This is how my first surf in 8 months went…and it was not pretty…
I’ve had my first surf after the birth of my beautiful little girl Lily. I’ve been out of the water for about 8 months, which is much longer than I initially anticipated.
When I first got pregnant I thought I would be one of these ladies who will still surf with a big belly. Maybe not quite as elegant as Bethany Hamilton did when she was 7-8 months preggers but I thought I would definitely be up for a few laid back surfs on the mal.
Little did I know then…
As time went on and I could feel my little bump growing, I was more and more uneasy paddling out. It just didn’t feel right lying on my belly and I was terrified someone would bump into me in the surf. I’ve also had two heartbreaking miscarriages prior to having Lily, which probably made me heaps more risk averse. So I stopped surfing when I was about four months pregnant.
Fast forward 8 months later, it’s been 6 weeks since I’ve given birth the cutest little mini gidget on the whole planet (no, I’m not biased at all ;-)) and I’ve got the go-ahead from my GP to hit the waves again.
Gone were the days when you just grab a board and head out. My head was buzzing with questions… What if Lily gets hungry and the milkbar i.e. my boobs are out of reach? Is my post pregnancy body going to fit into the wetsuit? Surely I still know how to surf? Isn’t it like riding a bike?
The big day arrived… I’ve picked a nice day for my ‘comeback’… 2-3ft at the Pass in Byron. I did fit into my wetsuit although it was a bit snug…ok scratch that…extremely tight. My husband was lined up to walk mini gidget on the beach and we agreed on a ‘milk signal’ (he was supposed to wave a white hat on the beach if Lily gets hungry). So far so good…
Oh how nice did it feel to jump into the water. Paddling seemed to go ok. Swimming until the end of pregnancy must have kept my paddle arms in shape. Then I paddled onto my first wave…I was getting ready to pop up…and shock horror…I didn’t manage to pop up!!!!!! My legs just wouldn’t quite make it under my body. I couldn’t believe it. I expected to be maybe get tired quickly but not being able to pop up??? WTF????
Another try…this time I managed to get up….but only just and rode the wave for a little bit before I lost my balance. And then in addition to the wonky pop ups, my paddle strength was starting to fade waaaaay to quickly. I was not fast enough to paddle back out again and got pummeled around in the impact zone. I can’t tell you how upset I was at first. I was close to tears. I was so said and disappointed that I had lost all my strength. I couldn’t believe my body ‘failed’ me like that. What a tragedy!!!
And then I did remember what I used to tell my gidgets when teaching surfing. I decided it was time to take some of my own medicine. I used to tell any ladies I taught to take it slowly, listen to their bodies and …the main thing …don’t put any pressure on yourself. Enjoy being in the water instead. And if you can’t pop-up, just enjoy a ride on the belly. That’s what I did. The last wave I caught I had zero strength to push myself up so I did enjoy the ride on my belly all the way in.
I already felt a bit better. And when I walked towards my hubby and my gorgeous little girl, the penny dropped. Hell no, my body didn’t fail me at all. Quite the opposite:
This is the body that grew a little human being inside for ten months (nine months is a lie everyone).
This is the body that gave birth to a baby. And yes, this body blitzed it in a 5 ½ hour natural labor without painkillers. Go you!
This is the body that is running a 24-hour milk bar providing enough milk for a little army.
This is the body that runs on very little sleep.
No, this is not a body that “failed” me. It’s my body. My body I’m incredibly proud of and grateful for.
And once again, thank you beautiful waves – you taught me a lesson. This time it taught me how a little self-compassion rather than self-judgement and pressure goes a long way. So I made peace with my first surf experience in a while… good on me for getting out there in first place :-)
PS Funny enough, a week later I went for another surf with no expectations at all and guess what…I had some fun waves! Yay! Popping up was heaps easier again. Admittedly, the ambitious gidget in me made me do pop-ups on the floor every day to get back into the swing of things. That combined with less expectation and another week of recovery might have done the trick.
PPS This is Lily practicing her pop-ups ;-)