{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

 

 

{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

 

{Bumpdate} 40 Weeks

By now most of you know baby girl has arrived, but I did start this post before she arrived so I’m sharing it now.  Her birth story is coming soon.

Baby Girl,

You definitely have mama wondering when you will arrive.  I have been having quite a few contractions off and on over the past two weeks.  On two occasions I had contractions that were quite regular in timing and more painful than Braxton Hicks for over an hour or two and I thought, THIS IS IT!  Except it wasn’t.  I no longer think of contractions as meaning anything…until they do.  If I start having contractions, I just continue on with my regular day and don’t let myself get too excited. I know you will arrive when it is the right time for you.  Good things come to those who wait.  

These extra days of anticipation have you daddy going crazy, too.  He may be worse than me.  He is constantly asking how I am, if I feel anything, if anything is going on.  I actually had to ask him to stop asking.  I couldn’t handle the anticipation myself and his asking all the time.  He did defend himself by saying that he has to ask so much because he knows I wouldn’t tell him anything until I’m sure it is the real deal as not to get him too excited for a false alarm.  He’s right, but still.

We’ve been spending the extra time finishing up anything we can and trying to shower your brother with attention as we know soon we will have two children to love and give our attention to.  

When you’re ready baby girl, we are too.

Love,

Mom

Feeling:  Very uncomfortable and caught up in the magical excitement of seriously…ANY DAY NOW could be it!

There is something so magical and nerve-wracking about going past your due date. You know meeting your baby is just days (or maybe hours) away, but you are so anxious for their arrival it is hard to concentrate on anything else.  There is also something so annoying about going past your due date with people constantly checking in on you because they care, feeling uncomfortable and starting to feel like you might actually be pregnant FOREVER.  I know I won’t, but still.


I’m a firm believer in letting baby come when they are ready and not taking measures to rush their arrival unless truly medically necessary.  I deny opportunities to be checked at appointments as it really means nothing, and I do not want to be induced unless medically necessary.  Talks of induction in early November if nothing happens though feels like 8 million years from now.  I can’t imagine being pregnant for 42 weeks.

Cravings: Some days nothing.  Other days sweet stuff.  Pumpkin spice lattes.

Weight Gain: At my 40 week appointment I had gained 25 pounds.

Symptoms:  Baby girl is sitting so low.  Our midwife even commented how very low you are.  Uncomfortably, have-to-pee-all-the-time, it-hurts-when-I-walk low.  I feel like it can’t be long until your arrival as some other signs of your arrival have started to happen, but I will spare the details.

Workouts/Running:  Just walking feels like an effort.  I’m still trying to get out for a few walks a week, but you are making things quite uncomfortable lately.  

Week 38-Walking, prenatal sculpt DVD and yoga DVD.  I shared the details of these DVD’s in my previous bumpdate post.

Week 39-I managed a couple short walks this week.  We also went for a hike at a nearby state park.

Week 40-Running errands feels like a workout.  Walked two miles on the afternoon before baby girl would be born.

Looking Forward To:  Holding you in my arms.  Soon baby girl.  Soon.

Sarah

 

{Post-Partum Fitness Plans for Baby #2}

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Today being my due date with baby number two has me thinking about returning to regular running and losing those extra pounds.  Of course baby snuggles and soaking up the moments is most important, but this post isn’t about that.

Last time around losing the weight was important to me for several reasons.  Those reasons remain the same this time around.  While I do believe there are far more important things in life than worrying about weight and working out post-baby, the reality is sometimes these small things are the big things.

For obvious reasons, I can’t afford to buy a new wardrobe.  I like having options to wear and it feels good to put on those skinny jeans again and have them actually fit.   This is only part of the reason though.  If I’m being honest, I’m just much happier and more confident when I like the way I look.  Feeling like yourself gives you a confidence and positivity to your life and attitude that is hard to get from another source.

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Turkey Trot with my little guy at 7 months old.

Beyond fitting into my old clothes, returning to working out is essential to my well-being and mental health.  I become very anxious and irrational if I go very long without moving my body.  For the sake of my family and those around me, everyone involved wants me to exercise as soon as possible.  Being outdoors and running through all four seasons does something for my soul and peace of mind that I’ve never found anywhere else.  The satisfaction and sense of accomplishment I get from my running is unique and necessary for me to feel like a good version of myself.

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Finally, since becoming a mom I struggle to find or make time for myself.  As a mom someone always needs you.  Something always needs to be done.  Mom guilt is overwhelming.  I have extreme mom guilt if I ever leave my son even if it is to get groceries or run an errand that is benefitting him or our family.  I need to make time for myself a priority here or there for my own sanity and to be sure I’m not dividing my attention when I’m with him (and soon baby girl, too).  Exercise gives me that break and time to myself.

As for when my next big race is exactly, I’ve decided to leave that a bit unknown or undecided. However unlike me as this sounds, I’ve got some ideas about when and where I might like to cross off my next state, but I learned the hard way last time around that if there is one guarantee post-baby it is that your best intentions and plans can go out the window in a hurry.

Balancing motherhood with work responsibilities and training was so, so much more complex and challenging than I could have anticipated.  Rather than shell out hundreds of dollars in advance to up the ante so-to-speak in helping me remain committed to my goal, I’ve decided to save some cash up front and be real.  This might mean paying a higher registration price to wait a bit longer to register for a race to be sure I can actually commit to the race and travel.  Despite not committing financially to any races as of yet, that doesn’t mean I don’t have post-baby workout /fitness plans.  I do!   If that sort of thing interests you, keep reading.  If not, maybe skip this post.

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Running with baby #1!

During my last pregnancy I had no real post-baby workout plans established.  I had no idea how weak my abs and pelvic muscles would be.  Seriously no idea.  I had done no kegels or pelvic work during my pregnancy, but I thought I had maintained a moderately active lifestyle running a few days a week until 27 weeks and then walking and hiking up to my due date.  When I look back at my workouts though, I really didn’t maintain my fitness like I had planned or hoped to.  Life got busy, and I made some excuses, too.

Post-partum after baby #1 I felt amazing.  I couldn’t believe that I had just had a baby and felt so good.  I had felt worse after some of the marathons I’d ran.  Walking was a breeze.   The first couple of runs felt great.  Once the initial excitement of I’m-running-and-I-haven’t-done-this-in-months wore off though, I realized how weak I was and what a work in progress I was.  My determination was there, but my abs just were not.  I remember sitting in my living room, laying flat on my back (that felt weird), and trying to do something as simple as lift my feet and legs off the floor a few inches.  I could not do this.  No matter how hard I tried, it was just not possible.

My actual running felt great aside from this lower ab and pelvic issue/pain I had after most runs.  I was able to return to running pretty quick, but I was constantly worried about doing more damage than good.  You almost can’t stop a runner though.

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I spent a lot of time reading and researching about how to correct mild abductus rectis and regain ab and pelvic floor strength.  I was so frustrated and felt confused as to why no one told me about this.  Why are stabilizing and strengthening exercises not taught to post-partum moms right away?  Why are we not told to avoid certain ab exercises like crunches that can make it worse?  I spent so much time pre-labor and delivery worrying and researching how to cope with labor pains and the end status of my lady parts I hadn’t even known or thought to consider this.  What’s even more is I can’t imagine that many women actually walk away from delivery with strong abs and pelvic muscles.  All women could benefit from this being a part of post-natal care.

Some of the resources I used the last time are linked below.  Of course, I’m not a doctor so listen to your own body and talk to yours before trying any of these!  I will definitely be using these again this time around.  I also already asked my midwife about post-partum PT.  She said she will make the referral and that they refer people all of the time.  After having two children 18 months apart I know that my pelvic floor will be able to use some extra attention, and I want to make sure I’m prepared.

Six Exercises to Rebuild Your Core After Pregnancy

Pelvic Floor Safe Exercise App

You Don’t Know Squat

5 Alternatives to Kegel Exercises

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I also plan to do as much walking as I can immediately post-baby, but I know this will be really hard this time around since I live in Wisconsin and baby is due in October. I doubt we will be walking 100 miles together by the time she is five weeks old like I did with her big brother, but I guess I can hope for a warm, late fall.  I do have a treadmill that I didn’t have with big brother, so hopefully she can sleep next to me while I get some walk time in and enjoy some intelligent TV or Hallmark Christmas movies.  I’m such a sucker for these feel good movies.  Add in post-baby hormones and I will probably be a mess.

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After having my son, 21 Day Fix really helped me make healthy food choices and get in a great workout in 3o minutes last time around.  I plan to use this again after baby #2.  Going to yoga and barre classes once a week also helped me get out of the house and get stronger, too.  I’d love to include this in my post-partum return plan, but the reality is with my husband working full time (since it won’t be summer like last time) this may be difficult to impossible.

I also hope this time of year (late fall/winter) gives me a chance to put less pressure on myself to run long runs right away and really take the time to do the pelvic floor work that needs to be done.  I’d like to complete more strength training too, so I can build a strong foundation to really return to running in the spring with longer runs.  The pressure we put on ourselves though is hard to stop.

 After having my son, I also spent a lot of (unnecessary) time obsessing about how I would lose the weight.  Not so much during the first three months.  I was totally devoted to my little man and caught up in those new mom emotions and challenges.  After three months though I had expected breastfeeding and the running and walking I was doing to have taken care of those extra pounds.  I lost 22 pounds that first month and thought I was going to have no problem losing the rest.

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The reality was I had a long way to go.  The worst part was I was eating right (dairy-free for baby meant a pretty clean diet) and exercising along with breastfeeding, and I just was not seeing the results I’d expected.  These three things were I’m sure helpful in maintaining a steady weight loss, but the one thing that seemed to be required for my body to lose the weight was the one thing I didn’t have patience for-TIME!

Knowing all of these things from before will, I hope, better prepare me for the after the second time around and make other frustrated mommies realize they are not alone.  I wouldn’t say the after was a hard transition the first time, but I was caught off guard by the extent of my weakness and the time it took to lose the weight. Often we hear that breastfeeding is the key.  The reality is that it may not be the only thing necessary.

Every person is unique.  Everyone’s journey their own.  No comparison needed; just support and knowing that for most people a combination of healthy eating, exercise and time is what is needed to lose baby weight.  No luck.  No fancy gimmicks.  No easy tricks. Sorry!  Just hard work, commitment, determination and, again, TIME!

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Six months post-baby I was back at my pre-baby weight.  Nine months after I was down an extra couple of pounds and would very soon be pregnant again.

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After running a half marathon at 16 weeks.

This pregnancy I worked out a lot more as I really wanted a more fit pregnancy than the first time around.  I also ate better in part to limit the pounds I gained, but also largely due to my gestational diabetes diagnosis.  I’m very curious how running more and until 35 weeks will play into my overall fitness and return to running.  I know running more and longer into this pregnancy has played a big part in me gaining about ten pounds less this time around.  At my recent 39 week appointment I had gained 26 pounds.  I’m sure I have a bit to gain yet, but don’t think it’s possible to gain 11 pounds before she gets here.  Let’s hope not!


It should be added that this plan is all pending a delivery similar to the last one. I am very aware that if I have a more difficult delivery or a c-section for some reason that my plans will have to be adjusted.  A combination of eating healthy, exercising and taking care of myself will make my return to the fitness I love possible and the baby weight come off with time.  I hated hearing this last time around, but it really seemed to be true for me.

My biggest tip to new mama’s-to-be when it comes to returning to working out is to have a plan that includes a healthy diet and exercise you enjoy, but know that that plan might have to be adjusted.  So much of having a baby is out of your control. Be flexible with yourself.  Workout when you can and try not to stress when you can’t.  Think about what you put in your mouth.  Above all, enjoy those new little baby moments.  They grow sooo fast!

Now if I just follow my own advice.

What tips do you have for new moms?

Sarah

{No 26.2 miles or bourbon for me today}

  
Today I was going to run the Kentucky Derby Marathon.  I signed up in February after starting a training plan and successfully running three long runs on weekends in a row.  I finished 13 miles mid-February and felt amazing.  I registered and booked my flight and hotel.  I pinterest planned my weekend…hot air balloons Friday night, race Saturday, Opening Night at the Kentucky Derby and mint juleps Saturday night.  Maybe check out Louisville Slugger or a bourbon sampling.  

  
Later in February I started not feeling great.  I was so tired all the time.  I was feeling nauseous off and on throughout the day.  I was gagging on green vegetables.  Alcohol hadn’t sounded good in a while.  In early March my milk supply started dropping.  What was going on?  

I said I swear I felt pregnant several times, but that couldn’t be.  I knew there was a chance I could be since we were on the not trying, but not not trying plan.  EXCEPT I had taken two pregnancy tests the month before and both were negative and I had my period.  It wasn’t until this happened that I registered for 26.2.

Except…I was pregnant.  The tests taken slightly early for my long cycle.  The period actually a hemorrhage that showed up in an ultrasound in mid-March after two positive tests the week before.  Everything is ok now!

I could have never said a word about my plan to run 26.2 today, but I was following my dream and still getting after my goals. Even though I have not been frequent in blogging or instagraming as of late, I’m still working hard on my dream to run a marathon in every state.  I am just once again experiencing a delay.  

  
I’m not upset about the delay at all.  How can you be when it means another bundle of joy.  I’m sure this will temporarily make my goal and dream a little more put off and for sure even more of a challenge, but babies are only little for a while.  Having one has taught me that the first year goes by so fast.  There will be challenges, but it is only for a blink of an eye in a lifetime that these unique challenges exist.  

 

My favorite running shirt already!

 
I’m working hard to balance being a full time working, pregnant mom of a one-year-old who is also a baseball coaches wife.  Fitting in runs and workouts now is near impossible with the husband gone so much.   Caring for my son, home and everything else some days feels like a workout by itself.  

  
I’m still planning on some spring and summer races depending on how things are going. I already feel so much better running this time around.  So much less pressure and discomfort.  Time will tell.  I’m sure I will again be documenting the journey to a family of four.  Sometimes I still can’t believe it!

Currently I’m recovering from a nasty cold and my first experience with pink eye.  Wash those hands people!  

Stay tuned!!

Sarah

{Baby K’s Arrival}

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A couple of Sunday’s ago as I sat rocking my son (it still feels weird to say that) I was so overcome with emotion as to how I could love someone I’ve only known such a short while so much. It is just like everyone said it would be and then some. As I relistened to my labor and delivery playlist, I was immediately taken back to the day of his birth and the emotions I felt. All the excitement, fear and anticipation. As I rocked this perfect-to-me boy and looked at his little face, tears streamed down my face because I felt so happy, lucky, and blessed in that heart-is-going-to-explode way I had never experienced before giving birth.

I wasn’t sure if I’d share this with complete strangers and even those I know, but I just don’t want to forget the details of what turned out to be such an amazing experience-having my son. The experience was so much greater than I could have anticipated especially given how scared of delivery day I was ahead of time. If you don’t like birth stories, then just skip this post.  If you’d rather just see photos, then scroll down and skip the reading.  I promise there are no explicit descriptions or photos!

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As the weeks of pregnancy became a single digit countdown, I became more and more terrified of giving birth. I feared the pain so much even though getting more uncomfortable with each day was helping me want the big day to get here. You can read about my pregnancy week by week in my blog journals: Weeks 9-21, Weeks 22 and 23, Weeks 24 and 25, Weeks 26, 27, and 28, Week 29, Weeks 30 and 31, Week 32, Weeks 33, 34 and 35, Weeks 36 and 37, Weeks 38, 39 and 40

I’d read lots of books. I practiced my breathing and meditation techniques outlined in The Bradley Method book. I wanted to go from least invasive pain management to an epidural trying other options along the way. I was ok with having an epidural if I ended up exhausting other options. Knowing all of this I don’t know why I was so afraid. I also had a great support person in my husband.

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Such a supportive guy!

 

Maybe I was scared because I’d never experienced real pain. I only got my first stitches two years earlier. I’ve been fortunate enough to not break a bone or need any kind of surgery in my 30 years thus far. It could also have simply been the fear of the unknown. Labor and delivery is not something you can really relate to other life experiences. People have said to me “Oh, if you’ve run a marathon then you can handle birth.” That might be true for someone who is unprepared and under trained for their first marathon, but labor is totally different and can last WAY longer than a 26.2 mile race where you can take walk breaks if you need and even drink a beer on some courses.

Excited, but scared, too!

Excited, but scared, too!

When my body gave signs that this whole thing would be happening soon, I was first in denial and then excitement and fear set in. During the first parts of labor luckily excitement cancels out the fear. As things got more intense I really did’t have time to be afraid because I was  busy breathing and focusing through the pain. I forgot to be afraid and focused on getting through one contraction at a time.

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Friday, April 17th was our little guys due date. I know statistically babies rarely arrive on their due date. I am a planner and don’t like that stat, but our guy must have known and at least labor started on his due date. At school I was experiencing contractions here and there, but they really didn’t feel like much or have any sort of pattern to them. At the time I’m not sure that I even really thought labor was really under way. My instincts did tell me to make sure absolutely everything was taken care for Monday though.

It was a good thing I did because by 5:00 pm on Friday night I was positive they were contractions. The pain was only in my back so it wasn’t what I expected and they came about every 7 minutes. It was at this time I made sure my hospital gear was packed with the last minute items I needed to pack. I then started making my labor and delivery playlist, the one thing I wanted to do yet that I hadn’t had time to complete. I used some online playlists and my own iTunes library to try to build a list of music that would help me focus and cope during early and active labor. Some of the songs for earlier labor were songs that had a sentimental focus or emphasis to remind me of the entire reason for all the pain and work-our baby boy! The songs I chose for active labor were yogaish songs designed to help me focus and relax. I love how yoga helps relax your entire body.  The music was a reminder to do just that.  I was also pretty sure word music might be rather annoying at that point.

In early labor...my last pregnant photo!

In early labor…my last pregnant photo!

By 10:00 pm the labor playlist had been made, listened to and our bags were packed. Contractions were more like 5 minutes apart, but were sometimes irregular and were lasting a minute to a minute and a half. We headed to bed with excitement and nerves in anticipation of what was to come. I didn’t have any idea how long this early phase would last, but knew it could be a while.  My early labor playlist is below.

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At around 1:00 am the contractions became too strong for me to sleep through. I also could not stand laying down as the contractions were in my back and that made it so much worse. I moved into the nursery where I could sit in the rocking chair comfortably in between contractions. I was able to sit in the chair during contractions for an hour or so, but soon I had to stand against the crib in order to breathe through them. The contractions were now 4-5 minutes apart and lasting a minute. It was around this time that I woke Ryan up as I could not handle keeping track of my contractions on my contraction app (My Contractions) accurately anymore. I began returning to the chair to sleep in between each contraction.

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Elf helping me with a contraction! He kept doing this trying to figure out what was going on.

Because we live close to the hospital we were told not to come in until the contractions were 3 minutes apart and lasting for 1 minute or longer for at least 1 hour. Throughout the early morning hours my contractions became closer together and had already been lasting for over a minute since 1:00 am. Around 4:00 am Ryan mentioned that most of my contractions were 3 to 4 minutes apart. They were sort of irregular though so it was hard to tell what to do. He was paranoid and wanted to call the hospital. I didn’t think it was time to go yet. Around 4:30 he called and we were told to try taking a shower or bath and go from there. I showered aiming the water at my back and then sat in the bathtub for a while. Things slowed down a bit after sitting in the water. After getting out things picked up again.

I was worried about getting to the hospital too soon so I kept holding Ryan off. Around 8:00 am I agreed it was time to go as my contractions were mostly 3 minutes apart and lasting 1-2 minutes for over an hour. Sometimes they would be more spaced out though. The irregularity was difficult to tell, but I later learned back labor can be like that. Getting out of the house took about 15-20 minutes. I told Ryan if I was less than 4 cm dilated I was going to be pissed. When we arrived at the hospital I had to stop to have a contraction in the parking lot, at the front desk during check in and immediately upon entering the labor and delivery area. I was feeling like it was a good idea we came when we did.

Upon being checked I found out I was…drumroll…ONLY 1 CENTIMETER. I honestly didn’t know how this was possible. I did not want to labor at the hospital for nearly the entire labor. I was 90% effaced and the baby was low, but I was so disappointed. I followed their 3-1-1 guideline so how was I only 1 cm and how could it hurt this bad already. Seriously, some people walk around more dilated for weeks before labor and have little to no pain.

As it turns out though it was probably a good thing we went in. As I was hooked up to monitors for the nurses to monitor my contractions and baby, our little guy’s heart rate dropped. They had me try different positions and while on my side the baby’s heart rate returned to normal. They contacted my midwife who came in to break my water to make sure the amniotic fluid was clear and not tinged with meconium or some other concern. I also got an IV of fluids in case I was dehydrated. Here my birth plan began to go out the window. Good thing I was never extremely attached to it.

At about 9:30 am my midwife broke my water. She said the baby was sunny side up which was likely the reason for my back labor. She gave me several positions to labor in to try to turn the baby. All but one involved laying down which was almost unbearable. I followed her directions as best I could spending 15 minutes in each position.

After having my water broke the contractions became even stronger. I used lots of positions to cope, spent time in the shower, had Ryan rub my back, used a heated rice sock and was doing whatever I could to manage my horrible back pain. I was hoping to have a water birth or at least try the tub, but I knew it wasn’t an option until later on. Getting in the tub too soon only slows labor down. I also forgot entirely about my labor and delivery playlist.

At around 11:30 am I decided I wanted something to take the edge off. My contractions were coming every few minutes, lasting a couple of minutes and my back continued to hurt even in between. I got a shot that was supposed to take the edge off. I would say it did not, but it did let me relax and rest in between contractions.  A couple of hours later I again asked for another shot to take the edge off. I kept hoping it would do just that, but it never seemed to.  This would be the reason why there are no photos of the actual labor.  I could only focus on getting through each contraction.

Around 2:30 in the afternoon I was starting to get really tired from being up since 1:00 am. I was falling asleep standing up in between contractions. Ryan had given me a few Skittles to cheer me up which I threw up. I was worried about how much longer this would last. My back seemed to permanently hurt and it felt like my contractions were never ending. I just wanted a few contractions in the front to give my back a break although this never happened in my labor experience. Soon it felt as if I would have a contraction, take a few steps and have another contraction and repeat and repeat. I was not prepared for back labor and never thought about it ahead of time.  I also thought the early parts of labor would be less painful.

At 3:00 pm after trying to discuss with Ryan if I should just cave and get an epidural, I decided that I was tired and needed a break if I was going to be successful with this labor. The actual discussion was not really complete sentences. Ryan said I mentioned something about wanting the angels to come. I was referring to my friend describing getting an epidural as being like angels coming. Ryan could not figure out why I kept saying I wanted the angels to come. The nurse checked me before putting in an order for an epidural. I was 4 cm. 4 *$)#)($ centimeters. In 7 hours I had only dilated 3 centimeters. I had been up with contractions every 3-5 minutes since 1:00 am. I was definitely making the right decision. At this point I did not have the energy to try the tub and water birth. I was disappointed in myself, but again knew it was best for me to save my energy for later on during delivery.

At 4:00 pm my epidural was in and life was good. The angels came. I was exhausted and the epidural helped me to rest and sleep and took away the pain. After a bit though the baby’s heart rate was dropping again when I was on my back so I had to switch from one side to the other every so often. The nurses and midwife suspected his umbilical cord was wrapped around something. The epidural would then work better on one side allowing me to feel more on the other side. Since I couldn’t be flat on my back without the baby’s heart rate dropping I just had to deal with it. It was still so much better than without the epidural.

During the next few hours Ryan and I slept as best we could with interruptions all the time. All I could think about was how exhausted I was and that I hoped everything was ok with little man. At 6:00 pm I was still only 4 centimeters. If I did not progress at a faster rate by 8:00, then there was talk of pitocin. Everything in my birth plan was out the window. Luckily by 8:00 pm I had progressed to 7 centimeters so pitocin was not needed. Soon I began feeling contractions throughout my back again even after the epidural (although a much milder form) so I figured I was getting closer to 10 centimeters. I was feeling like pushing more and more, too. Shortly after 10:15 pm I finally reached 10 centimeters. This affirmed my choice to get an epidural. I don’t want to think about what pushing would have been like with six more hours of back laboring to 10 centimeters. I was feeling so tired still.

After such a long day I was so grateful that pushing went much faster than I thought it might. My midwife turned the baby so he was not born sunny side up. I was also lucky enough to be able to feel my contractions and the baby enough to push efficiently without being in real pain. At 11:12 pm Pierce Elliot arrived! He was 6 pounds, 14 ounces and perfect in the eyes of his parents. The umbilical cord had been wrapped around his leg and he had a short cord, which meant he could only reach my stomach when they put him on me. I was in disbelief and felt so tired. I couldn’t believe he came out of me. The actual moment of birth was such a strange feeling. One minute pregnant and the next not. It was such a relief to feel him on my stomach.

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Ryan cut the cord after it stopped pulsing while our son squirmed and cried on my stomach. It was such a strange and indescribable moment. Soon Pierce was in my arms, skin to skin, and I was staring into his eyes. How was he ours? How did this happen? I was in a state of extreme happiness mixed with disbelief and exhaustion.

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After birth I just stared at our son and took in the moment. It was as if the back labor never happened. I felt like it was only Pierce and I in the world. I loved pushing, the actual delivery and meeting our son. The experience was just amazing and so much more than I could have expected. I don’t know why I feared birth. Birth wasn’t scary, it was amazing. I felt so lucky to be able to enjoy the end part of labor rather than remembering only the pain. Some will think I’m crazy, but I can’t wait to do it again. The pain is so worth that big moment of birth.

So, future and soon to be mamas…ignore the horror stories. Some labor and delivery stories are not so bad. Know that no matter what plan you have, something else will likely happen. Most importantly, know that no matter what your experience is like, the end is incredible.

The next day I felt shockingly amazing. I felt like I’d run a PR marathon the day before. I was in way more pain after running my 50k ultra trail marathon or the Big Cottonwood Marathon (where I was grossly out of shape to run a half marathon much less a marathon down a 6,000 ft. mountain) than I was after giving birth. Maybe it was all the love and emotion you feel for this tiny human. Maybe it was that birth wasn’t as bad as I’d expected once getting an epidural. Or maybe I was just lucky. Feeling good was so unexpected, but allowed me to enjoy those first moments and days with our son in the hospital even more.

A favorite from my labor playlist-Alison Krauss-Now That I Found You I heard this song in a different way when thinking about baby K arriving and growing up.

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We also had awesome nurses and CNA’s who were so helpful. From treating us well, to explaining everything, to making sure we were fed, to massaging my back and putting a heated rice sock on my back, to helping with breastfeeding-the nurses were awesome. My midwife was amazing. I owe an awesome delivery to her. Later on as a thank you to the nurses and CNA’s for the great care we received we dropped off some treats. We just loved our birth experience and stay in the hospital so much. I may have mentioned wanting more kids when we arrived home!
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Despite not actually using my labor and delivery music in the hospital, I did listen to it during the hours I was in early labor and making the list. Now I love listening to the playlist again because it takes me back to that special day and his delivery in a way I wouldn’t have anticipated. I love rocking our boy and singing some of the songs to him. Being a new mommy is hard work, but also the best. In a strange way it is like he’s always been in our life.

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While this is a very personal post, I simply wanted to remember the details of my labor and delivery since it was the greatest experience I’ve had in life. Having a child is way better than any marathon I could have run or PR I could have raced. Both are proof that a little pain makes things in life so worth it!

Sarah

{Pregnancy Update} Weeks 38, 39 and 40

By now most of you know our little man has arrived! He is now two weeks old, and I had time to finish editing the last of my weekly pregnancy updates today. I’m so glad I took the time to detail my pregnancy as I love to look back over the 40 weeks and remember the ups and downs of my first pregnancy. Reading each week takes me back to that specific week and life’s events. I imagine I will enjoy having these to look back on in years to come.

Here are the last three weeks of our 40 week journey!

38 Week Maternity Journal

39 Weeks Maternity Journal

4o Week Maternity Journal

I’ll be back to regular posts that might actually involve running soon.

Sarah