It’s getting real up in here

July 2013

July 2013

Whenever I go to the gym, run a race, or see people trying out new diets (ahem, “lifestyle changes”), I wonder what the impetus is.  Do these people Crossfit to lose weight? To get stronger (duh)? To work on their butts? Do my friends eat Paleo so that they can get leaner? Or maybe they are thinking about the long term health benefits of changing the way they eat.  I don’t really care what the answer is because it’s none of my business.  I just know that for me, exercise and nutrition have played so many different roles in my life and I am once again seeing their evolution now that I am a mother of three, just scrambling to keep my head above water many days.

The background on this somewhat totally rambling, TMI post is this: during pretty much every minute of my 20’s, I had an eating disorder.  I vascillated between bulimic and anorexic although I never looked thin like the celebrities and models whom everyone labels as anorexic.  I know exactly when/why it started in college, but that’s not something to get into here.  The only salient point is that I became bulimic for a number of reasons, one being that I loved food more than I loved myself. I loved the way donuts and ice cream and cookies made me feel. But then I hated gaining weight. So being the brilliant college student I was, I figured purging was a way to get the best of both worlds: eat a lot and not gain weight.  Oh wait. As any bulimic will tell you, you definitely do not lose weight with binging and purging.  In fact, you may (I did) gain weight. And you feel GROSS.  You also feel like you are deceiving so many people around you, including your loved ones.

Right before my senior year of college, I decided the bulimia thing wasn’t working for me.  I needed to find a different way to get control because bulimia made me feel out of control.  So I switched gears. I started counting calories and stopped drinking (Uh, I mean, I was only 20 so actually I made the decision not to start drinking when I turned 21 in the fall).  I lost a LOT of weight because I was swimming 4 hours a day, doing one hour on the ellipitical between practices, and subsisting off of chocolate chip scones, frozen yogurt, and salad.  I allowed myself 1300 calories per day but I was burning close to 4000. The weight melted off and I tipped the scales at 116 before the season started. I think my weight at weigh-in was 136 the year before. But I got a lot of positive reinforcement because I swam faster.  And my back fat was gone, so of course I was thrilled about that.

After graduation, I didn’t have all the hard core swimming to keep my weight in check.  So back to bulimia I went. My bulimia peaked while in law school.  The stress of studying and being away from my friends and family, the feeling of not being even close to the best but actually being below average when everything depended on your class rank… I just could not handle it. Things got so bad during law school that I considered taking a semester off to go to some really expensive recovery facility to deal with my eating issues. The cost was just too huge of a deterrent. I knew I was going to develop some serious health complications from my bulimia if I didn’t stop.  I decided I wanted to start running again to see if that would give me some of the self esteem I had lost after college.  I also thought it would help me lose all the weight I put on from my binges.

Picking up long distance running in 2005 was the first turning point in my eating disorder. I had something to focus on besides “where am I going to get my next meal… which will end up in the toilet?” I began to feel better about myself. I ran a half marathon after 6 months of training and was pleased that I ran under an 8:00 mile pace for my first half marathon.  A few months later I ran a half marathon around a 7:20/mile pace. My grades improved significantly.  The problem that lingered is that I continued to be bulimic, but it was more like “bulimic light.” As long as my training went well and I had a good run, or a good race, I didn’t rush out to buy ice cream and other junk.  But if I had a bad day or missed a run for some reason, I backslid into my old eating habits.

This pattern pretty much continued even after I became a real grownup, with obligations like law school debt, a car payment, and a mortgage. It wasn’t until I became pregnant with Super Girl that I had a wake up call.  I could not, I would not, do anything to harm this baby just because I was too ignorant or scared to deal with the underlying issues that contributed to my eating disorder.  I needed to make smart choices for myself and this child.  I continued eating biscuits and ice cream, but instead of just using it to stuff down my feelings and anxiety, I ate it to enjoy the way it tasted.  I ran during my pregnancy because it made me feel strong and empowered.  Yeah it burned calories too but I don’t think it’s a crime to run an extra mile because you had an extra scoop of Ben and Jerry’s.  Nobody is perfect.

I never really lost that focus on my weight and body image though.  I was determined not to gain more than 30 pounds and I “accomplished” that goal with Super Girl and Super Toddler.  The number on the scale was so important to me as it had been for years.  So even though I wasn’t bulimic anymore, I still cared so much about a silly number.  After I had them, I was frustrated my body didn’t just snap back to a version of me that never existed anyway.  Some Gisele Bundchen-esque figure with a 36 inch inseam and tiny waist.  I didn’t lose any sleep over it but I tried diets here and there hoping that I could get to my “ideal weight” of 130 pounds.  Never happened.

During this pregnancy, I really lost site of nutrition even though I was lifting and running a lot during the first two trimesters of the pregnancy.  I had so much anxiety because I didn’t know how we could handle three kids.  Also, I was worried I would have post partum depression again, as I did (really really badly) with Super Toddler.  So I ate my feelings, my old crutch.  I would joke with people about my Bojangles Baby, and I still do from time to time- okay, yesterday.  I rationalized that if I was working out that hard, I could eat whatever I wanted. I had been making that argument for YEARS.  I think it goes back to my swimming days in my teenage years when we quite literally could eat just about anything and never gain an ounce because we were burning so many calories each day.  But eating whatever I wanted wasn’t healthy for me or the baby.  And again, it was just a way I dealt with stress, as it always had been.

I watched the scale creep higher and higher each week.  When I delivered Super Girl, I had gained 38 pounds.  Wowzers.  I officially weighed more than Super Dad the last three weeks of my pregnancy.  And I delivered 3 weeks early.  So yeah, that’s kind of scary.  After having her, I have been focused on slowly getting back into my workouts because I was on bed rest for the last 6 weeks of the pregnancy.  But on the other hand, I would get so frustrated that the number on the scale has not just dropped by double digits every week.

I finally had an epiphany last week after Super Girl got on the scale three days in a row and asked me what her weight was.  She had been seeing me do it.  It broke my heart.  She wants to gain weight because she will be a “big girl,” but I don’t want the number to be something she obsesses over when she is old enough to care.  I don’t want her staring in the mirror examining her stomach or “Cabbage Patch Abs” as I call mine half-jokingly. I don’t want her to think that exercise is a means to an end of keeping her weight down or getting boys to like her.  I want her to feel empowered by sweating, the way I do every time I go on a run or finish a Crossfit workout.  When I was doing a WOD on Saturday, I felt strong even though it was only my second time back since Super Baby was born and I was lifting a lot less weight.  I felt hope for how much stronger I could get with each passing week.  I felt like my daughters would be proud of me not because of the number on the scale, or how my thighs don’t touch, or how much definition I hope to one day have on my stomach, but because I work out to be a better mom to them and a better wife and just a badass who loves herself.

I am not 100% comfortable with my body and I don’t know that I ever will be, but I’m getting there.  Being a mother has helped me realize that I can largely overcome the insecurities and issues that led to my eating disorder, because I would never ever wish that kind of torment on my children.  I just want them to see that eating and exercise do not have to be rewards or punishment, and that they can be strong and happy no matter what the number on the scale is. And that’s as real as it gets folks.

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Recovery Mode

Again, more TMI.  But then we move on to our regularly scheduled exercise-related programming…

Recovering from childbirth is what I imagine recovering from an Ironman would be like… it’s long and it requires patience or you can hurt yourself further.  Plus, it’s different for everyone, and for the same person it may vary depending on the particular race.  With Super Girl, there was a lot that nobody told me about what the immediate aftermath of childbirth would be like.  So, thanks a lot for nothing friends who had kids before me.  I was not prepared for the cramping or feeling like my insides were going to fall out with every step I took.   I started to feel more myself around a month and was back into my workout routine around 2 months postpartum. Recovery with Super Toddler was pretty similar, but a bit more difficult because I was on bed rest the last three weeks of my pregnancy. I was careful though, and eventually PR’d a 5k when he was 6 months old (21 minutes-ish).

With Super Baby, I had terrible cramping for a couple hours after she popped out.  Like, worse than my strongest pitocin-induced contractions.  Oh wait, I had an epidural.  Still, it was not enjoyable.  Once the pain meds kicked in I felt a lot better.  But I had to take 800 milligrams of Motrin a few times a day for over a week.  That didn’t seem normal.  Otherwise, I felt really good south of my waist.  It helped that this was my smallest baby though not by much, and with it being my third child my body seemed to be kinder to me.  I was going for walks within a few days and at around 10 days, thought I could actually run – but I didn’t.  I felt like this was the universe’s way for evening out how ridiculous the labor process went. Until…

At 12 days post partum, I woke up with very odd symptoms.  Like, check with Dr. Google odd.  Typically, when you consult Dr. Google, Web MD, Wrongdiagnosis.com, etc, you get about 821 different diagnoses and turn into a hypochondriac, and there’s a 99% chance that you don’t have any of those ailments.  For me, there was pretty much just one possibility. The next day I had the same symptoms so I called my doctor, who, after an ultrasound, confirmed that I had retained part of the placenta.  Gross.  On Super Baby’s 2 week birthday, I had to undergo a procedure under anesthesia to get everything cleared out, lest I bleed to death at home.  It really wasn’t a huge deal, until I lost a ton of blood on the operating table.  Whoops, so that was scary.  Fortunately, I narrowly avoided a transfusion although my doctor threatened me with an overnight stay to monitor my hemoglobin.  No thanks, I have a baby to attend to.

Since then, I took it easy for almost two weeks.  I was left severely anemic, which coupled with newborn sleep deprivation, has made me extra sleepy. I know right- so weird that losing a lot of blood and waking up every 3-5 hours makes me tired.  I have been taking iron and getting in as many naps as possible, and have gone to bed early every night which means I can’t watch Game of Thrones with Super Dad on Sunday nights when it airs.  So no spoilers on facebook people, I need my sleep.

On Monday, I went for my first run.  It lasted 5 minutes.  Later I thought my lady parts would fall out but it was just a side effect of the massive iron consumption (google it… I am not going to overshare that much).  Yesterday I ran for 10 minutes straight ( that was a mile.  Holy moly) and did five one minute “sprint” intervals.  And by sprint I mean running at about a 4 second per faster pace than my 10 minute jog. But I felt good, and I stopped myself before I was utterly cashed.  Plus, it was 90 degrees out.

Reigning it in is hard. I really want to head out tomorrow and run 20 minutes, then 30, then an hour, but I know that I have to be smart about it or I will hurt any number of organs or body parts that would not have been remotely affected by even a 2 hour run in the morning and an evening Crossfit beating in the past. Childbirth puts your body through the ringer, and just like there is pressure for endurance athletes to get back to training after a race, lest they lose the base they had built up after 6 months of heavy training, there is too much pressure on women to not only crush their workouts until hours before giving birth, but to return to “beast mode” before their milk comes in.  Too much? Sorry, not sorry.  It’s true.  I am done procreating, and have the rest of my life to run marathons, do an Ironman, learn how to do a muscle up pull-up, and Rx+ a WOD.  For now it’s all about keeping this tiny human alive, keeping myself from going insane (aka, sleep as much as possible), and being there to have fun with my other Super kids now that summer is here and the pool is open!

I may be contradicting myself in three weeks when I feel awesome and head back to Athletic Lab for some punishment, but for now, I am trying to be smart about my recovery mode.  Beast mode can wait.

 

Here is the gang at the pool this weekend:

pool

Cora’s Birth Story (AKA free birth control)

I know I know, it’s been a while. But I have a really good excuse.  I had a baby.

So just a disclaimer: there is a LOT of TMI in here.  This isn’t really an exercise post, unless you consider giving birth exercise.  Which you will after reading this.  But you may also vomit.  Sorry about that.  

As a little background… My last post was when I was 24 weeks pregnant.  I was hoping to continue Crossfit and running for another 10 weeks but unfortunately, I developed hypertension and then preeclampsia around 30 weeks.  My last WOD was at 30 weeks and 2 days.  I crushed it, but it was not pretty.  My lunge jumps were what my coach called a “white man’s ‘Running Man'” and on my front squat set of 60kg, he also gently suggested I could switch to back squats at any time.  Translation: “your form really sucks.”  A couple days later I went to the OB and my blood pressure was 150/95.  Normal is 120/80 and I had been hovering around 110/65 for most of my pregnancy.  I was sent to the hospital for monitoring and was put on modified bed rest later in the week, which meant I couldn’t really exercise other than light walking, and I could work from home. 

The remainder of the pregnancy involved two visits to the OB each week for monitoring, and a couple more trips to the hospital.  I started “spilling protein” and having headaches around 32 weeks, which are additional symptoms of preeclampsia.  The goal was to keep Cora cooking until 35-36 weeks.  I received steroid shots to speed up her lung development (not to improve my deadlift PR).  I went through the same ordeal with Super Toddler but had to be hospitalized for a couple nights while he was in utero.  That was no bueno. 

At almost 37 weeks, my blood pressure spiked yet again and the headaches were worse.  This despite my being a sloth for almost 6 weeks and (sort of) watching my diet.  We won’t discuss my weight gain during this pregnancy.  It happened, it’s over, let’s move on.  My OB decided it was time for Cora to come out.  She was measuring over 38 weeks for height and head size – no big shocker there. I had put my hospital bag in the minivan that morning because I kind of knew that it was time. I had been contracting like crazy and was 1.5 cm a few days earlier.  I was having regular contractions at the doctor that day and was at 3cm so she also thought I may have been in the early stages of labor.

A note about that.  When I started dilating a couple weeks earlier, one of the OB’s told me that because this was my third child, I may not know when I’m in labor and that it would go really fast.  Like, have a baby on the toilet fast.  The prospect of having a baby without an epidural was terrifying.  Listen, props to all you natural ladies but that is not me.  Never. Ever. Ever.  So even though I have always wanted to have that “oops, my water broke!” moment and not have to bring a child into the world riding a wave of Pitocin, I was willing to trade going into labor on my own for not having a baby on the toilet.

I headed to the hospital with the knowledge that I would have to be on magnesium sulfate (“mag”) due to the preeclampsia diagnosis.  With Super Toddler, I was also induced right at 37 weeks due to preeclampsia but for some wonderful reason I was not giving mag.  I have read horror stories about it. Just google it. Mag is used to stop pre-term labor.  It is also used to prevent seizures, which is the risk with preeclampsia and high blood pressure.  Now re-read that sentence about stopping labor.  I was being induced, but I was also being given a drug that slows down labor.  Those don’t really go together do they?  I would soon learn exactly how much mag and pitocin don’t get along.

I was started on pitocin around 8pm and was feeling fine because the dose starts out really low.  Since I figured the baby would come really fast, I let our family know that we would be having a baby on tax day.  My mom, a CPA, was ready to work through the night to meet some tax filing deadlines, then rush over but I told her to wait because with Super Toddler, it took almost 48 HOURS.  That is 2 days people.  I knew that Cora was not going to fly out but I figured it would be faster than 2 days.  At 8:30pm the bolus of mag was started.  Within about 30 seconds, I thought that I was dying.  Really, really dying.  My teeth were sweating.  I was ready to vomit. I felt like I had been overserved at a frat party that was taking place on the surface of the sun, while wearing a suit made of fur.  I had this moment of “Oh my gosh it is going to be like this the entire time until the baby comes out? Because I cannot do this. I would rather give birth to octuplet elephants with no epidural after doing an Ironman.” My blood pressure plummeted to 70/30.  From about 140/90.  I am pretty sure that you are clinically dead when your BP is 70/30.  The nurse immediately stopped the bolus and called the doctor.  She said it was okay to just start a slow drip of the mag.  I felt better within minutes.  

At around midnight I was having more contractions and was at 4cm. I asked for my epidural because again, this baby was going to come “really fast” and I didn’t want to miss out on my window to have an epidural.  After I got my epidural I slept for eight zero hours.  I was too excited about meeting my daughter.  And I was sure that the next time the doctor checked I would be at 9cm.  Well, the sun rose and at 6:30 am the doctor checked me.  Still at 4cm. No change.  WHAT? That cannot be true.  Did you get a hand transplant overnight?  Do you now have a gigantic gorilla hand which makes you thing that a couple fingers is only 4 cm when it is in fact 10? I was so pissed.  They upped the pitocin some more and finally broke my water at 8 am.  

A few hours later I noticed my contractions hurt a lot more and I could do leg raises with my right leg.  Hmmm, that doesn’t seem normal.  The nurse suggested I get my epidural redone, because I wasn’t having very strong contractions (really? Because these hurt) and once I had contractions that caused me to progress more, I would be miserable.  Translation: I can see you are a huge wuss.  You are complaining about contractions that have caused absolutely no cervical change in 12 hours. So you will pretty much pass out once you have a legit contraction. Okay, let’s do this.  The new anesthesiologist discovered the prior epidural had sort of come out.  So it was a good idea I chose to have it redone.  Except that this anesthesiologist apparently was coming off a 72 hour shift because it took FIVE TRIES to get the epidural replaced.  FIVE. I threw up three times during this 30 minute ordeal.  I was ready for her to just pull the baby out of my throat.  It was miserable.

Once that mess was finished, I was sufficiently numb.  But then Cora decided to do some river dancing, and I started having back labor.  The spasms in my love handles were unreal.  Way worse than my tiny contractions. They were unrelenting.  I wanted more drugs.  Anything to make the pain stop. The nurse said there was nothing she could do. I finally found a position where I laid on my side, grabbed the love handle closest to the bed with one hand, and shoved a rolled up towel against the small of my back. I asked Super Dad and my mom to leave so I could catch a snooze since I hadn’t slept in 36 hours.  Plus, I had not dilated at all in 13 hours so I knew we had a while to go. Yeah, one cm an hour after your water breaks or whatever- lies!!!

After sleeping for four hours 45 minutes, I woke up feeling a lot of pressure “down there.”  But the love handle pain was gone.  Woohoo! I told the nurse and she said I had been contracting quite a bit during my slumber.  Like, actual contractions that are strong enough clinically to cause change.  Apparently they have to be over 60 somethings on the monitor to cause cervical change.  They had been 50-55 from 9pm the prior evening until my second epidural, which is a terrible tease, but after the second epidural/”jab Jen with giant needles fest” and upping the pitocin to levels reserved for Godzillas’s wife, the contractions were measuring around 90-100.  The nurse called in the doctor and lo and behold, I was at 10 cm and full effaced.  Cora was ready to rock. What? 6 cm in 45 minutes?  I had to actually call my family back from the cafeteria.  Sorry I interrupted your pie eating Super Dad.

I immediately put my contacts in and put some makeup on.  I was fat but I still wanted my face to look good.  Doctor R. came in and said I could start pushing whenever.  She was putting her gloves on and looking around for some stuff, and they were waiting for the peds team to come in, but I could start pushing?  What if the baby shot out onto the floor?  No worries, it took three contractions (
about 10 pushes) to get her out. Overall it was less than 10 minutes, compared to an hour of pushing with Super Girl and Super Toddler.  The thing is, it was the hardest 10 minutes of exercise ever and (the lump of skin and tissue which used to be) my biceps were super sore the next day. I was so out of shape from taking almost 7 weeks off from working out.  I ran five miles the day before I had Super Girl. I only had to bed rest for three weeks with Super Toddler. So 10 minutes of laborious (pun intended) physical activity was exhausting. But well worth it.

Cora, henceforth referred to as Super Baby, was born at 2:01 pm on 4/15 and she was perfect.  She had a full head of hair and started crying just like she was supposed to.  I was able to have skin to skin with her immediately and she latched on right away.  She measured 6 lbs 3 oz and 20.5 inches, just 2 ounces less than her big sister, who was born at 39 weeks gestation! So yeah, she was small for a due date baby but quite large for being early.  She had jaundice just like her siblings but we got through it a lot more easily by supplementing and getting her on phototherapy right away.  By 2 weeks she was up to 6 pounds 10 ounces, thanks to being a champion nurser, which I am not used to after having two kids who basically would only take pumped milk from 2 months on. 

Overall, my birth experience with Super Baby was not at all what I had planned when I started having children.  I joked that I was meant to raise cute, super funny kids that sleep and eat well (knock on wood)- but I was not meant to carry them or give birth. I wouldn’t trade these babies for anything, and going through mag and being poked like a voodoo doll by the anesthesiologist was worth it to bring her into this world… but I am most definitely NOT doing that ever again. The shop is closed.  And my experience on Super Baby’s 2 week birthday only further solidified that.  More on that later…

 

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Random first trimester musings

Hopefully I have just finished running my first 10k since June.  And hopefully I didn’t run slower than I have been on my training runs.  Either way, I am just glad to be racing again!  Here is another look into my earlier pregnancy days…

*originally written on 9/13*

We have our first ultrasound in 12 days, and let me tell you three things I am thinking right now:

1) Why didn’t anybody tell me how humongous you get so quickly the third time around?

2) I REALLY hope there are not two or three babies in there, because I think I look like I am 16 weeks pregnant with triplets!

3) I already feel like I have been knocked up for four months. Why couldn’t I have been one of those women on “I Didn’t Know I was Pregnant” that has a perfectly healthy baby on the toilet at 38 weeks?

In other news, I am still feeling well (knock on wood). I was pretty nauseous at this point with both Super Girl and Super Toddler. Maybe my brain knows I don’t have time to be sick, so it’s telling my stomach to suck it up? That said, I am SUPER exhausted. I would much rather take a nap than go run at the end of the day, so I have been trying to work out in the morning since I am sleeping like crap anyway. I don’t remember being this tired before, maybe it’s because I have never had to be pregnant while raising two other kids? Although Super Dad does basically everything way more than most dads.