Tuesday, September 30, 2014

don't call it a comeback

Actually no, please do. This is totally a comeback.

Sure, I've run up a few hills during an ambitious stroller walk. And yes, on Saturday after another long drive I did a loop or two of the Maple Leaf Park. But yesterday was my first official day off the bench after and 40 weeks of baby carrying and my surprise c-section (I've decided using the word surprise gives it more of a festive tone). 

I had my six week check up with the midwives. And no they didn't give me a dunce cap that said "Midwife Dropout" like I was (half way) expecting. They made sure I wasn't depressed, check. And then did a quick exam. Everything looking good except I have diastasis recti, about three fingers fit between my abs. Crud. My core has always been pretty weak sauce anyway and was on my to-do list. But it was pretty sad/gross to be able to fit half a fist between my ab muscles.
short hike with penelope - hurricane ridge
This is week one, ground 0. I don't have an end in sight. No goal race. What I want is to get as strong and as unbreakable as I can get. To build a solid foundation. Of course I also want to nail Olympic Trials marathon standard, sub 2:43, before the 2016 deadline. But to be honest it feels so big and so impossible, I just need to focus on each day for a good while until my foundation is built. Otherwise I'll be tempted to rush the process. 

Last year, leading up to Chicago and after, I dealt with a lot of imbalances and IT/knee pain. I was sort of hoping the issues would ease up after taking 9 months off. Turns out 'hope' isn't what mends imbalances. Nor does carting around an extra 40 pounds on relaxin loaded joints. Weird. 

The foundation work list is as follows:
Work on firing glutes and building strength.

Flipper leg
Yeah I have a wonky collapsible knee with a flippy foot. Get back to PT to address the imbalances causing this. 

Side stabber
The great mystery, but I'm sure working on strength and flexibility imbalances will help. Also working with my PT to unstick the muscles involved in side stabber.

Diastasis Recti
Bring those muscles back together. 

In the true sense. Sure abs, but also glutes and back. Kick the imbalances from the broken back to the curb once and for all.

Upper body
Hunchy weak shoulders gots to go. 

Yeah, that should cover it. I think the only thing missing is foot and achilles focus. I haven't had those injuries but I'll work in preventative there too. A little overwhelming. There's lot standing between me and running as hard as I want to. I'm not saying it will be perfect, but I've been scrapping training together on a weak base too long. Time to rebuild. 

I've proven to myself I'm not patient enough to comeback on my own, so I have enlisted expert help. The very person whose patient comeback I've been admiring, Steph Rothstein. I'm so excited to get started. I also am lucky enough to have access to an Eliptigo as I ramp my training up. Actually two, if anyone wants to join me!

+ Walk at least one hour every day. This could be one or two walks, have been doing this for a month.
+ Incorporate light running into evening walk every other day. Focus on form and uphills. No more than 20 minutes total each runday.
+ Strength glutes, arms, back (3 x week)
+ Stretch and roll (6 x week)
+ Diastasis Recti work (6 x week)
from RealSimple magazine, better illustrations than the midwife handout

Alright, it's go time!

Monday, September 29, 2014

marginal cord insertion - my experience

When I got the word that I had marginal cord insertion I Googled. My searches turned up medical descriptions, message boards with hearsay and lots of questions. It felt like no one was talking about their experiences first hand. I wondered if it was out of fear...because something bad happened. I mean, people are oversharing everything on the internet. Why not this? Now 12 weeks later,  I understand why, it turns out to be a non-issue.

What is marginal cord insertion? Quickly, marginal cord means that the baby's umbilical cord is not connected to the very middle of the placenta. It's off to the side (not the very edge, that's something else). It occurs in 7-9% of pregnancies. The worry is that because it's not connected to the meaty center, the baby might not get adequate nutrition and her growth rate would slow or stop.

sleeping and growing (little face forward)

My marginal cord was found during the 20 week ultrasound. After the diagnosis they scheduled me for ultrasounds every 4-6 weeks to measure her growth. During these check-ins they'd measure her head, tummy, legs, and take her weight. Also they measure the fluid and look at the cord and placenta.

They measured her at 25 weeks and at 32 weeks. The first check in (20 weeks) she was 58th percentile, and second (25 weeks) 76th and her third (32 weeks) 88th! She's measuring big and continuing on the same growth pattern. Two technicians in a row have said, point blank, that they have never seen a small baby because of marginal cord. Both techs have been doing this for years, one for more than 20.

Penelope was born on her due date at 8lbs 5oz, 20.5 inches long and very healthy. Unrelated, my water broke prematurely and after various attempts to get labor started she was delivered via c-section. She is now 6 weeks old and growing fast.

I'm not writing this as any kind of medical expert, I only have my personal experience to share. And I've wavered on sharing it. But I decided to, in case you're like me, Googling yourself down a bad path, believe your doctor if they tell you margical cord nothing to worry about. They aren't just blowing sunshine to ease your mind. Just enjoy your extra sneak peeks and keep your eyes ahead. There are plenty of other things to worry about.

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.