Sunday, March 25, 2012

Family Impact Factor

I still have not even washed all of the band-aid gunk off from my epidural and IVs which means either a) I gave birth awfully recently or b) I need to step up my personal hygiene habits. Either way, it feels somewhat soon to be thinking about racing and fitness goals, even to me! And yet spring is here, prime road racing season has begun and I cannot help but dream of lacing up my flats and pushing myself to exhaustion. But this all has to be balanced with what I like to call the Family Impact Factor (FIF).

So far the Family Impact Factor of my postpartum training has been an impressive zero (with the exception of two runs). Every run I have done has been on the treadmill in the basement while la cocotte slept in her crib and Squeaker slept beside me in a bassinet. This has meant that my runs typically go as follows (here is a true life example from Friday):

1.5 mile warm-up.
1 mile lactate threshold: 7:03
recovery: go to check that la cocotte was still asleep
1 mile lactate threshold 7:00
recovery: 90 seconds easy jog
1 mile lactate threshold: 6:44
recovery: nurse Squeaker, change Squeaker, make sure la cocotte still asleep
1 mile lactate threshold: 7:22
1 mile cool-down
check la cocotte
answer door
another mile cool-down

But if it means I can run with zero FIF, I will take it. This will continue to be my goal though it will mean no running outside for the next little while.

Racing is harder to accomplish with zero FIF. So instead I am thinking about how I can minimize the FIF of racing. I think I will have to follow these guidelines:

-go to small, local races that run on time and are early as possible in the morning i.e. no more destination racing
-plan on racing over the 5 km and 10 km distances only for the next little while to minimize the amount of time actually spent at the race as well as the amount of training necessary i.e. no marathons for the next many years (i'm ok with that)
-no more racing just for fun...chose a few key, goal races and plan on not racing more than once every two months or so... (this one is hard since I thrive on competition and would ideally like to race every 3-4 weeks)
-with less racing (and therefore fewer entry fees) hire a babysitter if possible to come on race day so that burden does not fall on hubby

So here is my first possible race schedule and a (very) tentative goals:

April 22 - local 5 km goal: sub-19 (this is HUGELY ambitious and not likely to happen), more likely sub 19:15.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


After only 11 days, Squeaker is beyond the "old man" stage, she is no longer an alien and does not resemble a helpless baby bird fallen from a tree anymore. She is still, of course, helpless but she is beyond those initial days of other worldliness. I believe newborns are born with both the entirety of human knowledge as well as the truths we have yet to uncover. They are born with 20,000 years of human knowledge but they also know that which is ahead of us, that which remains to be discovered .But in the first few days of deep, deep sleep as their alien features resolve into newborn cuteness, the knowledge leaks away and is lost.

Squeaker is raw instinct. She roots and steps and sucks (and sucks and sucks and sucks) and startles. The startle reflex is impressive. At the slightest provocation she will lift both hands up and away from her body as if commanding her own orchestra to readiness. At the breast she is transformed into a creature of greek mythology with as many as 16 arms, each of which much be patiently pushed away from the breast as she does not comprehend that she and I are separate beings and the milk comes from me. In Squeaker's reality, any skin or textile close to her mouth is a potential source of warm and milky and if the breast does not arrive quickly enough, she attempts to nurse from her hands. In Squeaker's realm, we are all part of the giant beating heart of the universe. There is no she. There is no me. We are all a continuum.

Squeaker sleeps an astounding 21 hours a day. In her sleep she is by turns contemplative, peaceful, worried, unsure and joyous. Her metabolism is that of a hummingbird. The heart and the respiration cycle with stunning rapidity. And then, without warning, the breathing stops. And in that moment the whole world stops and I feel myself falling into inky blackness. And then, she resumes and the world rights itself.

Squeaker has no respect for the laws of physics. She expels more milk than her stomach and esophagus could possibly have contained. The explosions from the nether regions produce more volume than could  have been held by those tiny newborn organs.

Squeaker vocalizes by grunts, squeals, sighs, coughs and precious squeaks from which she derives her name. Only the most egregious of ill treatment produces a full-out cry: a breast too long in coming, a cold, wet diaper change when she ordered warm and milky. Or affection too enthusiastic from her older sister. Squeaker's habit is to raise one fist over her head after a satisfying feed as if to declare victory. Her range of motion includes elaborate stretches that ripple through the whole body and random punches at the air. In defiance of all the current literature on prevention of SIDS, Squeaker is a determined side sleeper who will not be deterred.

Our family is shifting and re-settling around the happy rupture created by the arrival of this tiny Squeaker.

I lack the words to describe my joy that she has arrived.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Week 1 in Postpartum Running

March 9 - gave birth
March 10 - off
March 11 - off
March 12 - 5 km - 24:30. very, very difficult. felt like 1/2 marathon pace.
March 13 - 7 km - 35:00. equally difficult.
March 14 - off
March 15 - 9.6 km including 4 km "tempo" (4:35/km) and 2 km "tempo" (4:34/km)
March 16 - 10 km, 50 minutes. difficult.
March 17 - track "work-out". 3.2 km warm-up. 16 minutes. 4 X 800 m all in 3:25 with long recovery.

Wow. Postpartum running is hard. Last time with the c-section I waited a few weeks before starting to run and by then whatever postpartum physiological effects there were had worn off. This time I feel there is something working very strongly against me. Don't get me wrong. I am absolutely not whining about how hard running is. I am super grateful to be running injury-free (minus the continuous bleeding of course) and just grateful that running IS logistically possible (thanks to long newborn naps - are they really naps when baby sleeps 20+ hours per day???) and the treadmill in our basement - absent these two factors, running would simply not be possible right now. But who wants to read a post where someone waxes poetic about how great everything is? So... let's take the gratitude & happiness as a given and talk about why postpartum running is so effort-full...

The sheer effort of giving birth:  don't think this is it. My uterus contracted once every 2-3 minutes for 17 hours. Sounds tiring but honestly with the epidural (insert song of praise for epidural) I slept through most of it. Also this is surely less effort than running a marathon and I feel way more exhausted than 1 week post marathon. I only pushed for 15 minutes and it was a major effort while doing it but surely not enough to leave me spent a week later.

Blood loss: this has to be a big part of it. The blood loss associated with birth is surely far in excess of that associated with a menstrual cycle. In fact the way I feel now reminds me of the time I naively donated blood 3 weeks before Cdn National XC Championships, just... well... drained, poorly oxygenated. Probably exacerbated by the anemia with which I was diagnosed during pregnancy.

Out of shape? Could I just be out of shape? I would have thought that doing cardio 4-6 times a week for > 70 minutes with heart rate between 150-160 would have been sufficient for maintenance such that 5 minutes per km would have been easily do-able postpartum but maybe not??

Hormones: Well, they seem to take credit or blame for everything else...hormonal changes associated with birthing & breastfeeding could affect VO2 max? Why not...

Sleep deprivation: definitely. huge effect.

Swollen uterus? The uterus is, after all, a large muscle. And mine is still swollen. big time. (My vanity will not let me accept that my tummy bulge is anything other than swollen uterus). Could my ginormous sized uterus be hogging all that good oxygenated blood, depriving the quads, calves and hamstrings resulting in this constant red-lining, lacticy acidy feeling?

Weight: Extra weight and poorly distributed. I am 6.5 pounds up from pre-pregnancy (and again, NOT complaining about this, given what I have been eating this past week I am amazed that I made it to only 6.5 pounds up). But let's face it, I am used to running with clementines not melons (and I am sure there is a good 3 pounds right there!), to use good pilot speak, I think my weight & balance is a bit thrown off.

Dehydration: Wow have I ever been bad about drinking enough. When I did get outside for one run this week while both children were napping (oh and hubby was home lest there be any doubt on that front!). It was hot ~ 23 degrees (high seventies) and as I started running on the track I realized all I had had to drink that day was one cup of coffee. hours ago. I sweat up a storm in the summer-like weather. Got home. Felt very unwell. Tried to remember WHAT Sea Legs Girl had done to almost pass out (though I had run 50 minutes NOT 50 miles) so that I could do the opposite because even absent the ambulance bill, I figured me passing out was the last thing we needed. Anyway as of today I am signed up to donate breast milk to a local milk bank so... time to start drinking and something OTHER than coffee!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Birth Report: Enter Squeaker

Thursday March 8:

5.30 am: awoke from really excellent, refreshing sleep to hear hubby and la cocotte playing together

10 am: ran 15 km (83 minutes), cycled 15 minutes. felt strangely awesome. impossible to make myself tired. something very hormonal going on...

12 pm - 4 pm: unpacked and organized our books. ok, that was enough to make me tired.

6 pm: hubby arrives home totally exhausted after very poor night's sleep and getting up early with la cocotte so that I could sleep. thought to myself that it would be completely inconsiderate to go into labor tonight bc of hubby's sheer exhaustion (though he is kind of super-hero-like about sleep deprivation whereas I am definitely on the whiny/complain-y side of the spectrum).

8.45 pm: sitting on couch with hubby. hubby asks me to do some reading about cars. cars. sigh. we have been trying to decide which one to buy. the onus of the research has fallen on hubby for various reasons (though it's not like i've been sitting around eating bon bons... oh, except for that day when at the gym when i did actually eat bon bons). anyway he clearly, justifiably wants me more involved in the process and I have not been very good about it. So he hands me the his latop saying "read this" and I am thinking 'I so do NOT want to read about cars right now' and as the laptop touches my hand... my water breaks.

Not with a gush. Just a trickle. I immediately do what I do best, go into denial and say nothing. I really want hubby to go to sleep tonight. I feel guilty about being so well rested when he is so exhausted. I do NOT want him spend hours awake watching me scream in a hospital bed right now... Besides maybe it was some other fluid, god knows there has been all kind of yuckiness going on lately. Trickle. Trickle. Trickle. It becomes undeniable. Call the hospital. They say come in. Contractions start.

10 pm: Friend arrives to take care of la cocotte. Debate waking her up to let her know what's going on. Decide against and hope that if she wakes in the middle of the night friend may be mistaken for hubby (both have appreciable beards).

10.30 pm: arrive hospital. Contractions by now quite painful. Interesting (to me at least) last time I was induced and I had tons of piggy-back contractions and often the pain did not really completely dissipate between contractions. I would sometimes, even early on, have as little as 45 seconds between contractions and I thought that this was the result of being induced. Turns out this is just how my body labors. Interesting but utterly useless information at this point.

11 pm: checked. 4 cm dilated. Impossible. There is no way my body is that efficient. Checked again. 1.5 cm. 70% effaced. Yup, that sounds more like my body. But the resident who checks me says and (I think) I quote: "I was able to stretch you, now you are at 2 cm". And I'm left wondering a) does that count?? am at a "real" 2 cm now? b) If so, could you go back in there and stretch me to 10 cm? Or at least a nice 5cm?

11 pm - 2.30 am: I AM that woman. The one who, to everyone else's initial sympathy and eventual annoyance, cannot keep her pain to herself. At the start of each contraction I would tell myself "just try, just see if you can SHUT UP this time" and I really, honestly couldn't. I think I must be some kind of super wimp. Everyone else I know either delivered without drugs or else got to a good 6 or 7 cm before accepting an epidural. Heck, as I've written about before, in Italy, the epidural is essentially not available. I truly do not know how women do it. I wanted to wait as long as possible to establish labor and reduce the c-section risk (though the resident told me that that thinking is controversial, waiting may or may not have an effect on labor's progress) but it was honestly unbearable. During this time I did not have a choice because they did not have a room for me so I was in triage where they cannot perform epidurals. They can, however, give morphine which they did but which had no effect.

2.00 am: they tell me a room and an anesthesiologist will still be available. Checked again for dilation. I am hoping for a big number so I can take the epidural without possibly slowing labor. 3 cm i.e. 3 hours of contractions yield 1 lousy centimeter. Yup, sounds like my body.

2.30 am: they find me a room and immediately get the anesthesiologist. They do not even ask me if I want an epidural. It's going in.

2.40 am: after pressing the "happy button" on the epidural a few times, heaven.

2.40 am - 7 am: some sleep completely disconnected from the storm brewing inside me. (my dream labor!).
Inevitably the contractions do slow down. There is some discussion of using oxytocin to speed things up and once again I find myself sliding down the Funnel of Interventions... Baby is generally doing well but with the way my body labors, sometimes having four contractions in a row with no real break (as I watch these unfold on the monitor I am so bloody grateful for that epidural) (also... how can having four contractions in a row without a break be "slowing of labor"... only thought of that now) baby does not like these and heart rate stays lower for longer than we would like. Am asked to breathe oxygen for the remainder of labor.

7 am: 4 cm dilated. my wonderful ob who has, as chance would have it, been on call all night comes in to say good-bye and good luck. She tell me everyone is aware of the VBAC factor and watching closely. My progress is slow and everyone is hoping it will pick up. She tells me the exit could be through either door at this point. That they aren't going to take any risks to achieve a VBAC and that she has filled her colleague in.

10 am: 7 cm dilated. Yipee! Things are picking up. Baby is causing a regular flood of staff into the room to check the monitor but generally doing well. So, so sleepy. Keep napping on and off. Perhaps sleeping off the morphine??

11 am: 9 cm dilated. Feel like I should be putting on my spikes, doing my final strides and toeing the start line getting ready for the actual event but literally cannot keep my eyes open. So very sleepy.  Alternate between thinking "must get ready to push" and thinking "what can I possibly to do get ready anyway? must sleep." Can't believe I am about to push a baby out but can't keep eyes open.

12.30 pm: confirmed fully dilated. Now the wait begins for someone to be available to deliver the baby. I can feel the baby working its way down and wonder if the baby knows it's supposed to wait until the ob has finished with previous delivery. Starting to feel contractions again. Debate pushing happy button. Think maybe better not so I can feel the contractions and know when to push. Nurse comes and encourages me to push happy button. Did I mention that the hospital I am delivering at is very generous with drugs and has a c-section rate of approximately 50%? (though, to be fair, they are a high risk center).

1.30 pm: OB becomes available. I tell him I feel stinging where I imagine my c-section scar would be and am nervous about rupture. He tells me we are going to get this baby out quickly, he will likely use suction and if ever baby is in trouble we will go to c-section. He tells me, almost aggressively, that he is taking no risks. No arguments here. Please, sign me up for the "no risk to baby" exit! Let the pushing begin.

As a physical event it's easier than I thought it would be. Easy in the sense that I can tell that I am pushing my absolute very hardest and quite simply there is nothing else I can do. With running I think we always question whether we are performing optimally, making sure we are completely spent at the finish line and not before. With birthing, at least for me, it was very clear to me with every push (after the initial few) that I was red-lining with each and every single push. Took all the thought out of it. After about 6 pushes a patch of head appeared with a ton of dark hair causing the OB to remark the baby was "hairy like papa". After another 6 or 7 pushes the OB started getting a bit antsy and told me that he was going to "help me" sooner than he normally would. I could feel him rubbing the baby's scalp between pushed to stimulate the heart rate.  He told me that he was going to use suction, that he would be doing 10% of the work and I would be doing 90% so I still needed to work hard. Then he said, ok, baby is coming out on the next push. And baby did. At least the head. One more push and there was a pinkish, bloody, vernixy, mucous-y hairy ball of wonder with bluish hands and feet on my belly looking very, very confused.

The OB pronounced (without looking at the genitalia): "It's a boy!". (Our guess is that he had decided earlier when he saw the hair colour matched hubby's that this baby of unknown gender was male.)  I thought - a boy, we don't have one of those! The nurse looked over and said, very authoritatively: "That's a girl." And I thought - a girl, now we have two of those! The doctor of geology (that would be hubby) said: "looks like a girl to me". And I thought 'hubby wouldn't get it wrong'. Baby was handed over to pediatrician who said "boy" followed by something indistinguishable (now I think the something must have been the pediatrician saying "boy i could go for a cup of coffee right now") and I thought a boy - we still don't have one of those! And then the pediatrician said quite clearly: "definitely a girl". Which,as it turned out, was the final answer.

And that's how Squeaker entered the scene on Friday March 9 at 1.46 pm. She weighed 7 lbs 3 oz at birth, boasts 52 cm of length, dark blue eyes, a head of light brown hair and a distinctive squeak that lets me know it's feeding time.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

But I thought that was it

I was sure last night was it. Having never gone into labor before I am not 100% sure of what it feels like but buoyed by my results yesterday (1 cm dilated, 50% effaced)  I guess I was mentally prepared for things to start. Also there are other very encouraging signs which I don't want to post on my blog but yes, Sea Legs Girl, it's what you asked me about. Why I can talk about the state of my reproductive organs but not these other things is a mystery to me but I guess squeamish is in the eye of the beholder. I packed my overnight bag before going to bed (only 5 days after my due date... I guess I know where this baby gets its lateness from) and then lay awake most of the night having menstrual-like cramps and uterine contractions every 15-30 minutes. They weren't super painful, just painful enough to make me think things were happening. Now this morning, nothing.

I know pre-labor can last hours to days... is that's what's going on here? How far away am I?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Why I love my Obgyn and random late pregnancy thoughts

Today at my 41 week appointment (41 week appointment... sigh... and it gets better, I MADE a 42 week appointment) I asked my ob if it was okay to still be running. I hadn't asked in awhile and I thought I would just check. She gave me THE LOOK. The I-cannot-believe-you-are-such-a-time-wasting-moron look. But wait, it's not what you think, she then proceeded to say in an incredulous, scathing what-an-ignorant question tone:

"Of course, why wouldn't it be okay?"

That, ladies and gentleman, is my obgyn who I love in all her excellent awesomeness. I love her for her common sense approach. She freely admits when she doesn't know something (like, for example, exactly how much running is safe for pregnant women) encourages me to look for certain signs, monitor my body and do my research. She has an excellent laissez faire approach in which she lets me make all the decisions UNTIL there is truly a medical need for a certain course of action (note: not a value judgement but a medical need) and then, and only then, she tells me what we're going to do. I love her bedside manor. I love that during my first c-section there was a telling pause in all the surgical technical speak and then the sound of her saying: "well, hello there!" as she made the final incision that exposed la cocotte. I am one lucky pregnant woman to have her as my doctor. She told me today that she is on call on Thursday night so it would be most convenient for me to go into labor sometime during the day on Thursday. So, Thursday it is... we're on. Unfortunately neither of us (her or me) have much say in the matter yet. But at this point we are T-minus 8 days to c-section. However I am actually dilated. Yippee. Never got that far last time so maybe, at some point, I will actually be going into labor.

Work-out today was amazing. Got a triple take from the woman next to me on the elliptical machine. Seriously three separate, deliberate, piercing looks in my direction. Was it because I was on an elliptical machine while clearly heavily pregnant? More likely it was because I was on an elliptical machine eating chocolate but seriously sweetheart... these 153 pounds did not put on themselves and they aren't going to stick around without some help! Also, there is more to doing elliptical to burning calories... I'm mostly there for the cardio work-out and that ain't hampered by some chocolate. Plus my blood sugar was way low. But it was weird, even for me I have to admit.

Also fun today I had one person ask me if I was having twins and another ask me if I was "about 4 months along" so apparently I look both really big and really small. I also got the "you can't even tell you're pregnant from behind" comment which I will never understand. Has there ever been a pregnant woman in the history of civilization to whom someone has actually said: "oh yes, I could tell you were pregnant before you turned around by looking at your ass." (sorry, crude). Second, why does pregnancy seem to give people permission to comment on the state of a woman's body? Even positively?

Finally, best of all, I got to sleep. The past two nights I have had 7 and 6 hours respectively. Heaven. Seriously heroin cannot feel as amazing as sleeping 7 hours after a week of sleep deprivation. And on that note, I will end this scattered post and go try for some more.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


Sure enough, like clockwork, on my due date, I did not go into labor. One of my acquaintances (who as you will be able to tell in a moment is a very distant acquaintance) suggested that I need to move more and that a gentle 30 minute walk can bring on labor. I ran 14.5 km including 10 in 53:45. No labor.

I have actually decided I am on strike. No labor (pun intended) until my demands are met. My demands are 5 hours of consecutive sleep. That's it. That's all. 6 days ago, I managed 5 hours of consecutive sleep. Since then, no exaggeration, I am getting about 3-4 hours of sleep in every 24 hour period. And that's interrupted sleep. I ... am... going... crazy. I don't understand it. La cocotte is sleeping through the night again like an angel. Our house is quiet. La cocotte's bed is comfortable especially now that I have kicked her out of it. She is sleeping in our bed and me in hers because her mattress is softer which is what my pregnant body seems to want right now. So, every night I lay down alone, in a perfectly comfortable bed in a quiet house, so exhausted I am almost in tears and I lie there.... for hours... not sleeping. It really has been the most unpleasant part of this whole pregnancy (not even sure if it is pregnancy related). My biggest fear now is going into a 24-36 hour labor already completely spent.

I am seriously ready to hit myself over the head with a frying pan at this point just to be unconscious for awhile.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


My baby is due tomorrow. To-freakin-morrow. What the f**k have I been doing? More importantly, what have I NOT been doing. Um, setting up the bed, laundering the clothing, packing my overnight bag for the hospital. Oh yeah, choosing a NAME!!! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, what was I thinking? I can only say I have been in denial. Not about the pregnancy but about the stage of pregnancy. Or else utterly and completely convinced I am giving birth by scheduled c-section two weeks after my due date on the 15th. Which I still believe I will. Problem is that baby doesn't KNOW that that c-section is scheduled. If I was my body, (woah, probably the most existential phrase I have ever written) I would go into labor RIGHT NOW to teach me a lesson in the important of preparedness.

So yeah, I have been going into work (though I was supposed to finish off weeks ago) and oh yeah, moving and, right, taking care of a toddler who was really inconsiderate about the timing of her latest illness and generally not nesting. AT ALL. This isn't really even nesting. Nesting implies the finishing cute touches on an already prepared habitat. Nesting is baking and freezing your dozenth casserole to have on hand for after the birth. Nesting is deciding which great-grandparent's name to use as the third middle name. This is more like clearing a patch of ground, pitching a tarp and praying it doesn't rain.

Again, I repeat, BABY DUE TOMORROW. Time to learn to use the car seat and pick a name! And pack your hospital bag already. Geez.