The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly (an ode to CrossFit)

January 31, 2013.  The phone rings.


“Hey dude, what’s up?”  It was my brother Michael, again.

“So when are you going to CrossFit?”

Again with this.  For one month he had called endlessly, unrelenting in his question.  It was always the same.

For Christmas he and Chevonne had gotten me what she aptly called “the best worst idea ever.”  They had purchased for me the on ramp program at CrossFit Norwalk.  That and a pair of knee socks that said “bad ass” on them, one calf sleeve in hot pink, and a pair of weightlifting gloves.  I was both perplexed and intimidated.

But that day, one year ago today, I finally put in the call.  My heart was pounding as I dialed, afraid of what I was getting myself into.  I was really out of shape.  I mean really.

December 2012. Thank god I had this beautiful baby in my arms, because physically I was a mess.
December 2012. Thank god I had this beautiful baby in my arms, because physically I was a mess.

Granted being pregnant for the better part of two years will do that to you.  I will pause for the math.  Yes, it was nearly two years because as many who lived through it with me know, I lost my third son at 20 weeks.  See I am both blessed with the good fortune of getting pregnant easily, and cursed with the horror of not being able to keep my water from breaking at any moment.  The pregnancy was difficult from the start, and I spent 11 of those weeks in bed, atrophying and fretting. All for nothing. I lost my perfectly healthy baby.  I felt totally betrayed by my body.  You may not understand that.  You may even try to tell me I shouldn’t have felt that way.  But until you have lived through it you can’t know.  A mother’s job is to incubate.  Provide a safe haven for growth and development.  The safest, right?  Axel did his part, I just couldn’t do mine.  I hated myself for it.

Add to the nightmare 15 pounds.  Awesome.  Thanks for that parting gift.

Colton's 4th birthday party, two weeks after losing Axel.
Colton’s 4th birthday party, two weeks after losing Axel.

As soon as I was allowed to try again, I found myself in the family way.  Again.  It was not to be.  I lost her mercifully early.  And then bingo bango, knocked up again.  Scared but grateful.  In equal parts I might add.  Everyone was scared.  I was ordered on immediate modified bed rest.  Those were the most lenient orders I would get for the 29 weeks I was pregnant with Oscar.  I ended up in the hospital on bed rest this time.  Needless to say, my body was using every ounce of strength it had to just get there.  Get him to the point where he could manage outside.  No exercise in sight, no appetite for healthy food when you are on a magnesium drip.  Just survival.

All this bed rest was tough for me.  It is tough on everyone.  I did, however, have a history of being quite fit.  Prior to my adventures in pregnancy I was actually super into working out.  Like, in a slightly unhealthy way.  Here is a shot from way back when, just before I met Matt.

Don’t laugh at the Bebe jeans please.

Then I got hitched, and pregnant.  Colt was about the biggest baby you have ever seen.  Here I am pregnant with him…

7 months with Colt. Looking like twins.
7 months with Colt. Looking like twins.

And I have to include one of him because it really drives home the point…He was nearly 10 lbs at birth.

IMG_0441 3
Colton, 9 months and about 30 lbs. Rolls. Lots and lots of rolls.

Then came Lucca…

38.5 weeks with Lucca
38.5 weeks with Lucca

This time my baby boy was 9 lbs, a week early.

Me shortly after Lucca was born. Looking soft and tired.
Me shortly after Lucca was born. Looking soft and tired.

I have some of me pregnant with Axel but they make me too sad so I won’t post them.  Here I am with Oscar!  Triumphant!

June 2012, Nantucket. About 20 weeks with Oscar

And then, well, you know.  He came at 29 weeks.

Oscar, Day 1
Oscar, Day 1

We were in crisis mode.  After a 40 day stay in the NICU, with thrice daily trips back and forth to manage nursing him and taking care of the big boys, I was not in a place to prioritize my health.  Just his.  That was all that mattered.  But it left me a mess.

September 2012. During the NICU days. It ain't hot.
September 2012. During the NICU days. It ain’t hot.

So I knew Michael was right.  I needed something drastic.  But was I really ready for CrossFit?  The little anecdotal evidence I had suggested otherwise.  All those hours I spent in the gym wouldn’t help me with this endeavor.  It was so extreme, so intimidating.  I felt so awful about myself.  I called my best friend Leigh and told her of my impending challenge.  As usual she was supremely supportive.  I drove over to Broad Street and sat in my car.  Again, my heart was beating out of my chest.  It took all the confidence I had (not much at the time) to squeeze into my bootcut Lulus and walk through the door.

BOOM!!!  BANG!!!! SMASH!!! was what I heard.

Everyone was dropping extremely heavy weights and looking super fit.  I wanted to run away.  Susan, the owner,  caught my eye and introduced herself.  Like a beacon of hope she guided me through the introductory workout.  Holy shit.  I didn’t think I would make it through.  I couldn’t wrap my brain around the idea that someday, ever, I would be able to participate with everyone else.  I looked around the room and saw women, some older than me, some with more kids than I had, in incredible shape. More importantly, they were doing what seemed to be the impossible.  It really was the women who inspired me.  Anywhere you go there are big, muscular guys.  But these women, they were a rare breed.  Heather, Loretta, Sheldon, Susan.  You were my heroes in those early days (still are.)  You awakened in me that latent athlete.  The woman who loved her body, and herself.  You showed me what the last paragraph of the story looked like.  I put one foot in front of the other.  I had one goal.  Just show up.  Keep showing up.  Mike was the ultimate coach, knowing when to push back and just the right sideways glance to give to make me walk back to the weight stack and grab another set of tens.

And then one day, it got a little easier.  Just a little, but still.  I lost some of the weight.  I felt like the bad ass my socks professed me to be.  It was exhilarating.

CrossFit gets a lot of bad press.  I know I annoy the shit out of a lot of people talking about it.  I try not to bring it up with people who aren’t into it, but I usually fail.  Because for me, it has been a game changer.  Not just physically, though that too.  But it gave me back a sense of accomplishment.  Every single day I have goals, and most of the time, I meet them.  The thing is, the goals I am setting are so incredibly beyond anything I could have imagined doing one year ago.  And along the way, I have met amazing, like-minded people.  People equally interested in pushing themselves, and more importantly, in supporting one another’s efforts to be better.  It has given me so much.  And I am so very grateful.  Now, I not only have the three beautiful boys I worked so hard to have, but I feel amazed by my body’s capacity to perform difficult tasks.  Fitting back into my clothes is the gravy.  But being able to lift heavy things (like Colton) and run fast (like Lucca) is the real prize.  I am armed and ready to mother these crazy boys.  Actively.  To show them that their mom is strong and capable.  So thank you CrossFit.  For making me proud again.

my first crossfit competition, Feb 2014
my first crossfit competition, Feb 2014
December 2013.
December 2013.

Thanks Michael.  Thank you for asking, big brother.  I hope I can do the same for someone else.

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