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!!

 

Wrapping up the Year

Its that time of the year when I look back at the goals I set for myself last year and see how I did and also set new goals for the new year.

 Well…here’s a look at the goals I feel comfortable sharing for 2013

1.)    Deliver a healthy baby

2.)    Provide breastmilk for the first 12 months of her life

3.)    Run a fall marathon

4.)    Break 17 mins in a 5K

5.)    Get back to pre-pregnancy weight

 Of those goals, I hit 1 so far although I’m still working on #2.  Am I disappointed in myself for not hitting the others?  Not really.  I set these goals long before knowing what it would be like to have a new born baby.  Sure, I had read blogs of other moms and even seen what some of my friends were able to do, but I didn’t realize how much of a different experience was possible with different babies/scenarios.

 I’m not making excuses for myself.  Here are the reasons I didn’t make my other goals in 2013, along with what I’m going to do to hit my goals in 2014.

 1.)    Deliver a healthy baby.  This goal is one I’m happy to say was met, and priority wise, it’s really the only one that matters.  Now, that’s not to say that the delivery went smoothly or as I anticipated at all.  The only thing I didn’t want in my birth plan was a c-section, and that’s exactly what I had.  I had heard so much about the recovery time and all of this horrible stuff.  I’m pleased to say I was pleasantly surprised.  Now, in all honesty I will very much be trying for a VBAC when we decide to go for the 2nd, but really the recovery time was not anything like I thought it would be.  The same day as the surgery I was walking around, a week later I was out walking the dog, 3 weeks out I was running again.  Not to say it was all easy peasy, my abs were actually cut and had to grow back together so I had some pain with running for the first few months but compared with labor and mastitis it was NOTHING to complain about.

2.)    I realize now that some of hitting your fitness goals with a new baby is just pure luck.  Some of the mom’s I compared myself to had babies that we sleeping through the night, or at least sleeping for longer stretches by about 4 months.  My baby hit a huge regression at 12 weeks and it didn’t get better until we did sleep training at 6 months.  For over 3 months I was surviving on as little as 3 broken hours of sleep a night while working full time.  Some nights I got 3 different 20 minute intervals.  Other nights I was thrilled to get 3 consecutive hours.  I was a walking zombie.  That doesn’t even begin to describe everything else.  I was also emotional, had no patience and feel like I just wasn’t even the same person I was before or am now.  If I lashed out at anyone during that time, I’m so sorry.

3.)    Time was a HUGE factor!  I was so used to running in the mornings before work and figured that was what I would continue to do after having a baby but didn’t anticipate 1. The insane lack of sleep, and 2. The wrench that breastfeeding throws into this plan.  More on that later.  I found I didn’t WANT to run after work because I didn’t want to miss any time with my daughter since it was hard enough being away from her all day.  That left my 1 hour lunch break and when meetings and projects happened I used my lunch hour to get those done a lot so as not to take work home on the evenings or weekends because I didn’t want to miss any time with my daughter. 

4.)    Breastfeeding, my #2 goal made things a lot more challenging.  Once my daughter did start sleeping better after the sleep training at 6 months, you would think I would jump right back into my pre-dawn routine.  Well…the mornings were when my breasts were the absolute fullest (if you don’t know what this feels like imagine 2 rocks bouncing up and down in a sports bra) and it would be too uncomfortable to run without pumping at least a little bit.  Well…that just adds another 15 minutes into the morning, even if I were to only pump a little bit.  Plus, since I was giving my daughter bottles the rest of the day the morning was her only chance to take any extra milk she needed for a growth spurt or whatever.  So, I decided it just wasn’t worth the hassle.  Also, I believe the breastfeeding was a huge contributing factor to my low iron.

5.)    A stressful event.  When a very close co-worker of mine passed away this summer, which I wrote about a few months ago, I had a hard time dealing with it.  It was a huge slap of perspective. It just broke my heart because he had 3 little ones and I constantly thought about how I would feel and I went through this phase where I just tried to savor every moment with my loved ones so much that I kind of pushed everything else out.  Its hard to explain but I just felt like running was not important anymore.  I kind of lived every day like it could be my last, which you would think is a good thing, but it wasn’t.  When you constantly try to live in the moment and don’t plan for the future there is nothing to look forward to.  Its good to appreciate the now but its also good to believe in the things that you do that make you happy.  Running is important.  I know that now, but it took me a couple months to get there again.  

6.)    The unplanned and the unknown.  When you have a baby in day care they are going to get sick.  When they do and you’re a first time mom its incredibly scary…especially when someone close to you recently passed away.  I missed a lot of work and running in the early fall when my daughter had various different viruses.  It was an incredibly stressful time. 

 So there’s my perspective on trying to set goals in the first year of your first baby!  Everyone will have an experience that is different.  I truly believe I’ve come out a much stronger person because of everything.  My priorities were right on.  I used to worry when I was pregnant if I would be a good enough mother.  I felt like I was pretty selfish and didn’t know if I’d be like those mom’s who instinctively always put their baby’s needs first.  After admitting that truth, you will understand why I’m so happy to find out that I always did and I did it without a second thought or regret.  When my baby was sick and needed me, I held her day and night and slept on the floor in her room.  I went days without running or even showering and it didn’t bother me one bit.  I knew I was exactly where I needed to be.

 There has never been anything more humbling to me than raising my baby.  Oh there were so many times I found myself sobbing, frustrated, scared, and praying harder than I’ve ever prayed in my life.  I think its given me a great perspective.  Today, I can savor in every moment with my family and also look ahead into the future.  I can set goals of doing things for me (because that IS important too). 

 Its still hard.  Fear is a this horrible enemy that is the hardest to fight (which is why it’s the perfect weapon for terrorists) and the more you love, the more you have to lose.  I still haven’t conquered it, but I can honestly say I’m much happier today.  

 I still try to run on my lunch, and never bring work home.  If you call me when I’m spending time with my child, I won’t answer.  In the 9 months since my daughter’s birth I have seen her smile for the very first time, hold her head up, start grabbing things with her hands, start babbling, sit unsupported, eat solids with a spoon, roll over, say her first words, crawl, pull herself up to a stand, eat finger foods, stand unsupported all the way up to watching her take her first solo steps this past weekend.  That is a heck of a lot to accomplish in 9 months.  Never again in a lifetime will anyone develop at that rate again.  I don’t want to miss a thing. 

 So, I guess I’m trying to say that even though I didn’t hit all any of my running goals this year, I met the most important goal that I didn’t even know I had.  To be the best mother I could possibly be to my little girl.  Seeing her face light up, hearing her laugh, all those moments are so much better than any PR or running goal I’ve ever had.  She’s changed me for the better.  I’ve learned how to be unselfish, and you know what its made me a better wife too.  And I love my husband now more than I ever did before. 

 I have set running goals for 2014, and I will work hard to hit them.  Anything you do that makes you feel good and makes you happy IS worth it.  Just because its not THE most important thing in your life (and it never should be) that doesn’t mean its insignificant.  Taking care of yourself makes you a better mom, better wife, better friend, etc.  And its OK to be happy!  That’s another thing that I guess I was struggling with a little bit.  I don’t know how to explain it but I definitely know there were times I felt guilty being happy with all the pain going on in the world.  That’s the opposite of how we should feel, I see that now. 

 So there you have it.  My explanation of the last several months in a nutshell.  

 Moving forward, I’ve already started my marathon training plan for 2014.  I’ll talk more about that in another post.  So far there have been a couple wrenches thrown in, but I’m not worried about them this time!  I’m looking very forward to going after my goals and can’t wait to start talking about workouts!!

Guilt

http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/12/living/irpt-parents-erin-hill-mommy-guilt/index.html?iref=allsearch

I woke up before my alarm this morning and decided to read some news stories while lying in bed. The one above caught my eye so I read it and it sure set a poor tone for my mood on an otherwise lovely Friday morning.

In case you don’t want to read the full article, I’ll summarize.

Wah. Wah. Wah.

Ok, I’ll be nice(er).

The author goes through lengthy descriptions of why she’s a bad mom. These include such offenses as giving her kids granola bars for breakfast, and digging out toys from the back seat for show and tell because she forgot to pack one.

She then goes on to explain how her aspirations of being a stay at home mom stemmed from her college degree in human development and the horrors she witnessed working in day care centers; runny noses and tired eyes.

She then states her own opinion of mothers who work full time “Why have kids if you don’t want to raise them?”

Then she goes on to explain how she was living her dream life at first. All except no SUV or Gymboree membership (Wah. Wah.) Then things started looking up as soon as her husband started making more money. Benefits of his increased income included highly elevated social status for her which included hanging out with other stay at home moms and buying organic groceries together for dinners that were made from scratch!

Then the bottom of her perfect mommy life falls out when her husband decides he wants a divorce. Suddenly she was forced to become one of those working mom’s that she so judged.

Here’s where I gave her a benefit of the doubt and thought she would next go into how much she changed her tune, but that’s not at all what she did. Instead, she throws herself a pity party and goes into complete martyrdom explaining what a bad mom she is because she doesn’t serve eggs and toast for breakfast her poor son puts in a 9 hour day at daycare. Seriously, where is CPS?!

It doesn’t end there for this poor mom. The guilt just keeps coming. Gone is her dream of her kids coming home to a daddy that wrestles them or walking home from school to a mom that has snacks ready and waiting on the counter. Oh the therapy they’ll surely need later on!

I don’t mean to bash this writer. I’m sure she is a good mom and really loves her children. I’m sure she didn’t write the article intending to be offensive. I don’t think she’s a terrible person. I do think she has her nose in the air and that her new situation hasn’t really humbled her as much as it should have.

Her good “mommy life” she wrote about is very privileged parenting. I’m not saying that its “bad” or “wrong” at all. For the record, I have nothing against Stay at Home Moms, or even those with Gymboree memberships (though I’ll admit I have absolutely no idea what a Gymboree membership even is!). I think if it works for their families and makes them happy, then it truly is best for them and their children. I don’t envy them and I don’t have anything against them. Happy moms=happy kids and everyone wins.

To say that this is the “only” acceptable way to parent is horribly ignorant.

There is no point to debating “which is better” either. Being a working parent, or a SAHP both have their challenges and benefits and I strongly believe in whatever works best for you and your family.

I’m sorry that her marriage didn’t work out, I truly am. I’m sure it was an emotional couple years while everyone adjusted to a new way of life. Since her dream was to be the SUV drivin’, organic shopping mom she described and reality didn’t turn out that way, I’m sure it must have been hard to adjust to a completely different reality. Still, the challenges she describes with such drama tell me she misses her own image of a perfect life more than anything else. That, and she blatantly puts down other moms who don’t live by her own ideals.

Here’s what struck a cord with me. She stated that she judgmentally wondered “why people would have kids to have someone else raise them?”

So apparently, unless you’re lucky enough to marry a man with enough wealth and status that you don’t have to work, you shouldn’t have kids. What about women that do have the means to stay home, but still choose to have careers after kids? They must be completely selfish in her mind.

Her statement goes far beyond offending just dual income families. What about our soldiers? Men and women that make the ultimate sacrifice for us, yet because they’re gone for long periods, they don’t deserve the chance to know the love of a child? What about police, firemen, nurses and doctors that pull long shifts? I think you get where I’m going.

The way she describes the perils of a 9 hour day at daycare are almost laughable to me. My daughter actually puts in a 10 hour day at daycare, I better start saving now for all the therapy she’ll need. Her days consist of eating breakfast, getting a diaper change every hour, napping when she’s tired, reading books, exploring toys and socializing with adults and babies. Not just some cold worker making minimum wage, but someone who really does care for her. I’ve seen the bond they have first-hand.

I’m so sick of this nonsense guilt ridden, judgment that society and other moms put on mothers! And I know the dagger points both ways. SAHM’s are criticized just as much for their choices.

Being a good mom has nothing to do with driving a certain car, buying the right clothes, going on the right play dates and serving up organic foods. It also has nothing to do with life going exactly the way you intended it to go. I know a very young widow that’s now raising 3 kids under 2 all by herself. That was never part of her plan. Does she struggle every single day? Yes. Does that make her a bad mom because her priorities have shifted and she’s living in a perpetual state of managed chaos? No. She’s a great mom.

Is the mom who lives pay check to pay check that often goes hungry a few nights a week so her kids can eat dinner a bad mom? Is she less deserving of the kids she has because of her status in life?

My best memories from my childhood have nothing to do with the things I had or the clothes I wore. They are all about the things I did…yes, even with two working parents. That’s the beauty of children. We should all take a lesson from them. They don’t care if you’re rich or poor, about your race or orientation, if you’re fat or skinny. All they know is if they feel loved. In the summers my dad used to play tag with us every evening when he came home from work. I’ll never forget that. My mom used to show us how to do things with crayons and scrap paper. I couldn’t even tell you what kind of car we had back then. My parents never had a lot of money but I had a very happy childhood, nonetheless.

I think that raising a child is the best gift there is in this world. I feel strongly that every person who desires should be able to experience it. It shouldn’t matter what their lifestyle choices are.

I hope for Erin’s sake that she remarries a rich man so she can live her ideal life again. For the meantime, I think she should humble herself and stop judging other’s parenting choices and deciding that she’s a bad mom because she’s not privileged anymore. Hopefully she is raising her children to be grateful for what they do have, not what they don’t.

I’ll close with a positive message that a friend of mine sent me after we were discussing briefly how we sometimes felt like we couldn’t keep up with it all and felt like it was “never enough”.

http://www.lifewithjack.com/2012/05/1st-corinthians-13-for-moms.html

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! 😉