{2017-The Year of Black Coffee?}

Could this Starbucks latte loving girl possibly learn to actually enjoy a black coffee in the upcoming year?  I’m nearly positive NO!  So why the post title?

While I may never find pleasure or enjoyment in drinking a simple black coffee, something strange happened this year.  I’ve always been a when I have more, then I will be really happy type of person. When I have more money, more clothes, more time, more this or more that.  Case in point, during Black Friday deals I had to get as much as I could for the best deals because surely getting that deal on the scarf and that shirt and so on would make me happy.

That’s the funny thing that happened though.  When the scarf arrived I found it didn’t really make me happy.  Sure it was cute.  It was warm.  It was a good deal.  But I wasn’t any happier.

Later when trying to find room for that new scarf amongst the dozens I already owned, I grew frustrated.  I quickly shoved it on the shelf to deal with the problem later.  A problem it was when, while in a hurry the next day, I grabbed the scarf and a whole bunch fell out without time for me to put them back.  Dozens of moments like this seem to happen to me each week this year.  I never put much thought into them until recently.

I mentioned in a recent Instagram post that I’ve started listening to podcasts while I walk to help me enjoy my non-running time. I’ve begun to find an enjoyment in these walks that was unexpected since it both gets me out (some days) and gives me a chance to listen and learn. My favorite podcast lately is called The Minimalists.  The Minimalists discuss just what their title implies; they discuss ways to minimize things in your life in exchange for living a life of intention.  A meaningful life means doing and owning only things that really enhance your life and bring it purpose.

After listening to their first few podcasts and thinking about an analogy they made with coffee, I related it to my own life.  They mentioned the simplicity of enjoying black coffee. Think about it.  Black coffee is uncomplicated, found in most places, cheap and quick to make.  There is no need to drive somewhere extra or special to get a cup.  No essential ingredients or person specific ways to order.  Simple.  Less complicated.   Less expensive. Less ingredients.  Less.  (ok tasty too, but stay with me.)

For some reason thinking about the simplicity of black coffee got me thinking back to the scarf situation in particular.  What if I had fewer scarves?  What if I had less?  It would be easier to organize and find the ones I was looking for.  I wouldn’t have a mess to clean up when others fall down because I have so many.  Choosing which one to wear would be easier because there would be fewer choices.  I would save time and money by not buying more.  I would always be able to find the one I was looking for.  Maybe there is something to this less thing.

After numerous scarf-like instances this year, I find myself thinking about life in a different way.  I’ve always known I didn’t want the biggest home we could afford. More to clean.  Less money for travel and experiences.  But that’s the extent of my less is a good thing thinking until recently.  

For the first time, in perhaps ever, I find myself wanting less in my life.  In 2017 my hope is not for more.  Most resolutions and new year goals focus on more.  Having more. Getting more.  Working for more stuff.  Having the best and newest version of what we already have.  Wanting less sounds strange until you think about it. Less things to clutter my home.  Less time wasted on things that don’t truly make me happy.  Less stressing about things that don’t matter.  Less not liking my body.  Less debt. Less of what is not important.

This canvas has hung in our entry way for seven years. I’ve always been drawn to it and often would pause in front of it to think about if I was living a meaningful life. I finally feel like I might know how to start to make that happen.


This year I’m going to get rid of the things I don’t need to make our day-to-day easier and more managable.  This year I will spend less time on what is not important to me.  This year I will buy less stuff and instead spend only on what makes my heart content or is a need.  This will lead to less debt (more money for those student loans) and less stuff.  I will work hard to get in the best shape I can to have less stress and weight.

While I may never become a black coffee fan, I’m going to be embracing the less is more lifestyle to help me live a life that is meaningful to me.  May the upcoming year be filled with less and full of intentions that make my heart happy.

Maybe more isn’t the answer for you either.  Consider a life of less in 2017.

Sarah

{Back to the Basics}

 

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I never planned to go over three years without running a marathon.  I didn’t know in 2014 that crossing the Missoula Marathon finish line, my second marathon in nine days, would be my last for a while. Two kids later and that’s my story.  With plans to cross another state off of my goal to run a marathon in every state coming in September, I’ve decided to use 2017 as a year of regaining fitness and strength. 2017 will be a year to return to the basics.

Since it’s been a while since I’ve trained for and ran 26.2 miles, I’m going to start small, build strength and endurance, and work up from there.  I’m going to train for a 10k first, something I’ve never done before (the training part).  I know I could run this distance without following a plan, but I want to slowly increase my mileage while letting myself recover from having a baby even more. I wanted a plan that would slowly add in miles and balance cross training.  After completing my 10k plan (8 weeks), I will reevaluate and select a half marathon training plan (12 weeks) and then a marathon plan (18 week).

The 10k plan has me running three days a week, which seems perfect for right now.  I will add in more days as it seems to be appropriate.  Hal’s plans are so customizable and adjustable for every runner’s ability level.  I’ve used many different plans in the past, but often come back to his.  His plans make it possible to adjust midway through to a tougher or easier plan if needed.

I’ve always liked the way a training plan simplifies the process of reaching a distance goal and have used many different versions. I like being able to look at my plan and know what to run and how without having to put too much into organizing these details.  There are so many training plans out there that I don’t need to create my own.  The plan I’m following lets me choose my cross training, which gives me plenty of personalizing (and I’m so excited to mix it up with some fun workouts).  Right now my life is chaotic to say the least so looking at a piece of paper and seeing what my workout is for that day is what I need. Being able to rearrange days is also essential as my days don’t always go as planned.

My 10k plan started last week and will last 8 weeks.  Because gaining strength all over and remaining injury free is my goal, I’m following a novice plan with cross training days being essential.  On cross training days I will continue my workout DVD’s (Knocked Up Fitness and Katy Bowman are a couple I use) and DR exercises from Katy Bowman’s book Diastasis Recti and several I’ve found online.  Cross training will remain a key part of my marathon training.  As I progress in strength and fitness, I will add more running and speed.  I also plan to change-up my cross training as my DR closes.

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It’s been nearly 4 years since I trained hard for a marathon.  I missed qualifying for the Boston Marathon by 1:36 at the RnR Arizona Marathon in 2013.  Since then I’ve had two babies, which has made it difficult for me to remain committed to my training.  I plan to revisit this goal when I’m in better shape and have more time to devote to it.

Three years is a pretty large gap in marathons and my body is in no shape to be chasing after a PR.  My training will reflect that.  There will not be many speed workouts or tempo days.  You won’t see multiple high mileage weeks in a row.  I won’t be doing several 20 milers or more.  There will not be two runs in a day.

You will see rest days and a gradual increase in miles.  My training plan will in a way follow my baby getting older.  I like that this should prevent me from becoming too overwhelmed and make my small goals lead to accomplishing my big goal.  It really takes the pressure off and lets me enjoy being a mom while letting me do what I love.  It should also set the stage for advancing my training the next marathon cycle.  Why I thought jumping into a marathon training plan after my last baby was the only way to go I don’t know.

This time I feel so much more confidant in my ability to do this largely in part to the progressing plans plan I have.  When choosing a training plan the most important aspect to consider is how it will fit into your life and your current fitness level.  If the miles and workouts don’t match your current life (fitness level, demands outside of running, etc.), then you will have a really hard time succeeding.  Even with the perfect plan will it still be hard?  Yes!  Will balancing training, working, being a mom and breastfeeding still be overwhelming? I have no doubt!  Will some difficult choices and sacrifices have to happen? You bet!  Will it be worth it? Of course!!

If you’re returning to running in any capacity (new, former, had a baby, kind of been slacking) this is a perfect goal for 2017.  Join me in reaching your fitness goals by starting small and working your way to your big goal for 2017.  I will be documenting my training here and on Instagram (sneaksandstilettos) to help myself stay accountable and hopefully get some of you to go after your 2017 goals.

We have to start somewhere; let’s start small.  Baby steps!

Sarah

{Conquering the Midwest-50 States Plan Update}


A few days ago baby girl demanded to be held while she napped.  Of course I didn’t mind too much. As the end of the year approaches and people start setting their goals for 2017 it had me thinking about mine.  Her napping in my arms and thinking about goals at the same time was the perfect combination to do some race researching and planning.


I learned the hard way about setting goals that were too lofty for me post-baby the first time around.  I both underestimated the attachment I would have for that boy and overestimated the amount of training I would be able to handle while sleep deprived and exclusively breastfeeding.  While I wanted and even craved to run, I experienced a high level of separation anxiety when it came to leaving him.  This made long runs a challenge. On top of that he didn’t sleep through the night until he was 9 months old and breastfeeding and pumping was like a part time job on top of working full time.  I’m not saying you can’t make it work and manage it all, but I couldn’t and stay sane and not feel immense mom guilt.

I had planned to run the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon last fall as my come back from baby #1 marathon (I even documented my training in several blog posts), but as I mentioned above it didn’t happen.  This time around I didn’t make any definite goals while pregnant, but now that she is here I’m ready to do so.  Instead of planning to run a marathon at six months postpartum like last time I’m looking more at around a year.  This gives me much more time to get in shape and get strong, increases the chance for sleep and nears the end of my breastfeeding goal of one year for each child.

When deciding what race would be my first marathon since having kids I assumed I would pick the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon as originally planned.  It turns out it won’t be “the one.”  My husband has his masters class that weekend and it is almost a seven hour drive.  That’s also a lot of travel for our season of life right now, which means the kids would need to be at a grandparents for longer.

So what’s my plan?  My first marathon after baby is going to be not too far of a drive and on the way to a grandparents where the kids can be watched for one overnight.  The kids will be almost 1 and 2 and a half so I’m sure that’s all we will all be ready to leave them for.  A race happened to meet this criteria perfectly and, according to marathonguide.com (I love to use this site for learning about specific races), has really good reviews for 50 state seekers like me.  For these reasons the Sioux Falls Marathon in South Dakota will be “the one.”

The race is September 10 which is a bit earlier than the late fall target time I had planned to race, but a doable adjustment to my training.  Training for this marathon will begin in May hopefully right after a local half marathon.  This gives me 4.5 months before I begin marathon training.

Looking ahead to other races I know my plans must follow a similar criteria. During this season of life I must find a way to balance my goals and the needs and demands of my family.  Two kids under two and a husband working on his masters means I will not be able to just race whenever, wherever.

I’ve outlined my “Conquering the Midwest” game plan below.  I’ve already completed at least one marathon in the following states: Wisconsin (Madison Marathon and Wisconsin Marathon), Minnesota (Grandma’s Marathon and Twin Cities Marathon) , Iowa, Illinois, Michigan and Kansas.  I have race reports linked to each state for those interested in reading or new to the blog.  Some are more detailed than others as I didn’t really blog in the beginning of this goal.

2017-South Dakota (Fall-Sioux Falls Marathon)

2018-North Dakota (Fargo Marathon-Spring). I ran the half a few years ago, but want to run a full in every state.  My Fargo Half Marathon race experience was a good one.

Indiana or Nebraska (Fall-Depends on the husbands master classes, but lots of options for races.

2019-Missouri or Nebraska (Spring-It’s a little far out to say for sure on this one.  St. Louis Go Marathon would mean taking the whole family.  If it’s the Lincoln Marathon in Nebraska probably just the husband and I will go.

Ohio-TBD ??

While my kids are young, the nights interrupted, the budget tight and the demands of me great, this is my plan.  I love this phase of life and know how quickly it will pass, so I want my priority to be family.  As my kids get a bit older and more independent I will feel better about leaving for a bit longer and my wallet will be able to afford flights and weekends away.  My training will also be able to target some back to back races.  Until then, I will be conquering the Midwest.

Stay tuned!

Sarah

{The Ugly Sweater 5k-2016}

   

Last Saturday the husband and I ran one of my favorite races to run.  It has become a holiday tradition for us most years and happened to be my first post-baby race at six weeks postpartum.  Since I have a significant diastasis recti and had been doing mostly run/walking intervals, I knew I wouldn’t be racing this race.  My goal was to run the entire thing at whatever pace needed to stay comfortable and I did just that.

  
Fresh falling snow was beautiful (and slippery) so maintaining a comfortable pace wasn’t too hard because slow going was needed.  It was a date 5k and the first time the husband and I had been kid free since early August. We finally got to have an adult conversation without a toddler or baby interrupting us or demanding our attention.  Two hours away feels like a long time when it’s been 4.5 months since it last really happened.  

  
This report had no mile splits or specific details as I just ran comfortable without a watch and enjoyed my husbands company.  Some of my favorite highlights of this race include the following:

-photos with santa and the Grinch before the race

-the course!  The race starts at Myrick Park and runs on the marsh trails (love this route) to Riverside park

  
-Christmas lights lit the entire route of the 5k

-a finish in Riverside Park in a light tunnel is pretty cool along with the millions of other lights

  
-hot chocolate in a heated tent after

-a drink chip for a free Pearl Street Brewery beer available at several local establishments included in race swag bag

-free hat instead of a shirt

  
My least favorite part: to save time the husband and I parked a vehicle at the start and the finish instead of using the shuttle that took racers back to the start. This was a great plan except…I brought the key to the other car on the run.  Post-run in the freezing cold we had a vehicle with our coats in it, but the key to the car at the start of the race. So wait outside in the cold for the shuttle we did instead of grabbing a post-race date drink.  We laugh about it now! 

  
This is a wonderful, festive and organized race if you live in the La Crosse area.  Plus it gives me a place to sport my Christmas Procompression socks I love so much!  I highly recommend both.

Sarah

{To run or not to run…with diastasis recti?}

That’s my big question that only I can answer.  I knew something was going on before I headed to my six week postpartum appointment with my midwife a week ago.  I suspected DR, but didn’t want to check it myself and really face reality that I was going to have some real work ahead of me.  Work I would not enjoy, look forward to or likely ever really want to do.

Why the suspicions?  I felt so weak in my core when doing everyday things, but a different weak than last time postbaby.  My lower abdomen easily became sore, but different from last time also.  Sneezing was very painful.  My posture was terrible.  I’d consciously sit tall and seconds later I’d find myself so slouched.  My belly looked so different from last time-loose skin, dimply and pregnant by the end of the day despite me having just six pounds to lose from pregnancy versus the 15 pounds last time around.  My running form felt off, too. My feet were barely lifting off the ground and my paces were so slow despite any effort I expelled.

Last Tuesday my midwife confirmed or answered my concerns with a significant diastasis recti diagnosis as measured by me having a four finger gap between my abdominal muscles.  After my previous pregnancy my gap was a 1-2 finger gap.  Upon arriving home I was neither upset or discouraged by my appointment.  It didn’t seem to be that significant.  That would come later.

After doing some reading on the topic, I realized that my fitness goals and plans really are on hold or need to be modified.  I can’t jump into any real training for a longer distance race without addressing this issue or I will end up injuring something else or making the separation worse.  My plans to head back to yoga class and use 21 Day Fix to get back in shape and cross train will have to wait as they both use too many core exercises that not only do nothing to improve DR, but can make the DR worse.

Now that this post baby issue was jeopardizing my running and my related goals it became personal.  I was mad. I don’t have time to do extra exercises.  I don’t have time to read books and research what exercises are safe and which ones are not.  I don’t need something else to worry about.  I know in the scheme of life and real problems this is not important, but we all can be dramatic at times.

The next day I had some negative thoughts running through my head.  Since I don’t have time to fix this problem, I was going to become one of those mothers who HAD a goal. Who WAS a runner.  Who HAD abs-the least of my concerns.  Who HAD dreams…before she had kids.  It was kind of a dark few hours thinking about throwing away a goal.

Then I remembered how insane I become when I can’t run and how much happiness I feel when running and chasing down a goal.  I remembered how much better a person I am when I’m focused on improving myself.  I remembered how much more patient I am as a mother when I’m being active and running.  I thought about the places this goal would take me and my kids and the experiences I hoped to share with them.  This goal is not just a selfish goal, and even if it were, a mother can dream and have goals and still be a good mom.

Elle Woods was totally spot on about this!


After thinking about all of this, how could I not make, find, steal and create the time to fix my DR and get back to my goals and what I love.  Going forward I am taking the advice of my midwife and a physical therapist relative.  You should always take advice from your own doctor and not from an online blogger with no medical training (that’s me!)  Of course other’s experiences are valuable to me and after reading other bloggers and websites, most said running with DR is ok, but I would likely have issues if I didn’t work to fix it.  I also read many online experiences that suggest less running is more especially early on.

My midwife cleared me to run, but explained some issues I might experience such as leaking urine when I run (not currently an issue for me (yeah!!), but common with DR and pelvic floor issues) if I don’t do anything about it.  She said she could refer me to physical therapy right away or she recommended Katy Bowman’s online videos and her book on DR as a more lifelong approach to strengthening a weakness. If after giving my DR some more time to heal and close along with following Katy Bowman’s work, I still don’t see improvements she can refer me to physical therapy.

Check out the time on this…up with baby!


I’ve purchased the Nutritious Movement for Pelvic Health in the digital download version and Katy Bowman’s book Diastasis Recti. Her message is all about “you are how you move.” We create most of our body aches and pains by how we move. Her exercises encourage not a six week program or do these five exercises and your fixed forever, rather change how you move on a regular basis to get stronger and aligned.  Her exercises are based on the idea that by changing how we move and doing more moving in general we can make many of our issues go away.


I have to admit that so far what she blogs about and says in her book make a lot of sense to me. Let’s just say if her work were candy, I’d be the kid in the candy store. This is also so encouraging because it means I may not have to find so much extra time in my day, rather I could change how I move and see improvements that I will work to maintain as I continue through life.

This week I’m also starting to do exercises a physical therapist in the family recommends to patients she sees with DR.  She recommended the following websites for fixing diastasis recti and this website for more information on DR.

I am hoping that a combination of the above will help me return to my old goals (running long distance races, and someday faster) and achieve my new goal (closing the gap.)  As a teacher, I can’t believe the irony of my problem and one of the bigger educational achievement issues in our country.  Sometimes you really can’t get away from work! Again, consult your own doctor, please.

As for running, I’ve decided to not make an official plan.  My unofficial plan is to not run back to back days to make sure I have time to listen to my body.  I will run only 2-3 times a week and cut back if needed.  I will keep my runs to 3 miles and under for the next month. I will run all easy pace runs (as if I could run faster now.)  I will reevaluate in a month.  My sights are set on a half marathon in the spring (roughly six months postpartum) and a late fall marathon (roughly one year postpartum.)

Here’s to closing the gap!

Sarah

 

 

{December Fitness Challenge #heseesyouwhenyourerunning}


Because he sees you when you’re running and knows when you lift weights!  I’m talking about Santa of course.

At five weeks post-partum I thought I’d be so much further along in my journey back to fit.  Last post-pregnancy I’d walked 100 miles with my son and had ran 2-3 miles at a time on a few occasions at this point.  Each pregnancy has it’s own healing timeline, but I’m still bummed.

Other than what feels like a longer recovery, my biggest challenges have been having two little people to care for and one of them always needing something, cold winter temps making it hard to get the smallest one out on walks as of late (Getting out isn’t hard, it’s the what if she wakes up and needs to eat or wants to be held and it’s so cold. She is kind of unpredictable and doesn’t love her car seat.) and feeling frustrated with not running more because my body isn’t completely ready yet.  Getting motivated to run is much easier for me than walking since running is what I love.  Trying to make myself be excited to walk inside on a treadmill…even harder for me.  

Anyway enough with the “reasons.”  I really want to have a great fitness month in December and I’m sure some of you would too.  With holiday treats and events there is even more reason to stay active.   Plus I love working out to some rockin’ holiday tunes and getting in a run (or walk) that takes me past holidays lights.

So here is my challenge!  I’m challenging myself (and you) to get in 30 minutes of physical activity everyday through New Years Day.  What counts?  Anything that is physical activity.  I will be walking, hopefully running, 21 Day Fixing, doing post-partum workouts, and hopefully attending a class or two.  There are no mileage requirements, paces to reach, weight limits to break, just doing an active activity you like.  Why wait until the New Year to get in shape and feel good about yourself?  

Of course accountability is a must.  I want to do this, but it’s not enough just to want it.  I’ll be posting a photo a day on Instagram (sneaksandstilettos) to hold myself accountable.  Join me if you need some accountability.  I will be using the hashtag #heseesyouwhenyourerunning since that is my true love and my ultimate goal to reach.  I know on New Year’s Day I won’t regret my challenge and it is a great way to kick off any 2017 fitness goals you might have.  Let’s hashtag away!

Sarah

{Aria’s Birth Story}


Almost four weeks old and I am finally getting to share Aria’s fast and furious birth story. I love reading other people’s birth stories because there is something so profound about the experience of birth that it should be shared.  A day your life is forever changed should be documented in detail to remember forever.  I also love that the experience of a child arriving, no matter how that happens, is so unique.

Lots of things about Aria’s pregnancy were completely different than her big brother.  I should have known her delivery would be different in a big way, too.  I was hoping for a faster delivery with it being my second pregnancy, but I never expected things to go the way they did.

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When 40 weeks came and went I wasn’t totally surprised.  I went into labor on my due date with Pierce, but he didn’t arrive until the very end of the following day.  I had been having quite a few contractions in the couple of weeks leading up to her arrival, and I hoped (prayed) they were progress making contractions since they were painful and not like the Braxton Hicks I’d been having since 28 weeks off and on.  I will never know for sure since I always decline being checked at appointments, but I will assume they were as her delivery was quick.

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I reread the above quote over and over in the week of her delivery.  It really helped me calm down at times.  By Sunday, October 23rd I was getting a little anxious.  I was three days past my due date and she was sitting so low, I seriously began to wonder how I would physically get through the next day at work.  She had to be arriving soon.  I then realized she hadn’t arrived yet because I hadn’t made up her birth announcement with her date of arrival and time. I did this with Pierce the week before he was due and I correctly guessed his arrival date, but was way off on his arrival time.  I made up a preview of her announcement on tinyprints.com and selected October 23rd as her birthday and 10:23 p.m. as her arrival time.  This had to put me in labor I thought.

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Despite being very uncomfortable  with tons of pressure on my pelvis,  I managed a two mile walk with the family late in the afternoon.  After arriving home I sent the husband to get a few necessities for the week while I got dinner ready and started feeding Pierce.  It was about 5:15.

After Ryan had been gone for a bit I had a contraction that felt like the real deal, but I didn’t think much of it.  A few minutes later I had another.  Then a few minutes later another.  I still didn’t even get excited or text Ryan.  I had this happen a few times before. On a couple of nights the week before I’d had contractions for an hour or two and then they stopped.  I didn’t want to cause a false alarm or incite unnecessary excitement in anyone.

As I was feeding P I noticed these seemed to be a bit more painful and kind of regular.  I decided to start tracking them with my Contraction app.  It still had all my contractions I charted from Pierce’s labor.  I looked it over and quickly prayed my next labor wasn’t like his with only back labor before deleting the information and starting fresh.  My first contraction entered in the app was at 5:54 p.m.

When Ryan got home at 6:15, I was feeling more sure that this was the real deal.  Each contraction was painful and I’d had seven contractions since I had started keeping track of them in the contraction app.  Most contractions were 35-45 seconds long and they were coming every 2-6 minutes.  I would highly recommend this app.  When you are actually in labor it is impossible to keep track of how long they are lasting, the frequency with which they are occurring and their intensity with accuracy.  This helps do all that for you.

Since we live close to the hospital we were again told to follow the 3-1-1 policy.  This means wait to head to the hospital until contractions are three minutes apart and lasting for one minute at a time for an hour.  I wanted to labor at home as long as possible.  Last time my contractions were so irregular and painful right away I was really confused about when to go in.  Back labor will do that.  They were pretty painful right away this time, too, but completely different.

This time my contractions were like what people had always described them as.  I had a couple of mottos picked out to repeat to myself in my head when breathing through a contraction.  I had my labor playlist ready.  I made a playlist with Pierce that I never used during labor. This time I relied on it early on.  It helped me move through and zone out during a contraction and focus on my mantra.  I was really hoping for a water birth.  I was okay with an epidural if I exhausted all other options, but wanted to make sure I really gave it my everything first.

By 6:45 p.m. my contractions were coming every two-three minutes, but were still lasting about 45-50 seconds so I didn’t think it was time to head to the hospital.  I wanted to wait until they were lasting a bit longer.  By this time I had locked myself in the office and my husband was with Pierce.  His parents had come over to spend the night and care for Pierce as this was the real deal.  Oddly enough they were already in town eating dinner and Ryan’s mom had her packed bag in the car.  It’s like they knew it was going to happen.  I listened to my playlist and moved and breathed through the contractions.

At 7:45 things were much the same.  I had told Ryan what to pack in the car between contractions.  I read my son a bed time story between contractions and gave him a hug and a kiss and sang him my bedtime song for him in between contractions.  I thought about how the next time I saw him I would probably be holding his sister in my arms.  It was the moment I had feared and looked forward to for a while.  I was expecting this to be a hard moment for me, emotionally accepting he wouldn’t be my only baby anymore, but in reality I was in too much pain and the contractions were too close together for me to get too emotional or sentimental.

Labor was demanding more of my focus so after putting my son to bed I headed to his sister’s room.  For some reason I like to labor in their nursery’s imagining them and focusing on what labor is all about-meeting your baby.  I labored in different positions.  I used my yoga ball.  I asked my husband to join me in her room and take over with the contraction app.  Interestingly I did not want his help during this labor at all.  I did not want to be touched or bothered.  I just wanted to be left alone to do what my body was meant to do.  I began repeating my labor mantras over and over in my head during every contraction.

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At 8:45 p.m. the contractions were coming every two to three minutes, but they were only about 45 seconds long.  My husband wanted to go to the hospital.  I did not.  According to my Contraction app, my contractions then began to pick up in frequency which coincided with my decision to take a hot shower.

In hindsight my husband might have been thinking with a more clear and level head at the time.  I had no concept of the time I had been in the shower.  I did not have my husband chart my contractions.  He suggested going to the hospital a couple of times while I was in the shower, but I really was so focused on my mantra and getting through each contraction I admit I wasn’t really listening.  That and I was moaning a lot.

Later I would find out I was in the shower for 26 minutes because when I got out the husband started using the contraction app again.  My contractions were now happening every minute and a half to two minutes and were lasting 48 seconds to a minute and a half. About ten minutes later I told my husband I think it was time to go to the hospital.  A few contractions later and my water broke soaking my pants.  The husband was (jokingly) worried about the newish carpet.  It did not get on the carpet nor did I care at that point.  I didn’t find humor in his joking at the time.

As soon as my water broke I said we need to go to the hospital…NOW.  I felt her move down even lower and my contractions were coming every minute it seemed.  My husband helped me out of my wet pants and I sent him for dry pants.  His mom asked if my water broke and she said he needed to take me to the hospital right away.  He said he was working on it, but I hadn’t been so cooperative leading up to my water breaking.  She looked pretty concerned.  I knew we needed to go so I walked through the house pantsless to meet my husband by the door not caring where my mother-in-law was. He helped me into my pants and then we immediately went to the car.

I rode in the passenger seat on my knees facing the backseat trying not to push, but my body wanted to so much.  Upon arriving to the hospital at 10:00 p.m., I had five or six contractions on the walk to labor and delivery. They tried to get me to sit in a wheelchair, which I said was not going to happen.  After getting to the delivery room they checked me and said I was 4 centimeters.  I said there was no way and if that was the case I want an epidural now.  I was having such strong urges to push, almost like my body was totally in control.  I had to lay in the bed while they tried to get baby’s heart on the monitor.  They said I had to do this for 20 minutes before an epidural or a water birth could happen.

A nurse kept telling me not to push to breathe.  I was trying so hard not to, but I couldn’t do much about my body doing it on its own.  They were struggling to get a heart rate reading so I had to move to one side and then the other.  Being asked to lay in that bed was like death. I was in so much pain and just wanted to get out of the damn bed.  I cannot stand laboring in bed.  Not being able to move through the contractions completely destroyed my focus.  My requests were not met and I do understand why, but at the time…grrrr!  The doctor then arrived and she inserted a heart rate monitor on the baby’s head and said I was 8 cm.  The doctor said my contractions were very strong and there would not be time for an epidural or to get the water birth tub ready. My baby would be here soon.  Very soon.

A few minutes later I was 10 cm and ready to push.  A few minutes later yet, baby girl was born. There was significant yelling during these last minutes.  I had trouble maintaining control and felt like I never got my calm focus back that I’d had all night prior to having to sit fairly still in bed.  I felt almost in shock about how fast things were going.  When her shoulders got stuck on my pelvis and they said her cord was wrapped around her neck panic set in. The husband was literally speechless during this time and said nothing…as in not a damn word.  I don’t even really remember him being there.  Things were so intense I literally had no options but to yell and just do it.  The silver lining-it was fast!
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At 10:36 p.m., 36 minutes after getting to the hospital, Aria Emerson was born.  Since she was blue and not crying she was immediately taken away.  That part was so scary.  Not knowing what was going on or if she was ok was the hardest thing.  After getting lots of mucus sucked out, being given oxygen and recovering for a bit, she was given to me for skin to skin and breastfeeding to which she immediately latched on.  Despite a crazy arrival to the hospital, a cord being wrapped around her neck and shoulder dystocia (her shoulders were stuck on my pelvis so the doctor had to help her out), she arrived quickly and healthy without complications to her or I.

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Less than an hour after my water broke at home Aria was here.  While they were working on making sure she was ok, I wavered between worry and shock as to what just happened. I had just had a baby a half hour after getting to the hospital without any medication.  The husband seemed equally shocked.  The important thing was she was here and healthy.

Once she was in my arms I felt so much better.  I was so excited to see her eagerly nursing, to see her little chest rise with each precious breath she took and to see her tiny little feet (they really are tiny).

I took in her head full of dark hair and her long fingernails on her delicate fingers.  She seemed so much bigger than her brother had.  She really was, too, weighing in at 8 pounds, 5 ounces and measuring 19.75 inches long.  Big brother had been 6 pounds, 14 ounces and a quarter inch shorter.  It felt so familiar to hold a newborn and yet so new.

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With Pierce I felt an attachment early on, but also so much fear of the unknown and so much uncertainty about becoming a mom.  With Aria I also felt an attachment, but a different fear of what life as a family of four would be like.  I was having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that she was here.  It seemed like it was just March and we were finding out that we were for sure pregnant after several false negative tests the month before.  Chasing after her big brother made this pregnancy go so much faster than the first, in some ways I felt as if I never fully processed that I was pregnant.

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I felt love for her on the day I met her, but honestly my love has just grown and grown in my few weeks at home with her.  That is part of the reason for the delay on this post.  I haven’t wanted to put her down or stop snuggling her to write a post.  I feel as if I fall more in love with her each day.  My sweet Aria I love you so much!  The other part of the delay is life is crazy when you have two children 18 months apart.  There isn’t really time for yourself.  Someone almost always needs you.

We are adjusting to life as a family of four.  Big brother is at daycare during the day for at least the first six weeks, so I have plenty of time to bond with Aria.  This allows me to enjoy time with her and not have to also be chasing an active and curious 18 month old around constantly.

It is also great practice at getting three people ready in the morning as I take Pierce to daycare each morning and pick him up in the afternoon.  Lets just say it takes FOREVER to get two little people and a tired mommy ready and out the door in the morning.  Some mornings go smoothly and some morning we have all cried at some point before we leave, but we’ve made it every day.  Pierce being at daycare where he gets the interaction and stimulation he needs also gives me some down time and lets me enjoy my little people so much more in the scheme of things.

I’m anxious to see who Aria grows up to be, but also want her to be little forever.  Seeing Pierce after having her made him seem SO grown up.  I know how fast this stage goes as I just blinked and Pierce is toddler.  So far she is a great baby with a fussy time or two each day (although this has been increasing in length as of late and a lot this week).

Pierce is showing an overwhelming interest in her constantly wanting to touch her face and head. He is working on being gentle and loves to help change her diaper and hold his sister.  Aria or baby is often the first thing he says when he wakes up in the morning and one of the last things he says before bedtime at night.  I hope so much that they have an amazing and close sibling bond.  It is also so true when they say that you can love more than one child THAT much.  I miss Pierce on a daily basis when he is at daycare or I have to miss a bedtime story, but I also know that Aria won’t always need me so much.

I’ve been feeling awesome, too.  I strongly believe having a healthy, active pregnancy is a huge part of why the actual delivery went so well, pushing lasted a few minutes and recovery has been a breeze.  For now I’m easing back into workouts, getting used to not sleeping again, and enjoying every single new baby moment with a few holiday tunes and/or movies in the background.  I will continue to share my post-partum fitness journey along with family details here on the blog.  I still have no idea how I will juggle family and fitness exactly, but I do know it will be filled with ups and downs and will doubtfully be boring.

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Sarah