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Tough Decisions 2/1/14

Today I made the decision that I’m not running a spring marathon.

Yes, I’m sad and mad and pretty frustrated about it and its also sort of a relief at the same time.  Still, it has put me into a “mood” today that I’m trying really hard to shake so I’m hoping writing about it will help.

My last couple posts have talked about what a challenging winter its been to train for a spring marathon.  We hadn’t signed up yet, and I was giving myself until February 26th (2 months out) to make the decision because I did realize that we may hit too many road blocks after the months leading up to the start of training. 

So what led up to this decision happening so soon?  Well, before I left for my work trip I had a great 15 mile pace run that left me feeling energetic and confident.  The next day I got on a plane and picked up this horrible cold that I still have.  That was on the 14th of January…its February 1st.  Saying a “cold” sounds kind of wimpy because I have definitely run through many colds before but it was different this time.  It sank in deep to my chest, I lost my voice and I had a horrible cough and I just felt tired and run down.  Still, I figured after a few days I would feel better enough to get back to training, even if it meant taking it easier for a while.  Day after day went by and I just didn’t feel any better.  I worried that I was going to give it to my daughter…and I did.

I could go into the whole thing and talk about the lack of sleep for everyone, the scary nights when she was wheezing and we had to get her on her nebulizing baby “inhaler”, the doctors appointment where we found out she had an ear infection and croup, the days home from work and my boss never saying a word leading me to believe she wasn’t ok with me taking time off, the stress, the worry, the horrible weather and roads…all of it.  You get the picture, I’m sure. 

Finally my voice is coming back.  I still can’t hit high notes and have that “sexy” low sound still but its so much better than before.  And then my throat starts hurting…bad.  WTF????  Then Tim’s throat starts hurting.  Then we get yet another blizzard. 

So this morning I had a 16 mile run planned.  What to do, what to do?  Seriously, I couldn’t figure it out and asked in a running forum to take a survey.  I wanted to get my run in, yet I also would like to not be sick.  Running can boost your immune system but only if you don’t over do it.  Runs longer than an hour actually suppress your immune system.  Finally I just decided to get out there, do a short loop and see how I felt.  Well the roads sucked.  I’ve dealt with that before.  My 14 mile run the roads were awful and I got through it.  I hoped when I got to the main roads they would at least have some tire tracks that were decent and the first main road did not.  It was a slippery, sloppy mess.  I realized I wasn’t going to run 16 miles in this crap.  I looked down at my watch to see what my pace was and estimate how long it would even take me to run 16 and saw that my satelite wasn’t connected.  My timer had been going but my distance said 0.00 miles.  I was at least 3/4 of a mile into it.  I stopped.  I swore out loud.  I tried turning off my watch and turning it on again to see if I could get it to work.  Nope.  Had it been a decent day I could estimate distance based on my time but I had no idea how much slower I was going and I wasn’t about to guestimate a long run. 

I turned around to head home to borrow Tim’s watch and when I got back to my neighborhood there were two little white dogs (I don’t know what they’re called but they have hair like poodles) in the road that started chasing me and barking and nipping at my ankles.  I yelled at them and they got more aggressive so I just kept running until finally the owner yelled for them to come back.  Seriously, there is snow everywhere and your little white dogs are unleased in the road?!  Cars drive on that street way too fast and could easily not see them with all the snow.  Ticked me off even more.  I can’t stand irresponsible pet owners! 

Anyway, I got home and I hate to admit I was nearly in tears.  I looked at Tim and said “I’m not doing the marathon.”  Thankfully, he completely understood and agreed with me.  I did get his watch and go back out and run.  I got in almost 10 miles.  I really needed to run at that point to help me deal with this disapointment, even though it continued to be a frustrating road where one car tried to run me off the road (even though there was no traffic in the opposite lane whatsoever) and one van who thought laying on their horn for roughly a minute would, I don’t know maybe teach me a lesson??!  Ha ha, it didn’t. 

I know, its only February, I still have time to train if I really wanted to make it work.  I could still run the marathon.  That’s just it though, I don’t want to just “run” a marathon.  I’ve already run 3 marathons.  I get that its an accomplishment just to cross the finish line, but for me that’s just not “enough” anymore.  Not enough to get me through 16 miles on days like today.  Not enough to spend hours away from my family on the weekend.  I only want to run a marathon if I think I’m going to run it as fast as I’d like.  At this point, with the way the last few weeks have gone and the fact that Tim said they are expecting another month of this weather I just don’t see it being realistic. 

So, not to totally be a downer, we are going to change our training plans and focus on the Riverbank 25K instead.  As bummed as I am about the marathon, I’m also relieved that the pressure and stress is finally over. 

The Most Depressing Time of the Year 1/24/14

By the title of this post, you may think its all negative, but it actually has a very positive, optimistic outlook by the end.

 Its been a really long time since my last post and I have very good reasons for that.  Mainly, the biggest one, ITS WINTER IN MICHIGAN!  If you happen to live on the West side of Michigan, LAKE EFFECT SNOW is something you are probably very familiar with.  Yes, I choose to live here and you would think I would be used to the winters as well.  This one so far has been a very, very, very harsh one.  Even for Michigan standards. 

 That’s why the 3rd week in January is the most depressing time of the year.  Is this a statistical fact?  I don’t know, but someone told me that many years ago and it sure makes a lot of sense.  Top 10 reasons the 3rd week in January is the most depressing time of year:

1.)    The holidays are OVER!  No more Christmas lights, no more holiday parties, just COLD, HARD, WINTER!

2.)    It has already been a hard winter and there is still a long way to go until spring.

3.)    No paid holidays until the end of May!!!!

4.)    Less hours of sunlight=less vitamin D = lethargy and depression (they don’t call it SAD for no reason)

5.)    If you financed Christmas, your bills are probably starting to arrive!!!

6.)    Most people that are going to quit have given up on their New Years Resolutions by now (good news for regulars at the gym)

7.)    Cough/Cold and flu season is peaking (probably from all that lovely holiday togetherness!)

8.)    Cabin fever is setting in, in a major way but its just too much effort to get out of your driveway to leave the house!

9.)    You’re probably still carrying around some extra ‘holiday weight’

10.) If the reasons listed above aren’t making you depressed they are likely making those around you depressed so people everywhere are rude as $ell!

 Ok, hopefully that made someone laugh.  For our family personally, too many of these ring true.  I was very proud of myself for getting in several training runs in horrible weather conditions.  They took a lot of mental energy, but ultimately were building my confidence because I was still able to ‘grit’ through them.  I was going to write a whole post about this. 

 Then we got hit with more illness.  Through it all, I’ve surprised myself by staying mostly positive because I always remind myself things could be a lot worse.  Still…I’ll just say how I’m feeling.  I’m sick of winter, I’m sick of snow, I’m sick of cold, I’m sick of being sick and of my family being sick.  I’m sick of not going anywhere except to work and the grocery store!  There, I got it out of my system. 

 Every time I start to feel like I’m making great strides in running, something happens and I feel like I lose so much.  I had a couple of great long runs…a 14 miler and 15 miler and the workouts were starting to click.  Ok, enough whining.  It wasn’t all bad.  I did manage to run in the morning before work for the first time since Alex was born!  That felt like a huge success.  I was in TX for work.  Yeah, a nice break from the Michigan weather, right?  Well they jam packed our schedule so full the only time I had to run was at 5:30 am after I pumped.  So I did the first day and it was really dark and even though I had reflectors and a head lamp I just didn’t feel safe running by myself in an unknown area.  There were a lot of homeless people on the street, which I’m sure were harmless but I just didn’t feel safe.  The next day I had a window of exactly 1 hour from when our last session finished for the day and our dinner started so I managed to get in a 20 minute run that included a trip to CVS to buy some cough medicine.

 At this point, I’m still planning on running the marathon, however I’m trying to not get my hopes up too high since every time I seem to feel good about it, I miss training. 

 Anyway, my point about it being the most depressing time of the year is that after you get through it, it gets less and less depressing, right?! 

 As far as family life goes, my sweet daughter is starting to really exert her authority around us.  I’m actually taking this as a good sign.  Who are we the toughest on?  The people we love the most right?  Clearly, she trusts us enough and is confident in the fact that we love her no matter what that she’s not afraid to really test her boundaries.  I really thought we wouldn’t have to deal with this stuff until she was at least over 1, and yet it doesn’t really surprise me either.  She has always been a strong willed baby. 

 Meal times have become very stressful.  She used to love her finger foods and would gulp down pretty much anything we put in front of her (except green veggies).  Now she takes 1 or 2 bites and doesn’t want it anymore.  And feeds the dog.  And throws food on the floor.  And begs for my food to throw on the floor.  So for a while now I’d get up about 10 times during dinner and we’d go through about 10 different foods to try to get her to eat something.  We were wasting food like crazy.  I was worrying about her not getting enough nutrition.  So I talked to the daycare today and found out she eats great there, its just at home. 

And she’s been throwing complete tantrums when she doesn’t get what she wants.  Last night I felt like every other minute she was screaming or whining or crying or throwing her body on the floor and kicking her legs.  Like I said though, it’s a good sign.  I love her just the way she is and as hard as it is on my ears sometimes, I wouldn’t have her any other way.  She’ll learn.  In the meantime it’s a good exercise for Tim and I in patience. 

Hello 2014!


I took the week between Christmas and New Years off of work.  I wanted to enjoy my family and our first Christmas together, plus we had been so busy that we still had a lot of shopping to do before Christmas.  I figured having the weekend before and the Monday/Tuesday would be enough to get everything done.  I was wrong.  I was so wrong.

I would like to keep this very much upbeat.  The truth with parenting though sometimes is its not all roses and I try to keep things as honest as possible for that reason.  So, basically when Tim and I refer to our “vacation” we say “it sucked”.  That’s not entirely true, there were some very great moments…there were also a lot of really hard moments.  Obviously, I always know that things could be much worse, and I’m thankful for all the amazing wonderfulness that surrounded us in 2013…but it certainly went out with a bang!  So here’s the lowdown on our week.

Kick start the vacation with picking your kid up from daycare to find them running a fever and cranky/lethargic.  Add an upper respiratory infection.  Spend the week of your vacation sleeping on a twin mattress on the floor of your baby’s room because you’re worried about her breathing.  End up getting a few hours of sleep each night and constantly panicking because you keep hearing your baby stop breathing for up to 6 seconds at a time and then suddenly gasping in (if you’ve ever heard someone with sleep apnea, you know what I’m talking about).  Run around to doctor’s appointments where you find out your concerns were semi valid when they diagnose your baby with having asthma (not necessarily for life) and prescribe a nebulizing inhaler you have to do for 10-15 minutes every 4-6 hours while holding down your uncooperative baby as she screams and squirms looking at you as if you’re torturing her.  Deal with incompetence with the pharmacy, spending lots of time on the phone with the doctor’s office, follow up appointments, trying to entertain a baby while spending lots of time in waiting rooms or waiting in the doctor’s office.  Deal with loss of appetite in your baby and worry about that.  Power outages from ice storms that change your family Christmas plans last minute and some miscommunications on timing.  Very, very last minute Christmas shopping and driving 20 minutes to Target in an ice storm, finding a parking spot, only to realize you left your purse back at home.  Finally starting to see some improvement in your baby’s health so you and your husband decide to take the fam out to dinner and actually enjoy the last few days of “vacation” when child begins vomiting ALL OVER, after you’ve ordered your food and haven’t paid the bill.  Then the stomach flu starts.  First in your baby with the puking and painful diarrhea, then in your husband.  Spend the last 3 days of your vacation taking care of a cranky, sick baby again while your husband is out for the count.  Spend your baby’s short naps running around like a mad woman with Clorox making sure you get every single surface of your house cleaned.  Doing laundry upon laundry and soaking toys.  Then being up at 1:30 am for the day on the Monday you go back to work.

I’m sure we’ll look back on Alexandra’s first Christmas and laugh at all of this, but not yet.  Like I said, I know things could have been a lot worse.  However, when you get 2 weeks of vacation a year you feel like you really have to make the most of it…and then stuff like the above happens and it just makes you pretty angry.  That’s life though, and that’s parenting.  You can plan the best family vacation in the world and it may turn into the Griswalds and you just have to make the most of it.  So on a POSITIVE note, here are some of our best moments in 2013!

February 28-The birth of our beautiful daughter!!!  She certainly changed our lives and changed us for the better.

February-May- We experienced the wondrous first few months of parenthood!  We saw her first smile, heard her babble and communicate with us for the first time, experienced the most wonderful feeling of having a baby sleep on your chest and I enjoyed a full 12 weeks of being nothing except a mom.  Wonderful time!

June-August- We watched our little sweetie continue to grow and learn how to sit up, start eating solids and celebrate her ½ birthday.  We took her to her first baseball game, camping and to the beach and a kiddie water park.

September-December- Holy cow, so much happened during the last few months of the year!  She really started to let her personality shine through.  She started rolling, crawling and even took her first steps in December!  It has been an incredible year and I can’t wait to see what 2014 brings!

As far as running goes, the week of my vacation it definitely took a back seat to everything else going on.  I managed to get in 25 miles still, so it wasn’t horrible, but I definitely skipped a few days when things got crazy.  Thankfully though I was able to do my most important run for the week.  It was a 10 mile run at 6:45-7:15 pace.  I was nervous, I really hadn’t gone that fast for that long in a while and I did an easy run with my friend Val at 7:15 pace and it felt hard only a few days before so I wasn’t sure if I could complete it.  However, I’m happy to report that I killed it!  Maybe it was all the stress, maybe it was the fact that it was 40 degrees and sunny that day (instead of the snow, ice and cold we’ve been having)…either way, I’ll take it.  I actually ended up “adding” on another mile and still managed to average 6:58 pace for the entire run.  So that was a very positive win and I was really happy about it.

Alex, oh my goodness she has changed so much in the last few months!  I took her 10 month pictures and the results show her personality perfectly at this age.  A hilarious, active, fun loving little girl that does not sit still or follow directions.


Yeah and she’s walking!  She took her first couple steps at 9 months and one week exactly.  One month after she crawled for the first time!  Since then she has been getting more and more confident every day.  She started taking 4 steps, and then one day I picked her up from daycare and she walked at least 8 steps to me.  Now she walks a lot.  She is incredibly good at it.  She falls down frequently, but is really good at landing on her butt or putting her arms out.  The only times she’s really bonked her head are when she falls into something (like the leg of the chair).  Once she falls though she either gets herself right back into a stand without holding onto anything or she’ll just crawl.  Basically, you can’t take your eyes off of her right now for even a second.  She wants everything she shouldn’t have.  Its so much fun and exhausting at the same time.

She goes back and forth on needing to prove her independence and needing her mama.  She loves to walk but most of the time she prefers to hold my hand.  We’re going through a bit of separation anxiety at the moment.  She doesn’t want to be held by anyone except for me.  Sometimes she doesn’t even want me to set her down.   I love it that she loves me so much and I know this won’t last so I try to enjoy it in during times that I get frustrated.

She absolutely refuses to be fed with a spoon anymore so we’re feeding her pretty much whatever we eat now with a few exceptions.  It makes things messy but I can really see its helping her learn.  She’s also getting better at drinking her water from a sippy cup.  I got a little over excited and tried putting some of her milk in a sippy cup (Tim and I are sooo done with hand washing all the parts of her Dr. Brown’s bottles) but once she realized it was milk she wanted to be in my lap and have me “give” her the sippy cup just like a bottle.  So cute.  She still associates milk with cuddle time so I know that the giving her a bottle is now about so much more to her than just nutrition.

She’s a very active girl with a very strong personality.  She is not afraid to ask for what she wants and protest loudly when she doesn’t get it.  Everything she does is on her own timetable and hers alone.

Anyway, that’s what we’ve been up to.  I hope everyone has a wonderful and prosperous 2014!!!!

Marathon Training Has Begun (Written 12/13!)

Workout #3 on the training plan is officially done!  Tim called me after lunch to ask how it went and if I “killed it” right as I was saying “I OWNED it!” 

 So what exactly am I training for?  A spring marathon!  There is one in Illinois in April (I think the same weekend as Boston) that I’m targeting and that’s what my training schedule is based off of. 

 What’s my goal?  Sub 3:10.  At first I said “low 3’s, but figured that wasn’t specific enough.  Ideally I would like to run as close to 3 as possible, but I’m trying to be realistic as I didn’t meet a single running goal in 2013.  At this time last year, I was planning on having already run a fall marathon at this point so I wanted to try to hit the Olympic trials B standard in the spring marathon.  My 2nd marathon I was within 6 minutes of this goals so it seemed really realistic at the time.  

 Two really big things happened to make that goal seem much less attainable.  1.) They changed the time on the B standard, its now 3 whole minutes faster. 2.) Life happened.  When I ran the 2:52 I had my husband as the perfect training partner, hardly got sick, got at least 7 hours of sleep on any given night, home cooked excellent meals just about every night and one other big advantage-TIME and FLEXIBILITY!  If the weather was really bad in the morning, Tim and I could run during lunch or after work.  Right now, we have such a limited window of when we can do our runs/workouts and if a huge snowstorm hits, we have much fewer options.  

 All that being said, I’m super excited to go after this goal and at least put in the training.  Even if I’m not running a PR, at least I’ll be proving to myself that I can get back in really great running shape even with all the craziness!!

 So I’ve done 3 workouts so far.  The first one was last week and it was a progressive run.  It was an 8 mile run where I started out at very easy pace and the only goal is to get faster every mile.  The last mile is supposed to feel comfortably hard.  These are typically one of my favorite workouts because the majority of it seems easy but it actually takes a good deal of mental focus.  It also usually leaves you feeling pretty confident.  Don’t underestimate the importance of workouts that build confidence!  Especially coming off of a season of missed goals and PR’s sometimes the biggest issue is in your head!  It takes mental focus to make sure you don’t do the first parts too fast.  Its great preparation for the mental strength you need to execute a great marathon.  Hold back in the beginning and push at the end. 

 I ran outside from work on a rainy, wet, chilly day.  I picked a route that was pretty hilly (although you are pretty hard pressed NOT to find a hilly route near my work).  I forced myself to run the first mile around 8 minutes.  Its hard.  I hadn’t done a workout in so long so I was kind of nervous all morning and that adrenaline made me want to go out hard, hard, hard.  I held myself back and each mile let myself go a little bit faster (it ended up being around 10 seconds a mile).  It felt like I was a caged animal and just wanted to be released and that was exactly what I was hoping for. 

 Some of the downhills I really had to hold myself back, while some of the uphills I really had to push to maintain my pace.  The last few miles were definitely hard but it felt REALLY GOOD!!!  My splits were 7:58, 7:40, 7:28, 7:18, 7:08, 6:55, 6:40, and 6:32.  I felt like a beast but was actually a bit sore in my legs the next day.  I went running with some lovely women that I work with and it ended up being just what I needed.  I run with these ladies usually once a week and they run a little slower than I do on my own and I’ve found it to actually be quite beneficial.  Anyway, a couple days later I was back to normal.

 My second workout I actually had to do on the dreadmill (not a typo) since the roads were just awful.  I couldn’t have picked a worse day to forget my headphones!!!  I survived though and did a 2 mile warm up, a 4 mile tempo and then a 2 mile cool down on the treadmill with no music.  The best part was that it felt EASY!!!  I wanted to race on Thanksgiving so I had an indicator of my fitness and could set workout paces but it didn’t happen so I had to sort of guess.  I figured 6:45 would be a good tempo pace and since I know the treadmill makes it easier (no wind, no elevation) my goal was 6:35 pace per mile.  I held that for my 4 miles no problem!  The worst parts were actually the warm up and the cool down because I was beyond bored!

 Today was my 3rd workout and was on the dreadmill again.  I’m very fortunate to have one that’s accessible to me though so I won’t complain.  It was another 8 mile day so I did 2 mile warm up again, then 10 X 800 meters (1/2 mile) at tempo pace with .1 jog in between.  Since my tempo run felt pretty easy, I decided to do this one a little faster and see how it went.  So on my ½ mile repeats I had the treadmill set at 9.5 which is 6:19 pace, but keep in mind I add about 10 seconds to that to make it more like outside so basically 6:30 pace.  This workout was designed to be kind of easy…its another confidence booster workout.  Its at tempo pace, but the intervals are short enough that it seems easy.  The recovery is short though so you’re still working on your speed endurance.  Anyway, BOOM, got it done, felt pretty easy again, so confidence is finally growing!!! 

 I realize of course that I still have a long way to go, but this was the fresh start I was hoping for.  Considering how I felt back in July-September when just running a few miles easy felt hard, breezing through these workouts shows me that I am coming back!  Had those “easy” workouts felt hard, I would be re-thinking everything. 

 That said, I did have a really bad run last weekend.  It was going to be my 3rd time running 12 miles since midway through pregnancy.  I woke up that morning feeling kind of queasy but still figured I’d run a couple miles, see how I felt and make a decision.  At 2 miles I was feeling pretty good so I kept going.  Around mile 4 I started to feel pretty bad but I told myself I was just a couple miles from my turn around point and kept going.  At 4.5 I felt really, really sick, tired, just overall not good and told myself I would turn around at 5.  At 4.82 miles I called my husband, fighting back tears asking him to load up our daughter in the cold and come pick me up.  I was feeling like I was being such a baby but when I got home I had a fever of 101 and ended up feeling really bad the rest of the day.  I stayed home from work the next day and got plenty of rest and didn’t eat very much and felt 100% better the next day.

 So that’s how my training has been going lately!!   I need some of you running mothers to keep me accountable for my spring marathon!!


End of October Update and Advise for Soon to be Mama’s

Its been a long time!  Life has been very busy lately, mostly in very good ways. 

 The last few posts I wrote we were struggling with sleep and then illness.  There was so much to write about that and I didn’t talk much about running.  So here’s an update.

 Back in August I finally had my iron tested.  I had been blaming everything I was feeling on the lack of sleep and stress of being a new parent and didn’t stop to consider that maybe I was anemic.  When I got the results back and learned that I was it was sort of like “duh”.  I had had low iron before, many years ago and should have recognized the feelings much earlier.  If you’ve ever had it, you know.  If not, its sort of a flat feeling, like there’s just no gas in the tank.  I noticed it mostly when I was running.  I would be putting forth a lot of effort and just felt exhausted.  I kept just thinking I wasn’t pushing myself hard enough, that it was all mental.  I would get 1 mile into an easy run and just feel exhausted like I wanted to stop.  I started supplementing right away.  65 mg of iron at night before bed (in addition to the iron in my daily prenatal) with vitamin C on an empty stomach.  It can take months to rebuild your stores after its low so while I was waiting I decided to tone down my running.  I still ran 5 days a week but only ran 3 or 4 miles depending on what I felt like.  It was still a struggle getting through even those easy miles.  I didn’t want to stop altogether though and lose my fitness.  My iron was probably depleted from nursing.  I kept it up during pregnancy and it was at the low end of normal at my 6 week post-partum checkup so I really should have started supplementing then.

 It was a good 2 months of supplementing before I really started to feel better and once I did it seemed like it happened very quickly.  I was starting to increase my mileage again and it wasn’t going so great.  I went on an 8 mile run one Saturday and well…it was not pretty.  2 miles in, I was already ready to be done.  I told myself to at least make it to 4 miles and then I could call my husband to come pick me up.  I made it to 4 and figured that Alex was probably sleeping so it wasn’t the best time to have him come pick me up.  I told myself to at least make it to 6, and then I could stop.  Well, once I made it to 6 I figured I better just suck it up and run the whole 8, but I was not enjoying it and I did not feel very good.  I did another 8 mile run the next Saturday and felt so much better!  Then during that same week on my regular runs I just noticed I had more “oomph” and bounce in my step.  I’d find myself in the middle of the run, not thinking about how much longer till it was over but totally getting lost in my thoughts again.  Finally…I had my run back!  Some people need their groove back…I need my “run”! 

 I am still very glad that we did the sleep training with Alex.  While it was so hard at first, I truly feel it was the right thing to do in our case.  For the last month or 6 weeks she sleeps about 12 hours at night, usually wakes up once in the middle of the night and kind of fusses/lightly cries for 5-20 minutes and then goes back to sleep.  Lately she’s been skipping that step more and more and I actually wake up and have to go check on her!  Now that she’s getting a consolidated 12 hours of sleep at night she just seems a lot happier during her waking hours too.  Another benefit is that if something is wrong, we’re more likely to notice.  The times she’s had a fever she woke up in the night and cried hard.  When she’s acting really grouchy during the day and she’s not hungry and not tired are usually the times we take her temperature and she has a fever.  I’m not saying that cry it out or sleep training is the best thing in every situation.  I would have preferred that she just started sleeping longer stretches on her own so we wouldn’t have had to do it.  I realize though now that she was not waking up out of necessity, she just didn’t know how to get to sleep herself.  I’ve struggled with insomnia before and it would be great if someone who loved me would come in and rock me to sleep!  When she wakes up and fusses/cries I liken it to when you wake up in the middle of the night and toss and turn and can’t get back to sleep.  Its hard to listen to your baby cry, but when I feel like she’s just learning to get herself back to sleep it all makes sense. 

 She’s 8 months old!  I can’t believe it.  It’s a lot harder to leave her at daycare now than it was when I first went back to work.  I miss her terribly during the day and cannot wait to get home and see her again.  We have a good routine established after work during the week.  Its pretty much go-go-go for Tim and I from the minute we walk in the door until we put her to bed at 8, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  Sometimes I really wish I didn’t have to put her to bed so early, but she lets us know when she’s getting tired.  I live for the weekends.  Some days if she doesn’t nap well she can become a fuss bucket and get really ornery and during those times I start to feel like I need a break.  Its amazing though, if you strictly adhere to a schedule they really seem to do so well on it.  When she’s fussy its almost always because she’s sick or she’s tired because she didn’t get her nap on time.  One late or missed nap can throw off the entire day, which is why its so hard to make plans with people.  We can’t take her out to restaurants anymore either.  She sits in the high chair and we bring her toys but she just gets bored because she doesn’t like to just sit somewhere that she’s contained.  She’s not crawling yet, but she’s moving around.  She rolls, and can kind of scoot herself around on the floor.  She really loves being active and her favorite thing lately is standing up holding onto things. 

She’ll be sitting down playing with her toys on the floor and she’ll look at me and put her hands out and start opening and closing her fingers which means she wants me to put my fingers out so she can grab onto them and pull herself up to a stand.  Its really cute.  She’ll pull up and start bouncing and you can just tell she’s so proud.  She’s just started to go from me to furniture like the coffee table too.  She’ll let go of me with one hand and grab the coffee table and then take a couple steps over there.  She’s even been holding onto me and all of a sudden she’ll just let go with both hands and she stands for about 3-5 seconds before she loses her balance and falls.  It used to scare me when she did this but now when she starts to fall she sits down and lands on her butt.  She also recently learned how to clap and when she’s in a cuddly mood she’ll look up and me and say “Mama” and give me a big hug.  I can’t tell if she really “knows” that I’m mama or if she just somehow knows if she says it while looking at me I get really excited. 

 When I look back a year, I just can’t believe how much has changed.  I wouldn’t trade any of it.  Life is a lot harder now in so many ways, but it’s a lot better in every way!  I tentatively am planning on a spring marathon.  I say tentatively because I’ve learned in the last year all about being flexible.  It was a HUGE struggle for me.  I’m the type that likes to plan everything a year out.  Alex is the perfect baby for us.  Tim and I had both become quite selfish and were very independent.  I don’t mean that in a way to knock down either of us, but I just mean that it had just been the two of us for the 4 years we had been married and we were both used to doing what we wanted, when we wanted.  I had planned out my whole running calendar for after Alexandra was born while I was still pregnant.  I really thought that if I had this great plan and just forced myself to stick to it I would be running PR’s again in no time while being a great mom, a loving wife, an excellent employee, etc., etc.  I can look back now and laugh out loud about how naïve I was. 

 If I could give advice to any expecting mothers right now, it would be this.  I know, I know, you get advice everywhere and most of it is negative.  I was so sick of everyone telling me “it changes your life”.  So I’m not going to say that.  What I will say is just be flexible.  Especially with yourself.  You may think that signing up for a marathon 16 weeks after the baby (or even 6 months in my case) is a great motivator to get you back in shape.  My advice is to just take it one day at a time and enjoy motherhood.  You can always run another marathon and if you’re like me you’re thinking “but if I don’t start doing it again right away, I’m afraid I’ll NEVER want to do one again”.  That was what I thought.  I thought if I let myself “relax” and didn’t hold myself accountable to specific goals I’d eventually stop running altogether and gain 50 pounds.  The thing is that the first year of motherhood is (especially the first 6 months) is completely unknown.  There are a lot of women who do marathons or get right back to running/racing right away and have a ton of success.  I had been reading a couple of different blogs from women who did just that.  I admire them (even more so now) and think its fantastic they were able to do what they did, but my experience couldn’t have been more different.  Its hard to not compare, I still struggle with this sometimes.  A few months ago even, it went a step further and I got really jealous.  Not just of mom’s accomplishing things, but also of women who seemed to just handle motherhood like they were made for it. 

 Babies are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.  Yes, we all know that having a baby is hard and it changes your life but what people don’t talk about as much is that some babies will be so very, very, very much harder than others.  I have a friend that just had a little boy and she’s been calling me because he’s so difficult.  She’s now realized that her daughter was super easy compared with her son.  If this blog helps her, it was all worth it. 

 Even now, I have the flu.  Before Alex was born I hardly ever got sick.  I was able to follow marathon training plans without missing a beat.  So you just never know what you’re going to get.  Instead of setting huge expectations for youself, just have a goal to take care of yourself.  Make sure you exercise most days of the week, try to eat healthy and get plenty of water.  Find time to do things that you enjoy, and if running is one of those things, do it.  Just don’t set these huge expectations for yourself.  Maybe you will get an easy baby.  Maybe you will be running PR’s and doing marathons, etc.  But maybe you won’t.  Maybe getting away for a 4 mile run will be an accomplishment.  If so, that’s ok.  Parenthood is all about rolling with the punches and expecting the unexpected. 

I’ll tell you this much.  When my daughter looks in my eyes, says “mama” and gives me a big hug and pushes her forehead into my chest it’s a better feeling than any accomplishment I’ve ever had.  Any PR, any job offer, anything.  Everyone wants to tell you how hard it is, and it is.  But isn’t everything that’s worthwhile?  Its also better than anything you’ve ever experienced before and you can’t possibly even imagine how much you will love the little person growing inside of you.  Before I was pregnant I used to worry that I wouldn’t know how to be a good mom.  I worried that I was too selfish.  I wondered if I would experience that magical bond that everyone talked about.  All I will say is that it doesn’t matter who you were before kids, once they arrive you become exactly who you need to be.  The love is overwhelming and I really believe that having kids allows you to love more.  I thought I loved my husband a lot before we had a baby, but I love him so much more now.  Somehow that little person that’s a little bit of me and a little bit of him really does mold us together as a “family”. 

 So I hope that’s not too preachy and I hope it helps in the sea of advice that you’re surely receiving from everyone and their brother.  You’re going to be great!!

Ear Infections, Floods and Chicken Pox, Oh My! 10/5/13

Wow! Wow. I’m kind of shaking my head laughing at everything that happened in the last few weeks. I am very grateful. Every single day. Its harder to explain that because its easier sometimes to complain about things than run around saying “I feel so blessed!” but I promise, I start every day being thankful and there’s never a moment that I forget that.

So here’s my confession. I never thought it would be THIS hard. If you’re reading this going “geez Jen get it together, its not really that hard” move along my friend, just move along and get back to living your dream life and smile knowing that you’ve got it way more together than me. If you’re reading the above confession and nodding your head and saying “Yes, me too!” this post is for you too.

I’ll explain in a nutshell what happened the last few weeks.

We finally got her to start sleeping better!!! Hooray!! My husband and I started talking more and joking with each other again and we were all generally feeling pretty good. She was also getting to be so much fun! I remember thinking “Finally! This is what I had always imagined having a baby would be like!!!”

Then at 3:30 am on Labor Day, she woke up crying in the night. Since we had taught her how to self soothe, we let her cry for a bit but when she was still crying after 20 minutes, we decided to check on her. Tim went in there and picked her up and she felt warm. He took her temperature, 102.6. That was her highest fever ever.

She had a cold the week before so my first thought was an ear infection. We gave her some Tylenol and brought her into our room. I held her on my chest and she fell asleep. Tim and I were up the remainder of the morning. Even though I kept telling myself it was probably as harmless as an ear infection, I was worried that it could be something more serious and didn’t want to miss anything. After 8 am we called the after-hours hotline for her pediatrician. We explained everything and they said to keep doing the Tylenol and she could come in next day (since it was a holiday) or we could bring her to urgent care. We brought her to urgent care.

The doctor looked in her ears, diagnosed her with an ear infection and wrote a script for an anti-biotic. We picked it up on the way home and started her on it. She hated it, but we held her down and forced it into her mouth as she screamed. I felt awful but told myself it would make her better. They told us she should start to improve after 24 hours. We watched our happy, active, alert little baby become a fussy, tired little punkin that just wanted to sleep on our chest and do nothing else.

She stopped eating/drinking completely. By the late evening she still hadn’t had anything to eat or drink and had not had a wet diaper since that morning. Once again, I was getting terribly worried. She’s so small and I know they can get dehydrated so quickly. By 8 pm she had developed a rash and was starting to breath very rapidly. Fearing that she was having a reaction to the antibiotic we took her to the ER.

The ER doctor looked at her and took samples of her blood and urine (via a catheter) to make sure he wasn’t missing anything. I asked very pointed questions like “Are you positive its not anything more serious.” I know these doctors see sick kids all the time and just didn’t want him to assume it was something minor. I knew I wouldn’t be able to relax until I had answers. He said she was old enough for ibuprofen now and gave her a dose while we were there. An hour after he gave her the ibuprofin, she showed signs of her old self. I still couldn’t get her to feed, but she smiled at us for the first time since she was sick.

We took her home and had another sleepless night. She would only sleep on our chest and even then was waking up every couple minutes or so. I also kept trying to feed her every couple hours but she still refused. It was a long, fearful night and they said if she still wasn’t eating by the next morning to bring her to the ER again. Finally, at 4:30 am I got her to take 2 oz of pumped milk from a bottle. She absolutely refused to breastfeed. I started crying tears of relief/happiness! A few minutes she wet her diaper for the first time in almost 24 hours!!!

Tim and I both stayed home from work to take care of her. We would have been useless at work anyway. We hadn’t really slept hardly at all in two nights and I don’t think either of us felt comfortable leaving her until she started to come around. I hadn’t run or anything. Tim and I both realized we hadn’t even showered since Sunday morning and it was Tuesday! Even though she was starting to eat small amounts again, I still was really worried. 24 hours on the antibiotic came and went and she didn’t seem to be feeling better.

Its hard to explain in words how I was feeling. I knew that there wasn’t much I could do but keep watching her, so I watched her obsessively. Any slightly different cry or moan, or different thing that she did I was on like a hawk with my phone and google, which is REALLY not a good thing. I prayed a lot. When the worry would start to take over, I would find myself praying. I really wanted to just let it all go and realize that it wasn’t up to me, but I thought maybe I was designed to worry for a purpose.

It was during this time that I realized how much more I need her than she needs me.

Another long day and night came and went with me getting maybe a couple 15 minute sections of sleep. She still wasn’t getting better. Why wasn’t she getting better? The questions and the fears were taking over in my state of adrenaline run, sleep deprived brain. My husband told me I should go for a run. I told him I would run when she was feeling better. She must have twitched or something while my husband was holding her and I must have freaked out because he said something to me. I don’t remember exactly what it was but probably along the lines of “chill out.” It was then that I broke down into tears and told him that I knew I was a basket case, that I was sorry and didn’t want to be but I didn’t know how to turn it off. The truth is that if someone told me they could guarantee her to get better by amputating both my legs right then and there I would have said “where’s the saw”.

Logical? Not really. That’s love. Luckily for me I have a husband that loves me and made sure I knew it after my “basket case” breakdown. He loves our little girl too and told me that I’m a great mama. At a time when I was feeling like I didn’t have any answers or know what to do; he at least made me feel like I was doing something right.

Later that night she threw up twice. Another symptom! Once again, we called the after hour line. Why the scary stuff always seems to happen after regular office hours is beyond me. Anyway, we were given instructions on how to keep her hydrated through the night (another sleepless night) and I brought her into the doctor finally in the morning. According to her pediatrician she had a virus. You can get an ear infection from bacteria or a virus. The antibiotics were doing nothing to help her (which is why she wasn’t getting better after 24 hours) but since we had started them, we had to finish the course or else end up giving her resistant bacteria. Viruses are nasty, but they have to pretty much run their course. Finally that afternoon she started feeling better.

When she started to drink more fluid and play with her toys again, I cried tears of happiness. It was such a huge relief. I know that all kids get sick, but she just really wasn’t herself and it was scary.

Then 6 days later our basement flooded. This is our basement that flooded this spring. This is the basement that my husband spent months fixing and had just finished a couple months ago. 4 days after our basement flooded she came home from daycare with a really bad “rash.” Looking back, a few nights before the rash she started not sleeping very well again. She woke up about every hour, cried for 10 minutes or so and got back to sleep. Again, we were sleep deprived after having maybe a week of getting caught up. Notice, I’m not complaining, I’m really just stating the facts as they were.

She had chicken pox. Yes, seriously.

Oddly enough, the chicken pox ended up being less difficult to deal with than the virus…well, after we learned what it was. At first, it was frightening when she got fussy, ran a fever and developed this pimply looking rash that kept spreading! I couldn’t believe we were dealing with something again and I just kept thinking “Why is this so hard?!” After the first couple days with the chicken pox though she no longer had a fever and it didn’t seem to bother her very much. She couldn’t go to daycare so Tim and I rotated staying home with her. Since it wasn’t like before, it really just felt like extra days home with her and we actually had fun.

The bottom line that I’m taking away from all of this is that having kids is pretty much millions of times harder than you ever expect. Or, at least to me anyway. Like I said, for some maybe not. Its also millions of times better than you ever expect too. When she smiles and laughs it’s a happiness for me unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Take your best accomplishment: getting your dream job, marrying the love of your life, running your PR, whatever it may be…think about that feeling you have when it all comes together and you’re in that moment and there’s no where else you would rather be and you just feel incredible. Yeah, that’s what its like for me every time she laughs.

Thus far in life, I’ve learned that all of these best moments always come after a long, hard season of trials. Maybe you spent years working nights and weekends on some project that no one seemed to care about. Maybe you went through heart break after heart break and doubted you would ever find that person that makes you feel whole. Maybe you busted your ass through rain, wind and snow, sometimes waking up at 4:45 am on a Saturday to get that fricken run in and wondered to yourself “why am I DOING THIS?!”. And then in one instant when it all comes together, you’re feeling like it was all worth it for this one moment to feel the way you’re feeling. That’s parenting. That’s what its like. If I had to describe it to anyone, that’s how I would do it. The worry/fear and pain that comes from loving someone so much it hurts is also what drives those moments of such happiness that no words can even describe. So to all the parents out there that are with me saying “this is SOOO hard!”—I hear ya. Sit back, buckle in and enjoy the ride. Its going to be bumpy! 😉

Press Play, Don’t Press Pause–Started on 8/7

Warning: this is an extremely sad post so read with caution.

A cloud of darkness rests over me and I have all these distracting thoughts and emotions racing through my head. I find that writing about them helps me to feel them completely and gives me a little release. I also want to speak about and pay tribute to a really great guy that I was fortunate enough to know. Its taken me a couple weeks to complete this post because at times it was just too much and I had to stop and come back to it a few days later. Its my feelings and raw emotions, so take it as you will.

The rest of this post is all about Chaz. He wasn’t just a co-worker, he had become a friend. I am still in shock and disbelief that he is really gone. The circumstances of his death are tragic and I won’t dwell on that. I’ll just briefly say that he developed bacterial meningitis and even after being hospitalized, went very quickly.

What I would rather talk about is Chaz and who he was, not about what happened to him.

I met Chaz shortly after I started my new job. I interacted with him briefly in my previous position but really got to know him in the role I’ve had the last couple years. He was the Customer Service/Account Manager on one of my larger accounts. When we started working together his wife was pregnant with twins. I can still remember him complaining about the cost of daycare, and also the huge twinkle he got in his eyes at the thought of becoming a father.

When you work with someone, you get little tidbits about their lives here and there and over time can piece them all together and know the person as a whole. Think about it. We spend more time at work than we do at home. Some people you work with you never really get to know because all the interactions are very short and polite. Other people can overshare and you may feel like you know too much about the person a few cubicles over. And then there are people like Chaz that you develop a nice relationship with and never fully appreciate how special it was until they’re gone. Then you wish you would have known them even better.

I know that Chaz and his wife had a great relationship. I’ve never met his wife, I just know that from the way he talked about her, from the pictures they both posted on facebook, and from the loving way they joked with one another. I knew they met in college and were friends before they ever started dating. I knew they liked to have bonfires and frequently socialized with their neighbors. I knew that Chaz, like my husband, was a huge Bears fan. Most of all, I knew he was a family guy in the purest sense of the word. I know what his family did for holidays and all the traditions he hoped to start with his kids.

When his wife had the twins, he took 3 weeks off of work to be home with her. I remember thinking that was really awesome. His wife sent pictures of their girls to him all the time and we were always happy to look at the darling babes with him. He seemed to roll right into new parenthood like he was just meant for it. While other new parents (myself included) feel frazzled and look totally sleep deprived, I can’t think of him complaining about much, if anything.

Chaz wasn’t a runner, but he always took an interest in my running and often asked me about it. I don’t really try to talk about it at work because I know its not for everyone and I’m really not that person that tries to get everyone on board with what I like to do. I always remember thinking it was really nice that he thought enough to ask me about it. I would post photos on facebook of a road race we did over the weekend and he would ask me about it the next week. I was interviewed recently in the local newspaper along with my friend Val and another runner from our running club for a story about running and motherhood. I remember thinking even then that Chaz would probably see it and talk to me about it. He was just thoughtful like that.

When I announced my pregnancy, he sent me an email telling me that I was going to love being a parent. Here’s his exact quote because I saved that email. Why? I have a certain file where I save emails that mean something to me. This one did.

“That’s awesome!!! Now you can share in the baby picture club!! See attached.” (he sent a pic of his darling girls)


“PS: Your baby has already ran more marathons than me”

And finally:

“You’re going to love it. Lots of work, but it puts things in a different perspective. Totally makes you serve a higher purpose in life.”

That was truly the way that he felt. I was completely shocked when, about a month later he sent out an email announcing that his wife was pregnant again. I couldn’t possibly imagine having a third child with twins still in diapers. When I talked to him about it though, he was very happy and excited. I would have been scared out of my mind and I didn’t even KNOW the amount of work that comes along with a baby then. He just rolled with it and counted it as one of life’s blessings.

Yep, Chaz really had it figured out and knew how to live. Our Sales department frequently brought in lunches for meetings and customers and there would always be leftovers. He asked me to let him know whenever there was food in my area so I would send him an email. He liked it all; pizza, sandwiches, taco bars, etc. I’d see him pop his head in and he was like a kid on Christmas. Some days I still keep waiting for him to pop his head into my cubicle with a smile and a nod and either say “Hey, is there any food around here?” or “I’m just trying to avoid this meeting I’m supposed to be in that I don’t want to go to.” I will miss that. It was always such a nice little break from what I was doing and we would chat for just a few minutes, usually about our kids.

I will also surely always think about him on my drive home. Since returning from my maternity leave I am pretty much always walking out the door at 5:01. Most days Chaz and I would end up walking out at the same time. With a lot of people I’d just wave and say “have a nice night” or something like that but I waited for Chaz and he waited for me. We would walk together, again always talking about our kids and then when we got to the parking lot he’d always say “Race ya home” since we both drove home along the same long stretch of road. He always teased me for having a lead foot. One evening while driving home I thought I saw him behind me and when we got to the road that I turn left on and he normally goes straight, he turned left. I kept looking back, wondering if it really was him and what he was doing. The next day in our account team meeting he told everyone how he “followed me” the whole way home just to see what it was like to drive that fast and said he got home really fast! It cracked me up because I usually drive 65 on the 55 mph back country roads but it made it sound like I was just flying.

We always kicked off one of our account team meetings with a “question of the day”. It was sort of a way to break the tension in the meetings and honestly I mostly thought it was a huge waste of time. I’m very much a “let’s get down to business, no fluff” kind of person and I think that Chaz was a little bit too. Looking back, I’m so glad we had those questions because I realized just how much I learned about him. We had a question once about what you would do if you found out you had a year to live. I remember Chaz’s response. He said he wouldn’t tell anyone and would work as long as he could to provide for his family. That’s just the kind of guy he was. The way that Chaz went so quickly makes it feel so unreal and after I heard about it I just kept wanting to go back and say more. Do more. Remembering Chaz’s answer to that question lets me know that it was just as he wanted, though much, much too soon.

My husband met Chaz just once. They were both doing drop off at daycare and Chaz went up to my husband and said “Hey Tim, I know you from facebook.” Tim told me that even though he didn’t know Chaz and only had that one interaction with him, he could just tell that he was a happy guy that was very much at peace with life. He just acted very much like a proud papa and Tim said that he seemed like the kind of a father that Tim aspired to be. I felt the same way. Its funny that I was sometimes even jealous of the way he handled life’s stresses so well. I felt like I was barely keeping it together with one baby and he seemed completely zen with three!

Since hearing the news of his passing, one phrase from a song has been running through my head over and over and over again. Macklemore’s “Same Love” is a great song though it seemed odd that one single phrase from it kept playing over and over again in my head. “Press play, don’t press pause”. Whatever you believe or don’t believe about messages and faith, I feel like maybe it’s a message I’m supposed to receive. I felt like in a way I just wanted to stop time or rewind and go back because the truth hurt so bad. I knew Chaz was in serious danger when I heard of his illness and I kept praying for him and asking my friends in his department for updates. When I was pumping at the end of the day I got a text from a co-worker asking if I was still at work. When I replied I was and asked if she heard any updates, I knew something was really wrong when she just told me to come out when I was done. My heart sank and I suddenly felt nauseous. I said a very desperate prayer that it wasn’t what I knew in my heart that it was. I told myself it couldn’t be. I just wanted to stay inside that room and keep holding onto the hope that he was ok. As soon as I walked out of the room and saw her crying it confirmed my fears and I remember just saying “NO!” After the immediate disbelief, the question forms itself in your head without you even really putting it there. Why? I thought about his wife, I thought about his babies. Why? This question will never be answered and sometimes that’s hard to accept. “Press play, don’t press pause.” Its too late to go back and you can’t stop living. Press play, live your life and remember that each and every single day is a gift.

Yes, its been hard dealing with the lack of sleep that we’ve been going through with our daughter. Each day with her is an absolute gift and I think about that now with every single interaction. After I heard the news there were serious moments when I just wanted to be alone to grieve and collect my thoughts. When you have a 5.5 month old you just can’t do that. She picks up on every single emotion that I exhibit. So I had to put on a smiley face and do my best to press on and be a good mother to her. I think about his wife so often and how she will have to be strong for her babies when she just wants to grieve. I let it all sink in and wonder if my daughter can see the sadness hiding behind my smiles. Its easy to dwell because it hits you so hard and fast. When you care deeply and have empathy for another you desperately want to do something to help. It makes you feel like at least you are doing something to ease their burden just a little bit. People have been doing a great deal of that for his family and its been so nice to be a part of that. I find its been helpful to feel a part of this community and its also been helpful to go to work and talk about him with my co-workers.

At the end of the day when our house is quiet and its time to settle down for the night my mind just goes there still and I want so badly to be able to help more. These are the things that I’m feeling. Its not always easy to talk about. People that didn’t know him don’t know what to say and I feel awkward bringing him up with them so I keep a lot of it to myself. It doesn’t mean that he hasn’t been on my mind every day. Its helped so much for me to just be able to get this out. This is a much different post and I will get back to running and babies soon.

Chaz, I hope you know how much you’re missed. You touched a lot of people’s lives in a big way and you will always be remembered fondly. We will also do our best to make sure your family is taken care of. We all celebrated with you in the birth of your children and now we all grieve for you. I hope you enjoyed our luncheon in your honor and the fries that someone brought just for you. Rest in peace my friend.