First Post-Baby Race: DNS

Those of you who follow me on Instagram already know this, but my first post-baby race didn’t exactly go the way I’d hoped. In fact, it didn’t go at all.

We packed up the car and headed to my parents’ place on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. It was our first holiday as a family of three, and we were excited to see my parents and my sisters. I made lists on lists to make sure that we wouldn’t forget anything we might need with a baby in tow. But I forgot one crucial thing for myself: a sports bra.

While for some women, the lack of a sports bra might not be a deal breaker, that is SO not the case for me. I was a busty runner long before baby, and now that I’m breastfeeding, my boobs are even more out of control. I can’t just run out to Walmart or Target and get something last-minute. Of course, I discovered the missing sports bra at 7 am on Thanksgiving, so even if I weren’t a busty lady, replacing the bra would have been tricky. Add to that the fact that Baby V had her first fever overnight on Wednesday into Thursday and we were up all night, well, it wasn’t exactly a recipe for a good race anyway.

Obviously, I was incredibly disappointed that I wouldn’t be running. But honestly? It was kind of a blessing in disguise. It was absolutely FRIGID on Thanksgiving morning, and windy to boot. And I would have had a really hard time leaving a sick, cranky baby to go run.

This was yet another reminder that life with a baby is always going to be different, and will continue to throw curveballs. My priorities have shifted and that’s OK. As one IG follower commented, “Baby snuggles > running.”

When is the last time you DNS’d a race?

Real Talk: My Baby Doesn’t Sleep and I’m Not OK

I have written and rewritten this post half a dozen times. It’s so hard to know what and how much of my life to share online. If I share too much “bad” stuff, I feel like I’m being melodramatic and seeking attention. But if I only share the “good” stuff, it feels fake. I tend to use sarcasm to talk about stuff that upsets me because it’s light and easy and I can continue to pretend that everything is fine while letting off a little steam. As a new mom, I sometimes feel like I’m not allowed to be honest about how hard this is because I’m supposed to be drowning in gratitude for a healthy baby, and blissfully in love with my little girl. But I firmly believe that acknowledging my struggles in no way diminishes my gratitude or love. So here goes.

***I feel like it goes without saying, but just in case you’re worried: I love my daughter. My husband and family are incredibly involved and supportive and we’re working on it with our pediatrician. Please don’t interpret this as some kind of cry for help. I’m not depressed. I don’t need meds or therapy. I need sleep***

Vera just sucks at sleeping. Right before the three-month mark, it seemed like she was maybe on her way to sleeping through the night, but then we went into some kind of regression that never ended. Rather than getting better, it’s been getting worse. She used to regularly take 1-2 hour naps twice a day; now, we’re lucky if she naps for 25 minutes twice a day. Sometimes her naps are as short as ten minutes. Or she falls asleep nursing but wakes up ready to party the second I put her down. When once she slept for 3-4 hour chunks all night, she’s now up every 2 hours or less. Every. Night. Sometimes she wakes up and eats and then it takes over an hour to settle her down again. Or she falls asleep for thirty minutes and then wakes up crying. I haven’t slept more than four consecutive hours since before Vera was born five months ago.

While Ben was on paternity leave, I was getting regular naps to help offset the deficit, but now that he’s back at work, I’m just digging deeper and deeper into my hole. As someone who has more or less made a career of being overtired, I’m reaching the end of my reserves. My brain function is starting to go.

Mom Brain, right? People talk about “Mom Brain” with a wink and a smile, as if it’s some benign condition that causes you to do silly things like put your coffee in the kitchen cabinet instead of the microwave, or wash the same load of laundry twice. The other day, I put pizzas in the oven without cheese. I literally didn’t even realize my mistake until I was cleaning up and found the package of cheese still unopened on the counter. But calling it Mom Brain makes me absolutely furious. It belittles something that’s a much larger issue. Mom Brain is actually sleep deprivation, and there’s nothing funny about it.

There’s a reason sleep deprivation is classified as torture. After 24 hours without sleep, your judgement is impaired. Hand-eye coordination is impaired. You’re more likely to have a fatal accident like falling asleep at the wheel. Long-term sleep deprivation can cause cardiovascular issues and hormone imbalances. It is terrible for your health.

Being a new mom is already hard. Being chronically sleep-deprived makes everything harder. I’m “on” all day, with no breaks and no help. I get one or two 25 minute chunks each day while she’s napping to tear around the house trying to get shit done. It’s not even long enough to make myself a cup of tea and drink it in peace, let alone nap or exercise or journal. Even if I had time to exercise, I certainly don’t have the energy.

The days are hard, but the nights are harder. The sun goes down, and I know I’m in for another sleepless night; I become irritable and restless. I get into bed and lie there thinking about when she’s going to wake up next, instead of actually trying to get some sleep. I cried myself to sleep last night because dammit, I thought by five months in, sleep would be better. It’s supposed to be better by now. Isn’t it? Every time someone asks how she’s sleeping I fantasize about punching them in the throat.

We do all the things we’re “supposed” to do. We have a strict bedtime routine, down to reading the same exact books and singing the same exact song every night. We’ve tried nudging bedtime a bit earlier or a bit later. We give her a “top up” bottle of pumped breast milk in addition to nursing before bed to make sure she has a full belly. We use a white noise machine. None of it seems to help. We go back to the pediatrician next week and I pray that she has some help for us, but at the same time, I can’t let myself get my hopes up.

The reality is that there’s probably no magic bullet. We’re not doing anything wrong. I suspect that she’s just a shitty sleeper, and probably will be for the duration. Which is a really hard pill to swallow. How long can I do this? Yes, I have family and friends who can help me out with naps here and there, but this isn’t a situation that can be rectified with an occasional half hour snooze. I just don’t have any answers.

I could write more. Complain more. Entreat the gods for help. But I’ve gotta go; Vera just woke up crying for the second time tonight. It’s 8:06 pm. So yeah. That’s how I am these days.

Friday Free-For-All – 11/30/18

Friday Free-For-All

I’m trying to get back to blogging a bit more regularly. As you may have noticed from the whole two posts this week. Go me! I missed checking it with you all, but I’m still struggling with what I want to share these days. Life with a non-sleeping baby makes it really hard to accomplish much, especially working out. I’m so exhausted most days that the thought of running or trying to go back to CrossFit is laughable. But I’m still here, still living life, so I’m trying to keep blogging.

Fall didn’t last very long in northern Vermont. We’ve had heavy snow cover for several weeks already, and I don’t think it’s going away any time soon. While I’m sad about the shortness of my favorite season, I’m already excited for Christmas, so I can’t be too upset about it.

Our house hasn’t had power since early Tuesday morning. All of the heavy, wet snow led to some power outages in our area. Because our heat, water pump, and stove are all electric powered, it means no water, no heat, and no cooking. Thankfully, my in-laws only live 15 minutes away, so we’ve all been staying with Grammy and Pop. I am so blessed to have such a great relationship with my in-laws, and they are wonderful with Vera. My father in law brought his generator to the house to power the small propane heater on our porch and our freezer to keep the pipes from freezing and protect our food. Fingers crossed our power comes back soon!

Have you ever had to deal with an extended power outage?

A Day in the Life of a Stay-At-Home-Mom

This post was inspired by Amy at Let’s Go Running.

I haven’t been writing much, for a lot of reasons, but this seemed like an easy way to check in with you all. I know that day-to-day life with an infant is probably not that thrilling for all of you, so feel free to skip this one and come back another day.

6:30 am 
Vera wakes me for the fourth and final time. She’s up pretty much every two hours or less all night, which makes for rough mornings. And afternoons. And evenings. Anyway, I digress.

I nurse her in bed while I contemplate whether to get up or attempt to sleep in. By the time Vera is finished eating, it’s clear she’s up for the day, so I lie in bed and cuddle her for a bit. Ben comes in to kiss us goodbye before leaving for the day, and I know it’s time to get up.

7:00 am
I change Vera and pop her on her activity mat to play while I get what I call my “infrastructure” going. I fill my 32 oz water bottle, pop some overnight oats in the microwave, and pour myself some coffee (Ben makes enough for both of us when he gets up). I eat breakfast and drink my coffee on the floor next to Vera’s activity mat so we can chat and play.

7:50 am
Vera is ready to eat again, so I set us up at the kitchen table. While I nurse her, I do some online Christmas shopping and make to-do lists. After her feed, she’s sleepy, so I attempt to put her down for a nap. True to form, she wakes the instant I set her down, but she’s calm, so I leave her in her crib for some quiet time.

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8:15 am 
While Vera hangs out in her room, I make tea and work on this blog post a bit. I also read other blogs (yep, still lurking out here, reading your blogs and not commenting!) and pick up a bit around the house.

8:35 am 
Vera starts to make sad noises, so I scoop her out of her crib, get her dressed for the day and plunk her in her exersaucer. While she babbles and plays, I get myself dressed and make the bed. These are two of my “How to Stay Sane as a Stay-At-Home-Mom” tips. Actually getting dressed every day and making the bed make me feel much more productive, even if I don’t do anything else all day.

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Vera is happy in her exersaucer, so I put some Christmas music on and wrap some Christmas presents. I do a gift exchange with some of my blog friends every year, and historically my gifts don’t arrive at their destinations until well into the new year. I’m a master procrastinator. But this year, my shopping is all done, I just need to get them in the mail. Go me!

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Gifts for my bestie’s son. And you best believe everyone is getting robot wrapping paper this year.

9:37 am 
Vera is no longer happy. It’s “nap time,” but getting her to nap is kind of hopeless most days. It takes me 25 minutes to feed her and settle her down. Once she’s out, I HUSTLE, because her naps last an average of 20 minutes, which is hardly enough time to accomplish anything. I use the bathroom, brush my teeth, and start to put away some laundry.

10:30 am
Right on cue, Vera wakes from her typical less-than-30-minute nap. I attempt to settle her back down, but it’s no use. I slap a fresh diaper on her and load her into the car seat to head out for yet more Christmas shopping. Shop local, ya’ll. I finish shopping for my sisters-in-law and grab a couple of necessities for around the house as well.

11:30 am 
Vera has fallen asleep on the car ride home, so I take advantage of the bonus nap to make myself some lunch. I have started keeping pre-chopped salad ingredients in the fridge to make it easier to make healthy choices when I’m scrambling to eat during my very brief breaks, so I assemble a salad and some other leftovers. I work on this blog post a bit while I eat.

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Trying to eat up those Thanksgiving leftovers

Noon
Vera is up and at ’em, so I feed her a snack and then put her down for some tummy time while I pump. I pump once a day to a) help keep my supply up and b) build a freezer stash for days/events when I’m out of the house. Next up is reading! I’m trying to make sure I read to Vera more than just at bed time, so we busted out a bunch of our new books that Gramma and Grampa gifted at our visit over Thanksgiving.

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Kitties are apparently more entertaining than books

1:30 pm 
Vera is ready for a diaper and a change of pace. She’s fussy and fidgety, so I nurse her briefly, then change her and put her back in the exersaucer. I have a few Trader Joe’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups and try to work on this blog post a bit more. This lasts maybe five minutes before Vera demands my undivided attention. She’s fussy and obviously tired but won’t go down without a fight. We play a few rounds of peekaboo and some games from baby yoga, then she settles in for a marathon nursing session. This is unsurprising as she has been “snacking” all day.

2:30 pm
Post-meal, she falls asleep in my arms. Rather than trying to put her down and risking waking her, I continue to work on this blog post one-handed. It’s tedious, but what else am I gonna do while holding a napping baby?

I wish I were being productive, but I know baby girl needs the sleep, and quite frankly, I need the break, so I surrender to the siren song of Netflix and turn on Love Actually. This is a good choice because Vera ends up napping for almost two hours (!!!!), which is seriously unheard of right now.

4:10 pm 
Ben is home! Yay! Once he has a snack and gets changed out of his work clothes, I hand off Vera so I can get supper going. I’m making pizza, so I need to make the dough and get it rising ASAP, otherwise we’ll be eating at 9 pm.

5:00 pm 
Vera is fussy, so I attempt to feed her, but it doesn’t last long. She’s super distractable these days, and eats in short, frequent bursts, particularly when Ben is around. While the dough rises, we take turns playing with Vera, making faces, singing, flying her in the air, and basically just trying to make it until bedtime. She also snacks a couple more times. You’ll also notice that I ceased taking pictures at this point, because keeping V happy in the hour or so before bedtime is pretty tough.

6:00 pm
Bath time! This is the beginning of our bedtime ritual. We got her all cleaned up and in a fresh diaper (we use cloth diapers during the day and disposables at night) and PJs, and Ben gave her a bottle. In an attempt to load Vera up on calories and hopefully get her to sleep more, we give her a bottle of pumped breast milk before bed in addition to nursing. So far, it hasn’t really seemed to help, but at least it helps to offset all of her mini feeds during that day.

Once she finishes eating, it’s reading, a bedtime song, and lights out. Of course, she never falls asleep easily, but we try to stick to our routine as much as possible. General wisdom indicates that eventually, the routine signals to baby that it’s time to go to sleep, but we’re still waiting for that to take effect… I get the pizzas in the oven between attempts to calm her.

7:00 pm
She’s finally out! Hallelujah! Ben and I resume watching a video game walk-through on YouTube for Red Dead Redemption 2. Yep, we’re the people who watch those videos. I mean, we can’t afford a PS4, which means we’ll never get the game, so why not watch someone else play it? We also stuff our faces with pizza and salad.

7:30 pm
Vera wakes up and fusses, but I’m miraculously able to calm her back to sleep fairly easily. More pizza and watching Archer while I knit Christmas gifts. Vera makes a few more halfhearted fusses, but we don’t have to intervene.

9:00 pm
Ben heads into the kitchen to clean up supper dishes while I head into the bathroom to get ready for bed.

9:30 pm
I attempt to dream feed Vera, but she doesn’t eat very much, then wakes up completely when I put her back down, so I feed her some more, and she finally goes back to sleep.

11:50 pm
Vera wakes me for the first of many times. Lather, rinse, repeat.

So there you have it. A super glamorous, very interesting day in the life. (Sarcasm. So much sarcasm)

Parent friends, talk to me about sleep training. Vera is almost old enough and I am DESPERATE to start getting more sleep. I’m not interested in crying it out, but open to all other suggestions.

 

Life Lately

Hey there, friends. I kinda dropped off the map there for a bit. In addition to feeling a LOT of ambivalence towards blogging (that’s a post for another day), life has been absolutely bananas. Here are a few updates on what’s been going on in the life of Rae.

To start off with, Vera is apparently one of those babies that just isn’t a good sleeper. Usually, between three and four months of age, babies develop discernible sleep patterns and schedules, and begin to sleep for longer periods of time (think 6-8 hours). We thought we were approaching that point when we started getting regular four hour chunks, and even a few five hour chunks, but as soon as we hit the three month mark, it all went to hell. Either she hit a growth spurt or started the dreaded four month sleep regression a month early, but she hasn’t slept longer than four hours since, and generally wakes at LEAST every 3.5 hours every night, usually even more frequently. Oh and naps? What naps? She might take two or three half hour naps a day. It sucks. A lot.

To help with the sleep issue, our pediatrician recommended me trying a dairy-free diet. V was having pretty regular bouts of crying due to gas pains during the day and waking up at night, so the doctor suggested both probiotic drops and going dairy-free for a while. Since starting both, Vera has had pretty much no episodes of gas-induced fussing. Whether that’s the dairy or the drops is kind of a guessing game at this point. We have Vera’s four month checkup next week, so we’ll be asking the doctor about next steps. Boy I hope I can start eating cheese again soon. It’s been extremely hard maintaining a dairy-free diet. Of course it’s worth it for the kiddo, but it’s no fun. Halloween was a huge bummer, let me tell you. Most commercial chocolate has milk in it. Boooooo.

5k training. Right. I’m training for my first post-baby race. It’s going… Not well. You may have seen my post on Instagram, but with three weeks to go until race day, I’ve missed more scheduled runs that I have completed. I haven’t been to yoga in over a month, and haven’t done any strength training in weeks. I know that I will be able to cover the distance, but I had really hoped to race this one, to see what I can do. The way things are going, this will end up being more of a fun run than a race.

We also turned our lives completely upside down to install hardwood flooring in more than half our house. While we are absolutely delighted with the results, it was a really difficult two weeks. I don’t recommend doing major home renovations with a new baby in the house. Our furniture was every which way, there were tools everywhere, sawdust all over everything… And it was very noisy. Not at all conducive to baby naps.

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Vera’s room in progress

On the health front, things have also been less than stellar. I got a cold, which Vera and Ben then both got as well. And Vera can’t seem to shake the congestion. It’s been over a week now, and she’s still struggling to breathe through her nose, particularly at night. This makes everything from eating to playing to sleeping much more challenging for her. To help with sleep, we are putting her in the Rock n Play, which is a ridiculous crutch that we don’t want to rely on for the future, but is totally necessary for any of us to get a halfway reasonable amount of sleep right now.

I also still have a milk blister on my left nipple. Did I tell you about this? I honestly can’t even remember. But yeah, I have a blocked milk pore that is extremely painful. It’s been there for over a month. I’ve been to the doctor twice, and had it lanced twice, once by a midwife and once here at home (with a sterile needle given to me by my midwife). I’ve done everything recommended for at home treatment and it’s just not getting any better and I’ve kind of given up and decided that this is my life now. Breastfeeding is no joke, people. I honestly don’t know what women did before modern medicine.

Additionally, we went for our first family road trip. We went to Pittsfield, MA to meet up with my bestie Mandy, her husband, and their new baby at her parents’ house. It’s basically the halfway point between them in Jersey and us here in VT, so it was nice that we could see each other without either side having to drive the whole distance. It was wonderful to see my friends and meet their baby. Liam was born a little over a month before Vera, so Mandy and I basically went through our whole pregnancies together. The weekend was great, but hectic. Mandy has a huge extended family that is always drifting in and out of her parents’ house, so we were socializing all weekend. Vera had a hard time with the change in schedule and slept even worse than usual, although she thankfully was a champ and slept the entire car rides down and back.

Reading back over this, it all seems very doom and gloom, but that’s not what I intend. It’s simply an honest look at what’s been going on. Thankfully, Ben has been on paternity leave from work since October 8, and has been enormously kind and helpful as far as trying to get me some extra sleep. He generally gets up with Vera every morning to allow me an extra hour or two in bed. And he’s been knocking lots of little niggling home improvement projects off the list left and right. We’ve now got a shelf in the laundry room for our detergent instead of balancing it on a windowsill. We’ve got new light fixtures in both bedrooms to replace the ugly fan/old lady light combos. The cat scratcher is now mounted on the wall instead of kicking around the kitchen floor. AND…

We bought a “new” car. It’s a 1998 Honda CR-V and we LURVE it. We’ve been casually keeping an eye our for a small SUV for a while because Ben’s truck can’t take a car seat. We knew that eventually we’d want more than one car that can transport the kiddo, and we also knew that if we were going to have more kids and/or get a dog like we want, we’d need a slightly larger vehicle. We found this on Craigslist and got a hell of a deal, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed that it stays road-worthy for us for a few years. I’m just happy because it has studded snow tires and all-wheel drive, so I’ll probably use it as my winter car while Ben drives the Civic. Fun fact, we now have cars from each decade of the 80’s, 90’s, and aughts–an ’87 Toyota pickup, a ’98 CR-V, and a ’08 Civic.

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So yeah. Life has been chaos. And I think with a baby, that’s just kind of how life is going to be now. We’re just trying to roll with it.

What kind of car do you drive?

Have you tackled any home improvement projects lately?

Manic Monday Training Recap – 10/15/18

Manic Monday

Training For Zack’s Place Turkey Trot 5k – Week Two
What Was Planned vs. What Happened

Monday 10/08/18: 2 Easy Miles | 2 Miles at 11:13 Pace
I’m trying not to do too much too soon, so keeping one of my easy runs nice and short seems like a great idea for now.

Tuesday 10/09/18: Core & Arms | Rest
It was a gorgeous day, so we did lots of stuff around the house, but no workouts for me. Oops!

Wednesday 10/10/18: Postnatal Yoga & Tempo Run | 1 up, 1 fast, 1 down
Vera was up nursing every 1.5 hours, so we stayed in bed super late and I missed my yoga class. But after making an appointment with our pediatrician and a hefty dose of caffeine, I went out to run. I was under fueled and overtired but I got it done.

Thursday 10/11/18: Core & Booty | Rest
I developed a bad sore throat overnight, and Vera had another rough night, so I took a full rest day.

Friday 10/12/18: 3 Easy Miles | Rest
Sore throat + baby up between 2:30 and 4:30 = rest day.

Saturday 10/13/18: Rest| Rest
We attended our friends Peter and Lizzie’s wedding, leaving Vera with some friends. It was nice to have a baby-free day for only the second time since she was born!

Sunday 10/14/18: 4 Miles | Rest
I woke up with a full blown head cold, and sat around most of the day with the babe.

Weekly Miles: 5
2018 Miles: 
52

This week was completely thrown off by multiple factors: a fussy baby, a head cold, and, TMI alert: a milk blister on my left nipple. Yeah, that’s a thing, and it’s exactly as painful and shitty as it sounds.

I saw my midwife today and got some “Triple Nipple” ointment for my blister, but my head is still full of junk, so I’ve already missed the first run of this week. I’m planning to rest tomorrow as well, and pick up with an interval run for “Workout Wednesday” if I’m feeling better. Being sick and having a small baby to care for is no joke. Thank god Ben is home on paternity leave, otherwise I’d be in a lot worse shape.

 

Friday Free-For-All – 10/12/18

Friday Free-For-All

I am now the proud owner of a treadmill! I put a call out on my local Front Porch Forum, and actually received a ton of offers of used treadmills. Not only did I find one in good shape, the seller delivered it straight to our house, yay! While I fully intend for most of my runs to be out on the rail trail, the days are about to get a lot darker, colder, and snowier, so having a treadmill means that I will be able to keep up with running this winter.

We have a leak in our roof. Joy. We’ve had a few really rainy days lately, and on one particularly rainy day I noticed a dripping sound in our laundry room. I looked up and saw a hole in the sheet rock, dripping water. Blerg. Gonna have to get that fixed before winter.

Postpartum hair loss has kicked in. Double joy. For those who don’t know, it’s pretty normal for a woman to start losing clumps of hair around three months postpartum. Pregnancy hormones cause you not to shed hair as you normally would, and once your hormones return to normal, all of the hair you should have shed during pregnancy all starts to come out at once. It’s alarming, and gross, and just another part of that oh-so-magical pregnancy journey.

Homeowners, have you ever had a leaky roof?