Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Fine-tuning the details

Ran my first 5K since delivering C last weekend. Managed to snag a 26:09, which secured a 1st place finish in the 25-29 female division, and while I was thrilled with my accomplishment, (and even more excited to bring my pretty gold medal home to C!), I learned that any training for any event from here on out will be a trial of wills.

Finding time to bang out runs that are even a small semblance of what is dictated in the various training plans that I have hanging around on Pinterest is hard enough; finding the ENERGY to complete the runs is the true challenge! C was diagnosed with reflux and the pediatrician thinks she has a "touch of colic", so essentially the last 3 weeks sleep has been a luxury, feeling rested a distant memory. To top it off, C is DEFINITELY a breast-fed baby, like, hard-core. As in, refuses a bottle/pacifier, preferring instead to scream and wail her little head off until either I give in, (which is all too often), and hike up my shirt, or cry until she's so exhausted and hungry she has no other choice but to take the bottle. Couple that with acid reflux, some colic, and her own 7 week old lack of patience and the result are some long, sleepless, mentally and emotionally draining nights that stretch into even longer days. Luckily, my husband is wonderful and does great with her, which allows me some free time to try to throw down a run or a brief episode of cross-training, and I'm very lucky that my mother-in-law loves spending time with C, so that has helped, but nothing...and I mean NOTHING can take the place of a good nights' sleep when training for ANY distance!

My husband is of course still working while I'm still on maternity leave, and while we are seriously considering me switching to part-time work, teaching at the local community college and working in the Nursing Skills Lab, that still doesn't change the fact that I, she with the milk bags, is the primary source of midnight comfort for C. My husband does get up with her when he doesn't have to work the next day, or if he is going in a little later, so that helps. But nothing changes the fact that there is marked deficit in sleep when one sleeps very little and very broken the other 5 nights a week.

What does this mean for training? Well...I am now convinced that I could be an instructor for the USMC in the art of functioning at optimal performance under the duress of sleep deprivation. Do I have advice? Nope...because NOTHING out there prepares you for the all-encompassing exhaustion that comes with motherhood, therefore I wouldn't even dare try to give any sort of advice. Just my personal experiences and how I cope.

1) Being flexible. In the past, I would've check-marked off EACH and EVERY SINGLE work-out in the training plan to make sure that I was the most prepared I could've ever been. Now that it's me and C training together, (she for the Breastmilk Consumption Marathon), I've learned that on nights like tonight, after almost 3 long consecutive sleepless night, to try an even CONSIDER banging out that tempo 3 miles would be more detrimental than sitting on my ass eating beef roast and potatoes and taking a nap. The work-out can wait until tomorrow. And as for "Morning or evening exerciser"?Yeah, now I just get my work-outs whenever the hell I can!

2) Pump! Yes, pump. Or make sure that I time my work-out slot close enough to C's next meal so that way my boobs aren't spraying during the work-out. Learned that one the hard way...

3) Pee right before you start, and then pee again for good measure. C's delivery has since destroyed my pelvic floor muscles. And if you read my previous entries then you are more than aware of how I learned this lesson.

4) If all else fails, text my mother-in-law, chug some Diet Coke and suck it up. There have been more of these kinds of days than I could ever count. And this requires no explanation. Sometimes, the work-out just needs to get done. If not for fitness, but even for my own sanity.

5) Even though training for ANY event right now is 100x's more complicated than ever, the complexities, the logistics, and of course the relief of being able to go be "me" for an hour trumps any fatigue or difficulty. This is my lifestyle, and while it is a little, (okay, A LOT!) harder to maintain this part of me, I don't allow myself to feel guilty that I'm taking time for myself. It's a relief to get to walk away from the endless diapers, bathtimes, Zantac and Mylicon doses that never seem to stay down, the lack of sleep and socialization, and all the extras that come with being a new mom. That hour is my time, and that makes me a better mom.

Someday, when C is walking, talking and much more independent, I'm going to look back on all this and remember wistfully her chubby little cheeks, her smiling at me during nursing, her satisfied little smacking as she sucks greedily, and the colic, the crying, the exhaustion, the tears of my own frustration and sadness that I can't make it better will all be gone. Already I'm struggling with the fact that she's growing out of all her little baby clothes so fast. Training helps me cope, and helps me appreciate all the beauty of being C's mommy. And training lets me win her pretty medals that I take her picture wearing to place on the display that will hold all my race bibs and medals that I won running during my pregnancy and her first year.

Training for any event before having a baby is difficult in and of itself. But when you add motherhood and all the challenges and lack of sleep on top of that, you truly find out what you're made of.

Friday, September 6, 2013

"Any bowel or bladder issues?"

"Any bowel or bladder issues?" asks the frantically cheerful office nurse, tapping away energetically on her tablet computer as I climb on the exam table.

"Uhhh... well..." I stammered, not sure how to admit that at 29 years old and 6- weeks post-partum, I was basically peeing myself the entire time I cranked out a 3 mile tempo run yesterday on the treadmill.

And I didn't even know it until my shorts could no longer hold the load and urine had started DRIPPING down my legs.

"Well..." I started again, taking a deep breath, knowing that as an RN myself, it's best to just let 'er fly. "Well...yesterday I was running and I noticed that I had a little leakage of urine."

I could feel my face turn red as she answered matter-of-factly with that sterile, false sense of concern, "Kegels. Just keep doing the Kegels."

Kegels. The answer to everything female-related. Have a leaky bladder well before your time? Kegels. Can't poop? Kegels. Partner spending too much time in the garage? Watching sports? Kegels. Unsure of the meaning of life? Kegels.

Great...just what I want to do. Practice stopping the flow of urine 12 times a day. I'll be sure to add that to my calendar between the baby's cardiology appointments, the laundry, endless breast-feeding sessions that have caused my couch cushions to practically collapse into the floor, and trying to recall how to make conversation with my husband that doesn't revolve around the baby.

Kegels. Got it.

I mumbled my thanks and accepted her offer of the pre-warmed backless wonder of a gown with my pride tucked between my previous day's urine soaked legs, and muttered a brief, "I'll be sure to work on those." The nurse nodded her head absent-mindedly, and continued to tap in my vitals.

As she worked in silence, I kicked off my running shoes, ready to change into The Gown, and mentally kicked myself for even thinking that my leaky bladder would even be a blip on her radar. Of course it isn't a big deal; 6 weeks ago I cranked out my 8#, 1 oz daughter in under 15 minutes like it was my job, came out with only 2 sutures, and hell, she didn't even have a damn cone head! Duh...who am I, of all women who have spewed forth from her loins a beautiful little miracle to even THINK that the golden fountain was something to mention?

But I digress. She was just doing probably the exact same thing that I would have, had I been her and she me. Blown it off without looking like she was blowing it off.

After she left the room to allow me in all my lactating glory to change, I sat on the paper-covered exam table, alone with my thoughts. Yesterday was tempo run day in my Half-Marathon training plan and I was very proud to say that I owned that bitch. 3 miles at an 8:34 pace, which was exactly where I was running back when I was side-lined about 5 months ago. And it would've been a lot more to celebrate if I hadn't had the ever-present reminder of my beautiful daughter's entry into our world dribbling embarrassingly down my legs.

I was cooking hard with peanut oil, no side stitches, only a little bit of pelvic bone pain, no knee/hip pain and I was rocking. The miles seemed to be slipping by effortlessly, and I was THRILLED to (finally!) be doing something without 15# of baby, amniotic fluid, placenta and a partridge in a pear tree sitting on my bladder. In a word...AWESOME. But I couldn't help but have this ominous sense of discourse; I didn't have to pee. At all. And this was after downing a 32 oz Gatorade about 30 minutes prior to my run. (Breastfeeding requires additional hydration!) But hey, I was running, and already thinking, "5K next weeked, yo!"

Never mind that the wondrous sensation of lack of bladder irritation was coming from the fact that lo and behold: my bladder was emptying. As I ran. On a treadmill. In a gym inhabited by nothing but young, single, CHILDLESS men who probably knew nothing of the mysteries of the female form post-birth. While wearing bright purple running shorts. That show ALL liquids.

And they say that pregnancy, birth and motherhood is beautiful.

But run I did, urine and all! And of COURSE as I ran I became much more acutely aware of the warm sensation gushing in my shorts about every 1/3 of a mile, which then triggered my let-down, so naturally not only was I leaking urine, but now I had two half-dollar sized wet spots on my red tee-shirt.

Might as well have been holding up a big sign that said, "Pissing my pants, and in need of a good milking".

I felt like an animal. A bipedal, lactating, linguistic, mammalian specimen on display in her natural element. Kind of like a chimp. You know, the chimps that shoot around, barbarically chasing one another with their long chimp-titties dusting the grounds.

At least my vulva isn't the size of a banana. Well...not that I can tell, anyway. But I did just have a baby  6 weeks ago.

But I stuck it out. Urine is washable, but pride is forever. I finished the work-out, waddled my way into the bathroom as discreetly as possible, and silently thanked whomever it was that came up with the idea that running shorts should be wicking and fast-drying. AS I exited the gym, I said as nonchalantly as possible to the buff guy working the counter, "Man, that was a particularly sweaty work-out! Looks like I'm going to have to sit on my sweatshirt to protect my upholstery!"

I have pride, but I'm not made of steel.

The 7 minute drive home was a relief. I came up the stairs, greeted my husband who had just put our baby down for a nap, and (against my better judgement) proceeded to do what all new moms do:


And not one to spare ANYTHING, I filled him in on all the pissy details. (Pun intended). Expecting the typical male reaction of "Well, how long does THAT last?" I was pleasantly surprised to see my husband laughing at my predicament, not the least bit grossed out. He even asked if it would help at all to put one of C's diapers in my shorts. "You could share, like how some moms and daughters share clothes and shoes, you know. And baby you're so smokin' hot that C's diapers would fit you PERFECT." Which in turn lightened the mood and made me laugh. And caused me to overshare some more.

So when I sat there in the office, recalling my latest adventure in the new world of Mommyhood that  no one ever seems to tell you about, (or maybe in my case, failed to listen), I had to no choice but to cheer a little at the situation. No matter the reaction of those around me, I have to remember to not take myself too seriously. And look on the bright least I didn't s@&# myself like I almost did at my last race, 24 weeks pregnant and high on stool softeners.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Want me to take her?

My baby is sleeping. It is 8:30PM, and for the first time today since about 2:45AM when my husband got up with her, (aside from brief, 20 minute cat-naps), she is FINALLY SLEEPING! So what do I do...? Frantically run around the house, throwing sleepers and burp cloths, the changing table pad that was pooped on last week, (before anyone chastising me, I DID put a clean burp cloth on the dried poop spot so there would be no skin contact until I had time to wash), my running clothes--

Wait?? What was that? My running clothes?

Yes, after a long morning that stretched into a long afternoon, that threatened to walk its way exhaustedly into another longer evening, my husband came through our door like a golden angel of baby salvation and offered to take our 5-week old daughter so I could see the outside world for 30 minutes out of 24 hours.

And like the desperate, trying to get the hang of it new mom I am, I took that offer and ran with it.


That is, after I fed her AGAIN, changed her, rocked her for 30 minutes because she was in one of her, "Mommy, hold me" moods. So we fast-forward to about 40 minutes after the initial offer, and I'm (finally!) in my running clothes, I-Pod charged with a new playlist qeued up, and I'm tying my shoes. Just before hitting the door, our dog decided that he needed out RIGHT NOW, and after another
 minute delay, I was off.

I had set a goal for a 3-miler, the first run plotted out on the Half-Marathon training plan that I had pinned from Pinterest the other day, but as the early fall air hit my Mommy-hermit body, I became invigorated and felt like taking advantage of the fresh air and the opportunity to clear my head. Sure, pangs of my daughter kept pricking at me, (or maybe that was the let-down in my lactating breasts as they bobbed none-to-gently in my rebar-enforced bra), but as the air and my legs carried my along, I allowed the shadows of my former self to come out and play.

Theory of a Dead Man's "Bad Girlfriend" came pounding in my ears and it brought me back to the days of dating my husband. No, I've never done drugs or been accused of being slightly promiscuous, but the line, "mess with you

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Feels like the very first time

Journey may not be my very first choice when queing up a playlist on my Ipod, but three days ago when I set out on my very first long run since being side-lined by SPD during the last 13 weeks of my pregnancy, that was exactly how I felt. I wanted to run on pavement for the first long run, (we live on gravel roads), so I drove the 7 minutes to the gym, parked my car and brought up MapMyRun on my phone. Along with a little Journey for the journey.

Setting out to just "run for fun" was a little hard to wrap my brain around, especially since I have been looking at some fall races starting in the next 6 weeks or so. But running for fun was what I knew my post-partum body needed, so I plugged into a fun, boppy playlist and hit the roads in the beautiful sunshine.

It felt so great to be outside after spending the last 3 weeks pretty much shut up in my house, learning my daughter, learning to breast-feed, crying at times, trying to "sleep when the baby sleeps", feed myself while feeding her, and wait, didn't I JUST change/feed/console/repeat the process?

In other words, it felt great just to be ME for a while.

I didn't pay attention to speed, (well, TRIED not to), but just listened to my body. And the bilateral side stitches. I listened to them, too, as they reminded me what it means to be a "beginner" again. I ran slowly, thinking about nothing and everything, setting a long run goal of 3 miles, and at one point even stopping to tie my shoe. I thought about being a mother at 29, chastising myself for constantly trying to put her back to bed, (but what else do babies do, other than eat/sleep/poop/cry, repeat?), I hounded myself to take more pictures, and I even cried a little at the thought of going back to work in 7 weeks. I mourned the loss of her delicate little newborn body as she is packing on the pounds, and in the blink of eye cheered at the thought that my dedication to breast-feeding obviously was paying off since she's chunking out. I experienced fear as I realized that every day that goes by, I will never get back, and every minute that passes she's changing and growing. I panicked at the idea that in 16 (or hopefully more!) years she will be dating, facing "grown-up" issues like sex, peer pressure, alcohol and drugs, and then, (ever the solutionist), promptly decided that the purchase of some sort of firearm would be in order. I happily recalled how in love with her my husband is, and then became jealous at how easily he can console her without the aid of breasts when she's sobbing, and all I can do is give her a boob.

I thought about how easily this 3 miles USED to be, and secretly was a little glad to find my shoe untied so I could stop for 30 seconds. I experienced self-deprecating thoughts of how slow my speed was, (even though I was TRYING not to pay attention to it), but quickly cheered myself up with "Don't worry--when I first started running, I couldn't even leave my driveway!". I studied the map on MapMyRun, trying to calculate "how much freaking longer??" and worried about my daughter. Is she hungry, is she refusing a bottle for her grandma, is she looking for me, is she wondering why her mommy left her?

As I rounded back down the cul-de-sac where my Edge was parked, I slowed to a walk to cool down, grateful that 3.5 miles was DONE! I then encountered this almost immediate feeling of "I can't wait until I can run again!"

Realizing that my excitement coupled with relief paralleled the constant ups and downs of motherhood and hormones, I became impatient to get back home my baby, when just 32 minutes prior I was so relieved to get AWAY for a while. My renewed sense of well-being helped me feel more confident in myself and my skills as a mom, when just 32 minutes before I was scared shitless to the point of almost having a panic attack when I had just finished feeding the baby for what seemed like the 100th time in 4 hours.

After pulling into my driveway and throwing my shoes off after coming through the door, I was saddened to see my baby sleeping peacefully, when 32 minutes ago I was desperate to get her to sleep. Missing her terribly, I crept into our bedroom and stared into her bassinet, secretly wishing she would wake up so I could just hold her. But alas, quietly she rested, growing softly, and I walked to the shower, sweaty, sore and guilt-free for the first time in 3 weeks.

Welcome back!!

I'm back!!

So after taking some time away from all this blogging stuff, I'm back and ready to share another (new!) chapter of my life--


Yes, we had a BEAUTIFUL wedding, Cancun was AMAZING, and I looked awesome in my dress all the while saving quite a bit of money working it here at home, hitting the living room 5-6 times per week. And after we got back, my husband and I were pleasantly surprised to find out that I was expecting! Making it my goal to keep up with my work-outs and to continue running throughout my pregnancy was easy; actually being able to DO it was a completely different ballgame.

At first, the lethargy and sleepiness was okay to deal with; daily runs, (albeit slow), helped to combat the fatigue that comes with early pregnancy, but then around Thanksgiving that's when the morning, (and by "morning", I really mean "all-day") sickness hit. There were plenty of afternoons after completing only 2 miles I would just cry that "my fetus is just a parasite, sucking away at me!"

My husband, who is an absolute SAINT, was always so supportive, encouraging me with "at least you're doing something", and "this should pass, just keep thinking positive". After the first couple of Dr's appointments, and some oral Zofran later, I began to feel a little better, stretching my runs a little further, and returning back to some speedwork. In February, at 16 weeks pregnant, I ran a 5K where I placed first in my age group, thereby returning some of the pep in my step. And after 3 more subsequent 5k's, where I nailed another 1st, a 2nd, and an 8th age group placing, I started having difficulty running which quickly progressed t difficulty walking due to severe pelvic and hip pain. Being a nurse, a chalked it up to "a pulled muscle", bought a pelvic support belt, and limped around work like that for over 2 weeks. At the urging of one of my good friends who works in our OB department, I finally went to the Dr. The diagnosis? Severe Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction. In a nutshell, all the Relaxin and other fun hormones of pregnancy had affected my joints in my pelvic region so severely the joints in my pelvis and hips had begun to separate.

I quickly jumped aboard the Physical Therapy boat, but as my pregnancy progressed and my daughter, (yes, we have a GIRL!), grew, the pain increased and my mobility decreased. I walked like a Weeble-Wobble, obviously running was off the table, and I could feel the little fingers of the depression that runs in my family trying to hook its fingers into my psyche. Daily bouts of crying due to either sadness or simply pain became my companion. I began spending more and more time in bed feeling bad, choosing to skip work-outs because, let's face it, when your husband has to help you turn and move in bed because your pelvis cracks and pops so bad it brings tears to your eyes, who wants to try to wrestle into a maternity fitness skort and waddle into a gym? But at least 3 days a week I wrestled my egg-shaped belly into that maternity skort, and waddle into the gym I did, completing 20-40 minutes on the elliptical trainer, (which I now cannot even stomach the idea of even looking at it!), and running through my PT routine to keep my body as strong as possible. At 39 weeks, my OB and I agreed for an induction, and when my daughter was born, I could barely contain my excitement for her sweet, bruised little face, and the very idea of getting up and seeing what it would feel like to walk without all that extra weight bearing down on my pelvis.

After coming home, the initial acute post-labor discomfort coupled with the kayak-sized maxi pads kept me from doing too much, but after I got the okay at my 2 week visit, I hit the gym for the first time for a 2 mile slow jog and weight-training session. That 2 miles could've been a half-marathon due to the smile on my face! After 15 weeks of no running, it felt AMAZING to plod along at 5.5-6.0 mph! That first week I logged 10 miles between the treadmill and my neighborhood roads! Though they were slow miles, my husband continued to remind me, "they're miles all the same, and 4 months of not being able to run them just goes to show how strong you really are".

I told you he was a saint!

So now, while I'm not shedding and saving for a wedding, my priorities have definitely shifted, and now my focus is trying to stay fit to be a mom. And now, while my little baby is sleeping, I am desperately tapping out this blog of introduction into this new chapter of my life, ready to share my journey into discovering what it takes to be an active mother.