The first 2 months.
My miscarriage worries, early symptoms and making training changes
Well this is about month 2 really as you don’t know before 4 weeks have somehow gone. But I like how it makes me feel I’ve already got a month under my belt. Like a few easy flat miles at the start of a race before the path turns up a mountain.
It’s such a strange feeling getting those 2 blue lines. You know you’re pregnant – the sticks don’t lie. But you don’t feel any different yet. Something momentous is happening inside that will change the rest of your life, but for now it’s just 2 lines on a stick.
I make the changes I have to – out go my caffeinated tea and diet coke, and glass of wine with dinner. In come the right supplements and extra fruit & veg. But I have a mental block on the physical pregnancy – the idea that I could really be growing a child inside me again.
Having had a previous miscarriage I just can't let myself process it emotionallyI don't even tell my husband until over a week later when I get the “2-3 week” reading on the stick showing the hormones have increased (he doesn’t know this yet and I reckon he won’t be bothered to read my blog so ssshh!)
Every day I start feeling different things – a twinge here, a cramp there and worry – is this good? is this bad? Is it a sign of miscarriage or one of pregnancy? Did I have this before? Sometimes they are all too similar. I’m desperate for the unambiguous symptoms – morning sickness and tiredness - to give me more confidence it will be fine. Even whilst I know I’ll hate them as soon as they come!!
But every pregnancy is different. My swollen boobs gave me away at the 8 week mark with my first, but this time there’s barely a difference. My first sign this time, almost as soon as those lines dried are patches of tanned skin on my cheekbones – the “mask” of pregnancy. Which are actually quite nice – I’ve never really bothered with makeup so I look more put together than usual.
At 5+3 (5 weeks and 3 days), after spending probably £50 on those bloody sticks I finally get my “3+ weeks” come up in the window. Just in time for the tiredness and stretching stomach cramps to kick in. I should have saved my money.
Pregnancy really starts here - the tiredness is kicking in big time which I know is a good (if unwelcome) sign. I shorten my weekly long run to 90 mins (usually 2 hrs +) but I’m still wiped out for the rest of the day. By 3pm every day I’m sitting on the couch like a zombie saying yes to whatever the boys want to watch as long as it autoplays the next episode so I don’t have to think about pressing a button.
It doesn’t help that we’re in the middle of lockdown, and I’m trying to look after (as well as homeschool) 2 kids, juggle work and the rest of life whilst being knackered. Unfortunately my hubby works in the financial markets so he’s locked away attached to multiple screens from 8-5 and I’m chief childcarer (as well as chief everything else. Oh and still trying to get some work done).
My strategy is to take the boys for a two hour hike every morning – carrying my Cormac, my 2 year old up a big hill (he’s 15kg – its good training) then letting them run to tire themselves out. This way Cormac will reliably have a 2-3 hour nap so I can get stuff done! We’ve just moved into our forever home on the edge of the North Downs and are so lucky to now be on the doorstep of amazing forests and hills for the boys to get lost in (and of course for me to trail run in)
I’m managing to keep in some way to my training plan – my only free run slot midweek is during Cormac’s nap, though only as long as Donnacha has finished his reading and “deserves” his TV break. Strength sessions are fairly adhoc in the morning using the boys as weights interspersed with a bit of Joe Wicks’ HIIT workout. Or done on benches in the forest whilst the boys eat their multiple mid-hike snacks. It feels like life is becoming one big multitask but I remind myself this exercise “snacking” is just as good as doing it in a gym all at once.
Any specific goals, target paces, weights or distances are out of the window of course. And some days it’s difficult getting out of the door when I’d just rather have a nap. But I know I feel more energised being active, and having a training plan set by my coach is proving helpful in making me stick to them – certainly before I tell her I’m pregnant and can start my excuses!
7 weeks on and we have a heartbeat!!!
Ok now it’s serious – this might actually be happening!!! I booked an early pregnancy scan midrun on my Saturday morning exercise slot (multitasking….) The clinic is luckily only 3 miles away (down a hill, up a hill) but I pack babywipes to have a quick clean up so I’m not walking in too sweaty...
I still have one eye on the miscarriage stats but this is a huge relief and I feel I can finally make plans. Which start with telling the two people who actually need to know – my coach Edwina and my physio Emma who I need to help me through this pregnancy.
Eddie would have guessed soon anyway by my unusual training diary comments “shortened run as was tired” - or maybe more by just how slow I’m running. I need Emma’s support as soon as possible to start strengthening up my pelvic floor and pelvis supporting muscles. I’ve been far too lazy with my strength exercises recently – if you’re reading this and are pregnant start on them now! I'm preparing for her to tell me off... we're going to be playing catchup.
Pregnancy has now well and truly kicked in. Cardio wise, my body has already put a limit on me – tempos are slower and my power output on a bike has dropped. I’m struggling more in the heat and often have to slow to a walk up a hill to keep my heart rate in check. And the baby is still only a few cm long!!!
Morning sickness has hit too. I’m lucky that I don’t usually vomit and can manage it through frequent meals (many featuring Nutella on toast) but it does mean I have to think about fuelling every 2 hours, during my long runs and straight after all my sessions. I only have about 20 minutes after I wake to get breakfast down before the nausea kicks in too strongly so the boys are having to wait for theirs (put your own oxygen mask on first and all).
It’s now time to make a different plan – based on keeping both of us healthy and happy through this very long endurance event. My "A" goal is to have an active pregnancy which will prepare me best for labour and my post-partum recovery. But fully recognising my limits – that how I feel and what I can do will change week to week. I’m hoping my energy comes back as I get past this first trimester – but I know it will bring with it a bigger bump and my old friend relaxin! (a hormone in pregnancy that relaxes ligaments and widens the pelvis).
With so much change happening day to day it is easy to feel overwhelmed - I have in some way lost control of my body. But there is a huge amount I can take control of and actively prepare for these changes – from strength work, to pelvic floor, stretching and running/cross training. I can take control of my energy too through better nutrition, more sleep and saying no more! I’ve learned so much from my past 2 pregnancies, the research into best practice has moved on to guide me and I feel confident I have the right support in place.
It’s time to talk to my coaches, get a plan in place and take control.