Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Meeting Miss Hannah

Dear Hannah,

You're over two months old now! I don't even begin to know where the time has gone, but I do know that every second has been worth it. I've been thinking a lot about your entrance into the world lately and finally wanted to get it written down. The only way it seemed to make sense or come out right, was for me to talk to you about it because it's OUR story.

We went through a lot during the time you were growing in my belly- particularly during an eventful third trimester. After the second preterm labor stay at Strong, I had no idea just how soon I would be meeting you.

The week leading up to you being born started out pretty normal, even with just getting out of the hospital again. I was feeling better than I had in a few weeks, and I continued to work at the office, prepare things at home and go on with life as normal as possible. I honestly thought that I had a few more weeks before I would get to hold you.

Wednesday things started to turn again though. The temperature outside had jumped and carrying twenty extra pounds didn't make the heat any more comfortable. I stayed home from work Wednesday, and tried to relax as you kicked me like crazy. Thursday rolled around and the heat was still draining me but I managed to scrape together a full work day and some errands but was down for the count by the time the evening rolled around. You were kicking downward so hard that I thought you were going to break my water with your foot, or just make me pee my pants. Neither happened, but it wasn't for lack of your trying.

We were really excited for the weekend ahead. Your Aunt Lauri was in town for your baby shower with your dad's family on Saturday, and Heather was going to be coming for the shower and a half marathon too! I went to work Friday knowing it would be a short day and then head home to prepare for a good weekend. During one of my many bathroom trips between client calls, I noticed I was having a little show. Not long after that the contractions started and I was packing my things up to go home and sit down to see if it was going to continue. Of course I had to stop at the town hall and pay our taxes on the way, and subsequently freaked everyone out in there. Pregnant woman walking around one hand on her back and the other on her belly and making funny faces. I wasn't sure if you were coming or not, but we were certainly going to freak lots of strangers out in the mean time.

I called your dad and told him to be on alert, I didn't want him rushing out of work but he needed to at least be ready just in case. Aunt Lauri came over and hung out with us while we relaxed on the couch, and after a few hours the contractions had faded. I figured that this was going to happen quite a few times in the next few weeks until you came- lots of false alarms, and now that I had a better idea of what labor felt like after two hospital stays I felt a little more prepared.

That evening we gathered at your Nanny and Boppa Galeazzo's house to have dinner and relax while chatting about the shower in the morning. I had a small mommy sized glass of wine to calm my nerves and just sat with my feet up until we went home later on. I crawled in bed and fell asleep thinking about how fun the next few days would be.

Around four I woke up with the normal (yet annoying) urge to pee. These bathroom trips had become much more frequent in the last few weeks thanks to you hanging out so low. I crawled back in bed really uncomfortable and felt some contractions. I looked at my phone at the time and randomly started checking to see how far apart they were. I figured it would be like Friday and they wouldn't be regular and would fade in a little bit of time.

I laid in bed while your dad was half asleep next to me. We were procrastinating doing anything about it, because I was afraid of another false alarm. As the minutes passed, the contractions were getting closer, and stronger. I went to the bathroom again, didn't help. I sat in the tub for a shower and tried to relax, the water dripping down on me felt wonderful but wasn't holding a candle to the discomfort that was building by the minute. I dried off and crawled back into bed without brushing my wet tangled hair and just laid there. A few minutes later the contractions were making me twist and turn to try and get comfortable, your dad was telling me to breathe while holding my hand.

As much as we tried to brush it off, this wasn't going to slow down and I finally made the call to the doctor around 5:30. Having had been hospitalized twice already, they weren't messing around and we were told to get there as quick (but safe) as possible.

My bags were already packed and I grabbed a towel in case my water broke, we were ready within minutes. My feet got wet as I shuffled through the dewy grass in flip flops to get to the truck and pull myself up. The stillness of a crisp dark morning was actually calming to me as we got on the road to make our way to the hospital. The music was playing in the car as we drove down the road, like a scene from a movie as your dad was holding my hand and reminding me to breathe over and over. We called my parents first, and dad answered with "is it time?" as I tried to maintain my composure and failed pretty miserably we both answered with a firm "yes". After trying dad's parents for a few minutes we finally got through and told them where we were headed, though I'm not sure the seriousness of it came through as well as we thought it did.

When we got to Strong (a little after 6), we pulled up front and your dad got me in a wheelchair and gave his keys to the guy at the desk (24 hour maternity valet) which was huge...letting a stranger drive his truck! He wheeled me up to the maternity floor where the doctor was waiting for us as soon as the doors opened.

They got me partially undressed and hooked me up to the monitor at the same time as they were checking my cervix, at the same time I was getting stabbed in the arm trying to get an IV. A lot of things happen at once. It was clear to me how urgent they felt this was, and I realized...this was it. I remember asking what the date was, April 29th they said. Very quickly we had five different people around us talking to us. I was further dilated, my contractions were right on top of each other, and you were stubbornly still trying to come out bottom first.

"Emergency Cesarean time"

"General anesthesia"

"Brian can't come"

"Kiss goodbye"

It happened so fast, I was hyperventilating and crying and I admit it wasn't that "Oh my goodness, YAY I'm having a baby right now moment". I was being wheeled away, and your dad was being left alone in a room to simply wait.

It was scary and I wanted him there with me.

There were what felt like a hundred people in the operating room. They were strapping me down, I was having contractions while they put in a catheter, at the same time the anesthesiologist was shoving oxygen mask on my face trying to calm me down. Of course I then had a sneezing attack. Let me tell you it's very hard and uncomfortable to sneeze when you are tied down, hooked up to a bunch of machines, crying, and have an oxygen mask on.

It then truly hit me what was happening. I remember worrying I wouldn't wake up and trying to think what my last words to your dad were (I love you). The anesthesiologist kept talking to me, which helped more than I can say. I have had surgeries before, but the idea of surgery + becoming a mom at the same time (5 weeks early) was overwhelming to me. My brain was being overly dramatic and there wasn't anything I could do to stop it.
One of your first pictures taken of you by your dada!
Waking up after surgery was very lonely. You were no longer in my belly, I had lost my built in companion I had spent 8 months talking to. It was about 8:30 when I started coming around and could make out the time on the clock across the recovery room. The area was eerily quiet except the faint beeping noises from various machines. A few minutes later the doctor had meandered over to me. She had been in delivery and was leaving but wanted to say goodbye. She told me I did great, and that you were healthy and beautiful.

This is about the time I started crying.

A few more people came over and said similar things, and I know it was with good intentions but if anything it made me feel sad and lonely. Everyone else had seen you but me, and I was the one who grew you! People were asking me your name and I kept telling them I didn't know. Your dad and I had narrowed it to two, but wanted to meet you first! The nurses were coming by frequently to perform fundal massages, which is not any sort of a relaxing thing by any means. I kept asking when I could see you, your dad or anyone in our family. No answer ever sounded soon enough in my mind. Around 9:30 I was being moved upstairs to our room, where I sat alone for a little while longer waiting for you or anyone that I even knew.

The door opened and your dad walked in, I think my heart heart skipped a beat just so incredibly happy to see him. Physically and emotionally everything was so hazy, the anesthesia was still having a big effect on me. My mom, dad and sister all walked in too and I became even more emotional. These are my people, and they are your people too. The door opened again and it was my nurse, I think I sank a little when I realized you weren't with her. She assured me that you were on your way.

A little over 3 hours after you entered the world, you finally entered our hospital room. Your nurse Ashley was as sweet as can be as she wheeled you over to me. Your dad was next to me and my family was watching as you got closer. I was crying before you even got to me, I could finally see you and as she lifted you to me I could hear your little noises. I finally held you in my arms as I cried, and I said "hi baby" and gave you the sweetest kiss I could give.
video

Everyone looked at me and asked me about your name and I gave your dad the "I'm sorry I'm about to overrule your name idea" look. I loved both of the names we had (he picked one and I picked the other), but to me you instantly felt like my Hannah.

Miss Hannah Elizabeth.

You were born 5 weeks early at 6:32 AM on April 29th, 2017... less than 30 minutes after we arrived at the hospital. You weighed 5lb 6oz, were 19.5 inches long and entered the world with a great big cry. The anesthesiologist is the one who came out and told your dad that you were here brought him to the nursery to wait for you. The doctors brought you in and did all of your checks which you passed with flying colors even for a preemie. I'm incredibly sad that I was not there to see your dad get to hold you for the first time but I know you were in wonderful hands. My family arrived not long later and kept you guys company while I was still being operated on and moved to recovery. Your dad was the only non-medical person to hold you before me- something I am selfishly grateful for.

I cannot even begin to tell you how happy your dad and I were that day, we spent the rest of the morning the two of us. Talking, holding you and soaking in the fact that we just became parents! Due to your very early arrival, it was your baby shower day! Your dad left for a while to go to the shower to open presents and see family and friends. You and I got some quality snuggle time and nursing practice just the two of us so this worked out. Everyone was sad we couldn't be at the shower but were so excited that you were here and healthy! Your dad did a great job standing in for us at the shower, and luckily had a great friend show up for moral support.

Later that day your dad came back to the hospital to see us, and he brought me a full size Rubino's sub. I love you and I gladly gave them up while growing you but I won't say I wasn't VERY excited to inhale that thing now! The evening was more time of you, me and your dad- some of my favorite moments. You were doing SO well latching on and nursing- something we didn't expect since you were preemie, but a good thing all the same. You are a great eater, a true testament to you being my daughter :)

Sunday was a day filled with family and friends in the hospital. The morning was spent sipping coffee and catching up with your Aunt Heather. In the afternoon you got to see Nana and Boppa Anderson, Aunt Meg, Uncle Justin and your cousins Alden and Max. Later on you finally got to meet Nanny and Boppa Galeazzo! It was a busy day but a good one.

On Monday we snuggled all day. Quite literally, all day. It was wonderful and you were passing all your checks whenever they came in. Until you didn't. Later in the evening your temperature was a little low after being right on target all day. Being a preemie, they really watch these things super closely. Your medical team decided to bundle you up a little more during the night for sleep and then would reassess from there. If you didn't stay warm enough, you were to be put in an incubator to help you until you could better regulate your temperature on your own.

When I woke up Tuesday morning, I saw the nurses face and knew you had been put in the incubator over night. What did this mean? I was being discharged today and you were definitely not. I had to go home without you.

I spent the morning showering and cleaning myself up to feel a bit more human and getting my things ready to leave. My discharge was very...uneventful. I signed what felt like 3000 sheets of paper and I walked myself and my stuff over to the nursery. I spent the day sitting next to your incubator only getting to hold you when you were out to be fed. At that time we went into a small room where we could relax and nurse with you. This room would be like our second home for a few more days.

Going home later on that day wasn't as hard as I thought at the time. I knew you were in good hands, and I also knew that a nights sleep at home would do me wonders. Your dad and I decided he would still work at least part time this week while you weren't home yet. That way he could save the time off for when we were all home together. I think I was just so excited to be home that my brain wasn't letting me acknowledge the fact that you weren't with us. I called to check on you, and fell fast asleep after hearing you were doing just fine.
It's a cute view, but certainly not an easy one.
I spent all day with you Wednesday, feeding you and cuddling when I could. Reading to you through the incubator the rest of the time. It was hard, but I also knew this could be so much worse. You were five weeks early, a little small, and just needed help to stay warm. The blessing of that was not lost on me, but it didn't mean it was easy. I cried the whole way home that night as it finally was sinking in.

Getting ready for car seat test!
My days were spent visiting you and my nights were spent calling the nursery to check on you, pumping so you could be having my milk still, and sleeping as best I could. By Friday they pulled you out of the incubator after weaning you the previous night. We were told maybe you could come home Saturday but that Sunday would be more likely. After leaving the hospital on Friday, we went to the store to find some preemie outfits for your tinyhiney and to get a few last minute things we hadn't had time to get for you before. On the way home we decided to stop at the Distillery for food (because lord knows I wasn't going to cook) and since it was Cinco De Mayo...I ordered a margarita. I originally said I wanted to wait for post-baby drink until after you were home with us to celebrate, but the week was so long and emotionally draining that it almost felt necessary. I drank half of it and felt tipsy (lightweight status) before we went home to bed.

Saturday morning I was filled with hope. I wanted you home and I was determined to make it happen. I had been giving you pep talks all week and filling your head with the warmest thoughts I could to get you going. I patiently waited for the nurse practitioner to come around and tell me what she thought. On Friday they told us the stipulations for your release were that you needed to gain weight (you had dropped to 4lb 14oz throughout the week), your bilirubin needed to level out (you never reached levels for light therapy), you needed to pass a 90 minute car seat test, and you needed to maintain your body temperature on your own for 24-48 hours after being taken out of the incubator.

The NP came around and didn't seem over eager to let you go and said she would feel better if you went on Sunday but allowed us to do the car seat test anyways since you had passed weight check and bilirubin check. She told me that she wouldn't count your temperature against you after the car seat test since you will have spent 90 minutes unbundled.

Homeward Bound!
You rocked your car seat test like a champ (you had to keep your heart rate and oxygen levels in a certain range for the entire 90 minutes to prove you were strong enough), and we decided to take your temperature anyways after just to see. It was perfect! The nurses were all chanting to let you go (I'm serious) to the Nurse Practitioner. We had grown very close to many of the staff members throughout the week, I cannot tell you what a difference they made for us. The NP had been the one to admit you the morning you were born and she said she loved that she also got to be the one to send you home. She said she didn't have a good reason to keep you since you did everything they asked of you.

You were coming home. One week after you entered the world you were finally coming home.

I sat with you in the back seat while your dad drove us home that afternoon, and you gripped my finger the whole way. It was the beginning of the rest of your life with us.

There aren't too many words I could put together to actually describe how loved you are and how much your dad and I have enjoyed having you with us. You were so worth the wait, and the months of growing you, and for every hard second there have been 10 amazing ones. All I can say kiddo, is the best is yet to come.

Love, Mom

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Third Trimester Roller Coaster

Considering I now have an adorable 7 week old daughter *SPOILER* , I should probably finish this post about my third trimester. It was certainly a roller coaster of a few weeks, and ended a few weeks early- but a time I still feel compelled to write about because well....it happened.

I felt my third trimester kick off before it even officially started. The start of my 27th week (technically last week of second trimester) the fatigue ramped up, and morning sickness came back. I had been feeling pretty good and had a relatively smooth pregnancy (First Tri, Second Tri) so far so I kind of expected a little karma on that one.

But the symptoms weren't really the roller coaster part during my third trimester. The fatigue, nightmares and general "meh" feeling were consistent and I had pretty much accepted them. The roller coaster was everything else going on.

Early on in the trimester we had some of the fun stuff! I went to a baby shower for a good friend of mine and then the following weekend was my baby shower with my side of the family. My mom and sister went over the top to make the day incredible for us. It was fun, and overwhelming all at the same time.  Being the center of attention, and everyone quite literally spoiling our baby before she is even born. Our little girl is already stocked up on Saucony stuff, Bills gear, Hockey swag, cute headbands and lots of other fun things.

The weekend after that is when the roller coaster really started for us though. The day after I hit 30 weeks I woke up to one of our dogs sitting by the bed barking. Moose doesn't normally do this, so I knew something was up. As soon as I stood up I realized I wasn't feeling good and that it was me having the issue. I had what felt like intense bloating/gas pain in my stomach. I went to the bathroom, no help. Took a hot shower, no help. It was getting worse and Brian was already at work so I called the doctor. I was driving myself to the hospital before I knew it, and making the call to have him meet me there. {I may have gotten yelled at for that...woops #independentwoman}

I figured out where to go (we hadn't taken the hospital tour or orientation yet), and they had me hooked up shortly after getting there. The only thing the nurse would tell me was that the baby was okay (because I kept asking... repeatedly) even as the pain was getting more intense. As soon as Brian got there- the doctor laid it all out there.

You're having regular labor contractions.

You're dilated.

The baby is Breech (Here: sign this C-section consent form right NOW).

"It's too soon, it's too soon" Were the only words I could really get out.

I spent the rest of the day in a labor room with Brian, with doctors and nurses were coming in regularly. My dad and sister also came up to visit and hang out- which was a good distraction. The NICU staff came and explained the implications of a 30 week baby, and checked to see how things were progressing (or not). I was being pumped full of Magnesium, and fluids (I wasn't allowed to eat or drink anything at all in case they had to take me to surgery). I was getting shots in my rear a few times (Steroids for the babies lungs, and pain killers for me) which was SUPER fun. I was also being given a blood pressure medication every few hours to prevent smooth muscle contractions (my blood pressure was fine). This is how they were attempting to stop labor, even though they warned us it's rarely that effective.

We also were sent for an ultrasound to confirm the baby was growing well (she was 3.5 pounds at the time). We then found out that my cervix had shortened drastically since my last full ultrasound at 20 weeks. This pregnancy went from uncomplicated to high risk in the matter of hours, as I laid there trying my hardest not to freak out {believe me when I say I was, in fact freaking out}.
Hospital Stay at 30 Weeks

Lucky for us, the rarely effective way of stopping labor....actually worked. By 9 PM my contractions had diminished and I was being moved off the labor floor and into a high risk OB room. I had to stay in the hospital the rest of the weekend, for more steroids shots and a few more doses of the blood pressure medication to make sure labor stayed at bay.

I was sent home with little restrictions and told that she could still go full term but to be prepared if she comes early. Also, do whatever voodoo and pray to whatever you believe in for baby girl to flip if I really don't want to have a Cesarean.

The following few weeks were pretty low key. We really made a point to tie up some loose ends to be ready for her arrival, I had a baby shower with the girls from my part time job, and Brian and I worked on the Nursery. Otherwise, we went on with our lives as usual. Well, as usual as they can be when you're expecting.

On Easter weekend someone made a comment that she looked like she had dropped and I started paying a bit more attention. Sure enough, baby girl was lower, I could breathe better but also was peeing much more frequently. I stayed home for Marathon Monday and watched coverage while thinking how glad I was not to be running, but at the same time being inspired for when I do get back into things. I think it inspired our little girl too, maybe a little TOO much.

The following day I was feeling some constant period-like cramping and lower back pain. It wasn't like before so I didn't think much about it but called the doctor to be safe. They told me to call if it persisted. Wednesday morning I called back and they agreed I should come in considering I was still deemed "high risk". I wasn't any more dilated at that point but I was having contractions, so off to triage I went.

This time I was more prepared and had my hospital bag with me, knew where I was going, and generally felt better about things. I was one day shy of 34 weeks and knew that those extra 4 weeks were HUGE for her development so if this was it...this was it. I wasn't stressing, and meandered my way to where I needed to go. I lost my chapstick somewhere so I even stopped at the hospital gift shop to get more before going upstairs (Chapstick is a LIFESAVER when you cannot eat or drink for hours and hours...lesson learned during the first hospital stay when my sister saved the day by bringing me some).

In the 10 minutes it took me to drive from the doctor over to the hospital and get up to the floor, I had dilated 2 more centimeters, baby was still breech and Brian was being called to get on his way. I was oddly feeling relatively good even though labor was progressing. We spent the day and night in labor room (again) and the doctor had said if I dilated anymore that they were just going to take me back for surgery. We had a meeting with the NICU staff and were told the extra 4 weeks we got were good, but that she would still be admitted to the NICU if she came before 35 weeks. I was given steroids for her lungs again but this time I was not given the medication to stop labor- they were letting things take their course. My mom (who lives out of state for work at the moment) ended up getting on a flight because we were all pretty certain this was it.

Until it wasn't.

It was oddly frustrating and relieving at the same time when things stalled out. Here I was again looking at a three day hospital stay with no baby (both times I was only "in labor" for a day but they keep you another 48 hours for medications and observation). But, the longer the stayed in the better she would be once she was born. Alas, I was sent home a few days later with no baby in hand and still little restrictions.

When I was discharged and we were told again that she really could still go full term. They also reminded us that making it until at least Thursday was important (35 weeks). In our minds, our goal was to make it to at least the following Monday. The upcoming weekend involved Heather, and lots of Brian's family members coming into town for my final baby shower, we agreed we obviously wanted to make it through all of that first.

You know what they say about the best laid plans....

I'll continue that story in another post, which is just as adventure filled but far more exciting. My third trimester challenged me in a lot of ways, I won't say that it didn't take it's toll on me. Anxiety and antepartum depression became very real(perhaps something worth writing about on it's own?). Those two hospital stays were mentally and physically exhausting (for both of us, I mean...sleeping on an uncomfortable chair next to my bed earns Brian some serious points). Last year when we were at the hospital we left without a baby in a far different situation but it was still very real and raw for us. So additional time there, lots of unknowns, and walking out without a baby again (yes, she was in my belly...but still) was harder than we imagined. As hard as this seven week stretch was for us, we got through it and were reminded how incredible our family and friends are. I cannot even list the amount of messages, meals, housecleaning, errands, visits, and everything else that we received- I'm still waist deep in thank you cards that I need to finish. It takes a village.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

TBT: My Game-Changing Marathons

Even though I am currently not training, or even running at all- it doesn't mean I don't think about it or even take the time to reflect on where I have been with my running. Between 2011 and 2016 I ran 14 marathons, 10 of which were personal bests and 6 of the 14 are races I consider big turning points in my running "career". It feels a little odd to call it a career because it's far from my job- but at the same time we all know training for marathons is essentially adding another job time wise.

I decided to look back at the 6 races (and the training cycles that led up to them) that I consider to be pivotal to my "personal success" as a runner and athlete. 5 of the 6 listed were PR's at the time, but no my current PR and 2:58 marathon I ran at Erie isn't on the list. While it was a breakthrough for me in many ways, it was mostly because of the things I learned and took away from these other races. I found a lot of my turning points came from breakdowns whether in training or the race itself.

Marathon #2: Rochester Marathon 2011 {3:41}

Rochester was the slap in the face that I needed. We've all heard people say you need to respect the distance and what it takes to get to the start AND finish line of a marathon. I know that going into this race I 100% didn't respect it. My first marathon was 6 months earlier and I finished in a strong and respectable 3:46 off very minimal and basic training. After spending the summer doing many runs with friends who have run Boston many times- I felt like I just HAD to qualify. I felt like a BQ was the only way to define a successful runner (my friends never told me that EVER, but being around them made me want it THAT bad). I dove in maybe 2 months before the race and "trained"- my miles were all over the place, I didn't practice fueling, and I didn't set realistic goals. When race day came, I made more mistakes. I went out way too fast being cocky and arrogant and by some grace of God managed not to completely crash and burn until after mile 17. The last 6+ miles were a death march, only made worse by the fact that I didn't fuel (at all), I was under-trained, over-confident and had no right to PR let alone BQ.
The Mile 20 something death march

I did managed to PR by 5 minutes, but missed a BQ by a minute (it was the last time the BQ was 3:40 for open women) while being 11 minutes off of my unrealistic goal time. Looking back I am so glad I didn't BQ, otherwise I don't think I would have gotten the lessons that I needed to really drilled in my brain. Setting a PR and coming close to a BQ was the spark I needed to change. If I wanted more I needed to earn it.  I started pacing myself, actually fueling, training more consistently (though still not great), and set a goal to run my third marathon without wanting to jump in front of a bus in the later miles. Less than 10 weeks later I ran a 3:37 (still missing BQ since it had changed to 3:35) but finished feeling confident, smiling, and proud of a solid race performance.

To this day, after all of the races (any distance) I have run- Rochester is the race that humbled me and taught me the most. I will forever be grateful for the ugly crying that happened in the later miles, and that not only did I not meet my goal time but I also didn't qualify for a race that I had no business being in yet anyways.

Marathon #4: Marshall University Marathon 2012 {3:21}

This marathon was run 7 months after a car accident in which I broke my cuboid bone (foot). Doctors originally told me that it would be 6 months before I could even try to run but instead I did everything they told me to and bounced back stronger than ever. I was running in far less time, and under the guidance of PT's who made sure I didn't overdo it. For the first time, I made a training plan and actually stuck to it unlike the first 3 marathons I ran. The training and consistency was huge, and paid off even bigger at the race. I took the pacing lessons I learned (the hard way) in my first few marathons and used my new found skills to my advantage. I ran a 7 minute negative split from the first half to the second, focusing on my realistic goal which I then blew out of the water by minutes. For the first time ever I trained smart, raced smart, fueled smart, and reaped the rewards with a 16 minute PR and BQ.

Mentally this marathon was another eye opener though. I had been limiting myself thinking I needed to JUST BQ. I needed to reach a time set for me by an organization instead of allowing myself to determine my own goals. I had been using the BQ as a limit. I never thought of running faster than a BQ (at least not by that much) and this was the breakthrough and turning point I needed to start realizing that I had to stop letting others dictate my limits.

Marathon #7: California International Marathon 2013 {3:13}

This race was a turning point in running, and life for me. Running wise, I took a risk and decided to do this race 9 weeks after a 4 minute PR at Wineglass marathon. I was shooting for a 3:15 and was stubborn and felt I needed to try one more time before the year was out. The 3:15 was to try and qualify for a team, but what I didn't realize was that this race would be a whole lot more than just trying to hit a time.

The best adventures usually stem from my best friend Heather and I's crazy ideas. In this case, it was less than a week after Wineglass where we both said we wanted to run another marathon. We booked flights, hotels, registered for the race- and dove back into training as best we could. Because, why not? In the end I met my goal of breaking 3:15, ran a strong race trusting myself and ignoring people who said a million and one contradictory things about running so soon again, my pace plan, or my life in general.

The team I was trying to make lowered the time right after that so I no longer qualified, but I didn't care. I got so much more out of this race than just a time to meet someone elses' standards (see turning point at marathon #4...stop living by others standards or goals and limits). I had built so much trust in my abilities and my own instincts and this was the eye opener. This was a game changer for my running but also my life- a few months later I used that trust and personal instincts to start over in life in a lot of ways- one of the hardest but best things I have ever done and led me to where I am today.


Marathon #9: Rochester Marathon 2014 {3:11}

Training ALL summer on my hometown course
Returning to this marathon wasn't something I was sure I would ever do even being my hometown race. After the 2011 race, I learned so much but was also scarred from a running aspect of not wanting to repeat that course. Earlier in 2014 I made some big life changes (see previous marathon lessons) that left me with a lot of other scars, on top of years of other ones. Fear held me back in some ways and pushed me in others. I spent the entire summer training for this race, and to face the fear of going back to the death march of 2011. I ran myself into the ground the first half of the summer trying to prove something to myself, to take back something (control) that I felt I had lost. I was happy but on a dangerous path with my running.

Eventually things started to get bad and instead of fleeing in fear I reached out and got a coach for help. Eventually I started actually dating again. Eventually I started doing things with purpose instead of doing things just because I could. I realized that taking my life and running back, meant getting some help and that is not a bad thing. When race day came, I ran a small PR and finished feeling frustrated but knew that I was on the right path. I was taking control of my life in a smarter way, asking for help when needed, and accepted that some things just take time. Getting my life and running to a place I wanted them to be at wouldn't happen overnight. Patience.

Marathon #11 Boston Marathon 2015 {3:04}

I refer to this marathon for me as "setting fire to the rain". It was about taking all the bad, the negative, and the flukes and throwing all that shit out the window...or setting it on fire in the middle of a rainy windy day in Boston. Four months prior I ran a 7 minute PR for a 3:04:30, and I was ECSTATIC. It was the breakthrough I was looking for in the fall and had been working towards. The patience after the tough summer, and rocky race at Rochester paid off and I finally felt like I was racing more to my potential. I also received some negativity following that race though which soured my emotions a bit. A lot of disbelief in my time, as in it being a fluke or just a good day...even a "friend" telling me I got lucky! Unfortunately I let those negative thoughts affect me and wondered myself if Memphis was a fluke. It made me wonder if my other goals (sub-3 mainly) were unreasonable or further off than I thought they were.

I trained my ass off that winter, in all sorts of crap Upstate NY weather- and many treadmill miles too. I was building upon the great foundation I had been building for years now and it was paying off. When Boston came, it wasn't perfect but I made the absolute best I could of it. My grandma was literally on the last few days of her life (ended up passing 2 days after the race), the weather was far less than ideal, and I was feeling pretty frustrated in my personal life with friendships and relationships. But you know what, I didn't let any of that noise in and ran a negative split into the wind and rain and proved to myself and others that Memphis was not a fluke. It was a small PR that day in Boston (27 seconds) but on a much harder course and in much worse conditions. Before the race I had made my goal known that I wanted to break 3, not necessarily at Boston but soon and this race proved to me that it wasn't as far off and that letting what others say needs to stop affecting me as much. I mean I know we all try and work on that but even as adults it's hard not to let the noise in.

It also was a great catalyst to get me to stop focusing so much on weather for races. I've ran some of my best races in the worst weather, and reality is that we all have the same weather and have to deal with it in our own ways. You can complain constantly about all your bad weather races, or just suck it up and work on getting better at handling it or adapting to it. Would it be nice to have ideal weather days when we want or need them? DUH. But its' not a personal vendetta from mother nature, don't make yourself a victim of something as trivial as weather for a race (you know, when at the same time that horrible weather could be destroying peoples homes or lives). *Steps off soapbox*

Moving on...last but not least...

Marathon #14: Boston Marathon 2016 {3:16}

This is a different turning point than the others, in the sense that it has less to do with running and more to do with life. A year ago today we found out we were going to be starting a family. I was without a doubt in the best shape of my life, wrapping up one of the strongest training cycles, and prepared to go big mentally and physically on the Boston course in a few days. The race was nothing I originally planned, but was an eye opener in many ways. I left my pace band in my luggage on purpose, I started steady and a little slower than planned and went in with 100% knowledge that I may pull the plug. I hit the half at sub-3 pace and shut it down. My head and heart were not there, my body was telling me it didn't want to run fast....so I didn't and I was A-ok with that. I ran and walked the second half. I took many bathroom stops. I soaked in the sights and sounds, and I crested heartbreak without even realizing it and finished completely ready for the next step in life and not worrying about finishing 20 minutes slower than planned.

I didn't run for almost a month after that. I focused on everything else, the things that I hadn't during training and the new things I was dealing with being pregnant. A few more weeks after that we found out our story wasn't going to have the happy ending. After wading through all of that I decided to train for another marathon, one that would be my last for a while so we could focus on building a family in 2017. But as the summer went on, my head and heart still weren't in running. They hadn't been since before Boston and before we found out we were pregnant.

So when we got pregnant again, it all made a lot more sense. That April when I chose my health and my baby over some meaningless time goal in Boston, my head and heart never switched back. So here I am, 33 weeks pregnant today and happy as can be. I'll be watching Boston coverage for the first time in 3 years from my couch, while probably eating ice cream from a bowl that can currently sit on my stomach without falling (unless little loo decides to kick it off...which is a good possibility. I may have spilled an entire cup of water that way already).

Boston 2016 may not have been the epic running race I planned or thought it would be, and since day one I have been okay with that. I chose my family over running that day and something I will never hesitate to do. One day I'll get back to running/racing and I'll get back to Boston(because I love that race and city and not because I feel I have something to prove)- but right now I'm going to enjoy this turning point in my running and my personal life as one of the most important(to me) yet.


It all boils down to...

I've learned so much over the years from ALL of my races, and I'm grateful for where I have been and what I have been able to do. It's also taught me that coming back to it will be so worth it, but doesn't mean the time away isn't worth it either. Each of these turning points and breakthroughs built upon the last, and doesn't even include the things I learned and took away from the other marathons and races I have done. I love that I am a student of the sport, always learning and trying to get better. I love that I can use those lessons in running AND life. It's a good reminder that even the bad times (literal and figurative!) can have silver linings.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Second Trimester



I'm really not sure where time has gone and how I'm already posting about my second trimester- but somehow here we are. There are many things about second trimester that were great, and some not as much- but I expected that to be the case. Overall we are just getting more and more excited to meet our little one! We found out IT'S A GIRL in January which was a great way to start out the new year. All we want is a healthy baby regardless of gender but I had a feeling all along it was a girl so it was cool to have my instincts me right! :)  We did our baby registries, we nailed down colors/theme for the nursery and we started planning out some of the bigger things as well (pediatrician, hospital stuff, starting to look into child care options). Not that this will shock anyone who knows me, but I have a pretty in depth spreadsheet working for this kiddo! To-do lists, lists of things we need, name ideas, hospital packing list, reviews, Shower lists, everything! #Nerd
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We did have three things this time period that heightened my anxiety a bit and/or required some further info/testing but we managed to pretty much come out on top and relatively unscathed.

In my first trimester, I saw the doctor VERY frequently. Not only did this make time go by quicker, it helped keep me feeling at ease. During the second trimester, you see the doctor about every 4 weeks. I mean, some people may think that seeing the doctor less would be nice break- but for me it left 4 weeks between appointments for me to worry. The good part of this was, as I got further into the trimester I could feel our little girl moving around and kicking me a ton. Her kicks and flutters are wonderful reminders that she is doing okay. But, about 2.5-3 weeks after each doctors appointment my anxiety would spike. I felt like it had been too long, and that a whole week and a half more of waiting would be the end of me. Obviously I lived, and our little girl is doing just fine- but man that parental worry kicks in hardcore!

Changing doctors/practices/insurance at 5 months is not ideal by any means. This stressed me out, made me emotional (my doctor has been with me for 12 years, and through a lot of ups and downs), and definitely added a whole new element to pregnancy hormones for me. In the end the change in insurance was the best financial move for our family even if it meant changing docs. Just because it's the right move doesn't mean it was easy. I thought I was critical while reading reviews of car seats- trying to find a new doctor was 10X harder.

The only other real hiccup during this time was my Gestational Diabetes (GD) testing.  I failed the first test by so much, that by my research I found that most doctors wouldn't even bother making me do the 3 hour test and instead just diagnose me. My doctor got a second opinion from someone else in the practice and they decided to send me for the test anyways, just in case. The 3 hour test was probably one of the worst feeling days I had in a long time. It requires fasting 12 hours, drinking the glucose drink again and then getting blood drawn 4 times over 3 hours. By the time I was done, I was nauseous, tired, and simply drained (with a very bruised arm). Brian drove me to and from the test which was my savior. It turns out they were right to make me do it- as I passed with flying colors and they concluded that my 1 hour test must have been a fluke. It all worked out for the best, but I admit I was a bundle of nerves for a while there.

Running

Well, this was really a roller coaster. First trimester I made the choice to stop for the most part with occasionally throwing in a workout. Second trimester I went through waves of motivation to be active, and times where it was furthest from my mind. Best advice I got was to take it each day at a time. I tried to follow a VERY loose plan for a few weeks but it just didn't work out. I tried small attainable goals and that was fine- but nothing that kept me super motivated. During this time I realized how much my love of running is tied to competition and pushing myself. This is something I am working on, as I fully plan on embracing
casual running mentality postpartum. I plan on getting back to racing eventually but it isn't my first priority.

In my Mid-February update I was at a point where motivation was higher, and I was even considering a "race". The roller coaster took a pretty big dive after that, and the 5 mile race also didn't happen. Neither of these things bother me, worry me, or even make me feel like less of a runner. I'm rolling with how I feel each day and not allowing anything to get in my way of a healthy pregnancy. I ran a handful of times this trimester and I'm proud of that. It wasn't much, and it was rarely more than once a week and honestly I am okay with that. Walking, occasional yoga, and nesting have been much more common. I'm also making good use of my Fire Stick for TV & Movie marathons(hey, at least I'm honest).

Symptoms

Dry itchy skin- seriously, thank god for Belly butter
Acid reflux- this was easy to manage by simply cutting out trigger foods
Acne- Not a huge deal since I've lived with this for most of my life. But I did swap out my regular body wash with an acne one, and I have been doing face masks more regularly, both of which seem to help.
Shortness of breath- Mainly if I eat too much at once, or the times when little lady likes to hang out up under my ribcage and put pressure on my diaphragm.
Round Ligament Pain- Body is expanding, naturally things get sore.
Sinus infection- This was tough, and forced me on antibiotics for 10 days. Being sick + pregnancy is a whole new world...
Adductor/Groin Pain- I will talk about this one more in another post as it more directly relates to my running (or lack there of)

Cravings

Chicken wings, Veggies & ALL the hummus, berries, rice, chips/salsa/queso. Sweets becoming a bit more common but not over the top (yet).

Notes/Thoughts


  • If you are a pregnant woman with no current health problems and are not in labor- expect to wait 30-75 minutes every time you are at the doctor. Bring snacks, entertainment and charging cords as needed.
  • It is equally amazing and creepy being able to feel your baby moving around/kicking inside your belly.
  • If you go to the gym in January/February as a pregnant but not overly pregnant woman- you WILL get looks as though you simply indulged. Finally around mid February did I get a comment from someone telling me "OHHHHH you're pregnant" at the gym as I waddled on the treadmill.
  • My list of foods is growing that I cannot wait to eat after little lady is born. The order of priority is ever changing though. Basically someone bring me a Philadelphia Sushi roll and a Dibellas sub to the hospital and I will forever be grateful.
  • Fun fact- you CAN actually bruise from your little one kicking the same spot repeatedly. Just ask the spot right below my rib cage.
  • I gained 20 pounds total during 1st/2nd trimesters (it's a number, who cares?). My doctors have felt this is good, and we expect I'll gain around 30-35 total. It's mostly all in my belly, my chest and my face/neck.
  • Making a baby registry is fun, but exhausting. We spent a few hours in the Babies R Us store doing it and crashed the rest of the evening afterwards. The Amazon one was much more low key as we sat in sweats on the couch making it and eating ice cream. Then again, when isn't Amazon easier because of that?
  • We haven't picked a name yet but we are narrowing it down. For now she is lovingly referred to as baby, nugget, little lady, little loo, kid, and "the thing that makes me go to the bathroom ALL the time".
  • I still think an at home fetal monitor was the best investment for us...for when the anxiety kicks in it's a beautiful thing to be able to listen to our little girl. We use it far less now than before, since we can feel/see her kicking but its still a nice thing to have.
  • Maternity Clothes- my best finds have been at Old Navy online. Also, leggings are a godsend. I've never been the person to wear leggings every day,(in fact I think it's weird when grown women cannot wear a pair of regular pants)...but for now I'm embracing the legging life just about daily.

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Overall second trimester was pretty good to us! We're excited and working on our to-do lists with a little more fury now that were in the third and on the home stretch. Time for the baby showers, more frequent doctors appointments, and eagerly awaiting the arrival of our baby girl.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Random Mid-February Update

Phew, been a while since I updated this thing.  Life lately can pretty much be summed up by working, and pregnancy. I mean the pregnant thing is 24/7 and definitely has a huge impact on life, in many good ways (and some not-so-fun ways...but will all be worth it!). This "winter" has been so strange with weather which I think has contributed to 2017 feeling like it's been flying by even faster. We haven't had any long super cold snowy stretches which  would tend to make the weeks drag, that's for sure. A few random updates on how things have been going, and soon I'll have a second trimester post coming. CRAZY.

Running

Since this has been the primary focus for this blog since the start, I'll update that first. Honestly, there hasn't been a TON of fitness going on- but I have seen a boost in my motivation the last few weeks which has definitely helped. I saw a boost in energy when I started my second trimester, but never really saw the effects until a few weeks ago. I'm tired more easily these days, but I have found myself more likely to find something to do that is at least a little productive rather than just binge watching netflix or prime TV every afternoon and weekend.

I have been posting my training logs over on Salty Running, but also copying links to those logs on my blog here under the training logs tab. I've been averaging 1 run a week (whooopiedoo right?), but I've also squeezed in some walking, yoga and strength workouts as well. I see this increasing a bit for the next few weeks with nicer weather and way more motivation flowing right now. I also am considering running a 5 mile race in a few weeks- obviously not as a race. But as a good way to get out, see running friends, and reconnect with the community that I feel a bit more distanced from lately. Plus, who doesn't wanna see a wobbly belly dressed in green? I might end up looking like one of the green ghost blobs in Ghostbusters but it would make for a good story.

A few things I have found that have helped me are wearing a support belt when I run/walk, and staying close to home (or on the treadmill) so I have easier access to a bathroom for pee breaks (hey, it's part of the process). I also invested in some maternity gear, which is mainly some of my favorite Saucony pieces just in a size or two bigger. The Pinnacle shorts are great because of the wider waistband that doesn't dig into my belly as much, and I love the looser tank tops too.

Shoe wise- in the past most of my easy miles were done in the Kinvara's but I have found the Zealots are a better fit for me right now as they are a bit more supportive. I'm carrying extra weight and my body feels creaky most of the time so extra support feels good.

Pregnancy

As I said earlier I have a whole post about my second trimester coming soon, much like I did my first trimester. But, I will still update a little here. As of today I am 26 weeks pregnant and feeling pretty good! Our little lady is very active, and loves to kick. She will kick hard if you place something cold on my belly, or if I go too long without eating. Baby kicks are the creepiest but most amazing things at the same time.

I still check up on her with the heart monitor I bought, for peace of mind. But I do this far less these days as I can feel her moving around a lot which provides entertainment AND peace of mind. Besides the maternity support belt, and the heart monitor, belly butter has been the biggest help through the last few weeks. Growing belly + stretching skin + dry winter skin = very itchy skin.

Life

Life outside of running (most of my time...LOL) is still spent working two jobs, and getting things done around the house. We put off getting the house on the market this spring so we didn't have to rush around for baby AND selling- but doesn't mean we backed off on getting projects done. Adding a second bathroom, and updating the kitchen have been the biggest two projects going on. We've managed to do everything on a smaller budget thanks to being able to find a lot of things on sale, and also on Amazon (we got cabinet hardware on there in bulk, and a few other things for a fraction of home improvement store prices + prime shipping HELLOOOO). Doing the work ourselves (and with help from family and friends) also saves a lot of money too- plus we actually like projects!

Some of my smaller projects I'm working on.
 Refinishing old frames, and a soon to be unicorn for little lady's room!
The nursery is the next big thing, though at this point it's pretty much just painting and putting it all together since we already have most of the stuff. We got our crib way back on Black Friday which was huge, and we are using a lot of furniture we already had for the rest of it. I'm big on refinishing old furniture and re-purposing things (thanks Mom!). Needless to say prime deliveries, trips to Lowe's, and trips to Target and craft stores have been frequent.

I've also been working on streamlining some things in our life, simplifying and just trying to make things easier on us. Part because right now doing dishes is the bain of my existence, and once we have the baby- the simpler things are the better. I started by going all Kon Mari on my closet a while ago and it made a huge difference, I still intend to use this method on other areas of the house as well. I also have been on a mission finding some simple recipes, including one pot meals and being a bit more meticulous with meal planning and making sure I don't get overzealous. I have a habit of over complicating things and I am trying to get away from that.

Beyond all that- really just normal life and doing what we can to prepare for everything to change in a few more months! I have been reading more in an effort to kick my feet up, unwind but still stay mentally active as well. I've knocked off a few books in the last few weeks but would love some more recommendations for new ones!

Anyone help a girl out with some book recommendations?!

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