Tag Archives: breastfeeding

You Look Fantastic for Just Having a Kid

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…Thanks…?

PREFACE: I have thought about doing a post like this for some time, but always shyed away.  But, in the last week a few things triggered me to do this.  If you are looking at the title of this and are thinking one thing about what I’m about to say, either stop reading or maybe read all the way though.  And I’d also suggest holding comments until you’ve read the whole post….or maybe after reading it you’ll just keep your comments to yourself….

And now onto my post….

I’ll be honest-I am one of those mom’s who get the random comments about “how great you look for just having a kid.”  And I will say it now, that I do feel pretty damn great about how I look right now.

 I’m sure some of you are thinking “Andrea you arrogant bitch, why are you writing about this?”  But bear with me.  

The trouble with this comment is that it comes unsolicited from strangers.  I most recently had a mom say it to me yesterday at Andy’s swim lessons.  She was watching her two kids in the lessons, while the youngest sat on the side with her.  Yes, it was nice that she said this to me.  But what do I say in response?

If I say a simple “thanks” and walk onward, do I not look appreciative?  I am not the most exuberant person out there, so sometimes my responses seem cold.  Is she expecting me to unload about how I got myself to look like this?  What is my workout regime….do I follow a special diet….maybe I am one of those mom’s who can just bounce back to a good figure…

But what if Andy was my adopted son?  And I never was even pregnant with him?  Then really it’s a stranger commenting on a postpartum body when maybe it was never pregnant at all.  What would an adoptive mother do in a case like this?  Do they just lie and say “Thanks” or do they go on a whole story about how this isn’t actually their biological child.  Then the stranger is in for an earful and really they probably didn’t want to hear your whole life story.

You’re probably still thinking that I should just smile and say thanks and move on.  But really, it’s bothering me.

The whole fascination on postpartum bodies is a topic in itself.  But every body is different.  And for strangers to go up to new mom’s and make comments on their bodies, even if they are in heart “positive” is just a little invasive.

If a stranger comments to me about my body, do they really want to hear the whole story?

Here is the bullet-point timeline

  • Always felt awkward looking in grade school due to bad haircut and fro
  • Didn’t like that I was taller than most of the girls growing up (funny, I know…I’m 5’3)
  • Was on Pom Pon Squad and Track & Field in high school.  Naturally muscular and never “skinny”
  • Wanted to be “skinny”
  • Bad couple months in grade 12 where I dropped close to 15 pounds with the stupid goal to get under 100 pounds
  • Hit puberty late after high school probably because of my intense exercise all those years and the body issues.
  • Dad dies end of freshman year in college in 2004
  • College is a yo-yo of bad food and lots of drinking
  • Started running long distance, however, it was maybe one race a year
  • Graduated college and met Dan
  • Moved to a new Country less than a year later
  • Did the crazy ‘pre-wedding diet’ before our wedding in 2010
  • Started taking anxiety medication mainly related to the death of my father
  • Slowly gained weight after wedding and tried to figure out what I wanted to do for exercise
  • Started this blog in 2013 and signed up for a shitload of running events
  • Kept running in 2014 and realized if I put my focus on running I could get a whole lot faster
  • Tried to qualify for Boston Marathon twice in 2014.  Failed.
  • Tried to qualify for Boston Marathon once in 2015.  Success
  • Decided to wait to try to have a kid until after Boston Marathon
  • Ran Boston Marathon in 2016.  Yay!
  • Foot Surgery in June 2016.  Can’t run until August.
  • Start trying to have a kid in fall
  • Find out we are pregnant!
  • Have a miscarriage
  • Get pregnant six weeks later
  • Run four times a week for the first 37 weeks of my pregnancy until I can’t run due to elevated blood pressure.
  • Have Andy on October 19, 2017!!!
  • Cleared to run two weeks later
  • Sign up  for 2018 Berlin Marathon
  • First week of December have an emergency appendectomy.  Can’t run again until January
  • Would have to be going back to work if I was still a teacher in the USA. However, I have am fortunate to be taking a year off here in Canada
  • Slowly get back into running and going to various stroller/baby mama boot camps
  • Run my first half marathon postpartum in April 2018 (farthest distance I had ran since June 2016)
  • Keep going to boot camps and training for the Berlin Marathon all while using a running stroller
  • Proud of my postpartum body but realize that my body did not become this way overnight

So you may still be thinking I should just say “Thanks” and move on.  What the issue I have is that strangers really should be mindful of both pregnant women and mothers before making comments.  Really, people should be mindful of just people in general before they make comments.  Its one thing to make these seemingly innocent comments to close friends or family, but why do people find the need to say it to strangers?

A friend of mine posted an article that had to do with someone asking a new mother the question “Are you Breastfeeding?”  I can see now, as a mom, why this question can cross the line especially if a stranger asks.

IT IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!

Sure, maybe we are breastfeeding.  Great.  If I answer yes to you, are you going to say “Congratulations?”  Maybe I tried to breastfeed but my baby was born so early that my hormones were all jacked and my milk never came in.  Maybe we chose from the start to feed our baby formula.  Maybe we are choosing to exclusively pump, which by the way counts as breastfeeding.  But then maybe that stranger will look at your cluelessly to why you are doing that.

I recognize that a lot of the times these innocent comments from strangers are meant with the best of intentions.  I am fortunate that I did not receive a lot of unsolicited advice while I was pregnant, and really I haven’t had a lot of that postpartum either.  But I know of friends who have felt the “mom-shame” before and I can imagine it sucks.  While the title of this post does not particularly seeming ‘mom-shame worthy” it is still putting a mom in a weird situation that could just be avoided.

Being pregnant with Andy and now being a mom has taught me a lot.  But honestly, one of the main things is to just bite my tongue.  When you are around new mom’s in a “mom group” and you don’t necessarily agree with someone’s parenting technique…is it really worth arguing about?  Same thing goes with social media:  someone says something you don’t agree with, say, in the political arena.  I’ma math teacher, not a social teacher….I’m not a political science expert. I keep my mouth shut and don’t chime in my two cents. (I do possibly hide some people from my newsfeed just so I don’t have to keep seeing our opposing views)

So next time you feel the need to say something, anything, to a stranger (or even a close friend or family) take a second to think if it is really a necessary comment.  Are you saying it to just make yourself feel better?  Are you saying it to incite turmoil?  Why do you feel the need to say it at all?  While we may have been brought up with the ideal that if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say it…maybe even save some of those seemingly innocent “nice” comments or questions to yourself.  You never know what the whole story is about a person.  And if you ask, you may open up a whole new can of worms.

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Moonlight Run 10km 2018

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The annual Moonlight Run in Lethbridge was held on St. Patrick’s Day—March 17th, 2018.  This would be my 7th time participating in the event, having done 5 previous 10km distances and one 6km distance.  I have talked about this race at length in the past few years, so I won’t be going into as much detail about the event itself, but I do want to touch on the things that made it ‘unique’ this year…specifically 1) the weather 2) my postpartum race experience.

I’ll be doing a general recap of the race first, and then at the end I will touch on some specific things that came up as being a postpartum runner.  So if you don’t care about one of those things, skip to where you want to read and ignore the other!

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To put it frankly, this winter has been ugly.  We got our first snowfall on the night of October 1st, and I remember this because this was the day of my birthday and baby shower.   Just when you think winter is over, another dumping of snow comes….more ice, melting, snow, ice melting, grass, snow, snow..,..it hasn’t let up.  It has been nasty and cold.  And in the last week or more we got some bad drifting.  Well, everything started melting….and the river valley was so ugly that the organizers for Moonlight Run had to make some adjustments to the course route (more on that in a bit).  I went down the day before the race to check on one of the main paths….and the picture above shows the straightaway between Helen Schuler Nature Centre and Tollestrup.  When I took the photo Friday afternoon, I considered this to be great conditions…I knew what I had looked like at Marathon Club the week before!  By race night, it was even better.  Sure there was still spots with thick chunks of ice and a puddle here and there, but considering what our winter had been like, this was heaven.

Given the weather, I am not sure how many people really thought they would be setting personal bests at Moonlight.  Training this winter has been tough.  But, Dan and I both went into the race knowing we wanted to give it our best.  Dan has actually been legitimately training, running three times a week.  And I wanted to see what I could power out as my first big race since having Andy.  However, we obviously weren’t taking ourselves too seriously as we went to Sister’s Pub at 7pm the night of the race to share a beer….race started at 8 pm….

I knew I wanted to just try and power as much as I could during the race to really see what my body could handle at this point being 5 months postpartum.  Dan wanted to see if all his training really has made a difference.  When the race started, we both positioned our selves very near the front of the pack so we could have our space once the horn sounded.  Dan was immediately in front of me and it stayed that way the whole race (this would be the first race Dan beat his non-pregnant wife…him beating me while I was pregnant doesn’t count!)  The first mile of Moonlight is always great as we get to pass the bagpipe troupe and the Japanese drummers.  And it’s a fast mile as you are flying down 3rd ave to the river bottom, lovingly called the Wendy’s Hill (Wendy’s is at the top).  You can see in my splits later how fast that first mile went!

With the course adjustments due to the frozen and wet river bottom, we turned south on Indian Battle Road and headed on the asphalt to the water treatment plant.  We turned around there heading back on the same road, and once we got to the base of the hill we continued on Indian Battle Road to Helen Schuler Nature Centre, down the path to Highway 3, past the smell of the sewage plant, and turned around at Tollestrup.  This route was AWESOME as with the weather and conditions, if we had been on the normal route we would have encountered some very dangerous icy spots. With headlamps, road lights, volunteer flashlights and the bright moonlit sky I felt very safe and not concerned about falling and hurting myself.  Another change was that all the runners, both 6km and 10km, went back up the same hill to get to 3rd ave.  In previous years the 10km runners would head up on the adjacent trail (I found this part very mentally challenging).

While I did not stop to walk at all on the hill up, it was tougher than years’ past.  Obviously because I have just been getting back into hill work!  I made it up with help from the cheers of friends I passed who were spectating, and I pushed the final stretch back to the finish.  My best Moonlight Run 10km time is from 2015 (the year I qualified for Boston) and I ran a 43:47.  This year I finished with a 47:13.  I had not advertised to friends or family what my goal time for this race was, but I had written it down (along with my other goal times for races this year).  I had written a goal of 46-48 minutes for Moonlight.  So, falling right in the middle of that range is perfect and I am proud!  I am also extremely proud of my husband Dan, who did in fact run a personal best 10km with a time of 44:40.  Yes, he beat his wife….but I still have the best 10km time between the two of us (41:30 from 2015).

We were able to stick around for awards, as our friends were watching Andy while we attended the event.  Both Dan & I received age group awards.  Dan earned 2nd in the 30-34 male age group, where he placed 2/24.  He was 23/189 for men and 25/377 overall.  I snagged 3rd in the 30-34 female age group, placing 3/28.  I was 11/188 for women and 45/377 overall.  The pictures below show us before the race, the start/finish area, and us after the race together and with our friends Bob & Christine.

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So that was the race.  I felt pretty good during it, and after as we waited for awards I kept moving about so I didn’t tighten up.  I felt like it was a success and my body had held up.   Now, onto the postpartum issues.  So if you don’t care about this, stop reading now.

This isn’t actually a ‘gross’ issue that occurred, and it wasn’t something I really wasn’t preparing for.  Hopefully is there are other postpartum runners out there this can help them.  We left the race at around 10:15 pm and went to pickup Andy.  When we got home around 11pm, I sat down to pump (I am an exclusive pumper by choice).  I pumped for close to 30 minutes and got 275 ml—this is more than one regular sized Medela bottle.  Well, I had earned a post race beer by now so I went to grab one and go take a shower.  I immediately started having blurred vision and couldn’t really see clear out of my peripherals.  Ok, I must still be hyped from the race.  Got my contacts out, washed my face and jump in the hot shower.  When I was done with the shower my vision was still fucked.  I was feeling dizzy.  I went to the kitchen to get some food thinking maybe I din’t eat enough.  Strawberries….maybe my blood sugar was low?  I ate a couple handfuls and that seemed to help the vision.  But my head was starting to hurt.  I started pounding water.  I think it was too little too late.

While I had paid attention  to really hydrating myself during the daytime, I stopped my water intake about 2 hours prior to race start because to be honest, I was nervous about having to go to the bathroom while running.  And after the race, sure I had a bit of water (about as much as I would normally have after a race) but I didn’t take into account one major new issue—-I am now a milk truck.

The evening pumping session where I did not consume water did me in.  I was dehydrated.  And it hit hard.  I went to bed quickly and had water bedside.  When I got up with Andy in the middle of the night my headache was verging on migraine.  I drank more water and pumped again.  By morning, I needed Dan to get up with Andy at 7 while I slept another two hours.  My head was in so much pain.

I eventually got it under control by noon.  But, I learned one major lesson—I need to be drinking tons of water not only before the race, but after and ESPECIALLY during my next couple pumping sessions post race.  I had had the headache issue occur when I was running while pregnant, because I just simply wasn’t drinking enough water to adequately hydrate my body that was working overtime.  Even though I am no longer pregnant, my hormones are still in overdrive since I pumping about 6 times a day to feed our child.  And while I do pay attention to my water intake during a normal day, race days are different.

I am glad that this ‘problem’ occurred this race though.  It was better for me to realize the potential issues during a local 10km than have it happen during a destination race.  When we go to Disney World in a month and run the Star Wars 10km & half marathon I need to be taking in tons of water, not only because of the reasons I have now realized but because it’s going to be humid as hell down there.  To feel miserable one morning post race in my own bed is one thing…I don’t want to feel miserable post race while on vacation!  So, any breastfeeding or pumping momma’s out there who do any strenuous exercise…please make sure you hydrate more than you normal would if you do something beyond your normal daily activity.  If you are going to feed your baby close to after a big workout or race, have a water bottle handy and rehydrate yourself as your feed your little one….you start to become immune to realizing how much liquid you’re expelling from your body every time you feed or pump….and it’s important to rehydrate yourself so you don’t ‘go to the darkside’.

 

January

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Well. You thought I sucked at blogging while pregnant…it’s even worse now that Andy has arrived! It’s not even just not having free continuous moments to sit and type, it’s actually more of “what do I blog about?”

When I started this blog in 2013, it was about running, Disney and my dad. I was raising money for American Heart Assoication and Heart & Stroke Fiundation in memory of my dad, and preparing for my big race in January 2014-The RunDisney Dopey Challenge.

Fast forward five years since starting this blog and now my husband and I have a 3.5 month old. So does that mean I need to turn this into a mommy blog? Thing is, I don’t know what to write about or share, or even if anyone wants to listen to my input on “mom stuff.” When I was pregnant, I was very happy I didn’t get much, of any, unsolicited advice. So I am not sure if anyone really wants to hear my “advice” on motherhood. But really, I know I had trouble with my first blog posts back in 2013. What do I talk about? If I talk about running, do I just blog about my training? Treat this like a journal? And I guess that’s what this blog has become. I journaled my way through my Disney race training and then onto my Boston Marathon qualifying attempts, including the failures. Then onto Boston itself. I reflected on past vacations with my family, memories with my dad, our trip to Quebec City in search of more information about his family history. Then onto my foot surgery, my miscarriage, my pregnancy, my running while pregnant. The blog started as one thing, and now it’s transformed into just everything that makes me “me.”

So, since January had no races to report on, I think I’m just going to talk about the month itself. I’ll break it into two parts. Part 1 will be “Mom Stuff” and Part 2 will be “Running & etc”. And in some cases, there’s two parts will overlap.

Part 1-Diapers and Feeding and Sleeping, oh my!

So in my attempt to talk about mom stuff, I figure I’ll touch on the big three. Starting with diapers, I am by no means an expert or trying to push an agenda, but we have opted to use cloth diapers with Andy. But there’s a catch—we are only using them about 65% of the time. At night, Andy wears disposables. We also use disposables when we travel away from home, and for instance, I plan on ordering diapers to get delivered to our hotel when we go to Walt Disney World (Garden Grocer for the win!). They serve their purpose at that time as he can go longer stretches between changes. But during the day and early evening he is rocking the cloth.

Love the Flip diaper covers!

I’ve actually had people use the term “brave” when they hear we are doing cloth. Ummmmm, that’s not a word that should be tossed around lightly. And really, cloth diapers aren’t that scary! We bought a bidet sprayer to attach to the toilet and we have our change table set up in the bathroom next to it. It make its super convenient when changing Andy as we can then just spray off the cloth inserts and then put them in the wet bag. We have a variety of cloth diapers that we got second hand from a friend, but we really like the Flip diaper covers with the inserts. As long as Andy doesn’t leak onto the outer cover, you can use the cover a few times before putting it in the wet bag. We end up doing the wash every three days or so, and no our washer isn’t getting ruined!

Food. It’s an interesting topic, as I have never talked about my boobs to my husband more than I have in the past 3.5 months. We are still breastfeeding, and I’d say that I’m pumping about 95% of the time. This month was a bit stressful though, because I came down with a little bit of a sickness. While I was still pumping, I started to get lazy about it….I was doing less pumping sessions per day and my daily output dipped a bit lower. We still had backup bottles in the fridge so there was no major worry. Until a Sunday rolled around and I pumped only around 600 ml. I freaked out.

After talking with my lactation consultant friend, we devised a plan to get those numbers back up. Basically, I couldn’t be lazy that week. I did about 7-8 sessions a day with the pump and slowly the daily amounts got back up. The bottle lineup in the fridge is starting to grow again. But, I do have to say that my husband kept me as calm as he could during this. He kept reminding me that worse comes to worse, we have a freezer stash to dip into. We did use about five bags of frozen milk, but there are still sixty or so left. And once I feel confident enough in the fridge bottles, I’ll try to add a bag a day back to the freezer. And he also stressed to me that if we have to supplement with formula, it’s not the end of the world.

The most important baby thing is own!

I think that’s the biggest mom thing I want to talk about—formula is perfectly fine! The baby is getting fed, that’s what matters. Yes, the research concludes breast milk is best. The benefits to baby are fantastic. But new moms need to do what works for them. Want to exclusively breastfeed? You go girl. Want to pump a lot? I got your back! Want to use formula, or maybe you have to use formula? Totally cool. No one should judge parents for what choice they make in feeding their babies.

Now on to sleep. I feel like the most common small talk people make with my husband and I is “are you getting enough sleep?” Short answer is “yes.” This is why I chose to predominantly pump, because Dan and I can alternate bottle feedings in the middle of the night. Huge advantage!

Andy has been sleeping longer stretches at night, but not necessarily consistently. His longest stretch was a six hour one from 10pm-4am. Awesome! But then the little stinker still reverts back to three hour stretches at times. Mostly though, when he wakes up in the middle of the night, he takes care of business with his bottle and then falls asleep rather quick.

Andy is currently sleeping in his pack and play bassinet attachment which is located on the main floor of our house. Our bedroom is six steps away, and we have an audio monitor plugged in so we can hear him if the door is shut. We moved him down here shortly after Christmas because we needed better sleep ourselves! Having him out of our room, but still close by, allows whoever isn’t up to feed him to keep sleeping. When he was in our room we found that whoever’s turn it was with him stayed up quite a bit longer, as we needed to take him out of the cradle, then down to the main floor. Feed, burp, change, rock to sleep, bring back in room to cradle….and then sometimes he’d fuss a bit more and that would just wake the other person up. We will eventually move him up to his nursery, but we are mainly waiting for him to have consistent long stretches of sleep at night. Hopefully when I write about a February recap I can say we are transitioning him up there!

Part 2-Getting my Groove Back

I did start my training back up once January hit. I knew my appendectomy had been healed, and I was ready to go. I made a reasonable training calendar (all the way through May) that includes my boot camp classes and running workouts. Marathon club would be starting part way into the month, so I would have my long run on the weekend to look forward to. I also made some goals; some to do with running times and some to do with weight.

I know losing weight after baby has to probably be one of the top concerns many women have. I’m trying to be reasonable about the process, and I also recognize that the number on the scale doesn’t fully represent where you are at. I have always felt like the number on the scale for me was higher than I believe I look. Maybe it’s partly to do with muscle mass, maybe a little to do with my short stature. Regardless, I would be using the scale just to monitor where I’m at but what I would care more about is how I am fitting into my clothes.

To give you an idea of where I was at before pregnancy, I was around 135 pounds in the summer of 2016. This was after my foot surgery. When I am hardcore into marathon training, like when I did Vancouver and Boston, I’m usually in the low 130s. On February 26th 2017, about a month and a half post miscarriage, I was 142 pounds. I wrote his down in a journal because this was when I had a positive pregnancy test! I also wrote that my goal after pregnancy was to get back under 140 pounds.

I’m on the right track. I gained about 30 pounds while pregnant with Andy. The last I weighed myself while pregnant was at my 37 week appointment and I was 170 pounds. Andy was born at 38 weeks. By December, I had gotten down to 147 pounds. But then my appendix surgery occurred. I was worried what that next month would look like.

On January 2nd, I weighed 147.3 pounds. Not bad considering 1.) I couldn’t work out in December and 2.) it was the holidays! I wrote down a plan for the next two months. I would start my exercise/training plan and not change anything with my diet. I hate dieting. It’s stupid and it’s stressful. I just wanted to see what I could do with exercise alone. So my goal is that by March 1st I get down to 140 pounds. On February 1st, I weighed myself and was 143.1 pounds—down four pounds! Three to go!

Dan already told me not to beat myself up over if I don’t get those last three pounds off this month. My body composition is going to be changing all month long. As I keep working out, I’ll gain more muscle mass back. This will weigh more. But at least I’m on the right track.

Running is taking time too. Yes, I am running and doing the distances. But my paces are way off from what they were pre pregnancy. My first race of 2018 is the Moonlight Run 10km on St. Patrick’s Day. I’ve set a goal time for between 46-48 minutes. I am not sure if that is too lofty or just right. Only time will tell.

Well. That’s it for now. Not sure if I’ll have anything exciting to write about this month, but I may do a post in regards to my running as we get into more challenging marathon club routes.