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