Category Archives: Post Pregnancy

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.

Mommy

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…

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.

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!

The First Month 4/5

We’re just over a month in, and here’s what’s been going on:

Me: My mastitis started to clear up after several days on the antibiotics. I waited until all the pain and swelling was gone before attempting to run. 9 days after antibiotics, and 3 weeks + 2 days after my c-section, I went for a run. I only went one mile to start off since it had been 59 days (yikes!) since my last run. At first it felt very awkward. It was like I was going through the motions but it felt so foreign to my body, like it forgot how to do it. A few minutes in though and I got into my rhythm and felt really good. I took it VERY easy. I did not look at my pace until I was finished because I didn’t want my competitive juices to start flowing and make me push myself. I just wanted to give my body a good test drive and see how it responded. The last run I had gone on I was 34.5 weeks pregnant and running between an 8:30 pace (on a good day) and a 9:30 pace so I had no idea where I was going to be post partum. When I finished my mile I was surprised to see I had run it in 7:59! It was just a mile, but I really was taking it very easy and FELT like I was running more like 8:30-8:45 pace so I was pleasantly surprised to see it was just under 8 minutes!
The next morning I woke up sore! It was mostly in my legs, but also in my abs. I don’t know if I’ve ever been sore from running 1 mile easy before…but I guess my body has been through a lot and the muscles took a pretty severe beating. I went for another mile run that day to try to get some of the soreness out. I finished that mile in 7:49! By Monday I was still sore so I took that day off and just went for a walk with the dog. Tuesday I did a mile again, but felt sort of tired and had some achiness in near my incision. Not too surprising, I ran a little slower, 8:07 pace. I continued with my 1 mile runs on Wednesday and Thursday and felt about the same. On Thursday though there was a dad and daughter that crossed the road at the same time as me and they were running faster than me. My competitive juices started flowing again (and I was actually glad they were still there!) and I picked it up and decided I couldn’t let them leave me in their dust! So I stayed right behind them for the remainder of my big 1 mile run and was thrilled to see I ran a 7:19! It felt harder, but not race hard. I was getting more encouraged.
On Saturday I had my best run yet. I went for my first 2 mile run and I averaged 7:09 pace for the two miles. Again, I was NOT pushing myself, just out running and enjoying being out there. I felt good, and didn’t have the soreness near my incision this time. I still have a long way to go, but its encouraging every time I step out the door and feel good.
After two weeks post partum I had lost 20 of the 26 pounds I gained during the pregnancy. I hadn’t done anything to lose the weight. I was just breastfeeding and eating when I was hungry. It was encouraging and I figured in another couple weeks I may be back to my pre-pregnancy weight. Wrong! Now that I’m 4 weeks post partum I’ve stayed exactly the same, 20 pounds down, 6 to go. I did read that when you’re breastfeeding you probably will hang onto 3 pounds or so due to the extra tissue in your breasts. So, I would like to still lose another 3 pounds, but I’m not doing anything right now to try to make that happen. Breastfeeding burns a ton of calories (up to 600 a day) and if you try dieting while breastfeeding, it can negatively affect your supply. So hopefully now that I’m running again it will just happen naturally.

Alexandra: She has been doing great! I don’t know if it’s the ranitidine, the dairy finally being out of my milk or the fact that I’m off of antibiotics, but she’s seemed to be so much happier. Yes, she still gets fussy sometimes and still has some crying spells, but its not like it was before.
She’s already got a strong personality. She’s very stubborn. When she wants something, she will not give in until she gets it. I’ve been trying to get her to take a bottle of my pumped milk since she will have to when I go back to work and I want to start building my stash. We struggled and struggled and then my sister in law suggested Dr. Browns bottles and I finally tried them and we were thrilled she took it! Then my dad watched her for us for a few hours so we could go to my nephew’s birthday party and she took it from him! Then my sister from Colorado comes to town and I thought it would be great to have her experience feeding her niece and the little stinker refused! I think she knew that I was there and wanted to nurse instead and she through a little fit until I finally caved and nursed her.
She’s starting to smile and even laugh. It’s the most beautiful thing in the world when she looks at you with those baby blues and gives you this big toothless grin. I melt every time.
She’s been getting more and more scheduled and has been sleeping longer at night. We HOPE this continues!!