Tag Archives: healthy pregnancy

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

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A Walk/Run Sequence- Who Am I?

22 Apr

Fitness for two:
This Garmin snapshot of a walk/run sequence may not make me look like a Boston bound runner – but training 20lbs more than my race weight has surely got to give me some kind of advantage. Riiiiight?! Post-Partum Expectations – compliments of Runner’s World.

Excerpt:

There’s a theory as to why some runners have a good post-partum running experience – it’s called the “remodeled” heart. “During pregnancy, the heart actually changes to accommodate for a higher level of blood circulation,” Mottolla said… The result? The heart likely doesn’t have to work as hard at any level of exertion following the process of giving birth. It’s something akin to the benefit some runners might experience from training at a low heart rate—eventually the heart adapts and helps move runners forward at less effort.

***Less effort -💪🏼😜✌🏼️ helllstotheyes!!!

Many runners speculate that their increase in oxygen-rich red blood cells helps boost post-partum performance. This is true, but only for a short period.

***💪🏼😜✌🏼️ I’ll take it!!!

James Pivarnik, Ph.D., professor of kinesiology and epidemiology at Michigan State University said there is the possibility that the hormone relaxin, which helps prep a woman’s body for delivery, might play a role. “If relaxin makes a woman more flexible and that increases her stride length by even a small bit, she might benefit,” he said.

***💪🏼😜✌🏼 I’ll take this too!!!

New moms might also experience a psychological boost from the delivery process. “There are women who might realize that if they can give birth, they can tough it out in a race, too,” Pivarnik said.

***Oh my gosh, I don’t know if I’m ready for this. I can finish a marathon no problem regardless of pain, fatigue, exhaustion, legs heavy with lactic acid, but birth? Epidural please!!! ✔️ Anyway, with relentless focus, hard work, and baby in tote (we got the BOB stroller!!!) my dream will come! Boston will happen!

How are you managing your goals during pregnancy?! Let me know by leaving me a comment!

Thanks for stopping by!

XO

Valgal

Dreams of Boston: From Chasing Boston to Chasing Baby

22 Apr

Today was the 2016 Boston Marathon. I planned on BQing this year to secure my spot for 2017 but life happens – literally. My body is not my own.

I find myself 9 months pregnant and determined to not let my fitness and fitness goals get derailed.

I’ve had a wonderful pregnancy but let me tell you this – pregnancy is hard. I will be honest and say I miss my body. The body that carried me through many races. Fit, trim, lean and light.

To date, I’m sporting extra pounds that have found a new home in my thighs and arms aside from the belly. I’m very accepting of this. Yes. But the change is still challenging.

I don’t want to sound vain – only honest. For those of you pregnant mamas that scroll through feeds that showcase the ✨ glowing claims of how fab it is to be pregnant and you just don’t feel it – I’m telling you that sometimes we filter the ugly (the thoughts, the feelings, the emotions, the symptoms). It is most definitely not all rainbows and butterflies. At times it is a stab to your ego. I’m not trying to undercut the miracle of pregnancy – because I do love it, but with it there are accompanying struggles.

Struggles of self-acceptance. It’s normal.

There’s some boilerplate bullshit out there shaming women who admit to feeling insecure with their pregnant bodies. Don’t listen to them. Embrace the #hormotions. The highs and lows. It is part of the journey. Enjoy the marathon. It might not be Boston, but it is #40weeks of training!

Hopefully in the next few years I’ll look back on today with a BQ under my belt – back to the fit, trim, lean and light #runnergirl I am with Ori and daddy waiting for me at the finish lines!

Thanks for stopping by!

XO

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.

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!

Marathon Training – Running for Two

29 Dec

Good afternoon lovelies! I hope you’re having a wondrous Monday so far! I always love Mondays. I believe Mondays set the mood for the week – therefore, if your Monday starts off right, well then I only see smooth sailing, even if the sea gets a little rough. And what work week isn’t a little rough? What after-work hours aren’t a little rough?

 

Discussing rough, I’ll tell you what’s rough – let me introduce you to marathon training. I’ve trained for three marathons and I’ve discovered what it is about them that is rough. It’s not the aches and pains. Nah, those are manageable and kind of dull. It is the patience. There is a whole palette of patience that paints your body and mind with the dramatic hues of hope, despair, rejection, and anticipation that make the journey of the marathon rough.

 

It’s true love though.

 

Anything worth doing is going to be difficult. If it were easy it would lack the artistry of hope and the intensity of the colors of fire. The mental strength to run forward, through the hurt, through your minds rejection, through the lies, through the life you left you behind is the sum of strength that beckons anything is possible.

 

And anything is possible: Having the patience to complete a marathon has nothing on having the patience to accept your changing body so that soon you get to meet your little one.

 

What I have learned training for a marathon has inadvertently carried over to my life between the miles. But most importantly, it has found its way to help soothe me during pregnancy and its encompassing unknowns.

 

I’m quickly learning that marathon training isn’t as rough as pregnancy. What is rough during pregnancy is acceptance of your changing, growing body. I won’t lie – I have cried a few times about my body morphing into something I don’t recognize. I hate to sound vain but I’m here to be honest. I’m hypersensitive to the changes happening to my body because I’ve been training for marathon after marathon keeping my form, abs, ass, legs and arms tone. Now, well now it doesn’t matter. Baby is coming! And I wouldn’t dare do anything to harm my little one with strict eating, new eating regiments, dehydration tactics, hardcore training followed by more training. No. My abs, ass, legs and arms are getting a little less tone regardless because I’m creating a life. My waist is slowly giving way to the growing bump – this I’m excited about! But to say I accept all, emphasis on all, the changes with the gracious glow of pregnancy would be a farce because I don’t. For me, pregnancy is as beautiful and magical as it is a mental minefield. Honestly.

 

I blame the self-absorbed and self-centered culture that poisons the internet stating that basketball bellies for pregnant women, although not the norm, is what should be sought after. Seriously?  How can I control how my baby grows? I would love to have a basketball belly! But I stand all of 5’2”. That’s right a full 60 inches. Baby girl can only grow so far with my short stature and torso thus she will cause me to grow a little wide. This is the problem. Not that I’ll grow wide, but that I’m fed, like other pregnant mamas all this bullshit that if you’re short, you’ll get fat. If you’re carrying a girl, you’ll grow wide and better plan to carry an extra few lbs. Seriously. The internet feeds you bullshit and isn’t even gracious enough to offer up a glass of merlot to wash it down. Gosh I miss wine. Troll the internet and you’ll see copious amounts of literature warning pregnant moms-to-be “How to avoid gaining too much pregnancy weight”, “The skinny pregnancy”, and this should make you chuckle, “How to avoid weight gain during pregnancy.” Yes. These are real taglines. How to avoid weight gain during pregnancy…ya…that’s a winner. What the eff?

 

Anyway, what I was saying is that acceptance is rough. I don’t mind in the least bit my growing bump. I am the most ecstatic about that! To put it simply I feel sandwiched in the nonsense that comes from so many articles about pregnancy and what not to eat, what not to do, what workouts to avoid, what not to drink, etc. The nonsense paralyzes me. And consequently, I become nonsensical – like I have this innate fear that I’ll end up taking on a new shape with similarities to George Costanza – short and stumpy but with hair. I know. I know. I sound foolish but I’m being candid about my illogical concerns.

 

It is because of my illogical concerns that I take to running. Well, it’s not the only reason but running does help to silence the bullshit. Running also helps to make sure George Costanza never appears looking back at me in the mirror…hehe.

 

Anyway, let’s talk about From Chasing Boston to Chasing Baby and running for two in the second trimester.

 

Today I am 20 weeks and 1 day pregnant.  I ran 5 miles today at an 8:11/pace per mile. This is slower than norm for me but hey, baby is growing! It’s beginning to feel that running for two parallels a lot with marathon training. I am forced to go slower and breathe consciously with intent. I have to focus and exercise patience for a slower than normal cadence for hours which leaves me vulnerable to boredom. I am in each moment recognizing each little twitch or discomfort and making a friend with it rather than speeding up and playing with intervals to mask the pain.

 

Little baby girl is teaching me how to run comfortably at a slower than average pace with a whole lot of added weight and pressure in my front section. I used to be able to run 26.2 miles without ever having to take a bathroom break. Running in the second trimester has me desperately seeking a bathroom after only 2.5 miles. The pressure on my bladder from running is unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. I have to always make a mad dash to the bathroom every 2.5 or 3 miles for relief and then the cycle starts again.

FullSizeRender (1)

In addition, the weight of my breasts is getting quite uncomfortable. I know I’m kind of an anomaly – having a breast augmentation or two performed while also trying to run competitively – but again, back to their weight – oy vey! During my runs I find that I’m squeezing my shoulder blades together to ensure I have proper form. It may look as if I’m running with my chest intentionally out to make them all perky  and guess what, I am – so enjoy the view (just don’t jump on the treadmill next to me or I’ll give you a caviling grimace). If I didn’t do this my shoulders would roll forward and my lower back would hurt more than it does.

 

Running in the second trimester has been an easier goal to achieve in comparison to the first trimester. I’m able to fight through the fatigue and make it to the gym. When I get into my rhythmic cadence, I find a source of great strength that helps counter the obstruction of said fatigue and twinges of dull pain.

 

The colorful palette for running for two makes me feels beautiful. It has me marvel at our bodies capabilities to do hard, rough but equally miraculous things. Running for two teaches me to have more patience than I ever knew possible despite marathon training. Running for two gives me hope that I will continue to grow as a person, and with this body and baby, into a person I want to be – a mom. I turn to running because I it helps me become a person who is better, accepting, peaceful and happy.

 

Running was never stale. Running for two proves it never will be. Running for two paints me in a florid of colors I’ve never seen before. The palette of patience paints my body and mind teaching me to love myself unconditionally while I grow this miracle within – just the thought sends an electrical current through my body. The emotional hues of hope, love, and anticipation to meet this little one paint me with naked delight.

 

Running for two is the only journey I know now.

IMG_1220

Thanks for stopping by.

 

XO

 

Valgal and Baby Girl – aka Baby Macaroon

Old Wives’ Tales Gender Prediction 

24 Dec

Good morning, lovelies –

Merry Christmas Eve!!! Today my little framily is driving to Wisconsin to visit our parents. Little Mika-chan, our adorable, lovable Boston terrier who can’t get enough play time or cuddles, Andy aka Baby Daddy, our little 5 month macaroon in mama’s belly and I are all cozy in our car for the 13 hour trek. Now granted, what should be a 13 hour drive is likely to be 15+ hours because this pregnant mama has a bladder like her puppy – I just can’t hold it!
As we are driving, conversing over our upcoming move to our fabulous new digs, discussing the preparation of baby girl (oh emmmmmm geeeee we are having a girl!!!), and listening to talk radio address a myriad of topics such as: the most painful place to get a bee sting (I got it right – although I’ve never been stung), politics, gun control, sports, sports, sports, I decided to blog. Why not? It’s not like there’s enough entertainment in this small shared space. I blame my short attention span on preggie brain.
 
And preggie brain wants me to cover the topic of Old Wives’ Tales Gender Prediction.
I bring this up because since discovering I was pregnant I continually surfed the net for telltale signs of what baby macaroon is. 

An overwhelming majority of data suggested baby macaroon was a boy. Not to mention 85% of friends, family, and co-workers speculated that baby was a boy too. I didn’t know how or why. I didn’t start to “show” until earlier this week and I’m not carrying high or low. Friends say my “showing” looks like I ate a hefty burrito from Chipotle. And baby, that burrito is just chilling like a brick in my stomach as if I literally ate Chipotle. 
Anyway, let’s delve into 10 Gender-Predicting Old Wives’ Tales! 
1.) How Low Can You Go?
If I’m carrying high? Girl.
If I’m carrying low? Boy.
Me: I’m wasn’t showing when I first looked into this. I’m still not showing enough! This is Bologna. Baby prediction: Inconclusive.
2.) Body Clues
Legends say that if I’m having a little girl, she’ll steal my beauty. So, if I’ve got acne and other not-so-pretty skin blemishes, I’ve got a little princess coming my way.
Dry hands and cold feet are signs of a boy. So, if I’ve got these ailments, I should break out the baby blue.
Me: Hmm. First and foremost, I never really had acne. I get sporadic whiteheads I attribute to my insatiable appetite for the sweat game – running! I believe in sweating at least an hour a day! This pregnancy has me sweating a little less often but needless to say, I sweat! So my so-called acne has been no less no more the same.
Also, I just began using a new a.m. and p.m. facial routine with Philosophy products. Holy moly I love, love, love this new beauty routine. My “glow” isn’t from pregnancy. It’s from these products that stimulate skin rejuvenation. I’ve never felt more beautiful sans makeup! I believe these products have helped to reject acne during my pregnancy, too. I was and continue to feel beautiful.
My feet have been colder than ever and my hands remain the same, soft with bouts of dry. This is because I wash dishes by hand, without gloves, all the time. But if I were to take Body Clues literally…
Baby prediction: Boy.
3.) The Ring
I’m supposed to grab that wedding ring of mine and see how it swings! 
If it swings in a circle, we would be promised a girl; back and forth little macaroon would be a boy.
Oh shoot, what wedding ring? You see, Andy and I are not your traditional type. If you’ve read my blog from the beginning, you know I was always a bit obstinate to follow the traditional yellow brick road path to “happiness.” I rejected the idea. Then I felt guilty and hopped on the LSD fantasy hoping to find euphoria in Emerald City with the ring, the marriage, and the white picket fence. But my mood-altered state found me unfaithful to myself. 
I made some hard decisions. I ditched Emerald City and consequently I was labeled the Tin Man, “If I only had a heart.”
The irony is, I followed my heart. My heart led me to my sweetheart. And now I have two hearts that beat for him within me. There may be no wedding ring but our love is in its purest state. He is all I needed for spiritual redemption. 
So my sweetheart and I grabbed my grandmother’s beautiful gold ring arguably equivocal to the unconditional love that a wedding ring should represent. We tied it to a piece of string, and hung it over my non-existent belly.
Me: The ring swung back and forth. Baby Prediction: Boy.
4.) One of my favorite songs is by Sting, “Be Still My Beating Heart.” 
If baby’s little heart rate is under 140 beats per minute (bpm) it means mommy and daddy are having a little boy. If it’s over, daddy’s going to have a daddy’s girl!
Me: Ultrasound 1 – Heart rate 165bpm.

Ultrasound 2 – Heart rate 160bpm.

Fetal Doppler – Heart rate 155bpm.

Ultrasound 3 – Heart rate 147bpm.
Baby Prediction: Girl.

5.) “Craving-In”
The Old Wives’ Tale preaches that if I crave sweets it means I’m going to have a little girl. If I crave salty and sour we are welcoming a baby boy.
Now this one is interesting. Again, if you’ve been reading my blog as a friendly stopper byer (did I just make up a word?), or if you know me as a close friend, co-worker, family member, or if I’m someone that you used to know, then you clearly recognize that my palate for sweet and sour remains the exact same as it did when I was 8 years old jumping up and down, doing flips on the trampoline and into the pool, fueled on nothing but Fun-Dip and sour ropes! Yup. That’s still me when I “crave-in” to my sweet tooth. Pregnant or not. 
I have had no real cravings that I can acknowledge other than: I prefer fizzy drinks like sparkling grapefruit water. I like things extra-spicy. Call me dragon-breath. I equally love a small handful of frozen gummy bears (grapefruit gummy bears are my favorite) or sour gummy bears. I enjoy pickle juice. But pickle juice isn’t new. Being pregnant is an excuse to drink it without judgment. Plus it’s great for distant runners because research proves it helps to alleviate cramps. And like always, I could seriously live off of fruit. My favorites have now become staples in my diet and must-haves every. single. day. They are: grapes – any variety without seeds; kiwi – oh my gosh kiwi!!! Mmmm; apples drizzled with honey and a dash of salt; and oranges.

Me: Baby Prediction: Inconclusive. Mama bear likes it all! But what does spicy mean?  

6.) Chinese Prediction Chart
Chinese birth charts use my age at conception and the month I conceived to determine the sex of baby macaroon. 
This one is funny because it is claimed to be 90% accurate. Considering my age of conception, I used both 29 and 30 because we just don’t know! It was my 30th birthday celebration for close to one week. Champagne. Wine. Dinner. Dessert. Wink. Wink.
Me: Regardless of age of conception being 29 or 30. Baby prediction: Boy.
7.) Morning Sickness
The tale says that if I was stricken with a queasy stomach during my first trimester to think ribbons and bows. If I sailed through my pregnancy I should be dreaming blue.
Me: Sick. Sicker. Sickest. All. Day. Plus vomiting. Queasy. Tired. Vomiting again. Baby prediction: Girl.
8.) The Linea Nigra
This is that ‘dark line’ that has appears on the baby bump. It is apparently the key to working out whether I’m carrying a boy or a girl. Rumor has it that if the line continues above my belly button, I’m having a baby boy. If it finishes below my belly button, I have a baby girl bun in my oven. 
Me: My lovely baby bump has a faint dark line that extends above my belly button. Baby prediction: Boy.
9.) The Dreaded Weight Gain
According to the Old Wives’ Tale, if I’m carrying all of my extra weight out front, baby is a boy. If my pregnancy pounds are piling on all around me, I’m expecting a daughter. Also, if my breasts are growing, I should expect a girl. If my breasts remain the same, I’m welcoming a boy.
Me: My mother recently asked me to look at my ass naked. I abided and started laughing! She said, “Val, does it look the same?” I responded, “Yup. Same ol’ small ass. You can’t mistake me for a Brazilian from behind, shucks!” Mom laughs, “Well then sweetheart, you must be having a boy!”
A little about my weight gain. I’m currently 19 weeks and 4 days. I swear it wasn’t until a few days ago when my bump became a permanent accessory. I didn’t gain an ounce during the first trimester. To date, I’m up 7 lbs. (please remember not to compare. I’m very active and baby is very healthy!) No joke, most of my weight is in my tatats. These melons are HEAVY!!! I could knock someone out. And my back is killing me! Owwwweee! I would’ve never imagined my breasts would get this large and they are still growing!!! Shit! But as far as where my weight has distributed elsewhere from my bosoms… I’m slowing losing my waist, and the bump is growing outward rather than wide, for now. 

Baby prediction: Boy.
10.) Baby Names
The tales claim that if I (we) can only think of specific names for a boy or a girl, we will have that particularly baby. 

Me: Andy and I immediately came up and solidly agreed on a girls name. It was so natural. Contrastly, we went back and forth on the topic of boys names. So many of them are so banal (insert yawn). But after revisiting our list a few dozen times we selected a boy name that resonated with us. Baby prediction: Girl.

 

Let’s talk about the Old Wives’ Tales Gender Prediction results. Baby is all over the gender map! 

Baby Prediction: Boy – 5
Baby Prediction: Girl – 3
Baby Prediction: Inconclusive – 2
While I was convinced Andy and I were having a baby boy because of all the noise people echoed in my ear and the gender prediction results, we were and continue to be overwhelmed with incandescent happiness that we are welcoming a baby girl in May 2016!!! She is already just like mommy and daddy challenging the standards (gender predictions)!
I have made several decisions that do not follow “the system of tradition.” To keep the streak going, we introduce you to smiling Oriana Teresa Shreeve. Yup, we are sharing her name! She already has our hearts. She is, quite literally, our Golden Sunrise!
  
What was your experience with Old Wives’ Tales Gender Predictions? Were they accurate? Please share! I can’t wait to hear from you!

Thanks for stopping by! 
Now it’s back to the car ride! I think it’s about time for my shift!
XO
Valgal, and baby girl Oriana aka Ori-chan! 
*Chan expresses “cute” for little girls in Japanese! 

Running (Sleeping) in the First Trimester – 

11 Dec

Good morning, lovelies –

I’m over here feeling fabulous – FINALLY! The trials of the first trimester are past me. I’m currently 17 weeks and 5 days pregnant and *gasp* feeling like my energy has come back, at least in the morning. Come 8pm it’s time for shuteye. The bed always wins. The bed + Netflix. (Who am I!?)

Anyway, I told you I was going to blog about running for two. I wanted to document my experience “From Chasing Boston to Chasing Baby.” I was adamant that I’d be maintaining my pre-pregnant running schedule but that goal made a liar out of me. Let me give you the details of the challenge “Coming home from work: Newtons v. Big Comfy Bed.”

Note: I’m going to be honest about my experience here with pregnancy. I’ve noticed there is a tendency to shut out the details that aren’t synonymous to the pregnancy glow. People are too afraid to talk about the downside to this fairytalesque miracle. Yes, it’s a miracle but holy heck there are bouts of misery. There are countless bouts of vomiting, nausea, anxiety, hormonal dragonesque fiery outbursts followed by waves of crying over the most idiosyncratic concerns. There are high and there are lows that are inexplicable.

To begin, I’d like to give myself a SHOUTOUT…I graduated with a Master in Public Administration December 2nd, 2015! Upon finding out I was pregnant I was beginning my last class with this program. The class was arduous. It took all of my concentration at a time when my body was crafting the fetus. This is the most crucial development! I wasn’t showing but my body and all of its major body organs and systems for the fetus were forming wiping me out. I’m someone who functions with 4 or 5 hours of sleep and suddenly I needed 8+ hours and ironically I could barely keep my eyes open come 2 o’clock. I was working, wrapping up school writing endless tedious papers on case studies on Regulations and Policy, making a baby, all while thinking I would have the energy to run 50+ miles a week.

Let’s get real.



I managed to do it all minus the running distance. My schoolwork took a considerable amount of my free time leaving me anxious to fit in running as well as mentally drained. I was feeling selfish because I had to run. If you want me around being all jolly and happy, you let me run…Plus the added bonus of running is that it is healthy for me and baby.

But if I wanted to fit in running it meant I would have to cut out any time I tried to carve out for social gatherings and date nights with my main squeeze. The main squeeze was flexible. Shoot, I conjure that he liked my busy schedule because that only meant more NFL, NBA and hitting the courts himself – uninterrupted from my incessant online searches of nursery ideas, cute onesies, baby essentials and the countless “isn’t this super cute!” Poor guy. What a trooper. It helped us maintain the peace and coincidently helped him dodge my emotional breakdowns. Case in point: The first time I heard the song ‘Hello’ from Adele. ‘Hello’ waterworks. I left him a voicemail about it laughing and crying, if you could distinguish the difference, saying it was a good thing he was playing ball because he’s missing an epic meltdown without warning. It’s quiet hilarious now that I’m sober from the hormones…  

So with that being my schedule – running was bound to take a backseat. Newtons 0. Big Comfy Bed 1. I couldn’t let my grades slip and hey, I have to go to work – Mama’s got to make that cash!!! But because running is an indispensable part of my life I fought the fatigue demons when I could and hit the treadmill. Newtons 1. Big Comfy Bed 3 (pretty accurate ratio). I always felt so esteemed afterwards. I would think those damn little demons were illusions and deceptive little devils casting spells of trickery. I wasn’t as tired as I thought…until the next day and the day after that.

That was really the case of running in my first trimester. When I felt well enough to run, I ran. I ran middle distance at a moderate pace. I monitored my heart and my breathing never felt labored. I didn’t “feel” pregnant. Only my mind was. I could run 10 miles on a Monday at a 7:45 pace followed by 6 miles on Wednesday at a 7:40 pace. The every other day routine was working for me when I wasn’t faced with incendiary fatigue or homework. The running was sporadic but I ran nonetheless.

Running/Working Out in the First Trimester:

Running: Weekly average 25 miles a week – A significant deviation from pre-pregnancy running.

Stairmaster: Aside from running I would hit the Stairmaster. If I ran prior to the Stairmaster I would do the Stairmaster for 15-20 minutes at level 7 – A nice moderate pace. If running wasn’t in the cards I would do 30-60 minutes on the Stairmaster at level 7.

Pushups: Approximately 3 x week 3 sets of 10.

Running Recap: I was told to run at a pace that the baby would allow. Baby allowed me to run as far as I could at a pace that was fast enough to keep my form tight and efficient. If I were to go any slower my hips would get a little loose and my right femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) and labral tear would threaten to immobilize me with perpetual pain. It felt refreshing to finish up a run while being pregnant! I would feel slightly challenged but ultimately badass because I was running with my little partner. Having always been a stubborn runner, intentionally dehydrated at times to ensure I was able to train in tough conditions to make race days more effective, running on empty, running with an injury (still am) I’m suddenly intentionally conscientious of this little marvel inside me growing. I’m no longer running to qualify for Boston tomorrow, or to burn off that delectable sugar cookie laden with butter and topped with sprinkles! No. Running for two has me in a new frame of mind and a much deeper place of understanding, acceptance and intimacy with myself. I’m running for the health of my unborn baby and me. I’m running to work towards peace and calm in the midst of the all-present unknowns of pregnancy and its affiliated imminent distractions and annoyances like fatigue, nausea, vomiting, exhaustion, need for sleep, ravenous hunger followed by violent vomiting…etc. This is no easy feat. But I’m doing it. And I’m doing it as best I can.

Stayed tuned for Running in the Second Trimester – HOLY HECK!!! What a difference!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my adventure “From Chasing Boston to Chasing Baby!”

 

XO

Valgal & baby macaroon

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