Sunday, August 31, 2008

Inspired

I don't know if any of you followed the IronmanLive.com coverage of IM Louisville today, but I found it pretty inspiring.
Originally, I logged on to watch how Hawaii's Pro triathlete Bree Wee was doing... She was going for her spot to Kona and it looked great for her for a while (she was winning for several hours!)... but Ironmans are hard. And sometimes, for a whole host of possible reasons, your body just doesn't want to give anymore. That must have happened to Bree today during the run. I think it would/will happen to anyone at some point if you do enough Ironmans. I've certainly been there (a couple of times!)... I think I even remember a particular meltdown during Ironman Brazil a couple of years ago where I was thinking to myself, "Maybe I'll just get married and have kids and live a normal life so I don't have to do this anymore..." Ha! Look at me now... but I digress...

At one point the live coverage said something about how 3 of the current top 5 pro women were moms. Bree is a mom of a 2 yr old, Heather Gollnick has 3 kids, and Lisbeth Kristensen gave birth just 8 months ago! That means that last year at this time she was all big and pregnant... a physical state I am totally familiar with now. Anyway, thinking about the comeback that Kristensen made this past year after giving birth totally inspired me. Not that I'm a pro (or ever will even come close!), but more along the idea that you can get right back to your pre-preggo state soon enough if you work at it. I think all of us who are pregnant and experiencing the joys of "Wow, how cool that my body knows how to create a whole new little life!" and yet at the same time, "Gosh my butt is getting bigger everyday... will it ever be normal again?" can appreciate the accomplishment of Kristensen today (she placed 3rd among the women). By the way, even with her meltdown on the run, Bree still fought back to finish and placed 9th. Amazing.

Anyway, I'd like to offer a heartfelt congrats to all the moms who did that Ironman today. I look forward to one day carrying my kid(s) across the finish line of an Ironman.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Dear Bikes,

Dear Bikes,
I know it's another Saturday morning and you are stuck inside doing nothing. I'm sorry these last 7 months have been so boring for you. I know that you have been sitting there patiently, only to collect dust while the spider webs form and the air slowly deflated out of your tires. Please don't be mad at me. There's a good reason why we're taking this break.

I hope the bath you all got yesterday was somewhat uplifting and encouraging. I just want to promise that you will have more opportunities to go out and play soon... Just a couple more months and we'll be out on the roads again together... reforming our old bond...


Love,

Michelle

Friday, August 29, 2008

BabyProofing Your Marriage, Part 3

Mama Simmons is back again with another installment of BabyProofing Your Marriage. The first and second posts can be found in the August blog archives, in case you didn't read them the first time around. :)This chapter deals with Intimacy in a marriage (or lack thereof) after children enter the picture. In an effort to keep my blog G-Rated, I'm not going to go into deep detail here, which also might give you a good reason to actually go out and buy the book... In fact it might be worth buying and reading for this chapter alone...

But the quick summary goes something like this. In most cases, intimacy between marriage partners takes a big hit after kids enter the picture. Several reasons for this (from the woman's point of view) include:

1. I'm. So. Tired. Been up most of the night dealing with hungry/fussy baby. For 2 months in a row.

2. I feel fat. Case closed.

3. All day long I've been dealing with all the household chores and then with all the baby peeing and pooping and spitting up and I didn't even have time to wash the vomit out of my hair... not feeling so sexy.

4. A woman's biological need at this time is NOT to procreate again. In fact, her biological need is to make sure that this one baby can survive on its own before she puts herself in a position where she might end up having to care for another one.

Men, on the other hand, don't experience this biological shift, they don't think we're fat, and they don't understand how tired we are. Why can't things just be normal like they used to be? What about his needs? (By the way, this is where men get the upper hand on Keeping Score.)

Which leads us to another point... What about his needs? There's a helpless baby in the other room and you better bet that when it cries, it doesn't matter how tired we mommies are, we'll find a way to muster the energy to attend to its needs. Babies need us. Grown men can take care of themselves, can't they?

Turns out, not if you want a happy marriage.

Don't ignore this part, ladies. Besides making everyone happy, you just might find that a little skip in his step will lead him to taking the garbage out and fixing the broken light and maybe, just maybe, helping you fold a load of laundry. Don't doubt your ability to become the wife he sees as a goddess...
A few years ago, I saw an episode of Oprah where the guest was a woman who wrote a somewhat controversial book* on putting her relationship with her husband above her relationship with her kids... She made it clear that she loved her kids dearly, but that she loved her husband more, and that her relationship with him came first. Her thought was that by showing her kids a healthy, strong, loving relationship between parents, she was teaching them a valuable life lesson while at the same time allowing them to feel secure that their parents were one strong unit. Made total sense to me, but I swear, this woman got boo'd by the audience of moms repeatedly. Like she was a bad mom for not putting her children first... So I'm not sure where the balance is, but I don't think that kids benefit when their parents aren't in a loving relationship with each other, so whatever priorities we need to set to make that happen are going to be key.
Finally, don't forget the Small Gestures of Intimacy like holding hands, hugging, and kissing that can be left by the wayside when we're swamped with other priorities. You don't want to wake up one day and realize that you've been "running a small nursery with someone you used to date"...
*If anyone knows what book I'm talking about, please let me know. I saw the Oprah episode years ago when the thought of having kids wasn't even on my radar so I never did really look into finding the book. But I'd love to read it now..

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Animal House Update, According to Monti

Dear Mom, (Ellen in Kuwait)
How's it going over there in the war zone? I hear you have to go outside to go to the bathroom... Welcome to my world.

So far things are going pretty well in this new house I'm staying at while you're gone. There's another cat who isn't really all that friendly. I try to play with her sometimes but she hisses a lot. Not sure that she enjoys playing like I do, but maybe she'll come around. I'm working on her. I mean, she's ok. We share the litter boxes and our food just fine but she doesn't seem to like it when I try to curl up next to her to take a nap. She always hisses and runs away. Go figure.

There's a big black dog too. At first I was afraid because she barked at me a lot. Really loudly. I couldn't even move in this house without the dog being alerted to my position. Being stalked wasn't a lot of fun. But lately I've turned the tables on her. I figured out that her bark may be loud but she doesn't bite. So since the other cat won't play with me, I've started playing this little game with the dog. I run, she chases. Then I'll stop suddenly and roll over onto my back so I can swat her in the face when she gets close. Ha! So much fun.
I also make sure that the dog doesn't sleep too much. I wait until she's in a deep sleep (she snores so it's easy to tell) and then I walk right by her and meow as seductively as I can. No matter what doggie is dreaming about, she'll get up and follow me around. I kind of like having a shadow all the time.
I've had some good adventures exploring every inch of this house. It's cool I guess. I like jumping up onto the roof outside from the back patio.

For my next adventure I'm going to figure out a way to sneak out the front door. I see the Woman Who Swallowed a Basketball and the guy who pets me all the time go out that door everyday. And doggie goes too... and she always seems so excited about it when she gets to go. There must be something awesome out there. I've tried a couple times already to sneak out, but the Woman Who Swallowed a Basketball always stops me. One of these days I'll go for the Great Escape so I can explore the Land Beyond the Front Door.

Anyway, mom, stay safe out there in Kuwait and don't worry about me. I'm doing fine. When are you coming home?

Love, Monti

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Lucky I Live Hawaii

What a cool day. This morning I went down to the beach for my workout. Swam for about 15 minutes down the bouy line, then spent about 40 minutes deep water running while watching numerous kayakers, windsurfers, and kite boarders do their thing before swimming back to my starting place. Workouts just don't get much more enjoyable than that. The beach was full of moms and babies, dogs playing in the waves, people exercising and running (or just lounging and reading a book under a shade tree)... I couldn't help but think how lucky I am to be living here and how lucky our little kid is going to be to get to grow up here!

After a quick outdoor shower I headed over for my monthly prenatal check-up. Scott always meets me there (my MD is about a block down the road from his office). I'm sorry to report that we don't have any ultrasound pics to show this time... she did do the ultrasound, but more just to check measurements and growth of the baby. It's really too big to get any good shots right now, but we did see the head (which seems to get exponentially bigger every time) and the belly (also looks pretty big- even bigger than the head!). She said baby weighs 4 pounds, which means it's doubled from last month! I'm glad to know that actually because I feel like I've been super hungry lately (eating all the time again, including in the middle of the night) so baby must have gone through a growth spurt in the last month. Heart rate was 119 which was quite a bit lower than last time (150). She said she thinks that might be because baby's super fit since he/she's been exercising with me everyday. Ha! Low heart rate... isn't that supposed to indicate a boy? But my mom said since I'm carrying straight out in front that it must be a girl? Still sitting on pins and needles!

I asked Dr about my Braxton Hicks contractions... I'm having plenty of them... but not an alarming amount... she said she thought that was very good news- that my uterus is getting ready to do it's thing. She said that women who don't feel the contractions ahead of time tend to get to their due date but still nothing is happening. She thought my BH contractions might indicate that I would go a week or so early, which I'd be thrilled about. Partly because 9 more weeks of pregnancy sounds so much better than 10 more weeks of pregnancy... and partly because my mom is flying out from Ohio for the month of November to help, and logic would say better that the baby is here already so she actually has something to help with other than just waiting impatiently and watching me get bigger everyday. ;)

So I've graduated to the 2 week cycle of Dr visits rather than the 4 week schedule I've been on all along. That seems like progress.

The best part about these MD appointments (besides hearing that baby is all healthy and growing as expected) is that we schedule them at 11:30 so I get to go to lunch with my awesome husband after each one. That's a real treat in the middle of the week. :)

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Kick in the Ribs

This may sound funny, but it just really hit me that I'm going to have a baby. A real, living, little person. Coming out of me. Soon.

I think up until this weekend the whole thing was just too much of an abstract concept. It all happened so fast (the pregnancy) so I didn't spend tons of time before getting pregnant dreaming of having a baby and being a mom. I haven't spent a ton of time around other moms and little babies (most of my training friends don't have 'em).

Over the last 7 months I've spent lots of time reading books and internet websites and talking to people about what it's like going through pregnancy and the first year and all that. I've now personally experienced many of the pregnany issues that just about all pregnant women go through. But again, it was all still too abstract. We've had the baby shower, have most of the stuff we'll need, and are preparing the nursery, but still...

It took a good swift kick in the ribs to make it real.

I've heard other women talk about being kicked in the ribs, but it hadn't happened to me. My baby is so low that I didn't think it could even reach my ribs. All the movements I've felt have been down in my pelvic area- never really felt anything above my belly button. And the movements have really been pretty isolated. So I guess, in my imagination, my little bean was still just that, a little bean, even though my whole abdomen has been growing by the minute.

Well it's not just a little bean anymore. After I got kicked in the ribs, the whole baby rolled itself over and I felt just how big it is in there. It stretches from my ribs to my lower pelvis. I can't slouch when I'm sitting anymore because it gets squished and retaliates.

There might also be something about knowing the baby is head down (finally- it's been breech for most of the time thus far). Seems more in a launch position now which is another reality check.

I asked Scott this weekend if he was nervous at all.

"I... I... I... I... Yes."

Well that makes two of us.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Wanna Go Beach?

After seeing the hilarious video of Kelley's dog, Tila, not interested in going for a walk, I thought it would be fun to show an opposite reaction from Hoku. :)

video


Clearly, Hoku doesn't need much prodding and would gladly take herself to the beach if she could. In fact, Scott said that when she was a pup and he lived within walking distance to the beach, she would do just that.

This is a happy dog.
video

Too cool that the dog will clean garbage out of the ocean when given the chance. Good girl, Hoku!


My goal at the beach yesterday was to get in a deep water ocean run. 30 minutes. There happened to be a pretty good wind swell at Kailua Beach yesterday so it was a bit challenging to get beyond the waves to water deep enough to not touch. Scott got my challenge on video tape.
video
Eventually I made it past the waves (sans hat) and actually had some fun during my 30 minutes. It went by faster than pool running as ocean running in conditions like that is more comparable to trail running. And the whole time my husband and dog had a blast playing in the waves. At one point Scott came out to try running with me. He lasted about 10 seconds and then found it more fun to body surf the waves so that was the end of that. He probably had the right idea!


We got a beach belly shot. This is almost 30 weeks. I think it's pretty obvious how low I'm carrying. Baby boy? Hmmm?

What a difference 10 weeks makes. This is what I looked like at 20 weeks. And I thought I was so big and obviously pregnant. Ha.
10 more weeks to go!

Friday, August 22, 2008

My New Favorite Exercise

There's a reason why I'm a triathlete. It has to do with the fact that focusing on just one sport is too boring for me. I need variety.

Unfortunately for my quest for variety, my uterus decided a while back that running wasn't going to work for a while... oh, excuse me, it wasn't my uterus deciding that... it was my bladder... reports coming from the bladder say that it is being rudely overcrowded and cannot function to its usual capacity... regardless.
And if bladder says running is out of the question, then sitting on this machine for any amount of time was definitely OUT.

So what's a pregnant triathlete got left? The swim of course... Awesome that I still get to do one of the three, but honestly, swimming 6 days a week is getting old. I needed something else. And then finally, it came to me... water running!

Deep water running hadn't even crossed my mind as a form of pregnancy exercise. It's been a long time since I've been injured and unable to run, which is when most desperate athletes turn to the pool to get their run workout in. But I swear, what better way to get running in when you've got a massively enlarged uterus that's overcrowding your bladder? Duh.


Yesterday after I swam, I made my way to the deep end of the pool and gave running my best effort. 15 minutes. Not bad for starters. This morning I made it for 20. I don't feel like such a dork running by myself in the deep end because in the shallow end there are a bunch of old ladies who get together for their daily water exercise class. Seriously, I should just join them.
I'm sure I could go longer, but the boredom factor sets in so I'll need some more stimulation before going longer. I'm working on recruiting my almost-due-pregnant-friend-Kelley to meet me at the beach so we can water run and chat together... shoot, an hour on the phone with her goes by like the blink of an eye (is your baby room ready and who's your pediatrician and how often are your braxton hicks and how's your husband dealing with your meltdowns?) so we might as well be enjoying the ocean and getting a little muscle tone back while we chat, right? ;)

I swear, I think my quads are actually a little sore from my "run" this AM. Wow, that feels great.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

My Perfect Neighbor

So I was driving home from swimming this morning (yes, I am officially too big and uncomfortable to run or ride my bike the whole mile to the pool... give it up already) when I saw my perfect neighbor, Erica, running with her new 13 week old baby in his jogger. She's hard to miss, what with her matching outfit, blonde ponytail swinging and blinding white tooth smile as she pushes the jogger effortlessly up the hill.

She would be easy to hate, except that I admire her so much. She's totally my inspiration.

Later in the morning I was out walking Hoku as she was returning from her run. We stopped to chat... I swear, she's the cutest thing ever. Maybe even cuter than her baby, which is a tall order because he's a doll. Anyway, what an inspiration! Not a thing about her looks frazzled. If she were your only new mommy role model, you'd think early parenting was a total breeze. Her baby rarely cries. She showed me what he does when he's hungry- he just starts sucking on his bottom lip. Time to feed. See how easy that is? He loves his baby jogger. They started back running last week and she feels great, while of course he's a happy as a clam to be outside and able to take in the scenery. He was sleeping through the night after about a month. Now at 3 months he's in the 95% percentile for height and weight (his dad is 6'5"), so the strong kid can already sit up on his own. She doesn't mean to brag, but this is easy!!

Man, I need to stop reading all those books that scare me into thinking the parenting is hard and just copy Erica. The Power of Positive Thinking, right?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Breathing, Uninterrupted

Pregnancy does strange things to your body. Some of 'em good, some of 'em not so good.

I'm not so thrilled about having gained 16 pounds and feeling huge. And I'm not so thrilled about having to hold back everytime I exercise so I don't put myself into oxygen debt (thereby putting my little one into oxygen debt by default). I'm not so thrilled about having to sleep on my side every night and peeing every hour on the hour... but alas, these things are all temporary. In a few more months I'll be back in my old (non-stretchy waist) shorts and sleeping soundly on my belly (we do get to sleep after the baby is born, don't we?)

But pregnancy also has some pretty positive effects for me too. I mentioned previously in another blog that I think I'm protected from man-o-war stings which is cool. But lately, I've found another even more positive thing... my breathing is better! I'd heard that sometimes pregnancy hormones protect you from chronic disorders like asthma, but wasn't sure that would actually be the case?

I've struggled for the last 14 months or so with breathing issues... stemming from a virus I caught last summer that ended up in bronchitis and just never left my lungs. I was finally diagnosed (after Ironman last year) with Restrictive Breathing Disorder, which is different from your typical asthma which is more of a Reactive Breathing Disorder. I've never had an asthma attack, but I have felt short of breath on a pretty constant level for quite some time. I guess my bronchial tubes were just chronically inflamed and constricted, making it tough to feel like I could get a full breath. Hence, the restrictive part.

My pulmonologist finally put me on high dose Advair, which I have had to take twice a day for the last year. I was always able to tell when the medication would start wearing off, because every 12 hours around the clock I would start to feel the shortness again. Luckily, high dose Advair worked for me, and as long as I was taking it consistently, I was able to breath just fine.

But lately I haven't been feeling the same shortness every 12 hours. I hypothesized that maybe I could start titrating myself down to a lower dose. So my pulmonologist gave me samples of the medium and low doses a few weeks ago. Sure enough, I spent about a week on the medium dose, felt like maybe I could cut it down to the low dose... and after about a week on low dose, I just stopped all together! I haven't taken a dose of Advair in 4 days now and my breathing feels normal. YEA!

So I'm not altogether sure why my breathing miraculously got better... maybe the pregnancy hormones, but maybe because I'm not swimming, biking, and running myself into the ground anymore? I used to train 15+ hours a week and now I'm just exercising maybe 6 hours a week total. But I've been doing that for 6 months now so not sure why the change is finally happening? It'll be interesting to see if my breathing stays normal after baby is born... and after I start training again? I feel like the human body experiment... but I'll take it.

Monday, August 18, 2008

What's the Score?

In an attempt to BabyProof My Marriage, I've been studying up. After my last post on the subject, I got a comment from Alicia who's getting close to her D Day... Here's what she had to say (and it sounds pretty universal from all mom's I've talked to):

About the Mama Bear syndrome and hormones-- you know, I think I get it. Earlier this evening I was just commenting to my husband how hormones seem to have kicked in the anxiety and worry. I'm NOT normally anxious or a worrier, so this is a notable change. Worry about what? Oh, you know, any little thing. Was that piece of meat cooked enough or will my baby get sick from some parasite? Have I done something at some point in my life ever that might impact my developing child in some bad way? Is that vibrating thing at the chiropractor shaking the poor little guy silly? I can see how this can turn into hyper-protectiveness once the baby is born. Very easily. It's not oxytocin, it's worry-tocin.

Continuing my studies in the book, it appears that this Mama Bear Syndrome can be a key reason for conflict in relationships during the early years of raising a child. The problem? Men don't get it too. And we, as new Mama Bears, don't understand this. Apparently, this inevitably leads to some degree of disappointment that we will feel in our mates because they won't act in the same protective manner we do. Whether the baby is dressed warmly enough or has enough sunscreen on can turn into major spousal battles since our men aren't wired like we are.

Because of this, sometimes we, as new Mama Bears, insist on taking care of all of baby's needs all on our own. Who else could possibly do it better? Certainly not dad. When it's his turn, baby may not be dressed appropriately (think football jersey to church) or may not be held/bathed/fed the exact same way we would be doing it. And as the resident experts, we have no fear of correcting dad and making him feel like he can't do it right... which inevitably leads him to give up on trying at all. See where this leads? Now even when we want help, we won't get it. The solution? Let dad take care of baby all on his own sometimes. In fact, go away for a whole weekend. Call it a Training Weekend (for both of you! He gets training on baby caretaking and maybe you'll get in a good bike ride). He is a competant man who we married and decided to start a family with, so he's going to figure it out just like we did. He'll appreciate you more upon your return, and baby will be fine. Allow yourself to have a partner by encouraging dad. Tell him he's doing a great job and you'll inevitably get more help.


Additionally, after a baby is born, it can happen that household chores no longer (if they ever were?) seem to be shared equally between partners. By default, guess who ends up doing more around the house? And because of this, Mama Bears turn from amateur to pro Scorekeepers. Apparently the Scorekeeping is worse when mom stays at home with baby while dad goes to work. He sees his job as 'at the office', bringing home the dough, and her job is everything else. Fair enough in his mind, but he really has no understanding of how tired she is and how much work 24/7 it is to keep up with an infant AND all the household chores. And when mom starts keeping score, it's always 200 to 0 in her favor.. because the things he does (checking air pressure in our tires or pulling weeds in the backyard) don't count nearly as much as the things we do (all the laundry, cooking and toilet cleaning). You can see how this kind of thinking can lead to enhanced conflict between partners over time...


As with most problems, communication is going to be the key to avoiding this lose/lose scenario and keeping all the humans out of the doghouse. As disappointing as it is, men can't read our minds. We have to tell them what we want/need them to do. So we can nip this problem in the bud early by dividing up the chores and activities ahead of time. One of us cleans the kitchen while the other gives baby a bath. One of us fixes lunches and then the other drives kids to school. (I get Saturday mornings to ride my bike with my training partners and you get Sundays to surf with your friends.) You get the picture. Scott and I have already started talking about this kind of stuff. He plays soccer after work on Tues/Thurs... I'll go run with the baby jogger while he's playing then do the hand-off when he's done so I can swim with the masters team those evenings... realistic? I hope so. Having appropriate expectations will go a long way toward making you feel like you can rip up the scorecard.


Final point here then we'll call it a day. "Your husband won't act like a partner if you treat him like an assistant." I like that quote from the book. Let him be the dad he wants to be. When he wants to take your kid to the beach, give him the sunscreen, but don't tell him where/how to apply it. Tell him where the diaper bag is so he can pack the diapers himself. And although it's possible that both he and your child will come home with a little rash from the reef or a jellyfish sting, be joyful that they had a fabulous time together while you were able to do a little regrouping yourself.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Thanks, Mom

The TV watching in this house is getting out of control. Olympics overload. We got caught up watching sports we'd never watched before this morning... some of which were cool (track cycling on the velodrome!) and some of which were not (handball?). Finally we were able to rip ourselves away from the TV to attempt to have a semi-productive day.

Of course the primetime showings are incredible. Last night I was pretty darn inspired by the 38 year old marathon gold medalist from Romania... she looked great at the end- so strong. You knew from watching her stride that she was feeling great and not gonna get caught in the last few miles. I was trying to just imagine how incredible that would have been to enter that huge stadium full of fans and run a victory lap around the track as you know you're winning your first Olympic Gold Medal at age 38. (Clearly, I have not yet hit my peak at age 34!!) Goosebumps. Cool.

And of course Dara Torres swimming a personal best at age 41... .01 away from winning the Olympics... Goosebumps again. I know I talk a lot about swimming and what a great sport it is, but seriously, you can win Olympic medals at 15 or 41. It's perfect to swim when you're super fit and training for an Ironman, or when you're just trying not to lose too much fitness while growing a baby inside of you... Anyway, one last thought I had about Dara last night... It was so clear that she was enjoying herself so much... looking all around her prior to the start and taking it all in. Perspective. And what great sportmanship she showed when she looked up at the clock and saw her results- silver by .01. You didn't see her filing any protests or sulking at losing. Instead, she gave a huge smile to the gal next to her and said something about how great of a race it was. Cool.

Anyway, another thing that struck me while watching last night was the close relationships some of the athletes have with their moms. In particular, Michael Phelps and Jamaica's Usain Bolt. All week we watched Phelps immediately look for his mom in the stands after each of his wins. And after his final one last night, he asked the hundreds of photograghers to part so he could make his way up to his family and hug his mom.
And Bolt, holy cow. Never seen anyone run like that. And he kept running at near top speed, right past the finish line and didn't stop until he got to his mom and was able to give her a big hug in front of the other 91,000 fans.
Johnson's launched their Thanks, Mom campaign as well... showing video clips of the Olympic athletes thanking their moms for all the support through the years. Many of the athletes are quoted as saying that they knew their moms were always there to support them and loved them no matter win or lose. I remember that from my own mom... growing up, I remember that my mom would tell me before I would compete that she loved me no matter how I did. I never felt pressure from her to win, but I did feel her unwaivering support for me and my dreams. Even now as an adult, I know without a doubt that I can depend on my mom for anything. What a great feeling. Thanks, mom.

And soon, I'll get to be the mom... and I'll feel that same unwaivering love and support for my little one, no matter what he/she chooses to do with his/her life. Cool.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Whales Can Swim

So yesterday I headed over to the pool for a noon swim with my friend Mike. Another good swimmer, Bruce, also happened to be there and he and Mike had started already by the time I arrived.

I hopped in the lane next to Bruce and began my usual pokey 1000m warm-up swim. I used to be able to keep up with Mike and Bruce (actually, I used to school them in the water but for purposes of this story let's just say that I could keep up). It was obvious how much faster than me they were swimming and it made me start to think. I did some of my thinking outloud once we were all stopped together at the wall...

Me: "I wonder why I'm so slow right now... is it just because I haven't pushed myself in 6 months, or is it actually due to the physical changes I'm going through... like is my big belly actually causing a lot of drag that slows me down? Or does the baby take up so much of my energy that I just don't have enough left to go fast?"

Bruce: "Oh, it's just that you've been swimming slow. When you swim slow all the time you just can't swim fast anymore. I mean, look at whales. They can swim fast..."

Me: (With my jaw dropped open, directed at the lifeguard who was also listening to our conversation) "Did he just say that? Did he actually just compare me to a whale?"

Kris the Lifeguard: (Saying what should be said to all pregnant women everyday) "Don't listen to him, Michelle. You look great."

We all had a good laugh as Bruce stuck his foot in his mouth. Then I proceeded to beat Bruce to the wall in all 5 of the 200's we did. And then all 5 of the 100's. I guess whales can swim.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

What if Men Could be Pregnant?

So last night, as I was waking up to pee for the 3rd time before midnight, I had some grumbling thoughts about the challenges of physically carrying a developing baby in your uterus. All the changes your body goes through and how big and immobile and uncomfortable you can feel at times... it occurred to me that I may go through all this again at some point while trying to have a second one (tough to even think about that right now!!). The thought crossed my mind that it sure would be nice if Scott could take on the pregnancy responsibilities next time.

So what if men could get pregnant? What if it were a choice for the couple to make? Honey, why don't you do the fetus developing this time around? Imagine how that would go...

Morning sickness.
No beer drinking.
No soccer playing.
No surfing once your belly is too big to paddle.
No sleeping on your stomach. Or your back.
Peeing 75 times/day.
Maternity clothes.
Excess hormones.

I'm not sure men could handle it. You know how most men are when they get sick... very dramatic... can't get off the couch type stuff when they have a cold. There must be a reason why women were the chosen ones to handle the awesome responsibility of growing babies.

But then I also got to thinking... what if Scott really was the one with the growing baby? How would I feel having missed out on the little changes that you notice... the first fluttering movement... the first real kick... the first time you see your belly move with the bigger kicks... the odd odd thought that there is a little person inside of me! I think I would feel left out in some way if rather than experiencing these things I was just hearing about them second hand from Scott. Crazy enough, I think I would actually feel some degree of jealousy of what he would be experiencing.

My guess is that it gets even better for us pregnant women. We'll get a gold medal for the laboring process (we do get a gold medal, don't we?), and then we get the satisfaction of knowing that we grew this little one. We took care of it while it was developing inside us, and we'll take care of it while it develops in the outside world. That's pretty cool.

Anyway, I gotta go. Have to go pee again.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

BabyProofing Your Marriage

Scott and I have roughly 12 more weeks (give or take) to be alone as a couple before our world permanently explodes with the additional of our little one. I've heard that though you'd think having a baby would create an even closer bond between you and your hubby, for lots of reasons, that's not always the case. It scares me to think of that because right now I love being married to Scott and I think we have a really good thing going... and I'd like to maintain our good thing even after our lives are turned upsidedown. So I bought this book. Hopefully it'll help.
So far it's a pretty comical look at what we're about to go through, but it does offer some good suggestions that I thought I might summarize in parts... of course adding my own random (naive?) thoughts on the matter...

Chapter One: How Did We Get Here? Parenthood Changes Everything

Apparently, early parenting years are a big challenge. Even relationship threatening at times. Apparently, when the baby is born, I'm going to have some primal 'mommy chip' activated that will turn me into psycho mom as I worry about every breath the baby takes. I've heard this from other girlfriends of mine who have been through it described at times as 'Mama Bear' syndrome. No one is going to hurt this baby.

I can't really envision myself becoming Mama Bear because I just don't think my personality lends itself that way. BUT, I have also read (in a different book- not remembering where now) that there is a hormone that new moms secrete when they are pregnant and after they give birth called oxytocin and it's the hormone that causes the Mama Bear Effect. So what do I know? Maybe the hormone will kick in for me and then I stop recognizing myself? And Scott stops recognizing me too? Hence, relationship threatening.

On top of the out of control hormone is a degree of sleep deprivation, and most people just aren't very nice when they're tired. This worries me because Scott and I are both really good sound sleepers who enjoy our 8-9 uniterrupted hours a night. I've heard that you just get used to not sleeping as much; and that 'it's just a stage' and will get better. I'm always better when I have appropriate expectations about what I'm about to encounter, so I'm mentally prepping myself for a 3 month long endurance adventure race that should end sometime early February. What's it like to go for 3 months without sleeping more than a few hours at a time? I don't know. Check back in a few months and maybe I'll tell you. (Or if you're currently a new mom reading this, let me know!)

One suggestion the book makes that I'm trying to digest is 'Quit trying to get your old life back'. That one might be tough for me. I liked my old life. Maybe I'll like my new life even more (after the initial stage of the adventure race is over?) But in another place I read a quote that I really liked... "You're having a baby, not a personality transplant." I like that one better. I'd like to think that I can balance being a mom with being Michelle. That I'll find time to do things that make me me, and that I'll be a better mom because of it. Is that trying to live my old life? If it is, is that a problem?

Who knows?
Reading this book makes me realize that I have so much to learn, and that being a parent is going to dramatically change my way of thinking in many ways. Scott and I are going to need to communicate about all that we're thinking and feeling and approach the whole thing as a team. Luckily, my husband is a good team player. :)
Anyway, I'll stop with the random thoughts there for now. Stay tuned for Chapter 2... Called Baby BOOM!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Best to just Keep Your Mouth Shut

"We will smash the Americans. That's what we came here to do."
Alain Bernard, French relay swimmer and (former) world record holder 100m Freestyle
Hmmmm. So who got the gold medal?

Granted, on paper, it looked as though the French team would win the relay. When I watched Jason Lezak dive in the water last night as the anchor leg, I am ashamed to say that I had pretty much conceded in my own mind that the Americans would get silver. The French guy had a solid lead on him, and the French guy was the world record holder at this distance. Kind of a tall order to expect Lezak to start .5 second back from the world record holder, be .8 seconds back at the turn, and then come around to win at the end. This incredible underwater shot I stole off the ESPN website shows how far Lezak (middle) was behind the French guy.
Lesson learned here: Never underestimate an athlete's heart.

I can't believe anyone doesn't know this story already, but in case you went to sleep before it happened last night and then somehow missed the news this morning, Lezak came back in the last 10 meters and just out-touched Frenchie to the wall. Scott and I were watching and screaming at the top of our lungs at the TV (apologies due to our neighbors). You would have thought we were Lezak's teammates... It's probable that the win was all the sweeter for the Americans because of the rivalry between the two teams... fueled of course by Frenchie's quote before the race. Good to have confidence I guess, but apparently quiet confidence is the best method... rather than running your mouth off as some athletes are inclined to do. And to add salt to Frenchie's wound, he lost his world record too- broken by the leadoff Aussie swimmer last night who blasted his 100 meters. Lesson learned?


Saturday, August 9, 2008

North Shore Challenge

So I dragged baby along on a 2.3 mile ocean swim race this morning on the north shore. :) Beautiful day, clear water, current going with us on the point to point swim that started at Pipeline and ended at Waimea Bay... Awesome! During the winter, these beaches aren't at all swimmable (though Scott loves surfing them!)... but during summer, Waimea Bay looks like a lake and it's perfect for swimming.Right from the start I found a guy who was swimming a pace I felt comfortable with, and for the most part he took the line I thought was best (though at one point he started veering off toward Kauai... I had to make a decision to stay with his draft or swim the line I wanted alone... I chose the draft... which was fine b/c eventually a lifeguard on a jetski came and directed us back toward Oahu...) Anyway, we finished in 57 minutes which I thought was pretty darn good considering the load I was carrying. Good enough for 117th place overall out of 360 swimmers who showed up without a growing fetus in their uterus. Too bad there wasn't a pregnant women's division. I might have medaled. ;)

Anyway, ever since I've been parked on my couch watching NBC's Olympic coverage. Incredible. Wow. How did he do that? Oh my gosh! Wow. Scott and I have been amazed all day at those athletes! Michael Phelps is about to swim the finals of the 400IM... my mission all day has been to avoid hearing on the news if he has won or not (stay away from the news and headlines on the internet!! I really like watching for myself without knowing the end results first). And all day, baby has been more active than ever! *Constant* kicking and moving and rolling around in there... I think baby is telling me that he/she wants to come out and play too!! Not yet, little one. In fact, you're confined to your little uterine space for almost 3 more months so you will develop into a strong enough human so you can play with the rest of us later... :)

Friday, August 8, 2008

Mama Simmons

Thank goodness for swimming! Swimming must have been made for pregnant women. It feels so good to be in the water. It feels so good to have an exercise that I can do without feeling like I'm hurting myself or baby. It feels so good to get out of the house and get to the pool everyday. I'm starting to see some of the same people who are 'regulars' at the pool at noon, so it becomes social hour as well. :) (Have all those people also been laid off their jobs and that's why they're at the pool at noon? Probably not. Most of 'em have gray hair and I would guess that they've been retired for years. Yep, me and the retirees having a party and swimmin' at noon.)

And now it's even more fun! I ordered this Splish custom suit a few weeks ago and have started wearing it this week. I like it! I was afraid that it night not fit- I've been wearing a 2 piece most of the time, but was starting to feel funny about that b/c my belly is getting so big... but also felt funny in my regular swim suits b/c they weren't fitting so well anymore... I ordered this one a size bigger than I would normally order, and these suits run a little big anyway, and it also seems to stretch (A LOT)... so my belly fits in it. For now anyway.

I'm going to participate in a 2.3 mile ocean swim race tomorrow on the north shore. For me, it's a 2.3 mile ocean swim event. I suppose others will be racing. I'll just be participating. :) But I'll be glad to be out there. I love swimming on the north shore in the summer...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Where's the Beef?

So my doctor called yesterday... left me a message about wanting to talk with me about my blood test results from last week. I took a routine blood test last week to make sure I wasn't developing gestational diabetes.

There's no way I was developing gestational diabetes. No way. The treatment (if you get it) is to adjust your eating and exercise habits more toward healthy. But I already exercise about an hour a day, which is probably pushing it as far as 3rd trimester pregnancy goes. And I already eat as well as I possibly can (I'd challenge just about anyone if they think they eat more fruits and veggies than me)... so what could I possibly change if I have blood sugar that's out of whack?? I can't have gestational diabetes. No way.

I call the doctor back. It's not diabetes. It's anemia. Oh, that totally makes sense. I've been anemic most of my life. And anemia is pretty common toward the end of pregnancy. Partly because my blood volume is increased over what it normally would be, so therefore the amount of red blood cells appears to be lower. Also because the baby is gonna take what it needs before I get what I need, so maybe it's got all my iron? Could also be that I haven't been eating much meat lately- mostly b/c I'm too lazy to cook it. Anyway, the doctor recommended iron supplements, which I've taken in the past and they've never worked, but I'll start taking them again since she told me to. And I sent an email to Scott letting him know what doc said.

Scott came home from work yesterday with a pound of ground beef and announced that we were having burgers for dinner. I cooked them in the iron skillet. Problem solved? Probably not quite yet, but we'll keep working on it!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

3rd Trimester

Here we go... Today I officially leave the blissful (?) 2nd Trimester and enter the uncomfortable (?) 3rd Trimester. I can't believe how fast time flies, although it actually seems like a lifetime ago that I found the extra little line on the EPT test.

I've been thinking a lot about how much my life has changed in the last 6 months. In fact, I think the only thing that hasn't changed is that I still live in the same condo. I was thinking of creating my Top Ten List of Changes Since I've Been Pregnant, but then as I started to brainstorm, it occured to me that some of the changes have to do with the fact that I'm not working right now. Given that, here's a list of the Top Ten Changes in 2008:

~10. Rather than dreaming about showing up to a triathlon naked, I have vivid dreams that I forgot to feed my baby. (Good news here is that I have heard this is actually impossible b/c babies let you know when they're hungry.)

~9. My subscription to Runner's World Magazine has been replaced by FitPregnancy (and I read it cover to cover every month). ~8. Saturdays don't include 6-7 hours of riding my bike and running. Now they include sleeping in, making french toast, and taking the dog to the beach (if she's lucky). ~7. I don't spend my days running around calling on Doctor's offices and scheduling appointments. Instead, my back is really tan from the daily swim sessions at noon (time to do this made possible by the Schering-Plough layoffs).

~6. I'm really learning to cook! Got a great new cookbook that is literally an Everything You Need to Know and it's given me confidence to experiment a little more with what I create each evening. I've now made my own salad dressing... I've even made Thai and Indian meals (extra time to do this made possible by the Schering-Plough layoffs).
~5. I check the scale each week to make sure I've gained a pound. UGH. Good news is that I've heard the average weight gain in the last trimester is about 10 lbs, which will set me up nicely to get back to pre-baby weight within a reasonable timeframe after the baby comes. :)
~4. My wardrobe is now limited to stretchy pants only (see #5).~3. I do research on products like car seats, baby joggers, and cribs. ~2. The highlight of every month is the doctor's appointment to check on the growth of the little human inside me.
~1. I'm married! What a wonderful blessing it has been to be married to Scott. He's the best. Without him, the rest of these things would be unimaginably scary.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

BODIES, The Exhibition



Really cool. On Sunday (after lunch at the island), Scott and I went into town to see The Bodies Exhibit. It's in Honolulu for the next several months and I'd heard from several people how cool it is... so we thought it would be a good way to spend the afternoon. And we were right!

The website says the following about the Exhibit:

This Exhibition--which features actual human specimens--allows people of all ages access to sights and knowledge normally reserved only for medical professionals. Take the opportunity to peer inside yourself, to better understand how your elaborate and fascinating body works, and how you can become a more informed participant in your own health care.

It's true too. Since I've had some exposure to several of the different body systems with my previous career in pharmaceutical sales, much of it was familiar to me. But to actually see the preserved body parts was amazing. The best parts (for me) included:

~The Cardiovascular room where they showed the extent of the venous system. Not sure exactly how they did it, but apparently they were able to fill the arteries, veins and capillaries of a recently deceased person with a substance that hardens and then they melted away everything but the hardened substance... leaving you to view all the tiniest capillaries and how they serve every bit of the body. It really went beyond what I'd imagined it would look like. Amazing that our bodies create this extensive system to meet the needs of our working muscles...

~The Fetal Development room where they showed stages of fetal development from 18 days until 24 weeks. It's incredible that the cells start to differentiate within just a few weeks of conception... and then you just see it grow and become more human for the next several months. I was especially looking forward to seeing the 24 week fetus- I'm just about 27 weeks now so all I could think was, "Our baby is bigger than that inside me right now?" I thought the 24 week baby looked pretty darn big already.

Makes you realize (yet again) what an amazing miracle the human body is!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Not a Bad Place for Lunch

Yesterday Scott and I thought we'd get out of the house for lunch. I packed a sandwich, some fruit, and drinks in a little cooler and off we went.

Scott insisted that I earn my lunch before consuming it (HA!)... He brought his surfboard, and I was equipped with my swim cap and goggles... and we went out to the Mokuleia Islands for lunch. If you look closely, you can see a bit of white sand on the far island to the left- that was our destination. It's not quite a mile to get out there.
We thought it would be a good day to go out there because winds were light so it should have been pretty calm water. Unfortunately it was choppier than I was hoping for, but my friends and I used to do this swim all the time and it wasn't as bad as we'd experienced before. Still, it's been a while since I've trained consistently in the ocean so the choppiness seemed worse to me... The pic below shows my left arm trying to come out of the water as I swam toward our destination. At least the water was really warm and clear!

Interesting point- my left arm got caught up in a man-o-war tentacle during my swim. This happens a lot out in these waters. Usually it hurts (A LOT!) right when it happens, then after a minute or so goes away. Then, for me, comes back as a major itchy rash about 12-24 hours later. Weird thing though yesterday- my whole arm got wrapped in the tentacle. I had to stop and swipe it off me. But hardly any pain. Just a little bit when it first happened. And today? No rash. I'm wondering if I've got some pregnant hormones that protect me from ocean creature stings? Who knows. Like I've said before, my pregnant body does all sorts of weird things. I guess some of 'em are good! Anyway...

The island was as crowded as I'd ever seen it (maybe b/c it was such a nice summer day?) Lots of kayakers and boaters hanging out there. I think I was the only pregnant woman who swam out there. ;) Here's a little video Scott took of the scenery for those of you who have never been there.

video

I saw this video and couldn't believe how BIG my belly looks! Actually, I can believe it. I carry it around all day and even try to sleep with it at night. And it has 3 more months to grow. Holy cow.

But baby needs to eat, so I consumed my sandwich like a good mom-to-be. Not a bad place to have lunch, don't ya think?

Friday, August 1, 2008

Animal House Update



So Monti (Ellen's cat) has been living with us for about a month now, and the relationship among the dog (Hoku) and the other cat (Ally) seems relatively stable. Actually, Ally has a sweet deal right now because she's old news to Hoku who couldn't care less about her anymore. The only thing Ally has to put up with is Monti stealing some of her preferred sleep spots. Other than that, she's back to her normal life of sleeping 18+ hours a day and sneaking around the dog when she wants to go downstairs and get outside on the patio for some fresh air.
Monti, on the other hand, is a hoot! He's showing his acrobatic side by jumping up onto the roof of the condo (a 4+ foot jump from the patio railing). The other night Scott and I were ready to hit the sack when we heard this odd noise... sounding like it was coming from the roof... couldn't figure out for a while what it was. Turns out, Monti was up on the roof chasing around a gecko. He has good eyes because it was really dark.

Monti also likes to taunt Hoku (clearly he isn't afraid anymore). In fact, he walks around downstairs like he owns the place, even though Hoku follows him like a mesmorized puppet. If Monti saunters slowly... Hoku saunters slowly. If Monti darts outside... Hoku darts outside (usually accompanied by frustrated barking). We really need to get this on video tape. The picture below is Monti taunting Hoku while the screen door serves as a barrier to actual contact between the animals. Sometimes Monti will stand right outside the door and meow loudly until Hoku wakes up from her nap and comes calling...
If the two don't have any physical barriers between them, Monti sometimes goes into submission... even though he doesn't appear to have any fear.


So it's quite the comical scene over here at times... but the animals keep us entertained. I hear that once the baby comes all three of them are gonna get quite a bit less attention... Luckily they're all pretty low maintenance...

On the Juice

So I'm back on The Juice! (But not the same Juice the Russian Runner is on... or the Chinese swimmer... or any number of riders in the Tour de France... apparently those sad athletes desperate enough to drug their bodies and cheat to win don't even need Juice now- it comes in the form of a pill... ugh... but I digress.)

No, the Juice I'm talking about comes straight from my juicer! Last year for Christmas my mom bought me the Breville Juicer, which is awesome. Lately I've been craving carrot/ginger juice. It's a very simple recipe involving carrots and a slice of fresh ginger root*.
I make it a special occasion when I drink my carrot juice... :)
I have to give a special thanks to my step brother and sister (Brian and Jennifer!) for the gift cards to Williams Sonoma. In some of my free time this week I made it over to the mall to go on a very fun shopping spree in that store. Among other things, I purchased 2 Reidel wine glasses. There's something about drinking wine out of a really nice crystal glass... but alas, wine is not on the current approved list for this gal... so I substitute the carrot juice! Seems like a fair trade (for now anyway).

*Of note, when juicing carrots, don't plan on making a bunch and storing it in your fridge for later. Apparently, carrot juice ferments rather quickly, so when you take it out of your fridge the next day and shake it in its glass bottle, it'll explode all over your kitchen when you open the bottle. Not that I have direct experience with this or anything... ;)