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December 19, 2017

2018 fitness plans, sort of

Hello! I'm sitting here at 39 weeks, 2 days pregnant with exactly zero signs that labor is imminent. I was induced at 42 weeks with Ulla, and it was a two day process before she made her arrival. In short, I'm hopeful that a baby will make his/her appearance in the next week or so, but also know it could be, um, longer. (Please God, no!)

So with my workouts consisting mostly of rolling over in bed, putting on socks, and walking from wherever I am in the house to the bathroom, I've been thinking ahead to 2018. (Also, I'm sort of kidding. I do try to do actual workouts like these. But also not kidding because I'm so short of breath with this babe under my ribs!)

My postpartum recovery with Ulla was rough, and it took me a looong time to feel normal. My inactive pregnancy no doubt contributed: Not only was I recovering from having a baby but also trying to gain fitness I lost while pregnant. I think it was nearly a year after she was born that I started running again, but then ran a pretty decent time at Grandma's Half just a few months later, despite minimal training.

I do know that I'll return to low impact workouts as soon as I'm cleared to, which is usually around 6 weeks postpartum. I've been loving my membership to Get Healthy U TV which has a ton of workout videos that make you feel like you're actually in a class, not just watching one. I'm also a Gold member so I have access to the Live workouts they do every Monday. My favorite instructor is Lindsey! I did her prenatal series throughout this pregnancy and will return to those same workouts postpartum. They're low-impact and a good way to ease back into things.

I'm registered for an event in Minneapolis called Fit for Her which is a fundraiser for The Her Initiative, an organization that provides access to clean water and specific health & hygiene curriculum to women in the developing world. The event is on February 24 so depending on when the baby comes, I may only have a week or two of workouts under my belt. I plan on modifying as needed!

I'm also registered to run Grandma's half again. While I'd love to best my time from 2016, I'll only be about 5 months postpartum so we'll just see what training brings.

Basically with so much in the air with when this baby will come, not to mention adapting to life with a toddler and a newborn, my fitness plans right now are best described as do what I can with what I have. I'll be back to update with more specific goals as 2018 gets rolling but for now my main goal is to HAVE THIS BABY!

November 30, 2017

the birth of Ulla Joy

I wrote this in the weeks after Ulla's birth (in 2015!!) but never published it and now I'm weeks away from writing our next baby's birth story!  I absolutely love reading birth stories- and I especially love the detailed ones!- so I included everything I remembered in this. If birth stories aren't your thing, maybe skip this one. Also, we didn't know what we were having (#teamgreen) but I use her/she throughout!

Ursula Joy was born on Monday, April 27, 2015 at 1:15 p.m. but her birth story started two days prior. Saturday marked 42 weeks in my pregnancy. I had been getting ultrasounds called Biophysical Profile (BPP) every two days that week, ensuring that everything was okay with both the baby and me since I was so far past my due date.  I was certain she would come when she was ready, but carrying her was getting more and more mentally challenging for me.  I worried constantly about her safety, and if I was making the right decision to wait. Most hospitals will induce at 41 weeks whether there are medical indications to or not, despite "normal" gestational being 38-42 weeks.

On our way to our BPP on Saturday afternoon, John and I knew an induction was a possibility, even though I knew it was ultimately up to us. We both decided that if everything didn't look 100% perfect with the BPP, we would schedule an induction for that night rather than pushing it out any longer.

During our BPP, everything look great except she didn't take any practice breathes. For thirty minutes,  not one practice breath. Still, we got a passing score of 6/8 but it was a little unnerving to not see her "breathe" at all. (I would later find out that this reflex typically slows down or stops completely when labor is imminent, but I didn't know it at the time.) We went upstairs for the NST portion of our appointment, and she looked great on the monitors. When the midwives came in (we had two that day, and I loved them both), they said they would recommend admitting us that night and beginning the induction process, based on her 6/8 score.

A physical examination revealed that I was  not dilated at all but my cervix was 80% effaced. However, the baby had moved from a +1 station to a -1 station. In other words, exactly the opposite direction. This gave me a Bishop Score of 7, making me an okay candidate for induction and meant that I was probably in for a long labor.  After discussing what the process would be, John and I drove home to get our things before returning to the hospital. We called our families and our doula to let them know what was happening.

After checking in and getting settled into the room, the midwives came in to place Cervadil. The hope was that it would cause me to dilate overnight while I slept which would give us more options in the morning. I did not sleep well at all, due in part to an uncomfortable bed, but mostly because I was having trouble letting go of the birth I had wanted, and managing the fear of the medical interventions I knew I faced. Despite getting induced, I still wanted as natural a birth as possible.

Morning came with another cervical check, revealing that I had made ZERO progress overnight. None. Cytotec, an off-label use for a ulcer drug, was brought up. There's a ton of controversy surrounding it's use, mostly because once it's "in", there is no way to get it out or reverse its effects. The midwives assured me that the dosing protocol had changed since the horror story days of uterine hemorrhaging  and amnio-embolisms. So I consented, and we got started with a 1/4 pill of Cytotec. Within an hour, I was having mild, yet regular contractions. I could talk through them, and ignored them for the most part. John and I ate breakfast and relaxed, waiting for my body to do its thing.

Four hours later at 2 p.m., another check revealed I was a "tight" 1 cm! Progress! We again discussed options and decided that a second dose of Cytotec would be the best move. We called Joey to let her know what was happening, and told her that we would check in again around 6 p.m. that night, after the midwives came back to check my progress.

Within an hour my contractions became two minutes apart, and too intense to talk through. They were lasting any where from 30-60 seconds.  By 5 p.m. we called Joey and told her she better head our way soon. I needed the extra support.

When the midwives came in to check me, they could see that I was in active labor and knew that I did not need a third dose of Cytotec. I also skipped a cervical check because I didn't want to be disappointed if there was a lack of progress. 

Before Joey even got there, I began vocalizing through contractions in the form of a low moan. It was almost impossible not to. I have vague recollections of our nurse pressing my hips or suggesting different laboring positions but for the most part, I kept my eyes closed and moaned through them.

Things had really picked up by the time Joey arrived. She suggested laboring over a ball on the bed, and I think I stayed in that position for a while. I lost all concept of time and was completely focused on working through each contraction, which were still coming at 2 minute intervals. My mom also came, and between Joey, my mom, and John, I always had someone's hand during a contraction. I also began throwing up and shaking, which are both signs of transition. I remember thinking If this is transition, I can do this! (Haha!)
laboring over the ball

I had the option of laboring in water but didn't want to get in too early and stall labor. The next time the midwives came in, around 9 p.m., I wanted them to check me. I was a 3. THREE. After hours of super intense, super close contractions, I had only dilated 2 cms! The midwives said the tub wouldn't stall me since I had been in such active labor for so long. I got in, hoping that the water would relax me and make me dilate faster. At first the tub felt great. It relieved a ton of pressure and just the change in environment was a huge mental boost. John's mom came around that time, and I remember opening my eyes to see her.

I have no concept of time, but after a while I was checked again, and had progressed to a 4. However, the baby's head had moved away from my cervix and without that pressure, they were worried I wouldn't continue dilating. I tried a few different positions in the tub to try to get her to turn again, but my contractions were getting more intense and lasting longer. I felt like I was starting to lose it.

They had me get out of the tub to use the bathroom and I saw my bloody show. Finally! I don't know why but it made me excited, thinking that I was making progress. I also started to feel a ton of pressure, so they had me get on the bed to try a few pushes with contractions. That made everything worse.

My contractions started coming on top of one another without a break. The pain got so intense that I couldn't inhale during a contraction, and started to hyperventilate. It was the first time I started to think about an epidural. I asked the midwife to check me, thinking that if I was in transition, that would mean that the pain was as bad as it was going to get and the end was sight. She checked and didn't tell me my progress, which I knew was a bad sign. I had to ask her a few times to tell me and she finally did. A stretchy 5. 

I started to say I need something, I need something but I was thinking I need to try something different. Joey asked me if I wanted something for pain. I told her no. After another few contractions, one right on top of the other, I said I wanted something. The nurse put in an IV and gave me something. It didn't do anything for the pain, but made me fall asleep in between contractions.  During the next few, I asked them to call for the epidural. I think it was around 1 a.m.


The anesthesiologist got there around 1:45 and what I was thinking in my head was Thanks for coming but what came out was I love you. He placed the epidural and told me to try to lay flat and still for the epidural to distribute evenly. Ten agonizing minutes later, it started to work. I sent my mom and Joey home to sleep, promising to call them as soon as there were any changes, and John fell asleep on the cot in the room.

I, however, could not rest. A nurse came in to put in a catheter, and asked me if I had felt my water break. I couldn't feel anything, so I said I didn't know, but she said that the chuck pad beneath me had a fair amount of liquid on it, and it looked like it had some meconium in it. She said it would mean that the NICU team would be in the room during delivery, but if the baby cried right away, nothing would need to happen. Because of the epidural, my contractions had become irregular, now only 7-10 minutes apart, so they started pitocin.

By morning, I think 7 a.m., the midwives checked me and I had progressed to 9.5 cm but my contractions were irregular again, so they starting upping the pitocin. By 10 a.m., I was 10 cm but they wanted the baby to rotate. Around Noon, they started to talk about letting me push but the midwives were in clinic so it took a while to get everything coordinated.

Finally, around 1 p.m., my nurse gave me the green light to start pushing. She warned me that this being my first baby, and since I had an epidural, I would probably push for around 2-3 hours. Pushing was weird. I couldn't really feel my contractions so they were telling me when to push. I felt a ton of pressure in my face, like it was going to burst! It's such a weird feeling, and not something I was expecting.

After just a few pushes, they could see the top of her head! The nurse told me to stop pushing because the midwife wasn't there. When the midwife got to the room a few minutes later, I was told I could push again while she suited up. Midway through my first push, I heard Stop! Stop! Stop! because her head was about to be born and my midwife wasn't ready. I stopped pushing but then someone said something funny and I laughed. And out popped her head, from the contraction of my laughter!

I quickly pushed out the rest of her body, and she was born into John's hands, roughly 15 minutes after I had begun pushing.  Her cord was short so they placed her on my stomach which was all the farther she would reach. I asked what she was and my heart exploded with surprise when someone said It's a girl!  

I don't remember much else about the time immediately after her birth because I was so overwhelmed with how much I loved her. They waited for the cord to stop pulsing and then cut it. I was finally able to bring her to my breast and she latched and nursed right away. I birthed the placenta at some point, and I needed stitches for a second-degree tear (so thankful for the epidural at that point!).

family of three, and our midwife Krista
We moved to a postpartum room a few hours later and spent the day cuddling her and introducing her to some family and friends. I cried a lot, mostly from disbelief that she was a girl! And from happiness. And hormones.

already standing on those strong runner legs!

The next couple days in the hospital were spent marveling over our baby girl. I don't think there was a minute where she wasn't being held. It took us a day and a half to decide on her name. Ursula was my late Oma's name (German for grandma). John had never met her and associated the name Ursula with a certain sea witch. :) My Oma went by Ulla (pronounced oo-la) and John liked that, so we decided on Ursula but call her Ulla. Joy is my sister's middle name and we figured she could always go by that if she wanted.


We are so in love and she was so worth the wait.

October 20, 2017

pregnancy round two: how things are different this time

When I first found out I was pregnant with Ulla, I had grand dreams of being one of those women who had a "belly only" pregnancy,  ran up until the moment they gave birth, and only gained 25 pounds. Then I spotted around 7 weeks and became so terrified of miscarrying that I stopped running or doing really any form of exercise. Then morning sickness hit and I basically lived off of hot carbs and Taco Bell soft taco supremes.

It was winter by the time I hit the second trimester, bringing snow and the holidays. We didn't own a scale and I was just trusting my body to gain whatever weight it needed to. Um, bad idea. I looked back on my prenatal visits and between Christmas and the end of January, I gained 18 pounds. EIGHTEEN. They recommend 1-1-1/2 pounds a week, so 18 pounds in 7 weeks was overkill, and what likely led to me gaining 50 pounds overall.

I did become more active during the end of my pregnancy, when all I could really do was waddle, though there were some hill sprints around 41 weeks to try to induce labor. But I didn't feel good, I didn't feel strong, and despite having a relatively easy time with the pushing part of labor, my overall labor experience was long and exhausting.

I vowed that things would be different this pregnancy, and they have been.

First, the timing on this pregnancy was totally different, which has helped. I've been able to stay way more active outside during the summer, and the cooler weather of fall has been glorious. 

And we own a scale. I'm absolutely not a slave to it but it helps keep things in check, especially those first 12 weeks when technically you're not supposed to gain much weight, but you also crave hot carbs and vomit at the thought of anything you normally eat. 

I also haven't quit running this time around. I actually ran a half marathon four days before I found out I was pregnant, and was able to run about 10-15 miles a week until around 20 weeks. I started to get intense Braxton Hicks when I tried to run for extended periods so now I do run/walk intervals, and on days when that feels like too much, I just walk.

Overall, my goal is to have dedicated workouts at least five times a week. Online workouts have been a lifesaver! I absolutely love the Baby Bump Prenatal Series, and it gives me zero excuse to not get a workout in.

Even on days when I think my face looks super round, or when I loathe the cellulite that dimples my arms (why?!?!?!), I'm so grateful for a healthy body that is growing a healthy baby, and am hopeful that all of this work will pay off in a shorter labor! 

30 weeks and my running jacket still zips! Kind of.




August 11, 2017

baby on board

This is the first time I've logged on to this blog in the last six+ months and was greeted by my Pensacola Beach Run 10k recap that I wrote and then never published. Oops. So apologies if that super delayed post- and this one- are both appearing in your feed.

It's been a while, so to recap the last six months, here are Major Life Changes, in bullets:
  • I'm pregnant with Baby #2, due December 24th! 
  • We moved from a small town to an even smaller town in April. It's closer to family and further from the Cities, which are both bonuses in my book. 
  • The house we bought is a total fixer upper and progress has been s l o w. We've been debating whether we want to flip it and move to the actual country (so we can have animals and let our kids run naked without judgement). Either way, we wouldn't be moving again until the spring, but this decision has stunted our unpacking progress because why unpack if you're just going to pack again? 
  • Carl the cat is no longer with us. As in, we don't know where he is, but he's presumed dead. He disappeared a few weeks after we moved and hasn't been seen since. Ulla still prays for him to come home but at this point, I'm more meh. After all,  he did try to kill me once.
So those are the major life things. In running news, I'm still running! I was trying to average around 15-20 miles pre-pregnancy and have been running around 10 miles a week since. I actually ran a half marathon four days before I found out I was pregnant!

Gina and I post-half marathon, four days before I found out I was pregnant

I did not run when I was pregnant with Ulla so this is all new territory for me. My plan is to stay as active as possible for the duration of my pregnancy, mostly so I don't gain 50lbs like last time (true story) and have a shorter labor. So far, so good.

17 weeks pregnant

19 weeks pregnant
Last weekend I ran our local 5k  in 25:13 and actually placed third in my age group! My age group medal and post-race orange slice was promptly stolen by a member of my cheer squad.

20 weeks pregnant

February 3, 2017

race recap: pensacola beach run 10k

The baby is napping so I'm going to try to write a brief recap because this is already way late.

The good: I ran a 10k PR, had pretty even splits, and somehow ended up being first overall female. My time was 44:37, a 7:12 pace, and my splits were 7:10, 7:14, 7:19, 7:14, 7:12, 7:14 (and 7:11 pace for the last .2).

The bad: I don't feel like I ran the time I was capable of running.

The 5k and the 10k were run together, and both were out and back courses. I did my best to stay controlled during the first mile, and I hit it exactly on when  I went through the first mile in 7:10. I planned to pick it up progressively over the next 2 miles and then drop the hammer at the turnaround but after that first mile, I just couldn't find a rhythm. My breathing felt awkward, my stride felt off... just everything felt awkward. I had read something the night before about letting go of expectations and just enjoying the moment, so that became my mantra. I tried to not focus on my pace and mentally started listing all the things I was grateful for about the day, about running, about my life. I think I got a little bit too off in la-la land because my third mile was especially slow.

I wasn't really paying attention as I ran through the turnaround but as I started passing the 10k runners still coming through, many were cheering for me and I heard things like "first female!" I had noticed how far behind me the next woman was, and knew with how good I was feeling, the chances of her catching me were slim. I was still running alone and couldn't really muster up the energy to run faster, though I felt like I could've held that pace for longer.

Once we got closer to the finish line, there were a lot of 5k walkers that I had to dodge and it sort of zapped any energy I had for a finishing kick. Plus, the only 10k runners within striking distance were dudes and I didn't want to be a jerk and chick them in the finishing chute. (haha)

I felt good when I was done, evidence that I could have run harder. The second place girl found me and congratulated me. She herself was a mom of THREE kids (and about 7 years younger than me!) and had also run a PR. She was so nice and we chatted for a while.

There were supposed to be awards for top overall finishers but no one could really tell us when that would be happening. We ended up waiting over an hour and a half but I finally got my tumbler medal.

my sisters and I waiting for the awards

my winning mug!


My plan now is to continue running at my same intensity until there is a reason to tone it down (aka a baby). I have my sights set on a race in March, and there is a 5k or a 10 mile option. I'll probably wait to register

January 6, 2017

2017 goals

I haven't made any New Year's resolutions for the past two years, mostly because I was pregnant/had a baby so "adapt to life" seemed to pretty much suffice. And honestly, if there needs to be change or if I set a new goal, I don't feel the need to wait until the new year or the start of a new week to begin working toward something. I know, shocking words, coming from a procrastinator.

But it's January, a time for new beginnings, or at least a natural pause for reflection and planning. Here's the 2016 reflection part: I started to feel "normal" again about mid-way through the year. I ran Grandma's Half on minimal training, mostly because running still felt so challenging and I never found a groove. I didn't run much from June to September. Something clicked when I picked things back up in October. It just felt right. And I've been pleasantly surprised with how fast my fitness has come back, now that I have some consistency to my training.

Now for 2017 planning: Looking ahead, I'm on track to run a 10k PR (which isn't saying much, since my old one was set after about 5 weeks of half-assed training) and if I can get my mind on board, I'm pretty sure I can run close to 43 minutes.

After the 10k, I'd like to take a few weeks of running around 30 miles a week while incorporating at least two strength workouts. From there I'll ramp mileage up to around 40 miles per week. I got into Grandma's Half again and my plan is to continue to train for a half PR with one major caveat: getting pregnant again. After the 10k next week, we'll be officially back on the baby train so there's a decent chance I will be pregnant before June. I don't know what it will be like to be a pregnant runner, so I'll adjust accordingly when the time comes and potentially just run Grandma's for fun.

Other goals:
1. Drink more water. Some days I do really well with intake, and other days I don't pee until 5pm. I'm still nursing pretty regularly throughout the day so I really need to work on this.
2. Stretch/foam roll more. Because #recovery.
3. Get back into yoga. I would love to take a class at least once per week but the nearest studio is a 20 minute drive from my house so it will require some finagling to get everything in.
4. Race more. This is totally dependent on the pregnancy situation but I'd like to run a few 5k/10ks as part of training. There is something so different about racing as opposed to a general training run. Plus, I'm pretty sure I can demolish my 5k time from October and have a new post-baby PR.