Thursday, November 29, 2012


Wissahickon Cross 2009
 I thought about what it's like to race this time of year when I got in my car this morning.
As I waited for the windshield to defrost a bit, I thought of clumsy fingers numb with cold hastily pinning numbers to my skinsuit.
I thought of the end of November and just a handful of races remaining on the calendar.
I thought of those bitter cold moments on the start grid, trying in vain to calmly keep my teeth from chattering.

Getting back on the bike in February is going to be tough.
I haven't had a chance to ease into the falling temps or acclimate myself to winter riding.
Good thing I don't mind bundling up.
Good thing I still have those Toko gloves and a sick sort of affection for the coldest winter adventures.

photo credit: Dennis Smith

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

36 Weeks (misshapen)

Nearly full term.
Sweet tooth is out of control.
Emotions are out of control.
Swelling at the end of the day is out of control.

My hands fall asleep often...especially at night time.
My belly button is inside out.
My appendix scar is in the middle of my belly (instead of my lower abdomen, directly above my right hip)...I thought it was a stretch mark, but no.
Things are just oddly misplaced and misshapen.

I miss my bike.
This is the longest I have gone without riding in nine years (if you count spinning or riding a trainer when I was pregnant with Max).
This is the least "athletic" I have felt in nine years.

My son will be eight next week. His hands are almost as big as mine.
I can't believe how fast eight years has gone by, how much we have been through together.
I can't believe in a matter of weeks he will be somebody's big brother.

Monday, November 26, 2012


I blush easily and cry uglier than, well, anyone.
With week 36 fast approaching, I was able to show off my Ugly Crier Face (disturbingly blotchy and red, impressively puffy) at the pediatrician this afternoon.
All it took was a receptionist having a serious case of the Mondays, a misunderstanding about my son's insurance, and my own raging hormones.
Three hours, many phone calls, one chest xray (Max does not have pneumonia...yay), and countless tears (mine) later, I finally got myself under control.
It takes about that long to look like myself again.

Only 4 more weeks of this.
Unless I go past my due date.
And if that's the case...
just steer clear of me, I guess.

Friday, November 23, 2012

hospital bag...

It's a bit different than packing for a race (although both require a bag of gummi cola bottles).
I know I did this once before, but all I remember is packing an outfit for the baby and those hideous (and hurtful) Adidas sandals. This time:
  • ipod dock
  • 2 nightshirts
  • my favorite socks
  • real undies (I haven't forgotten about the weird mesh ones provided by the hospital...ewww)
  • a cute Paul Frank robe (scored at Target for $8 on clearance)
  • flip flops
  • toiletries
  • plenty of hair elastics and barrettes (last time I did this my hair was super short)
On our way out, we'll grab the camera, phones, and my pillow. Probably wouldn't hurt to throw in a change of clothes for Bill in the event that I don't have a roommate and he is able to spend the night.
What have I forgotten?

This is happening?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

35 Weeks (Thanksgiving Eve)

I'm almost 30 lbs heavier than I was when I got pregnant.
(that's a hell of turkey, huh?)

35 weeks seems pretty momentous...only 5 or so to go.
35 weeks sounds to me like, "Maybe pack that hospital bag so there is one less thing to think about."

I was never big on going out on Thanksgiving Eve anyway...too crowded, too crazy.
I'll be spending this quiet evening with my feet up and eating rice pudding for dinner.
Don't be jealous.

Friday, November 16, 2012

comfort measures (34 weeks) and a belated birth story

At this morning's check-up, my OB informed me that I will probably not have the option of an epidural during labor due to my increasingly low platelet count.
What's a girl to do?
gentlemen, be forewarned...the following paragraph is probably TMI ...such is life in the third trimester. 
Head to the spa for a painful bikini wax, that's what. (maybe that sounds like punishment, but at this stage in the game, it's actually a necessary "indulgence")
Bikini wax in the third trimester (while the nether regions are extra sensitive due to all that pressure), drug-free childbirth...pshaw...I got this.  
I'll say it again:
Being a woman is awesome.

I'm all about comfort measures this last month+ of pregnancy...if I can't have pain relief during childbirth, I'm just going to make damn sure I feel as comfortable and good about myself in the weeks leading up to the big day.

A maternity massage may be in my near future.
I finally broke down and bought an inexpensive cute pair of size 8 shoes to see me through.
I also purchased some new PJs and undies...I deserve to be comfortable.
Why has it taken me eight months to figure this part out?

As for the drug-free childbirth? Well, I almost nailed that once before, though not intentionally.
I don't think I've ever touched on my experience with Max's birth here.
For those interested, this is my attempt at his birth story:

Max born 12/4/04 6lbs 8 oz 20 in.
Mostly (and regrettably), it's a blur.
The night before our son was born, Jeff and I had dinner in town and walked all over West Chester for the Olde Fashioned  Christmas parade (one of my favorite West Chester traditions). I remember how freezing, freezing cold it was and I could barely zip up my puffy green jacket.
At 39 weeks pregnant, this was the week before my due date.
Hazel, our boxer, would not leave my side all night was like she could not snuggle up close enough and she kept trying to burrow her head in my non-existent lap. I think she sensed that something big was about to happen.
Dogs are keen like that, right?
We went to bed and I woke up around 3am with mild cramps.
Since I had already lost my mucous plug on Thanksgiving (and miraculously, still had an appetite after that little horror show) and was a few centimeters dilated at my checkup earlier that week, I was pretty certain labor was starting.
Rather than wake Jeff, I showered and got didn't take long for contractions to become regular and uncomfortable.
I wouldn't feel this calm again until seven frantic hours later.
By 7am we were on our way to Bryn Mawr hospital.
En route, my contractions were strong enough to take my breath away and make it difficult to speak.
"Maybe we should come up with some girl names," was pretty much the only thing I said during the 45 minute drive.
That and, "Call the hospital and tell them I want an epidural. Fuuuuuck. NOW."
as if it works that if the anesthesiologist is just waiting in the parking lot with his needle and his drugs, ready to just pop that sucker in your spine...
The next few hours are where things get fuzzy because I was progressing very quickly and the pain was incredibly intense.
Way bigger than me, way bigger than anything I was prepared for.
Bigger than broken bones or horrendous mountain bike races or four hour tattoo sessions...bigger than anything I could have imagined.
All I remember is gripping the rails of the bed, writhing in pain, wishing each contraction away, begging and praying for even just a little relief.
I was given oxygen and told to lie on my left side because my blood pressure was dropping and the baby's heart rate was declining.
In spite of my wishes and pleas to have an epidural, I didn't actually receive it until I was 9cm dilated.
I'm still not sure why it took so long because there wasn't much action on the labor & delivery floor that night. All I know is the nurse kept assuring me she would page the anesthesiologist, "just hang in there a little longer..."
Like, how much longer? I think I would have handled the pain better if they had just said, "Sorry, but you're going to do this naturally."
The proverbial dangling carrot ("he'll be here soon, I paged him again...") was awful.
So, yeah...9 cm.
Although I had made it through transition drug-free, I didn't realize the hardest part was behind me.
I didn't have the presence of mind at that point to realize I was nearly ready to push, that I was nearly complete.
The epidural gave me almost immediate relief, but I was so wiped out and scared and mentally depleted.
When it was finally time to push, I couldn't feel a thing (because my epidural was administered so close to me becoming fully dilated and effaced) and I was too tired to focus.
Eventually, the doctor used vacuum suction to assist in the delivery of our baby because his heart rate kept falling. It was as if my body just stalled out after all that hard work, which only made me feel more frustrated and disappointed in myself.
Minutes later, with the doctor's intervention, the baby was born.
Our son was placed on my chest; squirming, slimy, pink, and perfect.
I will never forget those tiny seconds upon holding him in my arms when he was alert enough for our eyes to lock.
Max had arrived.
All the craziness and pain and intensity and fear and everything that mattered so much leading up to that moment didn't matter at all anymore.

( only took me seven nearly eight years to write his birth story)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

34 weeks...steady as she goes

34 weeks...
That leaves only six.
At this point, I am in full-on anticipation/excitement mode.
Wondering...boy or girl? 
Since the beginning, my gut has been "girl", but now I find myself wavering whenever someone (a stranger, typically) scrutinizes my belly and declares, "Oh, a boy for sure."
[yes strangers do this...and often]

I feel shamefully tired pretty much from noon til whenever my sorry ass gets to bed (just shy of 8pm a few nights ago).
Do you know what a body pillow is?
It's like an awkward third party in your bed, a space invader, if you will...
it's a pillow that is as long as me, over-stuffed (like me) and...nevermind.
In any case, Bill tossed one in our cart at Target last weekend, in spite of my bratty protests.
Guess what? I love my body pillow.
Love. Love. Love.
Although it creates a massive divide between me and my husband, it gives me support where I need it and allows me to get some comfortable, quality sleep between countless trips to the bathroom during the night.
I almost feel like I should name it (but, that would be creepy and weird).
(and this is the honeymoon phase??...riiiiight)
So, yeah...
34 weeks.
Me and my behemoth pillow and behemoth belly just holding steady til December.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


When I act this way lately, it probably just means I need to be fed.
And I was out of my standard breakfast supplies this morning (fish tank gravel Grape Nuts, Very Vanilla soy milk, decaf Irish breakfast tea).
And Bill left to procure these items while I went back to bed (to pout, not sleep) and I texted him,
Who does that??!!!   

Honestly, I'm mortified by my moodiness lately...sure, hormones are probably to blame, but that doesn't make it okay.

Today I am buying some items for my hospital bag (!) and perhaps some cheap shoes and pjs.
Nothing fits, not even my shoes.
Seven(ish)  more weeks.

Friday, November 9, 2012


After breakfast with Lisa, this morning, I headed to Stroud's Preserve for a walk.
Stroud's reminds me of my old boxer, Hazel (best dog ever) and I could picture her bounding through the marshy reeds.
Sloppy and soaked, with a giant stick in her mouth.

I meant to walk the main gravel road out and back, but the sunshine was too beautiful to waste and I found myself exploring trails and wandering across the fields.
I like walking by myself...
(I like having company, too, but I don't mind being solo).

Happy Friday, at last! 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

33 Weeks (just a big, puffy zombie)

As I was putting braces on a patient this morning, my baby definitely nudged/kicked her in the head.
My patient looked up at me, eyes wide, alarmed.
"Sorry, but I think my baby just kicked you!"
This is becoming a regular occurence as I am running out of personal space

33 weeks in and suddenly I am way more tired at the end of the work day.
By the time I see my last few patients, my hands are almost too swollen for the gloves and my feet are positively aching.
My face is even tired.
When I get home, I need to keep moving or I will collapse in a heap before Jeopardy is on.
I feel like I need to remind myself to talk to my family or engage in some interaction during dinner.
In short, I feel like a puffy zombie.

Knowing I probably won't go down this road again (although I did say that before), I'm determined to really enjoy these last weeks of my pregnancy, in spite of this exhaustion.
Yoga and long walks are satisfying my need to move, though my pace has slowed down quite a bit.
I've noticed after the first mile of a long walk, I feel awesome...after I am good & warmed up, my posture is great, my core feels strong, movement doesn't feel labored or heavy or sloooooow anymore.
Typically, that lasts for a solid mile, maybe a little more, and then I hit a wall again.
Tired, aching, heavy, dragging, (or you know, very pregnant).
I'll take the bloating and the heartburn and the nausea and the jabbing in my ribs and the disgustingly swollen feet and shortness of breath and dark circles under my eyes and waking up to pee every hour all night long and the ever-increasing weight strapped to the front of my body...
it's freaking miraculous and I'm in awe of this whole process, good and bad.
I'll also gladly take my husband lavishing me with encouraging words and the lustrous hair that is finally growing past my shoulders and the best my skin has looked in my thirties and the softest my hands have felt perhaps ever and the lively kicks I get to feel all day long reminding me that Baby Showers is growing and moving and thriving...

I'm not going to say I'll miss this huge belly, but approaching the end of this pregnancy feels bittersweet.

(remind me that at week 40, okay? and don't let me near the castor oil if it comes to that...I've heard the horror stories..thanks)

Monday, November 5, 2012


I attended one cross race this season (as a spectator, duh).
And I forgot my cowbell.
As we approached the venue (West Chester Cross at Bayard Rustin High School, minutes from home), my nerves inexplicably got a hold of me.  
Not wanting to miss my dad's start, I hopped out of the car while Bill parked and made my way to the grid.
By then, I felt the all too familiar pangs of full-on pre-race jitters.
Between the smell of embrocation in the air and the caution tape flapping in the wind, I felt queasy and anxious (not morning sickness this time, trust me).
And I wasn't even racing...

My dad had one of those "not my day" races (the kind we all seem to have when friends and family come out in force to cheer and spectate), but I'm glad I got to stand on the hillside and watch him hurry over the barriers and fly down the steep grassy slope.

I'm glad one of us is out there doing our thing.


Sunday, November 4, 2012


The calendar is quickly filling up with birthday parties, holiday engagements, school activities, work commitments...
and doctor appointments.
OB check-ups every two weeks til I reach 36 weeks, then weekly check-ups until delivery.
And blood work weekly to monitor platelets.
Oh my.

A morning hike at French Creek yielded very tired legs and sore hips.
Two hours seems to be my max these days.
Following familiar lines along trails I've been riding for years, I kept imagining how odd it's going to feel to ride there again.
I wonder how long it will take to get my fitness and confidence back.
I wonder how much that's even going to matter to me once our baby is born.

As we wrapped up our hike and crossed the dam at Scott's Run, somehow my mind wandered to that snowy, icy cross race at Reston several years ago...I remember shivering in the bathroom before the race, puking from nerves (and the flu, as it turned out), struggling to get my gloves back on because my hands were shaking so badly.
I remember the bridge covered in solid ice (as well as perhaps 75% of the course).
I just can't fathom putting myself out there like that again any time soon (out there meaning treacherous conditions, hours and hours from home for a mere 45 minutes of utter punishment).
We shall see...

Friday, November 2, 2012

32 weeks...getting closer

This morning's ultrasound revealed a very active, 4lb baby with a heart rate of 151 bpm.
At twenty weeks, there was a concern about the position of the placenta, but all is well and I am on track for a normal vaginal delivery.
(huge sigh of relief)
What else?
All the other measurements and stats look healthy and within normal ranges (fluid levels, etc)...I've spent the better part of this pregnancy worrying about pretty much everything, so now I am determined to relax and enjoy this home stretch.
I can do that.
I can relax.

As for me, my platelets are still low and we will continue to monitor that til the end (weekly blood work, no biggie). If the numbers dip really low (or "ridiculously so," according to my OBGYN), it means no epidural.
I can do that.
(I nearly did with Max, but that's another story for another day)

I've gained 25 lbs overall, which my doc insists is "perfect," but I would argue it's a tad much.
In fact, his words were, "Go ahead and enjoy some of that leftover Halloween candy..."
[dutifully unwraps mini Heath bar...aaaand fun size Whoppers...]     

I feel good.
I feel reassured.
32 weeks...holy sh*t.
Halloween came and went, ghosts were busted, sugar meltdowns ensued...the usual