Sunday, June 30, 2013

We Have Smiles!!!

About a week ago babybison began smiling with regularity, clearly in response to us and playing as opposed to the random smiles of her newborn days. The smiles are still rare enough that they are a special treat to see and hard to capture on camera. However my mom got a few good ones, enjoy!

"I love my Grandma Nelson"

Look at those fat legs!

I finally fit in my chair!!

My attempt (and miss) at capturing her smile, but you can see it in her eyes
  (that's how you know it's a "real" smile and not a "gas" smile)

I couldn't resist including a few non-smiling poses including this series showing Zooey's skill at getting her socks and booties off:

Booties intact.

"Shake, shake shake...."
"Shake, shake, shake. Shake your booties! Shake your!"

Zooey thinks she's a squirrel with those fat cheeks. I had to remind her that she's a babybison!

Until next time!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Two Months Old!

Babybison is two months old today! She has changed a lot since her one month milestone, but in many ways is still the same. Still tall and skinny though developing new fat rolls and bigger checks every day. She now can successfully breastfeed. She smiles frequently though still not directed at anyone in particular (I tell her if she directs her first true social smile to someone other than me, she is in trouble). She's a good eater, an okay sleeper though nowhere near "through the night" and is still very easy to comfort and basically a content baby. She's learning how to put herself to sleep. She still spends most of the night in the stroller due to spit up but is getting in naps here and there in the crib which is a step in the right direction. She has met all three of her great-grandparents, and most of her aunts, uncles and cousins. She's been to the zoo, the aquarium, and on numerous runs with Mom and Dad.

My maternity leave ends this week- I had 9 weeks at home. I'm definitely ready to go back but am worried about the amounts of caffeine I'll need to consume to function at work. We are so, so lucky to have my mom coming in to watch Zooey for the summer. I am really amazed and so, so grateful that my mom wants to dedicate her summer to helping us raise Zooey. It will be so good for our little girl to get one-on-one nurturing from the best mom I know.

The newborn sized outfit we brought her home in finally fits!
On the exercise front, things are coming together nicely. I had an awesome tempo run last week (7:52 pace for 3.1 miles!!), and am starting to feel a little stronger with consistent strength work-outs. Swimming is happening but needs to happen more frequently and for longer durations. I look forward to getting back to spinning next week! I have the feeling between Zooey-care, out-of-town visitors, and training, not to mention going back to work, the next few weeks are going to FLY by. I'm trying to convince Adam of the importance of us taking a vacation this fall with Zooey before the whole first year of her life flies by without us having the chance to really enjoy her! I'm so looking forward to when she starts smiling and interacting! The rare moments where she is calm and alert now are great but they are still pretty infrequent and fleeting. After all she's only 6 weeks old in "preemie time".

So what has babybison been up to? In the past month, she's met a bunch of her family members including great-grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. She has spent quality time with her grandparents on multiple occasions. Zooey continues to enjoy running in the jogging stroller. She loves motion and noise. She is also very interested in light and does focus a bit on some colors and lines. She occasionally will make eye contact with us and definitely smiles and coos when she is happy or entertained but has not had a true confirmed social smile yet. Seems like she's waiting until I'm no longer her primary caretaker to give out that reward. (What a stinker!).

Zooey with Cousin Maya

Zooey with Great Aunt Kathy

Zooey with Great-Grandma and Great-Grandpa Monson

Zooey with Great-Grandpa Monson

Zooey and me with Cousin Gwyn at the Shedd Aquarium

Zooey now has a clear awake and alert state that can last up to a couple hours. On Father's Day, she treated us with multiple long awake, alert and content phases and multiple long naps- the perfect combo to enjoy her but still get some work done! She now will sometimes wake up and keep herself entertained a bit before alerting us to her needs- she used to always wake up crying because she was so hungry, but now that she's taking in more food at a time, she can sometimes play for a while before eating. She definitely knows our voices, and looks around for us when we come to fetch her from the crib. Today she grabbed onto and shook a rattle for a good 5 minutes. She had no idea what she was doing which was pretty funny, but she kept hearing the rattle as she moved her arm and was clearly puzzled. We do the requisite tummy time (as recommended) and practice walking (which, btw, no one recommends but is hilarious, see photo). We also tried on her noise canceling headphones to prep her for concerts in the park this summer at Pritzker Pavilion:)

Tummy time success!

"Help, Mom what are you doing to me??"

Rockin out to silence.

Post-tummy time melt-down.

Sleep is still an issue and I expect it will be for a while. Apparently (according to my baby book) I slept "through the night" at 4 weeks. Anyway you look at it, Zooey is nowhere near "sleeping through the night". She still needs to eat at least 3 times, but if the doctor says we can (based on her weight) we might try a bit of sleep training to get it down to 3 times (as opposed to the 5 or 6 we're sometimes dealing with). The consequences of her not sleeping through the night are painful as shown by this photo of an exhausted Val reading Lancet Oncology with a perfectly content DAY SLEEPING Zooey. Hmm...sleep AT NIGHT, little girl. AT NIGHT!!

While she certainly is a lot bigger (now 7 lb 13 oz!) than she was when she was born (and she's so tall she wears 3 month clothes!), and she has made some clear developments, she doesn't seem all that different than when we brought her home. I expect the next month will bring dramatic changes, especially because I won't see her all day everyday so the differences will really stand out.

Zooey at two weeks with bison.

Zooey at two months. She finally fits in her
"coming home from the hospital" outfit!

Zooey helped us celebrate Adam's first Father's Day yesterday. We had a little picnic in the park and Zooey was fun and interactive for a good hour, which was great. She really enjoyed being outside in the shade without the stroller covers between her and the wind and birds. One of Adam's gifts was a photo of Zooey right after her birth which provides a nice comparison to her now.

Hi Dad!!

Family at two months.

That's it for now! Stay tuned for month three!!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The New Hardcore- Post Partum Edition

(Title is tongue in cheek- I consider myself far from hardcore!)

Today is the day. Today is the day when I declare that this is officially harder than medical training. We are almost at 9 weeks. It has been 9 weeks since I slept more than 4 hours in a row, more typically 2 or on a good night 3. The total nightly sleep is not enough. I'm dying. Well, I guess technically we are all dying, but I'm sure this degree of sleep deprivation speeds up the aging process. But this post isn't to complain. It's to celebrate that I have overcome this sleep deprivation again and again to continue my training for the Chicago Triathlon in August. It is a reminder that exercise is good in all situations, and when the choice is sleep or exercise, in many cases one might be suprised to hear that exercise is the right choice.

Today, for example. Now that I am trying to do every feeding for baby Z, I get at best one 2 hour block of sleep and the rest are between 40 minutes and an hour and a half. Last night was no exception. With me going back to work on Thursday I am a bit concerned about my job performance but we will take it one day at a time.

Given my fatigue, my relatively modest exercise agenda for the weekend- 1200 yard swim on Saturday and 7 mile swim on Sunday- seemed daunting. Getting out of bed seemed daunting. Raising my arm to my mouth to eat seemed daunting. Let alone Zooey care. But as Adam explained to Zooey this morning when she woke up crying and hungry, no one cares when adults cry- we are expected to suck it up. So what did I do instead of cry? I picked a (short lived) fight with Adam. I suppose the more mature thing to do would be to have said 'look, honey, I know you are tired too but 8 weeks of near full time Zooey care has ready worn me down, I need some free time stat", but that's not what I did. Luckily Adam got the point anyway and demanded that I swim or sleep or do something sans Zooey for a bit.

Every aching bone and muscle in my body (not to mention my overly fatigued brain that literally aches every time I'm woken from sleep these days) told me to take a nap. Sleep. Get vertical. 'Nothing is more important than sleep' every cell of my person screamed. But a small part of my brain knew. Knew that if I slept now it would be a good 3-6 hours before I had another chance to swim, if at all, given the huge to-do list in my head (plus Adam's to-dos). I honestly didn't know if I'd be able to swim with how tired I was, but I went through the motions, put on my suit with running clothes over them and headed down to the gym and pool. An hour later I had a 8:12 minute mile and 1200 yards of swimming under my belt. Now, two hours later, I'm tired again. My joints, muscles, and brain all hurt again. I still am not sure how I'll function at work on this little sleep. All I think about is when Zooey will big enough that we can sleep train her (she still needs to eat frequently now). I wish, wish, wish I was less tied so I could enjoy these early months of her life. But I know if I hadn't run and swum I would feel all that but worse because I'd feel the additional unhealthy lethargy of A Sedentary Day.

So for me the new post partum hardcore is pulling it together and getting into the pool today. Everyday in June except two I've exercised beyond the requisite one mile run. With no sleep and a newborn, that's hard. Really hard. And getting out for my 7 mile run tomorrow will be hard. Really hard. But I never let my job, or my pregnancy, or any other hardship be an excuse for fitness complacency in the past and absolute, total, I'm-not-sure-how-I'm-going-to-get-off-the-park-bench-where-I'm-writing-this-to-walk-Zooey-upstairs fatigue is no exception.

And to me, that's hardcore.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

9 Months of Pent Up Motivation

Hi all. I'm back. Ready to talk about exercise and training goals once again. Hallelejah. I've missed myself, my exercising self. And I'm VERY excited to re-emerge from the pregnancy exercise intensity restrictions with plans to be a much stronger, faster athlete than ever before in the next year. First let's recap where I've been in the past year....

Last summer I completed my first and second triathlon, both while pregnant though I didn't know I was pregnant for the first one- the Chicago Triathlon in August 2012. I had just finished a very difficult, time consuming year of work so was starting to re-build my fitness and was excited to throw biking and swimming into the mix. I had my sights set on Ironman Wisconsin 2013 though since Adam and I were hoping to get pregnant I knew it was very possible that I would have to delay the Ironman. And sure enough, over Labor Day weekend, we noted I was a couple days "late" so decided to take a pregnancy test really more for fun than anything else. I thought the chances that I was pregnant after only 1-2 months of trying at my advanced maternal age was very unlikely. Luckily I found out I was pregnant about a week before registration for the Ironman so didn't lose the registration fee!

I have a handful of posts on exercising during pregnancy so I won't rehash here. Here are some of my previous exercising during pregnancy posts:

--Exercise During Pregnancy...In General
--Exercise During Pregnancy...What I've Done (so far)
--Pregnancy Fitness Goals
--The New Hardcore...Running at 30 Weeks
--The Ultimate Pregnancy Niggle
--Running Year in Review 2012

The bottom line is I stayed pretty darn active right until the day of delivery, keeping up my daily mile of running and also spinning, swimming and weight training until the end. My final pregnancy mileage is as follows:

549 miles run
24 miles swum
261 miles cycled (doesn't include the months of October, November, December as I didn't keep track of spinning mileage those months)

Because our Zooey was small and breech the decision was made to have a c-section at 36 weeks and 5 days. I knew a c-section was certainly possible since up to 1/3 of women end up delivering this way, and I certainly have no romantic notions of "labor" and am sorta glad I got to bypass that process. However, returning to exercise after pelvic surgery wasn't really part of my fitness plan for Spring and Summer 2013, and I have had to re-build much more gradually than I would like. But I've stayed as aggressive as I thought I safely could, kept up with my mile a day including the day after delivery, first with walking and then with intense hill walking as soon as my incision healed. At one month, I was really starting to feel the emotional and physical toll of not running. My knees and shoulders were starting to hurt. No amount of hill walking, even at 15% grade provided any endorphins. So after one false start (I ran 0.25 miles a few days before 1 month and felt it in the incision), at exactly one month after my c-section I went for a mile run.

For more detailed info on my early recovery:

--Turns Out I'm Just Like Everyone Else

I've worked up to 3 miles as my "long" run and hope to be up to 10 for my annual 4th of July "long" run. I still think a marathon in September is possible and I have my sights set on the Mill Race Marathon in Columbia, Indiana, a great suggestion made by my cousin Karin, also a runner. There is a half as well so Karin, Adam and maybe some other family members can run as well!

But my short term goal needs my undivided attention for the next few weeks- the Chicago triathlon in August. Last year I did the sprint, but this year I plan to do the International Distance. I've talked some great friends into participating as well, providing additional motivation ensuring that I can't back out! My plan is to continue my slow mileage build for running with occasional ad lib speed work. Running is also the core of any training plan for me. It is the activity I most enjoy, that provides the most mental benefits, and that I'm most comfortable with. But the sport that I'm weakest at really needs some attention- swimming. Ug. Once I'm back at work (read: have full time child care) I need one or two lessons to adjust my form but in the meantime I need to log some serious pool time. I'm in a post-natal strength training class that meets twice weekly (and allows the babies to come to class) and if I can muster a third session a week on my own that takes care of strength. I'm going to actually delay any focus on biking until I go back to work, partly because I definitely need child care for this activity and partly because I feel like I can ramp up to 22 miles biking without much problem. I may not be fast, but I can get it done, so time to focus on swimming and strength is probably most important for the next few weeks.

Well, there you have it. My rough plan to return to fitness glory. I don't have a day-by-day plan as I suspect it would be very constricting and bound to fail given Zooey duties. But as long as I get in one work-out most days and two work-outs one or two days, I should be good.

I hope.

Wish me luck.

This is going to be hard.