When I found out I was pregnant in 2017, you could say it came as a bit of a shock. I was on birth control and had been for years. My husband and I knew we eventually wanted children, but thought we had a little longer as a couple before we went down that road.
I had just been stationed here in Charleston after a five-year tour on an aircraft carrier, and had ZERO female friends in the area, much less anyone with any experience as a mom. I tried to focus on work and got a few books that I hoped would help me figure it all out. I was learning a lot about what my body was going through, but I was lacking connection!
A few months passed, and I met the wife of a coworker who had just had her own little girl. She became my first ever (and now longest running) mom friend, and she introduced me to something that would change my life forever: FIT4MOM.
She invited me to a prenatal class a friend of hers was teaching. What a breath of fresh air! Instead of Navy sailors making ridiculous jokes, I found women who were right there with me in the thick of it. Women who understood the emotions, the physical changes, the anxiety, the extreme excitement! The class itself was wonderful and helped me feel more energetic and positive about having a healthy pregnancy. I was hooked! I signed up for the session, and continued until I gave birth to my daughter in June of 2018.
After Baby Was Born
After my baby was born, everything changed. Sleep deprivation and hormonal crashes, plus going back to a demanding job and navigating the physical requirements of the Navy, brought on postpartum depression and anxiety. I felt like a zombie, just moving through the days doing what was necessary and not much else.
A friend from the prenatal course encouraged me to come back and try a stroller fitness class. Again, the class had my body feeling sore but proud of how hard I worked. But the really amazing part was the community of moms. Moms who listened when I talked about how freaking hard it all was. Moms who had been there and gotten through it, who encouraged me to not only keep going, but to get professional help for my mental state. Moms who were exactly the support system I needed. Once again, I knew I had found my people, and signed up!
Once the fog of the newborn fugue had lifted, and I was starting to feel more like myself, my favorite instructor told me she was going to teach a transformational session aimed at helping moms get stronger, dial in their nutrition, and really feel their best. I couldn’t wait! I was an athlete through high school and college, and I was longing to feel powerful in my own skin again. I did the eight-week session, and then another one, and felt the absolute best I had in a decade! I was on top of the world, and the most meaningful congratulations were from the other mamas who had been there with me along every step of the way.
That same coach let me know she was stepping down, and I was lucky enough to be offered a job as an instructor. How could I say no when this community of mamas had been everything to me over the past year and a half? I joyfully transitioned into a coaching role and was delighted to spend my evenings after work empowering every mama I met just as I had been empowered when I was new to motherhood.
Trying to Conceive Again…And Suffering a Miscarriage
In the fall of 2019, my husband and I started trying to conceive a second child. I suffered a miscarriage in October of that year. I still vividly remember the morning I shared the devastating news with a group of women I was coaching, and the wave of love and support that came from them. These women who had been there every step of my journey, who knew how far I had come, who had sung my praises when I was doing so well mentally and physically, were there to literally hold me through my darkest hour. These were the mothers who taught me what it meant to be a friend, to truly sympathize with someone else.
These were also the mamas who showed me how to hope again. The ones who helped me keep going, and the ones who were the happiest for me when I did eventually conceive again and gave birth to my darling son the following year. With the addition of him to our family, I knew it was time for a career shift from my active duty Navy job to something more centered on my children who meant so much to me. With my military contract coming up for renewal, I decided to move to the reserves so that I could focus more time at home but still serve my country in some capacity. I was finally able to attend morning classes and meet more of the village I loved so dearly. My kids got to make sweet friends that they played with almost every day. I felt connected on a whole new level!
Just a few months later, the opportunity came up to purchase FIT4MOM Charleston, but I was wary of going it alone with a toddler and new baby. One of my favorite mama friends came up with the idea to go in as business partners, and immediately I knew this felt right.
Supportive Community, True Friends Who Care, And Becoming Your Best Self
The last year and a half have been a whirlwind! We’ve seen our community grow and change, but the heart of it has always stayed true. Now that my daughter is four and a half and my son is two, it’s nice to reflect back on the path we’ve taken to get where we are. I’m still quite close with many of the mamas I met at the start of my time with FIT4MOM, and so thankful every day for the opportunity I had to build those relationships when I did.
Every day that a mom makes the decision to join us for the first time, I can only imagine how it will change her life. I love to see these mamas at exercise classes showing their babies how strong they are, at moms nights out letting loose and enjoying some time just for them for once, at play dates where they can focus on their kids having fun and making their own friends, but most especially I love seeing how they grow as mothers along the journey.
On this beautiful journey through motherhood, I hope all you mamas reading this know that you don’t have to go it alone. If you’re looking for a village, I hope you’ll think about joining ours. Whether that means working on your fitness with us every week, or just coming to socialize when you can, you’re always welcome.