Musings + Essays

Good and Slow.

By: Jen Shoop

I’ve been taking Tilly and Hill on long, winding walks through leafy and under-trafficked bits of Central Park the past few days in the baking July sun, and I don’t know if it’s because I was born and raised in swampland, but I find the heat-induced flush and fatigue gratifying–even vaguely medicinal. Perhaps this is because I am considering these leisurely strolls the opening salvo to a more aggressive fitness campaign for which I have been mentally preparing myself in the aftermath of pregnancy.

I miss running. I haven’t run regularly in close to three years, but there was a time where I routinely ran a five mile loop through West Town, Chicago in around 40 or 45 minutes without batting an eye and considered, in a cloying fit of self-veneration, adding “runner” to my social media profiles. (Ick. Thank God I had the self-restraint to deprive myself of such self-adulation.) But — such was my affinity for the pastime.

More than running, I miss my pre-baby body. I know I just gave birth six weeks ago (exactly), but I would like to be able to dip into my summer wardrobe from last year without finding buttons stubbornly refusing to fasten and seams digging into my flesh thankyouverymuch.

I am wont to be bullish and over-zealous with such things. I tend to charge headlong into my goals rather than curtsying elegantly toward them. This is jarringly inconsistent with other realms of my personality, where I consider myself more measured and thoughtful about things. But the number of times Mr. Magpie and my mother have implored me to “take it slowly”? Countless. I never listen to them, and then they sigh and exchange knowing looks when I bemoan the inevitable injury or soreness or ailment. “You pushed it too hard, Jennie.”

Such was the case in the Hamptons, when I determined that a month was sufficient healing time for the c-section and picked mini up more than a handful of times, sprinted after her through the grass, moved my body in ill-advised ways. I paid for it in the days following, when my incision burned with such fury I thought for certain I had torn a few stitches. For two days, I shuffled along, feeling as I had just two weeks after birth.

“You pushed it too hard, Jennie,” thundered my chorus.

So this time. This time! I am determined to demonstrate patience.

On one of my walks this week, ambling along the mall in blithe easement, I lingered over the lyrics of the Lady Antebellum song “American Honey” song, which happened to stroll through my headphones:

She grew up on a side of the road
Where the church bells ring and strong love grows
She grew up good
She grew up slow
Like American honey

Steady as a preacher
Free as a weed
Couldn’t wait to get goin’
But wasn’t quite ready to leave
So innocent, pure and sweet
American honey

I initially thought of mini, of how satisfying it had been to see her tearing through the yard of our vacation rental, watermelon juice staining her swimsuit, hair a tumbleweed, little feet sooty with dirt. And I revisited some of my hesitations around her current alienation from cricketsong. As I circled back toward home, though, my thoughts roamed in a different direction, into a herd of musings on my recovery and my aspirations to reclaim my pre-baby body. (Reclaim. Now there is a loaded word I’ll need to unpack.) The lyrics reminded me — in spite of the nownownow-ness of contemporary urban life, where “on demand” and “free fast shipping” are the de facto conditions under which we operate —

that slow can be synonymous with good.

And that I might just be staring into the face of one such circumstance.

Cheers to getting back into shape the good and slow way.

Post Scripts.

+How pretty are these caftans/robes/tunics from D’Ascoli? In love!

+Love this loose-knit sweater (on sale!) — great colors!

+After talking for literally a year about buying or not buying Birkenstocks (I just could not…get my head around them), I wound up buying these waterproof single-buckle slides by the brand. HA. I saw a woman wearing them with a breezy caftan the other day and thought, “Well hm. I kind of like the single buckle style. A little less clunky on the leg.” And then I took mini to the splashpad and, for the millionth time in a row, scolded myself for wearing my Hermes Orans, which really should not be worn in puddles and mud. (Shame on me.) I thought these waterproof slides would be the perfect pair to keep handy in the basket of the stroller. I spent a good three hours (no exaggeration) debating between the white and the coral colors and ended up with the latter because they made me happy. So. That’s my story.

+MAJOR Kissy Kissy sale! I’ve written about how much I love this brand dozens of times. So well-made and the softest cotton. I have actually been really into convertible gowns with micro — I convert them into the gown format at night and it makes those nighttime diaper changes a breeze! — and so I have this in my cart. Also love these cloud-print jammies.

+The Webster is running an extra 20% off their amazing sale section with code EXTRA20, and these Alexandre Birmans are in my size and — with promo — only $100. DONE. (Also dying over this gorgeous gingham dress, this floral Saloni, and several other pairs of shoes including ultra-covetable “Coco” mules by The Row, sweet gingham Repetto ballet flats for well under $70, and Loewe espadrilles for a song.)

+Just ordered this pretty dress.

P.S. Interesting to revisit my musings on postpartum weight loss / body image from the last go around.

P.P.S. Also interesting to revisit my reflections on my nearly forgotten injury from last December — and all your generous comments.

P.P.P.S. Have so appreciated your comments on two specific posts in the recent past: this one on being scolded for making a bad parenting decision and this one on nursing.

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8 thoughts on “Good and Slow.

  1. Love Anna’s comment here & am echoing it — give yourself space & kindness as you adjust to life with two kids. You’ll get back into the exercise groove eventually and it’ll feel so good! My mom is a runner (she’d taken up the habit in her 20s and completed one marathon before she had me, and then 12 more in the years after my youngest sibling turned 5) and she says it was integral in keeping her mentally fit after having four children.


  2. I had a routine laparoscopic appendectomy and I couldn’t believe how slow and painful the recovery process was for such a small incision, so I can’t even imagine what the c-section recovery process is like. Amid the pain, I really did enjoy the opportunity it gave me to slow down, notice more, feel more, just be more present in each given moment. Then again, I didn’t have two kids running around 🙂 Good luck. Running isn’t going anywhere- it’ll be there, whenever you decide to return. There are some women in my running group whose kids are now teens and have only just returned to running and they are out there killing it every Tuesday with the rest of us. You can do it!

    1. “Running isn’t going anywhere- it’ll be there, whenever you decide to return.” Thank you for this. You are so kind. Thanks for helping me remember to take it easy on myself.

  3. Speaking as a person who has worked out consistently for a very long time, worked out during my first pregnancy and was back at the gym at 4 months PP (more so because the hormone fog was lifted for a bit and I felt more like myself each time I would go), and I worked out during my second pregnancy and it still took me well over a year to get back to a consistent work out routine after our second. So, if you start earlier than that, you’re a rock star and if you don’t, you don’t! ha. I’ve been seeing a lot about how important pelvic floor exercises are and I wish I had done more of them. I like Delicious Fit n Healthy and Our Fit Family Life on Instagram, they have great videos you can do at home. Some Equinox locations have childcare available, their rates are the same or less than what we pay our babysitters. The classes are amazing (that’s all I do, the people who work out that hard by themselves have a discipline and determination I lack) and I feel like it’s a 45 minutes to an hour spent efficiently. I was so much more tired the second time around, chasing after a toddler while caring for a newborn is no joke and shouldn’t be downplayed. Good luck!

  4. For postpartum fitness, you should check out Kate Lemere at I’ve never birthed a baby so I can’t say from experience but it seems that she is a wealth of knowledge re; how to get back into a fitness routine post baby. She also talks a lot about pelvic floor exercises, which seem to be very important when getting back in the game. Outside of that, she has tons of well-researched, thoughtful posts on fitness and nutrition that are good reads just to educate yourself more, even if you didn’t just have a baby.

    *I’m not affiliated with her, just like what she puts out! She keeps it real in a world (fitness) where so few people do.

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