MAJOR MILESTONE ACHIEVED.
I now weigh more than all of my friends.
I only have 5 friends but who’s counting?
Weeks 22, 23 and 24. Cruising right through my sixth month of pregnancy. Wait – six months? And I still have how many to go? I’ve been pregnant nearly as long as we’ve had winter. And in case you’re keeping track, it’s been 7 long months of winter. Last week: heat was still on, fleece still worn.
The past few weeks have flown by and as a very astute fellow mother asked me the other day: you planned it that way, didn’t you? Indeed I did. I stacked myself with 6 days a week of coaching out of the house. For the past few years, through April and May, I’ve coached kids swim conditioning 3 nights a week. Add to that my Ironman group in Chicago, on deck coaching masters at least once a week and new this year I started a kids triathlon group and a beginner women’s training program. Busy? I have seen more of the pool deck than my husband since April 1st.
But the time is flying by – in a good way. This little girl in my belly is growing and kicking like crazy. She flips positions from breech to head down a few times a week. Breech means I get a lot of tap dancing on my bladder. Head down means I get a lot of head bopping on my bladder. In either case, my bladder is taking a big hit. I can’t sneeze, cough or laugh too hard without thinking I need to pick myself up some Depends.
And don’t think that I haven’t considered Depends for my return to running after baby.
Did you know they come in peach color?
In week 22 I remember feeling pretty good. And every time I find myself thinking I feel pretty good it’s like when you find yourself thinking, as an athlete, I feel fit as shit. You know you’re just one step away from major injury or illness because that’s how it works. When we feel our best, we feel invincible. And then life happens. Or in my case, fire crotch.
I apologize for the graphic nature of the next two paragraphs but any pregnant woman knows exactly what I’m talking about. It can be 30 degrees, you’re outside in shorts, a t-shirt with a strong wind blowing at you but chances are you have fire crotch. And that is how I acquired myself an itch that kept me up for THREE NIGHTS STRAIGHT. I’ve been lucky. I’ve ridden thousands of miles in saddles and never had a problem down there. But pregnancy scoffed at me and said – you, lucky one, I give you fire crotch. Good luck. Itch itch.
Which is how I pretty much spent all of week 23 with what my doctor called an angry ______. You can fill in the blank. Fairly sure that I’ve been called angry _____ by my husband secretly to his friends many times over the years. What’s wrong with Liz? Angry ______. Don’t mess with the angry ____, you will never win against it. This is true. NEVER APPROACH AN ANGRY ______. If you encounter it, do not make eye contact, slowly back away, quickly turn and then RUN LIKE HELL. Once the doctor confirmed that it was angry (she actually used that very medical word), I texted my husband a fair warning: the doctor said I have an angry _____, steer clear of it AND me.
Once that cleared up, I went back to feeling awesome again. For at least the next 12 hours.
Pregnancy is strange. I know I’ve been down this road before but I don’t remember any of it. When does linea nigra appear? How much weight will I gain? Remember last time I had that rash around my mouth for the last 2 months? I went to the dermatologist who diagnosed me with – ready for this? – pregnancy. Will THATcome back again? The only thing I do remember is the lack of sleep and waking up feeling like you didn’t spend all night tossing, turning, a sore back, up to pee again, oh my gosh I’m on my stomach I’m going to squish that poor baby. Up all night like that and you still wake up feeling ready to tackle the day. Without coffee.
I’ve been enjoying some really good workouts lately. The secret is to set a bunch of workout “playdates.” Like I told a friend, right now, I’m the best training partner EVER. Because you will always be faster and thinner than me. You will win every workout. In fact, if you’re stuck in a rut about yourself as an athlete, come swim, bike or run with me. Me in a swimsuit? I’m reaching the point where my belly has expanded the suit so much that I’m exposing a boob every 500 yards. Me on a bike? Granny handlebars installed on my mountain bike and the only jersey that fits me? My husband’s Ironman World Championship jersey. Me on the run? Let’s see – is a 12 minute mile running or just really fast walking?
Don’t answer that.
Swimming has been going well. I can still hit the same old intervals (with increasingly less rest!) and every once in awhile I pull out a rare performance that impresses and thrills me. So not surprisingly I am swimming a bit more than the bike and run because it’s the only sport where I feel like I can do a “workout” and get something out of it rather than trudging along slowly.
A few times, I’ve been outside on the path riding my bike. When I say riding, I mean 10 to 12 mph on a crushed gravel path speckled with a few walkers and joggers. It just feels good to be outside. I’ve ridden on another path with my women’s and kids group. This has given me the opportunity to simply slow down, connect with others and enjoy the ride. I’m seeing the sport from totally different eyes. I’ve coached beginners and kids before but I’ve never gotten right in to do things with them. I’ve listened to their fears, their stories and I’ve realized that so many people come to sports for so many different reasons. After years of coaching athletes at a more advanced level, it’s refreshing to bring it down to the basics. These athletes don’t obsess about the details, they’re just trying to take the first step – to sign up for the class, to finish a ride at 9 mph, to run more than they walk.
On some days, running feels absolutely normal and other days it feels like I have the weight of a bear on my back and my bladder (which explains the every 9 minutes potty break on some days). I’ve run everything from a sub 8 mile to over 12 minutes per mile. Some days I’m done after one mile, other days I go for a “long” run of 6 miles. I’ve enjoyed running with my groups too. We walk when we have to, we breathe heavy. But the miles pass together and before they know it, they’ve done more than they thought they could and I’ve gotten in a nice little workout too.
By some mystery (or miracle?) of pregnancy I had a week where I lost a pound. Yet I’m still up over 20 pounds. I still crave carbs (carbs CARBS CARBS OMG I LOVE CARBS so much I am calling this my Anti-Paleo Pregnancy) more than I crave fruits and vegetables or meat. I’ve decided that there is something very, VERY wrong with kale which both pains and disturbs me. It’s the one vegetable I used to eat daily. Now, if I can stomach the thought of it, I eat it and when I do very bad things happen. My stomach bloats, I feel sick. We’ll leave it at that. If I were to trust my pregnant gut, the only things worth (and safe) eating in life are chocolate and pizza. Not to mention coffee. At least twice a week I drink a little bit of real coffee and it tastes like heaven.
The biggest thing on my mind lately is how I will attempt to give birth. Can you believe they doctor asked me to start thinking about this at week 9? Lucky for me, I can choose if I want to attempt VBAC or have another c-section. I’m still weighing the risks and benefits of both. But one thing I have decided upon: as payback for all of you athletes who have your husband or significant other live tweet the play by play of your race, I’m going to have my husband live tweet my childbirth. She’s digging deep! She’s killing it! She’s a little behind her projected times but still pressing forward! She’s still smiling!
Fooled you didn’t I. There is no way that I’ll be smiling at any point during childbirth if I remember labor correctly. I think I said it was like having an elephant walk up and down your spine while simultaneously feeling like you’re going to shit out that same elephant.
Today marks the start of week 25. I had the fetal echocardiogram which was another opportunity to see baby under high tech ultrasound. Apparently, 2 percent of IVF babies have heart defects so they use this as a screening. The good news is that her heart is totally normal. The technology of the Level II ultrasound is amazing. I could actually see a 3D picture of my baby floating inside of me – facial features, movement. The doctor was able to take some great pictures and thus far, she looks very much like Max! And speaking of Max, he is convinced we are having a boy and that we should name him Aubrey (the name of his preschool girlfriend).
THIS JUST IN: we have a name picked out. And we’re not telling. I have to let it roll around in my head a few more weeks and when she comes out I still reserve the right to say – nope, she’s not a ______ so she’ll be a _______ instead.
The next time I update I will be in the third trimester. I can’t believe it. The journey to getting to this point actually began one year ago in a doctor’s office. It was in that meeting, I had one of the most inspiring conversations of my life. I found someone who finally understand me. And that someone – the doctor – gave me something absolutely priceless:
Anyone who has ever struggled with fertility problems knows that you would do anything, pay anything, travel any distance and subject your body to just about anything for the glimmer of hope that it might lead to a baby.
Because of that hope, here I am today.
(anyone want to take a guess at her middle name?)
Until next time, I’m going to keep growing this little baby!