Monday, June 27, 2011

Tough Mudder Colorado

This past weekend was a busy one in our household. Not only did D get ear tube surgery to fix some nasty recurring ear infections on Friday night, but on Saturday afternoon, I attempted the Tough Mudder adventure race in Beaver Creek.

Insane? Yes. Not only did I feel terrible leaving my infant with my parents while I headed up to the mountains, but I also felt incredibly stupid for showing up to this event woefully underprepared. Had I done Insanity and P90X videos with my coworkers at lunchtime a few times a week? Sure. Did I knock off 4 and 5 mile runs on the weekdays? Yep. But that was about the extent of it. The race advertised itself as initially being 8 miles long. Then a week before the race it was 9 miles. And then the day of, we heard that it was 10. *10* miles. Seriously, I have never run more than 8 because I've never raced for more than a 10K and would rather spend that time biking or swimming.

So as you can see, there were several physical factors that had me quaking in my dirty old sneakers. I had no idea if I could do this. To top it off, I am claustrophobic AND afraid of heights. Watching YouTube videos of the SoCal race practically gave me a panic attack. People at work asked me why I signed up. Peer pressure.

We arrived in Beaver Creek at 10am and parked at the event hotel, the Park Hyatt, where we made reservations for the night. (Brilliant idea, it turns out) There, I changed into my race attire, applied sunscreen, and then checked my bags. DH and I went to our respective packet pickup table -- he as a spectator and I as a crazy victim. Got my number, then decided to just get body-marked on the arm as I was wearing a hat and didn't happen to have any acetone on me for after the race.

I met up with my team -- 6 coworkers and their 2 friends -- and we stood around watching people get electrocuted by the "Electroshock Therapy" obstacle at the end of the race. Truly, we were all terrified and wanting to murder Brian, whose brilliant idea it was to enter this race.

As a last minute decision, we opted to sneak into an earlier wave and get this over with. It was 11:40 at the time and we wouldn't get to go until 12:40, so we lined up with the 12pmers and started in on the Tough Mudder Pledge. (I know, so bad -- I am normally not a rule-breaker, but again, peer pressure) At any rate, I gave my hubby a kiss on the cheek and told him to keep his cell phone handy because there was no way in hell I was going to make it through the course. And with that, the gun went off and the Braveheart Charge commenced.

We were lined up on a pretty steep mountain slope heading downhill, so we all slowly trudged down waiting our turn to run. The course took a turn through the Village and then headed up some steep slopes towards the first obstacle, the Berlin Wall. It's advertised at 12 feet, but probably more like 10. Regardless, with no upper body strength and a fear of heights, I was not only petrified, but screwed. My teammates were great and gave me a leg up followed by a push. I was able to get my arms up over the top and then swing my legs over....but then I made the mistake of grabbing the top and then flinging myself down, pounding my lower back in the process. Ouch?!!

We kept climbing until we got to the Boa Constrictor, a series pipes that empty into a pool of water that you have to climb into and back out of. Being claustrophobic, I dreaded this obstacle above all else. Brian stayed back with me and made the educated decision to observe all the tunnels and noted that the tunnel on the far right didn't empty into very much water at all. So, I sucked it up and went through.....and I did it! I was just so proud of myself. Everyone was cracking up because it was a bit of a non-event obstacle for them, but for me, it got the adrenaline pumping and made me quite proud of myself.

We then were able to traverse the mountain a bit, so we got a chance to run again for maybe a 1/2 mile through some gorgeous stands of Aspen. We had a few wood obstacles and some mud to maneuver through, and then we got to the "Kiss of Mud," which was the mud pit with barbed wire strewn over the top. Ouch! Lacking the upper body strength to drag my legs over the rocks and mud like all the guys, I just crawled and took breaks for my knees in between the barbed wire. (There was regular wire that didn't hurt to press up against) I was so glad to get out of this obstacle, until we realized that the next obstacle was the freaking dip in the 36 degree mountain pond.

I've never done a Polar Bear swim. In fact, my coldest swim was a wetsuit-protected 56 degrees up in Santa Barbara. Like a lemming, I jumped right in and wow! did my heart stop. It was so freaky, but one of the guys in front of me talked us all through it, saying that it does some crazy things to your heart but we had to keep breathing and moving forward. I have had palpitations in the past, so this really freaked me out...but before I knew it, we were out of the pond.

I thought we were in the clear of the freezing cold water until I saw the next mountain pond, complete with three rows of barrels we were expected to swim under. No problem! I got it this time. Into the water I went, and I was under the first barrel easily. Unfortunately, I was on the end towards the center of the pond and quickly found myself WAY over my head. I panicked at this point, despite years of open water swims under my belt. I was concerned with submerging myself without having the bottom of the pond to launch myself back up, so I did the smart thing for me and swam around the remaining two barrels. I was relieved that nobody questioned my decision -- I knew it was the safest thing for me to do, and since there were no lifeguards anywhere near me, I don't regret it one bit. I took the help getting me out of this pond, gladly received my foil blanket, and then proceeded uphill to the "Hold Your Wood" obstacle.

At this point, I was cold and wondering how the heck I was going to keep this up! And when I came across the logs and there was nothing but massive ones left, I was a bit defeated......Until I met my new best friend, who asked if I wanted to share a big log! So this lovely stranger and I commenced the Hold Your Wood loop, with our big ol' man log. We dropped it a few times and took some breathers here and there, but overall we finished the damn thing and were glad to be done with our log. Imagine our shock when people decided to carry a log to the end of the course for no apparent reason other than to torture themselves for the full 10 miles?!

So I think at this point we were at mile 3. And we ran.....and ran.....and ran.....until we hit the Chernobyl Jacuzzi. I had no idea what the actual obstacle was because all I saw was a ramp. And then someone asked if I wanted red, green, or blue. Well, I was wearing blue, so Blue!! So up the ramp I went and then I realized the damn tank was filled with ice cubes and water. Dyed blue. SHIT!!!!! But like the good lemming that I am, I jumped in, dove under the bar, and then jumped up as fast as I could. Somehow it didn't seem as cold as the mountain pond. Shocker, eh? I have to admit, I'm still finding blue on my body.

After that is sort of a blur. I think we started a really big downhill run, so I enjoyed chatting with everyone and getting a breather from the obstacles. At one point we hit mile 4 and I decided that maybe I was going to finish after all?!

Then the uphill insanity commenced. And boy, was it crazy! The steepest damn ski slopes they could come up with -- we were literally going from foothold to foothold, and sometimes the easiest way up was to go diagonally. I was winded and my feet were cramping, but somehow I made it. We got a nice traverse of the mountain again where we could run, and then the uphill started again. But this time it was strewn with obstacles --- firemen nailing us with hoses as we maneuvered through sloppy mud and jumped hay bales, crawling under cargo nets while climbing huge mountains of icy snow. The Mud Mile, where we blindly jumped into rock and log-strewn mud pits, twisting ankles and cursing the day we signed up for the race. It was all exposed to the sun and wind, and was an overall miserable segment of the race. I fell behind my teammates a bit here and was generally not enjoying life.

We finally hit the summit and were done with the uphills. Woohoo!! So we ran the rest of the way, and shockingly this wasn't too bad. The quads held up well, the foot and calf cramping stopped, and we were able to knock off some time. The obstacles on the back end of the course were pretty tough -- 3 more Berlin Walls, which totally kicked my butt but somehow I managed to get my rear pushed over the top of all of them; the cargo net that I nearly ate it on as it sent me upside down and perpendicular to the ground until I got over the top of it; and this weird tunnel crawl through a long tunnel. I didn't think I'd be able to do the latter, but by this point, I figured it couldn't be worse than what I'd already done. And it wasn't!

Heading back towards the ski village, we first had to run down a steep slope (the "Slalom") and then commenced the spraying in the mud before going down the Greased Lightening Slip n' Slide. I saw DH and he got great shots of our team as we all took headers down the slide and into the muddy pond awaiting us. I climbed over the hay bale and then we had to get down off this icy snow mound....so I followed the guy in front of me and sat down for a "slide." Um, this was incredibly stupid. I am sporting the biggest welts on the sides of my hips you could possibly imagine. It is seriously disgusting. I think this was the very worst obstacle solely based on the intense pain it subjected me to.

After the slide of doom, we entered the Monkey bar area. Having no upper body strength, I decided it would be safer to just jump in straight up rather than attempt one or two bars and then fall from a higher height into the mud. This worked well for me -- I bailed with another female teammate and we waded to the "shore" without too much stress.

The finish line was in site -- but there was Everest. The guys had no problems with it and were able to run up and hoist themselves to the top, no problem. I was the last one left behind, so I ran as fast as I could until I got 3 steps from the top....then my calf cramp and the forward momentum just stopped. I threw my hands out and my teammates caught me. For a minute I was worried they would drop me back down, but thankfully they hoisted me up and I was done. Phew!

The last obstacle was the shock therapy, and to be honest, you could have done anything to me at this point because I would have done anything to be DONE! All I wanted was a nice warm shower and then bedtime.

So we waited in line for this obstacle, decided to go in rows of 3, and off we went within a few seconds of eachother. I was lucky and Aaron in front of me took the biggest blows. I got shocked a bit in my calf, but nothing earth-shattering. :) We ran a few more yards and then finished, eager to get our silly orange headbands so that we could join this cultish order of daredevil fitness freaks and their fearless brethren.

I have to admit, this is my first finish line where I felt relief moreso than excitement. I really, truly doubted myself in this race. I was afraid of nearly everything, so I really didn't know if I could do it. But somehow I managed to put my fears aside, put my head down, and get it done. And now I can not only say I ran my first 10-miler (okay, we probably only ran 5), but I am a freaking Tough Mudder. Had I stayed a "serious" triathlete, I never would have signed up for this for fear of injuring myself and ruining the season, so I guess things do happen for a reason.

My teammates were exceptional and I couldn't have asked to be surrounded by better people. My co-racers were amazingly supportive and kind. I'm not a svelte little girl, but that didn't matter-- they helped me anyway. There were lots of high fives and way-to-gos the entire way, and I really enjoyed the atmosphere. Yes, triathletes are friendly, too, but Tough Mudders will stop and help you out if you are in trouble.

Overall, I am happy I did the race. My battle wounds make me look like DH laid down the law and threw me down a flight of stairs, and my right knee is a swollen mess, but I think it's all fixable. I now have bragging rights, a closer bond with my crazy coworkers and partners in crime, and a clear sense that I really can do anything if I want it bad enough.

The race was surprisingly well-run when all was said and done. The venue was phenomenal, the obstacles were solid and well-built, the aid stations were well-stocked with cold water and fresh bananas, and the race-day registration was easy peasy. DH enjoyed the roped off area with all the food vendors -- I think he ate his way through the afternoon. The bag check was pretty awesome, although I didn't have to use it. I just wish there had been some showers at the end, because a lot of people drove in from Denver and those hoses while fully-clothed just don't do the job at cleaning you. Must have been an uncomfortable drive home! But they will get there....clearly this company has caught on to the need for events like this in the US, and they will only get better with time if they keep listening to the criticisms constructively.

My biggest criticism? Well, it was my first time away from the baby since he was 3 months old (a year ago, nearly!) and I was too mangled to really get to enjoy that time away with the hubs. Thanks for the excellent birth control, Tough Mudder. :)

Monday, April 25, 2011

One Year

Tomorrow evening, at 8:12pm, Derek will have been with us for a year. A whole year! I feel a mixture of pride, sadness, and serious denial when I start to process this. I can't say I knew half of what I was getting myself into a year ago today when I was desperate to NOT be pregnant anymore. I downed several cartons of spicey Chinese food and a Pu Pu Platter. My mother forced me to eat 3 of her incredibly potent "Labor Cookies." I walked several miles, even running down my street in the end for good measure.

I was impatient, but I had no idea of the road that lay ahead. Pain. Massive sleep deprivation. Depression. Questioning. More pain. Stress. Marital discord. Family drama. Tears. Hope. Promise. Devotion. Smiles. Smirks. Laughter. Raspberries. Hugs. Kisses. Tugs. Falls. First Steps. Happiness. Completeness.

I'm full circle in a year. Derek has brought a sense of family to our small family of 2 + cat, and the new reality isn't a sacrifice after all. We're meant to be together. A year with Derek has shown me that despite all the initial battles I had with this new sense of family, I no longer doubt that this was what we were meant to do in life. He is the perfect combination of DH and I. A super type A with a gentle side....mischievous, loving, and fun. He doesn't talk yet, but he is running laps around our house, can feed himself with a spoon, is nearly converted to all sippy cups and whole milk. He has grown up right before our eyes!

Driving to get him from daycare tonight, I felt anxious. But then again, I feel anxious every night when I return to him. It's true when they say that having a child means having your heart reside outside of your body. I almost feel pain without him around, but as soon as I pick him up, my heart is complete again. It was soooo corny the first time I heard it. And then when Derek was born, I still thought it was a total load of crap. But a year later? I subscribe.

So while reminiscing tonight and fighting back tears, I'm filled with amazement at this gorgeous little guy. I know that the next year will be a new, wonderful adventure and even though it doesn't involve triathlon (but it does involve the Tough Mudder!), I think it will be one of my best years yet. :)

Happy Birthday, Baby D. You make me proud!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Men

The day you become a mother, some gene in your distant chemical make up must switch on. It not only turns on, but it goes into overdrive, and despite your best intentions to NOT be run by instinct and to rule with a calm head, somehow this crazy Mom Gene hijacks your damn brain and settles in for a long, long time.

You can distinguish the cry of your infant in a sea of babies. You can be in a sound sleep one moment, and halfway down the hallway in another, without even knowing what it was that woke you up and sent you sprinting.

Whenever somebody messes up with your child, you have an overwhelming urge to take over completely and never let them be in that situation ever again.

When you are so sick you can barely stand or you accidentally take Tylenol PM in the middle of the day, you still have a sense of "must take care of the child at all costs." Even if it means you will never, ever recover. Or that you will always, always catch whatever it is said child is sick with.

It is this stupid gene, tragically, that men lack. And the longer you are a mother, the more apparent it becomes that they really are from another freaking planet. One where they hunt, copulate, and admire themselves while the women protect the future of the species. Women may claim to have found a man who treats their child the same way they do, but I'm calling bullshit right now. Impossible! They care. They may even attempt to help. But mom = nuture, and despite my best attempts at sharing that role, it has become increasingly obvious that DH is just doing the best that he can and the ultimate survival and well-being of my son is totally up to me!

Sorry, just a little rant after reading about sick familieis....and more Dads who whine in beds with fevers while the equally sick mother cares for the sick kids. The equally sick mother who consequently makes more money than said Dad and already worked an insanely hard and stressful day at work.

:) I wouldn't be opposed to tweaking this genome some day.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

What a year it has been. Not a stellar one for blogging.....or triathlon....or weight loss for that matter, but a stellar one nonetheless.

A year ago today, DH and I were totally unaware of how our lives were going to change. We didn't think we had enough time in the day to do the things we did. I was complaining about being pregnant and "tired" all the time. We didn't care about our budget. We were coasting, I guess you could say. We stayed up until midnight to ring in the New Year -- in fact, I think we may have even gone out for dinner?

Not so much this past year. New Year's was spent nursing a sick baby, cooking dinner, and re-caulking the bathroom. I kid you not -- what a difference a year makes.

Last year we welcomed Derek into our lives, and he is a spitfire. We love him more and more every day, and each and every day is a new adventure that gives us interesting perspectives on the things we used to overlook or take for granted. We've become masters of multitasking. We've discovered patience where we never knew it existed. We've tested our relationship in more ways than we should and we still spring right back to eachother. We've experienced loss and we've also been a part of some healing. We've sacrificed hobbies, but we've also learned to balance and find joy in other tasks.

I've grown up a lot in the past year. My dreams now don't involve finish lines and being a svelte little athlete -- I'd like to reach those goals some day -- but they involve learning to walk, family camping and hiking trips, and the possibility of brothers and sisters. It's amazing what a year will do.

Next year, I'm setting a few goals that I hope I'll be able to keep. First is Weight Watchers-- I am determined to make it stick and get rid of this baby weight. I'd also like to find a way to fit my tri team into life, but also find enough time to spend it with Derek as he continues to grow up and learn every day. I'd like to be better about documenting his childhood....for so long I just wanted him to "grow up" and out of the infant stage, that I lost site of all the amazing changes that were happening within him. So I need to start writing more and taking more pictures. And I'm also reforming our budget. We're going to eliminate our student loan debt and our second mortgage within the next 4 years.....if we stay disciplined, we will set ourselves up to have a stellar future.

So with that, welcome 2011. I learned my lessons in 2010, so let me have some fun this year as I start to embrace this whole "Mom" thing, but to also let me keep the real Me. Happy New Year!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Well, I never.....

....thought I'd start a Thanksgiving morning:

at 5am
with the words, "don't lick that, that's gross"
and a dancey dance to Yo, Gabba Gabba!

My, how things can change in one short year.

Am sitting on the computer, watching Derek mess around in his crib on the monitor when he should be sleeping. My dough for the Thanksgiving buns is resting and rising. DH is still sound asleep, and the cat is getting his turn with his Mum. I desperately need to run and shower, but at this point, it's not looking so good for the run!

Things on the home and work front are settling down. While I'm getting passed over for a promotion yet again this year, I'm just thankful to still have a job and still have respect around the company. I've come to terms with the fact that Derek will never settle into a set schedule....but I still hold out hopes that daycare will turn things around. I literally have 5 different baby books that talk about scheduling and sleep, and so far, all of them have been wrong with MY baby. So I call crap on all of it. I'm going to put this out there - like people, all babies are different. And mine is super special.

Have started up with a run coach. She's very sweet, but the plans are pretty basic and feedback thus far has been more supportive than I am looking for. I do like her, so I am hopeful I can stick to her plan and start to see some results. Thus far, my run fitness is just catastrophic. Between running with the baby, on the hills of my neighborhood, into the wind, in the cold.....well, suffice it to say I'm about as slow as you can get without walking. Something's got to give! I'm doing Insanity workouts at work 2 times a week now, which are quite literally "insane." And I'm still doing a P90X workout once a week as well. Am I losing weight?

Ha! Ha hahahahahahahahaha...... Never!

But I'll figure this out one day, too.

Until then, I'm off to commence Turkey Day activities. This nap does not look promising, so to the screaming teething monster I go.

Happy Thanksgiving!



Monday, November 8, 2010

Sleep Regression

Everyone told me that once baby turned 12 weeks, he'd be "STTN." That's internet for "sleeping through the night." And sure enough, he hit that milestone early! 8 weeks, and we were sleeping from 8:00pm - 5:30am. It was fantastic.

But then I started reading about the "4 Month Wakeful." It's this scary beast of a time where the ex-perfect baby becomes raging nighttime psychopath and makes you want to pull even more of your already-shedding-like-a-yeti hair out of your head. We hit this at 4 1/2 months. And while it sucked, it was more like a wake up at 2:30am in addition to the 5:30. So, while tiring, it was doable.

Enter 6 months. A fabulous time in the life of baby. He is super interactive. When you ask him questions, sometimes he figures out how to answer with a movement or a look. He makes all sorts of weird sounds that I guess constitute combinations of vowels and consonants, but really, all I think is that my child is going to blow raspberries solely until he is 20. He eats all sorts of crazy purees, like broccoli, peas, and pears....with whole grain rice cereals and oatmeals and dissolvable crackers called "Mum Mums." He laughs constantly and is a master at finding spare skin on your face and pulling it every which way. He basically cracks his shiz up.

But 6 months must be tough on the brain, because not more than 2 days later, the worst night of my life ensues. Down to bed at 7:30pm. Up screaming at 8pm. 9pm. 10pm. 11pm. But he won't be comforted at 11pm, so we have to feed him a bottle, then keep him up for an hour so he will get sleepy enough to go back down again. Then DH takes over so I get a breather, but then....2:30am, 3am, 4am, 5am, 6am. Does he have a freaking alarm clock he's hiding from me? I very nearly lost my freaking mind.

Never been a fan of cosleeping, but after the 6am wake up, I grabbed him out of his crib and took him to the daybed in the guest room, and just held him as he flailed and cried until he fell asleep. And we slept for 2 whole hours. Because I was that exhausted.

Now, the subsequent nights haven't been as bad, but they've sucked all the same. Some nights he screams an hour after I put him down, then 2 hours later, then 2 hours after that. Other nights, he just flails all around until you have to go in to insert his pacifier to calm him the eff down. And last night, he slept straight through the night for the first time in weeks. I'm not holding out any hope of a repeat.

But boy, are those sleep regressions hard! He's oblivious to them, but they kill me, especially when I am working the 12 and 13-hour days that I have been. I read a lot of blogs where people say that even though you are working and have a baby, you should never have an excuse to not exercise or train. I'm calling bullshit right now. If you couple a husband who works nights with my work schedule and my sleep-regression-riddled child.....well, perhaps you would understand why I am now in the worst shape of my life.

Quite frankly? I'm lost. My social life four years ago centered around triathlon and my friends on my team. I didn't have those friends when I moved to Colorado, but I did still have the training and the sport. Now?? I can't even find the time to go on a run. And when I have the time? I've had 3 1/2 hours of sleep and opt to get 1 more. It's a sorry state of affairs, but my body calls the shots.

Surely I would have known about this before having a child, right? Ha! I didn't even have a friend who had a kid, really. I was the first! So no, I didn't realize life would come to a crashing halt post-baby. But I know that I will crawl out of this hole one of these days. Until then, I shall continue to kvetch, particularly when we go through these horrific regressions.

Hard to be mad at this face for not sleeping, though.....

Monday, October 11, 2010

Thanks in advance of thanks

Wow. Just found a blast from my past. How crazy is that? An "ex" if you want to even call him that. Still arrogant. Heavier and uglier. Happily married with family.

Made me think....how lucky am I??

I have a beautiful baby boy who gets cuter and cuter every day. His smile and laugh are contagious, and he brightens the room when he enters it. I think the day he says "mama" is seriously going to melt my heart.

I have an amazing husband. My polar opposite in many ways. After baby, everything is more passionate -- in arguments, I hate him far more than ever....but I also love him deeper as well. A tradeoff? But he's an excellent partner in life, and I really lucked out. AND he's improved with age. Hot damn!

Anyway, just thought I'd get it all out there.

Work is starting to get insane, so I've had to cut down on the pumping. Only twice a day now. I feel incredibly guilty for shifting my little man to formula, but he doesn't seem to be doing too poorly on it. And now I have time for life -- 4 hours+ a day of pumping was just not fun!

On the plus side, it's helped me lose 3 lbs in a week. I'm hoping for some more rapid weight loss as this pumping stops completely.

And to end, a few photos of my little munchkin. He's too cute!





Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Something Special

Five years ago, I was a lowly analyst in a going-nowhere job, working for a slightly psychotic boss and going about my day wondering how to turn things around. I had no substantial work experience, I didn't know what I wanted to "do," and I had just moved out of my parents house and in with my fiance.

Every morning, the Chief Development Officer at our company, Al, would walk by my cube with his cup of coffee and say "hello." He had a towering presence and his footsteps could be heard long before he was seen. He was in his late fifties, with grey hair and a stern countenance about him. Frankly, he scared the pants off of me, yet I said hello in return......every morning, for six months.

In my sixth month of misery, my current boss pulled me into his office one day with a strange look on his face. To my surprise, Al had approached him regarding me. He found out I had my MBA, and was wondering if I could do some work for him while his analyst was out on maternity leave and he sent her replacement to another office in Boston. This prospect terrified me, as I didn't know anything outside of Corporate Research. But my boss insisted, saying that working for one of the "Top 5" in our company was going to be good for the both of us!

So I walked into Al's office, his computer and head facing away from me as he summoned me in. My first memories of working for him mainly involve the back of his head. "Find me the basis on the Orange County project!" The basis? What the hell is a basis?

I frantically walked from cube to cube in my office, asking people if they knew what a "basis" was. Come to find out, it's what Accounting has on the Books as the total cost of a project. I was like, "why didn't he just say total cost?" So eventually, I returned to him with the basis on the project. To which he responded with, "did you find out what the GMAX was?"

G-wha?

Well, you get the point. I was thrown into a world of things I didn't know, and I was expected to know them, so I got really good at finding my allies and getting the things I needed in order to keep him satisfied. I did my best to up-manage him, keeping him reminded of important dates on deals, taking good notes so I could have him check up on items with his direct reports across the country.....I even shuttled him around Denver to pick up and hide his Harley. Things were crazy.

At one point, he was given an additional title --"President" -- and was asked to relocate to Washington, DC to rule the roost from the Arlington office. My then-fiance and I were petrified of what this meant. Would he want me to move with him? It was exciting, yet at the same time, we didn't want to leave Colorado!

Sure enough, one morning at the Egg & I, Al put it out on the table. Would I be his analyst and move to Washington with him? He emphasized that I had a steep learning curve and that I wasn't perfect, but that he enjoyed working with me and thought it would be a good experience for me. I was so torn at this point, because DH loved his flight instructor job in Colorado and desperately wanted to stay.

So Al proposed 3 things. The first was a massive pay raise, effective immediately. The second was an all-expense paid trip to DC, staying in Reston, Foggy Bottom, and Pentagon City to decide if we wanted to live there. And the third was dinner at his house with his wife and daughter, so we could all get to know each other better.

The first was hugely tempting. We had student loans, there wasn't much leftover after paying rent, and we didn't have much in savings at all.

The second was a blast --- we stayed in Ritz Carlton's, ate fabulous dinners, and looked at tons of places to live. While we didn't love it, we decided that we could survive.

And the third was the best part. We met his wife and daughter, had a wonderful dinner, and DH decided that Al was the type of person worth changing your life for. He said that he had a "presence" about him. So hard to describe, but he was just a special person who you KNEW was much greater than anybody else. It would be silly to turn him down.

Of course, we didn't. We followed him, I became his analyst, and an insane 2 years followed as I learned more than I ever thought possible. Not only did I learn the technical stuff by digging around and begging from people, but Al taught me how to manage people. He proclaimed himself to be a bad manager, but this could not be farther from the truth. He led by example, and he set the very best. He was dedicated to his work, not because he had to be, but because he loved it. He was passionate about deals and negotiations. We'd get into a conference room, sit around a spider phone, and he would just light up as he expertly guided the conversations. His enthusiasm was contagious.

He kept a sense of humor about everything, shot straight from the hip, tolerated no bullshit, and expected your very best. He valued and trusted your opinion, empowered you to make decisions on his behalf, and genuinely cared about each and every person he worked with. Once you gained his trust, you were "family."

I left Al a little earlier than I should have, but it enabled me to spend time in California, where I met so many amazing people. But Al never left my life......on trips back to DC, I'd do dinner with him and his family. He'd come out for lunch and dinner in California, and sometimes, DH could even come along and enjoy his company. When the economy started to slow, he was my sounding board when I told him I was thinking of transferring back to Denver. And when I was back in Denver, he continued to keep in touch with me and listen to what I had to say.

3 weeks ago, Al came out to Denver and invited me to lunch. We went to his old haunt from the Denver days, J Alexander's, and he told me he wanted to see my hubby and Derek. So DH and the baby showed up at lunchtime and we had an amazing time catching up. He was so happy, and looked great, too. Things were picking up at work, he was coming off a relaxing vacation, and it seemed his wife and daughter were doing really well, too. Al gave me some amazing career advice and really boosted my confidence when he told me I was too bright to be where I am right now; leave it to Al to throw me a bone when I desperately needed it.

I'm just devastated to report that on Friday night, Al passed away suddenly. Several of my coworkers from VA called me on Saturday morning to relay the news, and it really took a while for it to sink in. I'd always imagined him retiring. This was never something I'd considered -- he was invincible! Made of steel! Al was a presence that you always thought was going to be there.

Yet his body decided to leave life the same way Al lived it.....fast and on his own terms. In the mountains of Montana, at sunset, surrounded by friends after a relaxing week of riding his motorcycle. He was laughing, and then he just closed his eyes and was gone.

I never told Al how much he meant to me. I never told him that he saved me from that first job. That he influenced the way I think about our industry. That his leadership style inspires me to this day to treat my direct reports the same way he treated me. That his sharing his family with me in DC while DH was still in CO really helped keep me sane. That the support he continued to give me, emotionally and professionally, after I left him made me feel strong, self assured, and capable. That I loved him like a father. And I'd give anything to be able to give him another bear hug and tell him this to his face. Because he was THAT extraordinary of a person. And he touched me, and my husband....so very much.

Driving home tonight, I still felt in denial that he was gone. And the ache in my heart returned, knowing that I'd never be able to talk to him again, or see that trouble making smirk, or hear his silly "at the usual and customary tone" voicemail message. But I looked at where I was, and realized, "Al developed this entire business park." And he did. So crazy, but back in the 70's, he'd put together the land development plan for the very road and area I was driving through. So in a way, I see him every day, in the work that he did.....and I can just imagine the excitement he felt when he inked that deal, got approval from the City, and watched it grow.

The funny thing about all this? There are dozens of people who could write a similar story about Al. About how he changed their life for the better. I cannot even begin to say what an extraordinary man he was, or what an impact he made. But this girl misses him terribly, and just hopes that if he's up there looking down on her, he knows how special he was.

Al, I love you. Tim loves you. And I hope one day Derek will look back on the photos you took together and know that this was the man who made his parents who they are today.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Back at Iron Girl....feels like home

Iron Girl Boulder Race Report

My, what a long, strange trip it’s been. I don’t think I’ve written a proper race report in years – at least, not since I left my “Tridivas” and started anew in Colorado. Since then, I’m definitely not the same athlete I was when I left. I’ve had a knee surgery that kept me out of commission for a few months, 9 months of pregnancy, and a pretty terrible post-partum recovery.


At four months after the birth of my son, I entered Iron Girl Boulder on the least amount of training I’ve ever had: one mock triathlon 3 weeks prior, one 25-mile bike ride, a few runs on the treadmill and around the neighborhood with the stroller, and 3 days a week of P90X over the lunch hour. Insanity! Yet I still wanted to race, because somehow I needed to prove to myself that I still had it in me.


I got up at 3am, and this time, instead of throwing on my clothes, grabbing a cup of coffee, and running out the door, I had a little more prepwork involved. In order to squeeze the girls into my faithful Fiona, I had to pump for 20 minutes first! Never in a million years did I ever think….. Well, I got out the door around 3:55am, and arrived at Boulder Reservoir at 5am. Parked the car, grabbed my gear, and then checked in at the tent where I got my timing chip and bib. You know you’ve been there and done that when you skip the swag tent!

I set my things up into transition pretty quickly – not a great rack placement at all, but since I didn’t come up the day before, this was what I had to work with. After setting up, hitting the porta potties, and checking out the swim course, I headed back to the car to….you guessed it….pump one more time so that I continued to comfortably fit into Fiona until after the race.


After my pump break, I was back in transition to chat with the coaches from my old team, hang out with my old college pals, and chat up the girls from work who were doing the race. 4 people in total I was going to try to beat. On no training.


At 6:50am, they cleared us out of transition and encouraged us to go down to the swim beach. I sat on the grass and put my wetsuit on, then went into the practice area and swam for a minute….yep, I can still swim. I then lined up with my wave, and before I knew it, I was staring down the first buoy.


The swim was short – under 500 meters, so I knew it was going to be a real gut-buster because everyone would be sprinting the entire way. I lined up in the second row, and when the Aflac duck went off, I just went for it. Stupidly!!! By the first buoy, the people in back were starting to catch up, and they were grabbing, kicking, clutching….you name it. It was the roughest swim I’ve ever hard, aside from almost dying in the ocean at Pendleton. When I rounded the second buoy, I started to have a quasi-panic attack. My lack of swim training (hello, I stopped at 35 weeks pregnant and had one 800 meter swim under my belt from 3 weeks earlier!) really freaked me out when I looked at the shore and realized how far out I was. So I thought of a song – You’re So Gay by Katie Perry – and just sang it in my head….over and over and over. Somehow, I managed to come out of the water in a somewhat decent time. There was at least a 1-1.5 minute run up the beach to the timing mat, so I’d say I swam about a 1:40/100 meters?? Final time was 8:55 and put me just outside of the top 1/6thswim times. Not as good as usual, but we’ll take it!

I ran into transition and had a pretty stellar transition for me. Sunglasses, helmet, shoes, bike….and out we went. I pressed start on my Garmin, crossed the mat, and then promptly ran into a girl who had stopped right outside the mat! I fell into my bike, stepping right in the middle of my tire spokes. Shit! I was stuck. I had to reach in, take my shoe off, then put it back on in order to get out of the tire spoke. I moved my bike to a corner of the road, then proceeded to get on, but when I clipped in, there was no resistance! I looked down, and my chain was hanging off the front gears. Geeze!!! So I tried to back pedal and get it to catch, but my first attempt failed. Fortunately for me, the second attempt was a success, and over 2 minutes after this whole ordeal happened, I was on my merry way.


The course was 17.3 miles….the Boulder Sprint course, if I recall correctly. It’s a slow uphill to Highway 36 and to Neva Rd., but then a blazing fast downhill for the majority of the ride. I did the course 5 weeks after knee surgery last year in 1:01, so I knew I could finish on minimal training. How fast?? Well, that was certainly a good question. I got passed quite a bit heading up to Highway 36 – stuck at 14 mph, and secretly cursing my lack of conditioning. Granted, I did my fair share of passing, but I expected that considering most of the field started before me!


I managed to spot my cousin Kristen and her hubby Greg coming down from their apartment off 36th, so I waved to them and told them this was the dumbest thing I’ve ever done. J Then I motored off and that’s when the downhill started. I was holding 26mph the entire time, and it was a great feeling. Lots of farmland, horses, and shade along the course --- it made me happy that I’d decided to do this race, because I do love the bike. And I had fun changing positions with another racer the entire bike ride. She was a solid climber and downhill rider, but sometimes she’d peter out and I’d pass her, but then she’d pass me right back 5 minutes later. I got her in the end, but she took off on the run and I never saw her again!

Coming back into transition, I was pleased with my time. Sub 56 minutes according to my Garmin. 58 minutes according to the race clock. Damn fall. Hooray for auto pause! My Garmin says my average was 18.3 mph for the course. You know what? I’m going to chalk that one up to “pretty damn good” on no training. I’ll take it!

I had a great transition – dumped my gear, put on socks, sneakers, grabbed my hat and race belt and just boogied out of transition. I felt strangely good at this point, so I ran up the hill and put my hat and belt on. And then I felt it. The shortness of breathe…… Lack of cardiovascular training. And then I had this mantra float into my head, “you are four months postpartum. You have an excuse!” And somehow I allowed that to justify my walking breaks. Yes, I did try to run off and on……but I kept telling myself that just being there was enough of an accomplishment, so that really took the desire to go until I vomited and squashed it. Friend from college #1 passed me right before the turnaround, and at that point, I decided to try to get my act in gear. She was 5 minutes behind me – how in the heck did I give up that much time? Shame on me! So I picked it up, and tried to run…..but it wasn’t pretty.


There’s something about pushing a baby out of you for 3 ½ hours that kind of makes it hard to run for a good long while. Your lower pelvis area feels as though it’s been kicked really hard; you feel as though if you continue, your insides will pour out of your gut! Yes, it’s that weird. So sometimes I get a little “gun shy,” if you will, and back off. So this is what happened in part during the last part of my race. My hips hurt, and I was out of breathe.

Yet I did manage to sprint the last 1/8th of a mile to the finish line, and I still remember the rush of that “kick” I managed to find. The announcer said my name and I was like, “YES! I am BACK!” Of course, the race clock was at 2:06 or something ridiculous….people had finished before I even got to the run……so it wasn’t like a “yes, I am back and I am good” kind of exaltation. More of a “thank goodness I can bear children and still exercise! There is hope!”


No vomit at this finish line….and nobody there cheering me on, either, but I was okay with that. Grabbed my water, my disgusting Gatorade substitute (they had it on course and I barfed it up the whole way), and then headed for a little walk in the shade. Was joined by college friend #2, who I HAD managed to beat, but not by much, and only because she had an upper respiratory infection. We chatted for a while and then talked to her sister, who had beaten us by over 10 minutes….. and then I left them to go force myself to eat something….where I met up with the work girls. One had beaten me by 10 minutes, and I had managed to beat the other.


So, 2 out of 4….could’ve been worse, right? I was something like 50/120 in my age group and 220/660 overall. I was slightly disappointed, but then I thought to myself, that’s not too bad for racing cold turkey when you are 20 lbs above your racing weight and still trying to recover from childbirth.


And with that, I am going to try to be happy with this race. Because it proved to me that with a little grit and determination, you CAN do anything, and even though a baby makes it harder, it’s certainly not impossible. Next year? I’m gonna beat 4/4, so watch out!


Of course, now that I've seen the official race photos, the site of my fat body makes me want to vomit and I am all the more amazed at what I have been through now. Tomorrow: starvation begins, with or without the milk supply.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Can I Get a Do-Over?

Yes, silence on the line. I'd blame it on the kid, but he's really not the sole cause of my absence here. I guess I'm just not inspired!

Until this morning.

We're a few days shy of the 4-month mark, and I find myself thinking that my child has certainly gotten the shaft in the parenting department. Who let me out of the hospital with him?? Despite all my reading and classes, I really knew nothing and was petrified of him for months. I couldn't swaddle to save my life, breastfeeding was insane, I didn't know how to get him to fall asleep, I was sleep-deprived because I couldn't figure out how to multitask.....well, the list goes on and on.

After 4 months, I finally feel like I know how to take care of this baby. Took me long enough, huh? Consequently, I am also more attached than ever. I had to go to Book Club last night and I missed seeing him entirely after our morning feeding, and I was so upset when I went to sleep. How crazy is that?

I can't help but feel that poor D could have had it better if I knew what I was doing from the get-go. It certainly makes the case for a #2. Slow the rush of pregnancy down, try to enjoy the experience, and then be all over caring for the baby instead of feeling like we are drowning. But first....recover the body.

Next weekend is my first real race after pregnancy.....Iron Girl Boulder. I signed up thinking I'd be in stellar shape by now, but the truth of the matter is, I'm a far cry from the way I used to be. I struggle to run -- my pelvis still feels bruised and for days after runs, I feel like my lower guts are going to just pour out of me! I don't have time to swim -- I come home at night and my parents have the baby all ready for me and leave me immediately. They have him for 6 hours during the day, and that's it.......so no time. And my bike? Geesh, perhaps the hardest sport of all. I could try to ride my trainer, but he doesn't go to sleep until 8-9pm.....and then I have to shower, clean bottles, pump, and clean again before bedtime. I really cannot do a hard trainer ride at night! And mornings are out -- I am exhausted enough as-is getting up at 5:30am to pump before I have to wake D up and then get ready for work.

What I have done, though, is sneak away for a few weekend days and take my bike down to the trail. My first ride back was 25 miles, and I was proud of myself. Going to the turnaround, I was only hitting 16 mph and pretty much broke down into tears....but things improved on the way back, bringing me to an 18mph average, which is about 1 mph slower than I typically do for the distance. I guess I can handle that.

Two weekends ago, I joined the old triathlon team for a mock tri at Aurora Reservoir. It was a 1/2 mile swim, 12 mile bike, 3 mile run...... I had a heck of a time squeezing my fat body into my wetsuit, but I managed. Time trial start -- I managed to pass almost everyone in my division by the time I got out of the water. It's not saying much, but I was pretty proud. No watch on, but I was well under 20 minutes. Hoping it was around 15 minutes, because then I wouldn't have lost much time in the swim since pregnancy. But who knows??? The bike was really hilly and a blast on the outbound route, although I did miss the turnaround and added 7 miles to my total bike ride.....almost 19 miles for me that day! And then run? Hardly a run. I could cardiovascularly only handle a 2 min run/1 min walk interval. I kept getting, "you can do it!" comments from people, and I just wanted to yell at them, "I had a traumatic birth and pushed out a baby 3 1/2 months ago!" But I just ignored them and continued on......and finished, although it wasn't pretty.

So just in case you are wondering, you can finish a triathlon on no training at all. It sucks, but it's possible.

Next Saturday is going to be quite an adventure. I signed up to prove to myself that I could do it..... But now that I know so many old college friends are racing, I wish I'd been able to train appropriately for it. Because instead of handing them their butts on a platter, it will likely be the other way around..... And my baby won't be at the finish line to greet me, so I'm really lacking the motivation to "suffer" because there aren't too many rewards. Oh well! Should make for an interesting race report, eh?

On the baby front, he is growing by leaps and bounds and next week is his 4-month appointment. I can't believe how quickly time flies! He is rolling over from back to tummy now, can sit up with assistance, loves to jabber away, shrieks to get my attention, and cries when DH puts him in his carseat to go to my parents' house for the day. Funny boy. His witching hour is unfortunately when I have him, so from 5:30-8:00pm, he is hell on wheels and quite the challenge. He's a bit of a teething, drooling machine, so we live for Sophie the Giraffe and other toys he can shove into his mouth, like the Winkel! I'm putting myself on a budget, because the baby spending is quite literally insane.

And that's that! Evil baby is waking from his half hour morning nap, so I have to run. Here's some cuteness:




Monday, June 14, 2010

What I wish I knew BEFORE I had this baby!

So now that the doom and gloom is subsiding, I thought it would be interesting to run through some of the things that would have been nice to know before popping out this child o' mine..... It seems everyone has advice, but really, I think it totally depends on your kiddo.

#1- When everyone tells you when you are pregnant to "enjoy sleep now" and you want to tell them to go shove it up their rears because you don't really sleep when pregnant?? Well, they were right. Enjoy waking up to pee every two hours and then getting to go back to bed immediately afterwards. You can't bank sleep, but you can savor the precious memories of it.

#2- All that cocoa and shea butter crap to stop stretchmarks that I started at 7 weeks pregnant? Worthless!!! Week 37 was universally cruel to me. Not only did I explode in a spiderweb of stretchmarks under my belly, but the Hemmorrhoids hit as well. Horrid.

#3- Wait to buy baby clothes until after baby is born. I was absolutely convinced my child was going to be ginormous, so we purposely did not buy many newborn clothes and predominantly went with 0-3 and 3-6. Well, lo and behold, Mr. Teeny Weenie didn't even fit in newborn and we had to go out and buy 5-8 lb Gerber kimono-style onesies to get us through the first two weeks without looking like he was buried in a sack of baby clothes. :) One quick trip to the Carters outlet and we were set with all the sleepers in the world, which he lived in for the first 5 weeks of his life.

#4 - Buttons rock. When you have a blowout, any clothes that go on via the head result in a dirty baby that needs an immediate bath. Which sometimes isn't fun at 7am.

#5 - Long live the video monitor! Worth the money. Wish we'd registered for the more beefed-up version, because we love it. Derek was in his crib at the 2-week mark because DH couldn't sleep with him in the room in the bassinet.....so the video monitor has been worth its weight in gold. (And added sleep)

#6 - Breastfeeding sucks. Everyone says it's fast and free, but I think that's only true if you lucked out. Between the 2 lactation consultant appointments, Boppy, pump, pumping supplies, 1-month hospital pump rental, milk storage bags, nursing tanks, sleep bras, Soothies, and Lanolin, I am likely out $700 from breastfeeding a 7-week old. Insanity!! Breastfeeding is not free, people. Seriously. Once I realized that I could have blister-free nipples, pump, feed, and clean up in less time than I could breastfeed Derek, I decided to exclusively pump. (Except on days when I need to increase supply -- then I suck it up and put him on the boob, and hate every second of it)

#7 - The instant "I'm so in love with my baby" moment that everyone talks about after baby is born? I had a traumatic birth, and I did not have this at all. It was more of a "thank goodness that's over. Can I have more drugs please?"

#8 - Sleep Sheep = best invention ever. Ocean waves equal sweet sweet dreams.

#9 - Square swaddle blankets or bust. And they must be big. Something like the Woombie is preferable to the Kiddopotomus or Sleep Sack with swaddle attachment. But I do love my sleep sacks when I don't feel like swaddling my escape artist.

#10 - Swings in every room -- genius! Derek always kind of like swinging, but now he adores them. We have two right now...we are finding that the small plug-in one doesn't swing as aggressively as it used to now that he's becoming a porker. So spring for a nice big, robust swing IF baby likes it. Start with a travel swing first, that way if they hate it you are only out $50 vs. $150. And you can take it with you when you need to get dressed, shower, use the bathroom, etc... I currently use an infant bouncer, but it's not very exciting these days....so travel swing it is!
#11 - We love our Diaper Genie Elite. So much so that we have one on each floor of the house. No smell at all, and for $5, I am not complaining too much about the refills.

#12 - We use the pack n' play quite a bit to change diapers -- but the changing table "droops." So if you need one, look for a pack n' play that has a robust changing table with supports on both sides!

#13 - Nobody told me that after I delivered, I would swell to gargantuan proportions. It was so painful! The best thing for the swelling was a brief walk around the neighborhood, even though the hoo ha hurt.

#14 - About that hoo-ha. A few days after birth, I did a little exploring and was appalled to find myself swollen and disfigured beyond all imagination! The horror! I was convinced things would never go back to the way they were. And to some extend, they haven't....but it's a heck of a lot better than it was at the beginning.

#15 - Sexy time. I thought I'd want some, but I don't. Something about a still-open episiotomy creeps me out. He can wait!

#16 - Why did nobody tell me that they grow so fast? I should have book a photographer and set up photo sessions when he was a newborn. Now he is clearly NOT a newborn, and all I have are snapshots we took. I'm so sad!
#17 - The diaper bag is a critical piece of equipment. Seeing as how it stores bottles, burp clothes, diapers, wipes, clothing changes, pacifiers, and blankets, it has to be big. The cute small ones don't do it. And a diaper bag for Dad? Waste of money. He just makes me carry mine. So now we have a backpack for nothing.

#18 - The wash clothes with all the cute frog appliques?? Useless! Abrasive! Who does this?? We love our little gerber washclothes the best.

#19 - So many people said that if you don't go natural in childbirth, your baby will feel the effects of the epidural or other drugs and be listless when born. Well, I'm happy to report that not only was my epidural brilliant and quite possibly the biggest positive of my birth experience, but my baby (after his initial Apgar of 3) was wide-eyed and alert for two hours after his birth. Everyone commented on his alterness! So take that.....I felt no pain AND my baby was totally with it.

#20 - I could go on forever. Having this baby had been such a huge learning experience....one that has differed from everything I have read and one that I never could have adequately prepared for!
So now I need to run, because the beast has awakened from his catnap and I must entertain him!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

No Miracle this time around....

Well, I'm sorry to say that my cousin's baby is globally brain dead. Per the recommendations of a whole slew of doctors, my cousin and her husband have placed him in hospice care, made him comfortable, and have removed his feeding tube. In just a few days, this nightmare will be over. :(

I'm going to step on my soap box now in hopes people googling things like "home birth," "breech vaginal deliveries," and "the Business of Being Born" will read this. People, it is ultimately your choice what you do with your body, but for heaven's sake, think about the health and safety of your baby. The internet may say that things are "statistically" as safe as vertex vaginal births in hospitals, but who reports the bad statistics? You never read about the horror stories.

Well, this is a horror story. A perfect pregnancy. A perfectly healthy baby. Dying as we speak because my cousin's caregivers persuaded her that trying to deliver him breech, vaginally, was safe. She did what she thought was best for her and the baby, and he died. It's not all sunshine and happiness, and just because someone has a perfect birth doesn't mean they all end up like that.

My OB yesterday was disraught when I told him the news, as we'd discussed this during my delivery. His nurse says she's been doing this for 26 years and she wishes people knew how lucky they are to have uncomplicated, healthy births, because in reality a lot can and will go wrong. My OB himself has seen 10 braindead babies from vaginal breech births. It's horrible.

So there, I said my peace. Do what you will, but know that statistics still involves chance, and there's no guarantee that you won't be the one to deviate. Please research everything you do thoroughly. I don't want this little boy to die in vain. Some lesson must be learned from this.

:(

On a completely separate note, I am now cleared for "all activity." All activity includes sexy time, but there's no way in hell that's happening anytime soon. Part of my episiotomy is still open and healing. He says that the angled cuts take longer to heal, but they also prevent tearing into the rectal muscles, which can cause permanent fecal incontinence. Ew!!! So I'll take the open wound, I suppose.

I've been doing 30 Day Shred at home in lieu of other exercise, mainly because I can't get the time away from the baby and it's way too hot to run outside with him! I still have 14 lbs left to lose to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight, and it's a slow journey back down the scale. Very annoying. I hope to get my pool card before the weekend so that I can test out the new community pool and see how my swimming endurance is? Should be amusing....

Little man still isn't on any sort of schedule. I'm exhausted and worried about work. I may try to contact my boss today and ask for 2 weeks unpaid leave so that I can make it an even 10 weeks off. Going back at 8 weeks when he's still unsettled just isn't going to work for me. :(

Anyway, there's my update. Thanks for the kind words! They definitely helped with the grieving process, but like the saying goes, time really does heal all.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Life is Fragile

I've been absent moreso because I've been busy than anything else. But this past week, my cousin gave birth to her firstborn son, Owen. And everything since then has been a blur.

Last summer, we decided together that it would be fun to have children close together in age. As in, as close to the same birthday as possible. I got pregnant first, and then I shared my "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" book and sperm-friendly lubricant with her, and the next month....bingo! It has been so much fun to go through this whole thing together. We were 5 weeks apart, but it was so exciting to think that our kids were going to be playmates and friends for life.

She had an uneventful pregnancy until the very end, when she found out her baby was breech. All along, they'd been having midwife care and were planning a home birth. Obviously, the midwife couldn't deliver a breech baby at home, so they sought out one of the only doctors in the state who would permit a breech vaginal birth. He did an ultrasound and attempted a version...then told her that she should show up at the hospital at 8cm and that they would allow her to attempt a vaginal birth at that time.
Fast forward to Wednesday morning. She waits too long in the birthing tub and they speed through a 39 minute drive to the hospital. She shows up fully dilated, and as she is wheeled into the OR, two feet emerge first. Bad. At that point, the clock starts. Owen's vitals degrade and it quickly becomes clear that the cord is wrapped around his neck twice and his head is far too big to make it through the birth canal. The Dr. had to reach in and physically pull him out, breaking his shoulder in the process. My poor cousin did this all med-free, so apparently it was excruciatingly painful.

We don't know what happened after he was born, aside from the fact that his brain had gone 9 minutes without oxygen. They rushed him to the NICU, and his brain began to swell so they put him on hypothermic treatments. They lower his body temperature and cool his brain for 72 hours in hopes of helping stop the brain injury and give it time to recover. He had to be on a respirator. He never cried. :(

It's now been 4 days. The first and 2nd day of the treatment, Drs told my cousin and her husband that Owen was brain dead. Yesterday, at the 72-hour mark, they removed the body cooler and brought his body back to body temperature. They switched ventilators, and he took a few breathes on his own. All his vitals have stabilized, he is pinking up, gaining weight, and having plenty of wet diapers. But they don't know if his brain has any activity. :(

They were able to hold him for the first time yesterday, and I guess when they started talking to him, he opened his eyes and followed their voices? So part of us hopes and prays for a miracle and that his cognitive functions have returned.... Miracles do happen, right?? It's just been so hard, because he was a perfectly healthy and perfect baby boy. He has loving parents. But the birth trauma just seems so unfair. I guess this is something I will never understand.

So if you can spare a few thoughts and prayers for a miracle, we could use them. I've been totally disraught and suffering from survivors' guilt. Why do I have the perfect, healthy baby boy when hers is suffering so much? How can we get together for holidays when Derek will constantly remind them of their lost son? I know I am jumping the gun, but I am being realistic so I don't get too heartbroken. I'm assuming tomorrow, after their neurologist meeting, they will decide if they should take him off the ventilator or not. Tomorrow may be a very bad day. :(

My boy is doing really well. We've had our second night of a 6 1/2 stretch of sleep, which is phenomenal. He doesn't sleep during the day, but it's okay because the nighttimes are looking great. He is smiling a lot now, and he loves to coo. I am enchanted. It took a while, but at 6 weeks, I cannot imagine life without him.

I'm signed up for a mock triathlon on June 27th....I am not cleared to exercise yet, but I have done some run/walking. Not so fabulous! Still waiting to swim -- not sure he will let me yet because the episiotomy still stings. I'm afraid to think of the bike.
Here are a few pics of the past month.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

He's Here!

Wow. It's been 2 1/2 weeks already, and I can't believe it. It still seems so surreal. In my sleep-deprived haze, time has both stood still and flown by. I'm a Mom and I'm still in denial about it!

So, it all started on the 26th. I woke up at 3am to pee, as usual, but when I got back to bed I noticed that my Braxton Hicks contractions were starting to migrate down into my pelvis a little bit. This was definitely a new sensation, so I looked at the clock and waited to see if I had another one....and sure enough, 8 minutes later, there it was. So, I kind of freaked out at this point and headed out of bed and onto the computer, where I setup a spreadsheet to time contractions and then kill time. Within an hour, they were down to 5 minutes apart, and then a half hour after that, we were at 3 minutes apart. At this point, I was pretty positive this was "it," so I hopped into the bathtub to see if the contractions would slow down or stop....if they did, then it would be false labor. Alas, in the tub, they stayed 2-3 minutes apart. At 6am, I called the Dr. because the contractions had been 2-3 minutes apart for over an hour. She told me to get to the hospital, so I woke up DH and told him this was it! His response? "Do I have time to take a shower and eat breakfast?"

Sure. Why not?! They were still just uncomfortable, so I flat ironed my hair and put on makeup while DH scrambled about getting ready to leave. I forced myself to eat, called my Mom to tell her this was it, then sobbed in the living room on my yoga ball. (Which, coincidentally, provided no relief at all) What an emotional roller coaster!

We checked into triage at 8am and they put me on the monitor to see if I really was in labor. The nurse said, "so, you are 40 weeks and 2 days. Do you think you are in labor?" I almost smacked her. I told her if this wasn't the real deal, then she should shoot me now!

Since a bunch of women came in at the same time who were farther along than me (vomiting in transition -- seriously?!), we stayed in triage for about an hour and a half. At about 9:30am, we were admitted to our antipartum room. The founder of my OB practice was on hospital duty for the day, so I was excited. I never thought I'd want a man to deliver my child, but when the time comes, you really want the experience. At any rate, I was 4.5cm dilated and 70% effaced at that point, so they hooked up my IV and he sent me on a walking tour of L&D. 1 hour of walking, a check, and then another hour of walking.

The first hour wasn't too bad, and I was really tearing ass around L&D. In fact, we got numerous "this is not a race" comments from people. (Seriously, why walk slowly?!) The contractions were staying pretty tolerable, but I was hopeful that the walking was helping.

Eh. 5cm after an hour of walking, so off we went on another hour of walking. This hour, things got more intense. I had trouble walking through most of the contractions.....and I was tending to drop a few "f" bombs here and there. There was definitely relief in between contractions, but I had a few issues where my contractions would not die down -- the uterus would just continue contracting with little relief. THAT sucked.

My Dr. checked me at 12:30 and I was 5.5cm and 100% effaced. At that point, he recommended that I get an epidural (it was in my plans from the beginning).....he said that oftentimes, the epidural slows down contractions, and we wanted to see that because baby was having a few issues with my psychotic overactive uterus. SO, I cried Uncle and ordered the epidural. I'm glad I didn't wait until I was in excruciating pain, because it took about an hour to get the darn thing! But the anesthesiologist was fantastic --- his wife was a marathoner so he was talking triathlon with me as he placed it. He did a bang-up job and there was pretty quick relief. I LOVED it. All this worry about the epidural, and it was the best part of my day. And the Fentanyl they lace the epidural drugs with? Bloody brilliant!

Dr. broke my water at that point, which was really weird. I had sensation in my legs and could move them, so I felt the gushes of water after every contraction -- at that point, I realized that all sense of modesty went out the window. Especially since there was meconium in my water. Ew.

DH and I were trying to figure out what movie to watch when my parents and sisters came in to visit me. I felt great, but I was paranoid about the pushing part. I think part of me enjoyed laying around in my epidural-induced stupor. Anyway, as we were visiting, about 3 nurses ran into the room really quickly. They rolled me onto my side, wrangled my family out the door, and then shoved an internal probe up my you-know-what so that they could monitor the baby. Apparently, I had dilated to 10cm within the hour and baby had dropped to -2, creating a massive deceleration in his heartrate that got them worried. Thankfully, he recovered, but the nurses were still a little traumatized.

At this point, my Dr. comes in. It's 4:00pm or 4:30pm? He says that we are going to sit at 10cm for an hour or so in order for baby to recover from the deceleration, and then we'll start pushing. I was fine with this, as I didn't have the urge to push, nor did I particularly want to get started!

Somehow this hour flew by and before I knew it, we were pushing. I couldn't really feel the contractions too much, but we did what we could. An hour into pushing, I apparently developed a fever of 103 and they started pushing antibiotics into my IV. Around this same time, we noticed that the baby's heartrate was hovering around 200 bpm and was not recovering in between contractions. They had me stop pushing, which at this point became quite difficult. I didn't want to up my epidural drip because I was concerned about how it was effecting the baby, but I didn't enjoy writhing in pain as I resisted pushing. Dr. was apparently delivering a baby next door, so we were on hold. Poor nurse was freaking out in silence!

When my Dr. came back in, he announced that the baby was sunny side up. He decided that he would reach in and try to turn him during a contraction. THAT was the most painful thing I've ever felt in life. I didn't scream, but I desperately wanted to. What a nightmare. We made no progress whatsoever! While the Dr. continued to monitor the tape of my contractions and baby's heartrate, I kept pushing....it did seem pointless, though.

All this time, I kept telling my husband to prepare himself for a c-section. I knew that all the silence in the delivery room and the worried faces meant that a vaginal birth was likely not possible. My Dr. sat down next to us and basically told us we had 2 options, and neither one was going to be easy -- we either do an emergency c-section, or we attempt a forceps delivery....and risk having a c-section regardless. I opted for option 2. I know forceps are frowned upon, but I was thinking if any Dr. could do a skillful delivery, it was mine. He looked worried, but I went ahead and signed the consent forms for the c-section just in case. A slew of nurses came into the delivery room....NICU nurses for the baby, one to monitor me and my fever, and then the anesthesiologist.

My favorite Dr. gave me a little extra booster into my epidural, and it was wonderful......I didn't feel a single thing, even when they reinserted the urinary catheter. (yes, it went in twice -- woohoo!) When the Dr. grabbed the forceps, I was blissfully unaware of what was happening. I just kept pushing on command (DH did a great job counting to ten, since I was inclined to cheat and stop at 9). DH was so traumatized by what was happening that he didn't even peak. Thank goodness, because rest assured I had probably crapped the table fifty times by the time the delivery was over.

Long story short, Dr. managed to turn him 3/4 of the way and then with forceps, pulled him into this world. Derek's initial apgar was a 3, but they quickly pumped his tummy and lungs and by the five minute mark, he was up to an 8. He's been robust and healthy ever since! 20.5 inches long and 7 lbs, 10 oz in weight. I was so shocked I had a relatively little baby. DH and I were mostly traumatized when he was born and they didn't let us hold him for about 20 minutes after he was born. Which was fine, as we needed the time to compose ourselves. I made DH leave my side 5 minutes after his birth to go look after Derek in the corner of the room while I found out that I'd had an episiotomy. Ouch! Well, I didn't feel it at the time. No additional tearing, either, so that was nice.

We called our family in after we got stitched up and acquainted for the first time, and they were all in tears. He was born at 8:12pm.......can you imagine being at 10cm for that long? Insanity. But we are incredibly thankful he was born safe and sound after that long ordeal.

The first few weeks have been a trial, I won't lie. I didn't realize that sleep deprivation, hormones, and the recovery pains would knock me out quite like they have. I do love Derek, but some nights I wonder what I've done to my life. Apparently, this is all normal. So, I am just waiting.....waiting for the weather to turn nice so I can take some longer walks, and waiting for the feelings of regret to be overcome with love for this baby. Don't get me wrong....I love him. I may even be IN love with him. But I haven't been hit with the "I cannot imagine my life without him" schpiel that women wax about the instant they become pregnant. Perhaps I'm just not wired like that? Or perhaps once my sleepy fog lifts, I'll be there. Nonetheless, he is plenty loved, so no worries.

So, that's the birth story! I'll add a few pics to the bottom of this post. Thanks for the well-wishes......

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Like the Energizer Bunny

.....this pregnancy keeps going, and going, and going.....

39 weeks and 6 days as of tomorrow. One day away from the big due date. I should be excited, but if I've learned anything these past 9+ months, it's that the due date really doesn't mean anything. Baby will come when my body is ready and not a day beforehand. I can hope and pray that I fall within the "normal" range and drop this child at 40 weeks, but I have a sneaking suspicion I have another week left of contractions and backaches and stretch marks to look forward to.

I am loathe to admit that exercising stopped 3 weeks ago. Aside from neighborhood walks, I have not been swimming, nor have I worked out in the gym at work. I have an irrational fear of my water breaking on the elliptical machine. Or my water breaking in the pool and having meconium in it, so everyone knows who to blame for the greenish hue. You know, totally stupid. And to be honest, I finally reached the uncomfortable, sleepy stage where I just don't care anymore. I've worked hard for 8 months....this month was a lost cause for me.

Seeing the Dr. tomorrow for my last "official" appointment. He'll tell me I've gained a million pounds, that my blood pressure is stellar, and that I've made no progress since 37 weeks. And I'll be hella-pissed. But I'm going to make him sweep my membranes tomorrow, even if it hurts like a mofo. I figure, it's got to be better than a Pitocen induction, right?

Speaking of induction, it's on the books. Next Friday morning, the 30th.... How scary is that? Assuming nothing happens tomorrow, this next weekend will be our last without a child. Our lives are never going to be the same again. How am I supposed to be productive at work when I have these kinds of big thoughts to stare down?

And then there's the fear of labor. Oh my gosh, I'm really petrified. I figure I can probably handle the pain, but emotionally am I ready for it? Ugh. Everyone else seems ready. Guess I'd better wrap my head around it pretty quickly.

So with that, I'm updated. Still pregnant. Still huge. And increasingly tired. So if anyone out there thinks I should rest more, kiss my ass -- insomnia blows. :)


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Not over Yet.....

So I sit here at 38 weeks, 1 day......and I am restless!

Lots and lots of upheaval on my new triathlon team. The head coach and really the greatest thing since sliced bread was fired, which was just devastating news because I've loved training with her this past year. (Even though I've been injured or pregnant most of the time) I don't understand most of the circumstances surrounding it, but I think it's probably because she had an affair with one of the other coaches. To be honest, I could care less about this! So she is starting her own team and I will be joining that after I recover from having the baby. They are meeting up and practicing on their own, and it's making me so jealous that I can't make it. AH!!

Had a huge pregnancy-related setback last week that required me to stay home from work in agony for 6 days. Horrible! Will have to deal with that after the baby is born with some surgery. JOY.

I'm finding myself constantly wondering when labor is going to start. It's almost an unhealthy obsession. My back hurts? Is it coming in waves? Was that an abdominal cramp? Could my Braxton Hicks get any tighter? Was that the "bloody show?" Seriously, it's enough to make me crazy. I've eaten 4 packages of swiss rolls in 24 hours. 800 calories. Can you believe that crap? I'm drowning my sorrows in chocolate, since I haven't really indulged during this pregnancy.

So, that's about it from me. Still here. Still ginormous. Still wondering when it's all going to go down. I do know they won't let me go beyond May 1st, so at least the end is on the horizon...... I *will* make it.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Stick a Fork in Me!

I'm done. Seriously, this is getting a bit ridiculous. I know I have 3 more days until I hit "full term," but I feel like I've done my time. I've put up with months and months of Braxton Hicks contractions. I'm starting to get stretch marks under my belly from this ginormous baby I am growing. My nights are full of 3-5 pee breaks a night, sometimes interspersed with bouts of insomnia. My feet are starting to swell. We don't discuss the roids. It's all bad at this point, and I don't think it's going to get better until this baby comes into this world.

Instead of hitting the gym today, I walked in, smelled the guy who was running on the treadmill, then ran out while choking back vomit. Got dressed back into my work clothes and had a spur of the moment lunch with the hubs. !!!! What has become of me?

Well, up until last month, exercise made me feel better. I still got that high. I got energized. But now, exercise makes me tired. I have to stop frequently so that the cramps calm down, and afterwards, I want to take a nap. What the heck?! But I hope I can get back to swimming soon...

Speaking of swimming, my triathlon team has completely gone soap opera. They fired the head coach, who I have a HUGE amount of respect for, and now I am so angry I don't feel motivated to attend the group practices. Quite frankly, the remaining coaches don't have the skills or teaching abilities that I think I need in a Coach. So, I guess this also makes the timing right for baby. It'll give my old Coach time to get her business together and then when I am ready to train again, I'll sign on with her and go from there. :)

Anyway, have my 37 week appointment tomorrow. Since last week I was neither dilated nor effaced, I don't intend to consent to an internal tomorrow. What's it going to tell me? At this point, my water either needs to break or I need to be crying in pain in order to know if I'm in labor. I don't need the disappointment of an internal showing no progress. And who wants internals, anyway? They are so painful!

So, that's my scoop. Not feeling like doing the pregnancy survey, because it's getting a little old. And besides, I think I've covered all the bases. While I'm not "miserable," I'm now ready to meet my son. BRING IT!