Monday, September 30, 2013

Bloody vomit

Bloody vomit is scary. Even when you know exactly what is causing it... like, for example, your finger stuck halfway down your baby's esophagus as you try to scoop out a wire cap that she is intent on ingesting. Which is almost exactly the position I found myself in yesterday morning, though the paramedic who subsequently arrived at our house with the ambulance told me after things had settled, that in all probability I was probably just at the very back of her mouth tangled up in her tonsils. Ambulance? You might be chuckling at the overkill and, 24 hours later, I admit I am embarrassed at having called an ambulance. But as I said, bloody vomit is damn scary especially in quantities large enough to soak her shirt, parts of my shirt and the carpet and even more so when accompanied by oozing blood from the nose.

But let me back up, my finger is probing her tonsils and I finally got it out and despite the fact that Little and I were shaking like crazy, for one naive moment, I actually thought we were good. Then the vomiting started. And of course it makes sense - finger down throat, baby will vomit. Corrugated wire cap rubbing against tender tonsils etc., baby will vomit blood. Perhaps even more terrifying was her near catatonic state. She was just spent. I knew I wasn't fit to drive so I thought I'd call a cab. Couldn't think of the number. Couldn't control my fingers enough to look it up. Dialed 911 with Little on my knee still vomiting blood and Big asking me if we were still going to the birthday party. The ambulance arrived maybe 6-7 minutes later and the paramedics checked her out. By this time the vomiting had stopped, the flow of blood from her mouth had stopped. She checked out totally fine (though the completely disinterested and passive way in which she let them examine her scared the hell out of me). They paramedics explained they were legally obliged to offer me a ride to the hospital and could not give me advice either way on whether it was necessary to go; their demeanor however made it clear it was not necessary. Just as I declined, her nose started substantially bleeding again. I changed my mind and off we went.

2 hours later (2 hours... pretty amazingly quick - I figure we must have been triaged in the "nervous mom just humor her" category) the doctor confirmed that he could see a small cut causing the bleeding and there was nothing to be done and Little would be fine. By this time the lethargy had passed and she was climbing the curtains and knocking over the garbage cans and so feeling foolish and like a giant waster of the taxpayer dollar, I gathered my sprog and departed. And yes, we made it to the birthday party.

So there are lots of "take homes" from this little escapade, lots of things to beat myself up over. Let's start with the fact that the wire cap was out in the first place. Bad. Then there's the fact that when I saw it was in her mouth, I immediately went after it instead of asking her for it or just turning her upside down until it fell out. No, I went in panicked, guns blazing and probably pushed it further in. Worse. Those 20 seconds with my finger deep inside my mouth felt like an eternity. She was freaked, struggling, I couldn't grab the cap. It was long enough for me to think "I've got to get behind it", "I'm actually going to push it into her throat", "This could actually be the way she dies". It was.... horrifying. Horrifying how bad my instinct were (despite the fact that I have infant/toddler first aid training and life guarded for many years) and a very potent reminder of how in less than one minute things can go so very wrong.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The snowsuit

Since Big & Little were born (yes, I'm getting tired of Thing 1 & 2 - tired of the nicknames, not the kids) I have probably spent less than $500 on clothing which is not bad if you consider that they have racked up close to 6 years of living between them. We have been showered in hand me downs from  day 1 and I feel so fortunate. I love hand-me-downs and it's not just because I am cheap (I am) or because I hate shopping (I do). When I put a hand-me-down shirt on Big that I know has been worn by at least 3 other pre-schoolers and I see the tiny holes around the cuffs and the thinness of the fabric around the elbows and the tiny, permanent brown stain which I tell myself is chocolate though truthfully I have no idea, it makes me inexplicably happy. I think of all the little people who wore this shirt and wore in the holes while they played and loved the fabric down to its threads and blissfully ate chocolate (hopefully) and it is as if their happy memories, their hours of play, their story times have been imbued into the garment. So yes, for reasons practical, economic and romantic, I adore Big & Little's hand-me-down wardrobes.

This year however there was no denying that Big would need a winter snowsuit. We could not get away with squeezing her back into her 3T winter attire and surprisingly when I went to the carefully labelled storage containers in the basement, none of the 4T-5T containers held winter gear. It is the first time there has been a hole in our supply chain. So off we went to Mountain Equipment Coop where every good Canadian shops for outdoorsy stuff. I found the perfect snowsuit for Big. It cost a shocking amount - don't get me wrong, I don't mind paying for Big to stay warm all winter but when you are used to "free", $90 comes as a bit of a shock. I was all set to leave, true to my normal "get in, get the thing, get out" commando style of shipping when the 18 month snowsuits caught my eye. Little's need for winter clothing is borderline. We have, of course, all of Big's old stuff but as she and Big are not season-locked when it comes to season-specific items, it is not always a perfect match. For sure though, I could have either had her swimming all winter in Big's 2T stuff or else layered her with several pieces that, albeit awkward, would have kept her warm all winter. So technically Little did not require a snowsuit and since the PPC "Law of Acquisition" is generally "Don't do it!!", I was ready to walk away. Yet something made me linger, tracing the inevitably cute snowsuit with one finger. I put my hand inside to gage how closely it resembled the feel of a sleeping bag and stumbled across the most amazing feature. A name-tag... but not just a name-tag. A name-tag with four distinct spaces for four different children and then, best of all, underneath each a little phrase. For child # 1 "I wonder where this will travel to", child #2 "Good thing she grew quickly, I was getting cold", child #3 "Grew like a bad weed she did" and child #4 "At last! It's my turn."

I stood there thinking about it. Thinking about how we would definitely hand this down, to my cousin who recently had triplets and from there who knows. Thinking about the parents who would carefully pen their child's name in it. Thinking of all the snowballs that would get made, all the tobogganing that would happen, all the times a parent would do up this snowsuit only to be told that its occupant had to pee, all the snow angels. All the parents, grandparents, friends who would watch their snowsuit-laden toddler trundling along, a cheerful cherry red blob against a sullen winter day. I thought about how by the time the fourth child received it, Little would not be little, about how the fourth child probably had not even been born yet and I just started bawling in the store. And to my shock, I bought it. I bought the unnecessary $90 snowsuit because of the 50 cent name-tag sewn into it, because of the way that 50 cent name-tag had made me feel.

It's a great marketing lesson. It really is true that if you can imagine your consumer and connect with them in some way, they will buy your stuff. I have never had this feeling before... but there was no way I was NOT going to buy that snowsuit. And I cried in the car as I told hubby about it, sipping our Tim Horton's coffee while Big & Little snoozed in their car seats in the back. I cried the next day (to my horror) as I told my colleague about the experience at our communal coffee machine (I was trying to draw parallels to the product we develop together but since our product is a data acquisition software for the life sciences, neither of us could think of one so it was a pretty unproductive conversation but at least it made us both uncomfortable!). And I am sure I will cry the first time I wrestle it onto Little so that she can go out and make her snowangels.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A near perfect week in training

Perfect in that I came very close to following my training plan almost exactly - in the end I fell 2 X 400 and 6 X 10 second uphill sprints short of completing the week as prescribed (and wound up with 8 extra minutes of tempo). This is huge for me. I have a hard time following other people's training plan in part because I arrogantly tend to believe that I know better than other people what I, as an athlete, need (though I notice that I never seem to follow my own plan) and in part because the logistics of our lives are such that it is hard to follow ANY plan (plan to get to daycare on time, plan to get to work on time, plan to get the family fed, plan to stick to a budget, plans in general tend not to work in PPC's Planet of Disorder & Chaos).

But somehow this plan is sticking. And I am really enjoying it and moreover, learning lessons I had long forgotten... just basic stuff like, the easy days have to be easy so that hard days can be hard. You have to run long to build basic physiologic building blocks. 75 minutes does not constitute long... just basic stuff I had forgotten. So anyway, here is what week of nearly perfectly executed training looked like:

Monday - 16.8 km including 8 miles of alternating mile @ 7:45, mile @ 6:10 (ran 6:08, 6:05, 6:05, 6:03)
Tuesday - off
Wednesday - 63 minutes easy including 6 X 10 second hill sprints and one unscheduled tempo around one of my favorite 2.2 km loops
Thursday - off
Friday - 64 minutes easy pushing Thing 2 in stroller
Saturday - track work-out, eek! 10 X 400 m (was supposed to be 12) - averaged 78.9 - fastest (76.4 - wound up racing someone) slowest 80.8. total 14.6 km.
Sunday - 2 hour run. First hour pushing Thing 1 & 2 in the double chariot. In order to convince Thing 1 to come I promised her we would find a bridge, forest and a highest hill (anyone else seen that episode of Dora 50,000 time or so???). Bridge and forest were no problem and luckily I was able to sell a modest sized overpass as the highest hill. Averaged 4:48 per km with them. Then I took off on my own for an hour (to be clear, I did drop them at home with their Papa... I didn't just suddenly run off abandoning them on the highest hill) and averaged 4:24. total 25.9 km in 2 hours.

4 weeks 'till race day!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Cry it out

Cry it out... it's one of those controversial parenting topics about which everyone seems to have an opinion, and expresses it! Loudly! With conviction! Sanctimoniously! Defensively! There is no shortage of online debates schoolyard brawls about its merits and evils. For those who don't know what "cry it out" is, I have two things to say 1) in a nutshell, it's a method for helping a baby to learn to fall asleep and sleep through the night in which they are essentially left to cry themselves to sleep and 2) don't read this post, you'll reach new depths of boredom!

Anyway it always seemed to me, based on the amount of venom & defensiveness surrounding "cry it out" that it fell into THAT category which most parenting methods seem to - "right for some, not for others, not likely to do much good or much harm". Generally it seemed like something I would rather not do (while honestly not judging those who did) but with Thing 1 I didn't give it much though because right as I was starting to get antsy about her not sleeping through the night as well as getting ready to go back to work, she obligingly learned to sleep through the night on her own.

Along came Thing 2 and although her sleeping has always been much worse than Thing 1's, I just assumed that she too would learn to sleep through the night at around 1 (because of course that's how siblings work... they grow, develop and react in exactly the same way). I resisted any form of sleep training despite the brutal nights waiting for that magic one year mark...which came...and went... without any perceptible improvement in Thing 2's sleeping habits. I won't go into the gory details in this post because I think I have done so in several previous self indulgent posts. Suffice it to say, though it was highly variable, I was getting about an average of 6 hours of sleep per night with the longest stretch typically being less than three hours... for a year and a half and things were starting to look pretty black.

Finally on the advice of a friend (who had urged me to sleep train Thing 2 at 6 months) I consulted a sleep expert whose advise was detailed and specific but boiled down to "let her cry it out". Hubby and I decided the ideal time to do this would be in the summer when he did not have to teach; unfortunately we found ourselves having that conversation at the tail-end of Labor Day week-end right before the start of the academic year. Ideal the timing would not be... Being the slow moving procrastinators we tend to be, we sat on the decision a bit longer and then hubby left on a business trip. I don't know what allowed me to finally overcome my inertia but last night, day 2 into hubby's trip I suddenly worked up the courage to give it a try.

I parked Thing 1 in front of a movie, nursed Thing 2 lightly and then put her, still awake into her pack and play. Whereupon she immediately, apparently moving on raw instinct, sprang up and began screaming... we're talking - I had not even left the room yet! Thinking that this was never going to work, I closed the door and went to join Thing 1 who compounded my already crippling guilt be repeatedly asking me why I wasn't going to comfort Thing 2. The next 20 minutes were agonizing for everyone... the following 15 saw the wailing ramp down to protesting and finally silence. 35 minutes total to fall asleep. I waited another 15 and then went to check on her and found that I could not open the door. Feeling somewhat sick and franctic I reached my hand in and sure enough the door was being blocked her Thing 2 who had, for the first time ever, busted her way out of the pack and play and taken up camp in front of the door. Yes, I felt pretty damn wretched. But dammit... Thing 2 slept through the whole night and I am talking until 6.30 am when I actually went in and woke her up.

Which was encouraging enough to not persist on night 2 (tonight). I had heard from everyone that the first night is the worst. So I was pleased but not surprised when she fell asleep after only 5 minutes tonight (this time I added music-playing night light that probably helped).

I don't really want to wade into the "cry it out" debate; I can only speak based on my experience and my comfort zone and I am certain no expert in child psychology but here we go... I agree with the opponents of cry it out that it is probably not the best experience ever for a small child to be left to cry themselves to sleep (and believe me "probably not the best experience" is highly euphemistic compared to some of the phrase-ology out there). I think it is probably downright traumatic. But you know what? It is also probably pretty damn traumatic for a child to see their mom or dad crying because they are just so f**king tired. It is probably pretty damn traumatic for a child to be injured or killed in a car accident caused by their exhausted or sleep deprived parent and I will admit to getting behind the wheel on a few occasions and thinking that what I was doing was tantamount to drunk driving. At my lowest, I actually found myself one morning in the wee hours crying as I nursed Thing 2 saying to her "please, please, please let me get some sleep, I am begging you" ... that's probably not so good for baby either. So if this whole "cry it out" thing continues on its current trajectory and our entire family (Thing 2 included) finally starts getting proper, uninterrupted sleep than as much as I hated hearing her cry for so long the first night or for that matter for any amount of time on any night, my only real regret is that I did not do it sooner.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A promising work-out and my weight in stones

The pieces are slowly falling together training-wise. I am starting to feel like a sub-1:30 half marathon this fall is in the cards (why I would jinx myself like that, I really don't know). There are a few things that are helping: having a training program again - I was sucking the big lollipop at being my own coach, I would plan ambitious work-outs and then just go for an easy run as soon as I was slightly sleep deprived or feeling a little off. Now I have a plan which means not having to think (love...not...thinking), having a sense of accountability and generally just a reminder of what a reasonable half marathon training schedule looks like so even though I am falling far short (due to severe, chronic sleep deprivation... same old, same old) at least I am striving to hit reasonable and am cognizant of where the gaps are. I am getting in some long runs (thanks to the plan) which were clearly the element most lacking prior to my disastrous 20 km. I now have five long runs under my belt (90 minutes counts as a long run these days) and my goal race is still 6 weeks distant so that feels really good.

The crisper, less humid, better air quality that generally comes in September has been huge and finally I have lost some weight (more on that in a moment) and it all adds up to feeling fitter and more confident. Now if I could just get some sleep, I would be superwoman! I had a great work-out tonight that really boosted my confidence. 80 minute run including 10 km continuous average 4:05 per km. The effort felt faster than half marathon pace but not by much! I think my half marathon pace might be 4:10 at this point... I`m getting there!

So the weight loss... I went on a "diet" quotation marks because my diet consisted simply of no longer eating when I wasn't hungry and BOOM! 4 pounds disappeared felt awesome. Which is good because my weight was getting critical.. we're talking my bmi was, god forbid, actually creeping into "normal" range - eek! So here's the weird part... I don't know how much I actually weigh right now... my scale randomly changes units on me and recently it switched over to stones...yes, Stones! Seriously, am I exporting potatoes? Why on earth would my scale offer stones as an option... and I use the word option loosely since it switched to stones of its own volition and there is no apparent way of switching it back. But I'm leaving it there (not, as I mentioned, that I have a choice)... I think it's good for me to not know my exact number. Sure, I am just one google search away from finding out or just thinking about it for 30 seconds but I am trying to avoid finding out. I know relative to the switch-over how much I weight and can gauge on that and I am hoping this will cut down on some of my obsessiveness on this topic.

One thing I have noticed is that although the first 4 pounds slid off when I decided to stop recreational eating now that I am only eating to satisfy hunger weight loss has halted (makes sense). So I tried restricting just a little bit, nothing major just a little 200-300 calorie deficit and immediately started to feel flat & lacking energy on my runs. So I am wondering if it is worth continuing to try to lose more weight (pebbles?) or if I should just leave things be. According to this calculator I can shave off approximately 35 seconds from my half marathon for every pound loss [Note: calculator makes the HUGE assumption that the athlete is within a healthy bmi range and that the weight lost is fat] but I find it so tough to lose weight without affecting training. It would probably be helpful if I took advantage of that mythical 20 minute post-run window and fueled to optimize glycogen storage.

Anyway just some random thoughts...