Monthly Archives: May 2013

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, Its Off to Work I go…5/26/13

12 weeks. I’ve never had that much time off of work since I started my first part time job at 16. In the beginning it seemed like so much time. Now here I am thinking about just how quickly it went.

It was hard. I spent the majority of my last day of leave preparing for the first day back. I barely slept the night before (Alexandra waking up to feed at 3:42 am was only part of it). I wasn’t nervous to go back, more just unsure of how I would feel about it. Sometimes the thought of sending her to daycare would bring tears to my eyes while I was still with her! I was so afraid that I’d cry all the way to work and be an unproductive mess the whole day and end up questioning whether or not it was the right thing to do. That didn’t happen.

What did happen is that I woke up way too early (3:42 am) and was ready long before I needed to be. This did give me some extra time in the morning to spend with my adorable little peanut (though admittedly I wasn’t enjoying it as I should have been because I was thinking about how I was going to have to drop her off and it made me sad). She did fine at the daycare. Didn’t cry at all. She even gave her babysitter a huge grin. I left feeling sad and empty, but didn’t cry. Part of that was because I knew it was all going to be alright.

When I arrived at work, I was greeted exceptionally well. My co-worker who had been covering for me for 3 months had sent me flowers to welcome me back and was so nice and told me to “ease back into it.” It blew me away because I know after 3 months of doing the work of two people he had to be anxious to get it off his plate. My boss came over and treated me the same way and then more and more co-workers came by to welcome me back. I know I was already emotional, but it really just made me feel so great and reinforced to me that it was right.

Each family has to make their own decisions about what is best and no one else will ever know exactly why that’s what works for you. Sometimes parents can be so critical of other parents on everything about raising kids just because their methods/opinions differ from their own. During my leave I read a lot of reasons why women choose to not return to work after having kids and had a very hard time finding anything in favor of returning to work for reasons other than financial necessity. Since I do feel passionately about my choices, I wanted to do the working mom’s a favor and describe my reasons for actually choosing to return to work. Before I do, I want to clarify that I am NOT defending my choices, NOT criticizing those that decide to put their careers on hold for their family, NOT trying to say that MY decisions are best for every family. I’m simply explaining why they are right for US.

Its hard to explain your reasons without touching on money at all. Obviously, that is why we work because I wouldn’t be doing this without being paid. That being said, if we really tried, Tim and I could make it work on one income. I don’t just want to “make it work”. I want Tim and I and our kids to be able to see the world and experience as many of life’s pleasantries as possible. If we only have one life to live and we never know when its going to end, shouldn’t that be the point, to have as much fun as we can on a regular basis. Struggling to live off of one paycheck just doesn’t sound like as much fun to me as the opportunities that both of us having a career can present.

Another reason is that I actually enjoy some aspects of working. Sure, the day to day routine can be stressful or mundane but when I really get going on a big project that I’m interested in, I actually have a lot of fun. I take pride in my work and I enjoy tackling big challenges and solving problems. It gives me a great sense of purpose and accomplishment when I help solve a large problem that helps my company or department. These feelings make me happier, and I believe this happiness directly transfers to being a more effective parent (for me).

I love my daughter more than I ever thought was even possible. I love spending time with her. It fills me with feelings of love, but it isn’t exactly stimulating to me to do the same things with her over and over and over again all day long. Usually by the time the afternoon rolled around I was really hoping she would nap for a little while so that I could read my work emails or the news, or even just browse through a magazine. Something a little stimulating. At work I’ll get all that stimulation and I’ll go home and be tired of it and just want to give love and won’t mind doing the same things with my daughter over and over and over.

I realize that I am really fortunate in the job I have at the company I work for. The job itself can frequently be mundane but I have wonderful co-workers and a great boss and honestly it makes all the difference in the world. The people I work with are genuinely good people and the company I work for holds itself to a very high ethical standard and it just feels good to work here. Sure, there are stressful moments and not everyone that I work with fits into that category but the majority of people I interact with on a daily basis do; more so than any other position I’ve held at any company. In the grand scheme of things I may not always feel appreciated, but I DO often feel appreciated by my closest co-workers and my boss, and that also contributes to my happiness.

Obviously, there are MANY things to consider when trying to decide what makes sense for your family. Even after you’ve made the decisions I think its only normal to question them occasionally; especially when love and emotions are involved. Coming back to work reminded me why I made the choices that I did. Its not easy by any means, but for us it is worth it. And I plan on being there for her no matter what. Field trips, vacations, sporting events, everything. That’s what vacations and personal days are for.

So there it is. My reasons for choosing to go back to work full time and be a full time mom. I say “full time” mom because its not like you ever stop being a mom just because you’re not physically with your child. I would leave work in a heartbeat if the need arose, and she KNOWS I’m always on call during the night. So whether you work, or stay home, or breastfeed or don’t, I think the biggest requirement for being a good mom is simply being there and loving. If you can do those two things, I think you’re probably doing something right.

First Race Recap 5/13/13

Yesterday was my first 5K since having Alexandra 10 weeks ago!

I was nervous and unsure how it was going to go. Last year before I got injured I was so in tune with my body and had done so many workouts that I could guess pretty closely how I was going to run in any given distance. So the nervousness came from the unknown.

I had done a couple workouts to try to test my fitness in the last few weeks. In the past they would have been considered so easy. One mile tempo, 2 mile repeats with a minute rest, a two mile tempo and also two workouts of 4 X 400 meters with a 400 meter jog in between. I was hoping that they would feel super easy and I’d blast through them but it didn’t quite go that way. It felt hard. I did them; but I found it really hard and felt tired and sore afterwards. I guess that’s what happens when you go a full year without doing a single workout or race…oh and have a baby somewhere in there! I don’t know why I thought I could just “bounce” right back to my level of fitness I worked for YEARS to achieve after just 6 weeks of running post partum.

Getting out the door on time with a 10 week old is pretty much impossible. So we got there a little late which meant I had to cut my warm up a bit short. A year ago this would have made me really upset because I was so strict in my pre-race regimine, but I actually found myself eager to get back to the car and make sure my parents had arrived and make sure my Peanut was doing ok.

I stretched a little and walked to the starting line with my parents, Tim and Peanut. Again, I found myself hanging around more than I should have been. Tim pretty much had to force me to get to the starting line.

Once there I found myself scanning the huge crowd looking for my cutie’s little head and once I found it I could focus on myself and my race again. I saw a friend from Wayland and found myself wishing him good luck and high fiving him and starting to feel like it was just the start of any other 5K I had ever run.

A year ago I would have been in the very front row. Now I found myself questioning just where I should be starting. I tucked in a few rows back from the front and tried to feel confident.

The gun went off and it was go time. I forgot how easy a fast pace feels when you have all that adrenaline. My plan was to go out in 6:30 and see how I felt. I was running 6:15 and feeling great so I tried to just hold it there. Of course it was a RACE and I found myself picking off all the women I could see. By the time I hit the mile I was at a 6:10 pace. Mile 2 had a large hill so I didn’t even look at my time and focused only on the girl ahead of me and just raced. Mile 2 was still right around a 6:12! The last mile was hard. Really hard. I had to pull out all of my mental tricks just to keep going. I wanted to quit in the worst way but I thought about my little Peanut at the finish line and I thought about how much of a failure I would feel like if I didn’t at least finish what I started! I wouldn’t look at my watch. I felt like I had slowed down (and there was another hill that I had gone up) and I was already struggling. I knew if I saw a slow time I would get discouraged and I was really trying to stay positive. There was still one woman in my sights up ahead. I had been gaining on her but at this point we seemed to be going the same pace. I just kept looking at her and telling myself to just focus on getting her. Before I turned and saw the finish line I passed her.

In that final stretch I was so tired but I found it in me to kick a little. When I went by the 3 mile mark and my watch beeped, I looked at it and saw a 6:30. So I had slowed down quite a bit, but not as bad as I could have. I kicked the last 200 meters and finished in 19:39. I was really happy with that. Its more than 2 minutes slower than my PR, but all things considered I felt like it was a good start.

I’ll do my next 5K in a couple weeks and now I have a goal! I ran 6:16 pace for this first one so for my next one I’d like to run 6:10 pace. That ends up being about 19:12 for a 5K. Since most courses are a little long (this one was 3.15 on my watch) it may be a little slower, but that’s ok as long as I hit my paces. It seems like a lot to take off in just a few weeks, but there are a few reasons I think its doable. First, this one was my absolute first race in well over a year! It takes some practice just to get the feel of racing again and the first one is always kind of test run. Second, the course was much more hilly than I had anticipated so I struggled a bit with that. Towards the end of my pregnancy I was running all flat roads because of my hips. I’ll need to start incorporating some more hills into my runs. Thirdly, I had only been running for 6 weeks at that point with a maximum distance of 6 miles. Even though its only another couple weeks to train, my fitness is still building and each workout I do will get me more used to running fast paces again. We’ll see in a couple weeks how close I am to that goal.

A Mother’s Guilt 5/5/13

Yesterday evening I left Alexandra screaming with her daddy and headed out for a six mile run. It was hot, windy and I felt awful just leaving her like that. It was 6 pm and we had already had a long day. She had her 2 month shots a few days before and didn’t do very well with them. The nurse had told me that some babies sleep a lot for a couple days and other babies fuss more. She definitely fussed rather than slept.

So she had been really fussy the last couple days and was even waking up several times through the night (she’s been sleeping through the night since she was about 4 weeks old, with few exceptions). We took her to Ann Arbor on Saturday to watch my sister in law Mackenzie, graduate from U of M. We got up sometime around 5:30 am and were on the road before 7 am. She did awesome and it was a really nice day spent with family. By the time we got home around 5:30 though it had already been a really long day and I just didn’t feel like running. Still, I knew I had 6 on the calendar and I wouldn’t feel like doing it on Sunday either so I figured I might as well get out there. As I was getting dressed she started crying, well more like wailing.

I hate hearing her cry. I mean absolutely HATE it. I read somewhere that infants cries are specifically designed to have that type of reaction in their parents so that you CAN’T ignore it. When she cries everything in me just stops being able to concentrate and all I can think of is what I can do to get her to stop crying. During those first 6 weeks many times the answer was NOTHING and that was particularly hard to swallow. I’ll admit with complete honesty that during some of those early crying fits I couldn’t get out the door fast enough to go for my 1 or 2 mile runs. For 8-16 minutes I could put my head phones on and get away from it for a while. That’s all changed now though. I wasn’t looking forward to just leaving her with her dad. I felt awful. I felt completely selfish. I must have asked him at least three times if he was SURE he could handle her. He assured me he would be ok and I went out the door, the guilt and her cries echoing behind me.

I try to use my running as true “me” time and not think about all the things I have to do or even think about my wonderful baby. On this run though I couldn’t stop thinking about her and how I felt just leaving her screaming like that. I wanted so badly to just turn around or cut my run short to just go back there and hold her in my arms. I had to keep talking myself out of it. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust Tim or think he could handle it. It was just that I really felt like I was abandoning her when she needed me. I knew in my head that it was actually good for Tim to get more time with her and learn how to comfort her. It was also good for her to be able to trust others besides just her mom all the time. I told myself that it was good for me too. Whenever I got back I always missed her terribly (yes, from only being gone for 45 minutes!) and felt so much more refreshed and ready to use my energy to calm her or play with her.

I love my daughter dearly and I dread going back to work and missing out on this time with her. In all honesty though there are some days when its 3 pm and I just can’t wait for Tim to get home and give me a little break. I get all the emails about her development and make time every single day to actively play with her and work on her skills. Its incredibly rewarding when she’s happy and smiles at me and coos and enjoys tummy time and I can just see that little mind of hers working as she looks at her world in wonder. Then there are days when nothing seems to make her happy and I spend the whole day just trying to keep her from having a full on screaming fit and I maybe took a 5 minute shower where I could hear her fussing in her seat the whole time and ate lunch with one hand while she sat fussing in the chicco while I did laps around the house because the second I stopped moving she’d start crying. So when Tim comes home I gladly turn her over and get dressed and get out the door for my run and come home missing her again and find myself wanting to take her from Tim and gladly offering to help calm her when she gets upset.

I enjoy running and it keeps me healthy so I feel like in taking care of myself I’m much better able to take care of her. Hey, walking around your house while carrying an almost 12 pound baby for the better part of the day is not easy. Sometimes at the end of the day my feet and legs just ache.

Anyway, back to the run. I had all these thoughts going through my head. I wondered if Tim would be able to calm her. I worried that he wouldn’t and she’d have spent the whole 45 minutes crying and missing her mom. I worried that Tim would take it personally and feel bad for not being able to calm her down. I worried that he wouldn’t enjoy his time with her and wouldn’t bond with her the way I always hoped he would. I worried about what would happen when she goes to daycare. The list goes on and on and on….and the miles went by quickly. When my watch beeped that I had completed 3 miles it startled me. I had been so consumed with all these thoughts that I hadn’t realized how much time had actually gone by. And that’s when I let it all go. I started thinking about running and racing and how much I loved it. The last couple miles were tough. It was really hot and yet windy at the same time so it felt like I was working much harder than I should have been for an easy run. I got home and found Tim sitting on the couch with a sleeping Alexandra on his chest. I smiled and laughed at myself for my useless worry. Of course they were fine. Tim is a great dad. My endorphins were in high gear and I just stared at the two of them for a minute and thought about how great life is.

Its not just the horrible tragedies in Boston and Texas but also things going here with people I know that cause me to pause and just think. Infertility, miscarriages, complicated pregnancies, child abuse, a young mother being abducted from her place of employment are just a few. I hear about these things and I just hurt for the people that are going through it. And it makes me tear up when I look at my precious baby girl and feel incredibly thankful. Its also in these moments I realize how quickly everything can all be taken away and it makes me want to squeeze her so tight. Sure, sometimes its really hard. I think any parent that tells you its easy is lying or delusional. In fact the night before we left for Ann Arbor Alexandra was still really fussy and it had been over 48 hours since her shots.

I remember being exhausted after having dealt with her the whole day and it was late at night and we were trying to get ready for the big trip. I was holding her as she was crying and I was just pacing the upstairs bouncing her while Tim was packing and I started crying to Tim “Why is she so difficult?! She’s such a fussy baby and I’m tired Tim and I do this ALL DAY LONG and she just fusses and cries and my feet hurt and my arms hurt and its almost 11 pm and I just want to GO TO BED!” Almost immediately after I vented like that I felt guilty and held her tighter and told her I love her, even when she’s fussy because I do. So I hear about all of these terrible tragedies and it reaffirms to me how blessed we are and of everything I have to be thankful for.

So those are my thoughts after 9 weeks as a mother. Alexandra measured at 11 pounds, 12 oz and 22.5 inches tall at her 2 month appointment! She was born just under average for weight and is now just ahead of the majority of her peers so she’s eating great! Its so rewarding to see the result of your hard work (breastfeeding) paying off. Slowly but surely my body is starting to return to its pre-pregnancy shape. The scale still hasn’t budged (I’m the same weight every week that I was 2 weeks post-partum) so I’m starting to accept that this is the weight my breastfeeding body is happy at. My ab muscles are finally starting to make a reappearance after starting back up with strength training 3 weeks ago. I’ve started to include some short workouts into some of my runs to test my fitness and it has been more of an uphill climb than I anticipated but it is starting to get better. Next Saturday I will test myself by running my first 5K since having her. I wish I could say I have a good guess as to where I will finish but I really don’t know. Guess we’ll find out in less than a week!