One year ago today, I was sitting in the “induction room” at Chinook Regional Hospital. Dan and I knew that our baby boy would be coming sometime soon, and it was sooner than originally planned. Andy was originally due November 3rd, but he made his appearance when I was 38 weeks along at 12:32 am on October 19th, 2017.
We didn’t know what the next year would really look like other than the fact that we had a small human to take care of. What things would we be involved with as a family? What things would Andy and I find to do during my maternity leave? What would my post-partum running actually look like? Sure, we were able to theoretically imagine what the next year would look like, but we really wouldn’t know what it was like until experiencing it first hand.
I have said many times before, but I am beyond fortunate enough to be here in Alberta, Canada, where I have a one year maternity leave with my job. Also with my job, I was guaranteed my same position as long as I came back by that one year. I had sick pay covered for the first 15 weeks (I maxed it out mainly because I ended up having the emergency appendectomy 7 weeks post-partum) and then I received unemployment insurance for 35 additional weeks. Along with the money we saved in the year leading up to having Andy, we were able to live comfortably and take part in a lot of activities and trips. Some of the things specifically Andy & I were able to do were:
-“Mommy Connections” 8-week programming during three different sessions
-“Baby Steps” postnatal classes at the Lethbridge Health Unit
-“Baby PACT” (Parent and Child Time) 10 week session at Lethbridge Family Centre
-Swimming Lessons! 10 classes
-Baby Mama Boot Camp through Kinetic Fitness. We did this often twice a week during the winter and spring and then once a week in summer
-Stroller Boot Camp at University of Lethbridge for one winter/spring session
-Kindermusik Drop-In program at CASA
-Library programming like “Babes in the Library” and “Small & Tall”
-HIGH Fitness classes held at the northside LDS church
and much more!
The great thing about these programs were that they were all locally operated in Lethbridge and while some cost money, many were lower cost (Baby Steps & PACT) or FREE! (Library, HIGH fitness). These programs were important for both mine and Andy’s well being as it got us out of the house in the dead of winter, we got to socialize with other adults and children, and it kept us active.
While it was mainly Andy & I doing specific classes together, Dan also took Andy to a few “Me and my Dad” drop in programs at Family Centre on Saturday mornings. He plans to start doing this again when winter rolls around. I would also often bring Andy for visits at my school, we would go to basketball games, we would do mall walks when it was brutally cold and even just going grocery shopping got us out of the house.
We were also able to do some trips this year. Our first ‘road trip’ was Christmas, where we packed Andy, Snoopy, Woodstock & Faron (2 month old baby, beagle, and two cats) in our car and drove 3.5 hours to Red Deer to see Dan’s family. A highlight was going to Edmonton to see Dan’s Grandpa and get a four generation Pottage men photo. Dan’s grandpa passed away in late spring 2018 so this will definitely be cherished.
In April, we flew out to Walt Disney World in Florida to participate in the Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend. We met my mom out there and experienced our first family vacation via plane. This helped us tons in preparation for our summer trip where we flew out to Milwaukee over 4th of July to visit my family. We also acquired a camper in the summer and plan on using it for family camping trips. We tested it out for one night in Beauvais Lake and it went so well!
Lets not forget about RUNNING! Running was going to be a big part of my maternity leave year, as it is a huge part of me in general. I knew that if I couldn’t run, I would possibly run the risk of falling into a depression. I was fortunate enough to be able to keep running during the first 37 weeks of my pregnancy, with one week off before having Andy, and then two weeks of recovery. I ran my first 5km race post-partum at just 1 month having Andy. If you are interested in all my races and times in detail check out the result links at the top of this page
Then the appendectomy hit. Ouch. But a month later I was back. Boot camps, walking, running….it came back slowly but it was worth the wait. The picture below depicts all the races I was able to participate in during my maternity leave:
I was able to run in 15 different races:
Four 5km races (Claus Cause, Superhero Fun Run, Travelling Beer Garden Race, Coalhurst Family Run Run)
One 4 mile race (Firecracker 4)
One 8 km race (LadiesFest)
Three 10km races (Moonlight Run, Star Wars 10km, Fort Macleod Wilderness Run)
One 10 mile race (Lethbridge 10 Mile Road Race)
One Trail Race as a Relay (Coulee Cactus Crawl)
Three Half Marathons (Star Wars Half Marathon, Red Deer Half Marathon, Lethbridge Police Half Marathon)
One Full Marathon (Berlin Marathon)
OH YEAH….WE DID THE BERLIN MARATHON?!?!?!?! HOW COOL IS THAT!? If it wasn’t for being on my maternity leave at the time, it would have been very hard to make this work. What an amazing experience that my husband and I can say we shared in together.
I was also able to run some amazing times in the last year. I hit an unofficial 5km personal best of 20:30 in the Beer Garden race (chip time was 20:50 and course measured long) and my Police Half Marathon time was actually my 2nd fastest half marathon time EVER! (1:37.39) Andy and I ran in a 5km race last weekend and were the first stroller across the finish and actually the first female runner too. I won some money at different races and I also earned ago group awards throughout the year. While I was worried on how pregnancy and postpartum would treat me as a runner, I think it’s safe to say that all my hard work before, during and after pregnancy has paid off.
So what’s next? Well, there’ll be another year to follow. And years after that. And while I have ideas of things we have as plans, goals and dreams, we really can’t say those things for certain until they happen. There will be family events, trips, races, and just family time. A quote many of my friends have shared on Instagram and Facebook this year comes to mind right now:
“The days are long but the years are short”
To say that this past year went fast is a huge understatement. But many days were long and tiring. Some were filled with frustration. But in the end, all the days created lasting memories. Next year the days may feel long too. I know going back to work is something I am struggling with in my mind. Some of those days are going to feel hella long. But when we have the free time as a family to do things, we will. We need to fill our time with memory-making opportunities and seize the moment.
Onto year 2!