Many of us are mothers, and we sometimes struggle with the changes that come with new motherhood. One of the biggest and potential life-threatening of these is post-partum depression, something that's only now starting to get the attention that it deserves. Karen's story is a testament to her own strength, something she discovered through triathlon. Here it is:
My name is Karen Meigs. I am a mom, wife, and a triathlete. Triathlons helped save my life. Okay, I saw your eyes roll, but let me explain.
After the birth of our first child I had a very hard time recovering. I went through 17 hours of labor, 2 hours of that pushing, and I made little to no progress and opted for a c-section. I was exhausted, overwhelmed, excited, sore, and I could not sleep. Any new mom can appreciate the exhaustion which sets in after a baby is born, but sleeping for just a few hours a day was a recipe for disaster. I knew of the baby blues, but this couldn’t possibly happen to me. We planned for this.
During a post-partum check-up I failed to mention that I had been crying at least once a day, that wanted to leave my husband and baby, and that I never wanted to get out of my sweats and leave the house. I was ashamed and embarrassed that I was struggling with being a new mom. Shoot, women have been doing this for centuries so why is this so challenging? Our little girl was three months old and I was still crying every day. My mother-in-law (love her) told me to call my doctor and get some help. I was immediately put on an anti-depressant and directed to a post-partum group that I attended on a weekly basis.
Three years later my sister-in-law asked me if I would be interested in doing a triathlon. For sure I thought she was pulling my leg. I was overweight, self-conscious, and still in a funk. I just laughed it off.
But then I got to thinking about it and started asking her a few questions here and there. Doing a triathlon sounded like such a huge daunting thing. For Christmas a few months later my husband bought me a book written by Sally Edwards called “Triathlon for Women”. I devoured it. For the first time in a very long time I was excited. I decided to sign up for my first race. This race wasn’t for our daughter, it wasn’t for my husband, it was for me.
I had no clue where to start. I took each event apart and since swimming was the first leg of the race I worked on that first. I took a basic swim lesson to learn how to swim, as weird as that sounds. I didn’t know what would be the most efficient way to swim for a race so I learned how. I also started to bike and run. I mostly walked at first to avoid injury, but slowly worked my way up to running. I committed to doing one of these activities once a week and then I followed the training scheduled outlined in Sally Edwards’ book, as the race date drew near.
Before I knew it I was feeling better. I started to lose a few pounds and felt better about myself. That was six years ago and I have signed up for my fourth triathlon this summer. I will never be the best athlete by any stretch of the imagination nor will I have the best equipment. But as I said, this race isn’t for my children, or my husband: I do it for me and I tri.