Three Years & Fifteen Years

Anna, Noelani and KoaIt’s a big day in my tiny world. Today marks fifteen years of service in the Army National Guard. It’s fitting that I’m presently attending the officer branch course for the next part of my career right now and at the same location where I began all those years ago.

My little Noelani, my Beautiful Girl From Heaven, turns 3 years old today. She made me a Mom, made Kevin a Dad, and made us the proud co-parents of the most energetic, curious, amazing and beautiful little lady I know. I am astounded every day at her intelligence, her ability to comprehend and execute instructions, and her growth. She makes us laugh with her spot-on sense of comedic timing and humor, and keeps us on our toes! We can’t even spell out words we don’t want her hearing anymore-she understands what we are trying to hide.

She is absolutely barely-three and is in the thick of the “terrible twos”, but is so quick to recover from something seemingly devastating, it’s as if the incident never occurred. I wish I had that much resilience!

To you Noelani,

I pray you have a wonderful birthday day wrapped up warmly in the arms of your Aunt and Grandparents. Enjoy Papa’s mickey mouse pancakes. Have a wonderful jaunt down the river trail. Choo choo along with the train when it chugs past the house. And give your brother his half-birthday gift wrapped up with all the sibling love you have for him.

I love you with all my heart and am so proud to be your Mom.

Happy Birthday Noelani!

 

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Fitness on track – now derailed

If you knew you would not be physically able to exercise for a time, what would you do?

I was informed late last week that I now have to undergo surgery this Friday. One week notice. For something that shouldn’t have happened, but I am an anomaly. It’s my lot in life. It just is. I am angry, I am frustrated, I am incredibly annoyed.

Postpartum recovery was on track – now derailed

I recently started to feel strong and feel like I’m getting stronger each day postpartum. My daughter is 11 weeks old and each time I attend CrossFit I’m able to increase the weight used, increase the repetitions of exercise and shave seconds from workouts. I am getting faster when I run as my body sheds the last of the extra pregnancy weight and muscle replaces fat.

This surgery will require some recovery time – the doctor said about two weeks before I can even begin to run again! For me, this is a torture sentence. Exercise is my drug, it is the thing I turn to for sanity, perspective and some semblance of control in this new life with a newborn. And now I have to cut that out again to fully recover from this necessary but invasive and annoying surgery.

“There are moments in life when it is all turned inside out--what is real becomes unreal, what is unreal becomes tangible, and all your levelheaded efforts to keep a tight ontological control are rendered silly and indulgent.”  ― Aleksandar HemonLife is a constant choice

So, what have I chosen to do with this week? Work my butt off! Knowing that I can’t exercise for a few weeks, I’ve put even more focus and energy into the WODs I can do last week and this week. I’ve increased the weight, not held back thinking I’ll add 10 more pounds “next time.” And you know what, my body and muscles have responded positively. Now I know I could have increased weeks ago. But I also know that the adage of mind over matter rings true. My mind is determined to get all the exercise in pre-surgery that I can. To work my muscles, continue to increase metabolism, try to harbor all the happy endorphin I can this week. Maybe I can stock pile them for the recovery weeks coming up.

I could spend this week being physically angry at the situation, and trust me on some level I am. But I’ve decided to channel the anger into exercise allowing myself to enjoy the purity of physical movement and revel in the strength of my own arms, legs, posterior chain and core.

I only have control over how to react to the sentence of no exercise until recovered, no control over the situation itself. This is going to be tough for me. I was just beginning to feel like we had a routine established that allowed me the time to exercise and was beginning to lose the last of my pregnancy weight. Now I’ll lose another two to six weeks of progress. I’ll have start back over pending the surgery goes flawlessly as does my recovery. C’est la vie.

Has this happened to you? How did you cope with the situation?

Hello my name is Anna, and I’m addicted to…

I’m addicted. I know this because I constantly feel a deep-seated yearning for the thing I am addicted to. When I don’t indulge in my addiction I can become unhappy, grumpy, sluggish, easily frustrated and annoyed. But the moment I satiate the addiction I am better able to function, am much more enjoyable to be around, and generally a better person.

My addiction? Exercise.

Thankfully I’ve always been addicted to fitness. My mother tells me I was doing push-ups within weeks of arriving on the planet. I spent most of my formative years participating in gymnastics. From the time I was four years old for about a decade I was attending classes multiple times a week and even got to a level where I was competing consistently. I have always found joy and happiness through running. I participated in track and field in middle school, and cross-country in high school.

One of my career choices, the Army, has forced me to maintain a particular level of physical readiness. Luckily, I really enjoy exercising, so maintaining a level of fitness has never been a problem for me.

Gratitude For Who I Am

I know that I am blessed with the ability to exercise. I am eternally grateful that I have instilled in me a desire to run, push my body to its physical limits, and recover quickly. I am also very thankful that for the duration of my pregnancy I was able to continue to exercise through attending CrossFit classes an average of three times a week.

Per the advice of my doctor, I had to allow my body to recover from labor and delivery for, technically, six weeks. At a little over five weeks post-natal, I couldn’t wait any longer! I had felt good for weeks, strong, ready to get back into a level of fitness that would satisfy my addiction. I indulged in a few short runs and many long walks while recovering, but had reached the point where that wasn’t enough.

Modify as Possible

Being a new mom, essentially attached to and utterly responsible for the welfare of a tiny human leaves less options for exercise than pre-baby. Sure, I can do some yoga while she naps, hold her while doing weighted sit-ups with she as my weight grinning as I hoist her overhead, push-ups while kissing her soft cheeks each time I lower myself to the ground where she’s looking up at me. But to really quench the burning desire of my exercise addiction I need to be able to focus on the repetition at hand, to lift the bar with both hands and perform a full squat or watch the clock tick off the seconds to the next work session of a tabata.

Healthy Addictions

Addiction does not necessarily always constitute a bad thing in my opinion. People can be addicted to a healthy lifestyle. People can be addicted to very unhealthy habits. Both of these can cause some sort of chemical reaction in the brain. I can identify very real physical and mental and emotional changes in myself when I am exercising and when I am not exercising.

I am very thankful for the ability to live a healthy life that includes exercise, and for the innate need to engage in physical activity. Like many other addictions, I must keep myself in check; making sure I do not overdo the physical activity to a point where I am unable to engage in exercise again the following day. Moderation in all things.

But damn it feels great to be back in the Box!

The advice for new mothers I wish I’d been told

advice for new momThe roller-coaster ride of being a new mother contains more highs and lows than any man-made amusement ride in existence. Trust me. At 4.5 weeks into this journey I’ve found much of the advice I’d received from well-meaning friends, family and co-workers while I was pregnant doesn’t even scrape the surface of what I should have been told.

So here it goes – the advice you really need while preparing to bring a new life into this chaotic world.

“Sleep when she’s sleeping.”

Sure, it’s somewhat helpful advice to sleep when the newborn is sleeping. However, my newborn slept for a few hours at a time during the day for only the first couple weeks. She is now quite alert most of the day. Forget about sleeping at night! By the time I get her back to sleep after a midnight breastfeeding session, given myself a much-needed restroom break, filled up and drained a couple glasses of water, forced myself to stop listening to her soft contented breathing through the baby monitor, and allowed my husband’s snoring to fade to the background…it’s time to get up and feed her again.

Even when she was taking naps during the day I found myself needing to use that time to shower, to fix and eat food before she awoke, to take ten minutes to attempt to check email and catch up on world news so I’m not completely in the dark about the goings-on outside my front door. My husband kept me well-fed the first two weeks of our daughter’s life which allowed me to focus on me while she was sleeping. Such an invaluable blessing!

What I wish someone would have advised is to allow yourself as a new mother to take the cues of your little one. Do not try to fill any kind of time with anything. Rather do what feels right at that particular time. I laid on the couch, eyes wide, too exhausted to sleep during some of her early days’ naps. I baked cookies once while she was napping. Well almost finished making the cookies before she woke up. I admit I did very little house cleaning which is crazy for me. But my sister came over multiple times each week and spent her time cleaning for us. Again, an invaluable blessing to have her close by and willing to perform those menial tasks. She also cooked dinners for my husband and me when he returned to work allowing us to focus on our fresh roles.

“An immediate feeling of unconditional, all-encompassing love like no other.”

Well-meaning advisers also said you’ll feel this immediate love like you’ve never felt before for another living thing! That’s a true statement. advice for new momsWhat they didn’t follow up with however is how incredibly frustrated I would get when our daughter began to get spells of inconsolable crying in the late evening when just days before she was content to sleep at the same time of day. The feeling of not being able to “fix the problem” is achingly atrocious. Listening to her cries, attempting every conceivable way to hold her, filling her tiny perfect ears with white noise, covering her beautiful face with kisses and soft words, changing her diaper for the umpteenth time that day, offering her a breast to fill her ever-expanding belly, and yet none of that making a dent for her uncomfortable mood is the worst feeling I’ve ever experienced! Heartbreaking.

Those advisers tell me now that’s just the way babies are, it’ll get better, she’ll outgrow it as her newborn organs and digestive system mature. OK, great! Sounds wonderful! But…ummmmm…how to endure the current state of affairs without suffering a broken heart for the long-term? A mantra to be chanted over and over to oneself while she’s crying so hard she can’t barely breathe? Watching tears caused by the throes of agony mar her angelic face – what to do then? The answer is to hold her. Keep talking to her, offering comforting words of love and future calm nights. I can’t sing, but I’m told she doesn’t mind if I can’t hold a tune. The only power I have as a mother to “fix the problem” is to continue to pour all the love I have inside of me on her when she needs to cry herself to sleep as well as when she is locking eyes with me and grinning ear to ear, her smile retainers straining with the joy.

“Allow others to do everything for you.”

Another piece of advice I received is to accept all the help that’s offered. Well…that may work really well for some people. This is written by me, about me and only applies to me as a mother. But, news flash helpful people – you cannot feed my daughter in the first weeks of her life. An exclusively breastfed baby must have her mother within reach. I truly appreciate all the offers of “I’ll watch your baby while you go do x, y, z.” Very kind gesture, selfless, much cherished. But until I felt she was established enough with breastfeeding that I could pump and store milk for another trusted family-member to feed to her, it just wasn’t possible for me to leave her and go do whatever I wanted. Now that she is in her fifth week of life she has begun to take a bottle. Thus far only once, while I was with her to ensure she was eating enough.

Even as I write this, it’s the first time in 4.5 weeks I’m physically away from my daughter for more than a half hour. But trust me, I’m tethered to my phone, texting my mother and sister for updates on my daughter’s status. And they are all doing just splendidly. My daughter is exercising some tummy time and, while she’s held her head up since birth, she’s already incredibly close to doing push-ups…she’s a few weeks ahead of me with that ability. My mom says I was about two months old when I started doing full-on push-ups. Like mother like daughter (insert huge grin from me here).advice for new moms

“Kidnap been-there done-that experts.”

Which brings us to another piece of advice I wish more people would have told me. Find those who have successfully raised children themselves, capture them, hold them captive in your home (or invade theirs) and squeeze them for every ounce of knowledge and current situation ideas they can muster.

My husband and I are brand new at this parent thing. We are told we are doing great. But we are absolutely willing to seek out and appreciate the advice we get from friends and family. We implement that which is applicable for us and our daughter. We nod and smile and ignore the tips that aren’t our style or that we’ve tried and haven’t worked for our little one.

My tip, “Rely on and endure the highs and lows with your co-parent.”

That said, there is no way on God’s green Earth that I could do this new mom thing without my husband.advice for new mothers He is my strength, my partner in crime, the additional set of arms to place our crying child in when everything I’ve done has resulted in no change. He is the man who turned into a puddle, heart melted, upon first sight of the life we created together. He is the man who insists on using a diaper wipe warmer, who researches and implements the best way to change a diaper for the fragile structure of a newborn, who holds her long-limbed body in his CrossFit strengthened arms smoothing her soft hair while telling her about surfing in his heart-home of Hawaii.

I came across a quote while in the last weeks of pregnancy that says something akin to, “I never knew how I much I loved your father until I saw how much he loved you.” That piece of advice is spot on.

This musing is not meant to deter anyone from offering advice to soon-to-be and new-moms. It’s simply my personal experience with what I wish I had been told. Then again, I’m the kind of person who wants the truth no matter how hard it is to swallow. I prefer the reality. I can create the fantasy. Honestly the reality is that motherhood is truly the greatest challenge I’ve ever faced. It’s exhilarating and utterly exhausting. It’s ridiculously frustrating and painfully simple. It’s something you cannot fully prepare for no matter how much advice you take in. You must allow yourself grow into the role, day by day. And for this impatient individual, it is the most monumental lesson in patience one could ever endure. But I wouldn’t trade it for a single fathomable thing.

Cheers to motherhood!