Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Slippery Fish

Sam lately has been coming home from "school" (daycare) having learned songs. He teaches them to me, and we sing them together. The latest:

Slippery fish, slippery fish
Swimming in the water
Gulp, gulp,
Oh, no!
He got eaten by a tuna fish!

Tuna fish, tuna fish
Swimming in the water
Gulp, gulp,
Oh, no!
He got eaten by a great white shark!

Great white shark
...You get the idea.

A couple days ago, I ran some laps around the woodsy and hilly property of my in-laws in rural Maryland. It was raining, muddy and puddly (fun). But despite waiting three months postpartum before getting back into running, my return hasn't been the issue-free comeback I was hoping for. During the run, I got the "Slippery Fish" tune stuck in my head, in Sam's little voice. But it went like this:

Slippery Mom, Slippery Mom
Running in the water
Gulp, gulp.
Oh, no!
She got eaten by a bunion!

(I think due to lax joints and ligaments, my left big toe has gone a bit astray, causing a bunion. Best solution so far? Strengthening my feet and ankles.

Silly Mom, Silly Mom
Running in the water
Gulp, gulp
Oh, no!
She got eaten by a bum left hip!

(Perhaps due to the bunion, or the other way around, my SI Joints—one loose, one tight—still seeming to cause my pelvis to rotate out of whack. Best solution so far: stretching the muscles around both my left and right SI Joint, gently strengthening supporting muscles.)

Silly Mom, Silly Mom
Running in the water
Gulp, gulp
Oh, no!
Her uterus is falling out!

(This one, well, when I have Ben sit on my lap too much, or when my body's just out of alignment, some crazy parts of my body feel out of alignment, too. Best solution so far: fire breathing and more exercises from this program.)

Silly Mom, etc.
Oh, no!
Her belly is still huge!

(And this one. My uterus either still hasn't shrunken back down, prolonged by this I had to deal with at 9-weeks postpartum due to retained placenta, or I just got way stretched out carrying Ben and it's just taking a while to un-stretch. Best solution so far? Patience. Mirror-avoidance.)

Silly Mom...
Oh, no!
Her hair is falling out!

(This happened after I had Sam, too, and only grew back when I got pregnant with Ben. Best solution so far? Taking supplements, including fish oil. And, hope.)

I'd say it was a depressing laundry list of postpartum ailments that maybe other moms experience, too, but it wasn't all that depressing. The run was particularly pain-free, and I liked having Sam's little voice in my head. I also feel like I'm being proactive about all the ailments, and they're all getting a bit better, day-by-day. And the muddy, puddly, soggy run made me feel like a kid...and then I got to see my two silly slippery fish when I was done.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sweaty Mama

I ran today. I've waited, and waited, and waited, until Ben turned 12 weeks old to take even one measly running step. I'm trying to be smart with my recovery this time, and the physical therapist I've been seeing said to wait three months postpartum to run because, she says, it takes that long for your pelvis to settle (and I've had particularly shifty SI Joint issues).

Ben turned 12 weeks today. And I've been looking forward to this day — and the beginning of reclaiming my runner self — since I was still pregnant.

My heart raced as I drove to the trail head. Once out of the car and approaching the trail, the sky looked bluer. The trees were more golden. I must have had a ridiculous grin on my face. I was about to jump out of my skin with excitement, but instead, I hiked up the path for the first 15 minutes to warm up. Then I did it. I ran...but just for two minutes, at first. I decided to start back with a mild walk/run/walk plan to see how my postpartum and oft-injured body adjusts. I ran for two minutes, walked for one four times. Then I ran for three minutes because I just couldn't stop. Then walked for one minute, ran for one minute three more times. It was 14 glorious minutes of running, total, during my 40-minute outing. I felt like I was flying, but I was probably running somewhere around a 12-minute-mile pace.

How'd it feel? Parts of my body creaked and crackled. I was aware of my still-not-flat belly, but the bliss of movement and semi-running on the trail on a 70-degree day put that right out of my head. I was so happy, that I sat through an hour-long session at the dentist office right afterward (changed clothes in the car) and didn't even mind it.

I was a sweaty mama, which made me a happy mama. I'm hoping to continue the progress.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Patience is a virtue of which I wish I had more.

Yes, I birthed baby Ben four weeks ago today. Creating — and then birthing — the human that he is took its toll on my body, that's for sure. And I know it takes a while to recover and feel...normal again.

But man, am I antsy.

I was feeling pretty good the first two weeks we were home. We'd go on family walks in the neighborhood. Sometimes I'd be carrying Ben in my arms, sometimes we'd be pushing the stroller. All-in-all, I was surprised at how good I felt following the natural delivery, and I seemed to be on-track for a better/quicker recovery than I had after birthing Sam.

But then two weeks postpartum, I followed the advice of an article written The physical therapist I interviewed had given the guideline of doing push-ups and planks during weeks two to four postpartum. So, anxious to get feeling strong and like an athlete again, two weeks to the day, I did 15 "girl" push-ups on my knees. Then I did 10 more. Then, I did a plank for 20 seconds. No big deal. Neither the push-ups or the plank bothered me while I was doing them.

My arms weren't sore. My abs weren't sore. My pecs felt fine. But, I ached. I kind of felt like my uterus was going to fall out.

I didn't follow the most important part of that article, or, of any exercise-based guidelines of any sort: Listen to your body, and consult your doctor (my doctor later scolded me). Turns out, my body wasn't ready for push-ups and planks.

I've since seen a physical therapist specializing in pelvic floor muscles, and pelvic alignment. I've had the issue of my pelvis rotating and causing pain in my left hip, and I think the push-ups strained some muscles and made me rotate yet again, pulling on some other muscles and causing the ache.

I'm more aligned now, and feeling a bit better, but have had to slow down. I'm just today getting back to going on mellow walks around the neighborhood.

As someone who's used to controlling a part of my day, my mood, and how my body feels by exercise, this is hard for me. I'm really anxious to get out on hikes, swim laps in the pool, lift weights, ride my bike and really work hard. Heck, I'd be happy even doing a few push-ups a day without wrecking myself.

The good news is that the walk today felt okay. And more good news is that baby Ben is doing great, four weeks-old today. And big brother Sam loves having Ben around, and is, so far, a super-awesome big brother (see pic above).

I'm just hoping to walk a little further each day, feeling good. And eventually I'll be able to break into a run. Patience, patience.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Meet Ben

A week ago today, I gave birth to my new baby boy, Ben. And here's how it all went down:

I was six days past my due date, with a looming induction scheduled for the next morning. I spent that Wednesday tearing my hair out between what I thought were more Braxton Hicks contractions, trying to decide if I was going to keep the induction scheduled, or cancel it and see if my body would go into labor on its own for another week. Sam had been two weeks late, and I had to get induced with him. I was really hoping to have a different kind of experience this time.

I did.

That Wednesday evening, I had pretty much decided I was going to cancel the induction. Sam got on his bike, and Mark, Sam's grandparents (Mark's parents) and I took a walk to the playground...with me waddling and having to stop every so often with a contraction. I laid down by the swing set, my head resting on Sam's helmet. We walked home and had dinner.

After dinner, I took a bath and watched some TV, still having contractions, but not regularly enough to know if it was really labor.

But about 9:30, I started timing them again on my lap counter (timing contractions is a good use of the lap counter, I've found!) as I tried to go to bed.

Three contractions, 11 minutes apart. Hmm. Three more contractions, 9 minutes and 30 seconds apart. OK, maybe this is labor. The next contraction was stronger than any of them had been. Me: "I think we're going to the hospital." A quick call to the nurse, a nudge to the grandparents who were thankfully sleeping at our house, a quick kiss on Sam's cheek as he slept, and we were out the door.

Nineteen minutes later (a speed record my husband is very proud of), we were at the hospital, and upon being checked in around 11:30p.m., I was 7.5 cm dilated. WUHOO!

I told the nurse that I'd love to have the baby naturally, but was open to the epidural and hadn't really decided yet. But since I was so far along, I decided to go without it for a while. A half hour or 45 minutes later, I was 8.5 cm dilated. An hour later, and with increasing pain and moaning per contraction, I was still 8.5. I was playing mind games with myself to manage the pain.

Each contraction was about 90-seconds long, I think, which was about 25 quick breaths so I was counting them out in my head, knowing that by the 25th, it'd be over. And I was picturing each contraction as running a 400 as hard as I could, feeling like I just might barf or fall over (I like speed work) when coming around the final bend, but knowing I'd be able to stop and recover once I crossed the line. And in between contractions, I went to Kauai in my brain. Warm air, clear ocean, green grass. That helped, despite the tsunami that I knew was coming...another contraction.

The doctor came in just after 1a.m. and said she could break my water, which she thought would help it along, to which I quickly agreed.

Water broken, three painful contractions about three minutes apart, and within nine minutes I was screaming, "I'M PUSHING!"

And from there I became a wild animal, screaming louder than I ever thought possible and probably scaring the rest of the labor and delivery patients to get every pain drug possible.

I screamed with every contraction, and I think it sounded like...well, like I was birthing an 8-and-a-half-pound human out my body. When the doctor and nurses came in and wanted me to move this way and that, I was thrashing about so badly that one nurse had to grab my head and tell me to focus.

I did focus, between screams, and about 15 minutes of pushing gave me my baby boy Ben. Hallelujah.

Immediately after, I wanted to break it all down, play-by-play, with Mark because I just couldn't believe what had just happened...something I find myself doing after a big race. Mark, on the other hand, was speechless.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Waiting for Godot

I'm in that strange state of waiting. Waiting for my body to go into labor, for this baby to emerge and join us, to meet this child, to see how life unfolds with a new addition. To say the least, it's a strange state to be in, and I feel like it's all a bit abstract, surreal.

Some women can run eight or 10 or whatever miles the final days of their pregnancy, forever holding the badge of honor that allows them to say, "I ran 12 miles the morning I gave birth!"

Not me. My activity, these at 40 weeks and five days pregnant, looks like this:

- Yoga: I do some light, prenatal yoga poses in my living room while watching the Tour de France. I have a routine, pulled from this great Prenatal Yoga Deck, that takes me about 20 minutes. And I usually combine this with one of the following activities. (It's rarely the only exercise I'll do in a day.)

- Aqua Jogging: I grab my blue foam thing and do 30-40 minutes of aqua jogging in the deep end of an outdoor pool, looking for drowning bees and lady bugs to toss ashore to dry land.

- Swimming: I'm swimming laps every few days. While I used to do sessions that totaled 2,000 to 2,500 yards, with hard interval sets within, these days I'm swimming a mellow 1,100 to 1,300 yards total. I alternate between swimming freestyle, pulling with a pull-buoy (which is easier on my round ligaments and supporting abdominal muscles than swimming without the buoy), swimming about 100 meters breast stroke (which doesn't always feel great on my adductors and hips), and kicking with the kickboard for 100 meters. It's the last 100, with the kickboard, that I think I need to stop doing. I'm having a hard time getting out of the pool at the end of my swims. My round ligaments/supporting muscles contract and ache when I'm trying to scale the ladder to get out.

- Prenatal Pilates:
For months, I was joining a few other pregnant moms for a great, 60-minute prenatal pilates class. I'm a little too uncomfortable getting into positions to continue the class right now, but did it up to my 39th week.

- Elliptical/Gym Workout: For the last few months, I was doing 30 to 40 minutes on the elliptical, once and sometimes twice a week. I'd do five minutes on level 1, resting my hands on the bars, 5 minutes using my arms (like taffy). Five minutes on level 2 while resting my hands, 5 minutes being a piece of taffy. Five minutes on level 3, no arms, five minutes of taffy. Cool down. Then I lifted 8-lb. free weights, doing bicep curls, upright rows and shoulder extensions. Then using one weight for tricep extensions. I do my 20-minute yoga routine, and do squats against the wall leaning my back against a fit ball for support.

- Recumbent Bike/Gym Workout: Yesterday, the 8-minute walk to the gym didn't feel great, so when I got there I opted for the recumbent bike over the elliptical. The seated position cramped my low-lying baby just a tad, but it seemed more comfortable that sitting on a bike seat. I did that for 25 minutes until the baby shifted and I had to pee so badly I made a mad dash for the Ladies'...then I did the weights and yoga like in the above workout.

- Hiking. My husband and I hit a local, semi-steep but totally emergency-vehicle-accessible (just in case) trail over the weekend. I waddled slowly, he walked next to me, carrying my water. We were out about an hour, but probably hiked 45 minutes.

- Walking. We take walks around the neighborhood, though this doesn't feel as good on my body as getting in the pool.

- Weeding. I've been working in the garden quite a bit, imagining being a farm worker 100 years ago with one baby on my back, one in my uterus, tending to the fields until my water breaks. It's hard work, but it hasn't made labor happen yet.

So you see, I'm not one of those women who can claim to have run miles the morning of giving birth. While I'm trying to stay active for the sake of my body, and my mind, my activity is a little more...on the light side.

But staying active in these ways, however random—aqua jogging, pulling weeds and Tour-de-France yoga—definitely helps me stay a tiny bit sane as I wait for baby Godot.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Maybe it's a Powder Day

This baby really could come at any second, and I admit, I am not a big fan of labor. I have not forgotten the pain of the last time I went through it, nor have I forgotten the wonderful end result: my Sam. (For the birth story, read here),

With Sam, I had every intention of having a natural labor and delivery. I ended up with a very different experience and in the situation I was in, I do not regret getting the epidural when I did.

I do find it interesting that either getting an epidural or other drugs, versus having your baby completely naturally, is such a polarizing topic. Being an athlete with nature-girl sensibilities, I always thought I'd have a natural childbirth...but that's just not what happened the first time around. And I'm still on the fence of how I'll approach labor this time.

I've been reading "Magical Beginnings, Enchanted Lives: A Holistic Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth" by Deepak Chopra, in an effort to ease my fears of labor, and to embrace the earthiness of being a pregnant woman (instead of focusing on hating my husband's mountain bike).

I came across a section in the book called, "The Birthing Experience," which laid out the differences between getting an epidural and not like so: "Imagine yourself standing at the bottom of the mountain with two paths to the top. One path takes you to a chairlift that goes up the mountain, while the other path leads to a hiking trail."

At this point in reading, my blood started to boil a little. I read on:

"Both will get you to the top of the mountain, and each provides you with a unique and memorable experience. The chairlift provides an enjoyable and thrilling ride with little effort or pain. On the chairlift, you will be looking down at the experience and enjoying the scenery.

Um...I had an epidural, and I did not simply look down and enjoy the scenery. I put out a lot of effort, was in a lot of pain, and barfed every few minutes for hours.

"The hike up will be strenuous and challenging, as you are involved with every aspect of the journey. Upon reaching the summit, you will experience a sense of accomplishment."

OK. So this is saying that birthing a baby with an epidural does not give a mom a sense of accomplishment? That the only athletic way to approach labor is to deny any drugs?

I am an athlete. I have always chosen to hike a trail, rather than to take a chairlift...for the reasons mentioned. I like strenuous. I like challenging. I choose to be involved with every aspect of my journeys. I dig the sense of accomplishment. This metaphor didn't sit well with me.

I thought about it for a few days, and while the analogy still bugs me, I had a revelation:

The only time I would ever choose to take a chairlift over hiking up a mountain is on a powder day, when getting the first run on a patch of fresh snow on a snowboard is a glorious, wonderful, all-out fantastic end result...totally worth hopping on the chairlift.

And maybe this baby is my powder day.

We'll see. But I don't think women are lesser athletes, or, people, for that matter, whether they get an epidural or not.

* PS. If you're interested, here's the link to the Runner's World blog I wrote three years ago, at this exact stage in pregnancy, with Sam.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Full-Term Dude Onboard

As of today, I've got a full-term baby in there. I'm happy that I've made it to 37 weeks safely, and that it seems the baby within would be fine, should he (yes, he's a "he") choose to join us today or anytime soon.

For weeks, around the time I posted the last entry and for a time after that, I was really, really ready to get this baby out of my body. I looked forward to each Thursday, when another week would have passed and I'd be closer to having a full-term baby. I asked friends and friends-of-friends, with keen interest, about their babies who were born early. "How early was it? And how was the baby? Are they totally healthy now?" I was just ready to be on the other side of weight gain, discomfort and limited activity.

Funny, but my tune has changed.

I'm still ready to not be pregnant anymore, for the most part, but I'm more content in my current state than I've been.

For one, I've realized that once this baby boy comes out, things are going to be pretty nutty around here. I'll return to sleepless nights of feedings and baby-crying, caring for a newborn. (And part of me wonders if I'll remember how to do all that.) And this time, I have a three-year-old toddler in the house to care for, too.

And about that toddler, I worry about him and the transition to being a big brother. And I worry about not getting to spend the time with him that I love, playing at the pool (four to six weeks postpartum to get back into chlorine? Bummer!) and running around...though, granted, my running-around has been less-so in these last few months. I know I'll be tied to baby for a while, though I'm definitely going to do my best to dedicate some special time to my little Sam-buddy.

Another realization is that...I have a lot to get done before this baby is born! The room isn't nearly ready. I'm trying to get ahead in work. The more I get ahead, the less crazed I'll be once baby arrives.

Plus, I know how life works for me right now. Three days a week, Sam is at daycare and I am home working. I go to the outdoor pools by myself and swim or aqua jog. I pull weeds when I need a work break. I can run errands. I relax once in a while. On the days I have Sam at home, we go to the gym daycare for a bit, and I get a workout in. We go downtown and play in the squirty fountain. We go to the pool and swim and giggle and eat snacks in a lawn chair, wrapped in towels. We take naps. Ah, naps. I know what time he goes to bed, and I know what time he wakes up. We're in a family routine, for now.

I've always been nostalgic and apprehensive of change. And once the changes come (hello, Sam!), I'm ecstatic with the new addition to my life...and I know that will come.

I guess my point is, I'm just not in a hurry anymore. And with Sam being two weeks late, I suppose this labor thing could happen anytime from later today, until five weeks from now. We'll see. Oh, and labor...Can't say I'm looking forward to going through that again...But more on that later!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Warning: Cranky, Pregnant-lady Post Ahead

I've been a little bitter lately. Okay, maybe a lot bitter. It's just that—and here I go on a rant—my husband has been training for mountain bike races this spring. Last Friday, he loaded up the car with his bike and two day's full of toys and drove to the mountains with some friends to race.

I, on the other hand, was home and in my twelfth day of having a head cold/sinus infection. My muscles and ligaments that support baby number two have been so achy and painful in the last few weeks, that I haven't been able to run, and hiking and walking have also hurt. I couldn't swim when I had the head cold, so I wasn't getting to move in that way, either. And (still complaining here), when I garden, which is usually a stress-relieving activity for me ("You're mine, weed!"), my low back clicks after squatting on my little stool for 10 minutes, and my pelvis hurts.

Plus(!), I'm getting bigger by the second, or so it feels.

I'll be 33 weeks this Thursday. I realize I'm in the homestretch in what is way-more-than-likely my last pregnancy. And I know the weight will come off after, and I'll be back to being more active (which, I realize, is going to take skills in time management). It's just that it's been hard for me, lately, to do the things that make me feel more...normal.

And Mark, though his body hasn't changed at all in the last eight months, ALSO gets a baby out of all this.

That weekend he was off racing bikes, Sam and I managed okay. We played with friends, ate pizza together, had a good time overall.

I'm back to swimming now. And my doctor, after lightly pushing on my lower abdomen an me screeching in pain, has advised me to wear a support belt. I wasn't wearing it for months, thinking it was "tricking" my body into feeling more supported than it was. But, I've been wearing it again, and it does make me feel better.

I'm back on the elliptical once in a while (which still makes me feel like a piece of taffy). I'm lifting weights, swimming again, aqua jogging occasionally, riding the recumbent bike at the gym, hiking with the support belt (the steeper, the better, for me), doing prenatal pilates once a week and prenatal yoga once a week (and trying to hike/walk or do something else light on those days). I probably take one day a week where I'm just gardening, but that, lately, involves digging deep holes, carrying stuff around the yard, raking, weeding...pretty active stuff that seems like a bit of a workout.

So, things aren't really so bad. And, you know? I feel a little less bitter after venting about it. (Thanks!)

And there's always the little face of now-3-year-old Sam, above, that makes me smile, no matter how bitter I'm feeling.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Round Two

We debated trying to have two kids, or being content—and settling into a routine that had gotten easier with full-nights of sleep, transitioning out of diapers, cruising around with a little dude—with one. Mark had wanted another kid since about the time we got home from the hospital with Sam (to which I said, "Don't even talk to me about that.") But, last fall, he seemed to change his tune, thinking one would be fine.

I had been on the mindset of not wanting to go through pregnancy again, and, wondering how on earth we'd manage two as active parents who like to travel. And I was getting back into racing, feeling pretty good.

But something in me changed. For one, I hurt my foot with an odd, acute case of plantar fasciitis-like pain from racing a sprint triathlon last September. Secondly, someone I know emailed me a picture of her sons—one Sam's age, and a baby brother a few months old—holding hands in the back seat of their car. It made me cry.

Not long after, we were pregnant (see pic of an early ultrasound).

I'm happy to say that we still are. I turned six months, or, 24 weeks, this past Thursday. It did take me a few weeks...months, maybe, to wrap my head around the fact that we'd be having two. And it'll still take me every moment—even once this baby is born—to truly get used to the newer, crazier life. But, we feel happy, and lucky, and know we're in for a new level of insanity and a new level of family love.

Aside from the first four months serving up daily afternoon dizziness, nausea and extreme fatigue, I've been feeling pretty good this time around. A couple of months ago, about when the afternoon-sickness was ending, I got really achy from a mellow 40-minute run in the snow. It seemed like the same lower abdomen and abductor muscles and surrounding ligaments giving me pains that I had at six or seven least five months, and I was only at four months. That was a bummer.

I've since been mostly running slowly uphill, and hiking down...shuffling down or on flats when I feel like it. I do this once or twice a week, and that's been okay for me, as a runner. Other days, I'm swimming and loving that (though, wondering how long I'll do flip-turns), sometimes aqua jogging, riding a bike at the gym and lifting weights, and sometimes pulling Sam in the Chariot for a 45-minute ride around town. I'm also doing a prenatal pilates class, which seems to be helping me feel better. Occasionally, I do a prenatal yoga class, or do some moves on my own. I was skate skiing once a week, but it's been probably a month since I've been up to the Nordic center to do that (it felt great, though, when I did).

So that's the news. The fact that it took me so long to post it here is testament to how busy life has been...with just one child! I'll try to post more through the rest of pregnancy, and to report on how nutty it is with two!

(Sam turns three in May; Baby #2 is due on July 14.)