Sunday, December 29, 2019

Guys! I finished a "training block"!!!

Stoke is high as the scenery in Sonoma County is pretty!
My new mantra 'how does time keep going by so fast'.

I don't really know where to begin on this. I've intentionally kept quiet about my athletic goals for 2020 partly because I'm not even sure if this is all real yet, and partly because I don't know if I'm ready to share. But either way, yes, I started 'training' again, in quotes because it feels so insignificant compared to what training looked like pre-baby. Although I know the biggest problem I'm going to have should I stick this thing out is downplaying my efforts and wanting to be the same athlete I was immediately, which just isn't possible or healthy. 

Good company on one of my 'training camp' rides!
The past four weeks coach had me complete a series of efforts a few days each week with 2-3 hour endurance rides on the weekend and lots of core work. I'm calling it a training block because it was a block of specific intervals designed to produce a specific physiological result.  To complete these workouts I rode my bike to school 2-3 days per week for the first 3 weeks (also the first three weeks I was back at school) and knocked out the work on the ride home. This was followed by a short mini solo training camp up here in Sonoma County this week where I did a bunch of 3 hour rides (the longest I can be away from baby before she needs to eat).

Here are some thoughts on returning to work/training while breastfeeding and owning a baby:

1) Holy heck do I get tired by the end of the week! I'm pretty lucky to have a baby that only wakes up once per night at 4 months old, but the physical demands of working, breastfeeding and training zap ALL my energy. On Wednesday two weeks ago while riding home post workout I was convinced I was going to black out because I was so shot. I thought about calling Brendan to rescue me the whole way into the canyon as my vision blurred. The second week of intervals I had to tell coach I couldn't ride both weekend days because I was just so dang tired on Saturday's ride that I was counting down the minutes until I could be done. That doesn't seem like a great mindset, if I'm so tired that I can't wait for a MOUNTAIN BIKE ride to be over I shouldn't be out there, I should be resting. So I think the greatest lesson I'm learning (let's be honest, I will never be done learning this) is that I have a finite amount of energy and I need to respect that. The good news is that winter break has afforded me a little more sleep and I feel great doing 3 hour rides, feeding the baby and NOT working. Thank goodness for this 2 week break from the grind!
Most days I get home from work and this is the first thing I do. 
2) Everyone has been saying to me 'you'll be fast sooner than you know' or something like that. It used to annoy me because I felt like there was a lot of pressure, like people expected me to be fast again right away and my body didn't agree. BUT over the last month with consistent riding I am starting to feel more and more like myself WAY faster than I expected. I'm not FAST, but I feel good, and that's almost more important. Hopefully the speed will come, no need to rush that.

NorCal views make every ride the best.
3) The mental aspect of doing intervals is just as easy to loose as physical fitness. The first couple sets of efforts were HARD mentally. My mind wandered and when I pushed hard but didn't feel like I was going anywhere it was so tempting to give up, WAY more so than before when I was used to doing hard workouts. It took a lot of grit to complete the first few workouts, and then slowly the mental focus started to come back just like my legs slowly started to respond to the efforts.

And lastly but most importantly I have the world's best husband and family a girl could possibly ask for. On Christmas eve we were driving to Brendan's parents house and I told Brendan all I wanted from him for Christmas was for him to be honest with me if it was too much, me training again and needing him to babysit when I'm on the bike. His response was that my dream is his dream, and that he is happy to accommodate my training which basically made me cry. On top of that no one has told me I'm being selfish or crazy trying to train again, and although I'm constantly worrying about those things, it helps so much to have the support of my parents, in-laws and friends. I'm still taking this thing one day at a time, and trying to be realistic about what I want to achieve, but no matter where this journey takes us, it's exciting to think about the opportunities and possibilities.

We have tons of exciting news coming Jan 3, I can't wait to share a little more about our 2020 season!
Baby's growing as fast as I'm getting stronger... I hope I'm getting stronger that fast :)

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

On Being an Athlete with a New Baby

We are 3 months in and I am FINALLY starting to get back into the swing of working out/finding motivation and routine. Along the way there have been starts and stops, questions of what I'm doing and why I'm doing it, and LOTS of flexibility on my part while I figure out when and for how long I can and should work out. I would still say I have no idea what I'm doing, but I've gotten great advice from friends, and have learned a few things along the way, so here is a short blurb about that.

My new normal :)
1) Recovery, it looks much different with a baby. The biggest impact having a baby has on my riding (other than needing a babysitter) is that my post ride recovery looks WAY different. After pretty much every ride, run or swim I come home to a baby who needs to eat, and my boobs need to be drained, so the first 30 minutes after I walk in the door is prioritized for that. This means I found myself many times in the last 3 months in a sweaty kit, on the couch stuck for 5-15 minutes or more, unable to fix a recovery shake or snack, sometimes even without a water bottle. When you walk in the door and your voice/presence reminds the baby that 'Hey, I'm hungry!' and she starts screaming there isn't much you can do besides pull your sportsbra up and feed that baby! BUT a few times I have walked in the house right after Brendan started feeding the baby previously pumped breastmilk and those were the best because I could grab a snack and water, and then sit with them and pump. I think if/as the training ramps up this is more ideal because taking care of my body is still important. Bonus is that this way the baby isn't getting a sweaty boob or salty milk.

Mountain biking is still the best!
2) Every workout takes twice as long as before because I have to drain the boobs before and then again after if I want to be out for more than an hour. This means budgeting time, planning when I wake up if I need to be back by a certain time etc is all a little more difficult. It's been SO worth it though to sacrifice a little sleep to also get a 3 hour ride on a few occasions. We bedshare, which means I can just slip the baby a boob in the early morning and she generally will just take a meal before I sneak out the door. I have also pumped my boobs empty pre-workout as well, if she is sleeping soundly and I don't want to wake her.

3) The lungs were the thing that held me back the most in the beginning. I totally thought my legs would be weak, and the  extra weight would be what bothered me the most, but it was the burning in my lungs!

4) My motivation and drive are so so different and it took me a long time to accept that this is ok. There are days when I just want to lay in bed looking at her face and the bike ride just doesn't happen. I'm at peace now with the idea of missing workouts and not nailing the perfect training plan, it's ok to be loose and kinda free about the whole thing. As I ride more and more the motivation is returning though, so I guess just forcing myself to do core three times a week and to get out on the bike/for a run is the key to reigniting the motivation, it builds on itself.

5) NOTHING is as great as riding a gnarly trail on your mountain bike after 6 months of very limited riding. It's like I'm seeing in color again :)

First bike commute down! 
6) I'm so super grateful for all the years of ultra endurance racing and training. I think hard things are less scary when you are used to doing them, and kitting up to commute to work at 5:30am today was one of those 'hard things' that didn't seem so daunting. Thank you to all the ultra races I did in the past, for making everything else seem so do-able!

So yeah, I'm not an expert and there is a lot I need to learn still, but things are coming around. I'm enjoying every step of the process, and spending time with my baby is still #1 priority, so no crazy long hard riding yet, but it's nice to be back on the bike and having an identity outside of human cafeteria :)

Hit me up with tips and tricks for being a new mom and athlete if you have any!!

Saturday, November 16, 2019

A tale of 4 tow trucks

On Halloween night, at 7:30pm just as the trick or treating traffic in our neighborhood started to die down, sweet cheeks and I shoved off on our first solo road trip in the van. The plan was to drive from Silverado to Santa Rosa in 2 days, 3 hours on the road Thursday evening would put us at a nice camping spot at Fort Tejon, and then just 5ish more on Friday would deliver us to Santa Rosa. Our objective was to see my brother, his wife and all 4 of their kiddos who were flying in from Texas on Friday and only staying for 4 days. Seeing how I really want Addy to have a relationship with her cousins, the timing was sorta critical. 

We rolled out of Silverado with a 'what can go wrong?' attitude. You know, just me, a 9 week old baby, a dog, 450 miles, and a 2003 Sprinter van, sounds like a solid plan.
Well we found out the answer to that little question about 2 hours into the drive, when the van wouldn't start after stopping at a gas station at the bottom of the grapevine. It was 9:30, I had stopped to feed Addy, and since fuel was reasonably priced I figured I would top off the half full tank at the same time (that actually saves my butt later). 

Tow truck #1
So I called Brendan and he took me through a list of things I could try to get the van started again, none of which worked. Around 10pm I called Farmers and they dispatched tow truck #1 to come get me. At this point we were foolishly optimistic it was the alternator, a problem that is pretty straight forward to fix. 
Around 11:40 the tow truck finally showed up. I've never needed roadside assistance before, so lesson 1 of the ordeal was that tow trucks take FOREVER to get to you if you go through insurance. 

We got towed to the Dodge dealer in Santa Clarita and slept there in the van. By that I mean Addy slept, because being over tired, and stressed about getting to Santa Rosa kept me up all night. 

At 7am when the dealer opened I explained to the service manager what happened and he took his sweet time getting around to looking at the van. Lesson 2, car dealerships have no sympathy for a lady stranded with a tiny baby. Waiting for a diagnosis at the dealer took FOREVER, and I was afraid to leave in case they wanted to explain what needed to be done. Thankfully Davey and the baby were really calm the whole time. Around 11am I asked if they could give me an idea of how much longer we would have to wait (all this time they brushed me off when I asked) and they said it was the fuel pump, and that they were trying to find a new one. Fortunately, a nice tow truck driver had been hanging out petting Davey and he offered to tow me somewhere else so I could get the work done that day. Brendan's favorite local Sprinter mechanic was 25 minutes away in San Fernando (I would have gone there the night before but it's in a really sketchy part of town) and he seemed to take pity on me/offered to look at the van and try to fix it even though he was supposed to go home at noon. So after all that waiting we were rushing to get the van onto tow truck #2 of the trip and we were off to San Fernando.

It was hot in Anatoli's waiting room, but Baby A didn't care. 
While Anatoli (Brendan's mechanic) looked at the van Baby A and I sat in his small, cramped 'waiting room' and watched cockroaches waltz across the floor. After realizing I hadn't eaten anything all day I used a gift card one of my way too nice co-workers gifted us when Addy was born and used Grubhub to get lunch delivered. 
Again baby A was an angel through all of this.

Eventually Anatoli came in and told me it was leaky fuel injectors and that he couldn’t finish the job because one was stuck and he wanted to go home (this was 2.5 hours after he was supposed to close for the day). He said I could drive to Santa Rosa if I just never turned the car off, OR if I bought starter fluid and sprayed that into a hose on the engine block to get started again. And since I REALLY wanted to see family I choose the don’t turn the van off ever option and jumped on the road.

Thankfully the drive from San Fernando that day was uneventful. I stopped three times, to feed Addy and once for coffee, and just left the van running (sorry environment!). I was crazy tired, and ate 4 apples in a row at one point to stay awake. But we made it to my sister’s house in Cotati (20 minutes from my parents) by 9:30pm and only missed out on half a day with the cousins!

Davey keeping Addy safe.
Fast forward a week, Brendan flew out and we were planning on driving into the Southern Sierras on our way home for a mountain biking adventure with friends. Thinking we would get the van proper fixed by Anatoli on our way home at the end of the weekend we hit the road Friday evening and slept at Harris Ranch, the halfway point to our destination.
The next morning, when we stopped for fuel just before heading into the wilderness the van died in a new way, while idling at the pump. At first we couldn’t get it started, called insurance to get it towed and were told it would cost a small fortune to tow from the middle of nowhere town we were in. We did a bunch of research to find a mechanic close enough for a reasonable towing fee, and eventually tried a few more times to get the van going. Thankfully Brendan is pretty smart and he got it started by not letting the revs drop below 1500. And we were on our way, this time to a mechanic in Salinas that our neighbor uses (it was the closest trusted mechanic who was also willing to look at the van that day).

We made it to Salinas just to wait for a few hours and then be told it was the low pressure fuel pump which they didn't have, and it would take a week to get one. After MORE research Brendan found a mobile mechanic in Santa Rosa, yes, where we had come from a day ago, who had the part and was willing to do the work.

Addy and I chilling in the van while Meth mechanic
looked at it with Brendan.
So again we struggled to get the van going, and then somehow managed to survive the congestion of the bay area while keeping the revs up, to arrive in Cotati at 7:30pm.
Mechanic #4 was a little crazy, maybe on meth, and in a spazy, possessed sort of way worked through replacing the low pressure fuel pump with Brendan. When the van still wouldn’t start they trouble shooted some more, until 12:30am when they came to the conclusion it was the high pressure pump, and meth mechanic said he needed to eat dinner.

Feeling foolishly optimistic on Sunday morning.

At this point starter fluid worked again to get the van running so we decided to drive home and have Brendan replace the part in our own driveway to save the cost of labor. I had been napping in the van bed with the baby while the boys worked on the van, so I felt rested enough to drive part way, getting us to the rest stop where I-5 meets the 580 at 2am Sunday morning. Yes, this means we crossed the Richmond bridge 3 times in 2 days.

In the morning we hit the road again, feeling confident we would make it home by mid-day, so much so that we were making plans: the first think I’m going to do when we get home is wash the baby… oh if it was only that easy.

Instead, you guessed it, the van died AGAIN, this time on I-5 while Brendan was cruising along at 75mph in the middle of nowhere about 65 miles north of Bakersfield.
I’m going to stop here to say that through all this ridiculousness somehow I was able to remain incredibly calm. Through the towing at midnight when I was alone, Anatoli’s cockroach infested waiting room, the night in meth mechanic’s yard with the boys trying over and over again to start the van, I was upset, but calm and collected. I’m not sure if it was for the baby’s well being, or I’m just different now, but it’s sorta surprising that all the stress, loss of sleep, uncertainty about the van didn’t break me. Even on the side of I-5 in 85 degree weather in a broken van, big rigs driving by within feet of us at 70 miles per hour, causing the van to sway as each truck passed, I was calm and relaxed. I sat on the bed with the baby and talked to her, fed her and watched her sleep. And she was an absolute angel again, not crying or fussing, probably not even really aware of how dangerous and stressful a situation we were in.

On I-5 in the middle of nowhere.
While she slept I did send out a plea for help to everyone I knew and on Insta, which was soon answered by the nicest most thoughtful friend in the world who offered to come rescue the baby and me. At that point it was around 3pm and I felt like I just needed to get the baby home. I couldn’t spend a week in Bakersfield waiting for the van to get fixed with a 10 week old and a dog.
Tow truck #3 was the nicest of the tow trucks I've been in haha
Tori to the rescue!!!!!
The van went on tow truck #3 around 4pm, after 2 hours of waiting. And around 5pm Tori met us at the mechanics to drive the baby and me home.

Brendan stayed in Bakersfield, wasn’t able to get the first mechanic to do the work, had the van towed AGAIN to the Mercedes dealer in town. After the new high pressure fuel pump didn’t work and just as they were about to install another $800 part Brendan suggested replacing a $14 seal (as suggested by some Sprinter Guru in South Carolina) and low and behold, that was what got the van working normally again.

We spent about $3,000 in parts and labor, saw 5 total mechanics, got towed 4 times, and drove about 1,000 miles in search of the answer and it turned out to be a $14 seal. Yep, that is our awesome #Vanlife life right now. Kicking ourselves for wasting so much time and money on a problem that could have been so cheap and easy to fix.

On the bright side the van works again, and I have had incredibly good luck driving that van ALL OVER the western half of the country, alone most of the time. We are so grateful to be home safe right now. And I’ll definitely think twice before going on another road trip with a little baby and a dog 😊

Monday, November 11, 2019

Dear Baby A,

One year ago I sat in a hospital bed wearing nothing but a pair of cycling shorts and sports bra. My legs didn't really work, and when I tried to move them using my hands it felt like I was getting stabbed with 100 steak knives. Only one doctor spoke English there, and he wasn't on duty, just nice enough to come in every few hours to check up on me and explain the situation. There was a NP who spoke a little English, but mostly I was helpless and alone. The day before I had been 'La Championa', they had cheered 'fuerte' at me and I had felt powerful, strong, proud. Now I was no one, with a dying cell phone (no way to communicate with loved ones in the US) and a broken body. It felt like the worst day of my life. I cried for maybe 5 of the 10 hours I was there before checking myself out without the doctors permission. I laid in that bed thinking about how I was giving up on my dream of wining La Ruta, of what this Rhabdo meant for my body, my career, and although I didn't really understand that I was dying at the time, it felt so hopeless.

Fast forward to today, November 4, 2019 I am writing a blog post while you nap. There is an infant car seat by the door and baby bottles have replaced cycling bottles in the sink. I blinked an eye and my life is dramatically different. It doesn't seem real sometimes, it's beyond my wildest dreams to wake up each morning and see your perfect being next to me. Because I almost died I got you. Because the heat stroke, dehydration, and rhabdomylosis I was forced to stay off the bike for 3 weeks, just long enough for my body to return to normal female functioning, just long enough to conceive you.

I feel lucky beyond explanation that life took this turn. After 10 hours in Hospital Max Peralta, the following two days of travel, uncertainty and pain, the weeks of waiting to recover, depression and despair, for all that to result in you is mind blowing. We didn't necessarily expect you, and it was certainly a surprise when we found out 3 months later that the lethargy and off-ness I experienced all through December was because you were growing in my womb. But it was the most beautiful surprise. Words cannot express how grateful I am, how incredibly lucky I feel every time I look at your face. I would do it all over again, I would push myself past the reasonable limit, give up on the dream, suffer from the agonizing pain, loneliness,and despair, to meet you. Thank you for turning one of the hardest days of my life into the most beautiful year. Thank you for teaching me that the suffering was worth it, and that there are more important things in life than bike racing. Thank you for making me a mother.

your biggest fan,

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Baby update #3 TWO Months?!? HOW?

During the first week post birth everyone told us the first 6 weeks is the hardest and at that point 6 weeks seemed like an eternity to me. Then I blinked and here we are 8 weeks into this baby thing. Lately I feel like time is FLYING and sometimes it feels like I was never even pregnant. And during those times I look at this perfect little human and wonder how I got so lucky to be holding this 'poop machine' (a term coined by the infamous Menso). But then I feel the crazy gap between my abs, or the baby grabs my extra tummy skin while breast feeding. The two main souvenirs I have from pregnancy make it easier to believe that my belly swelled up to the size of a watermelon this past summer and did in fact grow this human. 

Having friends at all stages helps to reflect on where we have been
and where this baby journey will take us :)
Owning a baby continues to fascinate us, but we are SLOWLY figuring stuff out, and falling into a nice little routine that still sees me happy to do nothing but clean the floor and stare into those sweet eyes most of the time. I know, who the heck am I? I did buy a Garmin watch this weekend (for full price, double who even am I!?!) to track my swimming, sleep, etc. and the damn thing yells at me to MOVE sometimes when I sit with the baby too long, and I want to yell back SHE'S SLEEPING! haha. 
And that brings me to the thing that's been on my mind most lately, which is identity. It's strange to talk to people about past Larissa, I was a professional mountain bike racer, I am a professional mountain bike racer? What even am I? It doesn't help that I don't know if I will race again, but is it black and white? I didn't retire, but I also don't get paid to ride my bike anymore... my desire to get out the door and exercise is increasing, but I'm more likely to go for a run or swim than jump on my bike, which is really strange to think about and even weirder to write down. To be fair, you get a much better workout running for 30 min than riding a bike for the same amount of time, and the gear involved is much simpler. And the swimming thing is intentional, it helps decompress my back after days of holding a 10 pound weight in my arms/scrunching over to look at her while she eats... Plus I believe swimming is strengthening my shoulders, arms, back and core, all of which I need as the baby gets heavier. But yeah, back to the point, Larissa the runner/swimmer is not really a bike racer right now, and that feels strange. And although I do feel it is healthy right now to focus on sweet cheeks and not get over ambitious about bike racing, the uncertainty about whether that chapter is over is nagging on the frayed edges of my mind. 

In any case, 2 months in and we are all still alive. Still working on the kitchen (slowly because you can only mix a tiny bit of mortar at a time when you know the nap could last anywhere from 30 min to 2 hours), spending time with friends and starting to forget about the guilt from not working. I only have one month left before I return to school, and I've been savoring every minute of every day and trying to see as many friends as possible before life gets crazy. Thursday the baby and I are driving north to visit my parents in Santa Rosa and to meet all her cousins! Wish us luck because we are doing the 8+ hour drive ALONE! 

We had a heat wave last week and even the coast was crazy hot. Too hot to take Baby A out in the direct sun to put her toes in the water :(

Friday, October 18, 2019

On Maternity Leave

I would like to start by asking these people who say 'the days are long but the years are short' if I could please please have some of the time from their long days, because holy heck could I use about 12 more hours a day! These days are FLYING BY, which is terrifying!

Which brings me to maternity leave, another strange beast I have been wrapping my mind around since having the baby. To most people the concept is probably pretty clear. Have baby, recover, get the hang of how to keep baby alive... go back to work. But it feels SO much more complicated to me.

Most our afternoons are spent like this.
First off yes, I get that the whole point is to bond with the baby, and yes I do spend hours every day just laying on the couch with her on my chest talking, singing, coo-ing with her. Along with changing 10 diapers a day, being a human cafeteria, tackling the daily laundry (yes, from just one small human but I blame cloth diapers) all of which adds up to the majority of the hours in the day.

BUT first off I feel SO freaking lazy just laying on the couch with a baby on my chest when I know my co-workers are in the trenches teaching the kiddos how to solve multi step inequalities. Yes yes, I know I am doing 'work' by engaging and bonding' with the baby, but it doesn't feel like work, it feels like the weekend every single day! And I think this idea is compounded by the fact that I went to all of ONE day of work after 3 months of summer before going on leave so I feel like I haven't worked in years. I know I shouldn't feel guilty, and that teaching algebra shouldn't be on my mind right now, I just can't help it, so yeah.

no. more. bump :(
Second I realize that part of maternity leave is to learn how to function as a new family unit of 3, and part of that means learning how to take care of myself with the demands of a screaming newborn ever present. But it feels SO DANG STRANGE to go lap swimming at 8am on a Thursday while again I know the rest of the productive world is at work. This is another point where our unique situation makes things different than normal because Brendan is working from home part time, so I can leave him with Baby A for a few hours to go work out on any given day. Don't get me wrong, I secretly love it, is this what it feels like to be crazy wealthy and not have to work??? but it also feels strange.

All I could get done during one nap, but hey, it's
more than nothing!!! 
And the other weird part of this period of 3 months where I am staying home from work is that we have a TON of construction/work we still need to do on the house and I face this constant battle about it in my mind. I KNOW resting and all that jazz is what I'm supposed to be doing, but I have these 2 hour chunks of free time when the baby naps and suddenly it seems like I need to be tiling the kitchen backslash! I do realize that I was born with an extra serving of ambition, and that I need to work on calming down and resting, but this free time seems like such a great opportunity to get all this work done! And resting feels like such a waste of time haha. But really it's a struggle, a HUGE struggle for me to nap and to understand that napping is actually the healthiest thing I can be doing. It's especially hard when the weather in SoCal in fall is out of control beautiful and there is also a huge part of me that wants to be outside moving my body every free second. So yeah, I am fighting a battle every second of the day between wanting to work, work out, and knowing I should be resting.

Balance, life is all about finding balance and I think this will always be a struggle for me. The things I'm trying to juggle will change, but understanding what's important and budgeting my time appropriately will always be something I am working on.

The good news is that I am more and more in love with this nugget every day. And although I felt odd installing a car seat and washing baby clothes before Addy was born, somehow being a mother feels so dang natural. Like doing the laundry, getting spit up on, changing diapers... it all feels so magically perfect. I may not be going on 8 hour adventure rides with Carl every weekend this fall but I am somehow blissfully happy doing the same thing every day because I get to stare at this perfect face. It feels like a dream that suddenly we have a baby, and I will never take a second of this miracle for granted.
Also we do stuff like decorate for holidays now, haha. Being a parent is rad so far :)

PS. This was written one handed because baby A is resting in my left arm. Gotta keep this bean as close to me as I can until I go back to work.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Things I wish I knew, but could only learn through experience...

SO many women I know have announced that they are pregnant lately and I have to say it's pretty freaking exciting to me. We are 6 weeks into this new life and I still think it's absolutely the best thing ever, even with the accumulated lack of sleep, the number of dirty diapers I've changed (along with two huge blowouts in a row on Sunday) and the hours of baby screaming. I still can't handle her cuteness when I hold her, when she falls asleep in my arms or on my chest, when I look at her peaceful face when she is nursing, and especially now when she coos to communicate with us.

Now that we are 6 weeks in and I have some experience, and it's still fresh, I feel like I want to share/record my thoughts on some things that may help other new moms (or me next time if there is a next time).

Embracing the 'lazy' recovery life, when it's important
to just slow down and smell the roses/take advantage
of a bit of alone time every day. 
I think the most important thing that I learned/am learning is to just trust your instincts. I never thought I would HAVE instincts, but turns out I do, and no matter how many books or internet articles I read it seems like my instincts are pretty damn good and I end up doing what I instinctively wanted to do when it comes to things like sleep, feeding... For example, the hospital sends you home with tons of info about how dangerous SIDS is, think every other paper in the folder of paperwork, and it claims that sleeping with the baby in your bed = instant SIDS death. Well it turns out that they just want to cover their arses in case an alcoholic, chain smoker shares their bed with baby and rolls over on it. I am neither an alcoholic, nor a chain smoker, and it turns out that my baby is a very low risk baby for SIDS, so my instinct to sleep with the baby in the bed (let's be honest it's also because that's the only place she WOULD sleep during certain hours of the night) were FINE. But that doesn't mean I didn't spend the first two weeks feeling super guilty each time I brought her to bed with me at 2am, and that I didn't hide my bedsharing behavior from the pediatrician/my doctor. Anyway, the more different books I read the more I realized baby A isn't high risk and the better I felt about it, and now I'm actually kinda upset that I didn't embrace bedsharing from the beginning because those first two weeks were incredibly sweet, and the guilt/shame kinda put a damper on my enjoyment.

And that brings us to the second most important thing I wish I had known, preparing for labor is all fine and good, but that's just one day that goes by so fast, what I SHOULD have been preparing for was what to do with this tiny human AFTER labor. It took me a few weeks to start reading about sleep and soothing techniques... and I really really wish I had done that before because I could have avoided all that shame about the bedsharing if I had read Sweet Sleep BEFORE birth. My Midwife even admitted to me that they feel in their office that they don't do a great job preparing women for postpardum, so all you preggo mamas listen up, take the time to think about life AFTER birth now, not just labor. I think this includes talking to lots of moms about what it will be like for the first two weeks, because you will most likely be alone (with your partner) and not know what is normal, and no amount of internet can help you understand that what you are going through mentally is normal, or prepare you for what it will be like. For example, you DON'T want visitors during the first week, or at least I didn't. No one told me this, and I guess I just got lucky that people stayed away, but I was walking around the house in nothing but a nursing bra and disposable hospital undies for a solid 5 days after birth, and there's a good chance you will too.

And along with no visitors for the first week I would HIGHLY recommend being as 'lazy' as possible for the first two weeks! I felt guilty just laying on the couch so I was up trying to do construction and laundry and whatnot after like 3 days, and my biggest regret is that I didn't just lay on the couch all day every day snuggling the baby and watching her sleep. I did watch her sleep some, but I wish I had committed to just 100% nothing but baby. I wish I had embraced the stitches in my nether-region and demanded to be waited on hand and foot by Brendo, but instead I acted tough and pretended to be fine and I can't go back and have that two weeks back now haha, the dark side of being good at tolerating pain and being stubborn/prideful.
My awesome parents came last week and offered
to hold the baby all the time which was HEAVEN!

Another thing, DO NOT feel guilty if someone comes over and offers to let you nap, just do it, even if it means just closing your eyes in bed with no baby for 20 minutes. Them offering to hold the baby is probably the greatest gift, better than any adorable newborn outfit, so if you know someone who is expecting consider gifting mama a nap or two over another outfit the kid will never wear because they outgrow that newborn stuff so fast. But really seriously think about who is going to cook and visit and plan that stuff out a little before, because having people come cook for you, or hold the baby after day 5, when you stop running around almost naked, is heaven, don't ever turn down offers for that help/love.

And mostly it just takes time and experiences to build your know how. You can prepare as much as possible but it's still going to be like 99% figure stuff out as you go, and that's fine. I'm talking everything, from how to change diapers, how to soothe YOUR particular baby and how to nurse to how to cope with your recovering body and how to deal with a husband who is still learning that you are a hostage every time the baby eats, and he needs to be sympathetic to that, and offer you snacks and water rather than just going about his bachelor style life of eating cereal in bed, next to you when you are starving, but stuck waiting for the nugget to finish eating... sorry, kinda got carried away :)

Feeling like zombies most days, but hey, we
figured out that she sleeps in the carrier, so that's
something, haha
But yeah, it feels like most of what I was told and read kinda went in one ear and out the other, and no matter how many times people told me stuff, nothing really clicked until I was holding this kid, and figuring stuff out in real time. So enjoy every minute and don't stress, everything works itself out, for the most part. I feel like people told me this stuff and I didn't really 'get it' until now, but I want to tell all the mamas to be this same stuff, and maybe it will help one person, or me in the future if there is a #2 (which I secretly really want now).

Off to try and get some stuff done while the nugget sleeps like an angel :) Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

On cycling and Exercise and all the things

Pretty much walking the dog is all the exercise I get
on a daily basis right now.
Having a baby feels a little bit like a re-birth. I'm sure it's totally normal, but it feels like I now had 'life before pregnancy' and 'life after the baby was born'. I compare everything, like how much I weigh, how much sleep we got/get, who I am as a person, what I was/am interested in and of course how much I exercised/exercise. And that last little bit is on my mind more and more as the days post birth add up, two weeks, a month... and I start to wonder if and HOW I will exercise now that we have a baby, and what it will look like. Add to that the constant question in the back of my mind, will I race my bike ever again and it's quite an interesting time in my life. I'm not complaining/upset at all about this situation, just there is so much going on in our life and my mind and I want to make sense of it through writing as well as record what I'm feeling so I can go back and read this in the future and laugh about how critical these things seemed once upon a time :)

So here's the thing, when Addy was born I had no expectations about exercise and training. I figured I would play it by ear and jump back in when it felt right. The hard thing is that we are approaching 6 weeks and not only am I not back to working out on a regular basis, but I feel so conflicted about how I spend my time that I'm not sure I ever will be back to working out. Every day I think about going for a ride, knocking out a short run, doing yoga in the living room, and every day it feels like today just isn't the day. I have ridden my bike twice since the baby was born, and it felt amazing (more on that in a sec) but the baby only naps alone for 3 hours each morning, so scheduling an hour bike ride a few times a week is hard when I feel like every nap should be spent working on the kitchen or cleaning. I feel selfish running off in the afternoon on any given day, leaving Brendan to take care of the bebe when he is likely doing work for his contracting job, and on top of all that I know maternity leave and baby bonding leave is supposed to be spent doing just that, bonding with the baby. On the other hand I do complete 80-85% of the diaper changes and 95% of the feedings, plus I do all the laundry, dishes, cleaning... so I do deserve to take some me time every day, but I find myself the same physical human with a crazyily different brain, a person who suddenly loves vacuuming and laundry, and who has a hard time being still/selfish (I'm not trying to sound like a saint, there is a HUGE component of control freak going on), for example when I'm holding the baby Brendan has no problem reading reddit/taking a nap/researching a new mouse for his computer, but as soon as I hand him the kid I feel compelled to fold laundry, quickly unload the dishwasher, do any chore because I almost feel guilty that he has to take care of the baby, so I should work too. I'm sure that's not a healthy attitude, but it's probably pretty normal as well. And on top of all that, when there does seem to be a window of free time I could kit up I feel compelled to or guilty that I should be staring at our daughter, holding her against my chest, bonding with and savoring every second with her. All that to say I don't see a time when I can commit an hour to yoga/running/riding each day in the near future. And the extra scary thing is I'm kinda ok with that. Even as I write this it seems more and more ok that my priority is chilling with the babe, there is just this pressure/stress in my mind that if I don't start working out soon I never will, and I will loose any hope of ever being an athlete again. An interesting time in my life for sure.
First bike ride feels. 

The two times I did ride my bike were absolutely fantastic though! And the whole time, each hour and fifteen minutes of pedaling was glorious feeling. Think cheeks hurting from smiling, stuff dreams are made of feeling. I think the wind in your face freedom of cycling is amplified when you haven't done it in 3 months. I did think on that ride about all the QOMs I've lost while I was preggo and not riding, and I thought about how I may never be fast enough to get them back. I thought about how I have now lost every title I held, like defending Leadville champion, but somehow it feels liberating to be taken back to the beginning (like no fitness whatsoever haha). I decided on the first of those rides that for now I don't care about power or distance or speed, I am QOH hunting. QOH standing for Queen of Happiness. I'm not going to be fast for a long long time, but I can enjoy every freaking second of each ride I sneak in, and that's what's important. I guess cycling is now just as much a workout for my body as it is an act of mental health for my mind.

So while I currently don't see what my future holds, while I can't imagine when I will start training or how, I will be living this strange awesome new post baby life. Who knows what post baby me will accomplish, for now I'm just happy if it includes keeping this kid alive and not killing my husband in the process :)
Bike ride #2 with Tori = all the smiles. 

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Baby Update #2 ONE MONTH OLD!!!

HOW on earth is this little baby a month old already?!?! I want to reverse time EVERY DAMN DAY to go back 4 weeks and start over from the golden skin to skin hour, so we can relive every moment we have spent with her so far. I know there is a lot to look forward to, but the first 4 weeks have been so incredible and sweet that I just want to stay in the newborn phase for a while longer.

These are not the thigh rolls of a newborn...
or are they? haha
While sweet cheeks is 4 weeks old, she doesn't look like a newborn to me anymore. And to be honest I don't even really know the definition of newborn, is it the first 2 weeks? first 6 weeks? When is she no longer a newborn? Guess we have something else to google search. Speaking of, I cannot imagine having a baby without Google. I know it's a little risky turning to the internet to answer questions, BUT it's so easy to just ask my phone what newborn diarrhea looks like when I get worried and to just look at 100 pictures of 'normal' newborn poop which reassures me that no, my baby does not have diarrhea. What did my mother do when she was worried about the development of her babies, the color of their poop, how to wash reusable diapers...?

We continue to learn a lot on a daily basis, including the following:

Having a baby has the effect of dredging out the depths of your patience well to an almost infinite depth. No matter how many hours I spend awake at night I am never frustrated, pissed, angry, it's just a thing you do and somehow no matter how tired I am I still feel tenderness and love towards the sleep terrorist at all hours of the night! It's blowing my mind that I am capable of walking laps to keep her from screaming for HOURS every night like it's just a normal thing we do now haha.

Being a mom means you CANNOT sleep through even the tiniest little baby noises. It's so weird because I was a crazy deep sleeper, and now she grunts and I'm wide awake. This is especially fun from 4-6am when she lays in our bed grunting every 2 minutes (I think she is pushing out poops) which is JUST frequent enough so that I start to fall asleep and then, grunt, I'm wide awake again. A friend asked 'why don't you just go sleep in another room?' and yes, that is the obvious answer, but for now I can't pry myself away from the sweet little nugget dozing in our bed, so I endure the 2 extra hours of missed sleep to not miss a minute of her in this stage.

Having a baby is crazy bad for the environment, or maybe it's just us, but if you use disposable diapers, that baby is going to poop the second you put a freshie under her (another thing we've learned, babies love peeing and pooping as soon as cold air hits their tush), so many diaper changes end up wasting 2 or 3 diapers. We did not invest in newborn reusable diapers since she will grow out of them so fast, but the 5 we have are not enough to last a whole day, so we use 50% disposable and the guilt about my contributing to the landfill, it's crushing my soul. Soon we will be in all cloth diapers though, so then it will be running the washer every day that causes my guilt. I also admit that I have turned the vacuum on and left the room a few time because that's the only way to get her to sleep alone so I can get stuff done in the morning... so yes, we use more electricity now too.

pumping in the van like everyone does this, right??
#vanlife mom status
Breastfeeding in public is much less awkward for me than it probably should be, haha. The first time we went out to eat with Baby A and Brendan's parents and she cried out of hunger I just whipped out the boob and bam, she was snacking away. I talk to people who seem afraid or ashamed to breastfeed in public and then I think, hmmm, maybe I should dial back the public nudity a bit and try to be just a little discrete haha. But really this little bean has been pretty easy. We go out to the dog park, and Home Depot and if she cries I feed her, if she has a dirty diaper I change it whenever and where-ever and it's been pretty low stress so far. I even pumped breast milk in the van the other day while driving to the tile store on a hot date with Brendo while Taryn Watched the bean.

Speaking of Taryn, that's another thing I've learned big time. We have the best friends and family in the world. Taryn came to CA this week and held the baby for me, cooked us so many incredible meals, and helped with the laundry, painting, diaper changes etc and it was HEAVEN! If you know someone with a newborn go hang out with them and just insist on holding the kid, it was heaven! I love this baby, but to be able to get stuff done for more than 10 minutes at a time was incredible. I did have to let go of some pride/guilt though because it's surprisingly humbling to have someone in your house just volunteering to fold your laundry, cook you food, wash your dishes, esp if you are sitting on the couch or napping. BUT so freaking heavenly too. I now know that going over to a new mom's house and insisting on holding the baby is a much better gift than any adorable newborn outfit.

And I think I mentioned this in the last post but I've learned in a big way that just sitting with the baby, laying in bed for an extra 20 minutes with her, watching her sleep, is just as valuable and productive as painting the walls, installing tile etc. I'm still struggling with the remodel and wanting to do physical work all the time, but I'm letting go of the feeling of accomplishment from those concrete tasks and enjoying being still a little more. I can't complain about her growing up too fast if I don't spend a few hours a day watching her sleep :)

On that note Brendan and baby just woke up so I'm off to stare at an adorable face for a while. Happy weekend everyone!

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Life Lately: Baby Update #1

So I’ve been working on writing a birth story, as a few people have mentioned that they can’t wait to read how the two time winner of the Leadville 100 mtb race needed an epidural because labor was too much (don’t worry, I am laughing at this, not beating myself or anyone else up for needing pain meds) but as expected, that’s kinda a hard story to tell. Is it too long? Am I including too many gross details?! You know, the editing is real on this one.

BUT I figured since I have about 3.5 minutes of free time right now as the sweet sleep terrorist in our lives naps, I would jot down some thoughts about the last 3 weeks of life with a new baby.
First of all, holy wow is having offspring crazy! Just looking at that little face and thinking about how I basically did NOTHING consciously and this little person grew inside me is mind blowing. And then add the layer that she is a mix of both Brendan and my genetics is beyond fascinating. Will she end up spazy and overactive like her mom?! Or calm and calculated like her dad?? And the way I feel about her is the craziest, like no matter how many times she screams bloody murder in the night for hours I still really freaking love this little bundle of flesh that treats me like a walking cafeteria. She doesn’t even flipping smile yet (is she even mine?!) and I still feel so ridiculously connected and close to her.

The first two full weeks felt pretty easy, and I walked around all day thinking I had gotten lucky/like a slacker for getting all this time off work to just hang out. BUT week three was a doozy. SOMEONE has started voicing her opinion in a very loud manner, and has decided that night time is for crying and day time is for sleep. Not sure why it took two weeks for the screaming to start, but man do I miss that first blissful, quiet week when all I had to do was hold her to calm her down. Now we are knee deep in books about sleep, trying everything under the sun to get her to not cry from 1-4am, and figuring out the co-sleeping, attachment parenting stuff we should have prob read about BEFORE the baby was born (but we were busy reading 100 books about labor back then, so you know). Like I said earlier though, somehow no matter how little sleep I’ve gotten, I still just love the snot out of that little bebe.

We have made SOME progress :)
And all this lack of sleep is really taking its toll on the kitchen remodel progress. Also the fact that I start a project and like clockwork she wakes from a nap and suddenly I have a tray full of paint, haven’t even started painting but have to clean up really quickly because sweet cheeks has decided it’s meal time. The good news is that we have a working oven, dishwasher, sink, stove and microwave! And best of all a new fridge!!! Our old fridge decided to conveniently die one week after we welcomed the third member of our family into our lives, which was quite stressful, especially considering it was 105 degrees every day that week. Thankfully I have the worlds best co-workers who planned a meal train and brought us quite a few delicious dinners that week. I am dying inside with gratitude/not really understanding how to express my thanks in a way that appropriately conveys how meaningful all those incredible meals were to us.

The most delicious lasagna I have ever eaten thanks to my co-worker and friend Leigha. Seriously, just look at that lasagna, it's so freaking beautiful!
Social Media: I feel strange about this still. Yes I did post a picture of sweet baby A in the hospital with me, but beyond that I haven’t really put any pictures of her face online. I feel torn that she hasn’t given me consent to blast photos of her all over the internet for the world to see, I don’t know how she will feel about it in the future. I mean maybe she will wonder one day if I actually loved her because there aren’t hundreds of adorable Addy pictures on my Facebook page or blog. But if she isn’t pleased I can’t really undo having posted pictures… so yeah, if you want to see her email me or come visit us 😊

We are also trying to figure out this baby wearing thing,
you know, to make walking easier. 
About my desire to exercise vs be productive vs be with baby…finding balance lately has been especially hard. I still have an intense inner drive to get things done but then I’m incredibly torn between just staring at my baby’s face for hours knowing she will grow up so fast and I can’t get this time back. BUT the construction mess makes me feel unsettled and I’m stressed about having company in our unfinished house with power tools strewn about and piles of random screws and things covering the dining room table… BUT this time is supposed to be for bonding with Sweet Cheeks and resting… it’s quite the struggle. And I WANT to exercise every day, last week I was sneaking out of the house at 7am to jog with the dog each morning (all of 1-2 miles at a time) however I learned this week that sacrificing sleep in the morning when the baby reliably naps is not a great idea. Cue mini mental breakdown and epic fight with Brendan (more on that later because I think how our relationship is evolving is fascinating) most likely caused by my impaired cognitive function from the lack of sleep. Yeah, we are on a steep learning curve over here. So exercise is taking a back seat to construction and baby watching, and I’m pretty ok with it. Soon I can put the bebe into a stroller and jog WHILE looking at her face… soon 😊
We did sneak out for a nice walk in the park yesterday. I have a feeling this stroller is going to be an off road vehicle very soon!

And that leads me to the last thing, some stuff I’ve learned since the birth, stuff they don’t cover in those books and internet articles (at least the ones I’ve read). I’ve learned a lot about myself as a new mother, for instance, I honestly don’t mind being covered in breastmilk and spit up all the time. It’s a losing battle to keep changing my clothes, so after a certain point the spit up started drying on my shirt and the leaked breastmilk did the same, and you know what, it doesn’t really bother you when you are sleep deprived and in love with the little nugget who is constantly vomiting on you. We learned the hard way that we DO NOT in fact have an easy baby like we thought during weeks 1&2 because… week 3. The first two weeks are the golden honeymoon weeks, when all you have to do is pick up a crying baby and hold them close and the crying stops, because all they really want is to be back in the womb but your arms are a close second. But in week 3 it seems our sleep terrorist discovered that she wants/needs more than just cuddling, and suddenly I am on the struggle bus big time to get the screaming to stop from 1-4am. We’ve learned a lot more I promise, but this has taken a whole week to write because I only get 5 minutes here and there and I’m a slow writer, and I really need to go knock out some construction while bebe sleeps right now. BUT I do have so much more to say, so HOPEFULLY there will be more blogs soon. I want to record all the weird, gross, wonderful things we experience as new parents mostly so this kiddo can come back and read this stuff when she’s older (and hopefully not be weirded out by her strange mom). Wish us luck! 😊

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Home Stretch and Bad Decisions

We are T- 2 weeks until the due date and completely without a kitchen. Yep, you read that right, we took the nesting instinct a little too far and ripped out our entire functioning kitchen to remodel it last week.
Before pic from Aug 6
Not sure if this counts as the worst idea ever, or the best thing we could do before bringing a pure, sweet new life into our house.

Reasons this may be a terrible idea:

1) Like every project on our house this is a much bigger job than we anticipated. We tore out the old floor, cabinets and counter top to find wiring issues, black mold, and an incredibly un-level floor. So yeah, what I though was a two week project is probably going to be more like a 3-5 week job.

2) I am becoming less and less useful every passing day. Well, actually that's kinda not true, I'm super helpful one day and then basically useless the next because I tend to over do it and then need to recover. It's been really frustrating though because I want to pull my weight, to contribute as much as possible to the manual labor involved in remodeling a kitchen DIY style, but I can't.
Current state of kitchen, yikes!

Reasons this is the best thing we could do right now:
1) The amount of rat poop and nest like material we found under the old cabinets was shocking. I knew there were rats, but it's so gross to face a decade worth of excrement with the naked eye. I am so so so glad we are cleaning this nasty nasty situation before bringing a baby home to live in this house. It feels disgusting that we have been living here for 8 years with all that poop in the kitchen. It smelled so bad when we tore out the cabinets that I couldn't even go into the kitchen without getting sick. So yeah, the kitchen will be clean, finally actually clean and I'm very happy about that.

Other things happening in week 37.5 of pregnancy are that I lost my title as the defending Leadville champ this past weekend. I have to say that of all people to win the 2019 Leadville 100mtb though, it was kinda meaningful to me that it was Rose Grant who crossed the line first on Saturday. Rose has been racing and a mother as long as I have known her (fun fact: I actually met her between practice runs and finals of the Super D at Missoula back when they had that. Rose was nursing her infant and I thought she was a wacko. Like, who does that? and also wouldn't the hormones and stuff like testosterone from intense racing get into the breast milk? and WOW, that woman is kinda awesome to be racing as a pro AND nursing a baby!) and she balances the demands of being a mother and bike racer so well. She is a testament to the idea that women are amazing and capable, and I am so inspired by her. I've also spent time with her and her daughter Layla between races and I've seen the patient mother she is, with high expectations but also an abundance of grace and love. I'm just so impressed. So yeah, seeing Rose win was pretty dang cool.
Rose hugging her daughter after winning the Leadville 100 mtb. 

Last week I recorded a podcast with my awesome neighbor Val over at SheShreds and I'm excited that it's going to be on mountain bike radio really soon! It meant a lot to me that Val asked me to be on her podcast because I am vain haha, but also because like I've mentioned before it's easy to feel irrelevant when you go from international pro mountain bike racer with a seemingly interesting life to knocked up and home all the time. I hate that I kinda fell into the same pattern I've witnessed of other pro females, of dropping off the map in the sense that I pulled way back on social media and stuff because I felt uninteresting. I wish more women I can relate to were sharing their stories about pregnancy and childbirth etc and I did the same thing my idols did, just stop posting and sharing. So thanks Val, for taking the time to talk to me, and hopefully you will find the podcast interesting, funny, or useful. I'll share a link on FB and Insta when it's live.
Hiking in Big Sur was hard but worth it!!

And a quick pregnancy update: Still feeling really good most of the time. My right arm has been falling asleep every night now for the past 5 nights and that makes it hard to sleep. We are talking crazy super painful falling asleep, and no position I've found allows my arm to regain feeling/reduces the pain. The midwife says it's due to swelling and no amount of drinking water, eating salt etc will help, so that's fun and also not something I ever expected. BUT I'm still swimming 2 miles at a time a few times a week, I hiked in Big Sur with Meryl this weekend and as long as I don't go bonkers 2 days in a row I'm super lucky to be feeling good and to have the ability to do the things I love. Don't worry, I don't take a second of this for granted, I know pregnancy affects everyone differently and I know how fortunate I am to feel so great.

So yeah, we are taking a little break from the manual labor, because breaks are really helpful when you are crazy preggo and have been on your feet all day and start having contractions haha. Gotta keep the baby inside, Brendan says that's my most important job. Wish us luck with this mega fast kitchen remodel!
You know you've lost your mind when you are operating a jackhammer at 37 weeks pregnant.