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.