Running, motherhood, and life in general after babies has been both easier and harder than I expected.  (So is getting  “older”, as I turned 31 today!) This post has, too, as I’ve been working on it in my head for over a week without any real idea of how its going to start and end.

One of the best and worst things about me, I think, is that I tend to set expectations high. Because of that I often find myself simultaneously proud and disappointed. I’ve almost always been the type to wear many hats. For example: singer, runner, wife, infertile, bad amateur comedienne, girl with really curly hair, speech therapist. Fourteen weeks ago I added another much desired hat: mother. Something about the addition of this hat changes the balancing act. When I’m honest with myself I realize that I’m having difficulty finding my place.

I easily identified myself as an infertile. I found this great community of other women going through something similar who shared great advice, support and excitement when our IVF cycle worked. Now of course my life mostly revolves around the babies and so my blog posts do too. Though a pregnancy doesn’t take away the infertility I find myself feeling more separated because I’m doing what I think most infertiles would respond to with a gasp: actively preventing another pregnancy. I continue to find myself shocked that I am a mother. Even 14 weeks after birth I STILL sometimes feel like I have to return the babies to someone – almost like an extended babysitting gig.  I find aspects of motherhood to be both incredibly rewarding and incredibly frustrating. Though I always knew logically that, infertile or not, there would be difficult parts of it, I still wrestle with guilt when I get frustrated. I seek support from other moms just to make sure its normal. Infertility makes some aspects of motherhood both harder and easier than I expected. I feel like anytime I “complain” I have to back it up with a “I love my babies and wouldn’t trade them for the world” – which I wouldn’t, but I don’t like that I feel like I have to add that. This isn’t the fault of anyone but myself either. No one but me has made me feel guilty. On the other hand, I think generally speaking that all we went through for these babies does make me appreciate motherhood more than I would have otherwise.

I returned to work 3 weeks ago. Despite my desperate proclamations while infertile that I’d happily stay home, I’ve always known that I’m not meant to be a Stay at Home Mom. I worked hard for 6  years to earn my degree and enjoy my job/career. (However I am NOT knocking anyone in a similar boat who decided to stay home – it simply isn’t for me) I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to return to work part time – enough to stay current, converse with adults and contribute a little financially, but not so much that I feel like I miss all of the babies’ “firsts”. I know this set up makes me a better mom. What I’m having trouble with is fitting back into the work crowd, as if the change in status has somehow changed my place there.

As I try to rebuild my speed, stamina and miles, I find I’m not sure how to 100% identify myself as a runner either. I once compared infertility to a marathon, noting the ups and downs of training and the race itself. There were points in both where I really had to work to muster the energy to keep going, knowing in the end it would be worth it.  I’m not really sure of the reason for this “identity crisis”, if you will, I just know that sometimes lately I feel a bit uncomfortable in my own skin. I guess I had this expectation that I would just slide right into this entirely new role seamlessly and without much effort, which in hindsight is pretty unrealistic.  hopped on the treadmill the other day for a run that was supposed to be an easy one: 3-4 miles at a 10min/mile pace. About a mile and a half in, though, I was tired. I stopped, frustrated, unable to understand why this easy run suddenly required so much effort. I took a break and after a few minutes realized I wasn’t just frustrated by the effort of the run, but also with the transition that I crazily expected to be “easy”. Its funny how frustrations tend to make themselves known in other ways.

One of my favorite quotes also comes from one of my favorite cartoons: Winnie the Pooh.

“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think”

I don’t know what the solution is. I do know that after a few minutes rest I got back on the treadmill and finished the run. I have as many hard runs as easy ones but usually finish them all (unless an injury is involved). I thought to myself as I finished the workout that I have a better appreciation for running because it makes me push myself and realize I have more stamina and strength than I think. I am stronger than I seem. For now I’m still working on balancing all of this.I’m still not sure how to be a good wife/mom/runner/coworker/speech therapist etc all at the same time. The balance will come. Until then, I keep running – remembering the wise words of Winnie. Because who wouldn’t follow a big fluffy bears’ advice?