A few short months ago I was lying on my couch, blanket pulled over me, sipping on some ginger ale.
This was the position I had been in for weeks as my first trimester symptoms of exhaustion pulled the rug out from under me.
Of course, people warn you that in the first few months of pregnancy, you’ll be tired. I would just like to go ahead and say, that is a lie. “Tired” is like Friday evening after a tough week of work. That is tired.
This felt like I had just run five marathons while fighting off the flu and mono. That is what the first trimester was like for me.
Since I’m a very active person with an almost annoying amount of energy, the first months of pregnancy weren’t just a shock to my schedule—they were a shock to my whole sense of identity.
I’d always been a runner and triathlete. I loved hiking and biking and being out doors. My husband and I even met in a running group, for crying out loud!
So on this particular day when I was drowning myself in saltines and sadness, my husband came home from work in a particularly chipper mood and decided to go for a run. As he came downstairs in his dry-wick shirt and running shoes, I couldn’t help but notice the sun beaming in through the windows behind him making him glow.
It was a perfect day for a run. He was whistling with an extra pep in his step as he grabbed his headphones and water bottle. And he just looked so happy.
And I felt it happening. I felt the crazy creeping up inside of me.
For any of you who’ve ever had a pregnant woman in your household, you know there’s crazy, and then there’s pregnancy crazy. It’s on another level.
I felt both rage and tears boiling up inside of me. And I knew it was happening but I couldn’t stop it. It’s like a sneeze: I knew if I tried to stop it, things would only get uglier.
So I burst into tears from my spot on the couch and started bawling.
Of course my husband had no idea what was happening, so he turned toward me and tiptoed in the room cautiously. He asked through a quiet, nervous voice, “What’s wrong, babe?”
And then it all came out.
I started cry-yelling at him. I was sobbing but still magically had the energy to shout at the top of my lungs at the same time. It was the perfect storm of terrible emotions.
I shouted dramatically, “Well it would be nice to go for a run, wouldn’t it, Matt? It would be nice! You just live your life, Matt! Just LIVE YOUR LIFE!”
He slowly backed away and started to untie his shoes. He said, “You know, suddenly I’m not in the mood for a run today. I just don’t really feel like it.”
Yes, I am a real delight as a wife.
But what I felt in that moment was more than just hormones. What I felt was jealousy. I was jealous that he could do what was important to him and I couldn’t.
It wasn’t his fault I felt bad, but that doesn’t change how frustrating it is when you can’t do something that is important to you.
I’m happy to report that I’ve since gotten my energy back, just like they say you will. And I’ve even been able to spend time hiking and going for short runs in the beautiful fall weather.
But what’s amazing about these activities is that it’s not the exercise itself that brings me such joy. After every run or activity, I find myself saying the exact same thing to my husband:
“I love feeling like me again.”
The activities that are important to you—whether that’s reading a good book, traveling the country, or spending time with your kids—they aren’t just another thing. They are a part of you.
And when you get so busy with your responsibilities that you miss out on them, you aren’t just giving up a thing. You’re giving up a part of yourself.
So if you want to be a great mom or a loving wife, if you want to be a happy husband or a strong father, if you want to be more fulfilled employee or a better friend, the best thing you can do is to spend some time doing the things that make you feel like you.