One of our newest Preemie Parent Mentors, Andrea, connected with Graham’s Foundation when she ran her 8th marathon while raising money and awareness for the Foundation in 2011. She is proud momma to her micro-preemie daughter Eliahna (seen below), who was born in April of 2010 at 23 weeks and 5 days and weighed just 1 pound 3.7 ounces, and son Logan, who was born in August of 2012 at full term. She holds a PhD in exercise and sport science, and uses her knowledge and experience as a preemie mom to help other parents take care of themselves during the stressful NICU days and beyond.
In our latest blog, she talks about taking time for yourself – no easy feat for busy moms and dads!
Running is a passion for me. It has gotten me through a lot of hard times and really helps clear my head. However, when my daughter arrived at 23 weeks and 5 days she was my first priority. During her 117 stay in the NICU, as many of you can attest, you get to know the doctors and nurses very well. It didn’t take long before they knew my love for running and they were encouraging me to take some time for myself and run.
Yeah, yeah…I get it. Take time for myself. Take a half hour and run…Easier said than done. During those 117 days I can tell you I ran MAYBE 5 times. I had a VERY hard time justifying even taking 30 minutes for myself to run. To me, that was 30 minutes less I could spend by my daughter’s isolette. However, I can tell you on those few runs I actually did take, my view on things completely changed. All it takes is five minutes of light exercise to change your attitude and mentality on things.
My daughter came home in August (2010) and it wasn’t until January (2011) that I started running again. I got on a treadmill one Saturday and had one of the best workouts I ever had in my life. The freedom I felt with the belt running under my feet was unbelievable. I got off and asked my husband why he hadn’t pushed me on it months before. Those runs only took place on the weekends when my husband was home to watch our daughter. I then figured out how to finagle Eliahna, all of her machines and wires into the room where the treadmill was by myself. It didn’t take long to get that routine down to a science and ran every day.
When I was on the treadmill I felt like I could conquer the world. If only for the 30 minutes I could last running during those first weeks back I felt I was better able to deal with all the doctor’s appointments, therapies, and all the other appointments that were ahead of us. I was able to think clearly and be so incredibly grateful for Eliahna.
Today, what I love most about being able to exercise with my children is that I am teaching them great habits. Eliahna knows momma loves to run and it helps make me the best momma I can be to her and (now) her little brother. And now that she is getting older she is learning that exercise is very important for her too to grow and be healthy.
So my advice to parents who are currently in the NICU or just coming home from the NICU with a little one?
Take time for yourself to “conquer the world” even if it’s just for 10 minutes. You need it…you deserve it…and more importantly, your miracle(s) need you to do it. It doesn’t have to mean running. Whatever you enjoy doing: walking, yoga, spinning, playing with your other child/ren…whatever makes you happy and gets you moving. Furthermore, physical activity is great for your health but taking time for yourself could also include meditation, prayer or even just sitting alone for a period of time to reflect on things.
Whatever makes you feel better about yourself…DO IT!!