it is great practice when that baby comes cause it is a struggle to maintain your self and find out who you are as a mother and who you are as a person….but the good news is that you are so in love with that little person….it makes the journey WONDERFUL!!! so happy for you and you are rocking it (and will continue to rock it!!!!)

    • Kathryn says:

      Thank you Jen Flynn. At the start, by biggest fear was losing the person I’d worked so hard to become. But as I look around me I am realizing that I am surrounded by women who have integrated the Mommy role, not succumbed to it. I don’t know how this whole balancing act will play out, but that is part of the fun…

  3. Deb Deacon says:

    OMG you are ADORABLE pregnant!!! YOU will be a GREAT, AMAZING and INCREDIBLE mom—because you ‘get it!’….I love it, you are ‘on hold’ from some things but pressing forward on so many more! The joy this gorgeous bambino will bring you and hubster will be crazy :)

    CONGRATS!!!!!

    • Kathryn says:

      Thank you, Deb! Crazy will definitely be an appropriate descriptor! Who knows how the future will play out, but I’m going to do my best to enjoy the ride :-)

  4. Rose Mini says:

    Though I have not had the experience of being pregnant, I have had the experience of losing strength; not able to do what I once had. Take heart that not only will you be back to your old strong, bad ass self soon, you will have the blessing of forming the healthy habits of a little person who will look up to you and be proud to be your son/daughter. Remember this experience as you age (my current state;), it will be helpful when you discover you just can’t do what you once did, but take pride that you’re still heads above most of America…..not to mention still just as bad ass! Hang in there! ;)

    • Kathryn says:

      Thank you, Rose. I know this has all happened for a reason…

      • TERRI LEIBFRIED says:

        We love you Kathryn. Because of that competitive spirit you always strive to do your best -which is head and shoulders above the rest!!! Your compassion and strength have allowed you to put your own needs aside for a short time to ensure that you provide the super best environment for creating this new and precious human being. You are in great shape. Once he/she is born you will be the best Mom ever for a super terrific little cross fitter right from the get go accompanying you to the gym. And you will watch with love and pride – as I have all these years – as your little one learns and grows under your tutelage. Life is a journey we don’t always have control over to plan. But things do happen for a reason – embrace ………..
        Love you :)

      • Kathryn says:

        Thank you, Mom. You’ve always been there when things have gotten tough (and when they haven’t) and have helped without question…this experience has been no different. Thank you for giving me the space I’ve needed to sort through so many emotions and to learn how to come into this new role on my own. I’m looking forward to having you come and stay for a while in May :-)


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