Why Didn’t Anyone Ever Tell Me…

That sometimes motherhood blows?  Yep, I said it.  Sometimes being a mom, plainly and simply, sucks.  But according to everyone’s Facebook and Instagram posts, motherhood is all rainbows and butterflies. What the hell? Am I alone here?

In all honesty, it is hands down the hardest thing I have ever done.  It is by far the most tiring thing I have ever done (In college pre-season we did 3-a-days and mommy-hood easily tops the cake). It’s without a fringe of a doubt the most unpredictable, 24/7 job I have ever partaken in.  It’s the only job I have EVER heard of that never allows you to you disengage. (Even when you sleep, I swear you’re still 1/3 awake, listening for that tiny whimper.)

Sure, before and during my pregnancy, I got the broad picture… Less sleep, less socializing, less travel, less sex…will seriously never be an issue for my husband … and less spontaneity. Not too bad right? Wrong.

NO ONE told me the not so obvious details like:
Before you have children…
-Cherish your long showers when you have time to just. stand. still. under the warm, falling water.
-Cherish going #2 with a book in hand, instead of a baby (yes, this happens).
-Cherish staying up late and not having to drink 26138291 cups of coffee the next day.
-Cherish cooking meals that include 4 or more ingredients.
-Cherish eating a meal that includes sitting in a chair, at a table, opposed to standing on a floor, at a counter top.
-Cherish wearing makeup instead of clothes covered in vomit.
-Cherish the absence of spit up, in your house, in your car, at the store, and on a walk, you are so unknowingly blessed with currently.
-Cherish not having to get through your day doing everything with one hand, and sometimes your feet.  (I have mastered the ‘toe pick up.’)
-Cherish leaving the house like this-
Purse and keys. Walk to car. Get in car. Go.
Instead of like this-
Diaper bag.  Make sure diaper bag has diapers and wipes. Paci. Sophie the giraffe.  Swaddle.  Insert baby into stroller.  Walk to car. Realize you forgot purse and keys.  Walk to house.  Grab purse and keys.  Walk back to car.  Put baby in car seat.  Put paci in baby.  Put Sophie next to baby.  Cover baby with swaddle.  Put diaper bag in front seat (where it’s handy).  Fold up 40 lb stroller. Put 40 lb stroller into trunk.  Get into car.  Take a shot (kidding, but you’ll have the urge, I promise).  Go.
-Cherish taking your dear, sweet time getting ready. If your man gives you shit, tell him to shove it.  Blow dry your hair, girl. Apply 5 coats of mascara.  Cover up every pimple perfectly.  Bask in the delight of full face of flawlessly applied make up and beautifully done hair.
-Cherish seeing your friends from near and far whenever you deem it necessary.  It just won’t happen as much.
-Cherish not having to leave events early! Baby gets fussy. Baby gets hungry. Baby has an early ass bedtime!
-Cherish your dog! My poor, poor, neglected, stepped on too often, dog.
-Cherish grocery shopping without having to stop half way through, only to try again tomorrow.
-Cherish your messy house. Yes, your messy house will get more f$@% up!
-Cherish doing 7 loads of laundry a week. You’ll soon be doing 70.
-Cherish non-segmented sleep. Sure, I sleep about 6-7 hours a day. In 30 minute increments. Sometimes standing up.
-Cherish yourself and your time, because before you know it, you will so willingly put the most precious gift you could ever be given, before yourself on a minute to minute basis, day in, and day out.
-Cherish the you, you currently know. I have a baby boy who has taught me some of my biggest strengths and weaknesses, all in 6 short months.
-Lastly, cherish the world as you currently know it because although motherhood sucks sometimes, your heart is about to overflow with a love you’ve never before experienced.

So yea, motherhood is freaking hard and freaking frustrating and freaking unpredictable but it’s also so worth it. The special moments that can last only seconds trump the crappy moments that can last hours. Hence, why Facebook and Instagram are filled with pictures and stories depicting happy babies, who sleep through the night and who hit every milestone on time. Our minds tend to capture, hold onto and share the good moments and all together, forget the bad.  However, from a new mom who experiences them all too often, the BAD times do exist, regardless of what your friends post on Facebook or tell you at the beauty salon.

To all the mommies out there who have terrible days too: After you put the babes to bed, have a beer and know you are not alone. Not in your irrevocable love , your fleeting loathe or your brew at the end of the day.

& To the soon to be mommies, don’t be scared! Just know you are in line for the ride of your life; lots of ups, downs, turn arounds and whoop-di-doos. Sometimes all you can do if throw your hands up, scream and enjoy the ride.

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Labor and Post Birth Tid-Bits

So,
After running on average 6 days/week (accumulating close to 35 miles/week) and lifting 2-3 days/week throughout my pregnancy, what was the result?

My labor was text book.  My water broke at 5:30 PM on Oct 26, 2013 (37 weeks, 6 days). I started contracting 30 minutes later. When I got to the hospital I was 2-3 cm dilated (“take that!” to the nurse who told me I had probably just peed my pants because I was only 37 weeks) I had an epidural at 5 cm.  No pitocin.  Pushing was more painful than exhausting.  I pushed on pretty much every friggin contraction. And no, I was not one of the lucky ones who only pushed 3 times.  My son was born at 6:35 AM.  Thirty minutes later I walked from labor and delivery to our hospital room.  The nurse told my husband it was one of the smoothest labors she’s seen.  Whether or not she tells everyone that, we’ll never know but I like to believe my husband and I, as a team, did a damn good job (He was such an amazing support.)

Daddy
Daddy
My pre-pregnancy weight was 155. When I delivered I weighed 171. That’s a 16lb weight gain.

My baby boy weighed 7lbs, was 20 inches long and was/is as healthy as can be.

Thatcher Bishop
Thatcher Bishop
I chose to breastfeed and had very few issues.  The beginning WAS a learning experience for me and my baby boy.  Though I would say we crossed the beginner to intermediate to advanced thresholds quickly.  My supply was never an issue.  Some scrutinize that exercising decreases supply– they cray.  In my experience this is absolutely false. When I was pumping I get 5-6 oz…out of each boobie!

My pelvic floor is as strong as ever! I do not leak and do not have to sprint to the bathroom unexpectedly.  A lot of my friends told me my bathroom habits would never be the same after birth, especially SINCE I was running so much.  Not true.  I believe running (and especially lifting) helped STRENGTHEN my pelvic floor.  Lets be honest here, during runs in the later months you’re basically doing one long Kegel exercise the entire duration!

I went on my first post pregnancy run 7 days postpartum. Did it hurt?  No.  Feel a little funny?  Yes.

I ran 6.5 miles 2 weeks postpartum and also started developing iStroll workouts.

After my first long-ish run post partum
After my first long-ish run postpartum
I was down to my pre-pregnancy weight the same day I went on my first run,  7 days postpartum.  A week later I weighed 7 lbs less, which is pretty much where I have stayed- 143-148.

Throughout my pregnancy I never got “swollen”.  Water weight was never ever an issue. My wedding bands always fit and I never once got sausage toes or ankles! That idea is still so foreign to me.

My resting heart rate while I was pregnant was always around 58. My blood pressure was always in the 115-110 over 70 range.

8 months!
8 months!
I never purchased maternity pants. Most (some were too high waisted) of my jeans would button beneath my bump.

& Lastly, 5 months later I still feel great!

Update: 1.5 years later and with the development of iStroll I’m in the best shape ever and do not doubt that I could do it all again! 

  

Getting started, First Trimester Running

One of my biggest regrets as I begin this blog is that I did not start tracking my mileage until the 2nd trimester.  Thus, I don’t have numbers to share reflecting my first trimester runs, but I do have a good recollection of my experience.

For starters, I have to throw this out there- I didn’t have a lick of morning sickness.  Toss it up to good luck, good genes, healthy eating habits or working out daily (I have heard working out helps with morning sickness!).  I didn’t get sick– not once.   With that, I cannot, at all, compare my experience to the mama’s out there who are strung over the toilet, spewing out their guts multiple times a day in the first, and sometimes second and third, trimester.

6 weeks pregnant
6 weeks pregnant

So I got lucky and dodged morning sickness, but I sure as hell felt tired; literally could have slept All. Day. Every. Day. Fatigue was definitely my biggest pregnancy-symptom-culprit, second being the drastic decline in my running pace.

(Side note: I did also get some weird skin tag on my neck and a freckly face!)

To put it into perspective, the week before I got pregnant I ran a half marathon.  Around 4 weeks after baby boy’s conception before I knew I was pregnant, I THOUGHT I had hit a weird running wall.  My average training pace on a, say 4 mile run, went from 7:00:00-7:15:00 mile to 9:00:00-9:30:00/mile.  Low and behold, I was not somehow regressing, I was just preggers!

When I found out I was pregnant I was 6 weeks along.  I quickly dove into any information (There’s some, but not enough!) I could find on running/exercising while pregnant.  One of the first things I looked into was  why I was dragging ass on my runs…

Broken down into a very simple summary, this is what I found:
When you become pregnant your body’s hormones change to support your growing belly and the little baby inside.  One of these hormonal changes causes an increase in blood PLASMA (Note plasma, not cells).  So the volume of the fluid that your red blood cells float around in increases, but (very generally speaking) the number of cells in the fluid remains the same.  One of the main jobs of a red blood cells is to transport oxygen to muscles.

Got all that? So- When you exercise (use your muscles at a greater rate and with more force) your muscles need more oxygen.  But now that you’re pregnant your heart has to pump quicker and you have to breathe harder to push oxygen (attached to all the cells) to your muscles through your extra blood plasma (fluid).  All in all, exercising DOES become more difficult and in a sense you DO regress; you’re having to breathe harder to get more oxygen than before and your heart has to pump quicker to get the same amount of oxygen to your muscles as it was prior to pregnancy.

Confusing right? Let me draw you a picture.

for blog
Pumping heart to get O2 to muscles. Left- not pregnant; Right- pregnant
Besides fatigue, my symptoms were minimal. I had mild round ligament in pain in my pelvis and groin-ish area that often felt worse after a run. I’ve read journals and googled to the days end and haven’t found any research on running while pregnant and the affects on the ligaments supporting your belly. I truly believe running strengthened every muscle, ligament, tendon and joint that partook in carrying my unborn son. My scientific two cents is that if the ligaments supporting your belly are like everything else in your body, they’ll adapt to keep up with your daily activity. I held baby boy super high and super tight (My belly didn’t “pop” until 8 months.) so I assure you my ligaments were nice and strong– perhaps due to running every day.

During the first trimester definitely don’t over consume. Your babes is still the size of a tube of lipstick therefore when you gain 10 lbs in the first three months, you can’t blame it on your new addition! Yes you’re working out and yes you’re pregnant so you DO need more calories than the average shmo. BUT we’re not talking a banana split after breakfast lunch and dinner. Be mindful. Be smart.

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Remember, he’s the size of your Chapstick tube!
If you can over come first trimester fatigue as well as the blow to your running ego, you should be able to keep chugging right along to the second trimester- the most pleasant time frame of your pregnancy!

Unsolicited advice on critiquing women.

This advice has nothing to do with running or pregnancy.  It is perhaps, pre-“running while pregnant and life thereafter” but could also apply to the “thereafter” counterpart.  So in a sense it makes sense but doesn’t quite make sense at all.

Anyway.

It is without question some of the best advice I have ever been given.  It’s advice I have repeated to my husband once or [1161628126 x] twice and have repeated to friends, mostly men, some women, 100 times more.

I received this advice my freshman year of college while standing in a team huddle following an early season soccer practice.  Our coach was beginning to “critique” our play that evening but to soften the blow, he shared a personal philosophy he carried out with his wife, players, and students daily.

He told us that when critiquing — we women see it as “insulting”– a woman, before spewing the insult, be sure to compliment her two (or even three!) times.

He followed by continuing our soccer practice ‘critique.’
“First compliment; You guys are really coming together as a team.  I see it in your passes and your communication on the field.
Second compliment;  Everyone’s passing this evening was spot on too. You would think you all have played together for more than a months time.  Insult;  BUT you are still being lazy asses.
If you all sprinted to the ball instead of the half ass jog you’re giving, your predictability would make it easier for you and your teammates.”

Do you see? Compliment, compliment, critique.

Here’s a different senerio from a professional standpoint.

“Y, please come into my office.”  Y leaves her desk, walks down a hallway outlined by cubicles and crosses the threshold into her bosses office.  Her boss (man or woman) shuts the door and asks her to sit down.  “Y, I’ve been going over some of your work.  You rarely fail to impress me; definitely one of my top performers … but I need a lot more out of you when it comes to case files.  When editing case files, please be sure to double, even triple, check your work. I’ve noticed too many errors. An intelligent girl like you can definitely do a lot better.

Again, compliment, compliment, critique, compliment, critique, compliment.

The last couple examples are between husband and wife.

Husband Z thinks his wife looks hefty in the outfit she plans on wearing to dinner. Initially he does not plan to say anything, but then wife Z asks the famous and oh-so-touchy question, “Hunny, do I look fat in this?” Husband Z responds, “You know your red dress? You’re irresistible in it! That red dress is my standard, and this one doesn’t come close. What were your other outfit options? I’ve seen you in other dresses that look a lot better on you.  I don’t think it’s you, I simply think this dress fits funny.

Compliment, critique, compliment.

Or here’s a super duper simple one my husband has mastered.  My husband walks into our bedroom as I am changing clothes and says “Babe you know I love ya to the moon and back, right?  Me: “Yea…” Husband: “And you’re the girl of my dreams?” Me: (At this point generally knowing what’s about to come) “Mmm Hmmm.” Husband: “Well, those jeans give you Mom Butt.”

The couple compliments in the beginning really adds cushion to the insult at the end, whether the insult be true or not. It’s just so much better, so much more lighthearted, and so much more approachable than if he were to flattly say, “Ummm those jeans give you Mom Butt.” I would want to say, “Ummm F off.”

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Now, you’re probably thinking this is crazy and far too complicated BUT remember, women ARE complicated creatures!
Complimenting a woman before you critique her does more than a couple things.

First, it does the obvious; compliments her.  You’re checking that block for the day/week/month…  Whatever is necessary for the relationship you have with the woman, whether it be lovers, friends, or business.  Next, and most importantly, after receiving a compliment there’s a waterfall of positive feelings that over comes a woman as you stroke her ego, though she would probably never admit it.

The instant ego boost then grabs her attention; “Oh, you said what? You, my boss, thinks I’m the top auditor in the firm? Please, keep talking.”  So nooow she’s listening and when you throw out the ‘insult’ aka critique, she’s not going to feel as though you’ve backed her into a corner.  A woman will become instantly defensive if the first thing you say to her in regards to HER, isn’t positive, even if deep down, she knows you’re right.  But if your approach is compliment, compliment, critique, you’ll grab her attention, lighten the mood, drop her defense, and leave her thinking, “Well I obviously have nice hair and amazing eye brows, he’s right about that! So if he thinks I need to wax my upper lip, maybe he’s right😳.” — –Obviously a radical example, but you’re getting the jist.

To sum it up, when a woman receives a few compliments from someone, followed with a single insult/critique, will she argue? It’s unlikely. “Compliment, compliment, critique” is a great communication technique, especially on the lover and friendship front. Use it with your wife, girlfriend, best friend or dramatic guy friend (we all know one ;)) and I guarantee a better response from the lady you need to breach a touchy subject with.

Pre-pregnancy fitness

Exercise and/or running (really, any form of safe, moderately strenuous activity) through your entire pregnancy IS possible. I do suggest one thing– get in relatively decent shape BEFORE you get pregnant.

Post rainy run, my dog not so happy.
Post rainy run, my dog not so happy.
I have always been active. I began playing soccer at the ripe age of three in the YMCA league back in IL.  At first you would have never guessed soccer was my calling fore I could not, for the life of me, get through a game without sitting down in the middle of the field and crying for my parents.  Eventually I got over the, heaven forbid, 15 foot separation anxiety and went on to play on an elite club team, then in high school and later at a DI college.  Since I graduated in 2010, I’ve stuck to my washed up soccer game in adult leagues, running, lifting once or twice a week, an iStroll workout and occasionally I’ll throw in a fitness class or two.

The week(ish) before I became pregnant (yes, I know the date. We military call them deployment babies 🙊) a friend and I ran a half marathon in Jacksonville, FL. At the time, I was simply strong and healthy– nothing elite. The average Jane can do it.  I was not in the best shape of my life fore I definitely peaked in my college years but I am routinely active!

Hubby and I, soon after there were 3!
Hubby and I, soon after there were 3!
Last thing: The term, “in shape” is very relative. You do NOT have to have a banging 6 pack, be less than 20% body fat or be able to run a 5 minute mile. You DO need to have a daily routine that gets you sweating and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.   Pregnancy should not be your cue to start running/working out! Wanting to be healthy pre-baby, should.

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