Sunday, February 15, 2015

Everything Changes

I have officially been a mom for one week. That looks as insane written as it feels to think/say/believe.

Obviously we knew we were going to be parents and I had 7 months to prepare myself for being a mom but that isn't the same thing as BEING a mom. Especially when you're supposed to have 2 more months to get use to the idea. And more time to register for the baby classes. And to finish reading the book. And to clear out the spare bedroom. And to build the crib.

I was lucky in that I had about 6.5 months of a relatively uneventful pregnancy. Some back pain, some strange pins and needles feelings in my arm... but nothing that stayed too long. And then the swelling came. It started the middle of January and I went to my trusty pregnancy website/app and read causes, cures, and worst case scenarios. The causes, like most everything else that's happened to my body since August, was attributed to pregnancy/hormones/immune system fluctuations with a simple cure of time or waiting for the kid to pop out (which I guess it also time). It was the worst case scenario that caught my attention - "life threatening", "permanent damage", etc. I messaged my doctor's office to let them know what was going on and they said if my symptoms continued to let them know. Well I was letting them know, and I said I'd already had my symptoms for a week so how much longer was I supposed to wait? I had a regular appointment about a week after I called so I decided to wait until then  to say anything else and hope for the best in the mean time.

The swelling in my hands, and a bit in my face, got worse but it was nothing compared to the swelling in my legs. In three weeks, I had gained over 15 pounds and most of it was not baby bump. I went to my appointment the first week in February asking for answers, concerned about the Worst Case Scenario, the swelling, the what-the-heck-is-happening-to-my-body feeling and was told that there was no real concern, to buy some compression tights and come back in 2 weeks. I bought the stupid $70 tights and saw no difference in the amount of edema in my legs. I decided to take the weekend off the stupid tights as they hurt to put on, to wear, and to remove.

Then I woke up last Saturday with a face so swollen I could barely open  my eyes. It took almost 3 hours for the swelling to go down a enough for me to feel mildly normal. I figured it was just part of the fun. I pulled myself together and went to yoga telling myself the discomfort would be eased and this too shall pass. I spent the afternoon feeling a bit off but just sucking it up and helping get stuff done around the house. We went to Home Depot and that's when the downhill started. I'd had a few episodes previously of flashing spots in my eyeballs but this round was so intense I couldn't read the shelf signs and walked myself out to the car and waited for Chris. Back at home I sat on the couch with what was the most INTENSE headache I'd had in a while. Chris, busy searching WebMD said the number of symptoms I was developing for Worst Case Scenario were increasing and we should go t o CVS to measure my blood pressure.

So we went, and it was HIGH - like crazy high - and I used my fancy medical group app to see what it was when I was at the doctors on Tuesday and it was high then but had gone up about 20 points from Tuesday to now. And what was this? It was up about 20 points on Tuesday from what it had been at every doctor's appointment since August. WTH?! Trying to figure out what to do, we went to grab something to eat and I just couldn't think about food, but I thought about my friend B who delivered her little man about a month early after going in for something unsuspecting and I say aloud "how crazy would that be?" And we go back to the house and I can't get over the nagging feeling that Chris is right and we need to go in and he's trying to make me feel better saying we will go back to CVS to test again in the am and I turn to FB - silly perhaps, but I have high school friends who are doctors and I harass one and I share numbers and symptoms and pictures and she says GO NOW.

We had been to the triage at the Women's Hospital once before back in October so that made it familiar yet just as scary. We quickly got seen by a nurse and the ball started rolling. At this point I'd say my concept of time and sequence got a bit off but I will try my best. We probably checked in around 8pm. The nurse measured my BP again and made a list of my symptoms. My blood pressure had gone up almost another 30 points (!) and now there was no question, it was Worse Case Scenario. WCS would be something called preeclampsia: caused by pregnancy and cured by delivery. If the diagnosis was immediate, the solution was the very next breath and the nurse and the on-call doctor from my OBGYN said they were going to "take the baby". I would need an emergency C-section. We'd be parents within the hour. My life was at risk. The baby had to come out. Chris' response was something along the lines of "but we didn't take the lamaze classes yet" and mine was "the baby isn't done cooking". I think they call this part shock.

They immediately started prepping me for surgery and put me on anti-seizure medicine (among others) as my blood pressure was shooting through the roof and they were worried what could happen before we were able to get into an operating room. Chris called our families and they gave him a full body suit to wear in the operating room. I called Jhanna and tried not to totally lose it. I thought of all my friends who had been through scary baby delivery situations and tried to channel their strength. We took all the advice, wisdom, and soothing that my nurses would offer up. It was too early. The baby wasn't ready. We didn't even have a name picked out! (The nurses were great and had something to say for every new thing we freaked out about).

I had heard that walking into the delivery room for a c-section is super scary - I don't think being wheeled in made it any better. My first thought was "what creepy back area of the hospital are they taking me to?" and my next thought was "this isn't how anything looks on Grey's Anatomy!"While they continued their surgery prep, one of the nurses from before stayed with me. She held my hands and wiped my tears and convinced me everything was going to be just fine. I was scared and it seemed like forever before Chris was there but as soon as he was they started the surgery and all I kept thinking was that the baby wasn't ready and that it needed to be okay.

Once they got her out, Chris saw that it was a girl and she cried out and it was relieving and scary and awesome. While they finished with me, Chris went with the baby as she was cleaned up and assessed. The best news at this point was that she was okay - 31 weeks of growing was all she had under her belt, but she was okay. She was born just after 11pm and I went through the end of surgery, post-surgery care, and waiting (with Chris) so I didn't get to see her for the first time until almost 3am. From my hospital bed, barely able to feel my lower half, still on so many drugs, my first sight of her was in the NICU craning my neck to try to see her through the top half of my bed and into her incubator. I think I could make out the side of her head and an arm.

We all spent the next 4 days at the hospital. Now that she was out, the immediate threat to my heath was gone but my elevated blood pressure was still an issue. I was able to really see her the one time I was able to make it down to the NICU on Sunday. A million different hospital staff came and went making sure we had resources, knew what was going on, and that we were okay. Friends and family sent flowers, food, gifts, their love, positive vibes, and so much more. The love we felt in those days was the best kind of overwhelming I have ever experienced. With the aid of a wheel chair Chris was able to take me down to see her a few times each day and we could both stare at her in awe. We were parents. She was here. She was ours.

For the first few days we could only touch her through her bed - a temporary cooking device. Her progress is typical for her gestational age (they still count as if she was in the uterus) and they told us that she'll most likely be in the NICU until her expected due date in April. We went back and forth a bit but quickly picked Abigail as her first name (the only name we had both liked immediately)  but we took until my discharge on Wednesday to settle on a middle name, Kay. Right now, as she's being forced to mature before she was ready, she has a lot of hoses and wires and while we are taking pictures of her every day like the crazy new parents we are (I KNOW that was a smile! Did you see how cute her ears are? OMG, she just grabbed my finger!!) we are choosing to not share those pictures of her with the masses. Thank you for understanding our need for privacy and desire to protect our daughter from  everything we can.

The day before I was discharged we were able to help the nurses do what they call "touch time" where they take her temperature, change her diaper, and clean her up as needed. The day after I was discharged (Thursday) I was able to hold her - directly up with just 2 hands stretched out from me - as they changed her bedding. We knew we'd have to wait to hold her until XYZ happened and the BEST news was that those things happened way before we thought they would and on Friday we were both able to hold her to us for the first time. Words cannot adequately describe what that feeling was like even if you're a parent and you've been there before - let's just say it was epically indescribable.

Now our day-to-day as a family consists of me trying to heal from being cut in half (c-sections are no joke) and us being able to get ourselves into the NICU as much as possible (they're only closed 2 hours a day) to see, touch, and hold our daughter. The love we've continued to feel from friends and family from meals, dog walks, hugs, and kind words have been such an amazing part of this whole experience - thank you all. We will of course continue to keep everyone posted on Abigail's progress and hope that the closer we get to April, the closer we get to bringing her home with us.

So quickly everything changes. Thus begins our greatest adventure.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Wedded Bliss

For sure not the final adventure in this relationship, but surely the next big one, Chris and I got married on the 25th. The day was sunny and beautiful, everyone had a great time, and there were red velvet cupcakes - what more could a girl ask for?

For the last year I have been asking a lot actually. Mostly my questions have been to married friends and family asking them if it feels different to be married hoping desperately that they would say you suddenly felt like a shiny rainbow unicorn. Why this need? Heaven only knows.

Living together before marriage was a requirement for both of us. We had already put our lives together as much as we could. We had spent time with each other's families. We had Nacho, Kolby, Sid, the fish, and some plants I keep trying to kill. We survived 4 months of training and 3 years of grad school.  Our relationship has always been practical and for anyone who knows me, they know that would rank high for me. Over dinner with some friends Chris said quite simply he didn't want things to change after we got married - that he likes our relationship the way it is. And the truth is so do I - why do I feel like a shiny rainbow unicorn is even needed? Why can't being married be enough? Now that the day has actually come and we are officially married, the truth is, it is enough just to be married. I don't need a shiny rainbow unicorn and I don't think people need me to have that either so I am happy with what it is: the start of a happily married life built on the solid foundation of a practical relationship filled with love.

It is still new so it shouldn't be much of a surprise that I don't feel like a wife yet. I can still count the number of times I have called him my husband. The paperwork is a hassle. I have yet to perfect my new signature. And there is this flutter in my heart when I see the ring on his finger and I know that he is mine from now until forever. And that last feeling, that flutter, is the one that I don't ever want to fade.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Changing MY Conversation

All this motion right now about this "tutus are lame" SELF magazine scandal has been INTENSE. I sat with my SELF magazine today and flipped through most of the magazine not really seeing anything that would raise an eyebrow (other than debating whether or not their models are photoshopped) and found the infamous picture tucked away at the end of the magazine and it made me think - what IF the situation was different?

My friends and I have tossed around the great idea that the magazine should have just dressed up an intern in a tutu if they were going to make fun of it and you have to ask yourself, would you have really cared then if the magazine called wearing a tutu silly? I mean REALLY cared?

If they had taken the picture off the web, or if Monika didn't happen to have cancer at the time that picture was taken, or if no one who knew Monika or Tara saw the pic, would the reaction have been different?

Think about this - "Be kind to every person you meet because you never know what someone else could be going through. "

Now, I don't want to assume anything about you, but I know 2 things about me: 1) I am awesome. 2) I have made fun of people when I knew they would never find out. Perhaps you have too and you can relate. Now, I am not a popular fitness magazine, I didn't request someone's photo under false pre-tenses, and I do not condone what this magazine did, BUT I think if we really want to change the conversation, we need to also think of the conversations we have with our friends...about other people...when we feel confident that they won't find out what we have said about them. 

I love the girl empowerment and the runner love and the tutu support. That being said, I think in reality we have all said something mean about someone at some point. Even something mean about ourselves - and that is no better. What is it with human nature that makes us feel better about ourselves when we put someone else down? How can women who are role models for other women hate on themselves? How can we #changetheconversation? Well, I am going to start with me as that seems the best place to start. 

I am going to change MY conversation.

I am going to use this incident as a learning experience: be careful of what you say and do as you never know what might come of it. And, most importantly, don't say anything about anyone that you wouldn't feel comfortable saying to their face. 

Tuesday, December 31, 2013


This year I set the goal of running 13 half marathons (13.1 miles) before the end of the year (2013). I picked half marathons because I like the distance and have personally felt like they were relatively easy to accomplish without too much training. What a weak way to set a goal. Once the ball got rolling in January though I realized that for this goal to really be worth it, I would have to dedicate my efforts to training properly and attempting to set a new personal record (PR) otherwise it would be a waste of time, effort, and money.

Through 13 new-to-me races a lot happened: I completed a half marathon training schedule and ran 521 miles over the course of 3 months, I ran my first ever trail half marathon, I set a new PR for the trail half (1:49), I set a new PR for a road half (1:40), I placed 2nd in my age group, I placed 3rd in the Dirt Devil half marathon challenge, I strengthened some friendships and forged many new ones, I ran with a friend to complete her first ever half marathon, I ran more miles than I ever have before (1310 from Dec 2012 to Dec 2013), I got to see some beautiful places (namely Mammoth Lakes and Crater Lake),  and I learned that if I put my mind to something I can do it.


Saturday, August 31, 2013


3 is my favorite number. And I think it is lucky, and auspicious, and amazing, and awesome. So, as I am turning 33 (two 3's - double happiness perhaps?) I figured it only makes sense to follow through with the 3's by recognizing 33 awesome birthday things. Here they are:
  1. Running with friends
  2. Rallying the troops to raise funds for Lila May
  3. Fancy new running outfit from Maria
  4. Mac & cheese pizza
  5. homemade cupcakes from Katia
  6. Helping I'd Hit That's achieve their first undefeated season! 
  7. Spending the day hanging out with Nacho and doing all of his favorite things
  8. Lobster tacos at Shore Club
  9. Green tea froyo from Yogurtland
  10. Birthday massage from Chris
  11. Handmade bed by Chris
  12. Red velvet pop-tarts
  13. A birthday box from mom with 33 birthday treats
  14. Running 187 stinking miles this month!
  15. Completed half marathon #10
  16. Running with Jhanna for her first half marathon race
  17. Visiting Crater Lake with my family
  18. Being invited to a trail FULL marathon (is this a good idea??)
  19. Getting egg tarts at SFO
  20. Trying new cupcake places
  21. Research got approved by the district! 
  22. Signed up to do a triathlon
  23. Bought a dragon
  24. Took in some amazing sunsets
  25. Started coaching cross country
  26. Ran in new places
  27. Refreshed my resume
  28. Fast & Furious marathon
  29. Got to give baby Hendrix a squeeze for the first time
  30. Enjoyed the last month off school
  31. Started my last block for my dissertation
  32. Revived the Birthday List
  33. Completed a big chunk of wedding planning
Some pretty awesome things are set to take place in this, my 33rd year, and I CANNOT wait for what the future holds!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Birthday List

From December 26th, 2010:

"Mom first introduced the idea of a birthday list to me in October 2010 after she turned 5X (50 something). She said she'd decided to make a list of 5X things she wanted to do for herself and to improve her life over the next year. After she shared with me some of the items on her list, I was taken with the idea. I usually actively work towards some self-improvement goal each year, but I liked the idea of having a great "To Do" list full of things that would potentially improve my quality of life. Over the past 2 months I have been making my list of things to do in my head - accepting that some had already been completed since my birthday in August - and getting a few new ideas from Mom here and there. With the gift of this journal for Christmas, I've decided to officially begin my list. In part due to my tendency to like writing stuff down and in part from my desire to be more self-reflective, I have decided that within these pages I will not only document my list by record my progress towards completing my tasks and my thoughts and feelings about them as they're marked off. Since its been 4 months since my birthday and the official start of my "year",  some of my tasks and reflections will be retrospect, but I will accept that and I hope you do too. Under the guidance of the madre, I've also established that the list does not need to be complete but rather be added to as I go. I can also do more than 30 things should I choose to do so. Its great when your own mother is the creator and rule maker. I wish myself luck in this endeavor and predict it will be epic."

Oh 2010 me, you are so deep! Here it is, almost 3 years later and I can tell you that I did not finish that list. I think I started a new one the next year and that one didn't get finished either (although I am not sure where the actual book went so we shall never know). However, why not try something again and expect different results? No, it is not insanity, it is tenacity! And, in order to keep myself honest and epic, I will share what was on that 2010 list and what was accomplished and what was not right here:

  • Run a marathon in Greece (I set a new PR too)
  • Date a nice boy (This wasn't originally recorded as Chris and obvi it didn't last, but he was nice enough. So I guess you could say I completed this one 2xs)
  • Community improvement project (beach clean up and Habitat for Humanity - I should get back to those...)
  • Make a significant charitable contribution (Rotary's Polio eradication project - love it)
  • Attend professional development opportunities (I cannot stop, it is a sickness)
  • Buy a surfboard and a refresher lesson (board was given not purchased but I still did it - just don't think surfing is my thing)
  • Go on a hot air balloon ride (Chris mad this happen on bday 2011 so I will count it - AMAZING!!)
  • Join a book club (I win on a technicality - I met with up some GOTR friends for a bit but it died out fast)
  • Take more walks (again I think I win on ambiguity)
  • Put jewelry up on Etsy (while I technically didn't use Etsy thanks to some helpful advice, I did sell a bunch of stuff at Mom's craft fair at work)
  • Donate blood (thought I was going to die)
  • Fall in love with Dresden and be an awesome aunt (this one was almost too easy - at least the loving part!)
  • Clean out clutter (always a work-in-progress, but I am going to count this one as a win)
  • Write a grant (Done! While I didn't get the big one ($10,000) I did get one ($1,000)!!)
  • Complete the Triple Crown Challenge (and Chris ran the last one with me ON my birthday = epic)
  • Take a new sport/class/etc (well yes, I took up softball and look where that got me!)
  • Fall whole-heartedly in love (don't let Chris see that I wrote this and published it! Eww..feelings!)
Not Completed
  • 30 random acts of kindness (this one can be argued, but only 13 were documented)
  • Establish a running routine (ha)
  • Make a "Chucks" photobook (some picks printed and matted but not finished)
  • Complete travel books (did 3 I think and have 3 more to do)
  • Get finances in order (perhaps defining "in order" would help this one be successful)
  • Do yoga weekly (I always peak in the summer then flatline during the school year)
  • Send 2 cards a month - 1 to a friend and 1 to grandma (I have plenty of cards but plenty more excuses)
  • Re-establish connection with Aussie family (no excuses here...)
  • Read for 30 minutes a day (I did learn I suck at these "daily" goals)
  • Drink more liquids (while I could say this was done, let's be honest folks)
  • Finish 2 cross-stitches from China (hahahaha - If only I had as much free time as I did then)
  • Make a Bucket-List Book (started but not completed - do we see a theme?)
  • Leave more space between me and others while driving (another work in progress??)

More completed items than non-completed items so that can also be a win. Why do I bring this all up now? Well, I think my 33rd year is going to be the best one yet, and why wouldn't it be? I have some pretty awesome things on the horizon. And, I am reviving the Birthday List. But first, I have to finish doing my 33 things of #birthdayawesomeness - and this is just one!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Year Of Giving

I just finished reading "29 Gifts: How a month of giving can change your life" by Cami Walker and have decided to start my own giving campaign. I would like to think that I am already a giving person and that I think of others when I do things but I would like to give with more intention and more purpose. Part of the campaign is to keep a daily journal about how your gifts came to be and how you felt after giving without any expectation of getting something in return. I have learned over the past few years that I honestly cannot manage to do anything daily (drink x amount of water, take my vitamins, eat healthy snacks, etc.) and journaling will be a challenge. In the book, Cami also talked about the challenge of giving in the moment and not trying to plan ahead of time what all your gifts would be and who they would go to. I have found myself doing that quite a few times as I have made the decision to start this adventure. The good news is there is a strong online community of others also doing this challenge and they openly share challenges, triumphs, and ideas. Perhaps in my usual style of taking on a bit too much, I have decided to start my challenge on the 29th and do it for a year. I am hoping in that time I will be able to encourage others to do something similar or to take the challenge themselves. I'd love to hear from you if you're interested!