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Hockey players, hockey moms

by Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

This week's joint training camp between the U.S. and Canadian women's national teams at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex is special for Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux, twin sisters and longtime members of Team USA, for a couple of reasons.

One, it's part of their path back to playing with the national team after each giving birth within the last year. Monique welcomed a son, Mickey, on Dec. 11, 2018, just six weeks before Jocelyne also welcomed a son, Nelson, on Jan. 22, 2019.

And two, they get to share it with their baby boys, whom they brought with them.

"If there's an opportunity to bring them with, we have the support from USA Hockey," Jocelyne said.

The twins were part of the group leading the charge to fight for more compensation and benefits from USA Hockey, with a deal being reached in 2017 that included maternity benefits.

Part of those maternity benefits include monthly child care stipends, which Jocelyne and Monique used to bring their sister-in-law, Randi Lamoureux (who is married to their brother Pierre-Paul, the head coach of the USHL's Fargo Force) along with them as their nanny to care for the boys while they're on the ice.

Monique said that so far, the mornings have been particularly nice since they don't have to be at the arena until around 10 a.m.

"We have the mornings with them, we get them down for their naps and then we head over here," said Monique, who is thrilled about how Mickey is actually sleeping in until 6:30 a.m. when he usually gets up much earlier.

Video: The Lamoureux Twins Skate With Their Kids

Their schedule and the overall setup at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex this week has been more manageable compared to their first camp back since giving birth, which was the Women's National Festival in Lake Placid, N.Y. in August.

"You had meetings, practices, games and it was a much more chaotic schedule," Monique said. "This is much more manageable, being able to spend time with them but feeling like we're not in ten different directions. It's so nice that the hotel is right there, so we're not having to bus or wait for cars and all that. It's been a good setup at the rink."

After they strap the boys in their tandem stroller and walk to the rink, Randi takes over so that Monique and Jocelyne can just focus on hockey, as it's been a unique challenge for the twins to work back into elite form.

"At first you can't jump, you can't jog, you can't skip, you can't do any of the things you're used to doing," Monique said. "In the August camp we were feeling pretty good, but not anywhere near where we wanted to be. So it's just about giving yourself the patience to get there. You look back at it and to see how far we've come - it's like coming back from a major injury. It's been a long road, but probably the most rewarding journey we've ever been on."

At the 2018 Olympics, Jocelyne and Monique were both instrumental in helping the United States win its first gold medal in 20 years with a 3-2 victory against archrival Canada. Monique scored the game-tying goal late in the third period to force overtime, while Jocelyne scored the game-winning goal in the shootout.

After that amazing experience, they both wanted to start families with their husbands, and feel incredibly lucky that it worked out the way it did.

"We were really fortunate that we were both trying at the same time and had them at the same time, because once you enter that world of trying to have kids, for some people it's horrible and sad," said Jocelyne. 

"For some people it's really tough," Monique agreed. 

"We were really fortunate to go through this together," Jocelyne said.

They worked out together during their pregnancies, with Monique's husband Anthony serving as their trainer. They said as athletes, they're so used to being in control of their bodies feeling a certain way - but they had to surrender that control in this situation.

"Every day can be different. Some days you might feel great, other days you just feel terrible," Monique said. "I was sick my whole pregnancy, throwing up multiple times a day. Working out felt like the only time I felt kind of normal and like myself. But it's really just knowing that every day is going to be different and you have to adjust and adapt. Some days you can do more and some days you just have to dial it back and listen to your body."

Both women were back in the gym about two weeks after their respective childbirths, starting with what Jocelyne called "very, very light stuff," like assisted squats and just simply trying to move.

"Because I don't think women give themselves enough credit," she said. "Your body just did something amazing, but it also went through something very traumatic and you have to recover from that. For us, we automatically started feeling better once we started moving more and were able to get our strength back. Going through labor is obviously an exhausting thing. So being fit and being in the shape that we were in during pregnancy definitely helped during labor but also to bounce back relatively quickly."

It feels amazing for them to be back with their teammates, working towards the goal of getting back into game action. But once practice wraps up, Randi wheels the boys into the rink itself to see their moms.

The biggest challenge about being hockey players and hockey moms at the same time has been allowing themselves to constantly shift their focus without feeling any guilt. As Monique explained, if they're at the rink, they're at the rink. If they're with the boys, they're with the boys. 

And while there's never a true balance, it's all worth it.

"I think the biggest reward is being here and seeing them at the glass at the end of practice and I'm peeking over there," Monique said.

After Monday's practice, Monique and Jocelyne left the ice in full gear and went straight to find Randi to that they could take the boys onto the ice - Mickey for the first time.

"It was fun. It was cool. They loved it," Monique said.

As she was saying that following Wednesday's practice, their teammates were cooing over the boys in the stroller behind them.

"Let's go cruise around right now," Jocelyne said - and they were off.

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