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Post-Partum depression is REAL.

21 Mar

Before Baby Key was born, “depression” was a word that was completely foreign in my vocabulary. I have a very bubbly personality and I considered myself a very positive, upbeat person. If you have ever met me, you know that I high five strangers and shamelessly use “jazz hands” when I talk. When I spot a friend across a room, I instantly throw my arms open for a big ol’ bear hug.

But in the few months since Baby Key’s birth, I have felt a lot less…”jazz hands-y.” It took me a long time to decide whether or not to write this, but since this is something I have been struggling with, I decided to tell my story. It is deeply personal but I am sure there is someone out there that can relate.

I will be the first to admit that I was completely overwhelmed with all things related to Baby Key. Sure, we went to the parenting classes, breastfeeding classes, and “what to expect” classes, but nothing on the planet truly prepares you for that day when you bring your little bundle of joy home from the hospital. No more nurses at the push of a button. No more hourly visits from doctors to make sure mama and baby are happy and healthy. You are on your own…and reality b*tch slaps you in the face.

Not me, but I've felt this pain.

The first two weeks of being home with Baby Key are a complete blur. On a nightmare scale of 1 to 10, I would absolutely give them an 11. He cried…and cried…and cried. It was terrible. We are not talking the normal “I’m hungry” cry or the “I need a diaper change” cry. This cry involved quivering lips, an arched back, fists clenched, and hives. Yes, he even broke out in hives. It was enough to send any sane person crawling up the walls. And it was incessant. 24 hours a day. He never stopped.

For weeks, I felt like I could do nothing. All I could do was hold him. Putting him down or resting him in a swing was not an option. Trust me, we have probably spent over $1,000 on swings, mats, swaddlers, and any other product to soothe a crying infant. None of it worked. We tried EVERYTHING. I could not go anywhere. I felt so trapped. The nurses on the hospital “warm line” even got to know the sound of my voice because I called so often begging for help. There were days that my husband left for work in the morning only to return home that evening to see me sitting in the same rocking chair, wearing the same clothes I had slept in the night before. I remember sending him frantic text messages pleading for him to come home and give me just a little bit of reprieve because I was just sure that if he didn’t my ears would literally start bleeding. On these days, getting a daily shower before 7:00PM was my crowning accomplishment.

As the weeks went by, everyone kept telling me things like, “Hang in there. It gets better.” or “It’s just a phase, you’ll make it.” While I appreciated all the kind words and sweet sentiments, I just could not see how things would EVER get better. Because they weren’t. As time went by, his crying and tantrums only seemed to be getting worse and more violent.

Things really started turning south around the 4-week mark. This was at the point where the typical “baby blues” should have started going away. Not only were they not going away, but the feelings seemed to intensify. There were moments when I was holding him, and he was in one of his fits, and I played out this scenario in my head…

What if I just put him down, walked away, closed the door behind me, and never dealt with this again?

I really thought I could not take one minute more of it. There were times that I would just look down at him and think, “Why did I do this? This was the worst decision of my life. I should have never had a child.” There were even times that I looked at him and thought, “I don’t even want him anymore.” And yes, there were moments that I even wanted to shake him.

Several friends of mine had babies right around the same time that I did. By this time, they were posting cute pictures of their kiddos smiling, doing fun things, or updating me that their babies were happily sleeping in their swings. While I was happy for them, it made me so angry. I tried really hard not to let it get to me, but it did. I sat there, fully convinced that my butt was permanently melding to the seat of the rocking chair, seething. Why couldn’t my baby be the “easy one”?

All of these thoughts brought on extreme guilt. After all, this is the child we prayed for, the child that we wanted so badly, the child that we were told we were never going to be able to have. And here I am, wishing him away. This was one of the lowest points in my whole life.

I will never forget taking Baby Key to his 6-week check-up. I walked in looking like death warmed over, holding my crying child. As soon as his pediatrician walked into the room and asked how things were going, I broke down completely. I totally lost it. I begged her to “fix” him. I must have looked so absurd, but I was desperate. I needed help…fast.

This was the point at which she expressed that what I was experiencing was beyond the normal baby blues. The first thing I thought was, “Oh great! Just add that to our list of issues to deal with” but it was true. Each passing day made me feel more and more detached from my child, exactly the opposite of what I “should” be feeling. It was also on this visit that Baby Key was diagnosed with a severe case of GERD. Though I was not thrilled at his diagnosis, being given assurance he really was crying more than other babies, helped me feel less crazy. Up until this point, I am pretty sure there were people in my life that when I told them, “He cries all the time.” thought I was exaggerating. This day was our turning point.

Not wanting to immediately start taking medicine, I started to see a therapist. Talking about my anxieties, fears about the future, and caring for a child with special medical concerns helped me take some control over my issues. After several weeks of counseling sessions for me, and a twice daily dose of Nexium for Baby Key, things started looking up. The sun seemed to shine a little brighter, the air didn’t feel as thick, and for the first time since he was born, I actually wanted to hold my son.

Before Baby Key, I did not really know much about depression at all…especially post-partum depression (PPD). Not that I did not think it was real (no Tom Cruise-like rants from me, I promise), but I just assumed that depression was for other people. I know that sounds awful, but it is just the truth. I never thought it would be me.

I have come to realize that having a bout of PPD does not make me crazy, does not make me a bad mother, and with time and honesty, can be dealt with in a healthy way. All it means is that it took me a little longer to get to that joyous I-want-to-smell-my-baby-every-second-of-the-day point than it did some other moms.

Now that we have turned a proverbial corner, I am starting to feel more and more like the “old me.” The changing season and warmer weather have helped us get out and do more so that I no longer feel so trapped and isolated. My husband and family have also stepped in to give me a little more time to go running, which does so much more for me mentally and emotionally than it ever did physically. And the best part is, I simply cannot wait to end my work day so that I can go home to my husband and beautiful baby boy…you know, to smell him and tell him I love him.

I say all this to let you know that if you are going through a similar experience, you are not alone. If you or a new mom you know has had or is having these kinds of thoughts or having a hard time bonding with your new baby, I sincerely urge you to ask for help. Speak up. People are there to help, I promise.

Please don’t suffer in silence.

There is no shame in admitting you need help and seeking out the necessary treatments to make you a happier, healthier woman and mother. The sooner mama gets better, the sooner everything gets better.

New Infant Swing = Lunges and Blogging!

14 Dec

My child has what a friend of mine delightfully refers to as a “witching hour.” I swear, like clockwork, my kiddo starts crying at 5:30PM on the dot and does not stop until 8:30PM. All afternoon long, I watch the clock start nearing the 5:30PM mark and I start getting antsy…knowing the wailing is coming.

Many of my friends suggested we get a swing for Baby Key since he seems to love motion. The only way we could calm him was to walk around and sway him or if I put him on my chest in the Moby wrap. While I enjoy holding my baby or wearing him close to me, sometimes I need a break. Sometimes I need the use of both hands. Dare I say it, sometimes I just need a moment away from my baby. This does not make me a bad mother, does it?

Last night, I pretty much had it. Granted, around the 8:30PM, he finally quieted, but those 3 hours are completely exhausting. I needed help. I decided that come hell or high water, the Keys were getting an infant swing. We NEED it.

So, this morning, at 7:00AM, I was walking through the doors of Babies R Us. (Can you believe that Babies R Us opens at 7:00AM during the holidays? And that next week they start being open 24-hours a day through Christmas day? That’s insane!) I was on a mission. This lady needed an infant swing.

I did a little research and decided the Fisher-Price Snugabunny Swing was the swing for us. Unfortunately, the $169.99 price tag was a bit steep for us, especially right here at the holidays. When I looked online, however, the website showed it for $129.99. Thankfully, the store honored the online price, and with $15 in gift cards, the swing was now in a more acceptable price range. HALLELUJAH! Armed with my new swing, I returned home, praying it would soothe my little one.

As soon as I got home, Mr. Key was ready to put it together. In a matter of moments, Baby Key was in it and quiet…cooing and gurgling…and, dare I say, content. It was a miracle! Since my child was born, the only time my child has been out of someone’s arms is when he is sleeping at night. He cries and acts fretful and is so hard to soothe. However, THIS is what happens with a comfortable infant swing…
Sleeping soundly!
SUCCESS! Do you see that!? THAT is a sleeping baby! WOOT!

Okay, so I know lots of other mothers have children that sleep in infant swings, but do you realize what this implies? This means that for brief periods of time, I can do something other than hold a baby. Even if I can get half an hour at a time out of this thing, I can find a way to be productive.

Squats in the living room.
Lunges up and down the hallway.
Free weights to work my arms.

And yes, even a few minutes to write my blogs! Woo hoo!

If I cannot get outside right now to go run with Baby Key, at least I can get in mini strength training workouts while he sleeps in the swing. I know that in returning to my pre-baby fitness level, I will have to do a lot more than just cardio and finding the time to work in long runs AND strength training is hard.

This swing may be a total game changer for me.

So long, flabby arms.
So long, untoned quads.
So long, weak calves.
Hello, semi-regular blogging!
You know, until I really get the hang of this mom thing…

I am armed with an infant swing. And right now, that makes me feel invincible. Look, I know that sounds ridiculous, but my kid is happy and quiet, so right now, that makes me Super Mom.

Pre-baby body, slowly but surely, I’m coming for you. Watch out. Mama is back!

The Last 0.2

8 Nov

It is not the first 26 miles that do a number on you, it is the last 0.2 mile that kill you. Or something like that, right? A whopping 0.2 mile of pain and bliss. Whatever the saying is, it is TRUE.

If that is the case, I fear I just might keel over and die right here in the homestretch. Okay, that might be exaggerating a little, but seriously, I am *so* over this pregnancy thing. Not that I do not adore Baby Key or the fact that I have made this awesome little human being, but I am really, REALLY ready for him to be out here and not in there. Everyday that goes by, my body becomes more and more uncomfortable and less mobile…which a really difficult thing for me.

If our little man decides not to arrive of his own volition today, he will most definitely be making his grand entrance into the world tomorrow…courtesy of an order of induction. Awesome. This is not exactly how I had planned for things to go, but some of the best laid plans go awry, so I suppose it is out of my hands. What I certainly prefer nature to take its course and for things to start moving on their own, I also do not want to keep letting more and more time go by, letting him get bigger and bigger, and potentially putting him in distress. So, induction it is.

Oh, and do not think I have not tried everything under the sun to get this kiddo out on his own. Even my 2mi run last night at the LSU lakes did not even get him moving! Sheesh.

Pitocin scares me.

Like a lot.

I woke up at 2:30AM thinking about it.

Before my first 5k…I did not sleep. Nervous.
Before my first 10k…I did not sleep. Anxious.
Before my first half marathon…I did not sleep. Worried.
Before my first marathon…I did not sleep. Scared. To. Death.

Before my child enters the world…I know I will not sleep. All of them…rolled into one…times a billion.

How do women do it? How do MOMS do it? I have been spending the last few days reading some of my favorite sections of Run Like a Mother and I swear that running moms (and running dads) are super heroes. How will I ever hang among this elite group? How do they manage everything…seamlessly…all while making it look absolutely effortless?

I know this is rambling. My sincere apologies. I am truly a mixed bag of emotions today. While I am thrilled that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, just making it through the next 36 hours will take a level of will and determination that I have never had to muster…yet.

But, this is what my body was made to do. I just have to have faith in it. Just like with the marathon, I have “trained”…my body is ready…I just have to let it all go and switch into auto-pilot.

Tomorrow is going to be a BIG DAY! Fingers crossed!

Losing Weight is Scary

3 Nov

Just a word of forewarning. Some of this post may totally fall under the category of TMI.

Throughout the last 9 months I have tried to be very conscious of what I am eating and exercising very regularly.  My goal for doing this was to stay as in-shape as possible, keep myself and my baby healthy, and to gain a “normal” amount of baby weight. My original plan was to gain no more than 35 pounds during my pregnancy. This was the “safe” amount recommended by my health care provider.

HAHAHAHAHAHA!  *wipingtearsfrommyeyes* 35 pounds? Good one, Doc!

Those 35 pounds are a distant memory.

39 weeks and 5 days


I now have 60 (YES, 60!) extra pounds sitting on my frame.  When I found out I was expecting, I was very happy at my racing/training weight of 130 pounds and had maintained that weight for at least 6 months. My natural body weight (before ever getting into running or doing regular physical activity) hovers closer to 150 pounds.  Depending on the perspective, I either need to lose 40 pounds to get to my “normal” weight or 60 pounds to get to my “ideal” weight.

Not only have I been blessed with a baby belly, but I have been “blessed” with gigantic boobs (which, I swear, that if they get any bigger I will completely lose my mind) and the junk in the trunk to match. They say that when you gain pregnancy weight, you gain it in places where you would experience normal weight gain. For me, this means that this curvy girl has become EXTRA curvy…in addition to the belly. AWESOME.

No matter how you slice it, the concept of losing this much weight is daunting. I have never had to or attempted to lose that much weight in my life. To say the least, it scares me. Fortunately, I have an awesome support system of family and friends…both in real life and across the Blogosphere and Twitterverse. I know there will be no shortage of help or motivation when I need it, but it still makes me nervous. In addition, I have read and continue to read so many of your fitness blogs. I have read about some incredible people who have lost WAY more than 60 pounds and if they can do it, I can do it too. I know can.

The hardest part for me will be patience. I have these grand visions of popping out this kiddo and then running a half marathon the next weekend. (No, seriously, I do.) There are women that have been able to accomplish this, and while I would love to be one of them, I know that these women are truly the exceptions to the rule and most people just do not bounce back that quickly. Maybe I will be one of the lucky ones, but I need to stop banking on it and start being more realistic.

I am still excited about about the Core Recovery Plan that I have devised. At this point, I am just ready for Baby Key to arrive, assess my physical level at that point, and move to the next step. The waiting game is TOUGH.

2 days and counting…

Middle of the packer child birther right here!

28 Oct

If childbirth is like a marathon, I’ll be a happy middle of the packer.

Ever since I found out I was expecting, people have been telling me that I will have no problem at all with the whole experience. After all, I am a runner…surely I have beat myself up more than this and have dealt with more pain than this, right? I have powered through sore muscles, shin splints, Achilles tendinitis, headaches, backaches, frigid/rainy runs, and 20+ milers…all for FUN…so popping out a baby should be nothing…right?

Ugh.

Sorry, kids, this Mama Bear is just NOT buying it. All you running mamas and husbands to running mamas out there MUST be pulling my leg. Have you SEEN those childbirth videos? Have you SEEN the way those women clamor and scream and sweat!? Have you heard their guttoral growls of pain!? You can’t tell me this is “manageable pain.” I just do not believe it.

Seriously…there is nothing about this that looks fun…

While I briefly (and by “briefly” I mean all of 3.7 seconds) considered an all-natural birth, I can now quite confidently say that this is NOT an option for me. I. AM. A. NINNY. However, after talking with my doctor, doing my own research, and talking with other recent running mamas, I have decided that complete and total epidural is not the option for me either.

Thankfully, there are now “walking epidurals” or what I like to call, “dial-a-number pain meds.” Basically, you get to pick your strength, on a level from 1 to 10, and that’s the amount of medication they give you. HALLELUJAH! Options! While I would love think myself tough enough to handle birthing my child the au naturale way, I just don’t think I’m woman enough for all that. After all, the good Lord gave us drugs, so why not use them? :)

After all the miserable injuries I have experienced in my years of running and training, you cannot possibly expect me to believe that these were all worse than pushing a watermelon through my lady parts. I am not saying those injuries did not toughen me up a little, but for now, this girl will stick with (some) drugs. I know I am probably making WAY too much out of this, but they way I figure is this…if I imagine this process as being the most awful, terrible pain that I have ever experienced and it is not that way, then I will be pleasantly surprised. However, if I go into this thinking it will feel like a nagging ankle sprain and it feels like the Marianas Trench busting wide open, I am going to be TICKED! Better to be pleasantly surprised than terribly disappointed!

Did you or your significant other go all natural during childbirth or do you recommend some pain management? Please share your story (as long as it is not a total horror story). :)

Life Marathon Relay: Leg 1 (Moving)

23 Oct

My blogging mini-vacay is OVER! While it was needed in order to start getting settled, I did miss it. This week has been pretty eventful with the BIG MOVE and all and it seems like we are settling in pretty well.  We still have lots of organizing to do but that is such a massive undertaking that we are just doing the best we can.  Its just the two of us and with my limited mobility, we can only go so fast.  

When I got my new job here in Louisiana, part of my benefits package was relocation. My company sent a moving company to our place to pack everything up and move it 700 miles.  While the thought of not having to pack and haul our stuff sounded totally thrilling, I guess I didn’t really understand how movers/packers do what they do.

They pack and wrap…EVERYTHING.  And I mean EVERYTHING.  

In going through our things, we found boxes of canned goods (all expired, of course) where each can was individually wrapped. It was outrageous.  We have spent so much time just weeding out all of our “real stuff” from all of the fluff stuff. Oh, and did I mention that they didn’t mark ANYTHING appropriately? For example, we came across a box labeled “BEADS” (for a Mardi Gras-loving LA girl, this is not uncommon).  On a whim, we decided to open it just to check to see what was inside.  It was full of…books?? Not a pair of beads in sight.  This is when we realize that IF a box was actually labeled…that label could certainly NOT be trusted.  This means that EVERY box had to be reopened to see what was actually inside.  

The good thing about this long and tedious process is that we have (slowly, but surely) been going through The Great Purge (it really deserves its own geologic era).  We have been getting rid of things left and right, donating as much as possible to Goodwill or our church and tossing the rest.  I am really bad about hanging on to things (though not at all to the point of hoarding) but forcing myself to get rid of unneeded things and make more room for Baby Key is a great feeling. While I did manage to purge a ton of race t-shirts, I did manage to get all of my running clothes organized. It feels so good!

Race Tech Tees!


Running Singlets!


Normally, for big projects like this, I approach it with a whirlwind effort…you know, just working, working, working as fast as possible until everything is perfectly in place and as it should be.  However, I have finally had to listen to my body and let it dictate what I could and could not do. I know I have said this before, but it is incredibly humbling.  

The last time I felt completely at the mercy of my legs and feet like this was during training for my last marathon.  After three days of being on my feet, standing over a work table in our garage, unpacking boxes, my lower extremities were sore and starting to swell.  By the evening of the third day, every step felt squishy and sore. I had trouble even pulling my legs under my hips.  I remembered that feeling.  That was the feeling of doing too much and pushing too hard.

Understanding your limits is important.  In hindsight, I should have been taking more breaks; I should have been allowing myself some time to rest.  True to my “nothing done half-way” attitude, I pushed too hard.  I have been known to this in the past with my run workouts/training and not listened to my body when it said STOP.  Ignoring my body in previous situations led to injuries.  Unfortunately, being nearly 38 weeks pregnant, there is a lot more at stake than some sore muscles and achy joints.  I have two of us to take care of now.  I just have to take it easy.  

Okay, okay, Body…I hear you loud and clear. Lesson learned!

I'm ready for the Life Marathon.


What has YOUR body been teaching lately? Better yet, have you been listening?

Post-Baby Core Recovery Plan

14 Oct

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

Every runner knows that to be fast, having a strong core is absolutely essential. Even though it is still a little early and yesterday’s doctor appointment shows that Baby Key is not “in the process” yet, I still want to have a plan for starting the process of regaining my core strength immediately after he is born.

Thanks to a little protein hormone called relaxin, in addition to my growing belly, my hips and pelvis have also widened. I am not terribly happy about that, but luckily there are ways to help get my body back on the road to recovery as soon as possible after the baby arrives. However, you can also use relaxin to your advantage. In the 6-8 weeks post-partum, your body is still producing this hormone, and here are certain products that, if used in this time frame, can help you “put your body back together” in a safe way.

Note: I am aware that some readers may feel that my methods could possibly be considered extreme or unnecessary, but please remember that this is MY body and this is MY plan. What works for me may or may not work for you. The use of these products is not purely for vanity reasons in wanting to “look” like my pre-pregnancy self, but more about regaining muscle control and feeling strong again.

COMPRESSION

Belly Bandit
Immediately after the baby is born, I plan to start wearing the Belly Bandit Bamboo. I have done a lot of research about this product and from what I can tell, it seems to be the softest and most comfortable abdominal binder. In addition to helping shrink the belly, waist, and hips, the Belly Bandit also supports the upper body while breastfeeding and gently persuades the abdominal muscles to move back together. It also stabilizes the pelvic floor and supports the spine. I plan to wear this all of the time, unless I am exercising or doing an activity that would cause me to sweat.

ShrinxHips
In concept, this is a similar product to the abdominal binder, except that it is for the hips. Stabilizing and returning pelvic joints to their pre-pregnancy position will allow me to get back to running sooner. In using the hip stabilizers, the goal is to help turn my hip sockets completely back forward in to the correct position (the legs-turned-out pregnancy waddle is not a myth, my friends!) so that returning to running is as easy as possible. Since it is a softer material, I plan to wear this during the day.

Hip Slimmer
Break out the big guns! See those laces? This contraption ain’t no joke. Conceptually, this product is similar to the ShrinxHips except that it seems to provide a bit more binding action. The reviews I have read about this product completely prepare me for this to be uncomfortable. However, the reviews also so that it really works. It seems that it is easiest to put when there are two sets of hands available, so I plan to wear this one at night.

Compression Tank
I have not completely decided on a brand or style for a compression tank, so for this, my options are still open. When I am able to return to light/moderate exercise, I will remove the Belly Bandit and wear a compression tank. This will give me a bit more flexibility in my core and allow my muscles to regain strength while still being supported. I have seen a few different styles that I like and am even considering one that I recently saw at Wal-Mart.

MomBodFitness FITsplint
I wrote a review of this product a while back but it can be used during pregnancy, as well as after. I will use this most during exercise in those first post-partum weeks.

EXERCISE

As soon as I am given the green light to move past light/moderate exercise and onto true core strengthening, here are some of the exercises I plan to squeeze in my day…you know, with all that free time that I will have having just had a baby and all. (I get points for being ambitious, yes?)

Plank-A-Day/Plank-An-Hour
I have a true love/hate relationship with core exercises but I know I need to do them. The #PlankADay plan (and then progressing on to the #PlanAnHour) is manageable and planks can be done anywhere. I really have no excuse not to do this.

Back and Side Hyperextensions
There is nothing in the world that removes the dreaded muffin-top faster than hyperextensions. A while back I worked with a running coach and he had me do these to strengthen my lower abs and back and I was AMAZED at how much stronger my body looked and felt. I will absolutely be incorporating this into my post-partum core recovery plan.

P90X Ab Ripper
Luckily, we already own the P90X system, so this will be a matter of popping in the DVD and committing the 15 minutes to the program. Personally, I think Tony Horton is incredibly corny but there is no doubt in my mind that his programs, when followed properly, WORK. Having done the P90X program before, I know that it is hard and intense and I fully expect to not be able to do half of the exercises on my first several attempts. But, I plan to keep working at it.

Yoga
Since I am a total amateur yogi, I plan on hitting up the free classes on Saturday mornings offered by my local lululemon athletica showroom. I figure that some yoga is better than no yoga and since they rotate teachers from different studios, maybe I will find one that I like.

So, there is the plan. It seems extensive, but I really think I can manage it. I know I have lofty goals and that all of these good intentions may go right out the window when I realize that breastfeeding, washing onesies, and getting some shut-eye are more important, but at least I have a plan.

What did YOU (or your spouse, partner, etc.) do post-partum to help strengthen your/her core again? If you are currently expecting, what is YOUR plan?

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