Sunday, September 7, 2014

comeback journey - post pregnancy

I've been so inspired by Steph Rothstein's honesty during her pregnancy and comeback. I've been impressed with her patience most of all. I think it's easier for a competitive person to push beyond their limits, start too much too soon. She's been making a smart comeback and starting a movement, #journeywithsteph, encouraging people to join her as she comes back. She's also using Lauren Fleshman's #keepingitreal as inspiration. Steph and Lauren have long been role models for me in sport and in life. I'm following them on my comeback road, albeit many miles behind.

I'm no pro runner, but like everyone I've got goals! I'm excited to turn my attention back to them now that my body, more or less, belongs to me again. It's going to require patience and flexibility, luckily pregnancy, delivery and these first weeks have given me a crash course in both virtues. Right now I have my sights set on just getting back on the road in one piece, racing will come later.

Penelope will be three weeks old tomorrow. It feels like she arrived yesterday and also like there was no life before her. In the interest of keeping it real, I wish I had more pictures of myself week one, but in truth they would have been hard to look at. Anyway, here's where we're at.

Week One
Complete blur. Like I said in my last post, I was rough this week. I was swollen, my legs were unrecognizable. My belly looked like I was still 7 months pregnant. Felt disconnected between mind and body. Couldn't even pull in on my abs to stand straight. Joints were very achy and painful, especially knees and hips.
First walk 4 days after having PJ. Incredibly flattering outfit. Two blocks felt like a marathon.
Week Two
Started to feel a little more like myself, still very shaky though. Couldn't stand for more than a few minutes without feeling sweaty, blurry and faint. Never passed out, but felt very close to it many times. The fluid left and I could assess see my legs... so atrophied. Could sort of pull in on my abs, the mind body connection is getting better. 
Start of week two, 9 days after having PJ
Week Three
Feeling much more like myself, or 'my new self'. Emotionally, physically and mentally starting to come around to this new life. Sleep is all over the place, some nights she goes 4 hour stints, others, like last night, I sleep for 2.5 hours total. 

This is the first week I've started to feel restless and ready to rehab. I have so much work to do. It's like my body was completely torn down and I have to build it from scratch. I'm not cleared for "real exercise" until 6 weeks out, so my focus is very small. That's what I need. I'm starting with little PT exercises, as though I'm coming back from an injury. The way my core feels right now, I think I'll need longer than 6 weeks to start running. But I hope to be ready to incorporate one minute runs in my walks. 
Out of the house and in West Seattle on Labor Day, 2 weeks after having PJ
 Pregnancy Recap
Working Out
I ran up until week 30. But only 1 or 2 times a week. Never more than 3 miles. No running after week 30. My IT band was beat up from Chicago, still is. Running pregnant was not my thing. It felt like steaming sh*t to run most days. Lots of side cramps, round ligament pain, joint pain. 

Walked at least 30 minutes every day. Did Green Lake most days (3.5 or 4 miles round trip from my house). Did prenatal yoga once a week. Didn't track anything. Just moved as much as I could.

Weight Gain
I gained 40 pounds, yeah buddy! Topping the charts at 170. I ate very healthy for this little bug, but like all times in life I didn't track anything. And I certainly enjoyed a treat a day. 

See blog about birth here. 30+ on pitocin, fluids and various drugs ending in c-section.

First Steps - Comeback Road
First priority is still recovery. While I do feel good, c-section is major surgery and I need to respect it. Recovery is taking care of myself, eating right and trying to find ways to get sleep. It's also getting my feet back under me. 

- Plan my days (loosely) so I don't find myself hostage in the house
- Take easy walks for sanity every day
- Meet up with friends
- Roll out legs
- Drink 3 liters of water a day
- Eat well, and enough
- Make an appointment with my PT

Focusing stabilizing muscles and addressing the muscle atrophy.

- Stand up straight, engage core and stop the bad slumpy habits

- Clam shells
- Leg lifts (inner and outer hip focus)
- Standing one leg 'dead lifts'
- Lunges during walk
- Hip hikes on curbs during walk
- Arm wall slides
- Wall pushups
- Ankle ABCs
- Calf raises
- Leg drops (tiny version of reverse crunches)
- Opposite leg/arm raise

...You get the idea. I wrote each exercise on a flash card and I randomly draw one or two when I have time. I'm also getting creative during baby soothing, inventing little exercises while I rock her back to sleep at 2am. It all adds up, right?

Like I said the goal is to get back on the road. I miss running so much, I can't wait until that first step. And I'll take it from there.

Monday, September 1, 2014

penelope's birth story

Tomorrow my little Penelope Jane will be two weeks old. I've managed to keep her fed, safe, warm and relatively happy for nearly 14 days! And just like everyone said, nothing could have prepared me for this...
going to bainbridge for brunch hours before my water broke. I was convinced I'd be pregnant forever....
 First of all my birth plan was thrown to the wind. Hard. Over the nine months I'd gone from nervous mama, who knew very little about pregnancy and birth, to empowered mama armed with my own research, beliefs and plan. I actually moved all my prenatal care over to midwives at 30 weeks. I wanted the natural, sensual, spiritual birth that Ina May Gaskin preaches. I prepared in every way I could. I thought I knew how to deal with anything. My goals were no pitocin, no pain meds and stay off the operating table. And then on Saturday, August 16th, at 10pm my water broke ... and nothing happened.

No contractions started. Just gush, gush, gush water. We called the doula and she said go ahead to the hospital, they'll probably check you and send you home. They didn't. The midwives checked me and checked me in. At midnight they were starting the pitocin talk. I pushed it off until 2am. I pushed it off until 7am. I tried everything all night to start my labor. I escaped the hospital and walked under the half moon. I lunged up and down stairs. I got a breast pump going for half hour intervals. But at 10am on August 17th they hooked me up to pitocin.

I was frustrated. I had hoped they'd let me have 48 hours. I wanted to go home. Now hooked up to the IV I felt caged. I could only walk little circles around the nurses desk. This wasn't the plan! But I wasn't given much choice, so I got my head in the game. I called it the P train and it was leaving the station. I had to be on board. I did my best to be positive. I could still do this.

Every hour a nurse came in and bumped the pitocin up. Finally around 5pm I started feeling contractions. I was so excited to be in pain. They ramped up over the next couple hours. I rode them out. The pain was hard, but welcome. I used my coping tools, I felt strong. Then my body started to get in the game and joining in with its own contractions. The intensity went up. The break between contractions was never going to zero. The contractions were irregular with triple peaks at times. Soon there was little to no break. I entered severe back labor with contractions on contractions. Her position was making everything worse. I was losing it. I couldn't see, or think. It was way to early to be here.

Just under 6 hours of contractions I made the second call. Epidural. In my haze I saw a man who looked like Captain Kangaroo come in, speaking in a German accent. I kept apologizing to Owen as the man scrubbed my back down. I felt like everything was happening to someone else. This wasn't me. Soon my legs were gone. My back still ached, but I was concrete. From this point on, I left my body. I felt like a helpless bystander. I cried and slept.

The next morning my temperature was over 101ยบ. I had an infection because my water had been broken so long. The baby was still trucking through all of this. Heart rate great. She's a trooper. I was started on an IV of antibiotics and Tylenol. My temperature slowly went down throughout the day as my pitocin dose went up, up, up. They were doing minimal cervical checks before my infection, but now they checked every few hours. Nothing was happening. In 26 hours I was now dilated 5 cm. I had been at 5 for hours. They gave me another four hours to make something happen. But I was numb. My legs were swollen to 3 times their normal size with all the fluid and drugs. My body seemed to be shutting down. And four hours later it was time to call the third thing I never wanted.

Just before 4pm Owen got his scrubs on. I was wheeled away from him to be prepped for surgery. The epidural was taken out, a spinal given. I felt removed. My arms were strapped down, curtain up. Owen was back at my side. True to their word I could feel pressure, I could feel cutting, I could feel hands pushing on me... but it wasn't me. I was just a little floating head, looking at Owen and waiting for her cry.

There were exclamations of how big she was and whoah you weren't lyin' about the head!! (Her head measured 37 weeks at 32 weeks and was just over 14.5 at birth.) And I just kept asking is she here?? Suddenly a cry! Owen popped his head over the curtain unable to wait another second and then went to hold her. I was sobbing. She wasn't crying as much as I thought she would, I kept asking if she was okay. She came out determinedly grunting and bobbing for meal on Owen's chest. Finally seemingly hours (but just minutes) later Owen laid her on my chest. She was crying but as soon as I started talking she stopped, listened with wide eyes on me. She knew me. I wanted my arms to hold her, but I was strapped down. I cried and talked to her and kissed her head over and over.
Penelope Jane, 8lbs 5oz, 20.5 inches long, dome 14.5 inches
The rest was a blur. But soon she was feeding with me. Nurses came and put an IV in her little hand because the water had been broken so long and I was infected they needed to treat her. She endured a lot to get here and through all the hours on piticon as it ramped to nearly 30, her heart was strong and showed no signs of distress. Nurse after nurse marveled at how resilient she was. Girl has more fight than me, I'm sure of it.

We needed to stay another 48 hours and Penelope endured many pricks on her heel for blood draws, her IV pulling on her hand. We were up every hour on the hour for IV flushes and antibiotics, heel pokes and tests. I couldn't have been more ready to leave a place. Although I can't say enough good about the people that cared for us.

That first week was so hard. Mentally, emotionally and physically. My body was fluid logged. Literally sweatpants didn't fit because of how swollen my legs were. It was unreal and terrifying. Finally 4 days later they started to drain. I could see my ankles again. My incision was surprisingly painless. I was off the ibuprofen within a couple days. But I was faint when I stood up. I was so weak. Being home, up every 1.5 hours to feed her was hard. I felt like a zombie. A very sad little beat up zombie. 
Days out from c-section, feeling pretty horrible.
Every afternoon I turned into mush. I would cry off and on from 3pm until I fell asleep. I just felt an empty ache in the pit of my stomach. I fought the feelings that I wasn't strong enough, or good enough to birth my baby. I fought the feelings that I'd disappointed Owen and Penelope. So many people came in and out of our house, constantly telling me to nap. As I watched everyone else hold her I felt alone. Finally I made time for me to hold her. Enough with shuttling me to the bedroom! I needed to bond with her. And I reached out to people who I knew I could talk to about the c-section. Slowly I came back to myself and Penelope and Owen.

Just two weeks out, I feel so much better. That first week had many dark clouds floating through my mind. I let myself mourn when I needed to, but also fought the darkness back by reaching out to my network. Every little affirmation thrown my way, no matter how small, sent light though the clouds. Thank you.

Everyone told me you just can't prepare, you can't imagine, and now I know it's very true. More than going from hoping to catch my own baby after an unmedicated birth to being strapped to an operating table...I never knew how much I could love until I saw her. Until I saw Owen with her. Everyday is open as I fall in love with her, she's an unsolvable puzzle and endless possibility, she's perfect. I'm so happy she's here with us.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

"full term"

Just hit the 37 week mark! Ding-ding! I'm currently watching an elbow (?) pushing what used to be my belly button out two inches. My child is clearly very creative, and has been attempting to use my belly button as her escape route for weeks. Her thinking outside the box was more amusing before 11pm last night when I noticed a silver stretch mark straight across my belly button. The abuse must stop, child! 

Other than the arrival of my first stretch mark it's been an action packed few weeks. I celebrated my second wedding anniversary, turned 31, chopped 6 inches of hair off and put platinum blonde highlights in (more on this later), finished the belly button abuser's room and had two baby showers. Not to mention wrapped up the entire marketing calendar for fall 2014, trained the team to cover my leave and directed both the studio and lifestyle shoots for ridiculous new collection. Oiselle is radness and I have three months of baby girl bonding to look forward to, but as the only me… there is a lot to get ready.

I was doing pretty well emotionally until the hair change. I don't know what my deal is, I knew I wanted to chop my hair, I've always loved having short hair. When I met Owen my hair was so short I could barely tuck it behind my ears. And it's always been blonde-blonde. But between training, working and baby cooking I'd completely forgotten my hair. It was long, shaggy and pretty much my natural color. And I was sick to death of it. Until it was gone and blonde. 

great post yoga selfie

I've been in tears off and on for three days over this change. It's absolutely ridiculous. And it's not how it looks that keeps setting me off, it's that I don't look like myself. Or the self that's been pregnant. The self I was getting used to.

And platinum blonde just isn't screaming maternal, but maybe that's okay. It's who I am. I guess I like to make things harder on myself. Like, oh, huge life change ahead, let's chop off all our hair and dye it blonde. I started to wonder if this haircut is to motherhood what the Mustang convertible is to the midlife crisis. 

The more I try to analyze this weird reaction the more confused I am. I can say two things, the words 'mom cut' will send me over the edge and two, I do think the anxiety over the transition to being a mom might have flared up over a haircut. I haven't spent enough time in therapy to know the word for that.  But it's not really the hair, right? It's that I've been a me for 31 years and now I'm about to be a me … that's a mom. 

While we're talking about it though, just real quick, "mom cut" needs to be permanently banned from the English language. Jennifer Lawrence does not have a mom cut, neither does Miley Cyrus for that matter, but if either one of these two were pregnant or moms AND got their current cuts would it suddenly be a mom cut? No really, I'm asking, I took in a picture of Jennifer Lawrence. Weird how I don't look like her now…I really thought that would work. 

Moving right along… physically I actually feel better than I expected. I did develop carpal tunnel, yes that happens. And my hands were so swollen at 34 weeks that I took my rings off and haven't looked back. It's tough now, ya know, without my wedding rings there's just nothing to keep men from approaching me. I'm like no, I'm sorry, taken. Yes, this hot bod is off the market. No you can't touch my stretch mark and yes I know this hair cut makes me look just like Jennifer Lawrence.

In the morning my feet hurt so much it's hard to walk for about half an hour. I don't know what that's about, we'll just go with swelling, loose joints and the extra 40 pounds I'm lugging around. My motto on the latter is, I'll deal with that later. I'm keeping up my walking and reasonable eating, trying to do the best I can for my little girl, and I'm just not worrying about the weight. Or cellulite. Or being passed by the geriatric crowd when I'm walking. 

I'll deal with you later… smiling New York Super Fudge Chunk

I know I have business to take care of after she arrives. More than losing 40 pounds. I'm excited to get back into fighting shape start gunning for my goals again. Even walking I can feel the fire of wanting to run as fast as I can. I dream about running almost every night. And I'm excited to push myself without worrying about anyone but me. I am anxious about not having the time. This time off running has shown me how busy I am without it… or a baby. So to add the two into the mix is daunting. But day by day. 

So yeah, 37 weeks here we go, and I will say all whining and hair cut sobbing aside, if I'm quiet I mostly feel overwhelmed with the goodness of life. Every little outfit people have picked out for her breaks my heart. It makes me proud and happy for her, that she's so loved. I feel incredibly lucky to be 31, and healthy. To have my Owen and a little house to rent and a tiny being beating my belly button up from the inside. It feels like too much good for one person to deserve. 
Painting little onesie

Monday, June 30, 2014

dressed for success, or, why I'm not wearing pants

When I was a naive 20 weeks pregnant I went out and bought some maternity jeans and a few shirts. Perfect, I thought, maternity clothes aren't so bad. Now at 32 weeks, I laugh at that preggo so smug with her handful of Gap Maternity.

I'm over 5'9" and all torso. I know, I know, stop bragging! It's a enviable build. All the height and none of the legs. People are like, that girl has torso for days! And check out those monkey arms! Bow chica ow ow.

As my belly grows straight out it's becoming impossible to dress. All my shirts hit my belly button then tent out a couple inches from there. Yes, my maternity shirts. I bought an adorable maternity dress online, on the model it hit maybe an inch above her knee, on me it's obscenely short. I can't move without showing the world most of my arse.

Before you say it, yes, I have that belly band thing. But between the elastic band on my jeans, the elastic belly band, a shirt and the nearly 40 extra pounds (yes, really)... I'm ready to claw my way out of all the layers around 3pm. When I get home there are no longer just shoes by the front door. is coming off before the door even swings shut.

This nearly nude dresscode at home means once I'm there the motivation to put real clothes back on to do anything is completely gone. This is how husbands end up doing errands for their pregnant wives. It's not that pregant women are too tired, or lazy, it's because we aren't wearing pants. And new episodes of Wilfred and Orange is the New Black are on Netflix. Pass the Lucky Charms. 

This is the situation... basically. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

31 into 32

31. The number of weeks this little girl has been growing. The age I'll be when she arrives.

It's been a busy 7 days. It's been a busy month. Honestly a busy 3 years if we're counting. And so much change ahead.
Down in front, belly! (29 weeks)

A couple weeks ago we flew redeye to Boston to celebrate my father's 60th birthday. I didn't sleep a wink and my eyes lived up the name. Owen didn't fair much better but had the advantage of Tylenol PM and not being 29 weeks pregnant. Also I was in the direct firing zone of a 90 something year old woman who used the 4.5 hour flight to leak a lifetime of farts while sleeping and blocking all hope of using the bathroom. It was a long night.

We spent the weekend in Rockport MA, what I would call one of my spirit homes. We moved a lot when I was growing up. Every four years. The summer I turned 10 we were in Colorado but my father spent a summer working in Boston. The family followed, but instead of setting up in the city we rented a house in Cape Anne. I remember that summer as one of the best of my life. 

We eventually moved to western Massachusetts (for good) when I was nearly half way through 6th grade. I found my way back to Colorado for college, but came back 2 summers to be a live-in nanny in Rockport. Living with my parents on the weekend and on the coast all week. 

I love the north shore. It's a place where my family is from, but not from. I think when you move often you attach yourself to places by heart not obligation. As soon as I could I found my way back to the places that felt most like home. Testing them out. 
Mama(s) (30 weeks)

It was a great weekend, too fast. I hadn't seen my family since being (maybe, barely) 8 weeks pregnant. Watching them all feel the little girl kick and jab was the best. Hugging my mama good night every night. Hanging out with my brother and sister, acting like big little kids. It's been two decades since we all walked down the beach at Good Harbor, the three of us, over to the island at low tide. So much has changed and hasn't. It's hard to be far away. 

Time is flying by at hyper speed now. We are less than 8 weeks out from her due date. I'm excited but mostly completely overwhelmed right now. Not only is her little room a complete disaster, the list of things that need to be done at work seems insurmountable at times. I have my head down, checking things off, while trying my best to take moments to absorb this time I have with my little one. That I have with my husband. Before everything changes again.

This weekend we headed on our first and last camping trip of the summer. Over the mountains to Maryhill. Another adopted spirit home. I love the hot wind, watching the trains so small across the Columbia, driving through the endless sea of fields and canyons. All in all it was a restorative weekend, aside from having my iPhone walk off with a new owner. And Monday morning, as suspected, all my to-dos are still here.

looks like I could have used a little more spf...(32 weeks)

Friday, May 30, 2014

grow a mama - week 29

Long time no publish! I have about 5 blog drafts in the cooker, but haven't pulled the trigger in awhile. Mainly because as soon as I write an update everything changes. I'll be all ready to talk about how I'm done running and then go bust out 3 miles. Pregnancy is one hell of a rollercoaster.

Because I could write a novel about the last 6 weeks (and have, but luckily for you haven't published it) let's go with bullet points!

  • Running isn't happening most days. Don't be fooled by Instagram (good life tip). It's not easy, nor am I maintaining a "weekly mileage" or "training plan". Unless 3 miles a week counts. 
Didn't run for nearly two weeks, then after this pic was taken managed a 3 miler!
  • But I'm not giving up! I walk about an hour every day and attempt little running spurts when I can. I'm also running a 5k this Sunday. Operation 'don't become one with the couch' is in full swing. 
  • My goal for the third trimester: keep moving and go to prenatal yoga once a week week. Which I have dubbed fart yoga for the number of times preggers are letting it fly in there. I haven't contributed to the fart party yet, but I know my day is coming. 
  • I asked Lauren Fleshman what's one exercise I should be doing and she said clam shells. When Fleshman speaks, it is done. So daily clam shells it is. 
  • My weight gain is solid. I have never talked about weight on this blog, it's such an arbituary measurement and I don't weigh myself...ever. But since I'm now weighed on the monthly, it should be noted I'm about 27 pounds since the pee dried on the preg test (nice visual). It should also be noted that my doctor had the gall to bring this up in my last appointment and I'm fully ignoring her. Because a. I started out underweight by some standards and b. I'm a healthy BMI for my height and weight...even if I wasn't pregger. Not concerned. 

  • My hips have been replaced with Shakira's. As a previous stick figure this is sort of awesome, until I try to pull on a pair of pants (or jumpsuit) from last summer. Can.Not.Budge past mid thigh.  These hips don't lie. 
This week I attempted to pull this jumpsuit on. Big. Big. Mistake.
  • Cellulite. I have it like woah. 
  • Birth training. This is getting real. Right now I'm interviewing doulas nightly (it feels like) and haven't found one. I guess hiring a complete stranger to be my support during this pretty big overwhelming life event is a little harder than I thought....
Getting her room ready, midcentury modern + desert theme. Dresser was a Craigslist find! Hope we have the same taste...
  • I'm exhausted. And yes, mamas, I know "it's only the beginning". But dammit I just want to sleep through one night without waking up a. in extreme back pain b. because I'm nervous I'm not in the right position (mostly, I'm constantly TRYING to roll on my belly) b. because my heart burn is burning a hole straight through my throat.... baby kicks are the only thing I love waking up for. Has yet to get old. 
  • A specific line around my rib cage is numb and in pain... somehow at the same time. And the only bra I am comfortable wearing is a cotton nursing bra that Fleshman bought me. Also I've had to size up two sizes in all bras because of my giant expanding ribs. Not boobs, those are only up a size. Yep, we went there.
  • I secretely hope my rib cage stays bigger. All fast runners have giant rib cages. 
  • Oh and the boobs, I'd like to keep those too. 
  • I could just list everything that's growing... but let's just say I feel like one of those little toys that you drop into water and it grows (I think there's one called 'Instant Boyfriend' and they should def. make a preggers one). I'm just expanding. Everything is expanding. 
Grow a Mama!
Well there's a lot more to say, but now I feel like we're kind of caught up! I'm going to be 29 weeks this Sunday. Baby girl and I will be run/walking the North Olympic Discovery 5k. Back during week 16 I had this hard plan to run the half marathon. A month later I downgraded to the 10k and now... the 5k is just right. Lesson #1 of pregnancy, every day is different.