Mother’s Day, Part 2

I meant to post this sometime closer to last month, but time really gets away from you with little ones!

Most things went according to plan. I had a three-hour window to pick up my packet the day before and Mini-Me decided to take a long afternoon nap so I had to wait for her to wake up, feed her, and then we could leave for the park.

I just kept her in her carseat and stroller combo because I didn’t intend to stay long. I met another woman with her six-month-old and we chatted about motherhood and getting back into the swing of things postpartum.

I packed my bag back home, filled up my tires, and put my bike and everything in the car. I also prepped bottles. We use the Kiinde system so although I can pump directly into the bags, I usually pump into a bottle and then measure it out into the bags so I know how much she’s eating at each feeding.

The night before she must have known something was up because she kept waking up and I started feeling a bit of a sniffle that did eventually turn into a cold for both of us. Around six she was starting to wake up (again) so I prepped a bottle for her and went and woke P up so I could leave and have time to stop by Starbucks on the way.


The field was pretty small, maybe 70 people total? Which I like because I hate getting kicked or swam over. They started us all in one wave so I put myself towards the back and still had some people swimming into me because they’d swum too far right or left. It was pretty annoying but I just let them pass. The water was really warm and felt great and I took my time.


I decided to wear socks with my cycling shoes for the bike portion and realized I’d left my water bottle at home. Whoops. Again, I was determined to take it easy so I cycled pretty slowly for the course and enjoyed the honeysuckle in bloom. I don’t think I passed a single person on the bike.

The run, like the bike, was an out-and-back and felt a lot longer than expected. I did a run/walk between the cones to keep myself going and took water and Gatorade whenever offered.

Still, I finished in only ten minutes slower than my time from last year so that was super nice. I didn’t stay for awards but I should have because I took first in my age group (out of 2!) but I wanted to get home so I washed off in the bathroom and pumped on the way home.


I was really sore for a couple of days afterwards but it was so much fun to get out and back in the race scene and I’m ready to get back into more training again.


My First Mother’s Day, Part 1

I’ve only been vaguely aware of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day for the past 10 years or so (since I had neither parent to celebrate) and Mother’s Day only because an alumna from my college was responsible for its creation.

Last year on Father’s Day was the day I found out I was expecting but this is my first Mother’s Day and I am honestly so excited about it. Not to make it about me, but because it marks another transition, a big one, in my life. I’m a parent forever now.

For the day, I asked P if he could take care of her in the morning while I did a local sprint triathlon. I did it last year and when the email rolled around again, I found myself yearning for it even though I knew it was potentially a bad idea since I’m still only 3 months postpartum. I haven’t swam, I haven’t ridden my bike in several months, and I’ve only begun running again. But I really wanted to do it and figured worst case is it’d take me about two hours or so. My time from last year was 1:31 so I figured an extra 30 minutes would be a generous buffer plus time to travel there and back and beforehand to set up my transition area and get body marked.

Plus, I’ve come a long way in the past three months in learning how to plan my time with a baby.

The logistics basics:

-Pack everything the day before, not the night before

-Pump up tires

-Find bike rack in garage and put on car (tricky because my stroller is in my trunk and my bike rack makes it hard to move things in and out of the trunk)

-Pick up packet (P is volunteering all day so Mini-Me is in tow and right now is taking a long, luxurious, unexpected nap)

-Prep bottles for Mini-Me’s meals while I’m gone. I’ve been gifted with a bit of an oversupply so I’m able (aka need) to feed and pump. Most of the excess gets frozen but this past week I donated some to a local mom who was struggling.

Day of:

-Top Mini-Me off before I leave

-Bring pump with me, pump before start and after finish

-Return home victorious



I knew on the surface that getting back into shape postpartum was likely to feel more like starting from the very beginning, but it’s been so long since I truly knew what that was like that when I began my workout plan, it was a very rude awakening.

I’ve been a big fan of Ashley Horner’s workouts but they can take a long time and I knew I needed something that I could do at home, with minimal equipment and time. I chose to go with Glow Body PT’s 12 Week Postpartum Plan because it was highly recommended by other military women, I liked that the workouts were short and intense (and as a new mom, my time is crunched so short as it is), and I also got it on discount way back in November for Veteran’s Day. That’s just how long I’ve been looking forward to this program.

Still, I didn’t even look at it until a couple of weeks ago when I decided to print it off and put it in a binder for easy reference. I’m motivated by crossing things off of lists so I put the workout plan on the front cover of my binder so I can cross workouts off as I complete them. It’s also great because I can see what’s next and flip to the tab to see what the workout is like. One of my absolute favorite parts is that Ashley Keller (not Ashley Horner) also made real-time workout videos for every workout so I can just queue it up and as soon as Mini-Me is asleep I can hit play. I can see what the exercises look like and just follow along. SO. NICE.

I still have a ways to go before I’m anywhere near my previous fitness level, but it took my nine months to get to this low so I expect it’ll take me a while to get back plus deal with finding an entire new routine.

I want to be Real

“He didn’t mind how he looked to other people, because the nursery magic had made him Real, and when you are Real shabbiness doesn’t matter.”
Margery Williams Bianco, The Velveteen Rabbit

I’ve been a consumer of social media for years and even more so in recent years with my deployment and pregnancy and now as a new mom up at all hours of the day and night and I’ve really noticed the lack of authenticity in so many posts. Or often people post about things being real but the picture is heavily edited and filtered, kind of the opposite of being “real.”

I’ve done it too. I’ll take a bunch of pictures and only post the best one and tweak it so that things look brighter and better than they are. Why are we so afraid of ourselves?

I’m never going to be able to achieve or sustain that. Let me tell you the kind of mother-athlete I am: I sleep in the clothes I wore that day, plus my favorite Oiselle Lux sweatpants because I get up and down all night and it’s easier than changing. In the mornings, if I workout, I throw something, anything on. Clothes don’t match anymore.

I workout, maybe I shower. I eat granola bars all day. My house is usually pretty well vacuumed because Mini-Me likes the sound of the vacuum, but it’s untidy as hell everywhere. My kitchen table has a breast pump on it, books, a hat, this computer, flowers in a vase, multivitamins and my incomplete cross-stitch. My coffee table is no less crowded.

I take gym pics to keep myself accountable for my workouts, not because they look nice because they sure don’t. I gained over 60 pounds during my pregnancy and I still have a lot left to lose. I have a belly pooch and my hips and thighs are thick now. It’s a rare day that I put makeup on.

But I’m willing to bet that I’m closer to the norm than further from it, despite what social media would have you think. I scroll Instagram at night looking for others who want to be Real, like I do. Women who aren’t scared of their flaws and who don’t pretend they have it all together. You’d think that the ones who have it all would be rare, but it’s the Real ones who are rarest of all. Let’s be real and raw and ourselves.


Instant Love


One of my absolute favorite stores to browse, Williams-Sonoma, recently announced they were closing their Augusta location. As heartbroken as I was, I recognized a good sale and quickly snapped up all the things we’d thought about buying but hadn’t. Mainly replacing all our old cooking utensils I’d had since I first stocked my kitchen, but also a new gadget that I’d been hemming and hawing over for months – an Instant Pot. I’d heard that they’re life-changing. I’d also heard they do everything equally well but nothing great, so I’d put it off because we already had a slow cooker and a pressure cooker and pots and pans.

Well, I LOVE my Instant Pot! Really, really LOVE. It’s not prep to eating in 15 minutes, and there’s still some significant prep work in some recipes, but overall I think it was a good buy and appreciate cleaning less dishes. Plus, I can cook food that’s frozen and an entire roast in 15 minutes instead of several hours.

My favorite place to dig up recipes is from the Instant Pot website, but these have been some of my favorites so far:

  1. Turkey and White Bean Chili – this was a little soupy to me, so I added some chopped corn tortillas left in the fridge and it was so good.
  2. Risotto with Pancetta, Peas, and Mushrooms – this was crazy good and you could easily leave out the pancetta.
  3. Korean Beef from Damn Delicious – so good!
  4. Korean Chile-Braised Brisket – I made the kimchi coleslaw but think it was better with just the plain kimchi. The brisket was great and I’d actually recommend not sizing this one down because it’s so good we cleaned up the whole recipe.

A Few Of My Favorite Things

As in, a few things that have saved my sanity (as much of it as could be saved, anyway).

best things

1. Lansinoh HPA Lanolin // This was a gift from a friend and I thought “cool” and put it away until I came home from the hospital with cracked and bleeding nipples and then I went and eagerly dug it back out. I like that it’s safe that Mini-Me can nurse without wiping it off and it really helped me heal quickly.

2. Himalayan Salt Lamp // I got this while searching for the perfect night light that would be bright enough to see by but wouldn’t be white light. I love that this one is dimmable.

3. Lansinoh Hot or Cold Breast Therapy // While I was in the hospital my nipples were cracking and bleeding from learning to latch and doing it poorly. I vaguely remembered from my breastfeeding class that if you didn’t want to breastfeed you wanted to wear a tight bra and use cold compresses on it. Since I wanted to breastfeed, I figured the opposite was true and spent time hugging my electric heating pad to my chest for relief. It definitely worked to the opposite effect and when my milk came in, I was suddenly and painfully very, very engorged. As it turns out, I needed a cold compress to help ease my pain. These are great because they can do hot OR cold.

4. My Brest Friend // I hate the name of this pillow and the fact that it’s called “Brest” makes me cringe every time. But I do love how it works. I was using a Boppy for several weeks but I hated how Mini-Me would slip down inside it and it didn’t give me much support front or back. I ordered the MBF (I refuse to write that name out more than once) and really liked it. The Boppy is useful for other things, and my husband loves it for bottle-feeding, but not for breastfeeding.

5. Dohm White Noise Machine // I like this so much I have two, one in my bedroom and one in kiddo’s room. The noise level is customizable and is perfect for drowning out other noises.

6. Lillebaby Airflow Carrier // I ordered this at the strong recommendation for others and it’s great for when I’m in crowded spaces (like out shopping) or when I’d like to have two hands available (like eating) and really helps keep Mini-Me calm and happy. They’re having a clearance sale right now so I picked up a second one so my husband can have one sized for him (they resize easily) and I can have another pattern one sized for me.

7. Sun Basket Meal Delivery system // We used Blue Apron for a while but got tired of how every recipe seemed to use a fond which would invariably smoke up our kitchen and also how every meal seemed to have kale. I like kale, but not for every meal. We’re currently using Sun Basket and while it’s more expensive ($11.99/serving) but we like it a lot better in terms of options available and how easy it is to cook. Most of the recipes say they take 20-45 minutes but my experience has been that they take a lot less, typically around the 30 minute mark, from start to finish. They have paleo, vegetarian, vegan, pescetarian and family friendly menus and you can swap in between all of them. Since my bout of HELLP, we’ve been working on reducing our sodium intake and the amount of red meat we eat every week (hard when your husband thinks meat makes the meal). Sun Basket’s vegetarian and even vegan options haven’t raised a single eyebrow and he’s really enjoyed them without complaint.


I wonder if sleep misses me too?

As I sit here, it’s nearly 2 a.m. and I’m up because not only do I have a newborn who needs to eat, I need to pump so I can build a stash of breast milk before I go back to work, and also we’re trying a new thing where we split the night so the other person can sleep. We’re still figuring it out and it’s not perfect by any means. Tonight I went to bed at 7 p.m. and slept in a deep comatose state until my engorged breasts woke me up several hours later. It’s sort of like waking up having to go to the bathroom very, very badly except it tingles and can be sort of painful. I stumbled out trying to see if baby was hungry to find her finishing up a bottle I’d left and instead had to turn to my second baby, the pump.

I never thought having a baby would be necessarily easy but considering how every person has been a newborn at some time in their lives, I figured I could handle it and it wouldn’t be that bad.

Come and laugh along with me at my naïveté. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Having a newborn is HARD. SO. HARD. I totally understand how and why sleep deprivation is a real torture tactic. The other night she woke me up and I thought I was holding her in bed with me, which is nuts for me because we don’t co-sleep/bed share. I’m a rule follower, at least as far as safety is concerned and when it’s for other people. It’s hard for me to fall asleep and when I do, I’ve been having really vivid, strange dreams no doubt fueled by the sleep deprivation and the hours of Adult Swim I’m watching through the night.

At this point, I can’t comprehend having the energy (or time) to work out more than walking her and the dogs around the neighborhood. Strollers are sort of heavy and wrangling two dogs along with it is like running the Iditarod with two very stupid huskies who are constantly getting tangled in each other’s traces.

The things that keep me going are what I like to call “stoner thoughts:”

  1. Literally everyone ever has been born. Someone stayed up with that little person and fed them and changed them and tried to comfort them when they cried. Good people and bad people. I can do this even if I’m not sure how sometimes when she just won’t go the hell to sleep and I’m considering running away and joining the circus.
  2. Nothing lasts forever. Good things and bad things both pass eventually.

So now I sit here watching some sort of anime on Adult Swim and watching her sleep (because of course she sleeps great in anything not her crib) and at least she’s cute. Would I do it again? Ask me in a year.


The rarest creature of all, a sleeping newborn


03.13 I remember

Yesterday was the anniversary of my parents’ deaths; they died on the same day four years apart. One was expected, the other was not, but both hurt just the same.

When my last parent died, we hadn’t been on good terms due to some choices I’d made and how he reacted to them and also the influence of my stepmother. We hadn’t seen each other in three years or spoken to each other except for maybe two emails. When he died, I was a junior in college and sort of just fell apart so much so that I took a leave of absence from my Corps of Cadets, didn’t go to my Army ROTC Spring FTX. This was kind of a big deal because your entire junior year is spent prepping for an evaluation camp held between your junior and senior year which evaluates your potential and is a huge portion of determining your branch and future assignment. It’s like the Army ROTC equivalent of a thesis defense, screw it up and you’ll pay for it for years.

Everything Army was particularly difficult for me to get through because every class, every PT session reminded me of him. I was painfully haunted that he’d never see me graduate or commission, get married, and that he’d never even get the chance for us to have a better relationship. Every mile I ran hurt. Every time I put on my uniform I ached inside. I also wasn’t a particularly nice person to be around, either. I remember one day another student was complaining that the salad bar was out of something and I ripped her a new one because how could anyone be so stupid to complain about that when there were so many worse things she could be missing? To all who knew me then, I’m still really sorry for how I lashed out at the people around me who only wanted to help. As painful as it was, running was my self-imposed treatment for my grief. My dad was a runner which made it worse, but also helped me feel like I was still connected.

It’s been ten years since he died and fourteen since my mother died. In a few years, I’ll have lived as long without a mother as I did with her. That loss was a lot more painful while pregnant as I tried to envision how on earth I was going to be a mother when I didn’t have one and was pretty sure I had no maternal instincts (I still maintain I don’t, but I took every class offered by the hospital and the post).

As I mentioned before, I was kind of an emotional wreck that whole spring. I was offered the opportunity to not go to the Army evaluation camp that summer. I probably should have taken it but my main motivation was that I didn’t want to repeat my MSIII year. Unsurprisingly, I did poorly because I just didn’t care about any of it still. It all seemed like a enormous waste of time and effort when there were so many other things, real things, that Actually Mattered instead of exercising Vietnam-era tactics and being evaluated on them.

I’m glad I did go, though. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have met my husband, I don’t know what I would have commissioned as, but I know my path would have been different. I don’t think I’d be here now, in this house with my dogs and cat and sleeping baby snuggled against me. I used to be so angry but now I’m just sad that my daughter won’t know them, and I’m sad for my dad that we never got the chance to have a better relationship before he died. I am thankful that he got me into running and that my mother, who had skills that Martha Stewart would envy, left me with an appreciation for crafts, cooking, and a deep love for dogs.

One Month Postpartum

A month ago I was super pregnant and mentally prepared to still be pregnant halfway into March. Instead, little girl is a whole month old and my life is completely different now.

Although she isn’t sleeping through the night I like to think that my years of Army training have prepared me to function on little or poor quality of sleep. I did lose 30 pounds in the week after delivery which was pretty cool and I’ve lost another five since then. I haven’t been cleared for strenuous physical activity but I have been doing walks around the neighborhood with the dogs and stroller. I also joined a postpartum yoga class on post which of been a lot of fun even though I seem to spend a lot of the time either breast-feeding or trying to call me fussy baby. In a few weeks she’ll be old enough that I can leave her in childcare at the YMCA and then it will be a little bit easier to get my workout in.

She’s grown a whole pound and some change in a month and is a little taller than the height/weight ratio but she’s gaining both pretty evenly so I wonder if she got the tall genes that I didn’t get. It’s also a little humbling to think that had she cooked longer this is how big she might have been full term.

I’m still holding off signing up for races until I’ve been cleared and have a base again, but I DID sign up for the 2018 Peachtree Road Race again. This year I was quick enough to get an Atlanta Track Club membership and a guaranteed entry.

A (Really Long) Baby Story

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Pictures by Rachel Tesch Photography

LO was born February 9th at 04:14 am and weighed in at 7 lbs 5 oz and 22 inches long. My water broke Thursday February 8th around 5 pm at 37 weeks and 3 days and ramped up pretty quickly. I’d been feeling sort of off all week-still swollen, and just sort of irritable and not very hungry but I was so surprised when the gush happened.

I’d just fed our two dogs and all of sudden, there it was. P was outside talking on the phone to a friend so I opened the door to tell him either my water had broken, or I had massively peed myself and either way we were going to the hospital.

We tried going to Steak N Shake for dinner but they took forever so I ended up getting it to go and drank my shake and took a bite of the burger, all of which I threw back up a little while later. Funnily, when trying to get them to hurry our now to-go order my husband told the cashier that we were on our way to the hospital. Her eyes got big and she asked if I was having contractions and her eyes got even bigger when I said yes.

Food didn’t come any faster, though. >. <

I was 3 cm and I think 70% dilated when I was finally admitted. I had planned on going without an epidural as long as possible but I’d also planned on a slow, gradual labor. So I asked for the epi and it took about 2 hours go get it. By the time I did, I was 6 cm and 90% effaced. It really helped take the edge off so I could try to nap throughout transition. Even then, we didn’t really understand how the epidural button worked so a couple of times it got pushed and nothing happened. It was wearing off so we had the anesthesiologist come in and give another dose and then he showed us how the button worked and it worked out for me because by the time my epidural meds ran dry, it was time to push.

Eventually my labor changed and I started feeling a lot of pressure. I had another cervical check (NOT FUN) and she was about 0 so they had me do some practice pushes to get the hang of it.

Pushing was HARD. SO HARD. I felt like I wasn’t doing anything and was getting pretty tired and the docs were worried that I was going to exhaust myself and so they pulled out the vacuum. Well, Annemarie has big shoulders and got stuck for about three minutes and all of a sudden there were a ton of people in the room all screaming at me to breathe and push. They were yelling, I was screaming, there were 3 doctors with their hands in my vagina all trying to pull her out.

Our hospital does skin to skin but when she finally got freed, they had to take her over to the Panda and start working on her.


I’ve only recently been able to look at this picture without crying.

I could tell my husband was really worried and also didn’t hear any noises coming from her. Also, my doula was next to me and she was straight up praying which probably worried me even more than anything else though also made me not worry either. I didn’t really understand it then but I was sure it was all going to be okay. My husband just kept saying how great I did and then when she finally started making little noises he kept saying how we could hear her and telling me he could see her kicking and how she had so much hair.

They did great and she perked right up but they took her over to the NICU because she was still having some respiratory distress. She was on the CPAP for about 70 minutes and my husband went along with her while I stayed with our doula and the nurses massaged my uterus. I had a small second degree tear inside the vagina from the vacuum and having that stitched up super sucked, especially since I had no fresh baby on my chest to distract me. The stitches were the second worst part of the whole ordeal, second to the part of having three men trying to maneuver a baby out. I cried and whimpered and was just generally awful while getting stitched up.

Once that finally done I was feeling 100% better since I’d first come in so once they got me cleaned up they wheeled me down to the NICU to see how she was doing. They were just finishing up their evaluation of her (her Apgar scores were 2,7, and 8) and we got to wheel her back down to our room. I’m not a very emotional person but I couldn’t stop crying when I saw her and my husband was crying, too. Shoot, I’m crying now while remembering how I was crying.


One of the nurses helped me work on getting her to latch and we’ve been working on getting a good latch for her and me. It’s getting there.

I was ready to be discharged but my blood pressure was still elevated and so they ran some labs and sure enough, I have a variation of preeclampsia called HELLP. Some more background- my legs and feet and hands started swelling like crazy a month ago but my BP and everything else was fine. I’m military so I see a group of doctors and one ordered labs. They came back showing elevated liver and lowered platelets, basically possible HELLP, and ordered more labs. But the labs isn’t get ordered and the doctor I had at my next appointment wasn’t concerned. My doula was surprised he didn’t want to at least check my urine for protein given how swollen I was and I was going to mention it at my next appointment.

HELLP is pretty serious if untreated but is easily treatable. Most women have symptoms that help diagnose it but I had nothing other than swelling and then high blood pressure.

They put me on a magnesium sulfide drip for 24 hours and confined me to bed. I could still breastfeed, which was good. I also got the option of a bed pan or a catheter. I opted for the bed pan because I like independence, though I guess having to call to have someone help you pee in bed isn’t very independent.

At one point I wanted to change my mind. I had to pee so badly and was trying to breastfeed without much success, I mean, it was only Day 2 so neither of us (me or Annemarie) was very good at it. I buzzed the nurse and asked for a catheter but when she came in and began the prep work to thread it, I realized how much more sore and tender that area was and apologized but changed my mind back.

By the next day, my blood pressure was significantly lower and my labs were also significantly better. I had a follow up check and my platelets in particular, were so much better. A normal count, the doctor said, is between 150 and 400 and when they checked me at the hospital, I was down to just 107. Not great when you’ve just delivered and are bleeding afterbirth.

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Photo by Rachel Tesch Photography. I love it because it’s hard for me to imagine how she managed to fit inside there, she’s all arms and legs now.

All in all, I knew labor was going to be hard, but I’ve always been so healthy that I never had any reason to think I was anything but until I obviously wasn’t. The doctors told me that the shoulder dystocia Annemarie had has a reasonably high chance of a repeat in subsequent pregnancies, especially since she was near-term and already pretty big, and that I’d be a good candidate for an elective C-section as a result. Also, the HELLP makes me a high risk patient for any subsequent pregnancies and I’d need to be seen by a specialist in obstetrics; there’s one in the Army as far as he knows, and he is currently deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (because that’s a good place to put an obstetrician).

Another thing that is still surprising to me – I’ve always believed I was blood type O Negative. Except, I’m not. I asked the nurse how Annemarie could be O Positive when I and her dad are O Neg and she looked surprised and told me I was O Pos and where I’d heard that I was O Neg. Um…the Army? It’s on my dog tags? I don’t know, but maybe this is kind of a thing that you want to know, especially with a low platelet count?

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Photo credit Rachel Tesch Photography

Any way, after 24 hours my labs and blood pressure improved enough for them to release us both. It was so nice to sleep in my own bed, well, when I’m allowed to sleep anyway. It’s been a week since Annemarie joined us and she’s already just two ounces away from her birth weight and getting chunkier by the day. I was absolutely set that I never wanted kids and now here I am on the other side and I can’t imagine not.

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Photo credit Rachel Tesch Photography