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Postpartum Expectations from a Runner Girl – Reclaiming My Body Through the Onset of Emotions

26 Jul

Hello lovelies!!!

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Happy Weekend! Yay!!!

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Today I am 73 days postpartum. I was given the green light to start running, I mean training, for a fall marathon by my OB on July 11. It took a whole 8 weeks to be cleared to run after our baby girl debuted. But as you know I’m stubborn and determined so I began running the week-ish prior (hey, my doctor was on vacation and my appointment was delayed!)

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After having been patient for close to 40 weeks to meet my little rosebud, how on earth did doctors expect me to hold off from running for 2 whole months? I ran my entire pregnancy and then they put a moratorium on it?! Not okay.

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Anyway, I took it easy with doctor approved light cardio. I engaged in walking, the elliptical and mini weights beginning at the 4 week postpartum mark. I started running again around 7 weeks (I may be a liar). But I’m not lying about taking it easy. It wasn’t until July 11th that I started to run farther and faster. 

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I wanted to run farther and faster because shoot, I have had my eyes set on a fall marathon. But I also wanted to run farther (not faster) to engage my fat burning furnace to melt the lingering pounds that made themselves home to my thighs, hips, stomach and back. Maybe in my breasts, too, who am I kidding. I definitely don’t need the weight there. If I had a say in its allocations I’d rather see that weight in my boot-tay. Am I right!?! (Squats all day don’t do me any favors…I’m just saying.)

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But because I’m not on an episode of Botched I can’t have anyone rearrange my ASSets how I see fit. I’ve been working hard reclaiming my assets through sweat. Today, more than ever before, I have been focused unremittingly on my core. I have not only engaged in core circuit training, but also legs and booty circuit training, and now, marathon training!!!!!!!

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I’ve been feeling ah-mazing! I feel like I can come back and come back stronger and faster.

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But before feeling ah-mazing I was feeling really discouraged. Don’t misunderstand what I am saying – my having a baby girl has been the greatest gift ever, but being forced to “recover” and recover longer than normal because of a c-section really shook me. That on top of the imminent (and grave emotional) loss of our mother. My little family was paralyzed by pain and forced to accept the bitter dichotomy of life – birth and death. Anyway, that’s another matter… What I’m saying is I was active my entire pregnancy and then boom – no sweat sessions were prescribed for 6-8 weeks. I had to handle my emotions, both postpartum and grief, without running. That was brand new territory for me.

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Speaking of new, I was also a brand new mom who was losing a mother (my fiancé’s). The wave of emotions felt like oil and vinegar – how could one be so blissfully happy with grief and despair rising in the horizon. They didn’t mix well. The onset of emotion overtook me (us). We found ourselves faced with the highs and lows of the reality we were in. We felt guilty for being happy then guilty for being enveloped with grief.

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We traveled by plane 7 days postpartum to visit Andy’s mom before she passed. We had begged for time to spare us so that she could meet her newest granddaughter. I traveled back home, alone, only 10 days postpartum. I was a wreck. I bravely accepted the fate of our mother on my journey home while dodging insults of having such a new baby on a flight, let alone in an airport. I was shuffling between whether or not to spew my circumstance with strangers or smile and embrace the mommy shaming. I did the latter. The judgement only amplified my emotions.

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We lost mom shortly after I returned home. I had emotions storming through me. My mind was in a turbulent capricious state. All I wanted to do was run it out but my body ached in ways that I cannot describe. My cesarean cut pulsated. My heart was heavy. My heart was light. And it was full of love. In the deep of love. My reaction to life was that love surely does cut you. I was a vat of vehemence smiling through all the pain and smiling through all the joys. 

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But rewind…

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On top of all my emotions, my vanity also played and integral part in my hormonal hurdle to find harmony. To find peace. Sanity. Normalcy.

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Rewind again. When I finally got home from the hospital, I wanted so badly to hop on the scale to witness the miraculous weight loss from this “having a baby” diet.

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And.

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Dun. Dun. Dun.

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The weight I gained during pregnancy was still there. Every. Single. Pound. Yes. Every single pound was accounted for.

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I cried on the inside. 

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These are the things they don’t prepare you for postpartum, especially post-cesarean. The fervent of emotions. The inability to easily pick up your baby from their bassinet because your cut is new and wretchedly deep. The pain. The fear of being a new mother. The weight. Oh my goodness the water weight. But I stress – the emotions. Emotions because as new mom I can tell you expectations are too high. Emotions because I almost had vaginal birth but my baby couldn’t handle the contractions and her heart rate kept falling dangerously low. Emotions because I felt like every single person was overwhelmed with joy over my little miracle and all they wanted to do was meet her but they discarded me. No one (most) thought a cesarean was a big deal. Not many asked how I was. And because notifications of vagina jokes kept coming across my iPhone because… “Hey, it’s still intact!” What the fuck ever people!!!  Hello, I’m in pain!!! Everyone forgot I was the star of the show. But with the birth of my little angel I suddenly became the supporting actress. My glowing beauty transformed to that of a rag doll beat up and ran over by an 18-wheeler that reversed. I looked like 50 shades of SHIT with breasts as solid as boulders that doubled as my serving platter because I could eat dinner off them. Emotions because I was pining for the day I didn’t feel like a dairy cow. Emotions because despite it all, I wouldn’t trade my old self for my new self. Emotions because I thought I was crazy for loving this new role.

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Emotions because of my new body. 

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I remember I stripped off my clothes and looked in the mirror. I stood there for a long time. I poked my stomach. It was soft. I was amazed that the elasticity and muscle memory were not activating!!! Then I saw my thighs. My calves. My legs. I cried hard. Vulgar Tears. I felt disgusting in my skin. How could I have felt like a champion of pregnancy up until birth and return home looking like a foreigner in my skin? I truly didn’t recognize myself. There was no bump but those weren’t my thighs.

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Why hadn’t the doctors sent me home with a “What to expect after you have a baby – cesarean edition” pamphlet that outlines the litany of normal concerns for new mothers (and fathers) who courageously try to navigate through an emotional, sleep deprived battlefield of heightened senses? Mind you it should also detail realistic expectations of what you should anticipate from your body that asserts, “Relax! You don’t have a fever. And no, you did not wet the bed. You are experiencing  hot flashes and night sweats – that is your body’s natural way to flush out all the excess water from pregnancy and delivery.” I had NO pamphlet. I had to resort to Google for this wealth of information to learn that the pregnancy glow alters to a new form…a foreshadowing tale of what I have to look forward to – menopause. WTF.

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I was also patiently awaiting my new form sans baby bump. But I weighed the exact same after having had my 6 pound 5 oz baby girl from the day I was admitted. How was that even plausible even after being forced to fast, too? I drank nothing but water and coffee for days. I made liars of their cleansing characteristics because they surely didn’t act like any kind of diuretic. I was still feeling very pregnant. I was mortified. 

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The pamphlet idea would have been notably helpful at that mile marker. I didn’t know about all the water weight I would gain due to the IVs. I didn’t know my cut would burn, tingle, feel oddly numb but sense pressure for days, weeks, months. I didn’t know about breastfeeding and prolactin.

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I wore long dresses for days to hide my legs but they didn’t cover my newly augmented breasts by milk. People would speculate all my weight went there, and while it made me laugh, I was beyond uncomfortable. I was annoyed and embarrassed by my blossoming bosoms.

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I felt awkward. That’s it in a word. But I was also the happiest I had ever been. It was the strangest thing.

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But now that my little family and I are two months in, I’ve grown fond of my new body and its abilities. I had high expectations of rebounding and I didn’t meet the mark. But I know I will. That’s who I am. I do acknowledge that I’ve snapped back relatively quick but I wanted breastfeeding to be some miraculous cure-all of soft curves and a soft tummy. Newsflash: it isn’t. It’s an old wives tale.

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I am currently working hard at marathon training again and I believe I will get back to where I was before I was pregnant. Perhaps all these months off from intense training have alleviated my hip issues! (Praying!!!)

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Speaking of running, I have been doing speed work, fartleks, tempo runs, easy runs and I’m slowly gaining back my ability to cover distance. I completed my longest distance of 8 miles strong last week! While I’m so fortunate to be logging miles again to gain speed, endurance, and to soon cover distance to chase Boston, I’m finding that despite it all – my running, leg, booty, and killer core workouts – I’m still unable to activate that fat burning furnace I spoke of earlier to shed the last 3 postpartum pounds. .


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I know I sound obnoxious because it may not sound like much weight, but for me, as a runner, each pound adds time to my pace. My inner voice screamed and continues to scream, “WHAT gives!?!?” 

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I told you before, where I once had abs I am soft. Now I assure you I’m not bitching terribly much – I know I’m fortunate to have been able to shed most of the weight I gained without any effort, but these last few pounds have been troubling me, especially with my incessant desire to workout in an effort to reclaim my body! My gosh, I had rented it out for 39 weeks and even provided an eviction notice…can I have it back yet? Please?

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Through all my attempts guess what I discovered?!? Keep reading…This is only another example of the type of content the pamphlet should cover…

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Despite my efforts, mothers who breastfeed, regardless of the old wives tale that breastfeeding helps melt the fat, retain approximately 5-10 pounds of fat to ensure that in the event of famine, we can nourish our littles (so I guess I’m doing well!). The reason is due to the hormone prolactin – the evil but necessary culprit! Prolactin remains incredibly high in your body for up to 6 months postpartum making weight loss a challenge! It is a challenge because it reduces the body’s ability to metabolize fat. BAM! Repeat. BAM!!! It acts like a safeguard to protect a baby’s milk supply. Hey hospital, put that in a pamphlet to help new mothers ward off fatuous expectations! 

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So here I am, I’ve been sweating it out like the badass motherrunner that I am, and I can’t shake all the weight despite clean eating and exercise. I didn’t get it. I was so frustrated! But now knowing that when I decide to stop breastfeeding the weight should come off effortlessly makes me one happy runnergirl. Oh, that on top of the fact that I won’t be carrying melons around that fluctuate in weight every 2-3 hours. That’s right, I’ve been racing against my milk coming in! Maybe that’s making me faster (I can dream). But until I decide I can no longer continue nursing my little rosebud, I will cherish the moments of feeding her while also being proud that my milk is helping her get those adorable little rolls on her legs! That’s right, I’m the reason for my little chubbina (chubby signorina)!

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Thanks for stopping by and reading about my journey – from chasing Boston to chasing baby – motherhood and running – and my life between all those miles.

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XO

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Valgal

First Week of Marathon Training Postpartum

16 Jul

Hello lovelies!!!

Happy Saturday – woot woot! Today marked my longest run postpartum – 8 miles at an easy pace – averaging 7:52/min. My lungs and legs felt fresh. Granted, I could have definitely welcomed speed, but for first time ever, I’m following a marathon training schedule and it told me to go easy. Yup! This mama is ready to BQ!!! And with training I hope to shed the baby weight too. ..

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The hardest part of marathon training post baby so far has been to be patient with miles and time because let’s face it, during pregnancy we’re told not to: run for too long, not to elevate our heart rate, not to exert too much energy etc…Therefore, running for long periods of time is new again – my mental training to tackle distance is lacking. The second challenge is running in between feeding sessions – I’m always racing against my milk coming in 😂. .

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Anyway, I really wanted to go faster and/or longer today but I took a step back and told myself that I am committed to embracing the marathon program that promises speed. If I could run a Mary before (or 3), then I can definitely run one again 🙌🏼!!! I mean shoot, I only missed Boston by 4 minutes before while having bronchitis – perhaps I’m closer after baby? Either way I’m loving the journey! First week of 12 ✔️ done and done! .

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Hello, #Boston! I’m coming for you!!! 💙💛 #bq

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Thanks for stopping by! XO.

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Valgal 


Runnergirls’s Postpartum Update

13 Jul

Hello lovelies!

Today’s been a really hard and emotional day for me. The ugliness of these feelings crept in my mind last night and I was surprised they were still present this morning. I’m not sure why I’m feeling blue – but I’m crying for no apparent reason. I’m thinking it’s related to postpartum hormones and the unwelcoming truth that I return to work soon.

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To shake these feelings I went for an hour run and covered 7.6 miles – my longest run PP!!! My average time was 7:53. These miles includes a mix of #fartleks and #tempo pace for #marathon #training. I had a few fast miles disguised in my overall pace and that, as well as the sweat, helped clear my mind – but not enough. I finished today’s workout feeling both badass and disengaged with my mind…

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You see, this quote puts it perfectly – “Running is alone time that lets me unspool the tangles that build up over days. I run, pound it out on the pavement, channel that energy into my legs, and when I’m done with my run, I’m done with it.” This may not be the case today, but I’m sure it helped me run some of the funk out.

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Hey postpartum hormones, you’re a bitch! Hopefully, I get back to me STAT. Until then, I’ll be running it out but most importantly, loving on my little rosebud. #postpartumsucks #truth #justbeinghonest

Thanks for stopping by!

XO

Valgal

Celebrating Yoshie – Living Bravely and Boldly with Lung Cancer 

28 Jun

Hello lovelies…this post is about my life between the miles – it is about the celebration of my mother-in-law’s life that came to an early end because of her battle with cancer. 

We celebrated mom’s life this past weekend. We didn’t want this day to come, at least not until she led a long happy life. But we didn’t have a choice. We have been forced to go on without her. And while we all feel the suffering, the pain, and the grieving, we are fortunate mom is no longer experiencing the same. On June 25, 2016 family and friends gathered to remember the light that she was.

Mom was only 60. A fresh new 60. She would have told you she was 37 though. It’s amazing that in a flash backwards we were celebrating her 50th birthday in the same house. She was as magnanimous then as she was during her last days, and remarkably enough, the same age, 37. 

We celebrate mom’s life because that’s what she would have wanted. Nobody has a choice about time traveling on. We just have to. We have to go on without mom. I see the reservoir of pain that the loss has caused in the hearts of her husband and son. I know we are all feeling the suffering and pain of her loss. F*ck cancer. 

During the memorial I realized that the pieces of mom that we keep don’t have to be material. They are memories imprinted on our hearts. Family and friends cheerfully shared stories of her radiant smile and her infectious laughter during the celebration. We learned from others what we have always known, that mom was wonderfully generous and warm. She was always excited to see you and she made you feel like she was your biggest fan. Mom’s boss shared with us that she made sure she was the first to wish everyone “Happy Friday” at work. It was a game! We could picture her enthusiasm at the office and we all shared a heartfelt yet heavy chuckle.
 
In learning of this story I reflected on my Fridays. Every Friday in my inbox I had an email from mom. The subject line was simple, “Happy Friday!” And the content of the email was a “hello, happy Friday, happy weekend. Love you. Miss you. Ciao!” My heart smiled but wasn’t free of pain. I realized in that moment I won’t be receiving any more emails from mom. Our little exchanges stopped when God decided he needed her more than we did. And in those moments I selfishly acknowledged how I still needed her emails. Having mom peppered in my day with a Skype call, phone call or email made everything okay. She gave me peace and made me laugh despite the peripheral chaos. I need happy Friday. And now it’s gone. 

I was sprinkled in and out of mom’s life for 15 years. But in the time I spent with her and her family, I saw how mom had done the best she could raising her family and in being a friend. She, again, gave generously all that she had and more. There was no end to her generosity. Ever. Even during her final days. 

Mom fought cancer emphatically. She knew cancer was a ruthless bitch but she wasn’t afraid. Mom chose to be brave. She fought bravely for 26 months. Her oncologist’s best case was 24 months. Leave it to mom to fight longer! But she didn’t know. She refused to know the prognosis of lung cancer. In a sense, her incredulous disposition allowed her to be jubilantly blind to the unyielding outcome that awaited her. In my opinion, I think it was a blessing because it allowed her to live each day boldly!

Mom was brave her entire life (she took a chance on David – her husband). Brave and equally stubborn (I know where Andy gets it from, thanks mom). This combination of attributes helped her mental grit to stay strong and continue to fight. Not one day did mom reveal that she felt like a victim. She refused. She didn’t take the easy way out and let cancer get the best of her. She stayed happy. It was remarkable. How can one be so incredibly happy when faced with such an untenable and dire diagnosis? She was happier than what seemed appropriate. She really put things in perspective. We can learn so much from her.  

We miss her. I’m so fortunate to have found my way back in her life. Oriana knows her grandma. She used to kick to the sound of her voice and mom’s entire face would light up. Her smile would grow with such exuberance. Oriana will continue to know her grandma. Not in a physical sense. Not by her voice singing lullabies and seeing to it that her granddaughter, who is the splitting image of her son, falls asleep, but because we will continue to speak of mom and share her memory, like they share the same birthday. In a way they are one. 

It’s hard for us to wrap our minds around mom not being here. It’s hard for me to see my fiancé face this reality. The hurt is visible. But I believe Oriana has helped him through this pain. As a mother now, I understand love in another form. And with that, I’m bewildered that with mom being such a soft, benevolent soul, that someone of her own bloodline didn’t make an appearance at the memorial. In addition, she didn’t phone or send flowers. She wasn’t absent because she couldn’t handle the emotional affair, she was absent because over the course of several years, her heart has been completely dissolved of love and forgiveness. She is devoid of feelings. This woman is a mother, too. But clearly she is missing a sensitivity chip, a maternal link that unifies sisterhood and the celebration of women. In addition to her absence, she also neglected to send mom flowers or a card for (her last) Mother’s Day and her birthday. It wasn’t until mom’s husband reached out, again after countless efforts, to inform her that mom’s days were shortly numbered that she finally showed up. The family was happy she made an appearance. Mom was able to see her three grandchildren that were selfishly poached from her for years before passing. 

This person saw her brother but disregarded him as blood. One could speculate that she gives more respect to strangers than to her own family. In her typical tasteless mannerism, she also failed to congratulate Andy on the birth of his daughter and engagement to me (like some other tacky people). 

Anyway, I’ve given this woman too much attention but I bring it up because Andy, despite the history of her wretched behavior, included her in his speech as well as in an exquisite video montage that he created for the service. 

While we scoured through photographs, I couldn’t help but have sheets of tears fall down my face. Picture after picture painted an image of mom holding her first granddaughter. Laughing. Smiling. Dancing. Nurturing. Exactly how I remember mom. In those moments I was forced to accept that mom has three grandchildren that had spent minimal time with her but the time that was documented revealed a history of fun and joy. And here we are with Oriana who will never be charmed by grandma’s silly lullabies, soothed by her gentle touch, or bounced by the rhythm of her dancing. In a very short time going through pictures I had a laundry list of upsets because Oriana was robbed of mom by cancer, and her other grandchildren were robbed of mom by her very own daughter.m. Andy’s sister has no clue what she has done. I would do anything to have Oriana know and love mom in a physical state. I would do anything to have my daughter be embraced by the warmth that was mom – but she never will be. The thought is unbearable. 

What I’m writing isn’t absent of honest conversation. Every family has dysfunction. I’m not airing out dirty laundry – her behavior has been flagrantly evident and witnessed by family, friends and medical staff for years. But the tale of this dysfunction stopped at mom’s death. There were so many opportunities for this woman to make things better, amicable at best. Andy, being the class-act that he is, found that he exhausted his efforts over the years. Any effort made was returned with mute silence. Silence that begged to be undisturbed; screeching evidence that she had long abandoned the family. The disturbing thing is that mom knew she wouldn’t come to her funeral. The only time I saw mom cry was when she spoke of this. Cancer didn’t hurt mom’s spirits – her daughter did. 

The memorial was a success. Andy did not preclude his sister from the service. Family and friends asked where she was and he casually remarked that she couldn’t make it. Interesting. Family from Japan made it out to see mom in March when it was revealed that the cancer metastasized to the brain. That was a 13+ hour journey not including layovers. Family and friends also traveled from Arizona to Wisconsin to celebrate mom’s life. We even drove 13+ hours from DC to Wisconsin (with a newborn and a dog). But she couldn’t make a 3 hour drive. The trek must have been burdened with too much traffic, or perhaps guilt…

She is undeserving of this attention. I digress.

Mom, we will practice forgiveness as you have displayed by example. It was just that her actions were so glaringly dismissive and you deserve more. You deserved more. You deserved the world. 

Your absence hurts but we know you and Oriana share the same spirit. We see you in her smiles and hear you in her coos. Andy, Oriana and I are writing a new story. Oriana Yoshie is your bloodline and she has your charismatic spirit already! Your life is being carried on through our little girl, and that is our sweeping redemptive ending – or beginning. Your spirit goes on. 

The reality that you’re not here though sends an electrical current of hurt through our bodies. Moving forward without you is a monumental task. We celebrate you, every single day. I wish you could be here. We wish you were with us to watch the NBA finals. We wish we could have seen your happy dance when Cleveland won! We wish you could hold your granddaughter today and every tomorrow, but we are eternally grateful you both met each other. I know you’re looking down on us and you can see this, but I want to tell you, your son is an extraordinary father. A generous fiancé with a stubborn streak. Please help me learn to accept this! But honestly, with his stubborn attitude aside (an indication that you’re still very present) you would be so proud. We ask that you continue to guide us like you have through this unchartered experience. 

We will remember to see the beauty in the ugly. We will remember to fight through adversity. We will remember that there is always a reason to smile when things feel heavy and hopeless. We will carry on “Happy Friday!” notes. We will let go of resentment. We will practice forgiveness. We will do all of this in your honor. We will live courageously, bravely and boldly with you in our hearts and your cinematic laughter in our ears. In closing, and with Elton John’s words, we remember “How wonderful life is while you’re in the world.”

We love you. 

Wishing you all unconditional love, the courage to forgive and the strength to fight boldly any battle or heartbreak that you face.

God bless.

Thanks for stopping by.

XO

Valgal


My Type A Journey to a C – A Birth Story

15 May

Good morning friends! Happy Weekend!!! 

Oh my goodness, this is my first Saturday morning waking up as a mom. Yes. A mom!!!! My heart is melting as I type this on my phone while simultaneously staring at my beautiful daughter all swaddled up and dozing off. I am spellbound by her every movement, face, sound, gesture…

And then it hits me. The sudden reality that I am a mother. Proof that being type A doesn’t mean much as far as game planing goes. Trying to get pregnant at precisely the right time (yeah right), trying to arrange when the baby comes, crafting a birth plan(s)…With planning I’ve learned that something will happen making a muck of your neatly arranged, tailor-made itinerary. (I didn’t have a birth plan but I’m still bemused over my birth story.)

This whole “embracing motherhood” thing started in August 2015. But motherhood materializing into something other than a hashtag on Insta got real on Tuesday, May 10th. 

On May 10th I went to my routine weekly pregnancy checkup. This was the 39th week appointment! The doctor and I discussed how I was feeling and talked about dates for a scheduled induction in case baby girl didn’t debut Sunday, May 15th. 

On my way to my next appointment at Maternal & Fetal Medicine I phoned Andy. I was stoked to tell him that if baby girl doesn’t come on her own they plan on inducing me Wednesday, May 18th. I shared the news in a quick flash as the next set of doctors whisked me away and hooked me up to the non-stress machine.

After 40 minutes of what is typically a 20 minute monitoring session of baby’s heartbeat  and movement I was escorted to the sonography room. This was after the intermittent intervals of nurses coming in and asking me to drink orange juice topped with what felt like aggressive poking of my belly. *Side Note: I visited Maternal & Fetal Medicine weekly due to baby girl’s risk for SGA (small for gestational age). Nothing was ever too alarming. Images and testing always revealed that my amniotic fluid levels were perfect, baby girl was measuring petite but proportionate in the 12th percentile, and her heart rate was top notch. Except on Tuesday, May 10th, something was off kilter. 

When the sonographer wrapped up she told me she’d be back after she shared the images with the doctor. This is normal. Fast forward 10 anxious minutes and the dapper Dr. Akoma greeted me. She was beaming. My panic had immediately frittered away.

Dr. Akoma, again, beaming, had bright eyes with a sparkle. I was admiring her composure. She made me feel settled. Worry-free.

She spoke. “Looks like you’re having a baby!” 

Me: “I know!” In a pitch like a 5-year discovering she’s going to Disneyland.

Dr. Akoma: “Well alright, let’s get you induced!”

Me: “Oh, yes. I am scheduled for Wednesday, May 18th.

Dr. Akoma: “No, dear. You’re going to be induced today. Your baby, although her heart rate is great, she isn’t moving like she should and you don’t feel her enough to reassure us that your pregnancy should continue. At 39 weeks she is term. She is ready. Are you ready? Call your husband and tell him to get here. Your room is being prepped.”

Me: “Oh my gosh, okay. Is she okay? Oh wow, so we are doing this. Today? I get to meet my baby girl?! What do you mean my room is getting prepped? I have to wrap up work. I mean I don’t have to but there are things I need to do. Can I go home and get my hospital bag? ” My furor was extraordinary muffling my speech. Dr. Akoma was probably unable to make a thing out or thought I was delirious.

Regardless, I was about to have a baby!!!! 

I called Andy. “We’re being induced, TODAY!!!” This communication string was priceless. Emotional. Exciting. Inexplicable. It was an exchange of words and enthusiastic cries that will be forever etched in my heart. A private dialogue between two parents-to-be preparing for the best day of their lives.

I was accompanied by a lovely nurse who gave me red carpet treatment all the way to the labor and delivery wing. The experience was surreal. Not at all as I had envisioned. 

Labor and delivery. 

Wow.

Fast-forward a few hours. It was 3:30p. I was intoxicated by my emotions and the realness of “having a baby!” I laughed a bit, too. I was anxious. Nervous. Excited. Our lives were about to change in a matter of hours.

Side Tangent.

Me: “Babe, you know what’s wild?! I’m so happy I ran yesterday! I logged at least one run in in my 39th week of pregnancy! Whoop! Whoop! Which really means I can say I ran my whole pregnancy!”

Andy: “Val, you’re out of control. You shouldn’t have run. You’re done. You can’t run now for 6 weeks. You’re going to listen to me and the doctor.”

Me: “Yeah. I’m well aware. But seriously, I would’ve been so disappointed had I not ran yesterday.

But back to having a baby!!!

At 3:30p on May 10th I was only 70% effaced, 1cm dilated and feeling painless contractions. To begin the induction they gave me Cervidil. It is designed to ripen the cervix to 100% to begin active labor. The process using Cervidil was expected to last no more than 12 hours. 

After several hours my contractions were back to back about every two to three minutes. They were painful. Painful. Painful. I told Andy and the nurses that I wanted to shake the hands and kiss the feet of every woman out there who had a natural birth because these contractions were tempestuous! I recall thinking that I must be 100% effaced and super dilated if they hurt like they did!!! I was ready to keep them coming because each one meant we were closer to meeting our daughter.

Around 11pm three + nurses came rushing in. They were fixated on the monitoring screen. They gave off panicky vibes and were speaking quickly in a language foreign to me. Andy took one look at me and saw my fear. He grabbed my hand to comfort me. He proceeded to ask, “What’s wrong?”

After they assessed everything they informed us that our baby’s heart rate fell drastically with each contraction and it had been too low for too long. She had not yet recovered from the last few contractions.

My heart stopped. 

No tears formed but I was crying on the inside. I was scared. I tried to stay calm. Relaxed. Strong. I was everything but.

Cervidil, although a mild drug, created stronger than expected contractions for me and our baby was distressed with each one. They feared it could be due to prolapse of the umbilical cord. “If this occurs, the umbilical cord may become compressed between the fetal head and the walls of the mother’s pelvis, thereby cutting off the blood supply to the fetus. Unless a vaginal delivery is expected to occur immediately, cesarean section must be performed to save the baby’s life.” The staff couldn’t delineate which one was influencing our daughter’s low heart rate. Was it the Cervidil or prolapse of the umbilical cord? Either reason behind it, fetal distress was not good and the alternatives were looking dour.

They removed the Cervidil. 

That’s all I’m going to write on that.

Roughly an hour later I was given an epidural. Finally!!!

They exercised some caution before administering it. I didn’t give a care that I was only 1cm dilated, my body was in labor even though it appeared I was failing to progress.

Within 30 minutes of receiving the epidural my already low blood pressure plummeted. In turn, baby girl’s heart rate fell to its lowest and was not recovering timely. It was a spectacle. After careful monitoring and continued guests rushing in and out, the doctor on call came in to discuss a cesarean with me. I obliged that if it’s necessary, it’s necessary.

Then our daughter’s heart rate took a turn for the better. Yay! The cesarean was an afterthought, for the time being. But with that being the third time they flirted with it, I began to think it was highly likely.

It was finally dark in the room. The machines weren’t yelling at us anymore. We finally had some semblance of peace and quiet. It was as tranquil as it could be. It was as tranquil as it would ever be. The nurses continued to monitor me. Hours went by with faint beeps in comparison to the alarms. The conversations being held by the medical staff echoed in the room but the epidural helped me zone them out. They told me to relax because I’ll need all my energy for pushing in a few hours. I was beginning to feel reassured that we could have our daughter vaginally. I breathed deep. Looked at Andy. Smiled. 

But there was no chance to relax once they began the IV drip of Pitocin at 7a. I was surprised they were giving me this drug since it was a lot stronger than Cervidil. But who am I to question the doctor? Oriana’s heart rate was steady again at 130 and had been for a while. I didn’t feel the need to challenge them. The first of the Pitocin dosage was small and it was gradually increased.

Then there was a repeat of the noise that flooded the room a few hours prior. Alarms were ringing, medical staff  were avidly speaking in doctor-tongue, and I was being asked incessant questions about my health, allergies, fetal movement…

Our daughter was experiencing, yet again, serious fetal heart rate deceleration. I was still only 1cm-2cm dilated. The Cervidil and now the Pitocin, although they acted catalysts to make the contractions stronger, weren’t working to dilate me. 

Active labor was happening but at slow rate. Despite back to back contractions, transition aka pushing was guaranteed to be hours away. This was not good. With the fetal heart rate decelerations continuing as frequently as they were, baby girl was not getting the oxygen needed to sustain labor. Therefore, the doctors did not want to risk continuing as it would jeopardize baby’s health. In every effort to avoid an “emergency” they wanted to conduct a cesarean for immediate delivery.

They asked me how I felt about it. I had no feelings about it. I was prepared for anything in labor and delivery. My type A personality took a backseat. I did not try to govern the process of delivery. My birth plan was this —> epidural. I was prepared to be game for anything. And I was.

I knew far too well that you can’t plan for labor and delivery. I didn’t plan on being induced. I was told I was going to be induced. I didn’t plan that my body would fail to progress in labor. But my body failed to progress. When vaginal birth was no longer an option, I was already prepared for the invasive procedure better known as a c-section. I didn’t plan on a cesarean. I was told it was medically necessary. 

My type A personality accepted the substandard and dreaded C. Honestly, I would have accepted anything to ensure the health and safety of my unborn daughter.

Within minutes I was being rolled out to the operating room. It was May 11th at 11:15a. I had no time to really conceptualize what was happening. They turned Andy away to another room to change. I was there, in the mix of all these doctors, anxious inside. Crying inside. Thinking my body failed. Thinking I failed as a woman. But then something switched. I couldn’t stop thinking that I’d be holding my daughter in an hour. The crocodile tears fell down my face.

The operation was something else. To be numb but tugged around like a rag doll. Hmm. I held Andy’s hand and griped tightly. In a matter of minutes, literally, the doctor said, “Your daughter will be here in 5 minutes.” 

I turned to Andy. This was the last time I’d look at him as a man not yet a father. My eyes bigger than ever filled with tears. I was Excited. Nervous. Anxious. Already in love. I froze the moment in my memory bank. 

Then…

Doctor: “She’s got so much hair! Congratulations on a beautiful baby girl!”

May 11th, 12:04p we became parents to Oriana Yoshie Shreeve. A bundle of perfection weighing in at 6.5lbs and 19.6″.

Just like that I saw my daughter in a flash of a second while they transferred her from my abdomen to the table behind me. They took her to do the Apgar testing and invited daddy. I was left there on the table alone. I was literally paralyzed from the chest down unable to get her in my line of sight. I turned my neck as much as I could to try and catch a glimpse of her.


Tears were perpetually falling from my face. I was thinking, “I have a daughter. We have a daughter. We have a little girl!” 

My sweet fiancé transformed into a daddy. I watched him in those precious moments overwhelmed with emotions and falling in deeper love with him. This is our family now. I spent 39 weeks waiting to meet this little soul and there she was – a few arm lengths away with her daddy whom was and continues to be captivated by her.

When they finally placed her in my bed, I nuzzled her warm skin. I stared at her. I breathed her in. Life stood still. She was all I knew existed.

The way I felt in that moment was new but familiar. She is my heart. She has always been my heart. In that instant I couldn’t recollect life without her. She fills me completely. She is proof that love is not something you search for. Love isn’t something you dream for. Love is something you do. And she, our baby girl, is a result of the love between her father and me. She is the best part of us. She is our greatest gift. 

Everything in my life like the nonsense, the stress, the chaos, the opinions of others, the friends that have come and gone, the what-ifs, it all became preposterously irrelevant when I met Oriana. She obliterated it all. She has opened me. 

Today she is 3 days old. She’s sleeping peacefully near me. I catch myself staring at her in complete awe that she is mine – all mine. Staring into her eyes and seeing her fixate on me eliminates the pain from the cesarean. Her very being reminds me not to feel ashamed of my body post-cesarean. 

Of all the things I’d done wrong during my journey through life, in getting myself here tells me I’d done something right. The severe swelling (thighs, calves, ankles – entire legs), my likeness to Frankenstein with the wretched staples, the extreme discomfort, the inability to get in and out of bed without it being a 10 minute ordeal, while it doesn’t sound ideal, is something I’d do all over again. Life doesn’t need to be so complicated. Oriana has shown me how simple it all is. And it’s astounding.

I have a daughter. The amount I love her cannot be qualified. It’s all-encompassing. I don’t know who I was before her.

I welcome my new life. I may be type A but the C has taught me to accept all things. You can’t know beautiful without knowing a bit of brutal. The C was brutal. But it is a temporary state of brutal/discomfort. My scar will be a beautiful reminder of my daughter and our time together as one. Oriana is my forever. She is my blossoming soul. She is my kind of beautiful. She always will be.

I love you, Oriana. Thank you for making me a mommy.

Thanks for stopping by!

Valgal

XO

FMLA is Dog Shit Wrapped in Cat Shit. 

1 May

I’ve been wanting to blog about government and maternity leave – or lack thereof. Oh, and how FML is synonymous to FMLA. I have to tread carefully.

Facts:

It takes 4.6 years working with the government to accumulate 12 weeks of sick leave (assuming you don’t take one min of sick leave off during your tenure). And then the government tells you you can only use 6 weeks for labor/birth of a child. Anything thereafter is considered bonding with your baby and this is NOT allowed. 

You can use annual leave too. Hoping you have enough to reach your goal of time off for “maternity leave” without wiping out your balances. But why do you need to have any leave saved? You won’t get sick, baby won’t get sick, you don’t need a vacation, you sure as heck don’t need to travel to see family to show off your precious babe – clearly – wiping out your stock of leave makes perfect sense for the incidentals that never occur…

*** BUT WAIT *** The Family and Medical Leave Act, FMLA, is an option. This is currently the only federal leave protection available to American workers who have babies. It does not require that an employer pay a new mother for a single day of leave.

Great option! Leave without pay. Sign me up!!! No. I’m being sarcastic. This is a distressing option.

And here’s some more bullshit – if I were a man I wouldn’t have to use sick leave for this major event (I’m not discounting paternity leave I’m talking strictly about women and labor). This would result with a benefit to my retirement. You see, when you retire with the government unused sick leave will be converted into retirement months. If you retire under CSRS, each month’s worth of unused sick leave will increase your annuity by 1/6 of 1 percent (.1666 percent). If you have a full year it will be increased by 2 percent. Basically, because you’re a man, you’re more likely to accumulate a lot more sick leave than women who chose to have children resulting in a greater payout.

Wow. 

Is this an unspoken disadvantage to women who bear children working within the system? Or is the argument that our advantage is giving the miracle of life? 

If you’re a man who is moaning and grunting over this exclaiming it is our choice to have children and that it’s our choice to be penalized like so, do me a favor, take your opinion and stick it up your ass where your missing stick is.

This Is gender inequality. 

Article by Rebecca Traister of New Republic

Why Women Can’t Break Free from the Parent Trap

“…The confluence of all these factors means that women are now having babies smack in the middle of their peak earning periods and that their earnings are crucial to the economic stability of their families. And there is no denying that motherhood makes an economic and practical dent in the shape and solidity of their careers. University of Massachusetts sociologist Michelle Budig has found that, on average, an American woman’s earnings decrease by 4 percent for every child that she bears, a figure that sounds even more brutal when compared to the fact that after men have kids, their earnings increase, on average, by 6 percent. Researchers have also found that fathers are more likely to be hired and to be regarded as more competent employees than mothers.

These gendered discrepancies in post-childbirth careers can be understood via a host of historical assumptions about mothers and fathers; hoary ideas about providers versus nurturers, masculine responsibility versus feminine pliability. And, of course, there is the stratospheric cost of unsubsidized American childcare, a factor that leads many more women than men to drop out of the workforce or cut back on their professional commitments. These realities are abhorrent, but they are, at least, studied. What goes less noticed is the way pregnancy and immediate postpartum life itself plays a serious role in slowing professional momentum for women for whom the simple—and celebrated—act of having a baby turns out to be a stunningly precarious economic and professional choice…”

Do you see the inequity? 

Anyway…I’m beyond miffed. Disgusted. Angry. Our country has such a myopic vision with maternity leave. Our country fails mothers. 

The Family and Medical Leave Act fails families. 

I can’t take more than 6 weeks of sick leave regardless if I have more. I seriously flirted with the notion of electing to have a c-section just to get 8-12 weeks of sick leave. But do I want to do that to my body if it’s not necessary? The mere fact that I was sincerely contemplating a c-section as an option just to have more time with my baby affirms that something is wrong. 

I’ll be taking the limited sick leave and annual leave I’m dictated to take – that I’ve saved up. 

Suddenly I’m guilt-ridden because I’ve traveled and lived life using annual leave to explore foreign countries and beaches. Fuck. Maybe I should have hoarded my time off instead and sat on my couch watching exotic lands and lived vicariously through these jet-setting assholes on television who give no fucks – who live and give the finger to the system.

I have used sick leave sparingly over the years. Perhaps I shouldn’t have because the government imposes iniquitous impasses for moms-to-be with what their definition of “sick” and “serious medical condition” are. 

Why don’t you carry a child for 40 weeks, endure labor, care for baby and yourself while you’re still bleeding nonstop, producing milk, leaking, and show up for work you intolerant antiquated schmuck. 

But don’t worry; during my absence I’m sure I’ll be checking my email from home and will be able to help you with anything…because I must be on vacation…?

I sound angry. I hate being angry. But I am. I’m also blessed to have a career I love. I love those I work with. I’m not angry with them. They aren’t the ones adding the red tape. 

Maneuverability through the archaic system is sufferable. I found myself calling my fiancé with tears streaming down my face and speechless when I received the news that I can’t take more leave. I couldn’t articulate one word. When sounds fell from my lips it echoed hysteria and gasps for air. I informed him that our 12 weeks was lessened to 8. The idea that our baby girl’s neck muscles will still be fairly weak breaks my heart. She is still so helpless at 8 weeks. All babies are. She will still need support and all of my love. I have an overwhelming sense of panic. 8 weeks is not enough. 

I have to hand her off because I work for an agency that doesn’t get it. *** Reminder *** sick leave may be used for a “serious medical condition” such as “pregnancy or prenatal care,” though crucially not recovery from childbirth. Ugh!!!

This is how the government puts FML in FMLA. FMLA is dog shit wrapped in cat shit. 

That’s all.

XO

Thanks for stopping by,

Valgal

The Pitch – My Relentless Pursuit to Run 13.1 Miles for Two

30 Mar

Hello lovelies!!!

 

Happy Badabump [insert Hump if you’re not lucky enough to endure unprecedented weight gain despite workout efforts, heartburn (from water), hunger pangs at 5a that are only satisfied with a slice of toast with a light spread of natural peanut butter and drizzle of honey, kicks and jabs from within that wake you up but melt your heart, the insatiable appetite for an entire bottle of wine – Chardonnay, Prosecco, or Malbec – because close to 9 months of sobriety is a bitch and I’m jonesing for a buzz, oh yeah, and upper/lower back pain] Day to you all!!!

 

Anyway… Let’s get to the content.

 

Well holy guacamole runner friends – this mama-to-be ran a half-marathon pregnant! Yes. Pregnant. All of 31 weeks of me and my little macaroon hit the pavement running. If you’re reading this and you follow me on IG and/or Facebook I’m certain you saw my photo spam that documented this incredible journey. Anyway, I’m here to give you a little glimpse into how I convinced my man to let me run 13.1 miles for two to mark the most epic and total experience ever.

 

A little disclaimer: The Rock n’ Roll DC Marathon Series is significant to me. I ran the Rock n’ Roll DC Marathon Series in March 2014 and it marked my first ever participation in the full 26.2-mile trek to the finish line. I trained for months on the unforgiving apparatus – the treadmill – during my first winter in the District classified as “snowmageden.” Despite running on the treadmill with an even incline, I finished the race and with far too much energy left in the tank – after the hills and all. The energy stores left in the reserve triggered my affair to find perfection. I would go on to run more marathons as the ultimate test of my running ability. Fast forward to the Rock n’ Roll DC Marathon Series in March 2015 – this would be the third marathon I would complete. Having just come off the residual high of missing a BQ by 4 minutes (I ran the Marine Corps Marathon October 2014 with bronchitis and stopped several times to hack a lung or two) I was more than ready to race and secure my spot on the Boston Marathon starting line. I was certain I’d qualify and at the very same race only one-year prior that ignited this passion. My legs were light. My body told me I found the balance between training and rest days. I was at my perfect race weight. I was alert. I had no fear that I wouldn’t give 100%. I hadn’t exhausted my limits. I would BQ. I was flying. “Light. Easy. Fly.” was written on my hand for support during the moments when the fun of running manifests itself into drudgery. But BQ I didn’t. The significance of this race was the mounting wave of pain that overtook my right hip . After a failed BQ attempt, an arthrogram (painful) and x-rays I was told surgery would be the placeholder for a BQ (at least for a while) to repair the FAI and large labral tear. I didn’t know what was worse. The constant state of excruciating pain felt on my right hip or the fact that I’d be forced to be immobile for 6-9 months post-surgery. That reality led me down a rabbit hole of emotions and what-ifs. Thoughts of losing all athletic ability, losing muscle and form, endurance capabilities, maximal aerobic capacity/peak VO2, etc. I was devastated. Ugh!!! I was told by the doctors that surgery would help me – it’s the setback for the ultimate comeback. But I didn’t care. I wouldn’t be running. And life without running is not life – at least not for me.  Then through Immaculate Conception (wink wink) my body decided to carry a life – and voila – I found myself 31 weeks pregnant and flirting with my third Rock n’ Roll DC Marathon Series  – but this time I’d only tackle the half-marathon – that is, if everyone cleared me to run because of baby girl and my hip. Talk about the significance of this particular race. Each one marked a pivotal moment for me in my exploration of mind, body, spirit and ability.

 Note: I’ve been running with FAI and a labral tear since diagnosis. The pain is not terribly significant since distance has been minimized. It’s there. But tolerable.

But let’s talk about this third Rock n’ Roll DC race, my being in the third trimester and the arduous pitching I had to conduct to make the sale. Because I was a runner before being pregnant and maintained my activity during pregnancy I was cleared outright by my doctors to participate in the half-marathon. The only convincing, pleading, marketing, selling, and solicitation I had to do was with Andy – the father of our unborn child. His concerns were that of my health (especially my hip) and baby girl. Granted he knows I would never jeopardize the health of our baby he had his worries, despite what the doctors said. Naturally, I petitioned him. Every. Single. Day. 

 

Because his obstinate stance opposing my participation running a half-marathon was met with my obstinate stance for participating, we missed each coupon code and price reduction incentivizing runners to join.

 

Then shit got real. 

 

The last-call for registration was during the Health Expo for package pickup. Hello, this was two days prior to the race. My sales pitch obviously lacking. Andy wasn’t budging. Couple my plea to run with a higher cost to race – I didn’t see a favorable outcome. This wouldn’t be an entry fee paid for in the race with my unrestrained willingness to push myself to collapse and PR. No. This is an entry fee I want to pay so that I could run effortlessly with a moderate heart rate to feed ego and pride – to say I did it. To say I ran for two. (But don’t I most days of the week on the treadmill for $29.99/month?)

 

I channeled my inner teenager. I flooded him with texts. Message after message pinged his phone as if we time traveled back to when we were teenagers and he pulled some dumb shit (okay, me too) and I was appealing his requests.

 

I explained why I had to run. And I am sharing my mini dissertation with you so you can get a glimpse of my conjunction of life and running.

 

“…my being pregnant is really a marvel to me. I haven’t lost the lust to run and it is who I am. I don’t want to be like the norm because of the lack of perfection (my being pregnant, not a race weight, etc.) as a reason not to participate. I have the intuitive and instinctive nature to care for my daughter – unborn or not – and me. If I need to walk I walk. It’s not about racing. It’s about being a part of a community and a tribe that is unlike anything else. It’s about me being out there – moving – slowly – and with the grace of God and my will behind me. It’s about showcasing that you can be fit and active and pregnant at any size and at any stage. It’s my play time. Where I can be interacting freely in an environment that I love – and outside with nature – in my element. It’s liberating. It’s euphoric. And I miss it terribly. It’s so much more than running. It’s my lifestyle. And I know you came back in my world when I was prepping for a surgery – but you don’t know who I am and how liberating and free it makes me. I found myself through running and it’s because of running I’ve found confidence and self-acceptance. It’s gives me so much joy. It fulfills me.”

 

And there you have it. Like an overdramatic 16-year old girl I was committed to convincing the man I love to accept me.

 

So what did he do? He went ghost on me. The sound of silence was loud. Unbearable.  Each passing 45 minutes I glanced at my phone. Nothing. Not even the little dots to indicate he was typing. I was convinced I wouldn’t be running. He won. My determination to run was no match to his contrarious petition.

 

Then I got the call.

 

The call of calls. My florid of texts worked. He granted my request!

 

I was in shock. Giddy. Childlike enthusiasm came over me. You couldn’t wipe the grin from off my face. I was smiling ear to ear. Big. Wide. Showing all my teeth! I giggled. I shrieked. I jumped up and down. No kidding. I was time warped  back to being 16 when he asked me to prom – I couldn’t wait to announce the news but more importantly, dress for the occasion! Except this time I wouldn’t need long preparation, a fancy dress, my hair all done up, or makeup – only the essentials – colorful compression socks, a matching headband, sunglasses, my Garmin (I’m eyeballing the new Garmin Fenix Sapphire 3  but it’s totally unnecessary as I’m 8 1/2 months pregnant), iPod, a hair tie and my Newtons.

Fenix Sapphire 3

 

So there you have it. I signed up…

 

Not to race. Not to smash a PR. But to simply run.

 

And run I did.

Thanks for stopping by!!!

 

XO

 

Valgal

 

PS – My experience running for two covering the distance of a half marathon at 31 weeks pregnant will be posted shortly. I’ve had the case of pregnant brain and speaking let alone writing complete sentences has presented me with a great challenge – that and maintaining a focus without being distracted “Squirrel!” Ha.

My Life Between the Miles: Cancer Can Suck It

12 Feb

Good afternoon lovelies!

 

It’s been a few short but evidently growing weeks since my last post from this mama-to-be! Can you believe it that we are at 26 weeks and 5 days – 2 whole days shy from hitting 27 weeks, which per American Pregnancy Organization puts me in the third trimester!

 

Where did the time go?

 

Time is fleeting. Andy and I have met so many unfortunate and fortunate realities over the course of our newest beginning to include that as parents-to-be but more romantically, our new beginning as Andy and Valerie – getting our shit right for the final time (it took us 16 years to get here – and the path wasn’t all that linear).

 

Anyway, I’m so fortunate to have Andy by my side. He has and continues to be my rock. Life is full of obstacles, burdens, blunders and at this moment the dichotomy of life and death has blinded my foresight – something I affirm to be a great strength of mine. There is so much ugliness in the world. Some of it is intentionally committed. Some of it takes shape as cancer. Some of it is concealed by mental disturbances. All of it is part of the journey of life. But I dislike it nonetheless. I accept that the ugly helps to contour the beauty.

 

And while I openly charge cancer for assault, disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, drug trafficking, extortion, harassment, identity theft, robbery, securities fraud, and theft to name a few – I recognize that these convictions do not dilute the love in our eyes. The love is stronger. Braver. More courageous.

 

Cancer can break you. It can break your loved ones. What’s healing is the love that manifests from places and people previously unknown to be there – but they were always there – silent champions for hope. There is so much magic in love. I can’t get over how such a dark truth can blossom unyielding love, hope, admiration and prayers that light hope. I’m moved.

 

I’m nearing 27 weeks of pregnancy. Baby girl will be here in 13ish weeks! I’m incessantly happy over becoming a mother. And I can’t stop thinking about how my sweet girl has given life to those I love – with whom she’s never met. She is already a savior. She is my little Saint with mighty force in her belly kicks. She has already saved me from focusing on the things I cannot change.

 

It is because of my unborn daughter that I can see past some the ugly and stale states of reality in my peripheral vision. She is all I see. And when I see her I see my mother-in-law. I see Ori being held by a woman who embraces hard things with a brilliant smile, a fierce attitude and a gentle touch. This is the image I have. Every. Day. It feels like a memory. It envelopes me with warmth and peace. It’s like describing a color I’ve never seen before but I know that it looks and feels like love. One. Of. A. Kind.

 

At times I pray in silent obstreperous fits pleading for a cure. It’s not rational but do you know or have you known a rational pregnant woman? Cancer Can Suck It.

img_2480

 

For any of you out there forced to struggle with grim realities, I hope you find magic in the moments that are ordinary. I hope you have a tribe of people who uplift you.

 

I am exceedingly blessed to have a man with whom he shares his heart with mine, who finds magic in the routine, acceptance in chaos, and loves courageously. It is because of him we are welcoming a daughter in this world who will embody his free-spirit of which he learned from his mother – a saint of saints. With each passing day I know that our little girl is one day closer to meeting her grandma. I can’t wait for the day I can take a photograph of the moment imprinted in my vision. Those two girls will have so much love in their eyes. (okay, I am sobbing).

 

Thanks for stopping by!

 

PS – I love you Andy, Yoshie, and Oriana.

 

XO

 

Valgal

 

(I’m off to run now-Blog about running for two to follow)

Thoughts From 22 Weeks of Pregnancy

14 Jan

Good morning, lovelies!!!

Happy hump day – am I right!? We are half way through the week! And that means I am half way between 22 weeks entering 23 weeks! Wow. 

Time is flying by.

I was looking at pictures of my bump from 8 weeks, 10 weeks, 12 weeks, even 14 and 16 weeks pregnant. To think I had a bump then makes me feel a bit silly. You see, baby girl is finally showing. My bump is not terribly large but her appearance is 100% visible. I would have never thought that seeing my belly expand would cause such a happiness effect transcending in all areas of my life. 

At 22ish weeks, baby girl weighs approximately a pound and measures close to 12 inches. Mama bear has gained 9 pounds to date hoping that it’s all belly and blood volume – though I’m positive I may be expanding everywhere. The anxiety of being miss fitness and miss healthy who dabbles with the aphrodisiac – chocolate, almost daily (did I just admit that?), has moments of low self-esteem because of the changing body I witness in the mirror. But in those moments, which I’m embarrassed to admit, I try to recall the very reason why my belly is poking out in the shape of a small balloon resembling a kiddie basketball. This helps put my mind at ease. I’m not sorry for admitting that it is not easy to embrace new curves. I don’t think this is vanity. It’s reality. It’s our conflict with the permission for the first time in the world consumed with women’s shape and size where we are offered slight amnesty for our hips widening, ass growing, etc. after being brainwashed for 30 years about beauty. It is the most perverse state of ambivalence. Knowing that you’re creating a soul within yours yet being grossly consumed by what is and is not acceptable scripted by the demigods of pregnancy brought to you by American culture. The body shaming is real. Pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, post-pregnancy – it is at all stages where we all look different from each other as well as from our very own selves. And my current different suggests that I’m on a right of passage to motherhood. And it is that alone where I offer up my very own deference – to myself.

I’m able to give myself permission because it wasn’t until I was pregnant that I realized why I am here. To be a mother. To offer my heart unconditionally to a soul that is made of me and my sweetheart. That is euphoric! Speaking of euphoric, the feeling of acceptance is disguised as euphoria from the magic of feeling our baby girl kicking me. It silences all the oddities and anxieties of pregnancy.

That’s right… baby girl is kicking which means this sweet soul is getting stronger! Each night come 9p our little Oriana pokes and jabs me in a series of 3 or 4 quick kicks. She’s getting ready for the track meets! I don’t have the words in my head to describe the feeling of peace she gives me. The entire world stops. The moments are isolated to just me and her. Fleeting moments of just us two. She fills all the holes inside my heart. I never knew how much I needed her. And I equally never knew how much I needed him. My commitment to my partner is renewed each day and with each kick of our baby girl. That high school crush is revived and real. I look at him and I’m giddy. I’m carrying his child 14 years later! I’d never hit rewind other than to relish in those teenage days with my first love when I used to commit the fashion faux-pas of matching my eyeshadow to my blouse. Ha. I may have learned makeup and contouring now, but this love, this love grows. And our love is growing inside to the rhythm of my heart leaving me with so much more love in my eyes.

Nothing, I mean nothing else matters. All the chaos. All the problems of the world. All the problems of my own world. All the annoyances and disturbances. All these things are muted by the miracle that is kicking me – reminding me that I am indeed wonderfully made. Reminding me that my body is capable of so much more than looking sexy in a little black dress. I can’t wait to put on that little black dress by the way. Our baby is teaching me to have patience, kindness, calmness, purity of heart and humor towards my body. For that I am grateful.

I am also grateful that my body allows me to run 22 1/2 weeks pregnant. Cheers to you all for embracing new curves, pregnant or not, and maintaining and active an healthy lifestyle with an active and heathy mind.

Patience is essential while attaining our goals. And my patience has transformed to a 40 week marathon of growing a precious soul.

Thanks for stopping by!

XO

Valgal

The Sweat Life at 21 Weeks of Pregnancy 

4 Jan

Good morning, lovelies!

 

And Happy New Year!!!

 

Oh boy, I mean, oh girl – this is the year we welcome our little baby macaroon into the world! I can’t believe we have already passed the half way mark!

 

I keep stating the obvious – that my energy level is much better in comparison to the first trimester when I didn’t have the inertia to run let alone roll out of bed. This makes me blissfully happy because I feel like myself again.

 
I’m also blissfully happy because I’m finally “feeling” and “looking” pregnant. Even though these adjectives do not have me feeling like myself, the transition is authentically mine – it’s an experience devoid of self-shaming criticisms – at least now. Feeling and looking pregnant has helped me to counter all my prior negative feelings I battled when I looked in the mirror in the early stages of pregnancy. The stage when it looked like I washed down too many bags of gummy bears with Kilt Lifters (one of my favorite beers) creating a softer than sought core…you know, the thickening of the waist without the baby bump…

 

Fortunately I’ve entered the stage where baby girl is making her debut. I have a new roundness that I love and cherish because it’s her – our baby girl! I accept her presence with unabashed alacrity unlike any other challenge or journey I’ve embarked upon.

 

Anyway, baby girl and I had quite the weekend – two phenomenal sweat sessions! Saturday we welcomed 2016 by embarking on a one hour run covering 7.31 miles at an 8:12 pace followed by yesterday’s intoxicatingly addictive cycle class!
Here’s a brief recap of Lava Barre’s VCycle:

 

 

Yesterday I welcomed 21 weeks of pregnancy & celebrated by indulging in a new class of the sweat life – Lava Barre’s VCycle! Holy guacamole! This indoor ride focused on cardiovascular endurance (I got that ✔️), strength and core (baby girl is occupying that) while incorporating weights and a special kind of choreography on the bike 🚴. Newsflash: This mama-to-be struggles with choreography – and they were asking me to add rhythm and move while spinning intensely through the hard resistance on a bike…yeah…that was a sight to be recorded for laughter! Shoot, at one point my right foot came flying out of my shoe that was clipped in! How does that happen?! Although I struggled a bit with some of the moves and laughed at my clumsy ways, I loved every sweat minute of it and with new friends.

 

Pregnancy hasn’t been a breeze but I’m finding that this second trimester really is the honeymoon stage. Baby girl is growing and measures 10.5 inches and 12.7 ounces!

 

I’m determined not to wish away these moments that I’ll want back one day. I’m so thankful for this gift of life I’m carrying and with each passing day I’m moved by how fearfully and wonderfully made I am [all women]. I’m thankful for the gifts bestowed upon me – a healthy baby girl and this body to protect and nourish her.
And there you have it friends – a little tale about my deviation from running for two.
May you all have a blessed week!

 

 

Thanks for stopping by!

 

XO
Valgal and baby macaroon!

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