Wednesday, January 3, 2018

40-ish Weeks of Thoughts

Sooo...this is coming to you post-baby-birthing. I have started this post at least once a week since sometime in September, and I still haven't finished (nor posted) it. So now it's coming to you late, but there are so many thoughts contained in it that I've decided to put it up anyways.

It's essentially an amalgamation of all of the thoughts I've had during pregnancy (and there have been many).

So here goes.

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We are on the home stretch of pregnancy (week 39), and I have finally reached the point where every day I think, 'This kid needs to come today.'

It's not even because I'm sick of being pregnant or any of that - and god knows we still have a shit ton of stuff to do around the house - but I'm getting anxious for the baby because of all the logistics involved with work and health insurance. I won't bore you with the details, just know they're lurking in the back of my mind.

Life is odd right now...it's exciting (what with the baby coming) and we have lots that we've been doing, but it's also mind numbingly rote at times as well (wake up, go to work, come home, etc). We have made it through most of our plans for the month without missing anything...and now it just feels like we're in limbo waiting for the rest of our lives to start!

So much has changed...and yet I feel like nothing has changed at all. Like I'm the exact same person I was nearly nine months ago (but now with a house and two dogs and an alien inside me).

And then I catch a glance of myself in a mirror and it's like whoa buddy, lots has changed.
6 weeks vs 38 weeks!
A glimpse in the mirror...

I try to get up off the couch...

I stand or walk too long...

Or my favorite: I try to bend over and pick something up or tie my shoes. Oy vey. That's the worst because it's like I suddenly have feetsies in my lungs and liver and a butt in my stomach all at the same time. No one simple movement makes me feel more pregnant (and, honestly, limited), than making the mistake of bending over to pick something up. It's all about the squats nowadays.

That said...for the majority of my pregnancy I have felt like myself. Like my own entity, sharing my body with this morphing little thing inside me.

To be honest...for months I've been thinking about how I see and hear some people gush so much about how wonderful it is to be pregnant and they've never felt so alive and in tune with everything they are and have ever hoped to be (hello social media, giving rose tinted glasses)...and I always raise my eyebrows and squint and think, 'Really?'

And it's not that it's not weirdly awesome, because it is...it's just that it's also not this magical feeling of sunshine and roses and rainbows and puppies (okay so for me there are definitely puppies).
Note the yellow paint on Zorra's ear...she's a little too inquisitive sometimes :P
I've been lucky that I've had a really easy, complication free pregnancy. My biggest "problem" with my pregnancy is my due date and hoping the baby comes early. I haven't had any other issues...my weight is fine, I don't have gestational diabetes, my blood pressure has been perfect, I've been able to stay active and work out, I didn't/don't have HG (really, really bad morning sickness), I don't have SPD (pubic dysfunction), our anatomy scan looked great, the baby is super active and has had a healthy heart beat at every appointment...

...knock on wood, but it's honestly been a picture perfect pregnancy. And we're hoping labor and birth and baby's health are the same.

But at the same time, not every woman is so lucky. Some women have really difficult, challenging, and heartbreaking pregnancies , and I've thought about that and felt lucky literally this entire time that we have been so fortunate that everything has been normal for us. And when I see the social media posts where women talk about feeling so at one with everything in the world and their pregnancy being the culmination of everything they'd hoped for in life, I wonder how it makes women who are having a really hard time being pregnant feel when they see that stuff.

I'm over analyzing, for sure...but I wanted to put that into words. It's not that I don't already love my baby or feel proud of my body for growing this little creature, but I want to be real about the fact that I don't feel like this is the most (physically) amazing thing I've ever done. I've basically just had to sit back and let it all happen.

Sure, I've pushed myself out of bed very early to continue working out, or I've gone to the store after work to grocery shop so we could have healthy food when what I really wanted to do is lay on the couch and order pizza (*sidenote...there has been plenty of pizza too*), but those are things I did before I was pregnant too.

Now that I'm at the end of my pregnancy and "slowing down" I find I'm doing much more yoga and stretching than cycling and lifting. I'm letting my body relax and rest and prepare for the marathon that's coming with L&D.

Actually, Anthony would disagree with that statement, haha. I've "slowed down" proper workouts, but we've both been doing a lot around the house to actually get things ready. For me that's meant painting (walls, furniture...) and for him it's been furniture assembly.

My friend Stephanie gave us a changing table, and my mom gave us a bookshelf and I've been painting them gray to match the crib. Here are pictures of some of those things:
The bookshelf is actually finished now, and the table just needs a coat of sealant.
We currently have a holiday weekend for Christmas (out early yesterday and off through Monday) so there's a little more free time to relax and do things around the house. Yesterday I maxed out and did a ton of stuff when we got home from work. I finished putting paint on the changing table, I started to clear out and organize the baby room and the guest room, and now at least two more rooms of our house are more livable. We're still waiting for the dresser for the baby room (once I have that I can put away baby clothes and blankets - yay!) but at least the rest of everything is coming together.

So for anyone who's about to give me the advice "you need to move around to make the baby come"...bitches please. I have not stopped moving this whole pregnancy, I'm not about to stop now!

(So ends the 39 week writing...but wait, there's more!)

In addition...
Here are some other thoughts I've had through my 40 weeks. Little snippets I've written but never gotten around to posting. I'm throwing them in here for posterity's sake, so I can remember and reflect my first full-term pregnancy in the future. Because why not? This is a major life change and I have no doubt that nothing will ever be the same.

Thought 1 - Race Goals
Very few people know this - but I wanted to do my first half Ironman this year (2017). My BIG goal for the year...my A goal, the thing I was going to work hardest towards! I'd targeted Steelhead in August. I was going to push through the winter, spring, and summer to become a better swimmer, and I was going to nail an iron distance (2.4 miles) wetsuit free open water swim.

But then we bought the house and I found out I was pregnant again so there that went! In the end, I gave up pretty much all of my races this year. I did a pick up 5k in April that I never even wrote about, and that pretty much ended my season. I don't even have a gym membership now.

For 2018...I have a home gym setup, and sheer determination. Let's see where it goes.

Thought 2 - Pregnancy Weight Gain
I was telling Anthony how one month - four measly weeks between one doctor's appointment and the next (maybe between 20 and 24 weeks?) my weight ballooned by 10 lbs. I gained 4lbs in literally a week. Until that point, I had been on target with the recommended 1 lb week, feeling good about myself. I'm honestly not sure what caused that gain, it hasn't gone away, and I've gained about 4 lbs in the 8 weeks since...but I didn't like seeing that.

Looking back I realized that week/month was when I stopped running. I was bound to gain weight for that alone, but with pregnancy stacked on top I was fighting a losing battle. Weight gain with pregnancy is inevitable, and should not be avoided anyways!

Overcoming the mental hurdle of gaining weight during pregnancy has been hard, and I haven't mastered it at all. But a healthy pregnancy and baby are the two most important things in my life right now.

Thought 3 - Working Out and Running
All of pregnancy has been a mental battle in a way. What can I do vs what should I do. It has been a lesson in how to push myself and when to recognize the need to step back. Like these difficulties:
  • I ran the Ragnar at 11 weeks. Holy ballsacks. Amazing (hi Team 38!) but not really something I'd recommend.
  • Marathon training while pregnant was hard. Finding the motivation and energy was hard, and ultimately deciding not to do it was a mental battle I was not prepared for. 
  • How much more I hate the heat and humidity, and how intolerant I am to it.
  • How hard it was to keep my heart rate steady (I just wanted to run faster!!) while still seeing my pace slow.
  • How I didn't think it was physically possible for me to run more than 2 miles in a row without walking (but I did!). And then I didn't. Running was a rollercoaster of emotion regarding my capabilities.
  • Peeing right before I left my house, and having to pee again in a quarter mile. Peeing after mile 4, and then having to pee right away again. Peeing, and then 10 seconds into a run realizing my baby was bouncing on my bladder. Probably having a total ball, like it's in a bouncy house.
    • Note: This only ever got worse as time went on. Pee, stand up from toilet, have to pee again. Thanks, kid.
  • And while I wouldn't technically say I miss attempting three-minute planks, I do miss no-brainer ab workouts, and the eventual realization that ab workouts couldn't really be a thing. Yoga helped keep me in some semblance of shape...but it's gonna be a long road back to real core and back strength once the baby is here.
Mostly I learned that...things can wait. I have my whole life ahead of me. If I don't run a certain race or if I alter my workout to better suit my body and energy level for the day, that's okay. And I'm proud of myself for being able to adjust.

Thought 4 - The Things You Can't Say
I had an easy pregnancy, but for the majority of it I felt like I wasn't allowed to say that. Why? Because everyone responds with "Wait until you're further along!"

Well...sitting at almost-40 weeks I'll go ahead and say I'm still feeling great. I'm tired (because I get up every 30 seconds at night to pee), but pregnancy has been good to me. I'm ready to meet my baby, but not because I'm "done" being pregnant. My body is swollen and walking too much hurts - I could do without both of those things...BUT I'll still say this whole pregnancy thing is okay. It's been easy for me.

So to everyone who tried to tell me that pregnancy would get that much worse and I'd just want to be done once I reached ## weeks...I'm still waiting. #thingsyoushouldnotsaytopregnantwomen

Go ahead now, "Just wait until you're in labor" blah blah blah...

Thought 5 - Yes You Can vs "Just Wait"
I feel like this is worth noting because it showcases how pregnant women are talked to. (Note: This actually goes along well with Thought 4!)

Through my entire pregnancy I've indicated the desire to get back to racing. Granted, I haven't gone about shouting the desire from the rooftops, but from the handful of people I've talked to about it, all but one have indicated skepticism at the goal (excepting Anthony and my mom). In all this time I have only had one person respond by saying, "You will do it."

One person.

It honestly meant more to me than anything because of all the negativity I'd had until that point. It's frustrating for positive emotional and physical goals to be met with skepticism and borderline negativity. So maybe if there's a pregnant person in your life...just don't do that.

I've stayed active my whole pregnancy. I ran until it was too uncomfortable to do so, cycled until 38ish weeks, and lifted until about 37. I've done so because I wanted to stay fit and prepare for labor, but I can tell you that the entire time I had people saying things like, "Oh just wait", basically telling me that once I was 'further along' I'd lose the motivation or desire.

What I don't think people realize is that my baby is my motivation. My health for my baby trumps feeling tired in the morning. I've slowed down, but I never stopped. Plenty of women don't - I'm not alone in this.

Basically, I think we need to start encouraging pregnant women to pursue goals to stay healthy, fit, and active rather than telling them they'll give up 'when it gets harder'. We need to be supportive and encouraging of women in general...and pregnancy has taught me the necessity of that.

And that's all of it.
My lingering and meandering thoughts from pregnancy.

Now for the coming days...I'm terrified...but at the same time I can't wait.

See you soon, Baby M!


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Monday, December 18, 2017

Year of Running 2017

Though I did much less running than I planned to this year, I thought it would still be fun to do a 2017 "Year of Running" post. So here goes!

Best Race Experience
I raced three races this year. The Lincoln Presidential Half, the Run for Refugees (which I never even wrote about) and Ragnar. The best? I hope it's no surprise...Ragnar beat out the other two for best, and it truly is a race experience!

Best Run
My single best run of the year...that's really hard. I mostly had hard runs all year because of my body changing with the first pregnancy and miscarriage, and then with this pregnancy. But I would say the very early morning runs I had with Token in the early summer were the best. Just the two of us in the quiet of the forest preserve...such a good way to start those days.

Best new piece of running gear
Ummm I haven't even used it yet, but my Ragnar teammeates went in on a BOB Ironman stroller for Anthony and I for our baby shower. That. That is the best new piece of running gear for sure. It will be used a-plenty in 2018!

Best running advice you've received this year
Not specifically running related, but races in general. When I was trying to decide whether or not to do the Lake Zurich tri and stressing about the bike course not being closed (I would have been 17 weeks pregnant at the time of the race). Someone said to me, "Triathlon will always be there." It made it a lot easier to focus on what was really important - a safe and healthy pregnancy - and give up the race. And it's true. Races aren't going anywhere and I'll be able to do them for the rest of my life.

Most inspirational runner
Shalane Flanagan killed it at the NYC marathon, and I feel like every runner in this country is astounded by her, so I want to say that. Later she said it took her 7 years to achieve her goal of winning NYC. That's pretty amazing and inspiring - monumental goals need to be chipped away at steadily, and the improvement you want to see will happen over time, in spite of setbacks.

But really, during a year when I achieved very little race-wise, it's been inspiring to see other people tackle their own goals and make their own improvements. And I don't mean world-class athletes, I mean every day people that I follow on Instagram! So I guess I'll pull a Time magazine circa 2006...and say "You".

Favorite picture for a run or race this year
Hands down this one - starting my last leg at Ragnar:


Race experience you would repeat in a heartbeat
Ragnar! We already have 8 team members signed up for next year's Ragnar Chicago as well. I can't wait!!

If you could sum up your whole year in a couple of words, what would they be?
Did Not Start (DNS). And not in a bad way. I learned a lot about myself and my body this year, as well as how to adjust goals and expectations when my body isn't cooperating. I DNS'd every event after June, and I had to learn to be okay with that. Life is changing and learning to adapt mentally has been a huge thing for me since June.


And there you go! Thanks for reading!


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Saturday, December 16, 2017

Approaching 30...

I can't believe it's already the middle of December. I turn 30 tomorrow, and it's honestly crazy to think about all the things that have happened this year.

I mean...we bought a house.
We got a dog.
I ran a Ragnar!
We got another dog.

And oh yeah, we're pregnant. And this baby is coming soon. Like really freaking soon.

We're ready to meet our baby...but that's about all that's ready! Our house is still a total mess (#thingsIvebeensayingsincewemovedin). Here's a picture of our guestroom, where we've been storing all of the baby stuff:

That's a lot of stuff, right? And honestly....I have no idea when this room will be clean, if ever. Although two of those boxes have been removed since I took this picture, because my cousin Jennie came over (with her husband) to deliver our crib and mattress and show me how to install the car seats, which meant the car seat boxes are no longer in this room. But the crib and mattress (and a changing table and a bookshelf) are in the garage to make up for it...while we finish painting/before we start putting furniture in the baby room. Which is actually coming along quite nicely, if slowly:
We're actually further along than this now, thanks to some good time spent in there yesterday!
Anyways. This weekend marks 30 years on this planet. For today, my mom and I are planning a low key day out just wandering around the mall, followed by dinner at a nice seafood place with Anthony. Normally I'd be planning to see the newest Star Wars movie, but if we actually buy tickets that's like tempting the baby to come.

My actual 30th birthday (tomorrow) includes a planned trip to Medieval Times with Anthony's family...and again, I feel like having prepurchased tickets to something is tempting fate (see previous paragraph!) but I'm also hopeful that we'll actually be able to go and enjoy it and not be in the hospital instead. And the good news is that even if we can't go, we can use the tickets another time! But I'd much rather go with the whole fam :P

Really, that's all the update I have for now. My mom will be here in a few hours to make us brunch, and until then I plan on doing things completely associated with getting the baby room ready (like painting some furniture and making stencils and stuff). This is the weekend we wanna start putting furniture in the nursery, so we're making moves!!

If you wanna see more of the day to day and what's going on, don't forget to follow me on Instagram!
(Really this is just my way of tricking you into looking at pictures of my dogs :P)


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