Embracing Endorphins

I’m trying to embrace my endorphins.  I really am.  But no matter how much I try, I just do not get any kind of joy, hormonal or otherwise, out of exercising.  I just don’t get it.

I’m probably just a freak of nature.  I never got the whole instant bonding thing when my babies were born either.

When my oldest daughter was born, they ended up doing an emergency C-section and missed on the anesthesia so that I felt it when they started cutting.  I don’t remember much after that other than waking to a raging headache.  They brought my baby in to see me and laid her down next to my face.  She was screaming her dear sweet lungs out.  I asked them to take her away.  And proceeded to get sick.

My second oldest came to live with us when she was 13.  We bonded in a more non-traditional manner.

My middle child was screaming before she was even fully delivered.  She was born the “regular” way, and her head was hanging out for a full minute before the rest of her body was delivered.  Seriously, it was surreal to hear her screaming while she was still partially inside of me.  She continued to scream while they wiped her down, wrapped her up, and handed her off to my husband.  As soon as he spoke to her, she instantaneously stopped screaming and gazed lovingly into his eyes.  Everyone in the room turned to look, it was such a dramatic moment.  A classic case of imprinting.  She has been his mini-me ever since, and he was usually the only one who could calm her.  He would leave the house, and she would stand at the door crying.  I was chopped liver.

My twins would be delivered by C-section.  Juggling two little baby bodies takes awhile to learn.  Especially the breast feeding part.  I was committed to nursing them simultaneously, but they nursed at different rates – one fast and one slow.  It was just too weird for me to nurse them together so I did them separately.  It took twice as long to feed them and often I just went back and forth for hours.  Actually, it felt like it would never end.

I think I was so exhausted that I couldn’t digest the whole bonding thing with them.  In fact, one of my twins never even opened her eyes.  It’s kind of hard to bond when your partner won’t look at you.  It was a few weeks before we figured out that she had an eye problem and couldn’t really focus or see well.

But, my other twin.  The one who loved to nurse.  The one who nursed for hours.  The one who would still be nursing if I hadn’t weaned her.  She would stare at me the entire time with her eyes WIDE open.  Her beautiful, big, doe eyes.  Finally, I had a sense of what it was like to “bond” in that way with one of my kids.

Well, one out of five isn’t bad, is it?  That’s 20%.  I’m only an 80% failure at bonding.

Maybe there’s still hope for me on the endorphin front.  Maybe if I keep at it, I’ll finally get it.  I just know one thing for sure.  I am not going to get it at 4:30 in the morning.  Sorry, honey.  I need my sleep, too.

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10 Responses to Embracing Endorphins

  1. Martha Hamilton says:

    Great Story Theresa!! We all bond with our kids in different ways. I loved nursing; it really is a special bonding time with the kids. I’m surprised you had any more kids after what happened when you had Leah. Yikes!!!
    Exercise does make us feel better. It is just hard to ge started. I actually prefer walking outside; that is when the weather is nice. It is my quiet time. Plus I get to enjoy the outdoors since I work every day. Try that. You won’t have to get up at 4:30. Walk any time. The great outdoors are always open. Walk briskly 30-40 minutes or more and you will start feeling good. Once I get started I have to say I do love it. I don’t think of it as exercise. Just some me time.

    • Mama says:

      I loved nursing, too. Wasn’t able to nurse my oldest or my second, for obvious reasons, but I really got to enjoy it with the younger three girls. We have a good neighborhood in which to walk, but I ultimately find it boring after awhile. Still looking for something I will LOVE to do long term. Wish it could be reading or cooking that burned the calories. Sigh.

  2. Martha Renard Hamilton says:

    Get your girls to download some upbeat music and listen to that while you walk. Do you have any trails near by or a friend close that will walk with you. Sometimes committing to someone else gets you going. Even if they can’t make it all the time. Believe me, I am like you. I feel so good when I exercise, but always come up with excuses as to why I can’t today. 🙂 good luck

    • Mama says:

      Yeah, I have an iPod and all that. I like to listen to the news when I’m at the Y. That’s the only thing that doesn’t keep the time from DRAGGING. Oprah’s trainers says to do 300 minutes a week. The longest 300 minutes of my life each week. Ugh.

  3. Liz says:

    My thought when reading this post was “looking for endorphins in all the wrong places!” 🙂 Yes, childbirth is certainly charged with hormones, but there are usually many other things that keep it from being a pure, delightful hormonal high: incisions, excruciating pain, anesthetics, any number of difficulties …
    I’m with Martha. Exercise is “me” time. And if I don’t take care of me, who will? The older we get, the more we need to realize, too, that the quality of life we will have down the road depends upon what we are doing now.
    I think the experiences to recall are from childhood: games of tag or bike riding or sledding or swimming or touch football in the neighborhood, when having fun was our aim and running around and getting sweaty was just part of that and didn’t bother us.
    So what is fun (and active) now? I’m with Martha, too, on using music. There is no way I could enjoy time on an elliptical or Nordic Track without my Shuffle. But some people do read on such equipment. Some swear by videos. Some like classes. There are a lot of options, so keep looking!
    I think variety is good, too. I definitely recommend yoga as part of what anyone does, great, deep stretching that we need all the more as we age. I walk/hike, do yoga, Nordic, and use free weights. Bought a kettlebell recently and have a rebounder I use occasionally. I hope to buy myself a nice elliptical sometime soon, too, as I’ve found that to be a particularly easy-on-the-arthritic-knees way to get a good aerobic workout. Not hurting yourself is a must, too (except, of course, to produce the mild soreness in muscles, tendons and ligaments as they get stronger).
    Unfortunately, exercise now doesn’t come as naturally or spontaneously as it did when we were kids. And that pumped-up high doesn’t come immediately to an out-of-shape old body. So discipline and consistency are also keys. When I skip more than a day or two it is always work getting back to the place where I truly enjoy the whole workout. But when I get a string of days and weeks going, there is no better feeling.
    So keep searching, Theresa. You’ll find what you like! Or make up something you like!
    And remember, as Grandma used to say, “When you’ve got your health, you’ve got just about everything.”

    • Mama says:

      Liz, Even in my best days when I was playing indoor soccer and league volleyball, I just never got the exercising “high.” I do feel better, but am not motivated by the need for that rush.

  4. Liz says:

    Well, Theresa, I’d like to think that high is one of the joys of life you have yet to discover. Hope so! And when I talk about being old and out of shape, I’m including myself and speaking from sad experience. Got kind of sluggish over the winter, and need to get back with the program.

    • Mama says:

      The winter was hard on efforts to keep in shape. All I wanted to do was stay in and stay warm. I’ll keep slogging away, and just be resigned to the fact that I will never experience the same JOY in working out that others do!

  5. Mary says:

    Podcasts can be fun. Have you tried “This American Life” or “Science Friday” or “Wait, Wait, don’t tell me” ? These can be very amusing.

    • Mama says:

      Funny you pick shows from NPR. Everyone in my house cringes when I turn on NPR shows. They find them increcibly boring. Except Click and Clack.

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