On not running

My running journey began during the summer before my junior year of high school, when I decided to join my high school’s cross country team.  Now that I no longer was required to take gym, suddenly I wanted to run!  (Go figure….teenagers.)  Although I ended up injuring my knee before I could even compete in my first CC meet and had to sit the rest of the season out, and although I was the slowest one on the team, I was hooked.

In the first few years, my running would ebb and flow.  It wasn’t a strict routine, just something I did in spurts and at times I would take weeks or even months off.  But I would always come back.  And by the time I was in college, running was officially part of my weekly regimen.  I was more alone than I ever had been before, and I needed something to occupy all of the free time I suddenly had.  My eating disorder–which had developed in middle school and came and went throughout my high school years–also reared its head more powerfully once I suddenly had no restrictions.   Running felt like a way to keep myself in check and give myself some structure.  I decided to sign up for a race and followed my training plan as perfectly as I could.  I spent hours in the gym that I suddenly had access to, running speed workouts on the treadmill and then lifting weights and then going to a “Yoga for Runners” class.  I ran my easy runs in the morning before class (the only time I have been an early morning runner!).  I ran long runs every single weekend without fail, finally culminating in a scorching 9 mile run at my parents’ house which exceeded all of my notions about how far I could run.  All of my training must have paid off, because I ran 8k in record time (still haven’t beaten that record) and placed first for females in my age group (which was, admittedly, small).  Running had officially become an integral part of my personality, and I set my sights on longer distances and more races.

In the years since college, I have raced and not raced, I have run consistently and more sporadically, but running has been a mainstay in my life.  This increased even more when I met my husband, who was just getting into running seriously around the time that I met him.  Part of our pre-dating and early dating included running together, and he inspired me to set my sights on a goal I never thought I could achieve (a half marathon!) and to push myself to run faster than was comfortable for me (he is REALLY fast).  Now it was not only a part of me, it was a part of US, and we became the “fit” couple who plan vacations around outdoor activities and, more recently, races.  Who plans where to move at least partially based on running trails available in the area.  Who plan early Friday nights during marathon and half marathon training so that we’re well-rested for Saturday morning long runs, and plan where to eat based on carbing up before long runs and refueling with protein after long runs.  His running ramped up more and more throughout our relationship, and it only seemed fitting that mine would, too.

I love running for so many reasons.  In the beginning, running was generally a way to punish and restrict my body, to keep it a certain size.  Now, it has the benefit of helping me maintain an athletic and slender physique, but its benefits are so many.  For example:

  • It makes me crave, and gives me a good reason to eat, healthier foods
  • It makes me feel confident in my skin and makes my body feel good
  • It makes me feel content and balanced
  • It helps me sleep better
  • It keeps me healthy and prevents me from developing a lot of preventable chronic diseases
  • It gives me a community and something to always work towards
  • It gives me an easy way to workout–if you’re training for a race, you’re going to do several different types of running which will improve your fitness in many types of ways
  • It’s something to talk about with my husband and gives me a special bond with him
  • Post-long-run meals are something to look forward to!  I look forward to going out to dinner after a long run more than any other meal of the week
  • Races are exciting and reinvigorate me for the rest of life
  • It develops endurance for tough situations (for about half of the year in New York, running outside is not very pleasant!  It’s either freezing, windy, raining, snowing, dark, humid, swelteringly hot, buggy, or any combination of these)
  • Running outside can be very beautiful and you can do it anywhere
  • It gives me some time alone with my thoughts
  • It is a constant in my life and provides some sense of stability even when everything in changing.  Throughout the 17 times I have moved since leaving my house after high school, running has always been there and is a familiar thing that I can cling to that preserves my sense of self.

And the list could go on.  Needless to say, running has been very important to me and even part of my identity.

I planned to run through my pregnancies.  Why wouldn’t I?  It’s the main way that I exercise and I’ve been doing it for so long that it wouldn’t be a shock to my body.  With all of the changes that pregnancy creates in the body, running would at least help me to maintain some sort of fitness and keep my figure in check enough that I wouldn’t have tons of weight to lose after giving birth.  Maybe I wouldn’t be running races, but not running for over 9 months (while my body expanded, no less!) was something I couldn’t even wrap my mind around.

The first time I was pregnant, I kept running.  I stopped for about a week or two at first, but then I started to think of all the fitness I would lose and started to run during the week, along with very long walks and long bike rides on the weekends to take the place of my usual long runs.  This time around, I decided before I got pregnant that I would run just 3 times a week to maintain my fitness, as well as walking and some prenatal strength workouts.  So after finding out that I was pregnant, I headed to a local gym with a free pass that I had and ran 5.5 slow miles on the treadmill.  I wouldn’t run 8-10 miles anymore on the weekends, but I would certainly run!

But that night, my heart stopped when I went to the bathroom and saw the faintest hint of spotting.  It continued for several hours, very lightly, and I cried myself to sleep, sure that this was the beginning of the end, once again.

Thankfully, it stopped the next day.  I placed myself on a voluntary bedrest that day, so terrified from what had happened.  It was a bit extreme, perhaps.  But I decided then and there that it was not worth it to put myself at risk to lose my baby (at the time I didn’t know that it was babies) just because I wanted to keep running.  Most likely it was not the cause of losing the first one, but I will never know.  Several people told me to stop running and seemed uneasy that I still was at the time.  Seeing that spotting made me realize that my vanity and desire for things to stay the same was overshadowing my concern for the health of my babies, and could possibly put them at risk.  And I thought back on the agony of waiting to get pregnant the previous months, and thought about the possibility of having to go through all of that again just because I could not stop running.

So I’m not running for now.  At first I thought I would just wait for the first trimester to be over, but now I have decided that I will not be running at all this pregnancy.  There are many women who run all throughout their pregnancies and have perfectly healthy babies, of course.  But there is nothing that says you have to run throughout this particular, delicate stage of life to be considered a runner.  I am still a runner.  I will run again.  And I’m sure it will be slow, and I will feel like I am kind of starting from scratch, and I may not run another half marathon any time soon.  It may be a very long time before I get to attempt any challenging running goals again.

It’s strange to not run for so long.  I miss sore legs, breaking a sweat when I work out, and my Saturday long run routine.  I miss feeling like a “runner.”  I miss being able to look for races and get excited about the next one.

But is it worth it?  Absolutely.  Ever since that one scary episode, this pregnancy has been quite uneventful, and I can look forward to one day having these babies in my arms.  My life will never be the same, running or not.  I will have two little kids to raise!  My body will never be the same, not even if I ran every single day throughout my pregnancy.  I am getting older and my body is being stretched to the limit.  Motherhood will change me physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.

I am still a runner.  But I do not have to cling to it so tightly.  I can let it go for now.  I expect to come back to it.  But there are things in life more important than running.

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Sometimes all you can do is wait

Pregnancy is such an exciting time!  And it’s short.  Really, in the grand scheme of things, not very long at all.  And there is so much to do, so much to get ready!  Preparing the nursery, learning about maternity and child care leave, hunting for deals on all the baby essentials, learning how to take care of newborns, how to nurse, how to make baby food, figuring out what is cheaper to make vs. buy, touring the hospital, signing up for birthing classes, finding out the genders of the twins, thinking of names for them, throwing a baby shower, figuring out ways to earn money as I plan to stay home with the twins for the first few years, finishing up any house projects that we can before the babies arrive and take over our lives….getting the outlets fixed in the garage so we can get a deep freezer and I can make a lot of meals ahead of time that we can eat during those challenging first few months…goodness gracious, there is a lot to do.

Yet somehow, I find myself feeling a little bored right now.  Because even though there is so much going on and so much to get ready, there is not really anything I can do at the moment besides live my daily life.  I like projects.  I like to be able to throw myself into something entirely.  Or perhaps it’s just inertia–when I am used to simply living daily life, my daily life takes up all my time and energy and I can’t imagine taking on anything else!  But then when something big comes up (for example…finding out you’re pregnant with twins!) I suddenly get a rush of energy and find time in my day that I didn’t know was there, and I get used to moving a hundred miles an hour.  When things get settled and I no longer have to multitask and there is not much more to learn or do, I feel a bit lost.

I have done as much as I can for right now, and for now, all there is to do is wait.  Wait for the electrician to come next week so I can order a deep freezer and start planning meals.  Then wait for the third trimester to start making meals so they aren’t sitting in the freezer forever.  Wait for my next ultrasound so I can have reassurance that everything is still going well, and hopefully find out the genders so I can start thinking of names and getting gender-appropriate clothes.  Wait for warmer weather so I can start scouting out the local yard sales for deals on baby gear.  Wait for the baby shower so I know what others will give to us, and know what I have left to get.  Wait to finish my current job before I can truly begin anything new.  Wait until after giving birth and recovering and figuring out life with twins before trying to take on something like a new job of any sort!  Wait until my husband and I both have time and energy to work on any house projects.  Wait to give birth before I can even try to get my old body back.  Wait until the next paycheck to buy any more baby items, and even then I should wait until later in the pregnancy just to make sure that all is going well.  And then wait until it’s finally time to give birth and find out if any of my preparation was useful at all or if I have to start from scratch.

Some of these things will happen in the next week or so, others I’ll have to wait several months.  Waiting is hard!  And for some reason, God likes to make us wait.  He does a lot of work while we’re waiting.  Waiting develops perseverance, patience and trust.  Trust that everything will happen at the right time, that God’s plan is good, that I do not have to control everything with my obsessive (and often futile) planning.  In this particular waiting period, I know that each day my babies are growing and developing into little unique humans and every day is an absolute miracle even though it all feels the same to me.  It’s hard to see the blessing of the mundane days of waiting in the moment, but later I look back and realize that waiting has forced me to grow in ways that I never could have if everything happened right away as I would like.

Second Trimester Relief

Well, I made it to the second trimester.  15 weeks today or 15 weeks last Saturday, depending on whether you measure from LMP or the estimated gestational age from the first ultrasound.

It is such a relief in many ways!  Of course, the risk of miscarriage goes down significantly now.  I live every day with the fear that something will happen to one or both of them still, but I also comfort myself with the knowledge that, most likely, both will be okay.  It is a relief to have had three positive ultrasounds at this point, including my NT scan.  It is a relief now that we have begun telling people about the pregnancy and I can talk freely about it.  And it is a relief to FINALLY have some relief from morning sickness!

How am I feeling?  Well, the morning sickness is mostly gone, which is most welcome.  (Wish I could say it was completely gone…it still comes in waves, particularly at night and when I’m not being careful about my vitamin b6 and Unisom regimen, but it is SO MUCH better than it was a few weeks ago when I was constantly dry-heaving and nothing sounded good.)  I want to eat most of the time!  I have been especially craving chips, fries, and salmon burgers lately.  These cravings seem to change from week to week, but I am adding more things to my diet again and I actually want to eat salad right now!  As long as it has goat cheese and a certain kind of dressing.  Oh well, at least I’m eating salad.

I do have more energy most days, and sometimes I actually have trouble sleeping now.  During the first trimester, I was basically asleep before my head hit the pillow.  Sleep is unfortunately interrupted a lot, particularly by my bladder.  I had read that constant urination is a problem during the 1st trimester that improves in the 2nd, but unfortunately I have to say that has not been the case for me.  It is actually quite insane how many times and how much I have to pee now, and it is frustrating because I know I’m not drinking enough water as it is!  I don’t really know what to do about this.  I do sleep when I’m exhausted enough, but getting comfortable has been tough and then I’m up several times before I fall asleep and several more times throughout the night emptying my bladder.

My stomach is visibly growing.  Most strangers don’t seem to notice that I’m pregnant, although I have had one or two knowing looks and smiles from people I’ve never met before.  A few coworkers and students have noticed without me telling them, but I’m not making a big deal about it and don’t really want to announce it to students, per se, until after I know the genders and have another positive ultrasound.  I am pretty much exclusively wearing maternity clothes because they are comfortable on my stomach/uterus area.  My husband says that I look basically the same except for my stomach, and actually worries that I don’t look more chubby and wonders if I’m gaining enough weight.  I feel like I definitely have gained weight in my hips and thighs and feel rather uncomfortable in my body right now.  I’m keeping myself from panicking about the weight gain by reading stories of all the women who gain 50+ pounds in their pregnancies because their bodies need it and lose it all in a few months because they breastfed.  Getting my body back to a semblance of its former shape will definitely be a project for the first year or so postpartum.

We announced it on Facebook and we are being open about it with coworkers and friends.  That is really nice!  I notice that people ask me how I’m feeling all the time.  I’m not sure how to answer this question because they probably don’t want or need to know all the various weird things going on in my body, so I just say, “Pretty good.”  Considering all that is happening in my body right now, I do think I’m feeling pretty good!

Our next appointment with the OB will be at approximately 17 weeks, and then at about 18 weeks I have my next appointment with the perinatologist.  I don’t think that I will get an ultrasound at the OB appointment, but definitely at the perinatologist!  I am very excited to see the twins again and, I hope, find out the genders!

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The twins at the 13 weeks ultrasound.  It’s amazing how much they already look like little people!