Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 accomplishments

1. Got knocked up

It didn't come easily, but we did it! A sub-accomplishment of this is "gestated fetus for 7+ months." Baby C is due in a mere 53 days (!!??!?!??!)

2. Discovered honey in Greek yogurt is delicious.

I know I'm so far behind the times on this, but I can't get over how awesome it is to adjust the amount of sweetness in your yogurt instead of being slave to the disgusting fruit on the bottom masters. Down with weirdly flavored, weirdly colored yogurt!

3. Embraced walking as exercise.

Walking is awesome. If it's cold enough outside or in the basement (where the treadmill is), I don't always sweat enough to warrant a shower. Plus, I don't have to worry nearly a much about running-related issues, like chafing or stomach upset. Walking does take for-ev-er, but that just means I'm getting to watch more trashy TV. And I get to tell myself that what I'm really doing is heart-rate zone training to build a nice cardiovascular base for when I eventually return to running. Yeah... that's what I'm doing.

4. Didn't run a marathon

For the first time in 4 years, I did not run a marathon. Or a half marathon. I took almost half the year off running in order to get pregnant and have been keeping my distances short in the months since the fetus took up residence in me. I have kept up some modicum of running fitness during pregnancy but I'm currently barely in 5K shape (and I'm running a 5K tomorrow... yikes). I obviously want this to change in a few months, but for right now, I'm just where I need to be.

5. Did grown-up things.

We got our back yard landscaped (thanks, parents, for that birthday present!). We had the majority of the house painted. Carpets cleaned. Fixed lots of little things around the house. Since I've been a renter all my life, it's been a hard adjustment to actual caring for a house. Nick's much better at it, and he's rubbing off on me. It's good.

6. Did crazy amazing hikes....

...while pregnant! Our long weekend in Rocky Mountain National Park and our incredible trip to Italy had me doing hikes that were far outside my comfort zone. Doing those hikes allowed us to see some incredibly gorgeous parts of the world. We're so fortunate to have had those opportunities, and also fortunate that my pregnancy has been drama-free enough to allow us to do those trips at 8 and 16 weeks along.

7. Got a dog.

If I hadn't gotten pregnant this year, Kiwi would be at the top of the list. She's just the best dog ever.
Nonchalant dog does not care about how awesome she is.
Tummy!
Best ears ever.
Little tiny puppy face and tiny puppy paws. I die.


This year gets an A+. Mostly for the honey in yogurt discovery. Obviously. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Bradley Method classes- My Review

My midwifery practice requires that couples attend childbirth classes. I had read a bunch about the natural childbirth techniques out there and decided that Bradley Method sounded like it aligned with my preferences.

Background: The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth, also referred "Husband-Coached Childbirth" was developed in the 1960's by an obstetrician, Dr. Robert A. Bradley. He wasn't a fan of how women were treated during childbirth, since he began practicing at a time when women were given all sorts of drugs during childbirth. He developed some ideas by doing trials with patients and wrote a book. It expanded from there, with classes and a certification process for instructors. The "husband-coached" part is because Bradley felt uncomfortable being the person who was thanked for delivering a child and supporting a woman during birth- he wanted husbands to be actively involved.

His book, "Husband-Coached Childbirth," is ridiculous. I read the original (1960's) version and really, although the summary of all his writing is that women are powerful and capable of giving birth, the book itself is so outdated. He still seems to view women as silly gooses who need to be overseen by their husbands. I don't know if the more recent editions of the book have updated that language, but I have to hope they have!

Classes: Our classes spanned 10 weeks. There's technically 12 weeks of content in the course, but our instructor condensed it a little, but I never felt rushed. Our instructor was a mother of 3, with 2 of her children being homebirths. Awesome! There were 2 other couples in the class. One was planning a homebirth and the other was planning a hospital birth. Unfortunately, this meant that some of the Bradley stuff that was very anti-intervention felt like it was pointed at the one couple who was going for the hospital birth. I felt bad for them.

Class subjects include pregnancy exercises, nutrition, stages of labor, relaxation techniques, breastfeeding, and a lot more. I learned so, so much. I went in feeling like unmedicated homebirth was something I'd like to do, and I left feeling like it was something I absolutely CAN do. The class was incredibly informative and empowering. Nick also learned a lot and thought the class was very valuable. We really didn't know much about labor and what's actually happening to the uterus during labor, so just learning the mechanics of the whole thing, and watching a lot of birth videos, was so helpful.

The class also talks a lot about how to avoid interventions during hospital births. While this doesn't apply to our situation, it is applicable to all medial interventions. Asking "why" and looking into other options is not something I do well. I trust medical professionals to be doing what's best for me, and this class made me think that I need to be my own advocate and not just blindly do what I'm told. Example: my hematologist told me not long ago that I'd just be anemic the rest of the life. I sort of accepted that. Maybe I shouldn't have.

In summary, the Bradley Method classes made me excited for birth! I am not fearful, I am looking forward to bringing our little one into our lives by letting my body do what it is designed to do. I can't wait! (~65 days and then we're PARENTS. o.m.g.) I'll definitely update after the birth with how I think Bradley Method helped me get through birth. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Running and Braxton Hicks

First, some images from our recent 5K. My dad ran with me again which was awesome. This one was far harder than the last one we did at the beginning of November. I'm carrying another 5ish lbs. in the middle of my body, so no wonder running is getting hard. I finished ahead of my last time though, in a smoking 26:35. Many thanks to my dad for keeping me going when I really, really wanted a walk break. 

If it looks like my dad is dragging me to finish, it's because he is.
If I flap my arms enough, maybe I'll fly. Also, so much slouching.

Something I didn't mention last week in my pregnant running post was contractions. At that point, I hadn't felt any, or at least I didn't think I had. I probably had been feeling them for a while but I hadn't given them much thought. Now that my belly is getting huger, I've started noticing painless tightening, known as Braxton Hicks contractions. Per the ever wise Wikipedia, BH are tightening of uterine muscles and are thought to aid the body in preparing for labor. I've been having these off and on, and I've noticed they seem to be associated with running. Mine aren't painful or even uncomfortable. A full bladder and a lot of activity are two things commonly associated with BH, and that is definitely true for me. From a totally scientific poll of the internet, running seems to exacerbate them for others as well.

The consensus is that BH are a normal part of pregnancy (hence why they have a name). Mine go away immediately after I stop running, although if I slow to a speedy walk, it takes a lot longer. I'm staying very well hydrated. I'll bring this up to my midwives again at my next appointment. I mentioned I was having BH last time and they were not worried. I was bragging about them YAY MY UTERUS TOTALLY WORKS AND IT'S GONNA GET THIS BABY OUT SOMEDAY and they were not impressed. Oh well. Until then, I'll keep listening to my body, slowing down and enjoying the days when running is enjoyable. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Pregnant Running

I am incredibly fortunate to be able to run, comfortably, up to this point in my pregnancy (28 weeks! 80 days to go, but who's counting. Not me. Totally not freaking out over here). I plan to keep on going as long as my body lets me, although I know there is an inevitable slowdown coming, and I am totally ok with that. My "running" currently consists of walk/jogs a couple times a week and sometimes a "long run" that's a continuous 3 or 4 miles on the weekend. No one will accuse me of being an overachiever.

Pros of running while pregnant
Low expectations- It doesn't matter if I run 30 seconds and then start walking. I have zero expectations for myself. Last night, on the treadmill, I was doing "intervals" where I ran a quarter mile then walked a bit. I managed to press the stop button on the treadmill in the middle of the run and I took that as a sign that I should just walk the rest of my planned distance. That was a-ok with me.
Anyone else remember this from Mad TV? Anyone else remember Mad TV?

Energy surge- For now, at least, I get a pretty good energy surge following a "run," even if it's a run/walk.

Quality TV watching time- I am pretty sure I'll forever associate this pregnancy with Gossip Girl. It's my go-to show for treadmill workouts. Nick would never dream of watching it (he hears bits of it from time to time and asks me if it's really as melodramatic as it sounds. Yes, totally is.)

Food intake/timing barely matters- Obviously I need to eat well during the day if I'm going to run in the afternoon. Before, that meant that I needed an afternoon snack at 2pm, no later, or else I'd be nauseated for an afternoon run. Now, I eat whatever, whenever, and go about my day.

Better sleep and less restless legs- I had mild RLS prior to pregnancy and it's gone crazy lately. I find my symptoms are milder on days I've done something active. The promise of better sleep is a huge motivator to get my butt off the couch these days.

It's good for me and the baby- Of course. Sometimes the only thing that gets me going is knowing the benefits that working out, even for just a little bit, carries for my health and my little fetus's health. 

Cons of running while pregnant
Funky aches- Nothing feels the same right now. My arms and legs are chunkier so I'm getting chafing in all sort of unusual spots. My boobs are huge and move in ways I'm not accustomed to (to be fair, they were so little before, they really didn't move at all. It was nice). My ankles and shins have been aching weirdly during most runs and occasionally during walks. My midwives said it's most likely just changing body mechanics, but it sucks. The aches resolve immediately after running.

Extra weight- This is the cause of the funky aches. And the chubby arms and legs. And slowness. Being many, many pounds heavier than my normal running weight is... challenging.

Slowness- It's not fun to go out for what used to be a "quick 4 miles" and now takes almost an hour. Nothing is quick anymore. 

Needing to pee- I go to the bathroom immediately before a run and by the time I've hit "start" on the treadmill, I need to go again. I know this will only get worse, so I'm just trying to power through it and try and remind myself that I am capable of going more than 40 minutes without peeing. Really.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Alexandria Turkey Trot Recap

I apparently only blogged about this race last year, but I've participated in it 5 out of the last 6 years. I did a different trot in 2010 so my streak isn't perfect. Boo. My paces for previous years are: 2009- 11:28, 2011- 10:12, 2012- 8:37, 2013- 8:18.

Last year, I ran this race just before my big (second) marathon of the year. This year, I ran it as my second run of the week. Times have changed. This year, it was also much warmer than last year and there was another fun addition (aside from my extra tummy girth)- my dad joined us! Yay!

Sorry, Dad, this is the picture I chose. So glad I come from a family of models.

My dad's a really good cyclist who also runs when his plantar fasciitis isn't bothering him. He was a very good sport to join us this year even though the drive is pretty long for him (45 minutes to our house, then another 45 minutes to the race). I ate a banana, 2 eggs, and Kashi cereal before the race because I figured the long-ish drive would give me plenty of time to digest. That was partially true, but I was still a little uncomfortably full while running. 

I've mentioned in the past that this race is a pain for parking because you have to park on surface streets and you're never super close to the race start. We parked with an ok amount of buffer before the race start, but then things fell apart. It's always good to have a concrete plan for your group before you all go off in different directions. Lesson learned: Nick, my dad, and I all have different priorities for pre-race to-dos Mine: pee. Pee again. Drop off my sweatshirt so I don't have to carry it all race. Then, pee once more. Nick's: Stay warm. Drop off coffee cup at car so he doesn't have to carry it all race. My dad's: Pee. 

We lost each other when we split up to get our bibs. My dad went to find bathrooms, I went off to find my dad, and Nick looked for both of us. This was all happening about 20 minutes before the start of the race. After many, many curse words and much fretting, I finally decided to go back to the car. This was about a half mile away, so I needed to jog to get there and back in time. Waddly pregnant woman running at her top speed (10 minute miles!) + loudly cussing = a really, really attractive sight. Luckily, I found Nick at the car, ran back to the start as quickly as possible, used the (more convenient) volunteer bathrooms (sorry, volunteers... it was that or {seriously, not kidding even a little} squatting on someone's lawn) and Nick was able to somehow find my dad in the crowd of 5000. He was wearing a yellow jacket, which definitely helped. 

The race itself went well. I was already a little tired from my 1 mile warm up, plus there's always a million people to dodge at the beginning of the race, so things did not get off to a speedy start. I think the first couple miles were slightly over 10 minutes per mile. My overall goal was to finish under 50 minutes (10 minutes/mile) so I knew we needed to pick it up a bit in the second half in order to accomplish that. We did, for a finish time of 49:32- 9:55 pace. I was very pleased, but very tired. 5 miles is the upper limit for distance for me lately. Post-race goodies included granola bars and Larabars. It's a Thanksgiving tradition.

I posted this photo on Facebook after the race and got a lot of "Congratulations!" not realizing I hadn't previously mentioned my pregnancy on there. Oops. Better late than never? Also, hellooooo belly. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Second Trimester Summary

I'm now 27 weeks pregnant and at the tail end of my second trimester. Yikes. Also, hooray! The little bundle of flailing limbs in side of me is about 2.25 lbs and over 15 inches long. That's pretty hefty. The second trimester is supposedly the sweet spot of pregnancy, and that has definitely been true for me. We went on our epic trip to Italy this trimester, I ran a 5K and am doing a 5 mile race later this week. We went on many hikes and shopping trips to indulge my sudden need to nest and have my house look like Ikea. Those Swedes know how to organize.

Belly progression, a.k.a. That time I grew out a pixie cut for the whole internet to see:
8 weeks (first "belly" picture- this is just IVF bloat/OHSS. Only shirtless picture. You're welcome)


14 weeks 

21 weeks (the boobs really came into their own around this point, and people started telling me I'd "popped")

 27 weeks
27 weeks. A little more protruding happened in the last 6 weeks, right?


Front view 8 weeks and now. Not too much wider in the belly, but I'm pretty sure my face has gained 10 lbs. Also, I miss my short hair so much. 


Likes
Hair and nails- Still going strong, literally, despite my actual haircut being terrible.

Energy levels- For the most part, I feel wonderful! I can move around most of the day without pain or discomfort. Running is still going fine (slower, but fine).

Skin- Still "glowy" and pleasant overall.

Baby kicks/punches- Having this little person moving around inside me is THE COOLEST THING. I love weird little squirms. I wear a badge at work that rests on my belly and the movements have recently started moving my badge around. I love it.

Special treatment- my coworkers have started offering me chairs all the time. The other day, my excuse for being late to a meeting was "sorry, had to pee!" (this elicited knowing smiles and chuckles. Also, it was a lie. I'm just bad at time management). On one hand, being pregnant isn't a disability and I feel great. On the other hand, sitting down is awesome.

Dislikes
Gradually slowing down- Despite my decent energy levels, I am starting to drag a bit. I have the strong desire to get stuff done around the house, which has always been the case, but now I am most definitely ok with not doing stuff. I can veg out on the couch, no problem. I wish my energy matched my motivation all the time, but I know I need rest, too. I'll take the energy bursts when I can get them.

"How are you feeling?"- I like to answer this one with "I'm fine! Work is busy!" and watch people try and figure out how to ask me directly about how pregnancy is going. I truly understand that people are worried about my well-being, and I appreciate it, but good lord, I am more than just a baby vessel.

Awful labor or pregnancy stories- this usually comes up when I mention that we're planning a homebirth, but sometimes people just tell me anyway. I know my belly is about to get huge, and I'll be uncomfortable. Please don't share how your ankles swelled so badly you couldn't put on your normal jeans. And please, please, keep your labor horror stories and how you "would have died" if you hadn't had your baby in the hospital. I'm sorry it was so scary, I'm glad you and your child are ok. I understand the risks.

Heartburn- Still there, most of the time. Nothing helps. The midwives are holding out the "big guns" of Zantac for third tri when it supposedly gets worse.

Poor sleep quality- I hear it'll only get worse from here. Between needing to pee, having crazy dreams, and needing to wake up to heave my body from one side to the other, I don't sleep in good solid stretches anymore. It causes a feeling of general bleh-ness until the end of the week when I can finally sleep in!

Lower back ache- As I have been told by many coworkers and strangers, I am indeed carrying low (hooray for being tall-ish!). The little one definitely settled into my pelvis. The plus side is that my breathing is unimpeded and my ribs are avoiding kicks so far. The minus side is having the weight hanging so low on my body has given me a mild back ache every day for weeks, and a monster backache on days when I spend too much time on my feet. I'm trying to alleviate this with pelvic rocks and trying to have good posture.

I know I have more dislikes than likes listed, but that's just because I'm a complainer by nature. I adore being pregnant- I have been so, so lucky to have had an easy time with pregnancy. I love feeling the baby move and knowing that I'm nurturing a little life that'll someday learn to read, ride a bike, do a science fair project, vote (!!!!) and maybe be a parent him/herself. That blows my mind. With 90ish days left in this pregnancy, the end result is starting to hit me and I'm a little overwhelmed and incredibly excited. I can't wait to be a parent with Nick!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

My brain is still broken

In a recent post that surprised no one, I expressed dismay at my body and how it seems to change daily. I mean, I get that growing a human requires my belly to expand, but my upper arms? That part is lame. I'm not 100% recovered from the restrictive/obsessive/destructive thoughts that led me to have hypothalamic amenorrhea (over a year of typing that word and still can't spell it correctly on the first try...). This was reinforced the other day when I mentioned to Nick that I'm thinking about marathons next year, as in, the year I'll be birthing our child and (hopefully) being the sole source of nutrition for him or her. I have been reading lots of blogs lately about fall marathons and thinking to myself, "I could do that! I could totally run a fall marathon next year! That'll be 7-8 months after giving birth! That's like 32 weeks! That's 8 weeks of birth recovery, 8 weeks of base building, and 16 weeks of training! Totally doable!" (there are lots of exclamation points during my internal conversations) When I shared my marathon fantasies with Nick, he said, um, maybe don't get too excited, you'll be feeding our baby an awful lot so you don't want to do anything to adversely affect your supply.

On one hand, duh, of course I don't want to sacrifice feeding the baby/affecting my supply to pursue my own goals. On the other hand, my brain sucks and got really excited to go back to my old ways once pregnancy is over. I daydream about taking long walks with the dog and the baby in a carrier or stroller. Then I'll start running on the treadmill during naps. Then running outside when Nick's home from work. Weekends will have long runs.... I'll be back in some sort of marathon shape mere months after giving birth! Of course, "marathon shape" implies major weight loss. Knowing me, that wouldn't be from slowly, steadily, naturally losing weight, it would be from reverting to my old ways.

I know that my screwed up thought processes are still there because I struggle with them every day. The difference now is, during pregnancy, I easily recognize the destructiveness of the thoughts and I can  realign to my #1 priority, which is maintaining a healthy pregnancy. This doesn't mean I easily dismiss them- just last night I was freaking out over going out to dinner. I looked at the restaurant website and planned out what I'd eat and how many calories it would be, which is not necessarily a disordered thing in and of itself, but I took the extra step of figuring out how I'd make up for those "extra" calories and how it would effect my weight gain. Wtf, brain? You're pregnant, stop being stupid. Luckily, I was able to realize I was being crazy and just ordered what sounded good and I enjoyed it. There was still guilt, but I didn't let it overpower me.

However, the tiny sane part of my brain that's active right now is only active until February 22. After that, all bets are off. Admitting that I am having these thoughts right now, and knowing they are likely to only get worse is half the battle, right? After reflecting on that conversation with Nick, I have decided that I need to make a couple rules for myself or else I'll justify doing crazy things.
Rule #1: NO MARATHONS IN 2015. Not even "for fun." The first year of this little person's life is precious to me, and I will not sacrifice it for my selfish desires (TOTALLY not saying people who run a marathon soon after giving birth are selfish. But I would be doing it for selfish reasons). Rule #2: Run ideas by Nick. He knows me and my tendencies and will be able to tell me if I'm being unreasonable.

I have no idea what I'm going to feel like in 3, 4, 5, or 6 months. I do know that my life will be light years different than it is now and I will need to adjust. Setting goals is good. Setting them blindly, for silly reasons, is destructive and will end up with me back in a bad spot. I know this, and I will be on the lookout for those behaviors popping up again. Hopefully I'll be so madly in love with my infant, running and/or weight loss won't even be on my mind. And now I'm crying. Pregnancy hormones are fun.

Monday, November 3, 2014

I lied.

Subtitle: If there's a woman in front of me, I will try to catch her. Disregard Friday's post about being reasonable.

For the 5K on Saturday morning, the weather was drizzly and grey. It was a little chilly, a nice temperature for running. The rain worried me, because my bras have been chafing me like crazy lately (curses, pregnancy boobs!) and I knew rain would just make that worse. My attitude was "I paid for this race, damn it, I'm going to run it and then eat some snacks." Fueled by a chocolate cake donut (perfection) and coffee, we prepared for the race by warming up thoroughly...KIDDING! My dad did that. I sulked in the warmth until the last minute.

This is Nick's "I haven't run in months but I'm about to go kick your asses" face

We gathered for the start and I scoped out the "competition." This was sign #1 that maybe I drank too much coffee and was letting myself get too psyched. I noticed there weren't a lot of women, and there really weren't a lot of women around my age. Still, the plan was to keep the pace comfortable, stay with my dad, and just enjoy it, rain and all. Nick took off with the front guys and had a great race (there were a lot of men... he was 7th overall and 3rd in his age group!), especially considering he hasn't been training, and has hardly run at all lately. He's my hero.

I did the first mile a little faster than I'd anticipated, around 9 minutes. My dad was sticking with me, but told me I could take off if I wanted to. He was keeping my pace, no problem, and I didn't want to run on my own, so we stayed together. When we got to the turnaround, I noticed there were a couple of women just in front of me. My pregnancy-addled brain thought that had to be fixed, so I focused on passing them. My second mile was also 9 minutes. Go me, I thought, nice and even. Probably the first time I've ever done that in a 5K. 

The second half of the race tends to be more uphill overall, so I figured I'd slow down a bit. I saw one more "woman" in front of me. Woman is in quotation marks because she was a little girl. I didn't have a lot of juice left in me, so I sort of tried to pass her too. It was too late to really put any heat on, plus I felt bad passing a child so I gained on her a little bit, but definitely didn't kick. 3rd mile was 8:31, overall time of 27:15. As I was rounding the final corner, someone said "1st place, pregnant division! 3rd woman overall!" Umm, what? You mean I could have passed more people and been first woman?! Why didn't anyone tell me this sooner? The first place woman was about 45 seconds ahead of me, which doesn't sound like much, but I was already going at a pretty fast pace for my current fitness. I'm really proud of how well I ran, and placing in my age group is an added bonus! The fetus and I celebrated by eating eggs. 

...after reading all this, I realize that I didn't emphasize that this was a SUPER tiny 5K. So small! That totally makes the whole situation different. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

A 5K with a new kind of goal

On Saturday, I am running my first 5K my first short race my first race in almost 11 months. It is a local 5K that I did in 2011 and 2012. Last year, around this time, I PR'ed in the 5K, a week after running my marathon PR (Note to self: maybe don't read old blog posts, you'll just be sad).

This year, there's a tiny difference. First of all, I don't look like this anymore.
I have so many questions about this picture. Most importantly, why didn't anyone tell me I looked like a bobblehead? Second, will my boobs ever return to that tiny, manageable size? Please tell me they will. I hate sleeping in a bra. Third, did I not even TRY to brush my hair that day? Ugh.

Now, I look like this:
Boobs, belly, butt, and thighs? Check x 4. (and apologies for the classy bathroom selfie) Also, yes, I know I'm carrying low and mostly in front and boys tend to be carried low but I don't want to hear your old wives' tales. Hush.

Obviously this won't be a PR race, but I do have a little tiny goal. I know, can't I just be a normal person who runs for fun? No. Here's my goal: I would like to finish in less than 30 minutes. That'll make it my slowest 5K ever, but it'll be right in line with my recent running paces (10ish min/mile with the dog, 9:30ish without). Those paces are comfortable for me. My dad will be running too, and 30 minutes is a comfortable time for him. It'll be great! My secondary goal is to not walk at all, but I'm not 100% sure I will be able to do that, so if I need to walk, I will. 

I have a 5 mile Turkey Trot I'm doing later in November, which will have similar goals. I am taking this time to just be active and enjoy "racing" and the race atmosphere. It is a nice change from last year, where I killed myself to finish first. Maybe that competitive side will come back some day (year), but right now, I am so happy where I'm at. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Looking pregnant

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm having some trouble with my body right now. When I wear well-fitting maternity clothes (all but 3 of my normal shirts are ridiculously short now), I feel better. Mostly. This also helps clue other people into the fact that I'm pregnant, which I LOVE. Here are my favorite moments so far.

- A couple weeks ago, we went to get frozen yogurt. I had a 2 for 1 coupon, we were already in the area, the baby wanted it, blah blah blah I don't need excuses, I wanted frozen yogurt (when I say frozen yogurt, I mean a bit of froyo topped with a ton of Reese's cups and hot fudge. Nothing "healthy" about it). The employee mopping the floor commented that I needed to be careful because "we don't have insurance for one of you and we definitely don't have insurance for 2 of you." I laughed and inwardly rejoiced that a stranger felt comfortable commenting that I looked pregnant! HALLELUJAH!

- I was at a work conference with some folks I'd met before, months ago. One of them, a middle-aged guy, walked up and tactfully said "You look different... anything new with you?" which was the sweetest way of asking me without asking me. Well done, sir. I then proceeded to talk to everyone about pregnancy and childbirth. For me, having a default conversation topic is such a relief for my social anxiety.

- We went to dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant before our childbirth classes, and when my meal came out there was an additional dish that the waitress said was "good for the baby." Dude, if I had known that I'd get free, special food for being pregnant, I'd have gotten pregnant a long time ago (kidding. mostly.)! It's unfortunate that my stomach seems to be shrinking lately, because I sure love free, delicious food.

I might sound like I'm way overthinking this, but it takes both hands for me to count the number of times I've been asked if I was pregnant when I was not. And I can remember those instances from years ago just as vividly as I remember the ones from the last month or so. I have dresses and skirts that I stopped wearing because strangers (and coworkers) speculated about my uterine contents when I wore them. One commented, after I told him I was not knocked up, "my wife used to wear dresses like that all the time when she was pregnant" me: *burns dress*. For the next 3.5 months, I will relish these comments. Unless they get old before then. Then I reserve the right to complain about them.  

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pregnancy body image

Pregnancy. That magical time when you get to wear stretchy pants and flowy tops and eat everything and no one cares because you're growing a human.

Except I care. Because it's my body. I have written about my food and body issues for a while now, and I know from reading other blogs and pregnancy articles and books that the changes your body undergoes are not easy, but for some reason I thought that the wonder of pregnancy would overshadow any sadness or discomfort I had... it does, sometimes, but other times I just look at my ever-expanding thighs and get bummed. Telling myself it's all for a good cause helps. Telling myself it's temporary helps. But having the mindset of "I can fix this later" is taking away from the joy of finally being able to eat NOW.

So I'm trying to enjoy myself while trying to also keep my self-esteem from tanking.

What's helped:
- Working out
- Dessert every day. But keep it to once a day.
- Maternity clothes. Those stretchy waistbands warm my heart.
- Days when I feel like a larger version of myself, but overall feel pretty normal and great.
- Baby kicks! Knowing that this little person is thriving inside me is the BEST.

What hasn't helped:
- That some of my maternity jeans (with the low waistband) have already started to buckle under the weight/girth of my belly
- Comments from people that I "must be due sooner than that! I remember wondering if you were pregnant in February" (when I gained all the weight). Shut yo faces.
- Tired/lazy days that I have to force myself to get up from my desk/couch/the floor

Thursday, October 16, 2014

This time last year....

This time last year, I was finishing the Steamtown Marathon. It was a wonderful race, and I had a shiny new almost 30 minute marathon PR. I was so proud of myself for almost BQ-ing!


I also wasn't getting my period. My real life goal of having a family with Nick wasn't achievable. I was the fastest (and the thinnest) I had been in my life, but I under the pride of speed was misery.

I know the changes I made in my diet and exercise routine allowed me to get pregnant (plus science, of course!). I know that right this minute, I am filled with joy feeling my little fetus kick away. I cannot wait to be a mother. But I have to acknowledge the feeling of loss I have for the person I was a year ago.

This week, my Facebook feed was flooded with pictures and updates from the Steamtown runners (I still follow their page). I looked at all the PRs posted by happy people, running fast. I thought about how far away I am from those people and that community. I read Runner's World (yes, I am aware it's not a "good" running magazine, but whatever, it's entertaining and I still learn things) and can't relate. Mommy blogs? Pregnancy blogs? That's my jam now.

I know these feelings will intensify as I get more and more pregnant, and they'll shift to a totally different set of feelings when I give birth and have a new baby. Will I ever BQ? It's way too soon to tell. I want to... but I know my priorities will be completely different with a tiny person who needs me far more than I need to run.

I don't want to sound like I'm not immensely grateful to be pregnant. What I gave up to get here means nothing in comparison to feeling of pride and anticipation I feel planning for our baby. But this week, it's been hard. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Pregnancy update: 20 weeks!

Halfway there!

Love
Nails (and eyelashes!)- dear god, my nails are gorgeous right now. During our entire Italy trip, I had to file a nail once or twice after it got jammed on a rock. Don't try and tell me that prenatal vitamins magically made your nails and hair phenomenal, I don't believe it. I've been taking those things for at least 2 years now, and my nails only really changed when I got knocked up. My eyelashes are also longer and lusher than usual. So weird.
They're even longer now. I have to CUT MY NAILS, guys. This has never happened in my life

Hair- Lush. Shiny. Surprisingly well-behaved.

Skin- I know some women get acne from hell during pregnancy, but I coated my face in sunscreen multiple times a day during our trip, did a mediocre washing job each night, and somehow came away with just a smattering of new freckles and no zits. I have been very lucky to actually get that "pregnancy glow" (or so I like to tell myself).

Boobs- when I was fit skinny scrawny not pregnant, my boobs were not a thing. They were teeny and I could go braless if need be. Now, I have a love/hate relationship with their new enormous size. I love that I feel womanly for once, but I hate that I have to think super hard about my clothing choices for work so I don't look like a hooker. Also, food gets caught on them regularly. And sometimes I run into things with them. That's a bit embarrassing. But overall, they are glorious and I love them.

Do not love
Bloat- I am bloated and bigger than normal. I can still wear some of my more forgiving normal pants and shirts and I just look thick and puffy. I know at some point I'll be huge, but right now I mostly just look lumpy. Boo.

This dress accentuates what little I have going on. Not pictured: my boobs trying to escape the top of the dress. Pictured: stupid pixie cut awkwardly growing out.


Preoccupation with all things baby-related- My brain no longer has enough room to think about things that aren't baby-related. When we drive, I take all road names/town names/business names and put them in front of our last name. I also check out other peoples' strollers and baby carriers. And their babies. I might also ogle pregnant women.

Heartburn- I look at a glass of orange juice and start feeling bile in my throat. Since I'm on iron supplements, the timing of Tums ingestion is nearly impossible, because calcium prevents the absorption of iron. So I have to play a weird game where I figure out how many hours before I need to eat/take iron and then determine if there's enough time for me to take Tums and not screw up my iron uptake. Life is hard.

Peeing all the time- this has been a bit better the last 8 weeks or so, but I still pee at least every 2 hours. I also drink a ton of water, so that contributes (I'm SO thirsty!). I'm just tired of walking to the bathroom all the time. It gets old.

Overall, I am excited, happy, scared, and overwhelmed by pregnancy and I am so thankful I'm able to experience this. Even if it's not all positive, I am trying to savor every moment. Since getting over the first trimester miscarriage concerns, getting some good genetic screening results, and having a perfect anatomy scan , I am able to look to the future and imagine what life will be like with this baby outside.
Baby C, fist bumpin' in the womb. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Dolomites Trip Part I'll shut up now: Hiking and via ferrata while pregnant

Last post about the Dolomites! Good job hanging in there.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this series, I didn't plan on being pregnant when we took this trip. I knew it was a definite possibility, since we were talking about IVF timelines, but I couldn't plan one way or the other. When I realized I was pregnant in mid-June, and I figured out I'd be 4 months along when we got to Italy, it was too late to change our plans, and I foolishly thought I'd be 100% ok with hiking and climbing. 4 months is still early! I'll be in my second trimester and feeling great! I'll be unstoppable!

The reality is that pregnancy is stressful for me. I felt amazing on the trip, physically, but it was a little too much for me, mentally. Missteps didn't just mean that I fell, the fetus fell as well. A tumble could mean miscarriage. That weighed heavily on my mind throughout our more technically challenging days. I cried one day because it was just too much- I kept slipping and sliding and my lower stomach muscles ached. I wanted to be on flat, safe ground. I wanted to be home where I knew I'd be safe(r). After that day, I had slight cramping, which freaked me out even more.

The harness strategically avoids the whole uterine area.

Via ferrata were another beast. I was worried about the harness. Luckily, sort of, it sat way above my still-tiny uterus. It was snug around my waist. If I had fallen, it would have yanked my waist and under my butt, but not directly on my belly. I know that if I had really fallen, it still would have jerked on the baby, but I tried to make myself feel better by thinking that the straps didn't cross directly across my lower stomach.

Aside from tiring more quickly than Nick, I was able to get around just fine. My belly was still tiny and unobtrusive. My energy levels were pretty good. My appetite was insatiable so I was able to really throw myself into every huge, carb-laden meal. To be completely honest, if I could do it again, I would not do all these activities while pregnant. The risks of what I was doing overshadowed many of the joyful moments. There were happy, pleasant days, definitely, but there were tense, frustrating days as well. I am a worrier, but even if I wasn't, some of the stuff we were doing was downright stupid for me to be partaking in. I would have skipped the via ferrata and our one riskiest hiking day. I think I could have had an amazing time only doing the slightly more low-key stuff. Lesson learned for the next pregnancy, when I'm pretty sure our circumstances will be less conducive to a two-week overseas getaway anyway. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Dolomites Trip Part Eleventy: Via Ferrata

I'm doing all this in one post. Way too many pictures coming your way.

The last 3 days of our trip were via ferrata, meaning "iron road" in Italian. Basically, it's an easier version of rock climbing. You wear a harness and clip on to anchored ropes as you travel up or down a mountain. It's hard. It's far harder than I had anticipated. We were in a group of 7, plus 2 guides. Two of our companions were Australian sisters, the other 3 were American men. We had a nice variety of people and I think everyone really enjoyed each others' companionship.

Day 1: Averau. Following a 1.5ish mile steep hike, we climbed. This was supposed to be the "easy" day. It was.... not that easy. And sort of terrifying. We were done by lunch, then hiked to the rifugio and hiked around the nearby WWI bunkers and the phenomenal Cinque Torre for a while.

All decked out.

One of the less steep climbs

Descending: MY LEAST FAVORITE ACTIVITY. Thankfully, there was a nice little ladder.

LUNCH! It was possible to order small portions of 2 or 3 pasta dishes on one plate at this place. You better believe we took advantage. More heavenly gnocchi plus beet filled ravioli. Yum.

This place is unreal.

Day 2: Col de Bos. A ski lift down the mountain and a short car ride took us to our next climb. This was supposed to be a slightly harder day, and it was. We climbed up into a cloud, but then descended, without via ferrata, into a gorgeous valley. The rest of the day was more hiking and some easy via ferrata, ending at our home for the night.
Up and up...

Another shot for perspective of what lay ahead of us. Eeek!
So pretty...

We hiked past this enormous rock wall. Our guide say "yeah, I've climbed that." He was pretty intense.

Super cool rock layers- green, red, yellow. 

LUNCH! My second favorite meal of the trip: an "omelette" which was really a perfectly crispy crepe filled with cheese. This was crazy good.


Day 3: Punta Anna. A short but intense hike took us to our climb. I don't remember a whole lot specifically about this day. It was hard, but doable, and we were able to take it a little more slowly because we were the only group on our path. It was nice. Then, to descend, we slid down a hill covered in scree. For several hundred vertical meters. That's my definition of hell- my shoes were filled with rocks, I fell a lot, and generally hated life. Lame. But then we were DONE!
Going up- Happy!

Going down- scared!

I have no idea what we had for lunch. Sad.

And that concludes our trip. We had a nice dinner together and said our goodbyes to the group and to Italy. From there, it was back to Innsbruck and Vienna, and finally home.

Farewell to a country where the pizzas are so thin and crispy, it's socially acceptable to eat a whole one by yourself. And we did. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

European travel while pregnant

Let's break up the trip recaps with some talk about how our 2 week Italy trip went for me, as a 16+ week pregnant woman. I know my experience was a little different because of the nature of our vacation. We weren't in large towns, we were hiking a lot, we stayed in tiny rifugio. Also, all of Europe isn't the same. Clearly. With those disclaimers, here's my experience.

Flight length
Last year, we flew ultra-long distances to New Zealand, so I had an idea what I was getting into with our 9.5 hour flight. Still, my mom and my midwife both warned me about increased risk of blood clots during pregnancy, particularly when flying. My solutions: compression socks, lots of water, walking around frequently, sit on the aisle so getting up and down is easy. We brought our own water bottles so I wouldn't be at the whim of the beverage cart gods (although our airline, Austrian Airlines, was awesome and we got beverages very easily!). The only low point for me was an incredibly rough approach into Dulles on the way back that tested my ability to control my vomit impulses (I won, barely).

Booze everywhere
I was totally fine during the solo hiking portion of our trip, but once we got to the via ferrata, we were joined by 2 Australians, 3 Americans, and 2 Italian guides. All of them wanted to drink, some more heavily than others. Beer at lunch was standard, and wine always came with dinner. I definitely coveted the lunchtime beers, especially when the alternative was 1) paying for room temperature water (tap water was not an option at restaurants) or 2) drinking from my hiking bottles, which smelled like sunscreen and were also not cold. I just wanted a cold drink! This wasn't really a problem, per se, but I did get jealous. I satisfied myself with tiny sips of Nick's beer and wine.

Soft Cheeses
I love cheese so, so much. I love it on salads and pasta and by itself. I was warned before our trip to be wary of soft cheeses since they might be unpasteurized, which carries an increased risk of exposure to listeria. I figured I'd just avoid them when possible, but still have tastes here are there. It turned out they were fairly ubiquitous. Cheese plates had soft cheeses (of course) but so did pizzas, salads, and pasta. I basically threw caution to the wind with this one so that I could eat the foods that were offered to me. And it was delicious.

Eggs
In the US, I eat my eggs super hard cooked. Boiled eggs are hard-boiled. The only other way I like to eat eggs is scrambled until fairly dry. This is a personal preference, but while pregnant, runny eggs should be avoided due to the risk of salmonella. On our first morning, the hotel had an egg boiler. Someone soft boiled the eggs and they were incredibly runny. I figured, oh well, this is one experience, tomorrow I will get some hard cooked eggs. Nope. The next time I had eggs, they were just barely fried on one side. The white was still a little soft.!The yolk wasn't even hot, just warm. It turns out, this kind of egg is quite tasty, but it still worried me. I had more soft-boiled and barely fried eggs at multiple other stops. I specifically requested hard cooked eggs at one dinner, and got... slightly less soft eggs. Since I was worried about my protein intake (see below), I went with what tasted good, put my faith in the kitchen cleanliness of the places we frequented, and ate what was available.

Protein (as a vegetarian)
In my daily life, I have no problem getting a ton of protein in my diet (my midwife hinted that maybe I could cut back. I can quit whenever I want. I'm just a social protein eater). In Italy, I figured I'd be ok- surely there would be vegetarian options with a little more bulk to them than just salads and pasta! False. There was one day in particular where I had cereal for breakfast (not much protein), pasta for lunch, and polenta for dinner. That day, I had a Clif bar or 2 to supplement my needs, and hoped it would be ok. I might have had 40 g of protein that day, on a goal of 60-80. Not so good. This one really worried me because while listeria and salmonella are potential issues, too little protein is a very real issue. I ate lots of cheese when I could, despite worries about saturated fat, and just did my best. Luckily, breakfast almost every day (except cereal day) was yogurt, so I had a guaranteed dairy and protein source. On those days, I probably got 50+ g of protein. Not great, especially considering our activity level, but better.

Fruits and vegetables
Another hard spot for me. I think I had one fresh apple, a banana and a 2 salads during the whole 12 day excursion. I really looked for opportunities to eat more fresh produce, but there weren't a whole lot. I think this was due to the area we were in- up in the mountains, without a lot of access for vehicles to bring in produce. I tried, but failed. This is the second most upsetting issue (after protein) for me, because I know the fetus benefits greatly from the vitamins and minerals in fresh food. I'm eating a ton more since arriving back home in an effort to make up for lost time. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Dolomites Part I swear I'll be done soon: Hiking Day 5

Last hiking post, promise.

We departed Lagazuoi in the morning, but first, Nick got some gorgeous pics of the sunrise.
I will sleep in a dormitory every night if it means I can see this in the morning.

You think I'm kidding?

I am (snoring German guy, ruining the fun for everyone). But this is still so gorgeous.

During WWI, the area we were in was disputed. It was originally part of Austria, but Italy tried, successfully, to take it over during the War. We passed many, many semi-intact bunkers and bits of debris nestled in the mountains. The tunnel we traversed below was particularly impressive- It is 650 meters of stairs that head down a mountain. It was creepy, and uncomfortable, but incredible in its length and the amount of work that was put into constructing it.

It was like this for an hour. So much down. No lights. Kind of treacherous.

We saw edelweiss (after a week of singing the song). They were for sale at a souvenir shop/
Washed out LUNCH!!! picture, included for uniformity and because it was THE BEST gnocchi I had in my entire life. Smoked ricotta-y pillows of joy.

This was a shorter day, thank goodness, because we ended up caught in drenching rain toward the end of the day. We were only about a half mile from our destination though, and we happened to meet some Americans while we waited for our taxi back to town. We got back to our hotel and back to civilization. That evening we also got to meet the group that would be doing via ferrata with us the next few days. I was relieved, happy. and looking forward to doing something different for the next few days. Little did I know the challenge I was in for... 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Dolomites Part 5: Hiking Day 3 and 4

On our third day our destination was Lavarella (I'd linkto these but 1. the websites are often not very good and 2. they're in Italian). We once again had a lovely day of weather ahead of us. Nick and I looked at our map (that was our before/during/after dinner pastime... note to self, bring a book next time) and saw that the hike to Lavarella would be fairly straight and boring, and have a wicked downhill at the end. It may sound weird to want very badly to avoid downhill, but while going uphill is difficult, cardiovascularly, at least it doesn't feel as hard on the joints as downhill. So we devised a more adventurous, less direct route to our destination.
At the beginning. This part felt "hard," but it can't all be that bad, right?! RIGHT? 

Sliding down the hill... 

Sliding sideways down the hill..

Trying not to fall down the hill... 
Occasionally we were treated to a pretty waterfall.
Home sweet home for the night. 2 tiny twin beds. Tiny room. No longer care as long as I don't have to climb down any more hills.

LUNCH! Spinach knodel (amazing dumplings). Nick's pasta has butter on the sauce, which he said was a delicious addition. 

And for the second half of our day, we hiked up to that pass. Because we hadn't had enough challenges. 

And then it rained.

This was not my favorite day. Our hikes were very challenging and I was stressed out. The path in the morning was kind of hard to follow, and I worried about being lost, falling, and all sorts of other things. We made it through just fine, but not without some complaining from me.

Luckily, we followed day 3 with day 4 (because we're logical). Day 4 was my very favorite, by far. Our destination was Lagozuoi. Our day started with a serene hike through a valley.
So pretty... 

Look closely, that is a perfectly still lake with the mountain reflected in it. 

There were horses. I was excited.

Then we had to go up. Final destination: that notch between the mountains.

Getting there.

And then the descent...

Worth it. Gorgeous turquoise lake on the other side!

Bad pic, sorry Nick, but LUNCH was a cheese sandwich picnic.

And then we had more up. 2 more hours. Our destination is that little hut atop the mountain.
Once again, views were worth it!

Our home for the night: dormitory. Oof.

I'm on top of the world

The beauty was overwhelming. So much to take in.

This was officially too many pictures for a blog post, so I will stop there. One more day of hiking to come!