To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.
-Steve Prefontaine
Make it simple, but significant.
- Don Draper

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Run Like A Cheetah 5K

I don't do local races. After all the training I have done for 2 marathons and tons of half marathons, I've pretty much covered all of the good parts of town during training, for free. So why would I pay to run those same paths? I won't. But when this particular race come up on my Facebook news feed I thought this was ok to do.... Never before have I trained where cheetahs live!

The Run Like A Cheetah 5K (although actually shy of being a legit 5K) took place at the Wildlife Safari, one of my favorite places to visit when I need my wild animal fix. It was the first time they've done it, and you could tell, but that's okay. The point of the race was to raise funds for the cheetahs so I totally didn't care that it wasn't something fancy. We had no race bibs, time clock or start and finish lines, but we had t-shirts, a water stop, cookies and a fun time!

My mom, daughter and I got up early (which is my normal) and made our way to Winston, Oregon with no idea of what to expect. After parking the mom Jeep and getting the stroller set, we made our way to the park entrance and saw a cheetah on a leash! Inside the gift shop we handed them our tickets saying we registered and were handed our t-shirts. Quite simple! Another cheetah was brought out and we heard some cheetah facts before informally starting our run.

For the first part I had the added challenge of navigating a stroller on a rough road. It was fun to run alongside Dayo, the dog that lives with the cheetah ambassador. It didn't take long for the dog to leave us behind! Being a runner with a stroller it seems I'm always starting at the back and passing people. This time nobody was brave enough to start so we went and ended up near the front of the pack. Only a few runners passed us in the initial flat area before we all settled into our places. The first long bit was all downhill. Again, another stroller challenge since my sleeping baby was ready to ditch us and go flying down on her own!

This was purely a fun run and we treated it that way with no strategy or desire to be the fastest. We just went along our way walking and running whenever we felt like it. I tried to get in as much running as we could in the beginning 2 miles because the last one was a killer! All uphill!

As we got closer to the parking lot it seemed like I was going to collapse on the deceptively steep road. But we made it. And then had no idea where to go. They said to follow the arrows, except they had no arrows! A volunteer directed us toward our next turn which was still unclear. Then it was the part I was most looking forward to and the reason I registered.... We got to run through the cheetah enclosure that is part of the drive-through section of the park! Back in the day the cheetahs could roam free and come up to you car. *It is entirely possible in high school one came close enough that I put my hand out to pet it. I took the opportunity to get near to the fence and get some up close cheetah photos because why not?

The tigers are also part of the cheetah area, but sadly none were visible at the time. I had to take the opportunity to get a photo of Katura with their habitat behind her since normally this would only be accessible by car. In no time at all we were exiting the cheetah area and I saw a little 8x11 paper that said Finish Line. Oh, well, okay. We are done! Give me some cookies!!

The Wildlife Safari Village was opening so Katura and I were happy to take my mom through it for her first time in decades. The lions were busy roaring and putting on quite the show! Best part of my visit? Hearing the White Cheeked Gibbons in the distance doing some morning vocalizations that I used to hear every day at Disney's Animal Kingdom! And my baby? Yeah she slept through the entire thing! It's her 3rd race (first in the rain!), so I guess it's no big deal now. She's a pro!

Next year, if we do it again, we are going to actually prepare for it so maybe the insane hill won't kill us!

Butte to Butte +1 New Team Member

Every year on the 4th of July people line up in Eugene to run the Butte to Butte. I've done the 10K twice, and let me tell you it is a challenging course! The first mile is uphill. Not just some gradual climb, but one where you'd want hiking gear to help you scale the top of a mountain. There is a 4 mile family walk, as well as a 5K. I decided it was time to come back for the 3rd time, but upon doing my research I saw that the 5K was the only distance that didn't require me getting myself, my baby and my stroller on a shuttle to the start line. So the 5K it was!

Packet pick-up was at the Eugene Hilton, which coincidentally is the location of the Olympic Trials headquarters! That made for some cool moments of "running" into athletes here to compete for their spot on the Olympic team. I fully admit I was star struck and couldn't stop looking at the muscular legs of every person I encountered. It was pretty cool to see a few of the Olympic Team cars, too!

Picking up bibs was easy, but we did have to visit a table to update Katura's age. She is now the default 1, since they didn't have the ability to register as being a 5 month old runner. What?!? It was so fun picking up her very own bib, and our shirts were quite nice as well!  

The night before the race I meticulously put together 3 outfits of red, white and blue .... but I think the tiny outfit is clearly the cutest! On race day she ended up wearing her coat over it, but she was patriotic in spirit!

The morning of the 4th of July, our new team of three loaded up into the mom Jeep and went on a quick drive north back to the Hilton parking lot. Preparing for a race with an infant is quite a different experience, but luckily it doesn't even allow time for me to get my formerly typical pre-race nerves. Yay!

Another stop inside the Hilton for a potty break and do get my hair pulled back. Well, yeah, kinda hard to do some braids when you have ONE hair tie with you and the rest at home on your counter an hour away. Oops! 
The start area was a very short walk from where we parked, and we had plenty of time to hang out and talk with other runners. I was so happy to be back in my element with compression socks, Adidas, a bib, Garmin and runners!!

Our start line was very narrow as we were actually running the reverse way through the finish line. The fast people started in front and we lingered in the back with the other stroller people. Katura was by far the youngest runner in this race. Ha!

I have way more photos than I have things to say about 3.1 miles. Hmm.

After the Star Spangled Banner we were off and running ... running smack dab into a wall of 4 runners walking as slow as can be. Ugh. Quickly I zigged and zagged my way around so I could pick a nice spot on a smooth section of the road so as not to totally annoy my little team mate passenger. She lasted maybe half a mile or so before she was asleep. At least she was bright eyed and bushy tailed before the race!

The course was so flat.  Down a road, a couple turns along Amazon Parkway and back down the same road to the finish. Weather wise is was perfect. Sunny but cool, just like I like it. Although I also like rain. And I like running at 43 degrees. So yeah.

We did zero prep for this race, seeing as I spend my nights pumping milk and tending to an aging dog ... meaning I never sleep and therefore currently have no energy to try to train. That will change soon, I hope!  So the plan was No Plan! We enjoyed time with the fellow stroller people, ran when we wanted, walked when we wanted. I pushed the stroller for the first 2 miles and then handed off duties momentarily to grab some water. Well that moment continued until we were done with the race. Running without a stroller made me feel so light and fast! The pace naturally picked up from that point on. 

As the finish was nearing Shawn (I think I retired "Man Friend", you all know his name by now!) said, "I don't care if we walk or run, but we are not letting that girl beat us!" Game on! So I gradually picked up my pace, as I am prone to do during any race, and made my move to leave her behind us. I always train for a strong finishing kick, and bring it out in every single race. This was no exception. Shawn claims I slowed a bit so he sped up to prompt me to speed up. Well that turned into an insane sprint to the finish ... mom versus baby! I crossed before her, yet somehow she beat me by one one-hundredth of a second. What??? My baby beat me???? Oh well, I'm sure this won't be the first time!

The finish line snacks were AWESOME!! Cookies, chips, drinks, yummy rolls with cinnamon chips in them. I was a happy camper with that feast!  All in all this was a really fun time! I've done my years of competing against myself, and now running has a whole new aspect for me. Kinda nice to not have any pressure! 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

One, Tew, 3, FOUR!! Four Months Old!

Four months. Wow! Time has flown by so dang fast. It was just a year ago that I had two embryos trying to nestle in and make a cozy home inside of me. And now I spend 20 hours a day with this little girl that is trying to grow up way too quick!

I am caught up on her baby book, now just adding in firsts as they occur. She's had her first bout rolling over lately, and even her first real laughs! She discovered her feet and ever since can't stop grabbing them with both hands.

Toys are taking over my home! With our Babies R Us registry rewards we had an insane amount of money on an e-gift card to use at Babies R Us. **here is my tip.... Register for things you want, even if you buy them yourself. We would register for items as we put them in our cart, have our registry updated, then pay. We did it for everything including furniture like her crib, dresser and bassinet. After the registry is closed you get rewards back in the form of a gift card. Uh yeah, I'm set now! A potty of her own, her own sofa, scooter, activity table/bench, movies, books, toys.... We loaded up! She even has her own "iPhone" now! So future parents, register!!!!

She is a complete jabber jaws. Non-stop "talking" when we are home. In public, around new people, she is a little shy, but if she is anything like her father that won't last long at all! I love it when she uses her soft, sweet voice. It is adorable! But more often she is letting us know just how loud she can be. It's possible she's caused an animal or two to leave the room because they weren't interested in her conversations.

Back to the toys, she can pick them up now if they are in front of her. Just the other day she grabbed her entire steering wheel toy with both hands and was holding it. This is not small, I was quite impressed! And it is so cute when she drives. She keeps one hand on the wheel and the other reaches around hitting buttons, the key or the shifter. Before I know it she'll be driving her own Jeep. 

This is all over the place and random. I feel my traditional 4 hours of sleep give me the right to be scatterbrained in my own blog! The photo above with the little OSU stuffed animal... that was a baby shower gift from Dixie. Dixie gave the suggestion to take Katura's photo every month with it to show her growth. This is the first month using it, so expect to see that animal popping up regulary in these posts!

I bet there are important things I should note. But again, 4 hours of sleep a night. My little sleep is not even because of Katura. She sleeps through the night because she is a good girl and loves me. My dog wakes me up for potty trips. When a 14/15 year old dog asks to go potty, you don't say no. You happily get up and appreciate her going outside to potty and not on the carpet!! If I get up with the dog I usually just end up in my chair pumping milk. So on any given night there is a good chance I am up for a hour while the rest of the world is sleeping. Another reason I don't sleep I guess is because of the baby.... the baby and my perhaps over-paranoia of SIDS. If she is quiet too long, day or night, I HAVE to check on her. The other day I didn't see her breathing so of course I gave her a good poke. Oops! So much for that nap she was taking!

She's trying to put her feet in her mouth right now!! But she keeps distracting herself by insisting on watching me write. It is quite an ego booster when you can walk into a room or talk and end up having the undivided attention of an adorable little girl! She's quite a Mommy's Girl, but she always loves play time with her daddy!

Last week I was curious about Disney Springs in Walt Disney World and how it compares to the former Downtown Disney. I was googling images and found a video of people checking it out. Well that one video turned into my new obsession with these vloggers on YouTube. Katura and I were alone watching their fun videos going around Disney, Universal, their normal lives .... and we decided it was time for a vacation. But where to? 

We never had a honeymoon. We wanted Hawaii, but since we were married in Vegas we thought we would delay it so it wasn't like 2 back to back trips. For our anniversary the trip was delayed due to buying a new house, Man Friend's mom passing away and doing a Ragnar Relay. The next anniversary we were secretly going through IVF so vacation wasn't really even a thought. Well now I have my baby, we are living a normal life, and it feels like it is time. Man Friend made the mistake of agreeing with me and he barely said the word Hawaii and I was set! 

Soooooo, vacation prep is on! I'll have a birthday and Katura will turn 9 months old while we are relaxing on the beach in Honolulu! I used to fly maybe 3 times a year, so I am very comfortable with airplanes, packing and TSA screenings. Bringing a little girl is a whole new ballgame, and I'm quite excited! I've got a notebook where I'm writing down any ideas I have about packing and what kinds of things we could do in Hawaii. My little girl already has two new bikinis and some outfits for her time in The Aloha State! I knew I had to shop now because by the time we go I would have no luck finding her some warm weather attire. You can see one of her new hats in the photo to the left, it has a matching outfit (not the pajamas she's wearing)! Since it was watching a couple going to Disneyland that motivated me to plan a vacation, it feels fitting that for my birthday we are going to Aulani (Disney's new resort) for a character breakfast. I am excited to see Katura meet Minnie and Mickey for the first time. She watches them every morning, so maybe she'll recognize them?!? We'll see! And to top it all off, her Grandparents are coming along! 

And with that I already have airline tickets and our hotel booked, so it is time to finalize our rental car so I can relax and maybe whip out a boobie and feed a baby!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Little Update on a Little Girl

Here I am, finally with a moment to write this blog post that I've written in my head many times, and I suddenly have writer's block. Of course! I'd say I blame the baby, but really I should blame the dog that wakes me up every hour to potty at night and my boobs that wake me up feeling like solid boulders desperate to be pumped.

So a baby update! 

<-- Our hand prints, part of our Mother's Day gift to my mommy!

At the last appointment we were at, days before my return to work, we were given permission to let Katura sleep through the night. Finally an end to having to feed her every two to three hours! And what a gift it was that Katura went along with it and has no problem sleeping through the night. She and I are pretty much on the same schedule in the morning, with her waking up after I finish my final pre-work pumping. But still I sleep maybe 4 hours a night, thanks to my old dog and pumping milk whenever I wake up feeling like I'm about to explode. My alarm used to go off at 6:20am before becoming pregnant. I switched it to 6am once pregnant because I had to allot some time for my daily bout of morning sickness. Now my alarm goes off at 5am, but usually I am awake before it. And I use every single minute to get myself ready, feed Katura and get all of my gear ready for work. 

Work ... first off, the "gear"... I go every morning with a big cup for my ice water and my bag that contains my breast pump and small cooler. Farewell to the days of just walking out the door! I was up and down about my feelings on returning to work after maternity leave, but I must say I was pleasantly surprised! It was great to be back with the girls again. Shortly after my return I had my annual evaluation, which was the best one I've ever received. It was such a relief and really helped me transition back to working every day. I only work 4 hours each morning, Monday through Friday, which I imagine also helps me transition. If I had an 8 hour work day, ugh, that would be too hard to be away from her that long!

With work I have a whole new outlook. If we back up, a few years ago we had a different roster of people working in our department. Work was awful. I chose to go part time to at least maintain some sanity and minimize my time around the incredibly hostile environment. Things have improved with people leaving and the addition of two new faces. Those faces have really turned the atmosphere around. Now I go to work and it is almost as if it's my social hour. My four hours a day to visit with friends while having fun organizing things and playing around with numbers. After my daily free time (i.e. work) I then go home to what is now my real job, my job as a mom!

Child care is pretty awesome in our family. We are fortunate to never have to have anyone babysit Katura. Between my mom, husband and myself we have her covered thanks to our variety of work schedules. My mom and Katura have fun enjoying the outdoors, Uncle Buddy (my "brother", and mom's lab puppy), and reading books together. I suspect Katura will be bossing Buddy around in no time at all! 

My time with Katura is always busy and an adventure! She still loves bath time and floating around in the big sink. Now that she's holding herself up better she's been really into sitting up and watching anything that is happening around her. The cats and dog catch her attention often at home, and we've recently had the discovery of Disney Junior cartoons when I'm getting ready for work. Another discovery... her voice. This girl is a "talker"! I've been getting ready for work listening to her carry on conversations with herself. So adorable!

Everything is going in her mouth now.... burp cloths, blankets, Sofie the giraffe, and mostly Mickey Mouse. Often I grab things and find them to be all slimy from being in a little girl's mouth. She doesn't really take her pacifier as often now because she realized she has little fingers and hands and they are sure tasty and always available! I was a thumb sucker myself, so I understand the appeal!

I keep expecting people to unfriend me on social media because I'm that annoying mom that always shares photos of a happy baby doing things. I imagine everyone must be hiding me instead because seriously, how do you put up with me?? Instead I've done unfriending actually. When people start getting a little too creepy and sharing my posts all the time and just giving off a vibe, well, it's time to go. Or those that I used to be very close with now absolutely have nothing to do with me once I announced I was pregnant and can't even say a quick hello ... good bye. My life is so dang happy right now that I just don't even bother to let in anything or anyone that is a downer. So if that means shifting my friends and my relationships with them, so be it.

I'll wrap it up now. Last thing, I'm finally physically able to run again, so I'm gradually working it back into my life. Katura loves her stroller, so I imagine she and I will be spending a lot of time in the great outdoors together. I've also been inspired to start doing the whole Zumba thing again in my basement. I just need to keep figuring out what works for Katura and myself so then I can work in these things and not just always be a zombie after my four hours of work. Oh yeah, by the end of my 4 I'm pretty much walking around with glazed eyes and ready to feed and snuggle with a little girl! Feeding ... uh, it's possible she and I have both fallen asleep while she was nursing more than one time. Just a couple days ago I woke up and my husband had loaded garbage, gone to the dump, and come home and I didn't even know because she and I had fallen asleep together. Oops!

That's it. Done. If I remember what I had actually meant to write about I'll be back!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Track Town 5K, With a Twist

Here's a first.... The first race report I have written on my phone while a baby sleeps on my lap!

In 2010 I ran the 5k from Eugene Marathon weekend for the first time. I was immediately sucked into that race weekend, only missing 2013 due to my wedding reception. There is something about running in Eugene that just makes you run better .... probably all of those crazy fast people you're surrounded by! The next 3 times I raced that weekend it was for the half marathon. Last year I planed to do the half and set a new goal for myself, but life had other plans. I ended up with doctor's orders to not do 13.1, but I could do 3.1 if I ran easy and took walk breaks. All of this was to keep my body in a safe and happy state since I was recovering from egg retrieval and preparing for my embryos to be implanted. It was a very worthy reason to run a 5k versus a half marathon! 

This year I had a pretty good reason again! I finally felt able to resume running after having my precious little baby, but that was only a week before the race. I want to start early being a good example to Katura and showing her how fun it is to be active, and prove that if you want to do something, you can. So I decided that less than 3 months after giving birth I was going to "race" again! I asked my mom to join me as I entered the Track Town 5K as one of those stroller people pushing a baby. I was prepared to be a stroller person!?!

Friday we ladies went up to Eugene for the expo, and frankly it was rather blah for all the hype of it being the 10th year. I maybe had too high of expo expectations. Getting our packets was a breeze though and we even won some free boxes of pancake mix! Most of our day was spent shopping, and I did find Katura her first race day outfit pants and a onesie that says "Team Mommy", which is very fitting since she was with her mommy and I was with mine!

Race day started extra early for me since now I have to be prepared with a diaper bag and milk for my girl, as well as my regular race gear. Around 6am we were on the road and heading to my usual parking spot a few blocks from the start line.

It was pretty chilly at first, so Operation Baby Bundle was in effect! No way would she be cold during this race! After her breakfast we made our way to the start area for last minute potty trips, start line photos and bonding with the other stroller people. We are certainly the minority, but didn't mind all mingling with each other at the very back of the pack. 

Once we hit the start line, however, we began running and set ourselves apart from the slow walkers and hand holders. That is a big race pet peeve of mine. Hold hands on a walk in the park, but don't get all cozy and attached during a race when inevitably you end up being a sort of wall that people have to weave around. So my pet peeve helped us get moving and in a safe pocket of fast walkers. 

The plan was basically to quickly walk and then run once we hit the track. Plans change. My legs feel better running, so any time they got cranky we would do a light run. Going down hills with a stroller is a totally new thing for me, and I learned it is easier to run that as well since the stroller is already wanting to go faster. Oh man, my arms! My legs felt it a little bit, but my arms are what got the real workout on that course. I had to do a lot of diverting around potholes and nasty parts of the street. Plus I had a death grip on it because that was my sleeping baby in it after all!

Coming up to the Hayward Field entrance we were cheered on by spectators rooting for those of us pushing our babies. That was fun and obviously very new to me! We hit the track and I told my mom we were running it in to the end. What I neglected to tell her was I always practice a finishing kick and use it in every race. Those people we were back and forth with during the race now became targets for me to pick off one by one. And I did. And then the real sprint happened and I confess I did ditch my mom in the last 10 or so yards. I always have to give my all at the end!

I was completely stunned when we were given medals! (They've never done this before!) And not a rubber cartoon-like medal like at a Disney race, but real, super nice medals! As we exited the race area we were given reusable water bottles with the race logo on them, already filed with water. Plus we got reusable tote bags, also with the logo, filled with snacks. Nice work, Eugene!! For the first time in all of my Eugene races I actually took advantage of the free pancakes. It was kind of fun to sit and have breakfast outside in the grass with my mom and daughter! Heck the whole weekend was fun!

On the way to the car we had to get some post race photos by Steve Prefontaine, as per usual. It felt great! I am so glad I signed up on a whim and that my mom joined me. So now I am looking forward to more training runs and building back up to my happy 13.1 distance, picking out some half marathons, and many more shorter races with my little girl and her stroller!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Tew Months Down, a Lifetime to Go!

Best two months of my life? Without a doubt! Not a day has gone by that I haven't been with my girl. The longest we've been apart was the short time that she was shopping at the mall with her dad while I was at The Wizard of Oz .... buying her presents, of course!  

She's growing up way too fast. I had to retire my favorite of her newborn pajamas sadly, as well as one pair of newborn pants and one regular onesie. Katura is still too small for 3 month sized onesies, so I'm getting maximum use out of her remaining newborn clothing and picked up a pack of 0-3 onesies and pajamas to get us through her transitional period. She's not a chubby baby by any means, but she seems to be gaining in length. We are not a tall people, so it will be interesting to see how much she grows and if she ends up taller than her father an I! Her little body is growing though, and she no longer wears newborn diapers. She still seems a tad small for her fancy* new style of cloth diapers, but I'm sure the day we start using them isn't far away! *I say "fancy" because people don't do the old school cloth with the diaper pin stuff anymore. These have buttons and cute colors and patterns and pictures all over them, easily adjustable to grow with her!

My upstairs living room has become an annex of her downstairs nursery. She has her own baskets set off to the side, one for clothes, one for burp clothes and one for her toys and books. Obviously she doesn't understand what I read to her yet, but she sure does enjoy story time, especially There's A Wocket in my Pocket!, a book of ridiculous rhymes by Dr. Seuss. If she could actually make laughing noises, I'm sure she would have when we read that for the first time!

Even though she doesn't make laughter noises yet, her dad and I get our fair share of big smiles and adorable squeaks during playtime on the floor. She has a play mat with piano keys to kick at, and boy does she love to use those big feet to kick and make music! Her favorite toy so far is a danging green frog that tinkles when she hits it. At times she refuses to even let go, which means her frog joins us for things like diaper changes and every ride in the car!

Katura loves her car rides, and is getting quite the musical education when she travels. Her dad tries to introduce her to Aerosmith and AC/DC while I let her listen to Broadway, hip hop and Jimmy Buffett! We have an new thing going, and that is the newly discovered fun of doing laundry. What? Yeah! I bring everything up and put it on my bed. She "sits" in her Boppy pillow and watches. We listen to music while I sing and dance and put away the laundry. I've even got her to start moving her arm with me all by herself! Favorite laundry song for her? "Life is a Highway", the Rascall Flatts version from the Cars soundtrack.

She's discovering her hands and that they are fun to suck on. Perhaps she'll discover her thumb soon? I woke up this morning to the sound of her sampling her hand and it was adorable! Bath time is still her favorite. She loves to "swim" while rinsing off. I hold her head and neck while the rest of her floats. She gets the cutest look of happiness and calm on her face. It's like she's at her personal little spa! Also she is trying hard to master lifting and holding her head up. Her hair is a new discovery, and I catch her grabbing hold of it more and more. She's making progress and growing up way too fast!

In this second month of life she had her first to the Wildlife Safari. She didn't exactly stay awake the whole time, but it was still fun to take her there and visit the animals in the village. **If you're looking for something free to do some afternoon, you don't have to pay to go into the village, FYI!

And what about me and my life as a mom? Well, I learned once you push a baby out you cease to exist and all eyes are on the baby. Can you blame anyone for that though? She is so darn cute! I am loving being her mommy. We are together non-stop and it makes me dread going back to work and leaving her for four hours a day. There seems to be a popular misconception in the universe that I was just a surrogate and went through years of trying to conceive and an obscene number of injections and drugs, pregnancy and labor so that my mom would raise her and not me. Um, no. Not going to happen. Pretty sure I am capable and I will do a fine job of raising her in my own way. So far she and I are having a blast together!

I don't miss work at all. I check my work email every day to forward along any important messages and voicemail that made it to my account. I still keep in contact regularly with a gal at work that is just too darn sweet. I certainly do not miss the negativity that wafts through occasionally. Heck I am not even there and people still gossip about me over the stupidest things that have absolutely nothing to do with them. Hello, Bitter party of 3, we have your table ready in the corner! 

I've been taking Katura on walks pretty often, and it feels great to be back out there on my old running trails. I bought a new Garmin since I lost one of mine, and it has made me so antsy to resume running and racing. I have to go buy some new clothes I think. Umm.... my old shirts are a little too tight now given the fact that I am always nursing a baby and have developed these ginormous boobs that I've never had. 

And with that, I have  our Eddy Arnold songs playing (she's clearly my Mini-Me with this one!) and we have some laundry and dancing to do together! 

Monday, March 7, 2016

My First Month as a Mom

One month ago my life changed, for the better, forever! At the time I am writing this, 1 month ago my contractions were starting. Now my body is 99% back to normal (healing wise, still gotta get my runner body back!) and I am looking at a perfect little girl fast asleep. I cannot believe how fast this month has gone by!

So what's life like for me with this girl? Awesome. 

For over three weeks I was home on maternity leave with my husband. The two of us had to figure Katura out and started trying to get a rhythm and settled into our new life. For the last few days I've been on my own with her, and I think she and I are getting quite good at the whole mother/daughter thing.

She was born late Sunday night. Tuesday night we went home from the hospital and were back the following morning for a check-up appointment. We learned she had lost 10% of her body weight, so I was asked to come back the next two days to check on her. And my homework for those days was to feed, feed, feed. I was told to feed, pump, sleep, feed, pump, eat and repeat. We did that and managed to have her gain a couple ounces over night. I pretty much was told to stay on that schedule until she had her first appointment with her pediatrician. Two weeks later we were at her doctor, and she was back at birth weight! I was given 2 more weeks to try to keep getting her to gain weight. And thus, this is my life. Feed, pump, sleep, feed pump, eat.... like washing your hair ... lather, rinse, repeat as needed!

I'm pretty much a dairy cow. I know of people that couldn't produce milk to nurse, and some who chose not to breastfeed. Yeah, well, I'm sticking to breastfeeding for now and holy canoli I'm always gushing milk. I would love to go to sleep without a bra on again, but then that means soaking through my night shirt and sheets. Thank goodness for the little soaker upper pads they make to put in your bra!! TMI? Eh, after all I've posted on this blog, this is nothing!

Speaking of my body, my little girl is nicknamed the Boobie Monster and I clearly have the magic boobies. I hardly have to set her on them and she falls fast asleep. It's a gift! She also loves my anchor necklace, so I guess I better get her one for her jewelry box. 

Sleeping for her happens during the day. I go to sleep at night for a couple hours at a time and her dad is such a helper and willing to stay up with her while she's a wide awake nocturnal little girl! I'm working on getting her cycle set to mine. In the womb she and I had the same sleep cycle, so maybe I can do it again.

She's been around town a few times now for shopping and a couple of meals. Once in her car seat she is peacefully sleeping, so that makes for a nice eating experience, versus having a crying baby causing a scene! People are so nice. Just the other day at the store she had 3 people comment on how beautiful she is. That's nice to hear! She IS adorable, and I'm sure it's not my motherly bias. Ha!

My spare time is few and far between. I've been diligently working on thank you cards and have half of them already delivered or in the mail. My goal is to get them all finished in the next day or two. Yesterday she only let me write 3. Her dad tells me I have to not give in to her all the time. I just can't let my baby ever be upset. If she wakes up and wants me, well, she gets me! Today I did manage to give her a bath, do a bunch of thank you cards, vacuum, do laundry, put away clean dishes, brush my teeth and put on deodorant. Maybe I'll work in a shower? Baths ... she LOVES them! I let her float her little body in our huge sink and she instantly relaxes. She loves floating in that warm water!

We have had some friends and family come to visit in this last month. She's awesome with visitors -- sleeps the whole time and masters looking cute! Now that I'm more comfortable I'll probably have her meet more friends soon. This weekend she will finally get to meet her grandpa that she share's part of her name with. He gets daily photos, but it's time for him to come home and finally get to hold her! And with regard to her name, I've heard people are absolutely butchering the pronunciation and adding letters that aren't even there. It is seriously so easy to say. It is just how it looks. Ka-tour-uh. 

So that's the first month. Milk Milk Milk!!! Oh, and a lot of terrible TV. Seriously, at 3 o'clock in the morning there is nothing on other than infomercials. Thank goodness for Netflix! I've also watched an obscene amount of Friends, Ink Masters, Bar Rescue and Cops. Welcome to maternity leave!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

After Thoughts After Labor

Here I am, a new mommy and completely in love! On Super Bowl Sunday some team of football players won a game. People all over the US had parties eating yummy snack food. Money was won in Super Bowl pools. I missed all of that, but I came out the ultimate winner by giving birth to my precious little girl, which you can read all about here if you missed it!

Having documented the experience already, I still have more thoughts I wanted to write down to help me remember down the road. So here we go, in no particular order!

  • Music was the key to my labor. The Super Bowl was on in my room, but I had it on mute. My focus, other than on breathing, was the music I had playing. I worked on an 8.5 hour music list ahead of time, which wow -- that's how long my labor was. I just now realized that! Some of the music I really remember hearing that helped a lot was:
    • Titanic. We did the entire soundtrack a couple of times unintentionally. But this is me, could I ever get sick of it?
    • Eddy Arnold. Grandpa's music kept coming on at times when I really did need it!
    • Michael Jackson ... as soon as she came out the song switched to Michael. She's getting a good early introduction to good music!
  • Pushing. Common sense tells us all it hurts. What I didn't exactly expect was one particular pain I felt as her head was getting close to coming out. I even said it out loud to the room... "It feels like my urethra is getting ripped out!" I guess it's a part of anatomy you usually just ignore. It has it's function and does it without effort. But when it's being squished to hell, oh my gosh, no, it was bad. That really was the worst part of the pushing process!
  • Sticking with that part of my body, the after effects .... you get these huge diapers that are like white, almost mesh, boy shorts. I am proof you can go wearing only Victoria's Secret thongs for an entire pregnancy ... and now they are sticking me in big ol' undies and putting in these pads that are so big I felt like I was walking around in adult diapers. To make it even thicker, they made these ice packs with newborn diapers to stick IN the undies to help ease all that was happening with my lady bits. Awkward? Yes. But overall did it help ease things? Yes. Welcome to the stuff people don't normally talk about. 
  • Spritzing. They gave me a little bottle to fill with warm water and use to spritz my girly bits when I'm using the potty. Oh hallelujah. That does bring some minor relief.
  • Also after the birth they took care of my uterus. Periodically, including right after the placenta came out, they would push down really hard on my tummy to help the uterus start getting back to normal. Pure horror. I hated it so much. Even today, 3 and a half days after the event, I had it done at the hospital again, and ugh, it just hurts really bad.
  • Let's keep the bloody nasty stuff going, shall we? After the room was cleared and Katura and I had enjoyed her first meal together it was time for me to happily take a shower. I was so nasty feeling, like I had just finished a marathon, so getting in the shower was exciting. Then while washing my hair I looked down. Hello Alfred Hitchcock. It was like the Psycho shower scene in there!
  • Speaking of marathons, my arms feel like they ran one. I know I was grabbing onto the bars by the tub during the transition phase of labor, but also during pushing they had me grab my legs and pull. Still my arms are sore from all the tension, pushing and pulling I did with them.
  • During labor Man Friend kept reminding me that I could do this. I did marathons and so I could do this. He reminded me how even during my first one when my knees buckled under me I didn't give up. I stayed mentally strong and pushed through to the end, and that I could do the same thing. He was right. And it was like a marathon. It started out easy, got awkward, then I had a second wind and felt strong again. Soon I was starting to question things and wanting to be done. Then it got really hard. The end got close and when I remembered how far I had come and what was at the finish line, I reached down deep and pushed so hard until I thought I couldn't do it anymore ... then I had my traditional finishing kick to the line and felt amazing when I did reach my goal and was handed my finisher's medal named Katura!

  • This photo melts my heart. My mom took a photo of her and I right after they put her on my chest, which I have cropped and shared here. We just stared at each other and it was incredible. We knew each other so well already. It was like the entire room went dark and quiet. I have no idea what all was going on. People could have been talking to me and I really have no memory. All I saw was that little face looking up at me. I think I got a little stitch and delivered my placenta ... didn't even notice. The whole world ceased to exist to me. The only thing that mattered was this precious little girl, still covered in some vernix caseosa, little bits of blood, the usual body fluid stuff on a baby. I didn't even care. I still had to caress and kiss her. She's my best creation and my most favorite thing in the entire world! Best moment of my life!

  • We had an immediate bond. Still, she might start crying, but if I barely touch her she stops and becomes calm. And skin to skin bonding ... she loves it. we do it all the time. Feedings at my house are a nudist affair at this point!
  • Nursing is an interesting thing. Sometimes I think it sucks when she practically bites while latching on. But overall it's not so bad. We get a lot of alone time together, her dad always nearby if we need an extra hand.  
  • The cute sounds she makes. Oh my gosh. In the hospital I pretty much never slept because I couldn't stop listening to her sleeping noises and watching her. Even still I find myself just gazing at her little face.
  • Hospital food. Could it be any more bland? It did make me happy to have cottage cheese and yogurt a lot. The vegetables I ordered were so bleh. I felt smart when I realized the best bet was to order Cheerios and fruit cups. Can't go wrong with that!
  • Man Friend told the guys in Lamaze to make sure to take advantage when the nurses ask if there is anything they can bring. Drinks? Snacks? Warm blankets? Ice? They are happy to oblige!
  • Ooh, that reminds me of labor. During active labor just before the transition phase I was shaking. I was so cold. The nurses said I could be cold, but it could be a reaction from hormones and signs that the baby was coming soon. They brought me heated blankets which helped a ton!
  • Speaking of blankets, I brought my own soft blanket which was one of the best things I had with me. I was using it the entire time after she was born.
  • We had a VHS/DVD player in our hospital room. We brought a lot of movies with us... if you can, do that! Hospital TV SUCKS!!!
  • I had a baby and my belly button never popped out and I didn't get stretch marks.  What?!?! I'm shocked at how my body is already bouncing back just days later. Obviously I'm not the way I was before being pregnant, but I feel optimistic!
  • Having a game plan going in I think was a good idea for us. It was nice not having to worry. Everybody knew my "rules" for the room and my desires for how the birth and labor would go. And everything was followed, Thank You!
  • Part of my idea birth plan was to not be naked and feel no sense of dignity. Well, you CAN give birth without being naked and without having everybody see everything. I pulled it off. EVERYBODY said, "you won't care". Really? I always told them that No, I would. But they ALL insisted "you won't care or even know". Yeah, ask the 4 in the room with me and they will confirm I was always keeping covered and making sure I stayed that way. 
  • What else did people tell me? That I would want drugs. Sure I whined that I would want them, but we know I didn't really want them. And as much as people thought it couldn't be done, I had a 100% drug free birth!
  • Lamaze class was completely worth it! I can't imagine not taking the opportunity to learn about breathing, as well as information regarding birth and labor.
  • Pushing hurts. BUT after all those contractions it was actually a relief to be at that final bit and be allowed to push your way to the end.
  • The phases of labor broken down (8.5 total hours of labor):
    • My water broke, and nothing happened for 2.5 hours.
    • Early Labor: I spent it at home with my mom. I was up, walking around, putting on make up, hanging up clothes, getting the bags officially ready for the move to the car, watching Friends, texting my BFF, taking photos. This was only 2 hours long actually. I had a very short "early labor"!
    • Active Labor: It started shortly after the Star Spangled Banner and kick off of the Super Bowl. We left for the hospital after the game began. I was admitted and got situated in my room. The half-time show is blurry to me, but I saw Bruno Mars like I wanted to. That is the last thing before switching to Transition.
    • Transition: This, coupled with active labor, was about 4 hours long. It was very painful. I was throwing up at times and spent most of Transition in the jacuzzi tub.
    • Pushing: This was about 2.5 hours we think. Fortunately for ME it felt faster since it was non-stop. I feel like for everybody else it had to be painful to watch or incredibly boring. 
    • Katura was born 11 hours and 58 minutes after my water broke!
  • Poop happens. 'Nuf said.
  • Contrary to what people say, you don't ruin your clothes. After labor and holding my fresh little baby I still could have worn my gown around if I wanted to without it even showing what had just gone on!
  • And finally, it's never too early to use your baby as a prop for fun photos and collages!