Why we need running more than ever!

Last year I remember watching the news on the day of the Boston Marathon in horror and disbelief. 

 A lot has happened in a little over a year for the world as a whole, and for me personally as well.

 There has been a media buzz around the famous bandit runners in the 2014 Boston marathon who copied a girl’s bib she posted on Instagram and used it to run in the race and even accept medals.  The response from the general public has ranged from strong defense of the “harmless” act to outrage and disgust, especially given the context of this year’s emotional race. 

 One of my friends created a facebook group “Runners Support Group” and started a conversation among other runners asking what their opinions were on the matter.  As expected, people’s opinions were varied, but one girls comment inspired my whole post today!

 She was shaming us for even talking about something so frivolous when there are much more important issues the world faces today like harsher punishments for rape and child abuse.  “Move on to something more important people” she said.  I found her comment to be reeking with unearned self-righteousness.  I mean…its “Runners Support Group” if you want to discuss harsher punishments for the atrocities in the world, start your own facebook page and leave ours alone!  Why the need to take time out of her presumably much more important life, filled with constant servitude to shame us all for talking about such a trivial topic?

 Those first thoughts aside (and I couldn’t help myself but ask her why she felt the need to comment), it got me thinking about why it hit such a nerve with me.  I guess because it really bothers me when people think running isn’t important?  Then I thought more about it and remembered a time not too long ago when I had those same thoughts and feelings…and not coincidentally, running of all things is what snapped me back into reality.

 So why is running important?  Isn’t it just another narcissistic way to worship yourself by attaining an ideal physique and showing off for everyone?

 It may appear that way to those that do not run, never have run, or even to some runners (or maybe unfortunately they DO know someone who runs and it has left them with this impression about ALL runners).  There was even an article recently in the New York Times(?) about why runners feel the need to show off and put bumper stickers on their car and the likes. 

Through my 17 years as a runner, I have definitely seen much more of the good, than the bad.

Running gives so much more than it takes.  The obvious health benefits most people are aware of.  Running burns lots of calories, it improves your cardiovascular system, helps you retain more muscle as you age thus slowing the decrease in metabolism that leads to creeping weight gain over the years.  Then there’s also this:  Running changes lives. 

 Some people may think about the man who is obese and has a multitude of health problems and starts running and loses all this extra weight and ends up happier and healthier.  Yes, that absolutely happens and it is a good example of why running is important, but that is just one example.

 What you don’t think about as often is the victim of domestic abuse, who finally escapes with her children from the evil hands of her husband and still feels powerless and afraid.  There are running groups that help these women get shoes and running clothes and coach them and see the changes that they make with every step.  With each mile they gain a little bit of confidence.  They feel a little more empowered and are eventually able to take their lives back and end up coaching other women to do the same.  It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

 Or the inner city kid who has been taking care of himself since he was old enough to remember.  He’s scoured the dumpsters for food when he’s been hungry.  He has the option to join into the street life, but someone provides him with shoes and develops his talent and believes in him.  He is able to go to college and get out of that lifestyle and then give back to other kids like him.

 Our how about our culture which constantly teaches young girls that anorexic models with no muscle or body fat is the idea?  Then you have a program like Girls on the Run that teaches them to love their bodies and nourish them instead. 

 I was tearing up reading an article in Runner’s World about little people with dwarfism and how two of them were going to be the first to cross the finish line at the 2013 Boston Marathon.   All the struggles they went through to get there, only to not be able to cross that finish line because a couple of losers decided to commit murder.

 There’s the One Run Fund that was created in the aftermath of such a tragedy that ended up providing prosthetics for those that lost limbs (along with so much more) on that fateful day so that these people could walk and run again and take back some of what was lost.

 There are so many numerous charities that are supported through races.  Too many other examples of how running changes people’s lives in a good way to list them all.  So I’ll talk now about what it has done for me!

 Last summer before my daughter was 6 months old, a co-worker and friend who was also a father to three children under the age of two passed away suddenly.  He was a good person.  I battled with so many questions.  Why was he taken away from his family when there are child abusers out there allowed to live?  Why was I here and not him?  It could have been me, it could have been anyone.  

 Suddenly the things I had been struggling with internally (lack of sleep, my running suffering, trying to balance work and being a first time mom and keeping myself healthy) seemed to be of little importance.  I struggled with it for a while.  I did continue to run during this time but I dropped my mileage considerably and told myself I was only doing it for the health benefits at that point.

 Running actually snapped me out of this thought process.  I was having a hard time dealing with my emotions over the whole thing.  I had a lot of anger, a lot of fear (because nothing was certain) and I was carrying around this overwhelming sense of guilt.  I felt like because I was still here, I had to appreciate every. Single. Minute.  If I felt myself starting to complain about something mundane I immediately felt guilty for it and felt like I could never get mad at my husband, especially over trivial things and as a result I was totally bottling everything up and it was making me crazy inside.  I finally went for this run where everything was quiet and I was finally able to feel my own emotions and deal with them instead of pushing them away as unimportant.  I came back and felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders.  I can’t say it fixed everything…I still struggled for a while, and to be honest…I still do sometimes.  But the more I ran and allowed myself to realize it IS important and WHY its important, the better I was able to deal with the really tough stuff in life. 

 Running was there for me a few years ago when I almost lost my dad to a heart attack.  I remember those few days when we were taking it all one day at a time because he certainly was not out of the woods yet.  I remember going through the motions, talking matter of factly with doctors, helping take care of my mom and feeling numb through a lot of it.  When I ran and it was just me and the streets I couldn’t hide from my feelings.  In this age of thousands of tv channels and computers and smartphones and all these other distractions that allow us to stay numb, running and being alone with yourself and your thoughts is more important than ever.

 I remember doing a 10 mile race that Sunday (My dad had a major heart attack in the “widow maker” on Saturday) and thinking “Why am I even here?  I should be with my dad, or I should be helping my mom…or, or…”  But I had told myself that I was going to win an award and bring it to my dad and tell him that I ran it for him and that I wanted him to BE THERE at my next race.  I ran better that day than I had run in years.  I remember ticking off the miles, pushing through the pain, thinking about my dad and allowing the pain throughout my body because it felt good to FEEL!  After I crossed the finish line my husband was there and I remember as soon as I saw him I ran over to him and just started weeping in his arms.  The run had brought out all the emotion that I was scared to face. 

 I’ve seen the changes in people that have become runners.  They generally become healthier, happier and find other ways to live a better lifestyle.  Its not for everyone.  I get that.  For those that have found it and love it, it is unbelievably important. 

 If you ever have the opportunity to watch a race, and see the people that bring up the rear, I suggest you do so.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a 5K, half marathon, marathon, whatever distance.  You will see something amazing.  You will see people that you would never pick out as a runner pushing themselves, pain on their faces to that finish line and realize how its so much more than crossing a spray painted line in the road.  You will see cancer survivors that have taken their lives back and see the people supporting them with tears in their eyes because there was a very dark time in the past when they never thought this day would be possible.  You will see fathers and mothers and children and people missing limbs or running with a huge limp.  For me, its more inspiring to watch these people running a race than the elites who are paid to show up. 

 Our society seems to have a tech obsession where we are always connected, yet I keep reading we are more isolated than ever.  Not the runners!  I see couples out to dinner, both of them glued into their smart phones and find more often than not its easier for me to text someone or send an email than pick up the phone and call them.  When you’re running with people you are forced into conversation.  Maybe that’s some of the reason why some of my running friends also end up becoming some of my best friends.  We get to know each other below the surface of facebook statuses and Instagram photos and talk about the things no one else sees. 

 Because of the way running unites, I’ve become friends with people that otherwise I never would have known, or at least not in the way I do today.  I’ve run with people with completely different political views than my own, people with completely different types of jobs, people with much more money than me, people with less money than me, people who are educated and uneducated, people who are slower than me, people who are faster than me, people who inspire me and people that I inspire, it doesn’t matter!  We have running in common if nothing else!  And believe me, to keep a conversation going with someone you just met for over an hour takes a deep level of human interaction and sometimes more compassion than we’re ever forced to deal with in our normal daily lives.

 Frank Shorter just recently opened up about the child abuse he endured at the hands of his father and how he coped with it through running.  He said he felt like he finally needed to speak, after all these years of silence in case it helped one kid who was going through the same thing.  

 Most of the runners I know are kind, happy, compassionate people that find true joy in helping others.  I think we need much MORE of people like this in the world!

 So there you have it.  That is the long version of why running is so important.  I could make it even longer if I really wanted to, but I think most people will get the point.  Keep running friends, and lifting up those who run and those who don’t around you.  I know that I’ve done a lot more good for humanity through running than I ever could have done on my own!  

And since running a race has become such a great way to raise money for great causes…I’ve been researching hosting a virtual run for a friend that I ran with in high school.  Her daughter that was born about 6 months after my daughter was recently diagnosed with SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy).  Right now, there is no cure.  There are plenty of hopeful clinical trials going on and my friend needs help to pursue these things for her beautiful baby girl.  As another mother, I know there is NOTHING a mother wouldn’t do for her children.  If there is hope out there, we’re going to go after it! 

I’ve been collecting some info on how to get started in this.  If anyone has any experience they could share with me it would be much appreciated.  I’m thinking maybe a facebook page is the best way to start.  Trying to figure out how to handle people paying.  Leave a comment if you have some info! 

The First Year!

I wrote this a couple months ago when Alex turned one but life has been a little too chaotic to find the time to post it with pictures and stuff, so here it is!

I have a one year old!

It has been such an amazing year!  If I could summarize all that it was the best way to do it would be a silent film with all these little captured memories playing on a projector.  I’ll do my best with some photos, but the sum of all these memories creates something so beautiful its very hard to put it into words.  I’ll try my best.

Becoming a mom has been by far, the very best, most hardest thing I have ever done in my life.  I stand here today, a year later in a body I barely recognize, a face with more wrinkles, yet a fierce strength more intense than I ever knew I had.

The only thing that’s been easy in this journey has been loving her.  Cameras have captured a small fraction of the moments.  You see the two smiling parents in the hospital, holding their love in their arms.  You can see the joy, but you can’t feel the fierce love, the fear, the struggles.  You don’t capture with a lens the pain of a woman who had just had a c-section and had her infant taken away from her while she vomits and shakes alone.  The “referred pain in her shoulders that the narcotics she’s on can’t seem to touch.  You can’t see the worry she feels for the infant that she carried lovingly for 9 months in her womb that is now empty and she has nothing to do but wait.  The joy as the baby is finally placed back in her arms and gets to nurse for the very first time.

So here goes.  My first year as a mom.

That first night in the hospital, beyond exhausted but can’t sleep a wink because I just want to stare at my new beautiful baby because nothing else in the world will ever come close to this moment ever again and I don’t want to miss a single second.  The first diaper change that happened at midnight.   Two new parents struggled in the darkness to figure out what to do.  Just how long does it take 2 new parents to change a poopy diaper?  About 20 minutes.

The next few days, amidst all the visitors I try to get the hang of nursing and end up with bloody and bruised nipples and continue to smile lovingly as everyone else wants to hold my baby.  The craving for a shower when the nurses won’t let me when more and more people keep dropping by and I’m feeling so gross.

The first time I witnessed my baby writhing in pain and couldn’t help her.  The looks on the nurses faces when I l burst into tears while watching them trying to take samples of my baby’s blood and see the bruises on her tiny little hands from all the previous attempts.  My sweet baby red and screaming in pain.  The first of many moments that truly broke my heart.  The tears that won’t stop and the realization that I  would go through the pains of labor every day if it would just to take away this pain for her.

The absolute joy when the doctor tells you that your baby does not have your infection and that you are able to take her home after 5 long days in the hospital.

That first car ride home when Tim and I exchanged glances in disbelief that there was a baby in the car with us.  To know that we were both thinking “What do we do now?”

That first night at home when I slept in 5-10 minute increments while Tim and I took turns putting the pacifier back into the her mouth wondering how we’re ever going to continue this insanity.  The notes we kept in our little notebook recording every feeding, which side of the breast, the length of feeding, the number of wet and dirty diapers.   The feeling of pride when the doctor said he is impressed with my baby’s weight gain.  The frustration and the worry when she screams and screams and nothing will soothe her and I can’t shake the feeling like something isn’t right.  The desperate phone calls to the doctor.  The elimination diets.  The medication and the waiting.

The hours and minutes and seconds both day and night of walking all around the house with a crying baby, wishing someone were there to tell me what to do.  Feeling guilty that I don’t have the “mom” instinct because Ican’t figure out how to calm my own baby.  The advice everyone gave that I tried and the disappointment I felt in myself when it didn’t work.  The guilt I felt over not being happier.  The feeling like I was all alone.  The moments when I cried silently because I realized the days of carefree spontaneity are over, and the guilt I felt over that sadness for such an insignificant thing.

The exhaustion.  The bickering.  Then that first actual real smile that took my breath away.  The quiet moments when she’s nursing and holding my hand.  Those diaper changes at 2 am that go through 3 diapers at once.  The desperation to leave the house alone and have some time to myself that results in just hurryingto the grocery store and then having my milk leak when the cashier can’t check me out fast enough.

That very first run.  How it felt so very awkward and unnatural at first and then after a few minutes I got right back into my groove and it felt soooo good.  The moment when I returned home and stood on the stoop and took a deep breath before going back in.  The relief I felt that I did miss my baby, even after only a couple miles.

When I finally felt like I was starting to get the hang of this parenting thing!  Then I went back to work.  The way I enjoyed going back to work and worried that made me a bad mom.  The way I watched the clock, counting down the hours until 5 pm when I could go home and see her again.  The way I checked the daycare monitors online at least 30 times a day those first few weeks.  The way I worried when she got that first cold.  The way I watched the clock tick away in the middle of the night until morning.  The coffee.  The pain relievers.  The hours spent in the private little lactation room pumping away.  The way I began to dread the night because I knew that I wouldn’t get any sleep.  The long drive home from work when I would blast my music and try not to fall asleep.  The full body pain I started having after months of extreme sleep deprivation.  The fear of making mistakes at work because I couldn’t seem to ever remember what the heck I was working on 5 minutes ago.  The bickering that has more to do with lack of sleep than anything else.

The big, wet, slobbery kisses.  The giggles.  The soft sound of her sweet voice.  The way her face lights up when I walk in the room.  The heaviness in my heart every day when we part.  The way she stroked my hair when she was nursing and I treasured it because it was mine hers alone.  No one else will ever get to experience that with her.

When I got teary eyed packing away all the 3 month clothes.  All the days I brought her to the grocery store in a baby carrier because I just wanted to keep her close.  The sweet way she looks when sleeping.  The soft feel of her skin.  Those first couple teeth popping up that are the most adorable thing ever until the next couple come in.

Her budding personality.  The way she trusts me.

The tired eyes.  The fullest heart.

The quiet grief I felt after losing a friend who was also a father.  The way my heart hurt for him in every moment of joy I had with my baby because he can no longer hold his.  The way I felt happy and so very sad in the exact same moment as I tried to soak up all the joy and love around me and feel the bitter sting of that same joy removed from a friend.

Wishing I could to slow down time.  Suddenly cherishing those wakings every hour during the night because I’m alive and  holding my baby.  The nursing sessions at 1 in the morning when no one else saw the salty tears running down my cheeks, and the few that wet her pajamas.

The smiles and the happy tone of in my voice when I was feeling so sad.

The long drive to the emergency room when she was really sick.  The waiting.  The way she looked so small sitting up in the emergency room bed.  The cute, innocent look on her face that seemed to say “help me feel better momma.  I just want to smile and play.”

The panic in my heart when the fever just won’t come down.  The way that snuggling in my chest seemed to be the only place she could sleep.  The feeling that I would cut off my right arm to make her feel better.  The desperate, silent prayers at all hours of the day and night.  The day that she finally looks up and smiles again.  The first time she chugs down a bottle after almost 24 hours without any liquids.  The way I wanted to jump up and cheer the first time she peed again.

The unplanned days missed from work.  The stress.  The fear.

The way my heart hurt when I let her cry herself to sleep for the first time.  The way I hated myself and all the moments that I “almost” went in there because I couldn’t can’t stand it, only to hear her settle down and talk myself out of it.

The night she finally slept through the night and I snuck into her room 5 times to make sure she was ok.

That hard night the first time I slept away.

The days that everything seems right and there is no place I would rather be than at home with my family just doing nothing.  Watching her discover her world.  Just sitting there quietly and watching her contently picking at toys, trying out different things and looking up at me every few minutes just to make sure I’m still there.

The first time she crawls and never looks back.

The day that she decides she prefers a bottle to my warm breasts and I cried, realizing that those moments ended far too early and without warning.

More pumping.  Time spent fretting about and worrying over my supply.  Tears over spilled milk.

Wondering if she’s eating enough, sleeping enough, napping enough, and pooping enough, but not too much.

Spending vacation days cleaning vomit and doing laundry, disinfecting and sleeping very little.

Feeling guilty because I don’t make my own baby food with organic fruits and vegetables.  Feeling guilty because my own diet could use some serious upgrades. .

Days without exercise, without showers.  Nights without sleep.

The amazing emotion that courses through my heart when she sees me at daycare and walks over to me with a huge grin because she is so happy to see me.

Giving advice to friends with newborns and realizing that this is an unrecognized parenting milestone.  Being able to communicate so much without talking by using facial expressions and hand gestures with Tim.  The high fives because we’ve become a team and the sense of pride we feel when a challenge arises and we look at each other like “We’ve got this!”

Finally starting to realize we eventually want to do this all over again someday.

Food on the floor.  Food on the walls.  Food in her ears and her hair.

Temper tantrums that erupt, just when we were starting to feel like we’ve got things figured out.

Realizing that I actually remain pretty calm in stressful situations these days.

Still feeling like I have no idea what the #@^* I’m doing sometimes.  The deep sighs that say “I just want to have more than 7 minutes to scarf down my dinner.”

Being in “Go” mode from 5:45 am until 8:20 every night and then not having any mental capacity left for anything.

Having to email Tim at work because it’s the best way to communicate important things since you just won’t remember or have the energy for it later.

Finally, taking all of these moments and summing them up brings you more joy than you could have ever expected in life.  I’m sure this next year will bring more challenges and more rewards with our sweet girl.  She really has become this happy little person full of energy.  Its been a great year!!!

Not the most flattering pic post delivery, but its real.

 

This is what it was like most of the time…no make-up, casual, snuggle time!

 

Ah, the days of extremem sleep deprivation and stealing a few minutes of shut eye on a beach.

The little sweetie that made it all worth it!

 

Chicken Pox!!!  Something you never expect your 6 month old to get these days…

A lot changes in a year…

 

And I wouldn’t change a thing!  Thanks for sharing this incredible journey with us!

Happy Valentines Day!

So since I blogged about my pulling out of my spring marathon, I’ve not been too inspired to write about anything.  I actually started a draft for a post about how I realized I wasn’t going to make my goal of breastfeeding for a year without any supplementing.  I didn’t finish it because I did what I have been doing every time I think I’m not going to make it and get really pissed off, dig in my heels and start MAKING it happen.  So a couple weeks ago I was pumping about 7 oz a day less than she was drinking.  I had one, just one freezer bag left of about 6 oz so you do the math.  Well instead of conceding, I went all insane Jane and looked for every little thing I could eat or drink to boost my supply without taking Fenugreek (it gave my daughter horrible diarrhea, though it did work) and you know what…it worked!  All was well with the world again.  I started to believe I was going to make it.

 Here I am, 14 days away from the 1 year mark.  I’ve been drinking dark beer every night, drinking Gatorade after EVERY run, no matter how short it is, putting brewer’s yeast in my yogurt and oatmeal every day, taking all sorts of vitamins and minerals, not taking pain relievers except acetaminophen…making sure I stick to my pumping schedule, basically doing EVERYTHING possible to just get through the next couple weeks.

 I was actually starting to get a little bit ahead!  I would feel so excited when at the end of the night I finished pumping and realized I had 2 or 3 extra oz to carry over into the next day!  And then one day, I had just enough for the next day…and then the following night I was short.  I was pissed.  I felt like a failure.  I was still doing EVERYTHING the same!  Why?!  Why was I getting less?!  So I pulled that last 6 oz out of the freezer and made a snarky “poor me” comment to my husband.  God bless him!  The man responded perfectly.  He said “Its ok.  You’ve done so great!  I looked it up and the percentage of mom’s that actually make it to a full year is in the single digits.  I’m really proud of you!” 

 I knew what the issue was.  All I had to do was look at a calendar.  I was ovulating, and since my period returned at 10 months post partum, my supply will completely tank during the few days I’m ovulating and then again when I get my period.  I also allowed myself to take the pain reliever naproxen, I’ll get into that in a minute.

 So there’s that.  My choices were to either 1.) Just give my daughter what I was able to pump and hope that she eats enough solid food to make up the difference, or 2.) start to supplement with formula.

 I might be more willing to just let her make up the calories in food if she wasn’t such a finicky eater.  Some days she eats great, other days she eats two bites and just wants my milk.  I worry about her nutrition a lot.  Mostly about her iron.  Breastfed babies are more at risk for iron deficiency because breast milk does not contain a lot of iron like formula.  If they eat enough meat or fortified cereals, great they should be fine but Ms. Alex will no longer eat fortified cereals and she sometimes eats her meat, sometimes not.  And there is NOTHING wrong with formula!  Some of these breast feeding pushers seem to act like formula is poison or unclean in some way and since I work for a company that makes it, I know that is completely false!  Still, doctors and scientists agree that breast is best so I’ve been putting a ton of pressure on myself to make it work. 

 Anyway, back to the pain relievers.  So it seems like since December, our family has been sick with various things (especially Alexandra) pretty much non stop.  I’ve had so many doctors appointments and work at home days in the last two months, and I have a new boss that I can’t seem to get a read on yet.  So every time I’ve had to send emails “coming in late today…”, “working at home today” I’ve STRESSED, WORRIED, PANICKED! 

 So when my own wisdom tooth started to hurt several weeks ago, I just dealt with it…telling myself I would get in to see the dentist when things slowed down and it was more convenient. 

 This is the cold, hard, truth.  I haven’t been to the dentist in so long, I literally couldn’t even estimate or guess as to when my last appointment was.  Yes, that is terrible, I know.  I’m 30 years old though and never had a cavity so I kind of thought it was one of those things in life I could just put off until it was more convenient.

 Well, the pain in my tooth did not get better.  It started to get worse.  Much worse.  Alex got ANOTHER ear infection this week so once again, I had to go to doctors appointments and work from home.  Tooth pain is slowly getting worse.  Then, I’m sleeping in my daughter’s room the other night to monitor her cough and make sure it doesn’t turn into croup and my tooth wakes me up at 2 in the morning with searing pain.  Its not just in my tooth anymore, its in my whole jaw, including the jaw up above it and now I have a huge lump at the roof of my mouth that is throbbing.  And all I could think about was my dwindling milk supply and how pain relievers make it worse so I layed there until 2:45 am trying to get back to sleep when I finally cried ‘uncle’ and went downstairs and took some naproxen!

 If you’re already thinking I’m crazy and stupid at this point, I wholeheartedly agree with you.  I have a problem because even when I’m know I’m being stupid I somehow have come so far and can’t stop!  I never fell back asleep that night, and its pathetic that it wasn’t because of my child for once but because of a toothache!!!!  WTF?!  Seriously, WTF??!!

 I told my husband about this and he seemed concerned.  I continued to take pain relievers that day and felt guilty about it because of my milk.  Later that night after dinner I was in so much pain I couldn’t really even have a conversation with him after we put Alex to bed.  My jaw pain was causing a headache and the pain relievers just weren’t working.  So once again, God bless that man!  He said “You need to call the dentist tomorrow morning at 8 am when they open and you need to get in and get this looked at before the weekend.”  I knew he was right.

 So I find out I have an infection from my wisdom tooth that was spreading in my mouth.  I got a prescription for antibiotics but the dentist told me was only a temporary solution.  I needed to have the tooth removed.  I kind of suspected this already so it was hardly a surprise, but still…having it confirmed was sort of a huge slap in the face.  He also recommended that I just get all 4 out at the same time because another one was impacted and the other 2 had cavities.  Cavities!  But I’ve never had a cavity!!!  Major blows to my ego today.

 So as I’m driving to the pharmacy to fill my prescription and I’m sweating and feeling nervous about the fact that its almost 11 am and I’m still not at work yet, I had a breakthrough.  WTF am I doing to myself?! 

 I haven’t run for a couple days because I took time to take Alex to her appointments and felt the need to work through my lunch breaks to make up the time and I’m just pushing all my needs further and further out and I’m not heading in the right direction.  So I told myself to breath.  I realized if I was feeling stressed out about taking time from work to take care of myself and my family, I should just take half a vacation day so that it was at least my own time and I could stop stressing out about it.  Yeah, I only get 2 weeks of vacation a year so even taking a half a day for something as sucky as a toothache is really shitty.  But once I made that decision it was like this huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and I could relax.  There was also a Valentines party at Alex’s daycare in the afternoon that I really wanted to go to but felt like I definitely couldn’t because of all the time I was already missing from work.  Now I could still do that and not feel bad about it!

 So when I pulled into the pharmacy drive through and they told me it would be 20 minutes to fill my script, I said “ok” and drove right over to the grocery store where I bought some purified water for formula (because this morning I pumped 6 oz to my normal 10 oz) and picked up some beer for Tim and I this weekend.  I got into the check out and the lady in front of me was taking her time in the self check out putting her groceries in bags and forgot her receipt.  I realized for the first time in a LONG time that I was not in a hurry at all and was not the least bit impatient with her.  It was a nice feeling.  She realized that I was behind her and apologized to me and I told her very honestly to “take her time, she had done nothing wrong”.  Probably since I was so nice, she smiled at me and said “I’m just enjoying a shopping trip without kids for once!”  I smiled a true smile and even laughed out loud a bit and said “I am doing the exact same thing!” 

 I realized in that moment something about us moms that puts us in a whole new category, separate from anyone else.

 We constantly give everything we have, every bit of ourselves every single day.  We push through when we are sick, tired, had a bad day, and we do it with a smile.  Our kids will never appreciate it until maybe someday they have kids of their own, and they shouldn’t.  I would never want Alex to feel guilt over anything I’ve done for her.  I do it because I choose to, I do it out of love, not for appreciation.  Our own needs and wants always come last because we chose for it to be that way because we love those around us so much more than we love ourselves. 

 I’ve realized my happiness, my self worth has become completely tied to how my daughter is feeling, my husband is feeling, my work is getting done.  I need to change that.  Look at what happens when you let yourself go neglected for too long.  It blows up in your face! 

 I need to get my hair cut.  I’ve been wanting to get it cut for a while but it seems there just never is enough “time” that I want to sacrifice in order to make this happen.  So this weekend, I’m going to do something that I have been dreading and putting off since Alex was born.  I’m going to give her a little bit of formula and hope that it doesn’t cause her horrible diarrhea, even though it will be very hard to tell since she’s currently on round 2 of antibiotics for her ear infection.  I’m sad that I’m going to do this, but at the same time also kind of relieved because it takes off a lot of pressure.   Oh, life is funny, isn’t it? 

 Anyway, so I’m choosing to be positive about all this.  I’m choosing to be proud that I made it 11.5 months of breastfeeding my daughter without supplementation with formula.  I’m choosing to see today’s experience as a huge lesson for myself instead of a huge failure.  I’m choosing to start making my needs more of a priority.

 I’m also choosing to wish all the mothers out there a happy Valentines Day because you deserve to be appreciated on this day for all you do for all those you love.  I know you always put yourself last and that you would do anything for those you love.  Some people can say that, but I know you actually mean it.  I know that you do the things you do out of pure love for someone else.  No matter how you may feel about yourself, I think you are amazing and you are beautiful.  I know you are a kind of strong that no one else sees.  So while this “holiday” is typically for lovers, I think it should also be for mothers because there is no other love more pure than yours. 

 Happy Valentines Day, from another mother!

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!!

 

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!!