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. 

Monday, July 29, 2019

Week 35!!

Morning snugs with the fur child
Every morning since we got back from vacation I have woken up in a strange state of confusion. Seriously, like what a strange place we are in, in life. Each morning is the same progression of: where am I, why am I not living in the van racing bikes? Wait, I'm pregnant, right? Holy crap, I'm super pregnant, my belly is HUGE! OMG how lucky are we that we are going to have a baby. 
No joke, every morning. It's pretty rad.
It took a while, but I'm finally in a head space where I am 100% stoked beyond belief about the alien pushing its limbs along my abdomen. Where I don't wish I could ride bikes on any given day, and where taking a nap in the afternoon because my body is working so hard seems like the right thing to do, no questions asked. I was always happy about this baby, but all the things being preggo has taken away from me don't matter anymore, and that's a pretty good feeling. 

Other interesting week 35 thoughts and feelings: 
We are two weeks away from full term!!! Which means the baby could come any time from 2-5 weeks from now! Crazy. Besides not feeling sad about missing the bike and all that I'm also really starting to enjoy actually being pregnant. I can eat what I want, when I want, and I feel really good most of the time (besides my legs hurting after long house construction sessions). I'm soaking it all in because I'm imagining this is way easier than having a newborn, thinking about the concept of loosing baby weight, and potentially starting to train from scratch (nothing is guaranteed, but IF I feel the pull to race again...). Just right here, right now I'm enjoying every moment because I know it will be over soon. I'm also super stoked with how capable I am this far a long, like I can still swim 2 miles, hike, work on the house, and do pretty much anything I want to do. I imagined before this that the last month would mean sitting on the couch eating ice cream too big to want to walk, but it's not like that at all! I just have a big belly and my cycling jerseys don't fit, nothing else is really that different!
We put siding up on the back of the house this 100 degree heat. Yeah, pregnancy isn't that bad :)

Another fun, strange, interesting side affect of this pregnancy is that I feel so much more like a normal person than I ever have. I don't work out to train to win anything, I work out to feel good. I don't turn down ice cream trips with co-workers or late night concerts like Vulfpeck in Berkeley, it's kinda a nice break from the last 5 years of structured training, prioritizing rest between, starving myself all the time etc... I think being an elite athlete prepared me pretty well for this because I'm used to feeling depleted all the time, to staying off my feet, focusing on hydrating... Now I'm just training in a different way, like by reading lots of books on pregnancy and labor, doing strange exercises (hello Kegels) and meditating/visualization practice. 
At the Berkeley rose garden, because sightseeing is WAY easier when you aren't bike racing all the time!
And lastly for today random people are JUST NOW starting to ask me when I'm due, like as in everyone who saw me in the past 3 months either couldn't tell and didn't want to be rude or just thought I was chubby. I find this hilarious. I FEEL HUGE but people keep saying I'm 'small' and it's equal parts encouraging that the baby will be small and strange to me because I feel like it would be 'bad' if I wasn't 'small'. I don't feel small, so I feel like if I do gain a bunch of weight it will be 'bad'... I don't know, I'm probably being over sensitive. On that note though I originally thought that I could get away with wearing sports bras and my old running shorts all summer, but my hips have gotten so wide that the shorts wont fit much longer. I really don't want to buy maternity clothes, so I'm hoping I can make it 4 more weeks with the one pair of maternity shorts I have and dresses for when we have to go out in public!
On our road trip somewhere outside of Seattle. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Salkantay Trek Day 3: Rivers and Popsicles and Jungle

Day 3 was much shorter and easier than day 2, which was great because I think we all needed a break. We left camp and headed down into the gorge that housed the angry river raging down from the glacier we had been right next to the day before. The hike took us through some small villages complete with adorable school children beginning the hour long walk to school, farm animals and crops like squash and corn.                                                                                              We crossed a bridge near the bottom of the canyon, and were instantly surrounded by jungle. After a quick stop to soak ourselves in Deet (You know, because me getting cancer in 10 years seemed better than the baby getting Zica, so yeah 98% Deet it was) we pushed on, up steep climbs and down steeper ones on a narrow strip of trail benched into the hillside.  

We crossed tons of bridges, some legit and sturdy looking, some sketchy logs over a river bridges. Once again I was wishing I had my mountain bike, and once again I really enjoyed the conversation with the others in our group (this time talking to Jen about their neighborhood and chickens).

 I can't get over how lush and green and vibrant the jungle was. It was really really cool to have come down off this huge glacier where the landscape was basically just rock and bam, next day you are in this lush jungle. 

After hiking for a few hours we came across a few passion fruit farms. The temperature was rising, and as the shade gave way to sun we got quite warm. Fortunately one of the farms sold popsicles! Lexi and I bought one of each passion fruit flavor as there were two varieties, one tart and intensely flavorful, the other more mild and sweet. It was like heaven eating such a cold treat in the shade, off our feet for a moment.

And then it was back to walking, crossing bridges and walking some more. Eventually we came to a town where we took another small break. We must have walked for 5 hours up to that point, and I was ready for lunch/a little tired and a lot hot. Lexi and I bought two red bananas for 1 sole and were shocked at how good they were. The flavor was pretty different from a regular banana in the US and they were dense and creamy, the perfect treat.                                                                                                                                     Sadly, post bananas and a quick coffee demonstration from our guides (where they roasted and ground coffee beans over a fire and then made Peruvian Starbucks for us) we had to keep walking. The walk to lunch was so long in fact that we snuck in a little taxi ride in a big bus to be able to make it to camp on time. It was kinda funny because the taxi let us out a good ten minutes from camp, because we were supposed to hike the whole time, and I guess if they saw us on the bus we would be in trouble. 

Fortunately lunch was at our camp for the night, meaning after lunch we had the afternoon free to go zip lining, to the hot springs, or to relax at camp. 
 I think lunch on day 3 was another of my favorite meals because there were two huge trays of guacamole most likely made with avocados from the trees all around the farm we were staying on. I ate so much guacamole I was sick all afternoon, and I was still burping it up at dinner time. The chefs also made animals out of veggies like the eggplant condor below. I thought that was hilarious.

Because we had skipped showering the previous night Lexi and I decided to go to the hot springs where there was relaxation plus a hot shower two for the price of one. I also didn't really feel like zip lining 5 months pregnant was a great idea, esp considering I was already pushing my luck in the doing too much category.
The hot springs was crazy impressive, with three HUGE pools decreasing in temperature as you moved downhill. I went in the cooler two, but opted to skip the super hot one for the baby's sake. After we found out the 'shower' was just to wash yourself in the runoff from the hotspring, which was a little gross and not private at all, but we did the best we could with what we had :)

On the bus ride back to camp we had another amazing conversation with our trekking companions on parenting and things everyone has observed with entitlement and children in nature. I love that our group was so open and shared so much about their own families. I've been pretty scared about parenting, and hearing so many opinions and observations has helped me continue to build a picture in my mind of who I want to be as a parent. I appreciate all the different viewpoints and thoughts SO much!

And then we had dinner (yet another meal where I wasn't hungry but ate anyway because energy) and went straight to sleep because we were all beat.
Lex and I at the hot spring.
Walking a crazy distance to the hot spring because there was construction on the road so we got dropped off really far away. 

Friday, June 28, 2019

Pregnancy Thoughts: It's Been a Minute

Yeah, so life has been busy with the school year ending, birthing classes starting and never ending house projects always needing attention. Through all of this though the reality that a small human is growing inside of me has become more and more, I don't know, real? And it's been a minute since I posted an update on baby growing, so here are some of the thoughts and feelings that have been going through my head in the past few months in no particular order.
Views from a hike in Big Sur where bikes are definitely NOT allowed. 
I've been doing A LOT of hiking lately. Since the concussion crash I've been much more hesitant to ride bikes, and along with the fear of hitting the deck again, I also REALLY don't fit into my old bike clothes anymore. Hiking has been great though! I've been able to push myself and find physical challenge (mostly from using new muscle groups that are weak and don't take a ton of effort to exhaust) as well as that good old fashion time in nature type mental decompression that helps me process my thoughts, feelings and emotions. Hiking means getting to see some places you aren't allowed to take bikes, like the Wilderness, and it's been my only option for when Brendan mountain bikes on our current road trip, so at least I don't feel like I'm missing out too much!

Left: Entering the Wilderness, a place bikes aren't allowed on the way to Baldy. Right: Carl on the PCT, which we call the perfect cycling trail but is very illegal to ride your bike on. 
Mt. Baldy summit, 10,035 ft

A few weeks ago I hiked the North Backbone trail with Carl. During our hike we had a lot of great conversations, but one of the things we talked about has been on my mind for a long long time. I've been doing a decent job of continuing to share my life and experiences on social media but I haven't done a great job of keeping in touch with my cycling friends, and I think a good part of that is that I don't feel relevant, or interesting anymore. I KNOW this isn't actually true in my mind, but when all I can think about on a daily basis is work, eating, sleeping and repeating, and I'm too exhausted from growing a fetus all the time to be 'fun' it feels easier to just kinda disappear some. I'm not sure if that makes any sense, but I'm starting to think that is why when other athletes I know get pregnant they tend to fall off the face of the earth. You feel one dimensional and uninteresting, no one wants to hear about my baby, AGAIN, I'm not traveling to cool places and racing my bike with Olympians, and as a result I feel uninteresting and therefore kinda just recede.

It was especially hard when Belgian Waffle Ride weekend approached, and I was never asked to be on their podcast. I know this sounds lame, but I'm being honest here. The male winner from last year was interviewed, lots of other past winners were on the show, but I felt so crazy irrelevant never being asked to share my experiences and advice despite winning ALL 5 jerseys the last two years in a row. I can't race AND no one wants to hear my tips for winning, double wammy. Then the weekend came and went, I watched it all unfold on Instagram, I couldn't be there to defend my title, and it was just hard.
But you know what, if I can survive this roller coaster of emotion, joy and heart ache, I can do anything, so maybe I'll be mentally stronger after this baby is born if nothing else!

A well earned cookie after an 8 mile hike in Big Sur.
Gestational diabetes: that was a scare a few weeks ago that was both hilarious and terrifying when the dr office called to inform me I had failed my 1 hour glucose test. I honestly laughed so hard when they first told me I might have diabetes because every day of school from February - June kids asked me if I wanted some gummy worms, a cookie, a Jolly Rancher, their chocolate... and every day I said 'I can't because I'm afraid of gestational diabetes' So the thought that I could have diabetes after turning down so many offers of sweets I really really wanted was pretty darn funny. A week later I was given a 3 hour glucose test and thankfully we passed that one and are in the clear, but wow, what a hilarious few weeks it's been. I'll be the first to tell you I don't have the perfect pregnancy diet, I eat cookies and ice cream a few times a week, I will indulge in a pastry for breakfast every once in a while, but MOST of the time we eat kale salads and spinach and as many veggies as possible, so I am quite pleased to be able to continue this less than strict diet that lets me enjoy being on vacation a little. On the same topic though, when I first shared with the world that we may have gestational diabetes SO many women shared with me that they also had positive tests despite being super healthy and active, so if you have it or get it you are not alone, or at fault. I guess our bodies just don't understand what's going on sometimes and do wacky things to cope with the weight gain and demands of pregnancy.
The Croque Madame at Bree 'Osh Bakery I dreamed about for the last two months of school while patiently waiting to go on this road trip :) Not super healthy, but balanced out the Kale salad I ate for three meals in two days on the way north. 

A few days ago the GM of the Hagens Berman women's pro cycling team shared an article she wrote with about being an elite athlete and pregnancy and I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed reading that at least one person in the world has had the same anxieties and struggles as me! She rode outside until she crashed, worried about calorie intake and even bought a baby heart rate monitor (I have WANTED this the whole pregnancy because I spent the whole 2nd trimester afraid the baby wasn't alive anymore), making me feel a little less like a crazy person and more like a person just trying to figure out the balance between an insanely active lifestyle and trying to grow a human. Thanks Lindsay for taking the time to reach out to me and share your experiences!!

Mom, kicking my butt in the pool, twice in one week!
And lastly SWIMMING! Everyone told me swimming would feel amazing, but I was just too busy all school year to make time to try it out. And besides that I had no idea where to go to swim/was hesitant to pay the price of joining a pool. BUT HOLY COW I've been twice this week with my mother, who swims three days a week and it has been an incredible experience. When I hike I get out of breath, worry about overdoing it etc but in the pool it's a simple rhythm of breathe, stroke, stroke, breathe that feels like a great workout but NEVER feels hard. It's moving meditation at it's finest, the only thoughts that pass through my mind are the breaths and the color of water and sky, water and sky. And all the while the added weight and changed shape of my body have absolutely no impact on the motions, my stroke, breathing and speed are the same as before the baby, it's miraculous! I even think I want to continue swimming after the baby is born since it felt SO dang good using both upper and lower body in a workout for once :)

So yeah, we are on a three week long road trip visiting family in Sonoma County and then continuing to visit good friends in Portland and then family in Seattle, and that's what's been going through my head lately. 8 more weeks of carrying this big belly around, and even though it may seem like I have more hardships to share about pregnancy than positives I promise I am loving every minute, every kick and every extra calorie I've eaten. Life has never been all downhill, and the new challenges we are facing are fun in their own unique, you only get to experience them once kinda way, and I love it!

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Salkantay Trek Day 2: The Pass!

I woke up Tuesday feeling really good! Our guides woke us at 5am with coca tea (which I didn't really drink the first two days because I didn't really know it it was ok for the baby). After an amazing breakfast which featured banana stuffed pancakes I was much less scared of the amount of hiking/elevation in store for the day. Lexi opted to take a horse because the altitude was still really affecting her, but fortunately this was the last day where it was really bad.
Left: Our banana stuffed pancake breakfast with a side of bananas!
Below: The view of Salkantay glacier from the start of our hike on day 2. 

The day's hike started right out the door with ascent. We climbed a gradual fire road which turned into single track as it steepened. Our group seemed to all feel much better than the day before, and with a few quick stops to snack and regroup we soon made it to the halfway point which we all felt came too easily. We sopped to sit for a min and eat snacks (Bananas and Creme Bonk Breakers for the win!). The rest stop was at about 14,00 ft and there was a little house owned by a woman selling Gatorade, water and charging for the use of her bathroom. The best part was that she had a baby strapped to her back in the cutest way, little eyes peering out over the Manta, leaving me convinced that doing this hike pregnant was no big deal. That women was up here the whole time she was carrying her child and most likely didn't go to a hospital to give birth!

Above Right: Eating all the snacks at our stop even though I was still full from breakfast. Like I said before, the theme of the trip was eat, hike, eat, even if you aren't hungry yet. 

Below: Badass lady with baby selling snacks to hikers. 

 Post snacks we had two options: the longer, less steep route, called the seven snakes, or the shorter more savage, straight up route. Our group opted for the shortcut because the heavy donkey traffic on the traditional route looked obnoxious (the trail was pretty narrow so we would have to stop every couple minutes to let a train of donkeys past). Then Juan Carlos choose to make the steep route steeper by short cutting all the switchbacks! Somehow it wasn’t hard to keep up with our crazy fit guide though (he must have the best lungs and heart of anyone I’ve met, doing the trek over and over, often with no days off in between), and what I had feared would be a crazy hard if not impossible hike to the summit was over in the blink of an eye! Our whole group made it to the top an hour earlier than expected!

The best part was that Lexi arrived on horseback within minutes of us, so we all enjoyed coca tea and delicious ham and cheese sandos thanks to our kind Sherpas (who hauled the big thermos to the pass) took a bunch of pictures and listened to some more massive avalanches we couldn’t see because of the clouds. Somehow I have no pictures of the 'scene' at the pass, lots of people from all over the world, stoked to be standing around in the clouds after accomplishing what is probably one of the hardest physical feats of their lives, pretty cool :)

After another history lesson about Pachamama and the tourism industry and it’s impact on the landscape, we headed down off the pass towards lunch. The downhill was really fun (would have been amazing on bike), and lasted FOREVER. We walked and walked and walked and eventually got to an outpost with 1 sole bathrooms, to find out we were still 20-30 min away from our lunch spot. The hiking was nice though, time flew chatting with the Aussies about school, and the education system in both the US and Australia/how parenting has changed recently. I really enjoyed the company of our tour group, an unexpected favorite aspect of the whole experience that more than made up for the thick clouds that blocked out 90% of the scenery. What I could see was green and lush, fields of grass strewn with rocks covered in moss and red lichen. It was pretty magical.
Above left: the foggy view we enjoyed the whole way down. Above right: an example of what every rock looked like, bright red with some kind of lichen. 

Lunch on day 2 was one of my favorite meals of the trip because it included ‘condor wings’, chicken legs fried in corn meal. Right as we were arriving at lunch rain started to fall, and within minutes of us entering the lunch tent the rain started coming down heavily. Somehow we lucked out and the rain let up right around the time we finished eating and needed to head back out on the trail.

The reminder of the hike consisted of hours upon hours of downhill fire road, down out of the mountains into the jungle. The scenery changed a great deal, and so did the plants (I saw my first air plant in the wild!), flowers and sounds of birds and the rushing of the river to our right. Lexi and I talked and hiked and slid down the road and JUST as my feet felt they didn’t want to be in hiking boots anymore we arrived at the little town where our camp was located.

Above: Me and then Lexi on the very muddy/slick road, me with the jungle in the background, Lex with Salkantay in the background
Right: The first Bromeliad I've seen in nature

Once again we sat through happy hour of popcorn and tea and stayed straight through to dinner. Another 5 am wake up on day 3 had us in bed as soon as the nightly debrief was over and I slept like a rock after a long day that went way better than anticipated.