Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday Feature

In the beginning: registered 11.22.05

In honor of "Flashback Friday" and tomorrow, which is my nine-year RUNiversary, here's a throwback post from last year. Interestingly, it documents some of accomplishments over the previous eight years and includes goals for the year to come, including:
I aspire to add a half Ironman to the list in 2014 and one day, an actual whole-shebang Ironman. I'd like to run at least 10 marathons, to get my marathon time under 4:00, and one day, run (safely) throughout a pregnancy. It would be really, really cool to run the Comrades Ultramarathon, too. Put it on the list.
2014 hasn't included a half Ironman, but only because it instead included running safely throughout a pregnancy. What a year indeed.

Have a wonderful weekend, checking off some goals while setting yourself up to go after others. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A whole new understanding of child's pose.

You guys! You guys! I MADE IT. Henry turned six weeks old last week, so off we schlepped to the lady doc for my postpartum check-up. The appointment went just okay -- I'm not quite as recovered as I hoped or they expected -- but I'm cleared to ease back into exercise. I would have said JUMP, but the just okay part will scale me back to ease. I'll take it.

Since Henry's arrival I've really been missing yoga, both for the absolute presence of mind and the well-stretched, relaxed and gently worked muscles. All of the nursing, burping, and carrying has the left side of my neck, shoulder, and back feeling mangled.

The afternoon of my all-clear, I unrolled my mat in the living room, popped a Rodney Yee DVD into the system and plopped Henry in his boppy at the top of my mat. Let's see how this goes, I thought to myself. A new normal is right. Truth be told, we only made it 21 minutes before Henry was over it, but in the meantime, he was a champ and kept me laughing. The DVD was super slow paced (I wouldn't use that one again) but it was sort of great for a reintroduction with a baby on my mat. Henry seemed to get a kick out of it, cooing and smiling whenever the vinyasa took me through plank pose and up-dog (Hello, Henry! I'd remark, kissing his feet on the way through) and then getting distracted when I wasn't calling his attention. It worked.

A few nights later, Nik was home from work a bit early for an appointment so I decided to take the plunge and venture out solo for a class at a local studio, Dancing Crow Yoga. I've been there off and on before (more off than on, but including my prenatal classes), and decided to try the Flow then Slow community class. It couldn't have been more perfect for my first real night back.

First of all, the teacher, Megan, was really sweet and chill. There were only four of us in the class, so it was nice and low key and intimate, too. Before class Megan asked if there was anything in particular we wanted to focus on and I piped right up to mention my shoulders and another woman said her low back, so I knew I should walk away feeling good. We started with a nice, easy flowing vinyasa and I was surprised it felt even moderately challenging, but then I've been away awhile. I settled into my body and breath and worked really hard to be present, especially considering just how aware I was that my little guy was home without me!

Megan talked us calmly and methodically through class, talking through poses and intermittently adding a thought about the body or practice. When she told us the beauty of yoga was to work with the body we are in right now, I wouldn't have been totally shocked if an actual light bulb turned on over my head. What a perfect reminder for this new mom.

Halfway through class we switched from vinyasa to restorative (flow, then slow), which was heavenly. I used to be kind of skeptical about piles of props in yoga class -- and yes, I was the naive and snotty one who sort of poo-pooed blocks until I realized how much deeper they help you work -- but now I embrace them completely. In this class, my truly blissful moment was thanks to supported child's pose.

It went like this: two blocks were places on the lowest setting with one at the top of the mat and one about halfway down. Our bolsters were places on top (like a bridge) and blankets went on top of the bolsters. Then, we eased into a child's pose, with our arms wrapped around the bolster and blanket like a hug. With my legs tucked behind me, my torso stretched out, and my face resting on one cheek I realized just how much I was laying like my infant son... and why he likes that position so much. Bliss!

One of these days he'll be old enough and aware enough of his extremities to demonstrate happy baby, I'm sure.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

I Mustache You Some Questions

I'm hanging my head in shame. I really am. It's been ages again, but I'm real-life working on another post to come shortly -- Days away! I promise! -- and in the meantime, this survey from Kailey's blog seemed like fun. [Bonjour, Kailey!] Some fluff for now and more regular blog material shortly.

Four names that people call me, other than my real name:

  • J-bird
  • Dr. J
  • Jill-Chachi (auntie in Hindi)
  • Bhabi (sister-in-law in Hindi)

Four jobs I've had:

  • I've been basically everything at The Arbors, my family's independent living home: server, housekeeper, dishwasher, stand-in boss when filling in for my grandmother who runs the place
  • I worked as a dishwasher in the dining hall on a whim before Christmas one year. I made a ton of money really quick and actually didn't mind the work at all.
  • My first job after college graduation was as a sales manager with Hyatt Hotels, where I worked for four years at the Hyatt Huntington Beach Resort, Hyatt Regency Boston, and Hyatt Boston Harbor, where I later got married.
  • For the past several years I've worked in development, as a fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund, and now, Catholic Charities.

Four movies I've watched more than once:

  • The Italian Job (the Marky-Mark one)
  • Any of the Daniel Craig James Bond films
  • Finding Neverland (love, love, love it)
  • Rushmore

Four books I'd recommend:

  • Another Country by James Baldwin
  • Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
  • Bossypants by Tina Fey
  • Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

Four places I've lived:

  • The Jersey Shore (the real one, not the show)
  • Durham, Newmarket, and North Hampton, New Hampshire
  • Huntington Beach, California
  • Boston

Four places I've been:

  • Montreal
  • Stratton, VT
  • India
  • Ireland

Four places I'd rather be right now:

  • Goa!
  • Bermuda
  • Paris
  • My parents' house

Four things I don't eat:

  • Lamb
  • Chinese food, for the most part
  • Coffee
  • Peppers

Four of my favorite foods:

  • Sushi, especially tuna
  • Mexican food
  • Mueller's crumb buns
  • Green juice

Four TV shows that I watch:

  • NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams
  • NCIS -- DC and LA
  • Suits
  • Sports! Football, golf, Formula 1, baseball!

Four things that I'm looking forward to this year:

  • My first post-baby run... soon, I hope!
  • The Runner's World Winter Run Streak
  • Bringing my in-laws to my parents' house for Thanksgiving
  • The holidays, especially Henry's baptism and first Christmas

Four things I'm always saying:

  • I say hello to my baby in a nerdy Mom voice about a hundred times a day
  • "Tell me something good."
  • Lately, "do you want to burp him or should I?"
  • "Want to walk?"
Pick a question and play along in the comments, or share on your blog and post a link!

Friday, October 17, 2014

24: A day in the life with a three-week old

So, I had sort of assumed the six weeks of no activity after delivering a baby was flexible and that I'd be back at it within three or four. Turns out not so much. I feel really great and capable of a bit more walking and some yoga, but the doctors really aren't into that suggestion, so I'm hanging out, taking "strolls" and waiting for my six week appointment while lapping up the down time with this new little man. Unfortunately, it makes for dull content in the way of "short stories from long runs." Instead, I am really only able to dredge up ruminations from walks to the end of the block.

What am I doing to pass the time? Funny you should ask:

Thursday, October 16.

1:30 AM, wake up and realize the baby is still asleep. Do my requisite "security check" at the bassinet -- he hasn't spit up, is still breathing, and seems warm enough. Back to bed for mom.

3:00 AM, my alarm goes off and Henry still hasn't woken himself to eat, though it's been five hours. I take him to the nursery to wake up slowly, change his diaper, and head back to my bed to nurse. Poor dude is tired, but manages to eat for 25 minutes or so, spread across the hour.

3:49 AM, ready to put the baby back to bed, but now he's wide awake, thanks to burping. I take advantage of his snuggliness and rock him back to sleep. We're both back to bed by 4:00.

6:00-7:00 AM, Henry fusses a little, and his grunts and groans wake me. I've learned not to jump to pick him up, as he usually falls back asleep. Nik is up getting ready for work, but I'm still drowsy and roll back over.

7:30 AM, good morning! I get out of bed and take advantage of a few minutes quiet to make a cup of tea and toast with peanut butter. I've been plagued with headaches the past few days and think I need more water and to eat before I'm starving.

7:45 AM, Henry wakes up and cries, so I change his diaper. Still content, we FaceTime with my mom in New Jersey to show off Henry's sleeper that she gave him. Upon realizing he was nearly 10 pounds yesterday, we're moving out of newborn gear and into 0-3 months. Henry stares and Mom and I catch up until Henry feels left out and cries, wanting to be fed.

8:07-8:40 AM, morning feed! I have a happy baby on my hands this morning, and hungry, too. Yesterday at my hospital's nursing support group, the lactation consultant assured me that as long as I'm nursing, it's impossible to feed the baby too much. She says he'll simply stop when he's full. He's a rockstar eater though, and can't seem to get enough.

9:00-11:00 AM, the baby falls asleep and takes a solid nap, allowing me two hours to finally catch up on the blog. I finish writing the tome that is Henry's arrival story, re-read it about a half dozen times to see if I should be too embarrassed to click publish, and decide to go for it. Deep breaths. I also order Henry's Halloween costume, peruse birth announcements, and eat raisins and a granola bar for snack. As Henry is waking up, I mentally create a to-do list for the afternoon that includes actually making the bed, putting away laundry, and working on a craft project for the nursery that I'll probably put off a few more days.

11:10 AM, got "dressed" before the walk by swapping out boxer shorts for jeans, but changed back into the boxers upon returning home. Scrambled at 4 PM when I realized Nik was almost home and changed into yoga pants. Fancy, I know.

11:15 AM, we head out for a walk in the rain. The forecast for the day is terrible, but getting worse as the day goes on, so Henry and I opt for fresh air early. He's not totally pumped, but once I put his favorite song on my iPhone, he calms down.

11:45 AM, oh my gosh... it's been three hours since Henry last ate and he wants me to know it. He's wailing by the time we get back home from our walk and eats voraciously. No wonder he's getting so big.

12:25 PM, Make the bed (victory!)

12:30 PM, nursing lulls Henry back to sleep, so I take advantage of some cuddling before we head downstairs for my lunch. I try to get him to hang out in his spaceship, but he pitches a fit, so we swap him into the Boba wrap (for the first time) while I make a sandwich and chocolate chip cookies. Success. He looks skeptical, but that's sort of his standard look, and he falls asleep within a few minutes.

1:30 PM, I know our days of all-day napping are probably numbered, so with Henry still out, I transfer him from the wrap to his bassinet and take advantage of the saying sleep when the baby sleeps. (1:29 PM, unmake the bed before nap)

3:00 PM, holy nap! The dark, rainy day really lent itself to deep sleep! I rush to take a few minutes to work on the blog, make the bed, and put away the laundry before Henry wakes up and Nik gets home from work.

4:00 PM, I'm probably going to pay for Henry's long naps later tonight... Just as Nik walks in from work, Henry starts to wake up and fuss. After a diaper change and eating, we all enjoy some playtime on the bed, which mostly consists of Henry staring and some bouncing. He also loves when we bicycle his legs. We take advantage of the baby's contentedness and FaceTime my dad, who is coming to visit next week. He hasn't seen Henry in person since he was three days old, so a lot has changed!

5:15 PM, after a slight diaper mishap ("slight" depends on who you ask. Nik wouldn't call it slight...) we decide it's time for Henry's first real bath (not in the sink... just maintaining the little guy's dignity). It's adorable and he doesn't hate it. No tears!

6:00 PM, Nik and I pop a bottle of prosecco and take advantage of grown up dinner time while Henry takes a catnap in his spaceship. Having slow-roasted a giant container of cherry tomatoes before the baby arrived, I toss them over linguine and comment at least a half dozen times on how delicious they are. The prosecco isn't bad either.

6:52 PM, dinnertime for Henry, followed by snuggles with his auntie Corey, who came by for a visit (and, I suspect, a glass of prosecco).

8:30 PM, witching hour(s) begins! This has been an off-and-on development in the last week or so, complete with wailing and complete sleep resistance. Nik, Corey, and I pass the baby around to try and soothe him while watching the Patriots-Jets Thursday Night Football game. Having slept all day long, it's hard to blame him.

9:00 PM, we give another feeding a try. Henry eats, but is inconsolable. The tears persist and then he calms down for a spell long enough to doze off, only to wake himself back up. Nik and I continue passing him back and forth for another hour or so, until he falls asleep.

Sometime around 11:00 PM, the Patriots win... or rather, the Jets lose on a blocked field goal! Bedtime for the parents.

Highlight of the day? The success of our Boba wrap! Or bath time... or actually getting out for a walk in the rain. Thursday was a good day. Share your highlights of the week in the comments below.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Henry's Arrival

Labor was really long and hard. To give you a sense of just how long and hard, here's a really, really lengthy post recapping our son's arrival. Buckle up, friends. [JMP]

Henry is three weeks old! I can't believe how quickly he is growing and changing; I tell you wistfully, he doesn't even seem like a newborn anymore.

via Anelise Tubinis Photography

In any case, it has been three weeks and I made a few promises I have to keep: first, I promised Nik that I would get dressed in real-life clothes (check!) and second, I promised my sister that I would write something on the blog. Baby steps.

I should start by saying I wish I had taken the time to write down better details of Henry's labor and delivery right after it happened. I stayed up most the night he arrived, thinking about it and replaying each chapter and marveling at the absolutely incredible part of the miracle of life and the miracle of birth, because it was truly that -- miraculous. Long and hard and beautiful. I probably would have supplied a much more cohesive version of events if I had done that, but I was enjoying being in my head and staring at our beautiful little boy and skipped the practical. Regardless of details, this little boy is here; he has arrived!

As my pregnancy progressed and our little guy's arrival approached, I had a pretty idealistic sense of how I wanted our labor and delivery to look. I hoped to labor at home as long as possible, to deliver without drugs, to avoid an unnecessary c-section, and most importantly, to have midwives by my side to assist with my survival and deliver a healthy baby. I wasn't naive or inflexible enough to call it a PLAN, and had a pretty good idea that what I wanted would have nothing to do with how it went down, but my gosh, in reality, it turned out to be almost opposite of my expectations. Luckily, the two things that went according to plan -- delivering with midwives and a healthy baby -- were the two things on my list I considered most important.

Sunday, Sept. 21:

I woke up the morning of September 21 -- one day past my due date -- and immediately knew something was different. I felt a little crampy in my lower abdomen and simply sensed it might be time. Nik and I relaxed for the morning and within a few hours I dressed to go out for a walk, as I had most days. Over four and a half miles, to the hospital and home through some surrounding neighborhoods, the cramps developed into light contractions, noticeable but not painful, every 15 minutes or so. The sun was out, it was warm, and I was thrilled to think we might meet our baby that day or the next. Through the afternoon the contractions came closer together and by the time Nik and I camped on the couch for the Patriots' afternoon game, they were five minutes apart, lasting nearly a minute each.

Later that night the contractions persisted and while they didn't have me doubled over in pain, they had been the requisite five-minutes apart and lasting more than a minute for well past an hour so I called the hospital to check in. Has your water broken? the doctor on call asked when we connected. I explained that it hadn't but my contractions were constant. You can come in if you want, she replied, so another hour or so later, we headed to the hospital. I wasn't in a great deal of pain, and had hoped to labor at home for as long as I could, but thought it was best to follow the protocol that had been drilled into me at the doctor's office and in baby classes for the past few months.

Upon arrival, the first midwife of our journey, Beth, examined me and determined I was only two centimeters dilated, though almost completely effaced. I was a little discouraged, since I had been one centimeter dilated nearly a week earlier, but Beth gave me a couple of poses and positions to try when I got home to help flip the baby, since her exam also revealed our little one was settled far into my right side and "sunny side up." We returned home just before midnight and I tried to sleep in the contorted way she suggested, while assuming child's pose with a big bag of ice on my back every half hour until morning. During the night contractions intensified and became even closer together and from time to time I became ill. I had read that vomiting was actually productive, helping your body progress labor, which seemed encouraging during uncomfortable moments. Furthermore, it had been explained by our childbirth prep instructor that dilation typically progresses about one centimeter for every two hours, so by the time we returned the hospital around eight Monday morning, I was experiencing much more traditional symptoms of labor and was certain things were coming along.

Monday, Sept. 22:

Only not. Monday morning, nine hours after our initial exam, I was still two centimeters. I burst into tears. So early in the process I already felt as though I had failed. I'm supposed to be tougher, I thought. I did everything they asked. I thought about the miles I had walked, the healthy foods I had eaten (the dates! oh my gosh, the dates!), the meditations I had practiced, and the books I had read. Nonetheless, I was admitted to the hospital for observation. Nik and I met Deb, our second midwife, who sent us walking. We shuffled the halls of the maternity ward and labor and delivery unit, stopping every few minutes to brace myself and let the contraction pass. Nik, I should mention, was my absolute champion, start to finish.

As the day wore on Monday, things progressed impossibly slowly. I lost complete track of time in the delivery room with soft lights and no windows. Luckily, it was nice and calm, which somehow managed to morph time. Even though labor was super long, I had very little concept of just just how long it was taking. By Monday afternoon, the midwives decided to start pitocin to help me progress and by evening I gave in to receive an epidural for the pain (it had also become apparent that I was having back labor), in an effort to allow me a chance to rest. After a nap, I was still only about halfway dilated and beginning to think the baby was never going to come. After 7 PM, another shift of nurses and midwives changed and Jessie, my newest midwife, suggested breaking my water, advising that it should help pick up the pace. Nik and I agreed we would surely meet our baby in the early morning hours.

Tuesday, Sept. 23:

Completely confined to bed and unable to feel anything below my diaphragm, I prayed that Jessie had been right and that the combination of breaking my water and receiving pitocin would move things along. For 12 long hours, "moving things along" took place very, very slowly. The epidural helped ease some of the pain, but my body just couldn't seem to coordinate that last bit of becoming effaced, the bulk of dilation, and getting the baby to flip over and get going. By early morning, things started to come together, just as we approached yet another shift change, with new nurses and midwives.

Luckily, this would be my last shift even though I wasn't convinced at the time. Two midwives, Julie and Susan, introduced themselves and Anne, who had been my nurse the day before, rejoined the team. My mother, understandably worried by this stage of the game, joined us and was immediately comforted by how well Julie and Susan had the situation under control. Just after 8 AM on Tuesday, my two midwives and a very petite doctor worked to try and flip the baby into the appropriate position by reaching in to gently turn his head and hoping his body would follow. It was already evident our child might be quite stubborn. He would not be flipped (and later, was born sideways).

By manipulating the drugs and, I suppose, waiting a really long time, by late-morning I had progressed enough to start pushing. Finally! My contractions had started more than 48 hours earlier and I had already been in labor for more than 30... I was ready, and also, exhausted. After pushing for about an hour, the team decided I should rest, as I was becoming completely overwhelmed with exhaustion and emotion. I was also becoming slightly irrational. (Skip this if you don't want to hear any reference to poop, even though it's funny and doesn't involve actual poop.) It is widely said that when it's time to push and when the baby is coming, to the mother it feels like the most desperate need to use the bathroom that she's ever felt. To me, I was instead absolutely certain I needed to use the bathroom. So, I tried to negotiate with my care team to let me get off the table, quickly use the restroom, and then resume pushing. I think they literally laughed. Come on, I begged (not joking), the bathroom is right there. Maybe one of you could just help me over there. Mind you, I couldn't feel my legs.

Everyone left the room and encouraged me to sleep, so that after an hour I would have enough energy to push the baby out. Julie had to go to a meeting, leaving Susan to take over, but promising that when she returned at 1 PM I would have a newborn. I don't believe you, I insisted. I definitely thought and may have told her that I thought she was lying to me. Poor woman.

I tried to sleep, but the need to push was overwhelming and in my sleep, apparently, I tried to make something happen. Nik came back to the room to check on me, only to find me pushing by myself on the delivery table. After running to get the nurse and rallying the rest of the care team (which, by this point included the NICU due to some precautions) we got back in action. After a little while, Nik and Susan told me the baby had a full head of dark hair. They promised the baby was almost here. It felt like hell. Just as we neared the end (or the beginning, depending on perspective, I suppose) I heard Susan say with quiet authority, Cord. Instinctively, I stopped pushing, and I stared intently at Nik's terrified face. The baby's umbilical cord was wrapped tightly around his neck and Susan was unable to move it over his head. Moments passed until I heard Susan confirm, after some maneuvering, cutting me and then clamping and cutting the cord, Okay, we're good.

Quickly, then, with one last push, our son was born at 12:08 PM.

He was swooped off by the NICU nurses to be checked and cleared and, luckily, Nik remained by his side. I sobbed -- a combination of complete joy and relief -- and turned to see my mother doing the same. The idea of my mom becoming a grandmother and the fact that I was suddenly -- officially -- a mother was utterly overwhelming. As I looked over to the warmer where the nurses worked on the baby, I marveled at the fact that we had a little boy, having been completely convinced the baby would be a girl. I wanted desperately to hold him, but instead just asked Is he okay? over and over while the NICU nurses tended to the baby and my team worked on me and stitched me up. It felt like a lifetime, but only minutes later they laid our son on my chest for the first time.

We laughed that he was like a share pei puppy, with rolls and rolls of skin that needed to be grown into; like a teddy bear, with light brown down covering his back and the tips of his ears to keep him warm before birth; and the most perfect little boy we had ever seen.

Though named a few hours later, Henry was born at 12:08 PM on Tuesday, September 23. He weighed a healthy 8 pounds 2 ounces, and measured 21 1/2 inches long.

In the end, labor was much different than I had anticipated and surely, much longer. What was most important, given the time, was that the midwives were able to show me on monitors that the baby was healthy and safe throughout the labor, from start to finish, which meant I was never worried for his well being. My opposition to drugs stemmed mainly from the fear that it meant I could not deliver with midwives and that they would be used as a cure-all instead of measured solution. Too much of what I read illustrated drugs being dispensed liberally and sometimes, recklessly, so I was relieved to find I could deliver with midwives regardless, and impressed at how the drugs were so carefully used to solve problems instead of as a blanket response to pain. Days before Henry was born I came across the 10 Things I wish All Women Knew About Giving Birth. I agreed with it then and agree with it now.

Monday, September 29, 2014

What a difference one week makes.

My post title really sums it up -- what a difference a week makes -- and summarizing is good because it's about the only short part of the story. Last week at this time, I was about halfway through what would end up being a 40-something hour labor, delivering our baby boy.

Tuesday afternoon, our son Henry was born! He is happy, healthy, and naturally, the most handsome, smart, and great creature who has ever lived.

I look forward to sharing bits and pieces with you here, including our labor story (talk about a workout!), a late third trimester recap, and some of my early observations and surprises about new parenthood.

More to come, but for now, I'm thrilled to introduce the little guy helping bring perspective and understanding to the otherwise super-cheesy phrase: bundle of joy.

Happy Monday, friends.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Your Core Sport and Finding Balance

I was doing some reading yesterday, checking out a digest of stories that landed in my inbox from the Wanderlust Festival (also known as the yoga retreat that just may have changed my life) and after reading two quick interviews about a runner/yogi and a yogi/runner, started thinking about my core sport and finding balance in cross-training.

After nearly nine years of hitting the pavement (I celebrate anniversaries like they're going out of style, so I mark occasions like that), running is definitely my core sport. My passion. The one I turn to without a doubt, whenever I can. I join a gym in the dead of winter only to let my membership expire -- or, I'm ashamed to admit, pay the membership fee monthly when I haven't stepped foot in the place in [currently] seven months -- because running outside trumps the hamster wheel of a treadmill in almost any weather, any day of the week.

But then what about yoga, or a flirtation with barre, or swimming or cycling for a tri. Balance is obviously best, but I'd love to know how everyone else manages it. Are you all or nothing? Do you have the structure down pat? I have a tendency to jump in with both feet to whatever of-the-moment workout I'm feeling, gradually falling out of lust and back in love with simply putting one foot in front of the other.

How can one commit to a regular yoga practice, while continuing to feed a now lifelong dedication to running?

Help a girl out. Comments to share, please!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny

I wore a bikini to the beach last week.

Like a legitimate triangle top and bikini bottom. 38 weeks pregnant with what doctors are now telling me is a 43-week-sized pregnant belly (when the hell did that happen?).

True story. I can't even tell you the last time I wore it in real life. Five years, maybe?

Anyway, I'm certainly not bragging and I'm a far cry from the picture of to-hell-with-what-they-think confidence. When I dragged out the couple of bathing suits I own, they all looked absurd and really, really stretched to fit around my middle. So I tried on the bikini top and despite my body being really quite round, it actually looked more sensible. Is that possible? Nik came into the room to grab his suit, took a look and was like, Yup, just wear that. He's generally really honest (really honest), so I took a deep breath and went with it.

You know what I told myself when I looked in the mirror, drove to the beach, walked into the water and swam? It's okay, I said to myself. I'm supposed to look like this.

It totally bugged me then and by now I've been thinking about it for days. I'm supposed to look like this. Which is to suggest when I'm not sporting 9-months of baby watermelon-style out front I don't look like I'm supposed to? Or like I don't look good/skinny/fit enough to wear the same bathing suit and own it? What the heck is up with that?

I don't have any real conclusions to draw or any wisdom to add, because I'm certainly no more confident or wise or well-sorted-out than anyone else. I just think there's a lesson here and it's likely and as usual that we all need to cut ourselves some more slack. It was freeing to wear a little swimsuit, sit however I liked without worrying about sucking it in (lord knows I can't), and to simply enjoy the sun, the wind, and the water. Happily.

Earlier in the summer, I wrote about how empowering I was finding running while pregnant. Today I observe how freeing it is to wear what you want for whatever reason you want. In an ultrasound yesterday afternoon I got to see my baby's little face and watch as the tech measured it's femur, humerus, head, and spine. I saw sprawled out toes on wacky little feet and balled up fists tucked under a tiny chin. I guess my point is that I'm sort of ruminating on the fact that at some point our body goes from being an absolute wonder, to an expectation of beauty or fitness or something like perfection, to a wonder all over again. I'm curious if I can maintain that respect for myself if or when my body doesn't match the "supposed to" someday down the line. I hope so.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Weekend Recap

I know it's already Tuesday (late afternoon, no less), but wowza, what a beautiful weekend. I ended up with a weekend of the three-day variety after deciding to take a sick day Friday to sleep in and rest up. I've been feeling tremendously run down and zombie-like for the past few days and knowing that Baby P could make his or her arrival at any moment, I needed a few extra hours with my feet up and my eyes closed. A slightly longer weekend really did the trick.

Of course, it didn't hurt that my weekend was pretty darn near perfect. The weather, the pace, the company. The whole bit. Perfect.

A throwback for reference: as a child, a priest taught us a way to pray if we weren't sure "how." Think about the best thing that happened that day, and then the worst. Say a prayer for something for tomorrow and think of a way you could improve. It was so utterly simple and grounding I've continued it into adulthood. During a particularly dark time in college, I literally wrote out these prayers each day, as if saying them to myself and to God might not be enough to hear them and embrace them myself.

Anyway, I say this because as I fell asleep on Saturday night, I said my prayers and realized I had an absolute glut of bests for the day and couldn't come up with a single negative. Not one. Like I said, a perfect weekend. Got it? I figured.

Saturday morning was still scorching -- our summer heat wave waited until September this year -- but the sun was out and there was a beautiful breeze. After watching sports in bed to wake up and doing some cleaning, I got out my sneaks and spandex and headed out for a walk. I walked my usual easy run route, which is a three-mile loop in a neighborhood near home, one I know like the back of my hand. As I turned onto Easy Street (yes, for real) a gentleman in scrubs came out the front door to his car and called out to me, "You're doing it right!" "Excuse me?" I asked, taking the headphones from my ears. "Keep it up! Exercise is just what the two of you need!" he replied. I'm not going to lie; I love me some validation from medical professionals. I floated home.

While floating, I was also basically sweating to death. It was super hot out there and almost all I could think about was going for a swim. I was completely obsessing and after lunch I miraculously convinced Nik (he of no interest in sun, heat, sand, or generally, happiness) to go with me to a little lake near our house. I drive past it twice a day on my way to and from work and all summer long I've wanted to stop by. It was awesome -- not the most pristine by any stretch, but ten minutes from home and completely refreshing. "This place would be awesome for paddle boarding," Nik conceded as we piled back into the car after I took my dip. So, in conclusion, we will be returning.

Sunday was equally fantastic, though far and away much lazier. Sundays in the Pereira house are for camping out and watching sports. We might throw in some slow-cooking or grilling if we're feeling adventurous. Still, without fail there will be couches and inadvisable amounts of television consumption. This week all of my teams lost, but the day was still a win. We started with the Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix at Monza. All of my favorites -- Rosberg, Ricciardo, Bottas, Kobayashi (for F1 fans, I'm joking, but not joking), and anyone who isn't Lewis Hamilton -- lost. After some more cleaning we settled in for football, where the Patriots played like they were straight out of Pop Warner. It was just ugly. Follow that with the PGA and a[nother] Red Sox loss and I was fairly cranky.

Nothing another walk couldn't cure. It was far more comfortable Sunday and the same three-mile loop got my endorphins flowing and made me feel just a little bit more productive.

I know it's too late to check in on everyone's weekend, so instead: how is this week coming along? How'd your teams play this weekend? And, finally, if you could only choose one -- car racing, football, baseball, or golf -- which would you choose?

Friday, September 5, 2014

Friday Feature

One of the rituals at Casa Pereira is sitting down to watch the Nightly News each evening. I may have mentioned it before, but it's one of those things that from which we really don't stray. One of the very best features of the program, in my opinion -- especially in the midst of how much terrible news is happening around the world -- is the Making a Difference story that wraps up the broadcast each night.

Tuesday night there were stories on ISIS, Ukraine, and Ebola... super uplifting, I know... but then Brian Williams lead into the closing story, about a tremendously talented runner, a high school boy with autism.

What was most remarkable (maybe... his talent is just off-the-charts... can you say 4:07 mile?!) was his answer to reporter Kate Snow's question: do you think autism makes you a better runner? Mike Brannigan replied, "a better person."