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Training through Pregnancy and PostPartum Recovery

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A year has gone by and it’s crazy to think how much life has changed! I want to thank everyone that has been there for my family in small and big ways.

My training goal was to be strong enough for a vaginal birth with a healthy baby and best possible recovery. Delivering vaginally would give me a better chance to faster recovery. I really want to be there for Hoshea. A c-section delivery would mean I would have to go through the same things I went through the first time, I was unable to walk and the recovery was slow and painful. I can’t tell you enough how much this goal scared me! So, this time around I was intentional with my sleep, nutrition, mobility and workouts. I am proud to say my entire pregnancy has been supported by our doctor and friend Dr. Anjélica Carbajal.

Here it is .. a quick recap of a season of hard work, sacrifice, joy, prayer and most of all LOVE.

Hannah’s Birth story

My day started with a Saturday Open gym session of: squats, deadlifts, kettlebell swings, rowing and wall balls with Melody. I finished the workout with a sense of accomplishment because I felt HUGE and yet I could still move. I am happy to report that I have not experienced any of typical pregnancy body aches and pains. I knew that as soon as the labor pains would kick in, I was no longer in control.

Squats 135lb

Deadlift 155lb

Kettlebell Swings 35lb

Medicine ball 14lb

All these movements were staples throughout my pregnancy fitness journey. The movements are a sign of good back and hip health in preparation for vaginal birth after a c-section delivery (Hoshea ).

At the end of open gym, I smiled and said to Javy that would be my last workout. I felt I had done enough that now I would allow my body to labor whenever Hannah was ready to make an appearance. So, I made my way to the movie theater with Diana, her little bro GC and Hoshea to see Despicable Me 3. While Javy was at a testing center taking the CrossFit Level 3 exam.

I barely remember what the Despicable Me 3 movie was about because the contractions were coming so fast. All I did was pace and pray in the theater’s bathroom that the movie would be over so I wouldn’t have to traumatize Hoshea. Thankfully, the movie came to an end and we made our way back home. Hoshea’s godmother picked him up and I made my way to meet Dr. Anjélica Carbajal at Beth Israel.

Meanwhile, Javy is completely unreachable at a downtown testing center with no cell phone access taking the CrossFit Level 3 exam. The exam can be up to 4 hours and is infamously known for its high failure rate. So, in my mind there was no way I would be calling him.

By my side, I had Anjélica and Diana as I labored through the first contractions. Then, Javy finally called …

Javy: “I passed! Let’s go out and celebrate.”

Me: “I am so happy! Thank you, Jesus! Now, let’s celebrate by meeting me at Beth Israel.”

Javy: “What? You are kidding? Are you serious?”

Me: “Yes, get here now!”

God knows how grateful I was when I saw Javy walked in. Anjélica greeted him. We all hugged.

We went over our game plan. We rested. We laughed. We cried. I was no longer in control and felt this supernatural peace over us. I thanked God for how much favor and love he had shown us in this season. I had prepared mentally, physically and emotionally for all that was to come. I felt peace that there was nothing else or more I could of done. I prayed we could all be together healthy and safe with Hannah.

When my body was ready to push, 3 contractions went by and soon we heard Hannah’s first cry.

Anjélica and the rest of the Beth Israel staff assured us we had experienced a “beautiful textbook perfect vaginal birth after c-section (VBAC) with a healthy baby.”

Hannah Daniela Caraballo arrived to fill our hearts and live out her best life with us. Javy and I held Hannah and promised to love her just like we had been blessed by her brother, Hoshea.

Two days later, we were ready to go home! All the paperwork was done, Hannah was in her car seat, we hugged our loving nurse and said see you later to Anjélica. We made our way to the car parked in front of the hospital.

I stood there … It was a blast from the past .. same car .. Javy .. car seat . this time it wasn’t Hoshea, but Hannah. Then, I realized I was different .. I could walk. I was smiling. I wasn’t terrified. I cried tears of joy. We were off to live out the next chapter of our lives. Team Caraballo as a unit of four. Postpartum Recovery is a challenging season of motherhood. I am so grateful I have a supportive group of people that helped me ease into the new me. I am a wife, a mom of two beautiful children, working full-time as an engineer and supporting my husband as a business owner. I don’t want to miss out on anything. I want to offer my family and community the best version of me. CJP helped me put together a training plan that would support my breastfeeding journey, nutrition, strength and conditioning. So, below you will find a summary of my postpartum recovery plan:

0-6 weeks I had the same routine. Feed. Change and Rock the baby to sleep. Repeat every 2-3 hours. Somehow I had to squeeze in food, a shower and sleep. I did not step into the gym at all. This was a time to hold, bond and establish a strong breastfeeding routine with Hannah. At 6 weeks, Dr. Anjélica Carbajal cleared me to ease into working out and see my prenatal/postpartum Chiropractor.

8 weeks – Walked into CJP and tested baseline movements and recorded symptoms: Squat – could not squat below parallel Box Jump – landing on the box cause leakage Jump rope – double unders – the skill was there after months of not doing them. Unfortunately, too many of them would cause leakage. Strict Pull up – felt strain in the abdomen Kettle bell swing – strong hips and could swing #35lb without strain Pushup – could not lock out at the top Wall balls – 14lb ball was too heavy and would push me forward and off my heals Press – Kettlebell and Dumbbell 15lb before my rib cage would start to flare No barbell work

My training plan would now have to gradually get me to a place where I could progress to a squat below parallel, jump without leakage, rebuild the abdominal wall and pelvic floor. Oh yes, while I breastfed, slept less than 4 hours a day and care for Hannah, Hoshea, and prepare to return to work. I was not allowed to diet in any form as it would jeopardize my milk supply. Yikes!

11 weeks – Hannah is sensitive to dairy and all thing milk-protein based. Fun times! I said goodbye to the only dairy I was consuming – milk in my coffee. This also meant I would be her only food source and I had to protect our breastfeeding journey. This alone is a full time job because to produce breastmilk, you have drink a lot of water, eat good food, and get enough sleep. My postpartum Chiropractor was helping with shoulder discomfort from holding Hannah while she nursed.

15 weeks – I started to see a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist to evaluate any pelvic floor dysfunction caused by birth. We added to my training plan exercises to help engage and strengthen pelvic floor. PT was pleased to hear I would be strength training at CJP.

3-8 months I attended CrossFit class 3-5 times a week and running once a week. My training focus is to strengthen, breathing and bracing through dynamic movement. I felt so much better after just working out in class. Nutrition is simply drinking enough water and eating enough food to sustain breastfeeding. To support the training, I’ve had to add a breastfeeding safe protein shake. My postpartum chiropractor has been focusing on keeping my shoulder and neck alignment as Hannah grows. My life requires to carry Hannah, the car seat, diaper bag is 25 pounds while holding Hoshea’s hand. My chiropractor sees the benefit of CJP’s strength training.

I completed all 5 CrossFit Open workouts with the Kipping It Real team. I prioritized movements that would strengthen me and in no way hinder my healing process. Their energy and support helped me strategically do each workout. It was so much fun!

I joined CJP’s Endurance team and challenged myself to run Reebok Ragnar Cape Cod 200ish mile race. I had never ran more than a 5K. My goal was to continue to do CrossFit 3-5x plus one run. Running once a week and slowly adding mileage to that one run allowed me to easily build endurance to a 10K, Ragnar and ½ Marathon. Our team kept me motivated and encouraged!

9-12 months CrossFit class 3-5 times a week with the same training focus, but increasing the intensity. No running. Hannah was now eating solid food and I started to exclusively pump breastmilk she could take in a bottle. I joined CJP’s Whole 30 challenge in hopes to add more vegetables to my diet. At 12 months and week, Hannah and I said goodbye to breastmilk.

Retested Baseline:

Squat – squat below parallel with narrower squat stance. My hips changed! Box Jump – With PT, I can now land on the box without leakage Jump rope – With PT, I can now manage double unders and is a working progress. Strict Pull up – I can now do strict, kipping and chest-2 bar pullups. Kettle bell swing – 53 lb kettlebell is my friend Pushup – I have the strength to do pushups and handstand pushups. Wall balls – feel good! When it gets tough, I always remind myself I did these pregnant. Barbell – working on form and have started to build towards challenging weights. My body is still healing and I am taking care of it as best I can. For me. For my loving and active family.

None of this would have been possible without CrossFit Jeffries Point, our amazing coaches and community.

I am grateful for CJP because it continues to be an extension to my healthcare and wellness.

CJP introduced me to my doctor. Thank you, Dr. Anjélica Carbajal! Your love and support means the world to me. We love you!

CJP educated and prepared me for pregnancy and postpartum.

CJP helped me guard my heart from stereotypical fears of training during pregnacy and postpartum.

CJP helped me guard my heart from pressures of getting my post-baby body back. I honestly don’t even know what that means?!

CJP showed me if I show up the results will follow.

Hannah is now 1 year old. Hoshea is 6 years old.

I am a happy wife and mom to best family one could ever ask for. I am grateful for their love.

I am grateful we have health.

I am proud of the hard work I’ve put in 10 months of pregnancy and 1 year postpartum process (almost 2 years!).

I am grateful I can run, lift and carry my kids. I am stronger than I have ever been! My body has been able to do so many beautiful things.

I am grateful for the amazing people that have listened, hugged and supported me.

Thank you so much for all your love and support! Thank you for doing life with me!

Sandy Caraballo

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