- Name: Jennifer Kessy
- Baby: Daughter Aïla, born August 14, 2014
- Claim to Fame: Kessy, a 2012 Olympic silver medalist and star player on the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour, took her active pregnancy last year in stride. “I planned to have no plan,” says the Orange County, California, resident. “I took it day by day.” Now, however, the 37-year-old (married to French beach volleyball player Andy Cés) is back at it, prepping to tackle her sport's two-year qualifying process for the 2016 Rio Games. She weighs in here on new motherhood, breastfeeding strategy and how prioritizing family is her new normal.
Fitting in Fitness
My workout routine wasn’t much of a routine in the first trimester. I was very nauseous from six to 12 weeks, so working out wasn’t my top priority—not barfing was. We were also renovating our house during the first and second trimesters, so I was doing a lot of demo and helping with the construction. It was a lot of physical work and counted as my workout in my mind. I was the most active at the end of my second and beginning of my third trimester. My husband and I took a two-month vacation in France. We toured every day and walked miles and miles. He did beach runs while I did fast walks in the sand with squats and lunges mixed in. I biked, walked, stretched, hiked, swam, did yoga and then napped.
I have never had this much time off from volleyball since I began playing in eighth grade. During pregnancy I was constantly thinking, am I going to be able to come back? Looking at my enormous belly wondering if I was ever going to be able to jump again. But I wanted to be as healthy as possible. I hired a birthing coach to teach us everything we needed to know about labor and delivery. She was amazing and we felt totally prepared.
Back in Play
Before I was pregnant I was practicing five days a week, lifting three days a week and conditioning two days a week. Not to mention more than 20 tournaments scattered across the globe all summer. I resumed training in the gym two months after birth. I gave myself two months to just be a mom and not an athlete. Now I’m in the gym four times a week for two and half hours each time. I’ve been in the sand for a month now about two times a week. Starting slow.
The most challenging development was my boobs! I’ve never been well endowed and they were getting in the way and very painful. I can’t wait for them to be smaller again. But I love breastfeeding. For the first two months I was home and with Aïla every minute—it was demanding, but OK. Then, when I began to leave every day for a few hours, it became much more difficult. My husband would text me when he was feeding her and I would try to pump at the same time. I was so worried about my milk supply and keeping it strong while I started to work out. I also set my alarm for 2 A.M. every morning to pump to keep up my supply while she slept through the night. Now we have a good schedule and a good feeding and pumping routine. It just takes time, but it’s totally worth it.
I actually feel stronger and have more energy now that I’m a mom. I can’t believe I ever complained about being tired before. Now that I’m away from my baby I want to make every minute count.
I learned just how special it is to be a woman. Our bodies are so amazing. I am not so hard on myself and treat myself—and my body—with a new level of respect. I am excited for this new chapter because everything this time will be so different. My priority is not just me and my goals anymore—it’s all about family.