While I was being admitted to the hospital for preterm labor and facing a sentence of up to one month of hard time on hospital bed rest, one of my favorite friends was setting out on the first leg of a solo, cross country bike ride. I'll say it again, just in case you weren't thoroughly blown away by that statement the first time: she was riding her bike ...alone ...across... the country (as in, the United States).
I bet we can all agree that it takes a special kind of crazy to tackle such an endeavor. And that special crazy is precisely why I am such great friends with this lady.
She's easily talked into running marathons and is the reason I know that the best way to clock in a PR (personal record) for a half marathon is by braving single digit weather. Her ambitious nature is surpassed only by her side-splitting sense of humor and overwhelming social conscious. She is not just riding 3,000 miles in vein folks. Instead, she is using the endeavor to raise money to fund the enormous medical bills of a sweet 8-year-old Dominican boy through the World Pediatric Project.
Raise your hand if your summer plans suddenly feel insignificant.
Well, my summer plans were looking downright miserable in comparison. Sure, I would soon be blessed with a second little person to bring my husband and myself infinite joy (and endless exhaustion), but my admission to the hospital 10 weeks shy of my due date was making the whole experience seem pretty glum. I would either spend the next month doped up on labor-surpassing drugs, confined to cell block OB, or we would be repeating our stint at the NICU while the little man learned to breathe, hold his temp, and eat.
During a text-session with my country-crossing pal just a couple days into my confinement, I expressed my plan to live vicariously through her adventure while I stayed parked firmly in my hospital bed in a magnesium-induced stupor.
Both are mental challenges, she said.
And after I quit crying (damn hormones) I realized how right she was.
Under normal conditions, I challenge myself almost daily. I push my physical limits in some form or fashion, whether it's during a fitness class or a run in the park.
After two months on 'modified bed rest'--which does not allow for running in the park or teaching fitness classes, BTW--I actually felt like a piece of me had died.
Over-dramatic alert, right?
I wish I could say that I *didn't* cry like a baby when the decision was made to cool it on the workouts. Sure, a big part of that was the realization that things weren't sailing smoothly with #2. I had a real (and apparently justifiable) fear that we would find ourselves parenting yet another preemie. I had lost control and some of my most vital mommy parts were deemed incompetent.
It was stressful to say the least. And my best stress relieving strategies were suddenly out of the question.
So no more physical challenges. No more endorphin-high to numb the anxiety. Now it was time to work on my mental strength...and my ability to shovel as much ice cream in my mouth as humanly possible (the scooping counts for bicep curls) I wasn't peddling across the country, but I was mentally gearing up for the marathon of motherhood (times two) that lies ahead.
As my dear friend crosses into the Great Plains of middle America, covering 100 miles or more a day, I am sluggishly jogging the 2.1 miles between my house and the hospital where my son is learning to cope with the world he entered 9 weeks too soon.
I think that eventually we'll all be okay, and maybe even stronger for having tackled such great challenges.