Restoring Life After Death: The Power of the Run

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

By: Teena Wilkerson, Charm City Run Training Group Member

“I am sorry Teena.” These were the words spoken to me by my doctor after no longer seeing a heartbeat on the ultrasound screen.  I did not know what to feel at that moment; however, the next day when the diagnosis was confirmed by radiology, I laid there numb.  The ultrasound technician printed and gave me the last two pictures I would ever receive of my baby.  I was emotionless.  The technician asked if I was okay and I remember nodding, “yes”, but I was not.  My husband could not be with me during the appointment due to visitation restrictions so I was alone.  After a while, I placed the photos neatly in my purse, put my clothes back on and walked quietly to my car.  I did not want to verbally speak to anyone so I sent a text to some saying, “the baby is gone.”  It would be another seven days before the “product of conception” would be removed from my body.  

I got home and went straight to bed. I did not want to talk to anyone, including my husband.  I began to grieve the loss of the pregnancy I so desperately wanted.  I did not know how I would wake up the next day and move on with life-the pain was too great.  Waking up each morning acknowledging my truth, which was I was no longer pregnant, was hard.  I was heartbroken and fragile.  It was difficult and exhausting to constantly override the negative chatter in my head telling me I was broken, my body had failed me, and my God had forgotten about me.  It was hard to hear my other children downstairs asking their dad, “what’s wrong with mommy”, when I did not have the energy to get out of bed.  Behind closed doors, anger and frustration stirred in my heart.  Depression and anxiety have both danced in my life more than I care to admit and they almost suffocated me after the pregnancy loss.  I laid in bed for a few days not wanting to do anything.  I questioned my faith and felt deserted by my God.  I ate sporadically and cried daily.  I was lonely but yearned for connection from others who had been through what I was going through.  Eventually, my mind shifted to those before me (in my own family) that unfortunately lost a child through miscarriage.  I thought about how they were once in my shoes, but rose above the pain and found a way to move forward in life.  Thinking of them gave me strength. I did not want this pregnancy loss to lead me down the path of depression and drop me there so I told myself the next morning I would get up and I would live.  I would persevere.     

The only way I knew to return to “life” was to resume something that had always given me joy.  So when my body was ready, I returned to running with a massive goal in mind-completing a 50k (31 miles).  I reached out to my previous Charm City Run, run coach, Meghan and registered for a training program.  She was confident she could get me to the starting line of my first 50k and she did.  Running makes me feel accomplished.  It helps declutter my mind and I find myself thinking creatively.  Running makes me feel vastly alive so everyday I got to lace up and run felt like I was being made new. Love, faith, and forgiveness crept their way back into my heart while sorrow and hopelessness washed away.  Running was the tool I needed to persevere through feelings of despair and misery.  Running was (and still is) my lifeline.  In addition to running, speaking with a counselor and resuming an antidepressant regimen allowed me to face each day better equipped to move through the grieving process.  

Training and completing the 50k was hard, after all it is 31 miles, but by no means did it compare to the suffering I endured just months prior.  In fact, I ran through the finish line of my 50k October 2021 smiling and feeling strong.  “Running does not fatigue me” was my motto throughout the race.  With every step I took, I thanked my body.  I listened to my breath as it guided me along the rugged trail and I came to realize, my body had not failed me in May of 2021, but that it is a powerful vessel, capable of the extraordinary, including giving birth to another son, July 2022.

Deciding to get up and live when I was faced with the tragedy of miscarriage summer 2021 was difficult, but by connecting with something that fills my heart with joy (running) and being surrounded by fellow runners and my run coach Meghan, I was able to persevere.  I am eternally grateful for Charm City Run and the community I find within the company. 


Wednesday, February 15, 2023

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