I was so pumped to learn I was pregnant in 2015. We were scared and hesitant but it was such a fun, happy time! Getting to tell friends and family, as well as, starting to dream of who exactly this new addition to our family would be was so exciting. It’s funny, looking back, it was there in those first few days when I first heard “her”:

“You better start making sure you stay healthy for this baby. Minimal weight gain and staying fit is key!”

She was quiet in the early days, but absolutely present. She was my voice of reason. My driver and my accountability partner. I’m not exactly sure when she got her voice, but most likely has always been there. She was the same girl who made sure I didn’t embarrass myself in elementary school, she made sure I wore the cutest clothes in middle school and even kept me from eating all the yummy food to stay skinny. She had my best interest at heart, right?

At this point, I had been Cross fitting for a few years, and before that had always worked out, gravitating towards high intensity, strength type workouts. With it being 2015 at the time, I feel like the pregnancy pendulum had taken a full swing back towards “fit births” with moms all over my Instagram page participating in their sport of choice all the way up until they delivered. So why not me? My midwife cleared me to continue what was normal for me, with the forewarning of listening to my body.

“Cool. We got it. Listen…can we go now? We have a CrossFit class to get too.”

I found solace in the fact that maintaining a low heart rate and “not strength training” were things of the past. The “fit pregnancy” door was wide open! I got this. I PR’d a few of my lifts in the early days of pregnancy, wearing my ability to still do pull-ups, box jumps and throw weight around with a big fat belly as a badge of honor. I know, I’m rolling my eyes too.

For the most part, things were good! A few aches and pain here and there but nothing too crazy. I ran, I jumped, I kipped. I COULD do all of the things but never asking myself, SHOULD I continue to do these things? Anytime I felt a pain or that maybe I needed a day off, there “she” was again. I feel like this is when she got a little louder. I little bolder.

“You know that girl over there probably wouldn’t stop if she were hurting. Exercising hard now just helps you do better in labor and delivery. You have come this far, don’t give up now” 

Her words started to ring louder in my ears. They were a little meaner than they used to be. A little more pointed. She has always kept me out of trouble so far though, so she must know something?

March 10, 2016, my water broke 5 days before my due date.

“Dang, Brooke. Remember in the birthing class, they said unmedicated birth is harder after your water breaks….”

I got in the shower and cried. I didn’t want it to start like this. I needed an unmedicated birth. I planned for it, and any other option wasn’t acceptable.

“Hopefully contractions start soon because we both know Pitocin is a death sentence”.

Okay, you’re kind of starting to annoy me. But crap. You’re right. I do hope they start soon.

Long story short, 15 hours of Pitocin induced labor later, I was ready to push. 3 hours later, my son, Monroe Miller was born. Yes. You heard me. 3 hours of pushing. He was “sunny side up” so was not able to slide under my pelvis easily. This resulted in a crazy cone head for him and grade 3 tearing for me.

“Whew, at least you did it Brooke. That’s all that matters, right?”

She was still there. Hadn’t left. And she wouldn’t anytime soon.

6 weeks later I was cleared to return to sport. My midwife did check my ability to contract my pelvic floor and she did give me the warning to start slow, listening to my body.

“Okay, okay, Listen. Got it.  Can we go now? We have a CrossFit class to get too”

My midwife did ask if I had any questions and concerns. I failed to mention how a long walk around Target would result in me peeing my pants or that the thought of sex absolutely terrified me. It was fine. I needed to get back. I would figure it out.

Work out number two back at my gym was deadlifts and handstand push-ups.

“Brooke, you just had a baby. Don’t be a hero. Let’s just do handstands instead. That’s modifying, right? “

Now she is just being downright dumb. With no thought to my central stability status and general tissue tolerance, I kicked right up into those handstands.

This unbelievably inappropriate decision resulted in the start of a wrist injury that I still manage. If you have ever done CrossFit, the need for wrist extension is almost in everything you do. It sidelined me.

“Fine, go run. You’re fit, you worked out your entire pregnancy, had an unmedicated birth. You better get your body back quickly or everyone will know you’re a fraud. You don’t have to hold back anymore; your baby is born. It’s all about you now. So, go!”

So, I ran. And cried. I felt terrible. Pressure, pain. Leakage. Unstable. Weak. Cue the depression. Oh, and the tears.

“Man Brooke, kind of tanking here. You really should be further along than what you are. Oh, and you’re going back to work full time too? Out of shape, and a terrible mom. I thought you were better”

In the end, my answer to all the chaos was to just stop. I went months without exercising. Yeah, maybe that was good as it stopped me from the damage I was clearly doing to myself. But guys, movement is medicine. I pouted. I cried. I had gone from one extreme to the other, never ever seeking for myself what was right. What was healthy. What was good.

And all along, she was still there.

“We still doing this, Brooke? You’re a therapist.  I’d be ashamed if I were you”

If you aren’t already annoyed with me, you should be.  I guess if anything, I really feel sorry for “old me”. Pregnancy and the conversation about fitness have changed so much recently, there were literally no resources for me as I went through this time of life, despite my training as a therapist.

I finally got tired of “her”. Yeah, sure she had good intentions but was uneducated, under-resourced and scared. I needed to change her attitude, change her heart and slowly I have.

Over the past years, learning as much as I can about pregnancy and post-partum life, treatment and status has been my mission. No resources in my area before? Okay. I will be the resource.  Taking courses like Brianna Battles “Pregnancy and Postpartum Athleticism” course changed my mind. Changed my practice. Changed my life. I have found the best of the best in my field and have hung on every word. Guys, life can be so much different.

Pregnancy and post-partum life are not about how much I can do, how soon I can get back or if I can deliver without medication. It’s about choosing options that support us as women. Make us happy. Contribute to a well-rounded life. Pre-natal exercise should not set us back but set us up for a quick return back to the things we love. I am embarrassed by the choices I made during pregnancy, as I know my actions were not best for my core and pelvic floor health. I absolutely set myself back.

I once believed “post-partum” was a time frame and me graduating out of it was a given. The opportunity to return to sport is earned. It is worked at and progressed to. It is ensuring proper strategies that protect our bellies, protect our joints are in place before we ever jump back into life as we knew it before.

My goal when treating women is to listen, educate, and empower. Is to help teach risk versus reward specific to the activity women do during this crazy chapter of our lives. It is so much more than “do this instead of that”, or “listening to our bodies” cause from my experience, the voice I chose to listen to was kind of an idiot.

I am happy to say Monroe Miller gets a sibling in December of this year! My mindset isn’t perfect, but it is absolutely different than it was before. The feelings of pride and comparison still want to well up, but I feel as though now, I’ve got the education and the power I need to silence her. I am so excited for this journey and even more excited to share with you!