Post-delivery the Doctor Wants Me to Exercise

Photo courtesy of Kai Koehler

My doctor just gave me devastating news:

I am healthy enough to exercise.

Why, God? Why?!

For six beautiful weeks after giving birth, new mommies are on doctor’s orders not to move — or at least not to move much. Exercising is off-limits until our bodies have had a chance to heal from the trauma of labor. Let me repeat that: Exercising is off-limits. Have you ever heard a more beautiful sentence in your life? Move over, cellar door. H.L. Mencken may have deemed you the most beautiful compound noun in the English language, but saying “cellar door” has never made my heart sing like those lyrical three words: Exercising is off-limits.

Not that I would have been exercising if it had been permitted. During these past six weeks, I all but forgot that there was life outside tending to my son. I’ve been too busy obsessing over the baby to obsess about my waistline. Too busy wondering whether I am doing a good job. Too busy gritting my teeth through painful breast-feedings. Too busy talking myself out of checking to see whether the baby still is breathing, only to get up and check again the moment after I promised myself I wouldn’t. Fretting over the number on the scale was far outweighed by fretting over the number of diaper changes.

Six weeks post-delivery, I was getting used to my jelly belly. I wore the new rolls and folds like hard-earned battle scars, proof I had fought the good fight for indoctrination into club motherhood. I was accepting the inevitability of my new body when my OB-GYN, with her smug little face, broke the cataclysmic news that I’m healthy enough to exercise.

The horror! My doctor didn’t even have condolence balloons or anything. I mean, who just comes out and says something like that? You have to ease people into this type of devastation. No one ever can be prepared to hear such news, but it would’ve helped soften the blow if she’d said:

“Katiedid, sit down. I have some rather distressing news. This won’t be easy to hear, but as you know, I’ve given you an extensive full-body checkup, and tragically, your body has completely recovered from delivery. I’m prescribing 30 minutes of exercise three days a week. I’m so sorry. Is there someone you would like me to call?”

It’s not that I’m against the idea of exercise. I’ll have you know that I’m an avid 2 a.m. infomercial watcher. I’m more than eager to buy the latest twisty-turny tuchus tightener DVD. I even will call in the next 20 minutes to get a free tote bag, knowing full well that if I called the next day, the tacky tote still would be mine. That’s how committed I am to getting in shape! But my evil OB-GYN isn’t impressed by my proactive purchases. Rather, she harps on how I have to actually watch the exercise DVDs if I want them to do any good. Talk about a nitpicker! I really need to consider getting a new doctor. Mine doesn’t understand me at all.

I spoke to my mom after my six-week appointment and told her the harrowing news.

“She wants me to exercise,” I cried to my mom. “I’m just not motivated. I’ve got things to do — babies to burp, diapers to change. If I’m spending a million hours a day working out, I’ll miss time with my son. Child neglect is not a motivator.”

My mom laughed at me in the way mothers laugh at their daughters when they are being perhaps a tad bit dramatic.

“Why not let setting a good example for your son be a motivator?”

Darn. Valid point made, gauntlet thrown.

This weekend, I will consider taking the cellophane off my exercise DVDs. Who knows, I may even take them out of the box, put them in the DVD player and push play. But let’s not get too carried away. Baby steps. What I do promise to do is go shopping for new running shoes. And if I happen to, through no fault of my own, pass a triathlon sign-up sheet, my OB-GYN and mom might just find their names on the list. I’m sure they, too, would love the opportunity to lead by example.

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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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