Thursday, October 27, 2016

The "Fit" Assumption: My Scary Experience with Pre-eclampsia

Hello. Long time, no see.

My toddler is currently at the grocery store with his daddy and my three week old is passed out from being milk drunk - so I thought I would share something I've been tossing around in my head for the last...couple years, really.

**I want to say that I am in no way pointing fingers at anyone here, certainly not my doctors or the medical staff that helped bring my babies into the world. I am just sharing my experience, because I can't be the only one.**

I am going to make this as snappy as possible - because - milk drunk, napping baby.

With both of my pregnancies, I stayed very active. I ran well into my third trimesters. I cut the grass until the very end. I went for super long walks. That is no great feat; I just kept on living the normal life of an adult that is bad at sitting still. As a result, I didn't gain a ton of weight (19 pounds and 17 pounds respectively) and my pregnancies were pretty smooth. My doctor was supportive of my choices during pregnancy, commenting regularly on how it was "nice to have patients without health problems."

She jinxed it.

Toward the end of my first pregnancy, my blood pressure readings started to creep up. Blood pressure has never been a problem for me. My pulse is barely detectable (thanks marathons) and my BP is typically textbook 120/80. But alas, the numbers steadily increased from week to week. And the urine samples I had to turn in every week started to show trace proteins. These two symptoms are classic preeclampsia signs. The thing that is not typical of a preeclampsia patient is me. I'm not a teen mom; I am not over 40; I am not obese; I wasn't carrying twins; I don't have any other health problems. My doctor recognized this discrepancy, too - and my symptoms were not explored any further. 

Fast forward to my due date. I woke up and proceeded to get ready for work as usual. As I looked at my face in the mirror, I realized I couldn't see half of it. I was completely blind in one eye. WHAT THE HELL??? I rubbed my eyes and held my hand in front of my face - I couldn't see it. I thought it might just be a migraine but I called the doc anyway. They had me come in to L&D triage immediately. My BP was in the 170s/100s and not budging. They promptly put me on the hellish cocktail of pitocin (to induce labor) and magnesium sulfate (oh my god - the.worst.) As we sat in the birthing room, they explained all of the risks associated with pre-E (we are on a nickname basis:) stroke, seizure, organ failure, death of mother, death of baby. I had no idea how serious the situation was, until I watched my husband's face turn white. 

Long story, short: after a long day of laboring and an eventual emergency c-section, my bouncing and screaming baby boy was born. And he was perfect. 

I, however, would have lingering pre-E symptoms for the following heavily-medicated month. Understandably and to the delight of my own parents, we immediately swore off the possibility of any future pregnancies.

How quickly we forget.

We found out that baby #2 was coming in early 2016. As happy as we were, I couldn't shake the feeling that we might be tempting fate. I was legitimately scared to the point that I promptly maxed out all of my life insurance options. 

I considered changing doctors, but ultimately, I decided to stay with my old doctor because at least she knew my history. I expressed my concerns to her right away. "What if it comes back? What are the odds...? What are the risks to my baby?" She assured me that it "almost never comes back" - that she could count the number of return cases she's had on one hand and again, "You're not the typical pre-eclampsia patient anyway." I was pacified, but only briefly.

Much like the last pregnancy, I stayed active. I stayed distracted. But I couldn't ignore the thought that it was going to come back. I just felt it in my gut.

I told the doctor as much. I asked why they weren't checking my urine for protein and I was told it was no longer standard practice. (Of course not. Perfect timing.) But the "something isn't right" feeling stayed. 

In August, I had another vision disturbance - and again, I found myself in L&D with elevated BP - but I still had twelve weeks to go in my pregnancy. I stayed in triage until my BP came down on its own and my blood tests came back normal. "See you in 3 months," they said.

They jinxed it. 36 weeks and 2 days.  

I went in for my final ultrasound. It was a routine growth ultrasound to see how baby girl was growing in the final weeks. As always, they took my blood pressure first thing. The tech adjusted the cuff and took it again. She didn't say the numbers - but her hesitation gave it away. She said, "You know what? I think my machine is broken. Let me take it manually." After her cuff slowly deflated, she looked at me and said, "It is that high." 178/108. A specialist was consulted and I was told that I would be delivering in a couple hours via c-section. A couple HOURS. I just kept sobbing and repeating, "She's not ready. I am not ready." She still had four weeks to go. 

They assured me that the only way to stop pre-eclampsia is to stop the pregnancy - and that once again, we were both at risk if we continued any further. 

My baby girl was born five hours later. And she was perfect. I am forever grateful for the care I received and the decisions that were made that day.

A healthy lifestyle is certainly a wonderful thing, but it does not make anyone a super-human. Assumptions were made about my health, because I didn't fit a type - even with symptoms presenting. Trust your instincts, always be your own advocate and get the answers you are looking for. Get that spot checked out. Go to your dentist. Update your life insurance policy. Don't be cute about your health.


Sunday, July 5, 2015

To Compete Well, Eat Well: Vegetarian Enchiladas

Like 99% of humans, I love Mexican food. Thankfully, Mexican food has a ton of wonderful vegetarian options. One of the recipes we make regularly is this very, VERY amazing vegetarian enchilada recipe (slightly adapted from this recipe. Budget Bytes has fantastic recipes - many of which I have tried and I am yet to find one I don't like.) I am certain that you could add the cooked meat of your choice to this recipe without disastrous results.

These little 'ladas are filling and packed full of healthy stuff for those of you that care about that sort of thing. As written, they are intended to be an inexpensive and healthy dinner option...but go ahead and smother them in queso if that's your thing.

The homemade enchilada sauce is pretty spectacular. Do not buy enchilada sauce from a jar ever in your life. DO NOT. This is an easy recipe and you will not regret the minimal time investment. The other bonus is that this recipe lasts us two or three dinners (two adults, one baby) depending on how much the little guy steals off my plate. 

There is a lot of flexibility like playing with heat, corn v. flour tortillas, the addition of the dreaded cilantro, etc - but below is how we make it. Like I said, this isn't my recipe. Make it your own! 
  • 2 T veggie oil
  • 2 T flour
  • 2 T chili powder
  • 2 C water
  • 3 oz. tomato paste 
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp salt
Enchilada Filling:
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans
  • 2 medium avocados
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 2 whole green onions
  • ½ cup frozen corn
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • corn tortillas (smaller - taco sized)
  1. Sauce: In a sauce pot combine the veggie oil, flour, and chili powder. Heat the mixture over a medium flame until it begins to bubble. Whisk and cook the bubbling paste for 1-2 minutes. Slowly pour in the water while whisking. Add the tomato paste, cumin, garlic powder, cocoa powder, and salt. Whisk until smooth and continue to heat over a medium flame. Let the sauce come up to a gentle simmer, at which point the sauce will thicken. Once thickened, turn off the heat and set the sauce aside until you’re ready to use it. (FYI - we double the sauce recipe only, because we like the sauce to cover the enchiladas entirely)
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
  3. Filling: Drain and rinse the can of beans, then add them to a large bowl. Chop the avocado, tomato, and green onion. Add them all to the bowl, along with the corn. Stir it up! Season with a little salt and garlic powder.
  4. Cover two cookie sheets in a layer of foil and spray with non-stick spray. 
  5. Warm the corn tortillas briefly in the microwave to make them soft. Fill each tortilla with about 1/4 cup of filling and roll gently. Place the filled tortillas on the cookie sheet, seam side down and with a little room between each enchilada. Once all of the filled enchiladas are on the cookie sheets, spoon sauce onto each one until all sauce is used up and each enchilada is covered.
  6. Bake the enchiladas in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes, or until they’re heated through.
  7. Serve with guacamole or a side salad. And cerveza. Enjoy!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Running with the Wolfpack

I can hear your collective sigh of relief: She's alive!

While many things have changed in the running life of Lace & Race, I have still been running. Just this week, I started taking out my new running partner, Wolfie. 

I have been dying to try out my BOB Ironman Jogger since I got it last summer. It is very serious looking and I feel like a badass when people see me running with it (because people are often thinking: Wow, that mom looks like a badass.) If I am being honest, I was expecting it to be easy to transition from running with no additional equipment to running with a jogger. It's not that easy. In fact, it is straight-up hard when I do any route that involves hills. It makes sense though; my big boy weighs about 22 pounds and the jogger is not small by any standards. That just means that I'm getting a better workout - silver lining. The extra weight actually reminds of how I felt running while I was about 8 months pregnant.

I've had a pretty substantial mental shift in how I view my runs, too. Pre-Wolfgang, I could run all day without a second thought. Long runs were relaxing, care-free and fun. Then I had a baby and literally everything I used to do seemed so pointless. Before Wolfie was big enough to fit in the jogger, I would leave him at home with daddy while I hammered out a few miles. The entire time I was away from him, I just felt guilty. Bad mommy! I wanted to hurry up and get back home. Any element of "relaxing" was completely gone and replaced with "This is stupid. I'm trotting around alone and I have a perfect baby at home!" I was putting in the absolute minimal miles to maintain some level of fitness, but those miles were a mental challenge, for sure.

So - I am more than relieved that the little one now meets the minimum size requirements to ride along with me. We've even found a way for daddy to join us with his bad hip: a razor scooter (pretty certain he'd kill me if I posted a photo.) It is actually really adorable and I'm happy he's along. We all travel as a pack....a "Wolfpack," I suppose.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Dr. Brown's Review & Giveaway

I was recently contacted by the baby product company, Dr. Brown's, to do a review and giveaway. Naturally, I was super excited to try out some new gear on Wolfie. It was definitely a bonus when a package full of goodies arrived on my front porch the day after Christmas!

Dr. Brown's swag - and this isn't even all of it. Look how cute!

When I was approached about the review, I immediately agreed because Dr. Brown's is a great brand for baby products. All of their products promote good health and optimal nutrition for little ones. On top of it, their products look and feel like they are high quality...well, because they are high quality.

I was specifically asked to review the Dr. Brown's Natural Flow Bottle in the adorable Holiday theme seen below. My little guy spits up quite a bit - and the Natural Flow Bottle is designed specifically to combat the ickiness of spitting up, burping and excess gas. Perfect! - the less this kid farts and pukes, the better. (You might be thinking, "Wait - I thought she was breastfeeding." Yes. I am. But I am also back to work, so I am pumping regularly and daddy supplements while I am gone; sadly, his boobs are useless. Bottles are now a big part of our existence.)

Dr. Brown's Natural Flow Bottle - Holiday Bottle (sold at Babies R Us)

These patented bottles are definitely unique in design and function:
  • designed to reduce colic
  • help to preserve vitamins A, C & E + lipids
  • vacuum-free feeding like breastfeeding
  • BPA free
In all honesty, my little dude didn't take to the new bottle immediately. He is a stubborn one (I have NOOO idea where he got that from...definitely not his Type A, German mommy.) But with a little bit of patience, he got used to them and even preferred them. It took a little bit of getting used to on my end as well, because there are some extra parts involved - but no big deal. I can comfortably say that I noticed a definite decrease in the amount of burping this kid did - almost immediately. He still spits up, but I blame normal infant reflux and the unusual amount of bouncing around I do with him while dancing to 90s music in my kitchen. (You know you like Matchbox 20. Don't judge.)

The surprise here is that he ended up liking a different Dr. Brown's product even more: the Natural Flow Glass Bottle that came in my package. He loves to hold onto his blue bottle and he never fights me on it. The glass bottle has the same advantages as the original Natural Flow bottle. For whatever reason, Wolfie just likes the glass better. It is a classy looking bottle, not gonna lie - he looks a little fancy with it. You be the judge.

Dr. Brown's Glass Bottle and Pacifier and a cool ass baby Wolf

We loved all of our Dr. Brown's products, but the surprise favorites were the Dr. Brown's Healthy Wipes. They are extremely convenient if you have a messy guy like I do. They have several varieties for your specific messy-baby needs. They are flavored, made with xylitol and my little guy approves; he always tries to eat the Nose & Face Wipes. I said he was cute...not smart. (I'm joking. Calm down.)

So, mommies and daddies, if you would like in on some Dr. Brown's swag - you are in luck. They have generously offered to give away 2 Dr. Brown's Natural Flow Bottles to one lucky winner. Just enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, October 4, 2014

I'm a mommy, not a marathoner (for now.)

Irresistible baby cheeks - good for pinching and kissing.
Allow me to introduce you to the tiny love of my life, Wolfgang Wilhelm...his friends call him Wolf. 

As I type this, he's quietly napping on my lap while we listen to sleepy hipster music from the early 2000s. He seems to like it. And I like this arrangement, too; there is nothing quite like having the weight of your baby on your chest. My life is a whole lot of this lately - the two of us sitting on the couch, getting to know each other while he eats, sleeps, cries and starts the cycle over again. It is a wonderful way to spend my days - and this is all I am cleared to do for three more weeks.

I ended up having a very complicated labor and delivery which resulted in an emergency C-section and a cocktail of drugs that left me loopy for about a week after Wolfie was born. I am genuinely thankful that my six week recovery period is only six weeks, because it could have been much worse. I am being a good girl, not over-doing anything - I don't want any more complications. I'm just giving my body the time it needs to get its shit back together (literally back together.) I am so glad I have the company and entertainment of my little buddy while I heal.
That face. Those eyes.
Tomorrow is Milwaukee's Lakefront Marathon - my favorite race. I have been feeling a little jealous of the people I see posting about it. I really wish I was running (although the forecast does not look ideal.) But there will be other races and I have to remind myself that I am doing something else that's super important and special right now - I'm being a mommy, not a marathoner. I think it is that shift in identity that I haven't fully realized and it feels like a blow to my ego to even type those words: not a marathoner, not a runner, not the thing you're known for being. It probably sounds so selfish - and it is in some capacity - I just haven't completely accepted the degree of change that has happened in my life. I am not the person that could dedicate 60 miles a week to training. I am not the person that had no commitments to anyone but herself. I AM the person that has a tiny, little monkey completely dependent on her and her time is best spent on a couch making goo-goo faces at him.

I can get back to working out in THREE WEEKS - no time at all. My current fitness goal is simply to run Lakefront Marathon in 2015. I won't put a strict time goal on the race, but I want to be in good enough shape to complete the distance in a year's time. I can definitely tell that I have lost a lot of my fitness over the last few months, so I have to give myself time to get back to where I was - lots and lots of time with my baby in his fancy BOB jogger. I can't wait for our quality time to shift from the couch to the roads.


Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day Update - Pregnancy, Fitness and Back to School

Happy Labor Day, people! It is awfully close to another "labor" day for this girl, so I thought I would stop by to do an update - and likely last post - before the little guy makes his appearance. 

I have to say that I woke up feeling really excited and maybe a little relieved that we have finally made it to September. I can take myself back to the exact moment in January when I found out I'd be having a baby in September - and I thought September sounded so far away. But here we are. Time really does fly by - it is scary just how fast. I thought this was an appropriate song for how I feel about today (kind of inappropriate, I suppose.)

So - when is this kid coming? My due date is September 12th. My birthday is September 10th. I am naturally biased toward the month and Virgos in general. I'll be happy to have a little type-A buddy to keep me company, but I don't want to necessarily SHARE a birthday. Most people say things like, "Oh - wouldn't it be fun to have the same birthday?" I always feel like I'd rather he had his own day. We can still celebrate together, but I want him to have his very own birthday. My hope is that he waits until after his due date, but sometimes I feel like he has other plans and I could burst at any moment. Place your bets! The fact of the matter is that I don't know if I am ready to share him with the whole world yet. Right now, we have this special bond that is just ours - and I'm not over that yet. I will miss the little pokes and jabs, so I am trying to enjoy all of those special pregnancy-specific things for the time being.

Are you still working out? If you follow my instagram you have probably been seeing sweaty photos of me, because I am still running. I don't run every day, but most days. I usually last 3-5 miles depending on how I feel. I'm still managing about 9 minute miles, which I am ok with because I don't want to push it. The other day, a jerk in a pick-up truck shouted "IDIOT!" at me as I ran down the street - I assumed because he thought that running while pregnant was dangerous??? I spent the rest of that run being annoyed at the fat, sitting-down guy shouting insults at someone that is actually trying to make good, healthy choices; my pace that run ended up being about 8:30 min/mi. Anger = faster running. On days that I don't run, I am still walking about 3 miles with my pup and I am doing plenty of work around the house and yard to keep active. I am also using a pedometer issued by my job to keep track of my activity - which helps to keep me accountable. 

How do you feel? In general, I feel really fantastic. Being this late in the pregnancy, I am almost afraid to say that to people - especially women who have had a hard time with pregnancy. Aside from being tired in the beginning and having heartburn throughout, I cannot complain at all. My mood hasn't really changed. I'm still getting *enough* sleep. I'm not waddling. I am able-bodied and perfectly capable of 90% of the things I did before. I don't want to jinx anything because I still have labor and parenting to get through - but - pregnancy was relatively easy for me. Thank god. I am truly thankful...but I don't think it is random...I am pretty sure that my lifestyle helped me out quite a bit.

Diet and Weigh-Gain? I would say that I eat less now than I did before - just because of the heartburn and the lack of room in my belly. And - truth be told - I am not hungry all the time. You always hear about how pregnant women are constantly starving and I definitely have days when I am like, "GIVE ME THE FOOD!" but generally speaking...not that hungry. My diet is NOT perfect by any means. I have been obsessed with Golden Grahams and Honey Combs. I eat a gross amount of fruit everyday. I have ice cream at least twice a week. I have hated peanut butter and jelly my WHOLE LIFE, but I have it every day for the last two weeks. At my 37 week appointment last week, I had gained a total of 16.5 pounds. I am happy with that, because I should be able to keep my total weight gain under 20 pounds. 

How has life changed so far? I barely recognize my life right now. We got a new car this past weekend that is more "family friendly" - an SUV with lots of room for strollers and car seats, unlike my tiny car which now resembles a clown car in comparison. We are finishing the yard and the basement. We got new furniture. We turned our office space into our nursery. The Mister is in grad school and got a new "adult" hair cut. He even said, "I think I need to get respectable pajamas, because I can't have this kid seeing me in over-sized t-shirts and basketball shorts." haha. We are definitely more content staying home than before. Our social life has changed a lot...and I'm not surprised. Of course, we still love all of our friends, but it is nice to stay home working on projects, making dinner together, getting ready for the truly BIG CHANGE coming down the pipe. I think this pregnancy and all of its anticipation have made our relationship a lot stronger - and we were pretty solid before! 

Are you going back to school? We are both teachers and tomorrow is the first day back with students. Since my due date is so close, I am obviously taking things one day at a time...hoping to keep the little dude in there as long as it is safe for us both. I really want to be able to spend some time getting to know my students, so that when I go back to work after maternity leave, the kids will know me, my style, my expectations. It would be extremely challenging to just show up in the middle of the year and expect the kids to conform to my teaching style, rules, etc. I will be taking the full 12 weeks that are allowed - which might not be ideal from a teaching stand-point, but I am willing to be a lot selfish here: baby comes first and nothing is more important than bonding in the beginning. 

What are you looking forward to? I'm just in an excited mindset...I feel like Christmas is coming. I can't wait to finally meet this little boy! I cannot wait to see Mister as a daddy! I can't wait to see Gertie as a "doggy sister." I'm excited for my parents to have another grand-baby to spoil (only their second!) The pumpkin farm. Halloween costumes. Christmas traditions. Easter bunny. Tooth fairy. Kindergarten. Little league. A life time of firsts with our little guy. I am looking forward to it all. And I'm looking forward to doing it all with my best friend, the best partner I could've dreamed up for me, by my side. 

So - I guess that is about it! I don't know how often I will be updating on here (maybe a lot, maybe not at all) once I am home with the little one...but I promise to update on Instagram! Follow me there if you don't already:

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Post-Baby Fitness Equipment: Getting Back in Shape

Tomorrow is my baby shower! I am pretty excited about it. I think a lot of people on both sides of our families doubted we'd ever have kids - so there is a fair level of anticipation with this little bundle. 

Of course, I registered for all of the necessary baby gear - the crib, the swing, the boob equipment, the car seat, etc. But I also put one thing on the registry that I feel mostly selfish about: a jogger. I don't feel selfish, because it is unnecessary or over the top - but because I see it as MY ticket back to MY former self. (I still have 7 weeks until my due date and I am already salivating at the thought of getting in a long run.) My relationship with running is weirdly personal and it is something I protect. For that reason, I wanted to be sure that my jogger came from someone that "gets it" - that understands how important running is to my existence and how this piece of equipment is not just a piece of equipment, but a guarantee of a return to my lifestyle. I am definitely romanticizing here, but the jogger seriously represents a promise to myself: I am committed to taking care of me - my sanity, my body, my goals and now, my little family. I was thrilled when my parents said they wanted to get my jogger, because they definitely "get it."

When it came time to decide which jogging stroller I wanted, I did some research and polled my net friends (you guys!) The resounding response was to get a BOB Stroller - although there was some discrepancy in which model everyone preferred. I chose the BOB Ironman (in yellow!) I like that it is built for serious distance, high visibility and style - obviously. I have to wait until our little dude is 8 months before he can join me on the road, but when he does, we are going to run far and wide in our flashy little buggy. :) I will write a review after I actually get to test it out.

So - runner friends - since you have been so helpful in determining which jogger to get, I thought I would ask which other essential items helped you return to running/your active lifestyle? I'm talking anything - sport bras, baby carriers, protein powders, etc. Anything! You guys are experts and I have so much to learn!

I'll do a "Baby Shower" post sometime later this week - it is so much fun to get to share our little adventure with you all.