Mind the Mat is in the connection business. People not only train those core-connecting muscular systems that improve strength, but instructors and students alike also form deep connections and friendships at the studios. So it was no surprise that Persephone and I instantly bonded. Anyone who walks through the doors of Mind the Mat is family.
But one day, that connector of all connections, Facebook, announced that Persephone and I went to the same high school, James Madison in Vienna, Virginia! Although she graduated many years after I did (we won’t go into detail) it was as if we were high school besties who had been reunited. Because of that bond, I was honored to be along for the ride with Persephone in her baby journey and we are thrilled she is sharing her story…
If you are like I was, you think that getting pregnant is a breeze. You got off birth control and bada-bing-bada-boom you are preggo. When a few months pass and reality sets in that perhaps there is more to this than expected, you feel like you are the only one sans-child while everyone around you is looking at their partner and getting pregnant. I was young, healthy, and fit, so surely this shouldn’t be an issue, right?
I’ll spare you the extensive nitty-gritty details, but after a series of tests, pricks, prodding, and misdiagnosis, I found myself in a dark depression after more than half a year of trying had led me to Dominion Fertility. Throughout this time, I needed an outlet, some way that would allow me to not hate myself and focus on my body’s failure because, yes, this is how I was viewing my infertility at the time. I turned to Mind the Mat and SoulCycle to get my mind and body in check. While my husband and true soulmate and I continued on this journey of failed IUI after failed IUI, I channeled my energy to exercise in every possible form as the ultimate distraction.
After you have failed over and over, you can’t help but think “this is my body failing me,” so when our fertility doctor told us that we would need to switch our IUI to an IVF cycle, my expectations were low to quite low. So what did I do? I took to MTM even harder and sweat my soul out on the mat. Can we talk meds for a second? These fertility drugs are NO joke. They make you bloat almost immediately so I was highly incentivized to keep the sweat on to minimize this as much as possible.
When the time came for our egg transfer, we opted for only one fertilized egg implantation, which is uncommon, but we were in the mindset of having one child, period. While the 10-day wait is literally the longest wait of your entire life, we were so thrilled that our IVF had succeeded! We were pregnant. Hooray!
We saw the heartbeat, we felt great about it, and went to the Philippines for a vacation. When we returned we went for our second official sonogram when low-and-behold…they found another baby. That’s right, I was pregnant with twins and — fun fact — there’s only a one percent chance that when you put in one egg, it splits into two!
Now more than ever, staying healthy and fit was important. I was determined to have a fit pregnancy no matter what, so I continued my 4-5 times weekly workouts with appearances at Mind the Mat coupled with cycling . I pushed myself — despite nausea, exhaustion, and all the cute feelings that pregnancy has to offer — to get an hour of movement in each day. I added some higher intensity barre at Xtend Barre in Alexandria just for variety. The day I gave birth, I had taken a class at Xtend and felt a little weird afterwards.
June 29, 2017 my beautiful boys Laurent and Roman entered the world! After getting into the swing of things, I quickly regained the gusto to start working on my bounce back. Quick caveat — this is my journey — it’s different for everyone. I listened to my body and never put myself in a compromising position. Within two weeks, I was able to walk up and down hills for 35-45 minutes. I finally built up my strength and confidence to go back to my home away from home, Mind the Mat, for my first post-partum barre class. It was slow, it was low impact, it was mentally and emotionally a huge twin Mama win. Day by day I started to add back more cycling, more barre, more strength-training, and snapped back to my pre-fertility treatment bod, which I credit 110 percent to the work I did before, during, and after.
Now reflecting back, I think about the days that I was too depressed to even get out of bed, but I did. Too tired to lift my 1-lb weight, but I did. Too “big” to hold my plank, but I did that, too. These studios were my therapy mind, body, and soul and continue to give me my safe haven and the inner strength to be the best mom, wife, and daughter I can be.
Mind the Mat Pilates & Yoga was founded in 2008 by Megan Brown, Doctor of Physical Therapy and Polestar Certified Practitioner of Pilates for Rehabilitation and Sara VanderGoot, Nationally Certified Massage Therapist and Registered Yoga Teacher (e-RYT 200, RYT 500). In their private practices as physical therapist and massage therapist respectively Megan and Sara observed that many of their clients were coming in with similar needs: relief for neck and shoulder tension and low back pain as well as a desire for more flexibility in hips and legs, stability in joints, and core strength.
Together Megan and Sara carefully crafted a curriculum of Pilates and yoga classes to address needs for clients who are pregnant, postpartum, have injuries or limitations, who are new to Pilates and yoga, and for those who are advanced students and are looking for an extra challenge.