I met Kat the way many new moms meet each other...we connected on social media! (Instagram to be exact:) Turns out Kat is a physical therapist too, and also loves being active outdoors, whether its road cycling, running, or triathlons.
She has been incredibly supportive of Mums on the Run, and I am honored to introduce her as our amazing Mum of the Month!!! Kat has been kind enough to answer questions about pregnancy, motherhood, and life with twins. I thought having one newborn was hard, but this mama is inspiring, positive, and loving life as a family of four.
Kat Lowry is a Physical Therapist in Chicago, IL. She is mom to twins Max and Clark born 1 month premature 6/2/18.
What was your experience like getting pregnant?
We got pregnant as soon as I came off of birth control. Though we knew it was possible, we were pretty surprised it happened right away. And we were absolutely SHOCKED when we found out it was twins!!! I will never forget that day. My husband turned ghost white and needed to sit quickly to avoid passing out in the OB office. I literally said, “Oh, F**K!” “Oh, F**K”! and had the RN and MD in hysterics, I‘m pretty sure.
What was your activity level pre-pregnancy?
I’ve been a casual runner since college. I had a string of half marathons and one marathon around 2013 and a couple of tri sprints and relays but pretty much casual running, gym workouts, group classes since then. I’ve had some low back and SI (sacro-iliac) issues which do sometimes act up with running. But my husband and I LOVE to ride road bikes, and biking is kind of how we met in California. We used to bike almost daily in California where we met and each lived for about 5 years.
Before babies, I almost always commuted by bike even in chilly Chicago. I like to lift weights and worked out a ton the summer before babies, in order to be in shape for a Southeast Asia tour which included some muy thai in Thailand! My last long run was 10 mi on a treadmill last October before I actually knew I was pregnant! And now, my longest post baby run is 5 mi pushing the double stroller.
What was it like to be pregnant with twins?
If I’m being honest, I did NOT love being pregnant! I like being in control of my body, and it felt like aliens had taken it over!!! In the beginning, it was fatigue and cravings- all fruit all the time. In the middle supposed, “honeymoon 2nd trimester” I had a few episodes of SI dysfunction, which literally put me in tears at work. It gave me back spasms, which made me worry that I was in early labor. I was definitely an anxious pregnant lady! I’m lucky that I work in a PT clinic with some women’s health colleagues who helped me manage the symptoms at that time. By the end, I just felt big and slow and not like myself. It started looking like I was losing my mucous plug about 2 weeks before the boys arrived (which was a month early). So I stopped working and didn’t do much more than walk several blocks a couple of times.
Did you exercise during pregnancy?
I did stability and breathing exercises until pretty close to the end. I walked at least a bit until the end. I ran just a few times short distances in the second trimester, but my SI acted up so I tried to focus on strength- bridges, clams, resisted stepping with band, a lot of upper body resistance bands when I had energy. I rode my bike to work through the first trimester but then the weather was bad in Chicago and my balance/coordination declined—I never considered clumsiness would be a symptom of pregnancy, but it sure was for me. I rode my bike on a trainer another couple of months after I stopped running- to at least week 21 (I know this from evidence on Strava) but again, I had an episode of back spasms and SI dysfunction which scared me.
I tended to stick with walking and resistance band work when I was up to it, but I was working full time as a physical therapist, which felt like a workout in itself especially by the end! All my coworkers and patients wanted to help me with everything by the end—and my patients did EVERYTHING I asked them to! That part of pregnancy was nice- people being so nice to you, opening doors, being excited for you.
What were your expectations in terms of exercising or running?
I didn’t have a CLUE prior to being pregnant how hard things would be! I don’t think I realized how big I would be or how hard it would be to breathe even just at rest! Maybe I thought I’d jog a bit until the end?! I guess you can’t know until you know!
How did that change as you became more pregnant?
By the end I was just trying to get through my workdays. I was finally forced to focus on rest which is not always my strongest suit but SO important. I couldn’t wait to elevate my feet at the end of patient care while I finished typing up my paperwork for the day. But, ultimately, I was also thankful for my job helping to keep me in shape. Another thing I experienced and wasn’t anticipating is that it was harder to stay in shape AFTER the boys arrived.
What was your birth experience?
My water broke at 2:45 in the morning with a jolt down my leg! The boys hadn’t changed positions in quite a while so I was already quite sure I’d have a C-section. I had to mourn the loss of the natural birth experience during pregnancy, I also knew that twins frequently come early, but I didn’t expect them quite this early. By 6:36 am, they were both out! Clark was having some respiratory distress since all the fluid didn’t get pushed out from his lungs. Max was only 4 lbs but with no major issues. Both stayed in the NICU 11 days. There was only one moment I was truly scared for the boys after birth when Clark maintained a low saturation for an extended period in NICU. Looking back though at their tiny preemie photos, maybe I should have been more concerned. Sometimes I can’t believe they were that small and how much they’ve already grown and changed.
How is motherhood going? From becoming a new mom to where you are now?
I LOVE being a mom. There’s a new purpose and a sense of being so important for someone else. It’s also way harder than I could have realized. You’re always “ON” whether it’s 3 am or the middle of the afternoon. I’m working part time and never realized that work would be a break!
Also, I really love breastfeeding. I had a hard time getting going at first, and I had a lactation consultation once the boys were home that helped a ton. I feel like breastfeeding is like a sport in itself! I find that when I exercise, I don’t produce as much. I have to make sure to eat and drink enough like I’m training for something!
What are you struggling with?
It’s a constant balancing act to do my best for the boys, for my husband, and for myself. My self-care has definitely taken a backseat. So I’m working on that. I’m working on keeping individuality while growing in a motherhood role. I’m working on balancing work, often throttling back a bit on professional goals which feels hard sometimes but I was doing that during pregnancy too. Priorities are just a bit different now, and I’m learning that that’s ok.
What are the highlights of motherhood so far?
The overwhelming unconditional love!!! Hearing the boys laugh, making them smile, seeing my husband as a sweet father. I also love bath time lol. ☺ They are so cute splashing around!
I love starting little traditions that I know we will carry on through the years. I want fitness to be a way of life for our whole family, and it’s important to me to show the boys that daily even now.
What are your goals?
I just talked some friends into signing up for a 10k in the next couple of months, so that will be my first ‘race’ back. I’m putting a half marathon on my radar before the boys turn 1 in June so I have something extra to motivate my workouts!
Do you use a running stroller or go by yourself?
I spend a lot of time with the boys by myself so i'll put them in my Thule double stroller and go for a spin. It’s a great way to get them to nap at the same time! (I’m really happy with this stroller and would recommend!).
How have you adjusted your fitness goals?
Priorities are all different now. The boys always come first, and I’m reliant on others (my husband when he’s working near home) to facilitate workouts.
I hesitate more to commit to my own fitness goals, because they will most likely be the first to take a backseat when things come up. But I think it’s still important to set them.
How do you feel?
I feel ‘strong as a mother’ as they say! I have a new appreciation for my own mom and all the moms out there doing their best for their babes; motherhood is a beautiful, powerful thing. Physically, I have lost muscle/muscle strength for sure. My core still needs to be stronger, especially if I’m planning to run and train more. It’s an ongoing process, and I’m determined to enjoy and learn from it all.
Any races coming up?
Right now, I’m looking at the Chi Town half marathon on April 6th! I’ll be working on core strength and speed before then.
Thank you Kat for sharing your story! What a lucky mama to snuggle up with these two beautiful boys, Max and Clark.