Monthly Archives: June 2013

A Letter to my Daughter: Life Lessons I learned from a 4 month old

Dear Alexandra,

Today you are four months old already. Last night I saw you do something that both amazed me and made me realize just how quickly you are growing up. For the first time, you tried to crawl.

Obviously, you couldn’t do it yet. Still, you kept trying. I had put you down on your tummy facing your toys on the little play gym on the floor. You generally don’t like tummy time, but I know its good for you so I try to make sure we spend a few minutes doing it every night. I jiggled a toy in front of you to try to keep your attention and to my amazement you realized you wanted it and gave an honest effort at trying to go after it.

At first you reached out your arm and realize it was far too short. Then I saw you kick your legs and start swimming your arms and trying so hard to propel yourself forward. You even tried to grasp the mat with your fingers to pull yourself forward but you weren’t strong enough. Yet. I saw you putting forth so much effort. You wouldn’t stop trying. You started grunting with the effort and getting frustrated that you were working so hard and going nowhere.

My first instinct was to pick you up and put you close enough to touch the toy, but I realized that I shouldn’t. Part of me was just so amazed to see you even attempt something so new and of course I had to run and get my phone so I could record it for your dad. I let you struggle for a few minutes. Now I’ll explain why.

Someday you will be able to crawl, and eventually walk and then run, but not yet. You have to first develop the muscle strength to be able to hold yourself erect, and the coordination to balance. You will develop that strength and coordination in due time my Love, do not worry.

Your struggle reminded me of what we all go through throughout our lives. If someone always picks you up and puts you within arm’s reach of that dangling toy, you will never develop those muscles to be able to get there yourself.

You taught me a great lesson last night. Lately I’ve been getting sort of frustrated with running and my career and even in dealing with the day to day.

Two summers ago I was running 5K’s in the 17:20-:40 range and now I’m struggling to run 19:00. I knew that it would take some time to get back, but I didn’t anticipate it would take this long, or even all the new challenges I would face. Yep, I was completely naïve to all the challenges of balancing work, taking care of a young baby and trying to train like I did two years ago.

Sometimes I see my times in workouts and the effort I have to go through to achieve them now and get frustrated, even mad. I think “why bother putting in this much effort for these results.” “Maybe I should just stop chasing some crazy dream and learn to be content just being able to run.” The workouts feel hard, and the races feel hard. I find myself wanting to give up.

Seeing you struggling, yet not giving up, was the hard smack in the face that I needed. I know that eventually you’ll be crawling all over the place, but you don’t. Yet you still put forth that effort, straining and grunting because you saw something you wanted and decided you were going to go get it. Yes, at just four months old you are already showing yourself to be tougher than your mama.

So it brought me back to all the years and years of miles and races and workouts and bad races that I went through to get to the point I was at two years ago running in the 17’s. It was hard, and it was frustrating and there were times then that I wanted to give up. I didn’t know then that someday it would all pay off, I just had to hope and keep trying.

Even balancing day to day activities has been a challenge for me since returning to work. Its been a month now and I feel like I should be settled into a routine but I find its still difficult sometimes. The past couple nights your daddy had to travel for work so I was steering the ship alone and it was incredibly humbling. I learned that I really appreciate all that your dad does every night that I don’t always see and I also developed a huge appreciation for single parents that are living that every single day. I only had to do it two nights and I ended up scarfing down a cold piece of pizza and ice cream bar for dinner at 9:45 pm on one night, and the next evening I got a speeding ticket while on my way to pick you up from daycare!

You reminded me that all our lives we’re laying there on our bellies, seeing the item of our desire right there in front of us, yet it still remains just out of reach. We never know if we’ll ever be able to grasp it in our hands, yet we know that if we don’t ever struggle to push ourselves beyond our limits it will always stay just out of our reach.

When I think back about all the most wonderful things that have ever happened in my life, not one of them has been easy to come by. Maybe that is part of what makes them so wonderful in the first place. Would there be as much joy in attaining something that you didn’t have to work hard to get? I had to go through several heartbreaks before I met your daddy, the love of my life. On the day that we said our vows I remember feeling such incredible joy and peace, knowing that everything that happened up to that point, any pain was all worth it. He was the only one for me, and I knew it.

The day I had you was so similar. I had some tough struggles through the pregnancy and I’ll always carry with me the scar from where they pulled you out of my belly. I actually like the scar. I see it and it reminds me of you and the struggle I had to go through to finally meet my wonderful, sweet little girl. The moment I heard your first cry was the best moment of my entire life. Our family felt complete and all the pain I had experienced paled in comparison to the joy and love I was experiencing.

When things start to feel hard, one look at your smiling face reminds me that its more than worth it. I was pretty upset about getting a speeding ticket yesterday. It had been a hard couple days without your daddy there. The timing of it all as I was trying to pick you up from daycare on time just made me feel like I was failing. When I walked into daycare and watched your face light up and give me a huge grin the moment you saw me completely washed away everything else and I knew I had everything I’d ever wanted.

Sometimes its easy to get impatient. We want what we want and we want it now. Its important that we always keep driving ourselves forward into the struggle. For it’s actually the struggle that develops those muscles and coordination that will eventually allow us to get to where we want to go. So keep trying, Love, never give up. You may feel like your efforts are leading you nowhere but they are always moving you forward. You may not always see this, but trust that it is happening. I will try to remember this too.

When I run in the race tomorrow and things start to get tough, I will think about you grunting on your belly and not give up. You’ve brought me more joy than I’ve ever known and now you’re teaching me important life lessons too. Pretty impressive for a four month old.

I love you always.


Brian Diemer Recap, parenthood struggles 6/16

15 weeks in! Time flies, yet sometimes it goes so slowly.

The Brian Diemer 5K was already over a week ago. It went much better than expected. We had been dealing with some tough things at home that I’ll get into later. Anyway, my goal was to run 19:12 and I ended up running 19:01. Yes, 2 seconds from breaking 19!

There’s a guy at work that’s a fantastic runner, especially for someone in the 55-59 age group! We found each other at the start and decided to try to help each other out with pacing. We went out in 6:06 (goal of 6:10) and I felt great. It seemed easy. Almost too easy. Doug and I were still right next to each other through the second mile. 6:04. Still felt great so when I looked down at my watch again and saw we were now at 5:48 pace I figured that I could run much faster than I anticipated. I started realizing we were going to break 18 minutes, I just had to hold this pace.

Brian Diemer always runs in the 5K, but this year he was injured so he let his daughter carry the torch. If you beat him (or her this year) in the race you get a donut. I don’t even like donuts but I saw her up there with balloons I really wanted to pass her. So I did. Doug was still with me stride for stride. We had just over a half mile to go.

That’s when it happened. Not all at once but every step started feeling a little harder. The pace slowed slightly. Doug started to creep up ahead of me. I tried to put in the effort to get back on pace and it was hard. Nothing really hurt I just suddenly didn’t seem to have the energy. I continued to go through the motions but was definitely slowing down and I could feel it without even looking at my watch.

Doug held on and was gradually slipping away. Brian’s daughter and the balloons passed me again. I got frustrated, told myself I was so close to being done and should just toughen up. I turned the last corner and saw the finish line and it looked so far away. Still, I started my kick but it didn’t really feel like much of a kick. I got close enough to see the clock, 18:55 and knew that I wouldn’t be under 19. I wish I would have known how close my chip time would have been though!

So, I beat my goal of 19:12 but I struggled a lot in the last half mile! I just have to keep doing workouts and work on building my endurance and know that it will get there. My goal for my next 5K in a couple weeks is to break 19 minutes.

So that was the race. Now here’s the background about everything else.

We thought we were so lucky that our baby started sleeping through the night at around 4 weeks. We read horror stories about it not happening for most babies until 6 months. 6 months! She consistently slept 7-9 hours every night with very few exceptions for about 2 months! As fussy as she was at least we knew we could count on her sleeping. I even admit that I got almost cocky about it. I read some article online about how to get babies to sleep through the night and it was all these tips that we didn’t do and she still slept through the night. Ha. They didn’t know what they were talking about. Don’t EVER get cocky with parenting. EVER.

A few days before I went back to work she started waking up once or twice in the night for a feeding. Strange. Maybe a growth spurt? I was sure it would pass and we’d go right back to our normal routine. I started work, she started daycare and every night was the same. Only now when she woke me up at 3:30 or 4 am I couldn’t fall back to sleep knowing the alarm would be going off at 5:30 am. We hadn’t done anything different. The days went on and we started to get more tired. It didn’t pass.

Then she got sick, had her first cold and things really got messed up in the sleep department. Up every single hour! I started to get really tired. I told myself it was the cold. She’d go back to sleeping through the night again once it was over. 10 days passed and she wasn’t waking up every hour, but every 2 hours. She had to be almost done with her cold right? I started to experience exhaustion. Different from just being really tired. Its from more than a couple weeks of very little sleep, very poor quality of sleep. Your body starts to ache. You’re crabby. Really, really crabby. So you put your baby down at 8 pm and you go to sleep then too because you know you’ll be up in a couple hours anyway so you might as well just get the whole thing started early. You CRAVE sleep, yet dread the night because you start to assume that it will be more of the same. You start to wonder if this phase will EVER pass.

Then you get sick. Strep throat to be exact. Fever. Yet you still have to bounce around a crying baby every night for at least an hour before bedtime. You start to get desperate. You wish you could just pay someone to come over and take care of your baby for one night so that you can actually get more than 2 hours of uninterrupted sleep. You snap at your spouse because you’re not yourself. You’re just some shell of yourself that just feels like she’s barely functioning and is going to zonk out at her desk at work soon. You wonder what you’re doing wrong. You scour the internet to try to find out what has changed and how to fix it. Some nights you just deal with it. Its been over a week now. You assume this is your life for a while. You get up, feed her and put her back down without hardly waking up too much yourself and go right back to sleep until the next one. Even the weekends are not any better. During the week you have to wake her up to get ready for daycare. It seems such a cruel joke that on the weekends she decides that 4 or 5 am are perfectly acceptable times to wake up.

Then one night you just lose it. Its 12:30 am and this is the second time she’s been up. Its a Wednesday morning. You’re miserable. You wonder if you’re causing the problem by always feeding her when she wakes up. You wonder if that leads her to need to wake up and feed more often. You try picking her up and rocking her. She cries. You try giving her a pacifier. She wails louder and your spouse wakes up and the two of you fight about what the right thing to do is. You feel like you’re failing. You feel frustrated and angry, though not angry at your baby because you know its not her fault. So instead you’re just angry at everything else. Especially your spouse. Why? Because they’re there. Finally, you just give up and feed her and she goes back to sleep but you can’t. You’re crying. You and your spouse then go downstairs and have a meaningful conversation at 1:30 am. You know you should be sleeping. The baby is sleeping and she’s going to wake up again soon and you’re just wasting time being angry. But you can’t sleep because you’re angry and so you and your spouse commiserate together. Strangely, it feels nice because its the best conversation you’ve had in a while. You feel guilty for being so unhappy. You have a healthy, beautiful baby and you love her more than ever. Its ok. Its ok to feel this way.

I put a frustrated status update on facebook and tried to retract it immediately and was overwhelmed by the positive responses I got from other moms. They had been there too. They also loved their babies but experienced that utter frustration that is very much a part of being a parent. I can’t explain how normal it made me feel in that moment, and how much I needed that.

The next day I vented to people at work. Anyone that would listen really.

That night I felt better. I went to bed prepared to wake up two hours later with a crying baby. I was SHOCKED when I woke up and looked at the clock and it was 2:20 am and I realized she hadn’t been up yet!!!! I quickly panicked and made sure she was still breathing. She was. I went back to sleep. She woke up at 3 am and I fed her and she went back to sleep. And then I woke her up at 7 am to get ready for daycare.

The sun was shining a little more brightly that day. The grass looked greener and birds seemed to be singing everywhere. My spouse seemed especially wonderful. I knew that I wasn’t possibly caught up from all the sleep debt I incurred for weeks, but I had something else that day that just made me grin from ear to ear. Hope. I knew that the next night it could be that we’d be up every 2 hours again. But I felt better that maybe it wasn’t something we were doing wrong and just had to do with Alexandra and what she was going through.

I took her to the doctor last week to check on her cold that still didn’t seem to be gone and asked about the sleeping thing. He said she was a little young to be going through the sleep regression that tends to happen around 4 months. Maybe. Maybe it was something else, but I have a feeling that was exactly what she was going through. Its now been 4 nights that she’s woken once or twice to feed. I still don’t want to say its over because I know what will happen tonight.

I share my tale because I hope it will provide some other poor sleep deprived parents with some hope. It may be another 2 months before she starts sleeping through the night again like she did before. I can certainly handle 1 or 2 wake ups though much better than 4 or more. If nothing has changed with you or your routine its probably NOT your fault. Just get through it. This too shall pass. And repeat…

Tempo Run

So many of my last posts have been all about Alexandra and that makes sense because that’s where most of my time is spent and all of my priorities are. Today though, I had a really good run. Well, actually it was a great run, so I want to write about that.

I was disappointed that I had to cancel my last race because Alexandra was sick, but I knew without a doubt it was the right decision. It kind of left me with this feeling of uncertainty. I wondered if I should just be content this next year to just get runs in rather than set some unrealistic goals and expectations that would surely get me feeling down if I couldn’t meet them. I thought maybe I should learn how to run for the enjoyment of running, the stress relief and the general health benefits rather than run myself ragged going after some crazy goal while surviving on such little sleep and unpredictability. I didn’t like it. I’m not really one of those runners that runs only for the reasons I mentioned above. I run for those reasons too, but that’s not what really gets me out the door on a lousy day. I run to chase down dreams; those that are realistic, those that certainly aren’t (but are fun to think about or help you finish that last repeat), to push myself and see just how much I can do.

So today I had planned to do a 7 mile run and just yesterday decided to throw a 4 mile tempo in the middle of it. I didn’t check my work calendar before hand though and realized that I had a meeting from 11-12 and another one from 1-2:30 and I knew I had to pump breastmilk somewhere in there! I thought about running shorter and saving the workout for the next day but for some reason I really, really wanted to do the workout today. Maybe I needed it mentally, or physically or something. Last week was incredibly hard with Alexandra being sick. She didn’t sleep well at night at all which meant that neither did Tim or I. I was exhausted. When Saturday night rolled around and she went down for the night at 9 I thought that Tim and I would have some time to spend together and I couldn’t keep my eyes open past 9:30.

We were also getting used to a new routine that goes something like this:

after 1-3 feedings during the night:

5:00 am Tim gets up to go run
5:30 am feed Alexandra and put her back to sleep, get up and take shower and get ready
6:45 am get Alexandra up and ready for daycare
7:15 out the door (Tim to drop off Alexandra, me to work)
8:00- work
9:30 pump
11:30 run
12:30 lunch at my desk while I read emails
1:30 pump
4:30 pump
5:00 head home
5:45 get home and try to wash my pump supplies before Tim and Alexandra get home
5:55 Alexandra gets home, quickly take her upstairs and give her a bath (this is to try to get her over her current cold and wash other germs she may have picked up at daycare that day—it may be a futile effort but I feel better thinking I’m trying)
6:15 Tim takes Alexandra and I make dinner
6:30-7:00 Tim and I eat in shifts
7:00 I take Alexandra while Tim cleans up dinner and washes her bottles from that day, gets his running/work stuff ready for the next day
8:00 Tim takes Alexandra while I prepare new bottles for the next day, then I pack my workout bag for the next day and get my clothes for work ready
8:30 give Alexandra her Ranitidine for reflux
9:00 last feeding then put Alexandra down for the night

Yikes! No wonder we’re all exhausted. Notice how there’s not really any downtime for Tim or me until Alexandra goes to bed at 9 pm and then usually we’re so tired we just go to bed too!

So I think I NEEDED this run. I think I craved it. It was something that was just for me and allowed me to feel like my own person again instead of Alexandra’s food and comfort source. Not that I mind being those things one bit…but I KILLED today’s workout and it felt flippin awesome!

I was a little nervous on the warm up. My last workout was the Tuesday before and I got rained on and it started to thunderstorm so I had to stop and finish it on the treadmill so it just didn’t leave me with the satisfaction that comes with perfect execution. The week before I attempted a workout and couldn’t finish it. That was a huge letdown. It shattered my confidence. I was afraid that if I couldn’t do today’s workout it would shatter it even more and I would run horrible in Saturday’s 5K. However, I knew that if it went really well it would give me a much needed confidence boost going into Saturday so I decided it was worth the risk.

It was just a 4 mile tempo. After my warm up I started going fast and it felt hard at first but I soon found the right rhythm and was chugging along right on pace. It felt good. Comfortably hard, precisely what a tempo is supposed to feel like, though I admit when I thought about continuing that pace for 4 miles it seemed daunting. So I told myself to just focus on the current mile. Just try to hit the paces for this mile and that seemed easy enough. The second mile also seemed kind of hard but I surprised myself at the end by picking up the pace and finishing a little faster than I was supposed to. I tried to get back on pace in the third mile but I felt so good that I eventually just went with it. The last mile felt great and I was still ahead of pace by a good 15 seconds. I knew I couldn’t let it slip in the last half. It started to get hard but I pushed myself and I must say that it felt good!

I can’t look out into the future with certainty about how I think Saturday’s 5K will go. Much of it depends on what happens at home this week. But today, I feel great about this workout and I’m holding on to that. Maybe I won’t be at the level I was 2 summer’s ago, but I still have that drive and I will get there eventually. Oh yeah and my 7 miles only took me 48 minutes so I still had time to take a quick shower, stretch a little and eat a really quick lunch at my desk before my next meeting! I’m learning that life with a child means that it’s the little victories that get you through those trenches!

3 months

Wouldn’t you know it that after I wrote my whole last blog post about how I somewhat enjoyed going back to work, things would get real crazy real fast!

My poor baby got sick for the first time. In my head I know that its something we all must go through and ultimately it will build her immune system and all that good stuff. Still, it doesn’t matter who you are, the first time your little baby is sick is awful. She woke up kind of congested on Sunday morning but otherwise seemed to be her normal self. Sunday night after we put her to bed in her room was it all got bad real fast!

She was so congested she kept waking herself up every hour! She was crying like I haven’t heard her doing before and she just sounded awful. I picked her up and tried suctioning out the snot with the little bulb thing (that it seems like all babies HATE) to which she would cry harder. Nursing her was the only way to get her to calm down and fall back to sleep so I nursed her whenever she woke up (which was way more frequent than every 2 hours). I felt awful. It just hurt me so much to see her feeling like that and know that there was little I could do to help her. At some point during the night (probably around 3 am) I just grabbed my pillows and a blanket and started sleeping on the floor next to her crib. I just wanted to be able to soothe her the instant she woke up. I couldn’t take away her discomfort but I could hold her and just let her know that someone loves her more than she loves herself! My heart just broke and I realized in those awful moments just how much I love this little sweetheart.

I was supposed to run my next 5K that morning and since Tim and I were both up a lot during the night we talked about it and he offered to keep her home and watch her so that I could go and race. I planned to do that but did not anticipate how strongly I would feel that I just needed to be with her and not leave her side. I knew that if I raced I’d be gone for at least a couple hours and she’d probably have to take a bottle and I didn’t want her to. She’s more comforted by nursing so I just wanted to be able to give that to her. As I sat there crying while rocking her at 7 am in our bathroom with the door closed and the shower running so the steam could help clear her nose I realized the intensity of my love for her was beyond what I could have ever imagined. It’s the only completely unselfish, unconditional love that I feel exists in that way. The longest that I left her side that day was the 6 minutes I was in the shower. I didn’t run and I didn’t care that I didn’t run. Nothing was as important to me that day as being there for her.

We gave her some acetometaphen and that seemed to help her a lot. By Sunday evening she seemed to be feeling much better. Once again though, when night came it was a whole different story. She was up every 2 hours. On Tuesday morning she had a fever so we knew we couldn’t bring her to day care. Tim stayed home with her and took excellent care of her while I went to work. I offered to work through my lunch and do what I could to get home early and it was Tim that told me that it was going to be ok and that I should go running on my lunch break; he could handle it. I felt guilty, but I ran and realized how much I needed the release.

Besides feeling awful that your baby is sick (and from going to daycare because you chose to go to work) I also was exhausted. Even before I went to work she started getting up between 3 and 4 am for a feeding again and I had a hard time falling back asleep so I was already starting to go into major sleep debt. But the 1-2 hours meant that I was getting maybe 2-3 broken hours of sleep per night. Its really easy during these times to panic and feel like the world is crashing down and wonder how you are ever going to survive. So mentally I had to tell myself over and over again “This too shall pass…”. I know that we are deep in the trenches of parenthood and its really tough but it won’t last forever.

Selfishly, I think about things that I want to do that I may not be able to until she’s a little older and I can get frustrated and impatient. Pregnancy seemed like it was so long and that I kept telling myself that after she was born I could again start racing and wroking hard on my career. Now it seems like I’m again feeling like those things will need to cool on the back burner for a little while longer. She’s worth the sacrifices, no question. She’s worth it all and there is NOTHING I wouldn’t do or wouldn’t give up for my baby. Ultimately, she is THE ONLY priority. Just because this is a fact, doesn’t mean that its easy for me to let some things go.

After going the whole pregnancy without doing workouts or racing I was really anxious to get back into shape this summer and even try to run another marathon by next fall. I have the support of my excellent husband 100%, but its different now. I thought I would be able to let Tim take care of her while I ran and did workouts and races but now that I’m here I am finding its getting harder and harder to leave her (even though I know she’s in EXCELLENT CARE!) especially when she really needs me.

I will get there. I guess I just need to plan for the unexpected now and realize that I need to be completely flexible with all my goals. I feel very fortunate to have my job. My co-workers and boss are great and I know that if she’s sick or something comes up, I can leave at any time to go take care of her and finish my work after she goes to bed or over the weekend or whenever I can, just as long as it gets done. Not all positions or companies allow that flexibility. So while I appreciate that aspect of my job I also know I’m not completely fulfilled or challenged enough (my boss knows I feel this way and we talk about it often and he’s been very encouraging about helping me find other opportunities within the company) so I want to find something that really allows me to grow. Though I know that with a change I could lose some of that flexibility and its scary.

So this is where I’m at right now. Taking one day at a time and trying to just do the best I can in every area with the “mom” role being the MOST IMPORTANT.