Andrea Silva is back for this week’s blog post with a message about getting active and healthy in 2012. Finding time for fitness when you’re coping with the realities of life in the NICU or prematurity at home isn’t easy, but it’s definitely worth it! Giving your preemie baby support after preterm birth has to mean supporting yourself, too.
For anyone who missed Andrea’s last post or her Miles for Miracles fundraiser, here’s her back-story in brief:
- She has a PhD in sport and exercise psychology (with a focus in sport psychology)
- Total marathons run = 8
- Her water broke at 18 weeks and she delivered Eliahna at 23 weeks and 5 days.
- Eliahna weighed 1 pound 3.7ounces
- Eliahna was in the NICU for 117 and endured PDA ligation and laser eye surgery while in the NICU
- She was also hospitalized 3 weeks after coming home due to low saturations, and endured another surgery for acid reflux and gastronomy tube insertion.
It wasn’t until January of 2011 that I got back on the treadmill. An avid runner prior to getting pregnant, I was very disappointed that I was unable to run during my pregnancy due to an elevated heart rate.
I had a very hard time justifying going for a run or even a walk when Eliahna was in the NICU. All the nurses knew I loved to run and continually told me that I should start running again so I could better take care of Eliahna when she was home. I didn’t ever take their advice. Eliahna came home in August and was on a pulse ox machine and oxygen. It was very difficult to maneuver all her equipment and getting her in a stroller so we didn’t take too many walks at the time.
We had also been drilled about germs and the danger they pose to micropreemies so as soon as school hit we did not go outside unless it was for a doctor’s appointment.
Getting Re-Acquainted With Running
But I really felt lost without my daily running. It had really defined me as a person and I really missed the satisfaction I felt after a good run. It was a long year off from running when I happened to be watching an IronMan broadcast and quickly said to my husband “I am getting on the treadmill.” As slow as I plodded along that day, it was the best run I had had in a very long time. I quickly figured out to run while Eliahna slept – moving her in the room where the treadmill is along with her oxygen and pulse ox. Much to my delight she loved the hum of the machine and “allowed” me to run for 30-45 minutes at a time.
As hard as it was some days to just even get on the treadmill because of very little sleep the night before, as soon as I put my foot on that treadmill and looked at my little miracle in front of me, I instantly felt energized and ran for as long as I could. With each day my mileage increased and my self-confidence started to come back with a vengeance. I felt more confident about taking care of my daughter and that I could tackle all the doctor’s appointments we face every week.
Exercise As Mental Medicine
It’s amazing what a good run does for me. I literally feel on top of the world and that I can conquer any issue, problem, or crisis that may arise that day. My mind is clear and I am a lot more energized to take care of Eliahna after a run.
Running helps me feel complete after premature birth. I am better able to take care of my preemie daughter, I feel stronger emotionally, physically and mentally. When the going gets hard, I just think how much my daughter has endured in her short 20 months and continue my run. There is no better satisfaction than completing a run whether it is your first 1 mile that you finish or the finish line of a marathon.
I decided to run a marathon to raise money for Graham’s Foundation because of Eliahna’s long NICU stay. I wanted to give back the community that had taken care of not only my daughter, but our entire family for those 117 days. I also wanted to raise awareness that premature birth can happen to anyone – including, young, healthy, active women like me.
So How Can I Help You?
My goal is not (necessarily) to recruit you to run a marathon, although I am always willing to help people to get to the “other side” of the 26.2mile finish line. I just want to support your endeavor of getting active and healthy with motivational and informational tips, as well as answer any questions you may have along the way.
Here’s to a new year for new possibilities! Let’s get moving!