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A Letter to my Daughter about the Boston Marathon 4/17

race5Dear Alexandra,

It was Monday about 4 pm when I heard the devastating news about the attacks at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. You and I had just come in from a little walk with Sparty through the neighborhood and you were sleeping (something you rarerly do during the day). I looked at my phone and saw that I had missed text messages from family. When I started scrolling through I realized that something awful had happened and turned on the news, just as my dad (your grandpa) was calling to tell me.

With you still in your car seat sleeping, I stared at the tv screen in shock and horror at the video they were repeating over and over again.

You obviously won’t remember this day and had no idea what was going on as you slept peacefully. Someday though you will hear about the attack and I want to be able to tell you what exactly was going through my mind on that day.

The Boston Marathon is the oldest marathon in the U.S. and its run every April on Patriots Day in Boston. Patriots Day in Boston is a huge celebration, similar to New Year’s Eve in Times Square. Most residents have the day off of work (except for emergency workers and restaurant and bar employees, etc) and come out to be spectators for the marathon that is the pride and joy of their great city. It is the best spectated marathon in the US.

The Boston Marathon also happens to be a very prestigious marathon, and only those that qualify are able to run it. Some runners attempt to qualify their whole life and it has become a sort of “bucket list” event for most if not all in the running community.

Just last year, your daddy and I ran it together. It was something we had both always wanted to do, and we both happened to be qualified at the same time. I remember when we signed up even. For the first time in history, the Boston Marathon Association had a tiered registration process because the year before the race had sold out in 1 hour! I had beat my qualifying time by over 20 minutes so I was able to sign up on the first day. Daddy at that point had beat his qualifying time by under two minutes so he was in the last wave and he was certain he wasn’t going to get in. He registered on line as soon as possible that last day and we waited anxiously to get confirmation that he would make it in. When his email finally came a few days later we were elated and he was shocked! He had made it in by about 17 seconds. That is really important, because if he hadn’t made the cut off that year, we may have very well been running the marathon this year…which also would mean that you wouldn’t have been born. Sometimes its so crazy when you stop and think in life how 17 seconds could have changed the course of your life so much.

So we made it in and immediately made reservations for hotels and flights. We planned to make a whole vacation out of it and explore the city. Well, since the Boston Marathon is a big race and mommy tends to not do so well at big races, we decided to do another marathon 8 weeks before Boston to try to run a fast time. All winter mommy and daddy trained together and our winter marathon in Myrtle Beach went great for mommy, not so great for daddy when his hamstring went out at mile 20. However, after the marathon it was mommy that got hurt. I strained my IT band pretty bad and was unable to run hardly at all in the 8 weeks leading up to Boston.

A few days before we left I also came down with a severe upper respiratory infection. I was still determined to run. We had already made our reservations and signed up and everything.

Once we arrived in Boston the city started experiencing unseasonably warm weather. Temperatures were predicted to be in the low 90’s on race day and the race directors kept sending out emails urging people to not run. And then they decided to allow people to defer their entry from the race and have guaranteed entry the following year (this year). Well, we actually thought about it. I was honestly in no shape to run a marathon. But since Tim and I had made it in and decided that 2012 was the year we were running, we started to also plan a big event we wanted in 2013…the birth of a baby. I knew I shouldn’t run that year…but I also knew that I really wanted to have a baby the next year…which meant, no running the Boston Marathon. So we made the decision to run in 2012. We finished the race in over 5 hours. It was dreadful. Mommy got severely dehydrated and we ended up walking the majority of the marathon. Daddy never left my side though, and was so supportive and it was then that I really knew we could get through anything togeher, and felt more ready than ever to have a baby.

All day on Monday I was thinking about the marathon and what daddy and I had been through together the year before. I had been looking at pictures and smiling at the memory of the whole experience. After I heard that someone placed bombs along the finish line my whole day completely changed.

I thought about how happy daddy and I were to finally see that finish line and imagined that all the other runners were feeling the same way. It was such an emotional and surreal experience to cross that finish line and I thought of all the runners that will forever have that memory of a moment that should have been pure delight be tainted with the hurt that someone deliberately caused. I looked at you sleeping in your carrier and cried for those runners and for the innocent spectators that were hurt and killed. Especially when they announced that one of the victims was an 8 year old boy. I thought of how he was probably there watching his mommy or daddy and I lost it completely and wept for his family.

The fact that in different circumstances this could have been us makes it hit home that much harder and made me realize everything in my life that I have to be thankful for, especially you.

Running is such a big part of mine and daddy’s lives and we plan to take you along to so many of our races. I sometimes think about the day that you’ll be cheering for me at the finish line and how it will motivate me even more to push during that final stretch of the race.

What I want to tell you about the horrible events on Monday is that I don’t want it to ruin your joy or make you afraid. Admist all the evil there was also a lot of good that was occuring. We saw images of workers rushing in to help, runners turning and around and going back to help other runners. I’ve heard of residents of Boston offering their homes to stranded runners with nothing but the sweaty clothes on their backs that couldn’t get into their hotels. So with all the evil that exists in this world, I chose to believe there is much more good.

At anytime, anywhere we are something could happen to any one of us. I choose to trust that God will take us when we’re needed and not go about my life living in fear. Terrorists, by definition aim to cause terror in people. I will not let them. I hope someday that your daddy and I will run the Boston Marathon again, maybe even with you if you should choose to and if mine and daddy’s bodies are still able enough to run a marathon.

I love you more than you will ever know (until you have a child of your own) and want to protect you from all the bad in the world, even though I know I cannot. Live your life to the fullest every day and never forget to appreciate everything you have (or it should be EVERYONE you have since things end up being of little importance). Even if you don’t ever want to run the Boston Marathon, I hope someday you will visit the city and experience the marathon and all that magic that it contains.

Love Always,

Mommy

Smiles and Running Post Partum 4/7

In the last couple weeks Alexandra has been rewarding us with lots of smiles and she seems to give more and more every day. No matter how many times I’ve seen them, it still melts my heart. I love this little girl more than anything and parenting is very hard, especially when you are doing all the giving. So when they finally start to show affection for you, its completely priceless! She’s also been doing a good deal of “talking”. She makes these cute little sounds and smiles and even laughs when she’s talking to me. I try to grab a camera and capture some of it, but its like she knows and will not cooperate. So I just try to take every little thing in. Its hard to believe my maternity leave is already half over and I want to enjoy every single minute with her.
Her nighttime schedule has been pretty consistent since she was about 4 weeks old. Typically she only gets up once or twice during the night to feed. She’s been going for longer stretches, though not consistently. The night before last she went for her longest stretch…slept 6.5 hours! When she goes for longer stretches like that I do have to get up and pump because I can’t sleep feeling that “full”.
Her daytime routine is far from it. We’re still all over the board. She seems to have some days where she sleeps a lot and can even go 3-4 hours between a feeding (I don’t ever wake her to feed anymore, I let her tell me). Then there are days when she hardly sleeps at all and gets really fussy as the day goes on. These days are pretty rough. I’ve found sometimes the only way to get her to sleep is to put her in my little sling carrier. Its fantastic that I have it, but it also doesn’t allow me to take a shower and obviously I can’t get in the car and go anywhere like that. It is too bad they don’t make slings so that you can take your baby running with you!
All in all, its slowly getting easier. I’m starting to know more how to soothe her when she cries and sometimes it seems all she needs is just to see me or have me hold her and she’ll calm down. It makes me happy, but also makes it hard when Tim gets home and I want to run and cook dinner and she fusses and cries for him. I try to let him keep trying when I get done running but after hearing her scream for long enough I can’t take it anymore and usually step in. I don’t know, its probably not the best thing to do, but I can’t stand to hear her cry like that and I feel bad for Tim too. I’m sure it will get better with time.
As far as running goes, I completed my first 3 mile run on Saturday morning and surprised myself by running pretty fast. I wasn’t trying in the beginning, but I’ll admit that after I heard my pace the first mile I wanted each mile after that to be a little faster and it was. By the last mile though, I was working pretty hard, but felt good. It felt nice to be kind of pushing myself again. The rest of the day I didn’t seem to feel more physically tired than normal so I probably didn’t push it too much. Even though my incision site is still sore to the touch I feel mostly recovered from the surgery. I know it will take a while for my abs strength to come back, but I feel like I can do most things just fine. I’m not technically supposed to lift over 15 pounds until 6 weeks but when you’re at home alone all day with a baby that weighs just over 9 pounds now and frequently carry her around in her bouncy seat or car seat its kind of impossible to avoid it.
My weight has remained the exact same since 2 weeks post partum. I guess its good that its not going up (especially since I seem to ALWAYS be hungry and let myself eat to my content right now). It still doesn’t look like my body to me. I still have very little definition in my belly and after I eat or drink anything it sort of just puffs out. My hips and butt also seem to be a lot curvier than they’ve ever been before. I feel guilty admitting this, but I’ll be glad when I’m done breastfeeding and my larger than life breasts go back to their “barely there” pre-baby size. Yes, seriously. I just tell myself that its going to take time to get back into shape, but remind myself that I WILL get there.
So that’s what we’ve been up to lately!

I am in Good Company! 12/4/12

Apparently, the Duchess Kate is also pregnant, as is one of my favorite professional runners, Lauren Fleshman.  Not to be rude, but I really couldn’t care less about Kate being pregnant.  Nothing against her personally, but we just don’t have very much in common.  However, I am thrilled at the news of Lauren Fleshman and can’t wait to read her blogs about pregnancy.

 Bad news.  I didn’t pass my initial blood glucose screening yesterday.  I’ll be completely honest and admit I was quite upset about it.  My doc even said that I have low risk factors because I exercise and keep a healthy weight.  So naturally, I felt like my not passing, was a huge failure on my part.  Tim tried making me feel better.  At first, he didn’t know why I was upset and thought that he’d done something wrong!  I told him that I felt like I had let him and myself and Alexandra down.  So naturally, I obsessed about it like I always do and found out a few things.  I didn’t “fail” as I’d thought.  If I had scored 200 or higher, then I would have been considered to have gestational diabetes without further testing.  I scored a 158 and needed to be 139 or lower to have completely passed the initial screening.  Furthermore, many women that don’t pass this initial screening end up passing the longer, 3 hour test just fine.  I go to take that on Thursday.  Again, I’m not thrilled about it, but I’m hoping for the best.

 So after I had my pity party for myself, I went for another 3 mile run.  Besides feeling so slow and just a bit uncomfortable, I felt pretty good!  That made me happy.  My legs didn’t go numb like they’ve been doing lately.  Besides, it was nice out yesterday, in the low 60’s which you can’t beat in December.  My belly felt particularly “heavy” and puffy, but I think that is because I had to chug that sugar drink for my test.  I got done and walked the dog and then had a quick dinner, Tim and I had a great night putting some artwork on the nursery walls.  I know that sounds strange but we had a good time.  We got these peel and stick “decals” and we created a beautiful tree on one wall and a little forest with cute animals right above the crib.  Alexandra was moving like crazy yesterday!  She even moved for the doctor and we watched her heart rate go up.  Can’t wait to meet this feisty little one!

 Today I went swimming again and really felt like I got in a good workout.  My lower back did ache a bit but it really hasn’t been bothering me at night anymore so I’m so hoping those terrible pains are over. 

 The other fun project I’ve been working on is Tim’s training plan for Riverbank Run 2013.  Since I’m such a far cry from going after my own goals right now and have already set them for post baby, its fun for me to design a plan to help him meet his goals.

December is finally here! 12/3/12

Saturday, Tim and I had our birthing class from 9-3.  I set the alarm to get up early and go for a run.  I was surprised to see that Tim wanted to join me.  I warned him that I’m slower now and I sometimes have to stop, etc.  He said he didn’t mind and he was great.  In the first mile, my right leg kept going “numb”.  Its hard to explain but I’ve been having this feeling in my legs for a couple weeks now when I go running and when I walk up stairs quickly.  I figure it’s a circulation thing and my blood is just not getting there as quickly due to the increased pressure.  Anyway, the more we ran along the more painful it became.  So I stopped, stretched it and shook it out to try to get the blood going.  I wanted to run 2 miles out and 2 back for a total of 4 miles.  Well, given that I was already feeling like this before a mile, I decided to turn around. 

 I also had the strong urge that I had to pee, but that’s not necessarily unusual when you’re running pregnant, so I ignored it.  Tim and I slowly jogged back towards the house and I stopped a few more times when the pain in my leg got real intense and walked for a little while.  Then, when we were within 400 meters of being home I wanted to jog the rest of the way in so we started running again and somehow magically, my leg seemed to loosen up and feel better.  So we ran past our house and then did some small loops through the neighborhood and we got in 3 miles total and I didn’t have to stop again at all.  It was an 8:45 pace, so my slowest run yet, but I was happy to get 3 miles in when I thought at one point that I’d have to settle for just over a mile!

 Interesting though, when I stopped running, I still had the strong urge to pee.  Usually it goes away after I stop.  Without getting into too many details, when I finally did go, I panicked because my urine was bright red.  Bladder and kidney infections are more common in pregnancy because sometimes your bladder can be compressed depending on the uterus and the position of the baby, so it may not empty completely and then bacteria can multiply.  I hadn’t had any symptoms until then and I immediately checked my temperature (which was normal) and called my doctors office.  I worried that I had done something while running.  I was prepared to not run another step through the rest of the pregnancy, I was so worried about Alexandra.  Additionally, I didn’t feel her moving until we were in the car and driving to our class.  Once I did, I felt better, but I was still just so scared. 

 Once we got to the hospital for the class I went to the lab and had my urine tested.  I was able to get a prescription for antibiotics that I picked up later that day and felt much better knowing that that was all that it was.

 Tim and I had a good time in our class and both felt like it was worthwhile and beneficial.  We also got to see my co-workers baby that she delivered prematurely last week.  She was adorable!  I feel bad  that she’s still in the hospital, but she is doing great and hopefully going home very soon.

 Tim and I spent the rest of the afternoon shopping and building our baby registry before going out to dinner.  I got a little overcome with emotion on the way to dinner.  Truth be told, its been a rough couple weeks.  Getting the flu, having my back pain, barely sleeping at night due to the pain and having to really reduce my running and then having even that be so unpredictable and then getting the bladder infection…well it was a lot.  I’m so used to knowing my body so well and its been scary and strange to have all these things happen and feel so helpless to it all. 

 I guess I had this idea that I’d love pregnancy and I’d sail through it so smoothly.  When people ask me how its going I just want to be able to say “Good, great, etc.”  What makes it harder is that I still have a long ways to go.  At least if I only had 4-6 weeks to go the end would be near and it would be easier to get through, but 13 weeks still is a long time and everyone keeps telling me that its only going to get worse. 

 When my back was bothering me, I was not sleeping very well or very long at all.  I went through the day tired and in pain.  I tried to keep a positive attitude and think of all the wonderful things but I guess on Saturday night it just all got to be too much and I had a little cry with Tim.  We bought another body pillow at Target on Saturday and my pregnancy cradle arrived on Friday. 

 I’m so happy to report this morning that something really helped.  Both Saturday and Sunday night I slept sooo much better.  My back would get stiff, so I’d wake up and change positions, but it wasn’t the intense pain I was feeling before. 

 Today I take my glucose tolerance test and am obviously hoping that I pass.  My doctor said it sometimes surprises her who passes and who doesn’t ,so I don’t know what to expect.  Later today, I’ll try going for another run, this time only aiming for 3 miles and I’ll probably do short loops or carry my phone in case I have to stop for any reason. 

 Alexandra has been moving a lot both Saturday night and Sunday so it makes me so happy and realize this is all so worth it.  I knew that pregnancy would be hard, but I guess I was anticipating it to be hard much later…I didn’t know it would be this hard for me so early on.  My weight gain has really seemed to taper off these last few weeks so I’m holding steady at 16 pounds.  I just FEEL like I’m getting so much bigger.  Honestly, on Friday I was dreading seeing the numbers on the scale because I felt like my weight had gone up 5 pounds.  I was surprised to see that it stayed the same as the week before.  My body looks so different too.  My belly obviously is sticking out, but last night while I was getting out of the shower I thought my thighs looked thicker too.  I just tell myself during those moments that this is all temporary and I’m going to be able to get my old body back after Alexandra is born.  I lost a lot of weight before, so I know I can do it again. 

 So there you have it.  This is my honest view of how this pregnancy is going.  Its so much different than I thought it would be, so I hope it helps someone else going through it to know that “you’re not alone!”.

11/28/12

My chiropractic appointment was very helpful yesterday.  I went home with my back feeling good and relaxed.  It made me nervous to lift things and strain it again.  Tim’s been moving our furniture back upstairs now that he’s done with so many of the updates and I felt guilty because I wanted to help, but that horrible pain I experienced the night before just scared me.  So I did things like make up the beds.  Its funny that you don’t really realize all the things you use your back for until its been hurt.  You use it for pretty much everything.  Walking up and down stairs, bending over, lifting anything, cooking and chopping…the list goes on and on. 

 Last night during the night, my back was definitely better than it was the night before, but it still bothered me.  I tried many different positions and switched often during the night, trying to find the most comfortable position.  I ended up settling for those that seemed to hurt my back the least and at least I was able to get to sleep that way.  I did take my Flexerol last night with dinner, so maybe that’s what made the difference.  I still wasn’t “pain free” though, so I know the drugs aren’t totally blocking the pain.

 Once I was up and out of bed and in the hot shower this morning I felt like it loosened up.  When I got to work though, I again had a hard time getting comfortable.  I know it sounds strange but the position at work that seems to feel the best is to sit with my left leg and left foot on my chair with my knee bent.  Probably not the best, but it sure feels the best.

 I went for a 3 mile run at lunch today and while my back didn’t hurt, thankfully, it wasn’t exactly a great run.  It started out that way, but on the way back I developed a severe side stitch on my abdomen that I just couldn’t shake.  I’d stop running, stretch, walk, take deep breaths and always when I’d start again, it was there.  I had a very slow run, averaged 8:23 pace for 3 miles with the last mile being the slowest due to the side stitch.  Of course after I finished and ate lunch I noticed that I hadn’t felt the baby move in a while so I started to get worried.  So I started poking around my belly and when I got to the spot where I had the side stitch I felt something hard, like maybe that’s where her head was!  It scared me, and then I of course worried that I hurt her by poking at her head, but then I felt some movement as she probably shifted positions to get away from the mean lady that was poking her head as she was trying to sleep.

 So maybe that’s why I had the side stitch?  I don’t know but it is all very strange and I wonder if other mothers have experienced anything similar or if I’m just a crazy person.  I’m going to take the Flexerol again tonight and see if anything improves.  I also ordered a pregnancy cradle belt online today.  Its this very interesting looking strappy thing that is supposed to redistribute your weight among your shoulders and abdomen and upper back to relieve the strain on the lower back.  Maybe if I wear it all day my back will be less stressed and less likely to hurt at night when I go to bed. 

 I’m also stopping by a health food store tonight on my way home from work and picking up some red raspberry leaf tea.  My chiropractor recommended I start drinking it every night from now until I deliver.  He said it works to strengthen the uterus so contractions are more productive and makes for a better labor.  I researched it on my own this morning since I had never heard of it and did find some great reviews.  Its supposed to be caffeine free so it may even be a nice relaxing hot drink for me to take at night before bed time.  I plan to swim tomorrow again during my lunch break.  My arms were actually a little sore today from swimming yesterday—it was kind of nice.

11/27/12 (2)

I had to write again to rave about my lunchtime activity: swimming!  I went to the high school pool during my lunch hour.  I changed into my one piece swimsuit and laughed when I caught a glimpse of my belly in the mirror…yep, you can definitely tell I’m pregnant!  Anyway, jumped into the cold water and after a few warm up laps got into a nice rhythm!  It felt so good.  It was hard too, in that I haven’t done it in so long that I had to figure out the whole breathing thing and actually felt like I got a good, heart pumping workout in.  And my back felt great. 

 Swimming while pregnant is so much different than running while pregnant.  The extra weight you’re carrying doesn’t seem to make very much of a difference in the way you feel.  Also, since your belly is below you, you don’t get that bouncing/pulling, pressure on your bladder sensation that I was getting with running.  It gave me a nice escape to feel like me again.  I took it nice and easy and felt my arms tiring.  I was passing the guy in the lane next to me and for those 30 minutes I just felt like me again…not pregnant me, which is how I always feel now when I’m running. 

 That may sound selfish, but as any woman who’s ever been pregnant can tell you, its not.  There comes a point in the pregnancy when you constantly are aware of your present condition of being with child and everyone around you is glaringly aware too.  It can make you feel sort of like your only role in this world is to provide a nice home for the life growing inside you.  Your body changes and while its beautiful and wonderful, its so easy to forget that there’s a woman inside there too with hopes and dreams and fears.  Even at work right now its hard to not think about the baby with every decision.  I want to grow in my career, but in the back of my mind, I know I’m going on maternity leave and how difficult it would be to start training on a new job only to take 12 weeks off and have to learn everything all over again.  So yes…there’s been some opportunities that have come up that I admit I haven’t fully gone after.  I don’t regret that.  I am happy in my current position, so its not like I’m itching to move on.  Yet, I know that I eventually want more for myself and my family and my boss knows that too.  So, in some ways pregnancy feels like everything else in your life is temporarily put on hold.  Running used to make me feel free of all that, but with the discomforts lately, its yet another thing I do where I can’t forget that I’m carrying another life.  Swimming gave me that feeling of freedom today and it was so very much needed.

 I get bored with swimming, so I’m sure my new passion will fizzle out once I’ve been doing it on a regular basis but in this moment I feel great so I’m just going to enjoy it while it lasts.

 

11/27/12

Last night I had a fantastic 3 mile run after work.  Its getting dark now just a little past 5 pm, so by 6 pm it was completely dark and the neighborhood was lit up with Christmas lights.  It was cold, low 30’s but I bundled up so I stayed plenty warm.  Its so funny, there was a time that I thought 3 mile runs weren’t worth the time to get all those layers on!  My how perspectives can change.  So I just went along at my leisurely pace, not watching my watch, enjoying the lights and enjoying the experience of running.  And my back never hurt!  The run gets hard for different reasons now.  I did have some tightness/pulling in my abdomen but it didn’t really bother me and since last week I’ve noticed that my legs seem to be a little bit behind my body on my runs.  It just feels like the blood doesn’t flow as fast or something…they feel kind of weak, or like how they feel after they “fall asleep” and you try to stand up on them.  That’s the best way I can think to describe it.  I didn’t care about any of this or the fact that I averaged 8:04 pace for my 3 miles.  I was just blistfully happy that my back didn’t hurt.

 I got home and felt great and thought that I could have even run a little further and that maybe my back issues had finally worked themselves out.

 Those happy thoughts were crushed sometime around 3 am when I woke up with horrible back pain.  Ugh.  I tried changing positions, I tried using my little pregnancy body pillow, tried stretching, pelvic tilts…and nothing worked.  I wanted to take my Flexerol but I knew that late in the night it would make me sleepy this morning at work.  So I layed there in pain and dozed in and out of sleep until morning with a host of strange dreams.  I had packed my bag last night to get up and go swimming this morning but since I was up so much of the night and my back hurt, I decided to sleep in and try to go during my lunch break today.

 The emotional disappointment is worse than the physical pain.  I felt so great running last night and was so happy.  Everything with my back felt fine when I went to bed last night.

 I go to the chiropractor again tonight and get a massage.  Hopefully that helps and then I’ll take the flexerol once I get home.  My back is feeling better this morning, it really seems to be night time sleeping is what aggravates it the most.  I actually thought seriously last night about going down to our basement and trying to sleep in an upright position.  Tim and I do have a reclining rocker in the nursery.  Maybe we move that into our room and I try sleeping in that.  Otherwise I’m just not sure what to do.