Runner Moms Podcast | Episode 14

Miscarriage, Community and the Healing Power of Running

This episode of the Runner Moms podcast features mom runner Theresa Inkley. She experienced a miscarriage a few years ago while training for a marathon and is here today to share her story of working through the grief of that loss. She discusses how running helped her through that difficult time and also talks through the importance of having a community of support around you. We also talk about the importance of normalizing conversations around miscarriage and postpartum depression to help moms break through the isolation and find the support they need. Although this is a tough conversation, it’s an important one to normalize and Theresa’s story offers immense benefit to our community of moms. 

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Episode Transcript:

Introduction:

Welcome to the Runner Moms Podcast where we help women embrace their inner strength, take time for themselves and lead healthier lives. So, settle in and soak up some inspiration. Then rise, lace up those running shoes and embrace your inner strength because, momma, you run this world.

Shayla:

Welcome to episode 14 of the Runner Moms podcast! I’m Shayla, your host and founder of the Runner Moms community.

Before I introduce today’s guest, I wanted to mention that I’ve been stocking our website with lots of fresh recipes – from a recipe for chipotle burrito bowls to savory chorizo crepes. You can find all of the deliciousness over at runner moms dot com.

Also, if you’re enjoying the podcast, I’d greatly appreciate if you’d leave a review through your apple podcast player. It would mean the world to me and will help other mom runners find the show.

Now, let’s dive into the good stuff. Joining me today is mom runner Theresa Inkley. She experienced a miscarriage a few years ago while training for a marathon and is here today to share her story of working through the grief of that loss. She discusses how running helped her through that difficult time and also talks through the importance of having a community of support around you. Although this is a tough conversation, it’s an important one to normalize and I’m greatly appreciative of Theresa’s willingness to talk through it with us.

So, let’s welcome Theresa to the show.

Well, Theresa, thank you for joining me on the Runner Moms podcast. I really appreciate you reaching out to share your story which I know is going to resonate with a lot of moms out there. So, let’s just start at the beginning with a bit of background about you. Could you share with the Runner Moms community a little about you and your family?

Theresa:

Sure! I’m Theresa. I have two sons. A three and a half year old and my one year old, just recently turned one. We live in Washington state right now, kind of outside Seattle, but I’ve lived all over the country. We recently moved just a couple of years ago from Texas and I also lived in Utah and Vermont. I’ve just been all over. So, it’s fun to try new places. So far, we love the Pacific Northwest and, given everything of the past year, it has been great to live in such a beautiful, wonderful place to explore and that’s, I love running, but I also love just being outside and anything that we can do outside of the house is always nice.

Shayla:

Yeah, being able to have good outdoor places to adventure through over the past year is definitely a bonus and much needed! Well, let’s chat for a bit about your history as a runner. How long have you been a runner and what first sparked your interest in the sport?

Theresa:

Yeah, I started doing running in high school. A bunch of my friends were doing winter track and I didn’t really care for running that much but I thought, “Hey, all of my friends are doing it. I’ll go ahead and give it a try.” I don’t think that sparked the passion. I specifically went to jumping because it was less running workouts. But, when I went to college, I had been running off and on but more of the whole, I want to stay skinny or fit or whatever but not really just running because I liked to do it.

So, not until I met my now husband. He had run cross country in high school and I was like, “Oh, maybe I’ll pick up running more and do it.” Then, we started running a bit together and it’s kind of funny. Over the last, we’ve been together 10 years now, he’s kind of stopped running and I’ve become more passionate about it. So, it has definitely been kind of off and on until about 2016 when, after I had my son, I just really enjoyed running and it was the time that I got to spend on me. I saw so much improvement and was reaching these goals that I never thought possible for me. So, probably in the last four years ago or so, I’ve really become more passionate about it and excited and it has been a bigger part of my life in the last four years or so. Been doing it for about a decade or so.

Shayla:

That’s awesome. Yeah, I’d say my story is pretty similar to yours. I ran here and there in track in high school but honestly did not like it at all. I was not an athletic person back then. But, similar to you, when I transitioned into being a mom, it has just become a bit of my escape. My alone time and, like you said, just being able to feel your own strength and realize the things that you can do, what you can accomplish as a runner. I don’t know, something, yeah, kicked in for me with those feelings.

Theresa:

Yeah, when I walked out of the corporate world, it was like, ok, I need something that I can have some kind of reinforcement of like, I’m doing ok. I’m improving. I checked off a list that I’m not just going to have to do again in two hours when we make a mess again. Running kind of filled that gap for me.

Shayla:

So, what have been some of your, let’s look from maybe 2016 forward, when your passion for running really kind of solidified. What have been some of your bigger running goals and accomplishments over those past several years?

Theresa:

Yeah, I kind of, one of my goals when I got pregnant with my first son was to run through my pregnancy and I was so fortunate that I was able to do that. So, that was like a big goal of, I’m going to keep going and luckily my body and my baby cooperated and I was able to do that. My goal was to run a race in each trimester. So, I was able to do a half marathon in my first trimester. Then a 10k in the second and a 5k in my third, racing. But, really, after I had him, as my comeback, I was like, I’m going to get to that sub two half marathon. That was my like, big goal, for the first nine months after I had him. This is what I was going to do and I was super excited, even on a challenging course, I was able to reach that.

That just kind of elevated it even more. I was like, OK, I did sub two hour. Let’s see if we can do it even faster. As I went along, I never thought that a marathon was something that I would want to do or would even attempt to do. But, after I had gotten the success and I was like, maybe that’s possible. Maybe I could do that. So, that was one of my other big accomplishments was finally completing a marathon.

Shayla:

That’s amazing! Going back to your first pregnancy and running a race in each trimester, I haven’t heard of someone doing that before and I love that. That’s so awesome!

Theresa:

It definitely kept me going! I was like, OK, this race is at 34 and a half weeks, I just have to make it to there and then I’ll be OK. Then, anything after that, I’ll just be happy if I can make it out the door. And I did and that was great but it was nice to have a focus of dates of like, I just need to make it to this.

Shayla:

Yes, oh that’s great. So, you have two beautiful little boys who call you momma. But you also, I know that one of the reasons that you reached out to do this podcast interview was your experience with the loss of a second pregnancy between your two boys. So, would you mind if we started walking through your miscarriage story?

Theresa:

Yeah, absolutely. It kind of goes along with this whole marathon experience. In the fall of 2018, my husband and I decided that we wanted to start trying for our second child. Around that same time was when I decided to sign up for a marathon because, in my philosophy with trying to conceive, you can’t just like put everything to the side hoping that you’re going to get pregnant. Just live your life and then you won’t be disappointed has always been my philosophy around that. So, we were kind of doing both at the same time. Fortunately, in December of that year, I got pregnant and I had my three pack of pregnancy tests and took them three days in a row and they were positive and it was great.

Because I had run through my first pregnancy, I felt very confident of being able to continue to run through any future pregnancies. So, I, with my doctor’s support, continued running. Continued training for my marathon. I always had, in the back of my mind, if I didn’t think that the marathon and the pregnancy were compatible, I would go down to the half marathon or defer to another year.

For a couple of weeks, things were all good. I felt strong, everything was good and then I started to have some bleeding. First, it was small normal. I had a little bit of the same thing with my first son. Then it just continued to get worse and I finally ended up in an ER and clearly the pregnancy was not going well. My HCG levels, which is like the level of your hormone were way lower than what they should have been for where I was in the pregnancy. The ultrasound was inconclusive. So, the doctor basically said, “You’ve probably already miscarried and that’s why we don’t see anything and that’s why your levels are so low or your dates could just be off and you should follow up with your regular OB to check to see what’s going on.”

As you can imagine, that was just heartbreaking. So many tears and everything. The next couple of days, I kind of continued running. My bleeding stopped shortly thereafter so I was like, ok, this was just early and that’s it. Let’s just move forward. And you’d think that would be the end.

I had ordered, you know, Amazon is great for the mass ovulation pregnancy test. I did a huge order of that because I wanted to watch my levels go all the way down to zero because we wanted our kids to be relatively close in age. So, I knew that we would be back at it and I wanted to be more prepared and see, ok, post miscarriage, I want to see when all my windows are going to be. So, got the package, immediately take another pregnancy test expecting it to be barely anything there and it’s way darker. Of course, some Google thing says, ok, your levels are going up. Call my doctor, go in, and, what do you know, my levels are going up.

That kind of kicked off two weeks of tests and ultrasounds. Things weren’t exactly perfect, ideal, but my doctor was just trying to give the pregnancy its benefit of the doubt. Again, I asked her, should I continue training? Should I stop running? She was a runner herself, which was really helpful and nice and supportive. She said, “This is nothing that you can do that will help or hurt the situation. So, if your mental health is going to be better by running, go for it.”

So, for these two weeks, at first my doctor worried that it was ectopic, which is when the pregnancy is in your tube. We got the ultrasound and it wasn’t. There was a gestational sack with what we saw was a yolk sack and maybe the start of some development. But, the dates just didn’t make sense. It’s amazing how you can do so many mental gymnastics of like, “Oh, yeah, we’ll give this pregnancy a benefit of the doubt because you’re measuring around six or so weeks.” Even though that would mean I got a positive pregnancy test the day after I conceived the pregnancy. I knew it was impossible but I just kept on having this hope of like, no, this one person on the internet said that this happened so we’re going to hope that this going to happen.

Running through that time was really cathartic because I don’t know about you but when I’m going on a long run, I always like crunch the numbers in my head of like, ok,I just have two more 5ks to go. That’s kind of what I did with all of my numbers. Ok, if I can have this double within this much time, it felt like I had some control over the situation which I obviously didn’t. Two weeks later, we confirmed that the pregnancy wasn’t viable. Basically, what was happening was my body kept thinking I was pregnant and my gestational sack was growing but nothing within it was growing. Because it was growing, my body didn’t recognize that there wasn’t a viable pregnancy anymore.

Shayla:

What did that next step in that journey look like for?

Theresa:

I think I took my doctor by surprise when we finally diagnosed that this was a miscarriage. We need to just see what happens, making decisions as far as how are we going to go about keeping me healthy and safe and making this miscarriage actually occur. I think she was thrown off guard because I had been so optimistic and upbeat. Before every appointment, I would go for a run and I think that positive energy kept me through but it hit me like a ton of bricks, oh, yep, this is a loss. This isn’t going to happen anymore. It was just nice to have a finality of, I don’t have to try to keep this positive thing. We can mourn this and go.

Of course, my body would just not cooperate which is incredibly frustrating especially as I was trying to do all of this marathon training. Trying to be kind to my body and listen to when I needed rest and all of this stuff. But, I as just incredibly frustrated because, after we got the official diagnosis that the pregnancy was not viable, my doctor was like, let’s just see if you’re going to miscarry on your own. So, for two weeks, waited. After every run, go and check. Ok, am I finally starting bleeding? I ran a half marathon at that time. Still nothing. I was like, “Oh, I guess I raced another half marathon pregnant technically!”

But, it was just incredibly frustrating. So, finally my doctor, we tried some drugs to induce the miscarriage and, not to be too graphic, but, lots of cramping. Lots of bleeding. I was confident, yep, you’ve passed everything. She had me come in a few days later just to make sure everything was ok and, of course, gestational sack still there. Still technically pregnant. Finally, we tried another dose of the drugs to induce it and still didn’t work. At this point, it had been 5 weeks since my initial ER visit.

Shayla:

Oh my gosh.

Theresa:

Yeah. So, it was just so long and I was so ready. I feel bad, yes, I had mourned that loss of that pregnancy and what could have been with that baby. But, more I was just frustrated of my body not cooperating and not doing what I wanted it to do. I remember the day that the OR nurse finally called to schedule a D&C for me. I had dropped off my son at a parent’s day out program and I was going to run my last 20 mile long run before my marathon. It was like 5 minutes after I had dropped him off, I was driving to where I was going to run and she calls me to schedule everything and go over all of the administrative stuff over the phone. I get off the phone and I’m getting ready to go on this run and I just pushed it aside. It was like, ok, I’ve got it scheduled. It was going to be 12 days between the date of my D&C and when my marathon was.

I was like, hopefully that will be enough. I’ll be recovered enough to do my race. I did my run. I listened to podcasts. Did anything to distract me but I hit about 17 or 18 miles. I had been dealing with kind of an injury of my foot. I had inflammation and I was in a lot of pain. I was so glad that it was during the day in some quiet neighborhood because everything just hit me like a ton of bricks. I was mad that I had to deal with this. That I felt, not necessarily blamed myself because I understood that miscarriages happen and the way that mine happened, it was a genetic abnormality. They just happen but it still sucks. I was frustrated at my body for just not figuring it out and not being able to let me move on. I just sat there and sobbed. I stopped my watch. You know that you really had to take a break when I had to stop my watch to just like cry it out. I kind of got ahold of myself and then I kind of just ran the last couple of miles to finish my run and I decided, no, this needs to be a relief of, I know this is the end. I know I can move on from this. I had written on my hand, You are strong. Of course, it was sweated off mostly at that point. But, I just kept telling myself, you are strong. You can do this. You’re going to make it.

That was just kind of the turning point of, ok, I’ve had my peace. This is it. We’re going to go from here and it’s going to be ok. A few days later, I had the procedure.

Shayla:

So, what did the recovery process from that look like for you? Especially being so close to the marathon.

Theresa:

I am super fortunate that, because the pregnancy was never developed very long before things started to go wrong, that it was a relatively easy recovery. The next day, my husband and I went for a run together to keep me staying real easy. I had hit my taper week. So, it was, everything was generally easier. I was able to jump back in without a lot of negative things from the procedure. I had stopped bleeding within a few days and felt normal fairly quickly. Even though I was pretty lucky that I generally don’t have a lot of first trimester symptoms in m pregnancies, but I could still kind of feel a difference that I had these hormones even at small levels for weeks at this point. To like finally not have that going on anymore was really relieving. It did give me, come race day, feel strong enough to do a marathon, which seemed insane.

Shayla:

Well, looks at that race day. How were you feeling and how did the race go for you?

Theresa:

Come race day, I just tried to put everything behind me. I had a race plan of like, this is what I’m going to do. I had a plan so that my mind would be occupied not on everything that had gone on, but, of course, your best laid plans don’t always happen. I told you, I had been dealing with this injury with my foot, and I hit about 21 miles and everything just fell apart.

There was a lot of like, bad first marathon things. I went out way too fast. Probably didn’t start taking the fuel soon enough. Lots of bad choices early on. But, at around mile 21, my foot just started to give me troubles again. I went through and I had to walk and that disappoint of walking and doing everything. When it got really tough, I kind of went back to that same place of like, you are strong. You have done harder things than this. You have worked too hard and gone too much in the last two or three months to not finish strong. You could see in my race pictures, the last mile or so, I’m just like in tears. Which I’m sure I’m not the only marathon finisher who has the last mile where they’re just basically crying.

Shayla:

Well, I’d say your tears are more warranted than others at that race.

Theresa:

Yeah, but I finished and it was a good feeling. It was a good finality of everything that had gone on over the last couple of months of previous, of being able to say, “Look, I went through this hard thing and it was frustrating and my body was kind of put through a lot physically and mentally, and I still was able to do all of this.”

There are some things that I wish I could forget with that marathon. It is nice to know, hey, I did this thing that’s in and of itself, really hard but I also had all of this other crap going on. Somehow, I was still able to do it. So, when you talk about just races that you’re so proud of or that you feel really good about, this is the one. I’m like, I did this and I did it under circumstances that were beyond my control and I haven’t gotten my medal wall up yet, but I’m pretty confident that that race’s medal is going to take a forefront, not only because it’s my longest race so far but definitely my hardest. I’m just super glad that I was able to do it because there were many times where I was like, nope, I should just give myself a break and not do this. But, I am, in hindsight, really glad that I continued to train and make that race happen.

Shayla:

I just can’t imagine. A miscarriage is obviously extremely difficult both mentally and physically in and of itself, but then to have the process carry on for you for as long as it did. From the beginning, I’m sure you went through a mourning process and then the hope process kind of sparked as you had mentioned. Then, again, the mourning process but then layering training for a marathon on top of all of that. I mean, that’s just a lot to handle. What was it that inspired you to keep pushing forward with running and with the training process through everything that you were experiencing at that time?

Theresa:

I think, for me, running became a break to both think about what was happening or what I was in the middle of and to not think about it. Because, I was a stay at home mom to my first son, busy doing all of the toddler things with him. Being able to go on longer runs where I could just sit and either, there were some long runs that I would think about it. I would think about, “Well, where do I go from here? How am I going to figure all of this out? What are we going to do going forward?” Or, just to put on music and not think about it and being able to do like a speed workout where I can’t think about anything else other than trying to go as fast as I can. Or, doing this, I’m going to get up that hill for this workout. To me, it was more therapeutic to continue to train because I needed that mental release of energy, of just a break from everything else, not even the miscarriage but just momming and life to continue going. I felt really committed that I, as long as my doctor said it was still ok if I continued running, I wanted to continue doing it because it is what I needed to figure everything out.

Shayla:

Yeah, I completely understand that. Looking at the community around you of friends and family. Do you feel like you had the support you needed through that time?

Theresa:

I think I, like a lot of women, was not necessarily secretive, but I didn’t really talk about it. So, I had my best friend in the world who was amazing and sweet and she has gone through her own infertility challenges. She was the one who sent me flowers after my ER visit. She listened to me as I was like, “Ok, my numbers are here. I just need to go here. You know.” She listened to me whenever I needed to. My husband was incredibly supportive. He was working a very stressful job where he was working a lot of hours and he still made time for the appointments that he could come to, to come to. Making sure that I had time to run and do whatever I needed to do.

That was pretty much it. I think there is still a lot of guilt and almost shame when you’re going through a miscarriage and luckily, this was two years ago, luckily at least what I’ve seen in communities going forward, I think a lot of that has changed, which I think it good. When needed someone to care for our son while and I went and had this D&C, my parents were also super supportive. At the time, they only lived two hours away from where I lived so they were able to be there. I can remember a month after the procedure, my dad had asked, “How are you doing?” I thought he has talking about something unrelated and I was like, “Oh, I’m fine. You know whatever.” And he was like, “No, after the miscarriage.” My dad is not the type of guy to ask about what’s going on with your body. That’s just doesn’t seem like him but it was so sweet. He wanted to make sure that I was ok. Since then, I’ve been a little bit more open about sharing on social media on my Instagram page and a couple of other running mother community type places. I think that’s helped.

I hope that if there are other people who are going through similar situations, that they can have support and have community. If you choose to run while you’re going through this, great. You can do that. If you don’t want to run. If that’s the last thing you want to do, great. Go and do that. I see that in more communities going forward and I think that’s so positive. I wish I would have been a little more open at the time.

Shayla:

Yeah, I completely understand and I’m glad to hear that you had a supportive friends and that your parents were supportive and, obviously, your husband as well. I agree that it does seem that the miscarriage conversation is becoming more commonplace where women feel a little more comfortable talking about it but, yeah, it just still isn’t a totally normalized conversation in many groups. I know that many women are met with awkwardness or dismissal when they try to open up about their miscarriages. So, I just appreciate you bringing forward your story and I just hope that, the more women that talk about their experiences, that these conversations can be more normalized.

How did you keep yourself from blaming running for the miscarriage, if that makes sense. I know that in those types of situations, sometimes we want to look for something to blame. It seems that running could one of those things that could be easy to point your own finger at and say, “In my mind, this is responsible for it.” So, how did you avoid doing that and avoid ending your relationship with the sport, if that makes sense.

Theresa:

I think, during my first pregnancy with my son, I had searched out and looked at all of the things that talk about running and pregnancy. Is it safe? Is that something that you should do? Because I think I had the experience of running through an entire pregnancy and not having any negative outcomes, it helped me know that it wasn’t responsible. The very first conversation I had with my doctor when I started having bleeding, I said, “I did run this morning. Could that have caused it?” She said, “It could have irritated things and that may be why you’re having this bleeding.”

Just from other people’s experiences and what I’ve read and understand, there are some reasonable things that you should stop running. If you’re having a threatening miscarriage. If you have certain conditions, that you should stop running. But, from the very first conversation with my doctor, she said, “There’s nothing that we would think that would cause this to happen.”

From the very early, within the first week or so of my experience, we could see, yep, things are just not developing correctly. This is not the fault of anything that you did. You are doing the right things of being healthy, of taking care of your body, of managing your stress and your eating. So, for me, that was helpful. Now, after, I took like a couple of weeks off from running after my race and then my doctor had told us to wait at least a month so my cycle can come back before we start trying again. I was one of the incredible lucky people that I got pregnant right away with my second after that experience.

Shayla:

That’s amazing!

Theresa:

Yeah! It was, given how crappy of the miscarriage experience, it was really nice that it didn’t take another three or four months before we got to be pregnant again. With that pregnancy, I was kind of recovering from that foot injury and was still kind of coming back from marathon training. So, I did take it easier that first trimester with that pregnancy. I was still running, but I wouldn’t do anything over three or four miles. I wasn’t really doing anything real fast. That may have just been pregnancy post-miscarriage, I’m just not gonna push it at all. Like, I don’t want to risk anything. So, even though I knew with my miscarriage experience and with this pregnancy, I know there was nothing that running was going to hurt. But, I still took it easy until I was at least into the second trimester and then I started to ramp things up again.

I can say some of that was that I was coming back from injury and was slowly increasing that. But, there definitely was some aspect of, “I don’t want to feel like running was a problem so I am just going to do a three or four mile run and not do too challenging or anything like that.” That was what worked for me and who knows if there would have been any different aspect, but it definitely had an effect of how I looked at the next pregnancy.

Shayla:

Yeah, that completely makes sense and it’s completely understandable. Like you said, especially considering you had an injury in that marathon, and just taking that time that you needed both after the marathon and after the miscarriage to just heal your body properly and then ramp up when you were fully ready. So, through that time since there was a shorter time period between the completion of your miscarriage and then your third pregnancy, did you have any lingering anxiety or anything? Or, how did you ensure that your mental well being was where it needed to be at that time?

Theresa:

I think I took, because I wasn’t running, I tried different things. Some of that was just journaling. Some of that was, I tried spin class for a little bit. I tried to put an extra focus of trying to appreciate my first son and just to, every day, say, OK, this is what I’m grateful for him today. This is what I’m grateful for, for him, that I have him in my life.

When my husband and I were trying to decide if we were going to try again, and all of this, I told him, I was like, “Alright. If I have another miscarriage, that’s it. We’re done. I can not do this again and then go and want more kids. We have our one son who is perfect and healthy and we love him so much.” So, for me to mentally get in there, I said, “Ok, we’re going to try and hopefully we will be successful and have everything points to that we shouldn’t have another problem and have a healthy pregnancy.”

That kind of helped me, especially when we did get pregnant with my second son that, ok, if we can just make it through, then it will be ok. If this doesn’t work, then I will just, we just won’t try anymore and we will have our son and we will be so grateful for that. So, I guess that helped put me in a good mindset of, I’m going to be grateful for what I have, I’m going to hope for the future that we can still have a successful, healthy pregnancy, and I kind of tried to focus on those two things of hopefully this won’t happen again and if it does then we’re done. But, hopefully things will be ok and the next pregnancy will be better.

My husband is an engineer. I’m pretty logical as far as like, statistics, and what not. So, I was able to look at the numbers like, ok, it’s one in four, and there’s a very small chance of having more than one miscarriage. That helped me as well when we did go forward and start trying again. Statistically, logically, this should not happen again. So, I took those two approaches.

Shayla:

Well, congratulations on the birth of your beautiful boy who is now a year old. So, fast forwarding to today, and looking back over this past year. Obviously, we’ve all had a lot to juggle with the pandemic but adding a baby into the mix is also a lot to handle along with having a toddler. So, I would imagine that things haven’t exactly, the stress hasn’t exactly subsided with the birth of your second son. So, looking over this past year, how were you able to ensure that your running goals and time for self care remained a priority in the household? Especially since you mentioned that your husband has such a demanding work schedule as well.

Theresa:

The goal was to get the kids back in the gym daycare and I’d get my break for an hour three to four times a week and obviously that didn’t happen. So, for me, I knew that mentally it just needs to happen. So, I had got the double stroller before I had my second son and anticipating that it would be maybe just for once a week we’d go for a stroller run. Obviously, it’s now my best used baby tool! To me, I wanted to get that strength back that I feel when I’m running. Having the experience of running through adversity, I knew that would help me.

So, I had a difficult time with transitioning into two kids. I wasn’t expecting any kind of postpartum depression or the baby blues because I just didn’t have that experience with my first but it was such a struggle with both kids and it would feel better when we would get out. I’d be able to take the kids for a run. Even if it was crazy getting out of the house to do that. But, being able to make that happen made me feel much better. We’ve done things that we probably wouldn’t have been able to do.

We did a couple of virtual 10ks with the double stroller and that was a ton of fun. I had my three year old banging on his bell as we were racing on our trail. I’ve tried to focus on the positive things that we were able to do because of the pandemic and it’s not perfect but we’ve figured it out. Out here they had closed all of the public parks for two and a half months or so and when they opened those up, it was like life changing.

Now, we’re going to get in the stroller. We’re going to go for a run and then we’ll end up at the park and be able to play. Now as my son has gotten old enough to actually be able to crawl and walk, all over the playground, slowly things have been getting better. Everything with the pandemic is just so hard, is it worth it. Running is one of the things that it totally is. We’ve made it work. It has helped immensely and make me feel good out of that post partum haze and feel strong again. I have been able to break PRs and do things that I never thought I could do, even in a pandemic. Who knows what the next six to seven months are going to bring – hopefully we’re at the tailend and things will start getting better soon. But, I’m trying to not put my goals on hold. So, even if I have to run a couple more virtual races, I’ll make it happen if that’s going to keep me motivated to go.

Shayla:

I love that you were able to, going back to talking about the baby blues, and a bit of post partum depression after your second son was born, I’m glad that you were able to find something that kind of brought you out of, like you said, out of that haze and made you feel better. I had pretty severe post partum stuff going on after my third. I had it a little bit with all of my kids, but it was really bad after our third and it was the same with me. Running and just finding time to move my body really helped me. My husband recognized that. I’m just so grateful that he recognized that and was supportive. When he could tell I was getting down, it was like ok, do you feel like you need to go for a run or do something? So, being able to recognize what it is that helps you is just so good because, going back to talking about how miscarriage isn’t yet a normalized conversation, well, holy cow, the postpartum depression certainly isn’t anywhere close to being normalized.

Did you feel like you had anyone that you could talk to about that stuff?

Theresa:

I mean, yeah, I had a couple of my friends that I talked to. I was like, “How, well I don’t think.” I was in that funky thing of, I went back for my six week check up and things were kind of starting to get better and like, oh, I don’t need to talk to my midwife about it. Like, things are getting better. Then, inevitably, things didn’t necessarily get better. But, being able to have friends that say like, “Yeah, it’s ok to feel this way. If you need to go back, go back to your midwife.”

Luckily, I didn’t necessarily need that to have any kind of specific medication or anything. But, it was so good to have just those friends that could understand. Even my husband could tell like, oh man, this is different. You were not this way with our first son. Again, that’s some of the ways the pandemic helped if I can say that, is my husband got to start working from home. That just made the world of difference. When my baby was small and only had to be held, I could hand him to my husband and I’d go take a shower.

It was just those five minutes to shower, feel like myself, and go back and face the day. Having my husband not have to commute, getting home as soon as he is done with work, helped a lot. To balance out the new stressor of a pandemic and everything that it involves. So, that was also kind of a turning point of his help and support of he was home more and could help in the mornings. Just was more present and that really helped too.

Shayla:

Yeah, that’s amazing. I didn’t even think about that aspect of having him working from home. But, oh, absolutely, not having that feeling of isolation I can imagine was so wonderful. And I’m glad to hear that you also had friends that you could talk to because, as supportive as husbands are, they just, at the root level, don’t totally understand what we’re feeling. Looking at your life now as the mom of two young boys and your life as a runner, what does running bring you at this point in your life?

Theresa:

Running is what makes me feel like I’m doing something. I think, being a stay at home mom, it’s so hard to think that you’ve accomplished something or done something. Not only are you doing something, you’re doing something really hard. I love that running has become this greater community. That more people can be a part of it but also see, oh man, that was a really challenging run or, I didn’t think I could do that distance, but I did. Being able to have a goal and work towards something that is achievable has been so beneficial to me. It feels like something I can control in a more uncontrolled place.

I was so used to, when I worked full time, of like, ok, I’ve got things to do and we’re going to check those off and oh look, I got some positive reinforcement from my manager because I finished this project and it turned out well. Running has become that positive reinforcement. It’s not always positive, but it’s something that I can work towards. Going forward, I say this marathon that I did in early 2019, I was 21 months postpartum with my first. So, this year, I’m like, I am going to shoot for around 21 months postpartum so like this September, I’m going to run another marathon.

I’m going to work towards that and I’m already looking forward to having a plan. Having a set thing. Being able to say yes, I’m doing this training run. I did this thing. So, I’m really looking forward to that going forward, no matter what the world looks like in the next six months or so. I will be able to check those off and hopefully be able to do a marathon and hopefully not have as much adversity to go through to get to that finish line. Running helps me get there and make that happen.

Shayla:

I love that. That’s wonderful. So, as we near the end of today’s episode, is there a main takeaway from your story that you’d like to leave with the Runner Moms community?

Theresa:

Everyone goes through hard times or adversity and we’ve seen that in the past year. Everyone has gone through a hard time. I hope that the running community can see that you can make it through and you can ask for help. Again, I wish that I would have reached out more to other people when I was going through this miscarriage because I think it would have been more helpful. Specifically in the running community, that I’m not the only one that has run while going through a miscarriage. So, I hope more people will see that running can help you through adversity or even just the running community which I’ve seen in the past several years has been so supportive. It’s just one of those places that you know you’re going to go and you know that people are going to smile at you and cheer for you and want you to succeed. Whatever your struggle that you’re going through whether it’s running or anything that gives you that positive energy is going to make things feel ok again.

Shayla:

That’s a great takeaway. Thank you for that and I totally agree with the support in the running community. No matter what you’re going through, I feel like you can find the support you need among runners. I’d just like to say again, thank you for sharing your story with us today, Theresa. As we talked about earlier, as with a lot of topics in women’s lives, miscarriage just still is not a normalized topic nor is postpartum depression as we talked about. It’s just not a normalized conversation in many groups which really just leaves moms who have experienced these things feeling isolated without the support they need to heal. So, I know that your story is going to be of great benefit to a lot of the show’s listeners. So, thank you again for that.

If others would like to connect with you online, where should they go?

Theresa:

I’m on Instagram. I’m @redhairedrunningmom on Instagram. I post my runs but I also have a lot of questions. So, if anyone wants to tell me more things to help with running. But, I love the Instagram running community. There are so many awesome running moms out there that are just so supportive and helpful. It’s fun to have all of the cheerleaders and people that are like, “I totally get that! Here do this, this may help you!” So, that’s where they can meet up with me if they want to.

Shayla:

I totally agree with you. I love the vibe on Instagram of the Runner Moms community. It’s just so awesome, all of the great comments and advice. Well, I’ll be sure to add the link to your Instagram account within the show notes and thanks again for being here today, Theresa, I really appreciate it.

Theresa:

Absolutely. Thank you!

Shayla:

As Theresa and I talked about, while miscarriages are common, discussions about them still aren’t normalized in most social circles. I am so appreciative of Theresa’s willingness to share her miscarriage story with all of us. The running community is known as a community of support and, to live up to that reputation, we must be open and willing to listen to the challenges that other mom runners are currently facing or have navigated in the past and provide them with the support they need.

Through this podcast’s episodes, we’ve explored a range of difficult topics including postpartum pelvic floor issues, conversations about eating disorders, sexual assault and postpartum depression. My goal is to never shy away from discussing the difficulties and traumas that mom runners have overcome on this show. I hope that, by discussing these things openly in this space, we will all feel more comfortable speaking our truth in our daily social circles.

That’s all for today’s episode. Before you journey on through your day, stop over at runner moms dot com and check out our latest selections including a new design that I think you’re really going to like. You can find our shop over at runner moms dot com.

Until next time, happy running and happy momming!

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