One month with Ava Giselle!

Wow!

I can’t believe my sweet pea, Ava is one month old already!

Alleluia! We made it ONE whole month as a family of four.

I said this before in a blog post I wrote about Zoe’s first 6 weeks earth side (read about it here), but… it’s definitely been a roller coaster ride, lots of ups and downs, but tons of love in between.

The newborn stage is so incredible to me – when baby is seeing the world for the first time.

As a new family of four we are all trying our best to adjust as we get to know Ava and she gets to know us, and our new roles, especially Zoe as a big sister. And although, the last month has really given me the opportunity to get to know Ava, the whole time she has been trying to get to know herself and the beautiful world around her. And of course, as the days go on she will grow and her identity will change and develop even more.

But let me introduce you to Ava Giselle, our littlest family member.

(photo above is Ava at 4 days old)

Meet Ava

Ava is my super snuggly sweet pea and when I say snuggly I mean it. She really doesn’t like being put down. After a full month, this little lady is just now getting use to her car seat. Bassinet forget it, Ava prefers sleeping in mommy’s arms. I haven’t been swaddling her because she’ll kick through it, but she seems comfortable in a sleep sack. She loves breastfeeding and I actually have yet to use my breast pump or feed her with a bottle. She hates her pacifier and always spits it out. She loves laying on her side and tummy. She is always squirming – which makes since I could constantly feel her squirming around in my belly.

As you can see Ava is so different compared to the way Zoe was as a newborn – who easily bottle fed, loved her pacifier, slept really well on her back, and hated tummy time.

Two Weeks with Ava

At Ava’s two week wellness check (4/4/18) she gained back her birth weight plus two ounces, weighing in 8 pounds 14 ounces. Unlike Zoe, who from day 1 did not naturally take to breastfeeding, Ava is a breastfeeding champ. On her first try, she opened her mouth wide and latched on to the breast.

Maybe I was more relaxed on day one, knowing that I was totally happy, with bottle feeding and supplementing with formula, if my newborn preferred it. Maybe I was just more knowledgeable with breastfeeding positions and knew it took 3-4 days for my milk supply to come in and once it came in it came in flowing. So for the last month, I’ve been breastfeeding Ava on demand.

Similar to Zoe, Ava loves long walks in the stroller. We took the double BOB for a stroll on the one warm sunny day we have had. Ava fell right to sleep. I’m hoping for more warm sunny days, so we can walk more and sleep more.

One month with Ava

Today, April 17th, 2018, we went to her one month wellness check. She has gained 1 whole pound and 1 ounces since her two week visit, weighing in 9 pounds 15 ounces. She is recognizing our voices. Focusing her eyes. Crying loud with a shrieking squeal. This girl wants to be heard – She is so loud. She hated getting her shot today, and was very dramatic about it.

Mommy to two little girls…

Mothering two little ones was very difficult at first, but things are much better now, and will continue to improve in the next two weeks. (Once I can lift heavy and the weather warms up.)

Although, I loved “one on one” time with Ava in the hospital, I missed Zoe.

Once I got home, it was very hard, because I am recovering from a c-section and can not fo any heavy lifting, meaning I can’t pick up Zoe… This concept is difficult for Zoe to understand, and it annoys me. At 4 weeks post c-section I still shouldn’t lift anything besides the baby. I’ve taught Zoe to climb into her car seat, stroller, stairs, etc.

It also has been horrible weather. So cold, windy, wet etc. It snowed the day we took Ava home. We have only had one sunny warm day and it was an amazing day spent outside walking and playing. I just desperately want the weather to warm up and stay warm so we can have more days like that.

Zoe’s regular routine was altered when baby Ava came, which was hard. So as a mother of two, it’s my job to make sure I give equal attention to both of my girls. I need to make sure I continue to practice patience with Zoe. I also need to continue to include her in everything, and make sure she and I still have “one on one” time.

Other than that, Zoe has been so cute and sweet. She absolutely loves her sister. Every morning we all get in my bed, and she says, “Hi Ava, it’s nice to see you.” She also always says, “I love her!” Or if Ava starts crying, she’ll run over and tell her, “It’s okay Ava, I’m here.”

Daddy to two little girls

I don’t brag enough about him, but my husband has been pretty amazing. He has really stepped it up trying to make sure we are all taken care of. It has been really hard to go to all of the doctors appointments, (I forgot about all of the appointments) but he’s come to help me at most of them. He has gone grocery shopping and has cooked us some awesome dinners. He even has brought me Starbucks… I’m lucky to have him!

So as you can see, we are doing well as a family of four!

Happy One Month, to our snuggly sweet pea, Ava Giselle! – You are such a delightful addition to our family. I am overjoyed to be your mommy, and I promise to always be by your side while you discover and explore this crazy beautiful world. Love you to the moon and back. xo

Ava Giselle’s Birth Story

*Warning: this is a very long post, but for my own personal reasons I didn’t want to leave out any details.*

To try for a VBAC or schedule a repeat C-Section was always the question?

Let’s begin by giving you a brief history, a quick overview of (my first born) Zoe’s birth story…

There was no debate or doubt when I was pregnant with Zoe… of course I would try an unmedicated vaginal birth. “I’m a woman! My body was made for labor…” everyone would tell me. So I watched all of the natural birth documentaries, and the thought never crossed my mind that a c-section could be a possibility.

Turns out, after laboring naturally for hours on end, at 4 centimeters, I wasn’t progressing. (I only made it to 5-6 centimeters). My OB started the interventions to help the active labor progress. First I got an epidural, then she broke my water – still no progress. Then she started pitocin. I was on the highest I could be for most of the day. Still only a little progress. At this point, it had been 36 hours, and although neither Zoe nor I were in any stress my OB suggested to have a c-section. I was ready to meet my baby, and thought it’s better to do a c-section now while no one was under any stress, instead of waiting for when an actual emergency happens. So off to the OR I went, to meet our baby girl, Zoe. (You can find Zoe’s full birth story here.

Now 2 years 7 months later, present time… Ava’s birth story.

Over all my pregnancy went well. (Stay tuned for some posts on my pregnancy and running through pregnancy.) I tried my best to stay fit and active, and nourish my body with the cleanest food. I ran most of my pregnancy averaging 15-20 miles a week, during the 1st and 2nd trimesters. I definitely eased up on the running once I entered the 3rd trimester, and started practicing prenatal yoga.

One day after prenatal yoga, I started chatting with three other mamas. Because of medical reasons, two of them already had their labors scheduled – one with a repeat c-section, the other one with an induction.

It made me think about my own birth plan, which at that moment was nonexistent. At the end of most of my OB appointments my doctors would ask, “When are you going to schedule your repeat C?” Only one doctor mentioned VBAC. It made me question what was the best and safest way to deliver… Did I have a medical reason that I didn’t have knowledge of? Was I not a good candidate for a VBAC? I was more confused than ever.

So at my next OB appointment, my doctor and I came up with a birth plan. I couldn’t be induced because I had a previous c-section, and pitocin causes to aggressive of contractions which could cause a uterus rupture. So I scheduled a repeat C-section for March 21, 2018 – two days before my due date. My doctor didn’t want me to go passed my due date, because of my history – Zoe was overdue by 4 days and she was measuring above average plus being in there for the extra days gave her a little more time to plump up even more. She came out weighing 8 lbs 15 ounces, which is a pretty large baby especially for my petite frame. I ended up with a c-section due to failure to progress because of her size. We didn’t want a repeat of the same thing.

I chose Wednesday, March 21, 2018 for my scheduled c-section, because it is one of the first days of spring and because my doctor (Amy Porter) who delivered Zoe was going to be available that day. She did a wonderful job on my C-section the last time and I felt comfortable with her. However, if baby decided to come naturally on her own, we would go with the flow and try for a VBAC. We also took a good look at my 36 week ultrasound to determine size of baby and position. I knew she was going to be a good size baby because she was already measuring 6 pounds which was similar to Zoe at the 36 week ultrasound, except Zoe came late and this one was definitely coming early, on the 21st if not sooner. She was head down and ready to go.

I was pretty happy with this birth plan. It made perfect since.

but… of course nothing goes as planned.

On Wednesday, March 14, 2018 I started to show early signs of labor. My cervix started to soften, and strong contractions began. That night I was up all night dealing with them.

On Thursday, March 15, 2018, I headed into work with more contractions. In my mind, I questioned, “Am I going to make it to my scheduled c-section, with contractions like this, a week early?” I didn’t want to head to the hospital too soon, because last time I progressed so slowly. If I was going for the VBAC the best idea would be to labor as long as I could at home. But I was a little worried, because I definitely needed to have an epidural, especially if I was going to try for the VBAC. My doctors strongly recommended an epidural because if they needed to do an emergency c-section I would already be prepped.

When I had a short break at work I called my doctor’s office to chat with Heidi, the nurse. I revealed to her I was showing early signs of labor with sporadic inconsistent contractions throughout the day and night. She told me not to come in until the contractions were 5 minutes apart and 1 minute long.

I downloaded an app called, Full Term, to record my contractions. This helped me keep track and I highly recommend it!

Later that night, I was up again all night long with contractions. I was exhausted. It had been two nights in a row with absolutely no sleep.

On Friday, March 16, 2018, after my cleaning lady came, I headed to the doctor in the afternoon to have my cervix checked. I saw Dr. Nicole McClendon, she told me I was 2-3 centimeters dilated and my cervix softened 90% . She suggested I go straight over to labor and delivery. She couldn’t promise I would be having my baby that day, but because I had a previous c-section and might try for a VBAC she didn’t want me laboring at home without a doctor’s supervision over the weekend. I questioned her at first, because of my history – last time I was already 4 centimeters dilated before heading to the hospital. But she told me every labor is different and although, unpredictable, labor could happen very quickly.

So off I went… But first I had to stop home. My house was clean, but my hospital bag wasn’t even packed yet. I had some things prepped, that I just needed to get it in the bag. I also needed to go home, to let Zoe, my 2 year old know I was going to be at the hospital for a couple of days to have her baby sister. She knew she would be staying with Gigi while I was in the hospital.

Around 5:00 pm, I arrived at Labor and Delivery. They hooked me up to a monitor for two hours to check my contractions. After two hours, still the same, no progress. Dr. Paik came in, to explain to me, I was in early labor, but not quite active labor. She went over my options.

Ideally the two safest options would be to either have a successful VBAC or have a controlled scheduled repeat C-section.

The least safe option would be trying for a successful VBAC, but then ending up with an emergency c-section.

She also told me that I could stay and have a c-section that night, but because I had eaten at 4:00 pm, I would have to wait at least 6 hours.

I was so confused on what to do, but because I had eaten, and was only in early labor, plus didn’t progress in the last two hours DR. Paik told me that I had time to think about it. She advised me to go home and even said that it was totally possible that these contractions could ease up and I might make it to my scheduled c-section on Wednesday the 21st. However, if contractions became unbearable I could call anytime, even if it was the weekend.

So I went home, to labor more at home. Turns out I was up again all night with contractions.

The Birth Story

On Saturday, March 17, 2018, I called Dr. Paik first thing in the morning. I had a strong intuition that I would be laboring like this with slow progression and it would end in a c-section. So I asked her if I could come to the hospital and have a repeat c-section. She told me she could take me now and asked me, how fast I could get there.

After dropping Zoe off at Gigi’s we headed to the hospital.

I was placed in a room and hooked up to a monitor. It would take about two hours to prep me before the c-section. At this point, they were checking for contractions and I not only would meet with Dr. Paik one last time before surgery, but also the rest of the team. They also did a quick ultrasound to check if baby was still head down.

Surprisingly, my contractions were closer together – they were four minutes apart. Ugh, maybe I was progressing. Baby was head down and ready to go. I met two students who would also be there during the c-section. I met my anesthesiologist, who would perform a spinal on me.

It was go time…

My husband got dressed and ready. We walked over to the OR together, but he waited in another room while I went in the OR alone to get prepped.

It was cold and bright. I started to tear up. The operating room is a bit overwhelming, not cozy at all.

I hunched my back and received the spinal. Within a minute my body turned really warm and tingly. I was numb from the chest down. It felt a little hard to breathe. Last time my arms were strapped down, this time they weren’t. Soon the blue curtain was up and my husband was by my side holding my hand.

My last c-section was super quick. I felt like everything was rushed and Zoe was out in ten minutes.

It might have been because there were two students there, or maybe it was Dr. Paik’s style. But this time around, it felt like it took longer.

I kept hearing the team chatting, maybe it was Dr. Paik explaining things to the students. I even heard a laugh, – the laughter relaxed me.

I whispered to my husband, “Where is the baby?” The nurse assured me that it always seems a lot longer than it actually has been. I made my husband peek over the curtain to see what was going on. Then the nurse told me that they had just pulled out the head. A couple moments later, at 12:37 pm, I heard my baby cry. It was the strongest, highest pitched squeal I have ever heard. I quickly saw her as the nurse rushed her to get her cleaned up. She has a full head of dark brown almost black hair!

I told my husband to run over to take photos of her, and soon enough she was in his arms while they were stitching me up.

The nurse said she was healthy and beautiful, then she asked, “Does anyone want to guess her size?” I knew she was a big baby. She felt so heavy in my belly.

Then soon enough she was in my arms, weighing 8 pounds 12 ounces. Measuring 19.5 inches long.

Although, I thought she was big, I didn’t think that big. Zoe came out weighing 8 pounds 15 ounces, but she came late and was in my belly for longer, 40 weeks and 4 days. This little one came a week early, being born at 39 weeks and 1 day. If she had stayed in there for the same amount of time as Zoe had, she would have been over 9 pounds.

Once baby was in my arms, we headed right over to the “Mommy and Me” recovery room.

Dr. Paik came into my room to check on me. She also informed me that she was thankful that we did the c-section because it turns out my uterus was very thin where the previous c-section was done. She told me that she saw a mass and thought it was a fibroid but then realized it was a hand. Maybe my uterus was thin from being stretched out from babies both weighing over 8 pounds close to 9 pounds. Also the fact that my baby was 8 pounds 12 ounces, there was a very great chance I wouldn’t have progressed and most likely would have ended in a c-section anyway.

Turns out that I’m not an ideal VBAC candidate. The best candidate for a VBAC is someone who has already had a VBAC or someone who has never went into labor, and had a c-section because of a reason based on baby, such as being breeched.

Anyway the recovery room was really nice. I stayed there recovering for 3 nights, being discharged on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 at 12:15 pm.

It was enough time to really get to know my newborn. I stayed up throughout the night nursing her and snuggling her. All of the nurses were fantastic. It definitely was a more relaxing time then the first time around.

However, I was totally ready to leave by the fourth day. Although, Zoe, my two year old, came to visit everyday, I missed her and was eager to get home and start adjusting as a family of four.

Zoe impressed me so much! She was so excited to meet the new baby. We captured the moment on video and I will forever cherish it. She also did a wonderful job spending the days we were in the hospital, with Gigi. And understood that I had to be at the hospital to recover and take care of her baby sister.

Choosing the name

Before leaving the hospital we had to choose a name. We didn’t choose a name until I filled out the birth certificate the day we were discharged. I had a long list, that included Demi and Lux. A lot of people were giving us Irish names since she was born on St. Patty’s day. However, we ended up choosing Ava Giselle. Ava has always been on the top of our list. It is a name that both my husband and I love. We like it because it is a three letter name, and has an interesting letter in it similar to Zoe. It also can’t be nicknamed and it is easy to spell. Overall it is a beautiful name and was one of the names we considered using when Zoe was born. This middle name Giselle has no real significance except that I always loved the name. We also love the spelling with the double L, similar to Zoe’s middle name with he double N.

After choosing a name we were finally ready to head home…

Now that we are home sweet home, I’m helping Zoe transition to big sister the best I can. We’ve had some great support from family too. Gramps and Grams are in town. Aunt Jackie even came for a surprise visit. Gigi continues to help out.

Postpartum

Although, I am eager to start running and lifting again, – gotta get the glutes in shape again- so I see a lot of dead lifts and squats in my near future. I’m excited for my fit postpartum journey to begin, and see the progress I can achieve. However, for now it’s important to slow down and heal up. I’m trying to be kind to myself, since I had a c-section, which is major abdominal surgery. I’m also trying to take it easy and enjoy this time loving and snuggling my newborn, my two year old, and my husband! Cherishing this family time is so important because this time will go by so fast.

Motherhood is an incredible thing, and I can’t even express in words how thankful I am for my girls.

Welcome to this beautiful crazy world Ava Giselle. We love you, even before your very first breath.

Planning for the Fourth Trimester aka Postpartum.

“The first forty days is a period of time unlike any other. It is a short season of life that follows the delivery of your child – an almost six week long period that arrives after many weeks of pregnancy and who knows how many hours of labor – in which you recover from birth, your baby unfurls slowly into the world of bright lights and sounds, and together you devote yourselves to forging your relationship outside the womb.

Though brief, it is s time of amazing intensity and massive adjustments. Your body transforms – again – and your heart throbs with more feelings than you ever knew possible. Your internal rhythms ping-pong as days and nights merge. Your stamina and serenity get tested like never before. Your connection to the world you knew before loosen, or even comes undone, and your sense of who you are begins to change and morph.

In other times, and in other places around the world, a postpartum period of healing and adjustment was expected and allowed. After the rigorous and demanding act of birth, it was considered critically necessary for the whole family – and society at large- that a woman be given the first forty days to heal and rest. Other people in her community would feed her, nurture her, and take all responsibilities off her plate, so that she could focus on one thing only, transitioning healthily and happily from expectant woman to mother.

For the first forty days – a new mother stayed secluded from the busy stream of life, tucked indoors with her infant by her side. She received special meals to rebuild energy, replenish lost nutrients, and help her body produce breast milk. She followed traditional practices of keeping rested and warm to prevent exhaustion and depletion.

The understanding was the new mother was as vulnerable as her newborn, requiring her own steady stream of attention and care. A dedicated time of postpartum recovery could help to keep future illness – and equally important, depression – at bay.

Today in the West, we are waking up to the importance of cocooning baby in the weeks following birth. The understanding that baby is not quite ready to meet the world at large when she/he emerges and is still in the early stage of development that’s come to be known as the “fourth trimester” has awakened us to the value of holding baby close and sheltered for some weeks, so she/he can shift slowly and gradually into life outside the womb.

But somehow, we have forgotten the time honored wisdom that this special cocoon of care should extend to the mother as well…”

~ Introduction from the book, the first forty days, The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother. By Heng Ou with Amely Greeven and Marisa Belger.

Life has been so busy, that I haven’t had much time to write during this pregnancy. I have been running the majority of this pregnancy so logging stroller pregnancy miles have taken up much of my free time. (I have a blog post written about my fit pregnancy journey that I will be sharing with you next week or follow me on Instagram @sweat1xdaily.) But now at 36 weeks pregnant, I am starting to use my free time to relax and rest which translates to read, knit, and write.

BOOKS

When I was pregnant with Zoe, I read all the baby books – I was very concerned with knowing what to do with Zoe once she was home and in my care. But this time around, because I’ve already read all the baby books, I am really focusing on my postpartum journey aka the Fourth Trimester. This phase is crucial for my physical, mental, and emotional healing, and will forever leave an imprint on both my newborn and my toddler.

The books I am currently reading are…

  • the first forty days, The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother. By Heng Ou with Amely Greeven and Marisa Belger.
  • The Fourth Trimester by a Kimberly Ann Johnson.

My desire to learn about the postpartum phase came about partially because of social media. On Instagram, especially, so many women are posting their pregnancy and postpartum journey. Some seem to unrealistically, “bounce right back,” while others are very honest.

As an American woman, we are always expected to “Bounce right back,” and do more faster.” These expectations are doable, but are they the healthiest? These high demands need to be replaced with more support.

When I was in the postpartum stage with Zoe, I focused on her, and our new family of three adjusted successfully. Also because I had a c-section it was very important to give myself time to heal physically.

Although, last time was a success, it wasn’t necessarily easy. This time around I want to be more prepared. This time around, it is even more important for me to SLOW down. I will be juggling both a newborn and a toddler, so I’m expecting it to be chaotic. However, by slowing down and focusing on this postpartum/Fourth Trimester phase, Zoe will have a smoother time transitioning to her new role as big sister.

“Self Care,” the big trend for 2018 – I see it on every healthy lifestyle blog. Although, it is not necessarily used when describing motherhood, it should be. The postpartum/Fourth Trimester period is not just about caring for new baby, but it is also about caring for mama too. Happy mama, happy baby. When mama is happy and feeling good, so is baby and the rest of the family.

With all that being said, it’s crunch time to really prepare for this special postpartum/Fourth Trimester phase. In the next few weeks I will be…

  • Preparing nourishing meals, that will help aid in the healing process, physically, emotionally, and mentally. Having these meals on hand, will eliminate the urge to order unhealthy take out/delivery. Not having to cook will also allow me to have all the time, relaxing with my newborn and toddler.
  • Schedule house cleaning, so I don’t have to fuss with it, and can fully relax and rest with my babies. Plus a clean house will create a comfortable, refreshing space to really enjoy while staying home.
  • When reading about the traditional fourth trimester, practiced by other cultures – it is common for mommy and baby to stay curled up in bed together, breast feeding and practicing skin on skin for the full 6 weeks. Because of my personality, this idea already makes me feel cooped up. When Zoe was born, we walked every day, and I healed up from my c-section pretty fast. I needed the fresh air and vitamin D. So although, I want to slow down, I definitely think being outside and taking leisurely walks will be more beneficial for me and my family. With that being said, remember when reading books, that these are just ideas, and it’s best to customize this phase for what works best for you and your family.

Ultimately, my goal is to help Zoe have a smooth transition to big sister and for all of us to adjust comfortably to a family of four.

Did you prepare for the fourth trimester?

Happy Holidays and Happy Babies!

Hey there lovelies!!

It’s been a full two months of busy holiday excitement, from hosting thanksgiving to cutting down a Christmas tree, and everything in between… writing had to take the back burner. But oh my, it feels good to be back on the blog!

So let me tell you guys a HUGE HUGE UPDATE… (If you follow me on Instagram you definitely already know the news.)

The above photo was taken on Friday, October 13th, 2017.

That’s me running on Martha’s Vineyard, running 6 miles, with my 2 year old cozy in the BOB running stroller… and my second baby girl cozy in my belly at 17 weeks pregnant!!

I am now 27 weeks pregnant entering my third trimester on Friday. And unlike my last pregnancy, I have continued to run through out this whole pregnancy. I’m definitely slower, and not running as far, but I’m still out there, moving.

Our new baby girl is due on March 23, 2018. Zoe, my two year old, will be two years and 7 months when she arrives.

My plan for this blog for the next 3 months is to update regularly about my experience running while pregnant and living a fit pregnancy lifestyle. Feel free to leave comments and questions, here on the blog and on instagram. I’m ecstatic to share this chapter of my life with you.

Xo Meg

Motherhood defined…

To Zoe: 

Motherhood:

I never truly grasped the “Power” of the female body, until I became pregnant with Zoe. Feeling her kicks, her hiccups – she set my soul on fire. 

The way my body totally transformed in order to keep Zoe safe and nourished for over 40 weeks… 

it stretched…

it spread… 

but it left me in complete awe. 

Then finally Labor Day arrived, and once again my body proved its “power,” by birthing Zoe. 

Sleepless nights with my precious newborn left me feeling tired, but once Zoe slept peacefully … I felt even more “powerful.” 

Breastfeeding, bottle feeding, healing from child birth, it all felt chaotic, but I felt “powerful.” 

As the months quickly fly by, I watch a tiny human blossom. I often ask myself, how did I get this lucky to have the “power” to witness her growth. 

As her mother, I have the “power” to help her grow more… 

As a runner, I have always had a desire to share my passion for running with her. It is a desire to deep to ignore – so I embrace it. My daily runs are always accomplished while pushing Zoe in the running stroller – (the way you grow, Zoe, I know our stroller runs won’t last forever, so I cherish them.) Stroller mile after stroller mile makes me physically strong, emotionally and mentally healthy, and even more “powerful.” 

I’m a working mama, with many passions, and each are a strong part of who I am… they define me. Finding balance has made me even more “powerful.” 

Every milestone Zoe reaches, I feel blissfully happy for her, but also “powerful.” Powerful because her little eyes are watching every move I make. She looks to me as her mother, but also her teacher… her guide through this beautiful thing called life. 

This motherhood journey is a ” powerful” one… but I feel the most “powerful” when I simply hear her little voice call me “mommy.” 
Xo, love mommy

Christmas with Zoe at 16 months. 

Christmas is a magical day, especially when a toddler is involved.

This was Zoe’s second Christmas, and I had plenty of friends tell me, that at 16 months she would still be to young to understand. Well this little lady, understood plenty, and had a blast.

Let me start from the beginning…

Thanksgiving ended, and I was ready to start getting in Christmas mode. My favorite part about Christmas is the Christmas Tree. 

December is for Tree Picking…

I always get a live tree.

I love picking it out, and cutting it down. Cutting down a tree, means it is always fresh.

This year we went to Middleburg Tree Farm to cut our tree down. We went early in the season, so there was an incredible selection. I normally like a Douglas Fir, (yellow green needle), but this year we switched it up and got a Blue Spruce. The Blue Spruce has a blue, gray needle, and our tree was absolutely stunning. 



Once we got the tree set up in the house, Zoe pointed at it, saying, “Tree?” She is use to pointing at the trees on our run, so she was a little confused on why there was a tree in the living room. 

I tested out the Christmas tree lights, while Zoe played with them.

It took me three hours to baby proof the tree. I had to arrange the ornaments in a certain way so that they would be safe for Zoe. But once the tree was completely decorated, I explained each ornament to her. She was very good at just looking, and not pulling off the decorations. Her favorite ornaments were the monkey, and elephant. 


Meeting Santa


We made an appointment at the Tysons Gallaria to see Santa. This worked really well last year, no line. Unfortunately, this year, with no line, and no one else there, which made it really hard to show or explain to Zoe what was going to happen. It is totally normal for children her age to be scared, and that’s exactly what happened. 


After she was finished, two older girls jumped on Santa’s lap and hugged him, naming all of the presents they were wishing for. Zoe watched them, and then looked at me like she wanted a do-over. 

Christmas Cards…

I love to receive Christmas cards. So this year I decided I was definitely going to send one out. So I made one with Zoe on it, and love the finish product. 

Although, I got them out early, I didn’t feel it was early enough. Next year, I want them ready during November, so I don’t have the extra stress of getting them done in time. 
I displayed all of my the cards I received. 


Christmas Eve…

This year I hosted Christmas Eve. Erik and I made lasagna. I made my homemade sauce the night before, so all Erik had to do was assemble the lasagna. I also made a roasted beet and brussel sprouts salad. It was fun having everyone over. 


On Christmas Eve, I stayed up late making my homemade granola. Filled them in mason jars, added a bow and tag, as my homemade gift. 

Christmas Morning…
I woke up early, to make cinnamon rolls from scratch. Once all of my presents were wrapped we headed over to my moms. 


Woah! Santa came!!

It took three hours to open all of the presents. Zoe was really into the whole process. She would open the present, then want to open the box to play with the toy. 


Her favorite presents were her Elmo stuffed animal, her tea set, her giraffe bike, and her play running stroller. 


Nap time…

Everyone was happy, but exhausted. We ended up heading home for afternoon naps. 



While everyone napped I snuck out for a Christmas run! 

The sun was shining, and my run felt very rejuvenating.

Christmas Dinner…

We headed back over to my mom’s house for Christmas dinner. Emily and Ryan made a salad and a rib roast. Everything was tasty. 

Zoe played more with her tea set. She kept asking everyone if they wanted any. She would ask, “Cuppy? Tea?


This holiday season was so special! I am beyond thankful for every card, every gift, delicious food, beautiful decorations, and being able to spend it with my closest family and friends. 

Since note: (Zoe had an early bed time so she missed out on the Christmas Eve family photo, but she made it in the Christmas night photo.)


And of course I am beyond thankful that my 16 month old daughter, Zoe, had a magical Christmas season. 





How was your Holiday? I hope it was warm and joyful! 

copyright 2016 sweat1xdaily 


November Recap, December Goals! 

Before I tell you about November, let’s back track to October…

(For those who are new to the blog, here’s a quick recap of October. If you’ve been reading skip first paragraph.) 

October was such an amazing month! I closed October by setting a new marathon PR at the Marine Corps Marathon. This marathon was my 4th, and my first full marathon as a mother runner. It feels incredible finishing this marathon, knowing my daughter has been with me every step of the way. 

The week after I ran MCM, I got the marathon blues. My training program was such a time commitment, but then my race went by so fast. And with no more future races to train for, I felt a little lost. I ended up almost signing up for the Richmond Marathon, which was two weeks later. I ultimately decided not to do it, even though I was totally trained to.

Because I had just finished running a full marathon, November’s focus was on recovery miles and fun running. 

I went into November with out a plan. I  didn’t track all of my runs – some were tracked on my Garmin, others on Strava. I ran two shorter races for fun- The Operation Turbo 5k and the Alexandria Turkey Trot/ Del Ray 5 miler.  Both races I ran with Zoe, as I pushed her in the stroller. It was so fun!

Now it’s December! Although, it is just the beginning of December, 2016 is coming to an end. This year has been incredible and I’m hoping to end it as good as it began. 

Because I am currently in off season, with no races to train for. I think it might be fun to participate in Runner’s World run streak. It is simply run every day until New Years, even if it’s just a mile. Find me on Instagram @sweat1xdaily, if you want to follow along. Or participate by following Runner’s World on instagram @runnersworldmag and use #RWRunStreak when you post a run photo. 

This December, I also want to spend time focusing on strength training. It’s time to build some more muscle again and get stronger. 

So this December is all about streakin’ with Runner’s World, building some serious strength, and spending time reflecting on 2016. 

Has anyone done a run streak before?

copyright 2016 sweat1xdaily 

Now that’s a wrap! Marine Corps Marathon 2016 TRAINING recap

It is really bitter sweet that this marathon training season is coming to an end. This will be my fourth Marine Corps Marathon. And although, I have trained and run this race before, MCM training 2016 has been by far the most special training season I have ever had.

Most marathon runners, train with a running group or running buddy. But for me, I have done every weekly run pushing my baby girl in our BOB running stroller, and every long run completely solo.  It truly has been the most fun, most challenging, most special training season because I did it all, while caring for a tiny human, pushing my daughter every mile of the way. 

Regardless of whether I … PR or not, I am most proud of the fact that I was able to manage a beautiful life-balance of wife life, motherhood, marathon training, and working. 

When I signed up for this race, at 6 months postpartum, I was unsure I would be able to manage training for a marathon while being a new working mom/wife, but I did it. Once again, the marathon has taught me, that anything is possible. 

Physically

I am so proud that after 40 weeks of pregnancy and no running, a c-section labor, breastfeeding, sleepless nights, etc. that I was able to physically get my body strong enough to begin to train for a marathon. And then continue prepare for this race during a record breaking hot summer, with an infant/toddler by my side. The female body truly is amazing. 

A lot of people have asked me, how did I do it physically. How did I get strong enough to even start training for a full marathon, after 40 weeks of pregnancy and no running. 

This is what I did… 

At 7 weeks postpartum, I got the okay from my doctor to start working out again. I desperately wanted to start running, but I knew I had lost a lot of muscle. I knew I was weak, so I decided to exclusively weight lift/strength train for 6 weeks. I had to get stronger before I laced up my running shoes. 

At 13 weeks postpartum, on Thanksgiving day, I went for my first postpartum run. It was a three mile run, and it felt amazing. But the next day I woke up with the worst knee and ankle pain.

I later went to my local running shoe store to get my form evaluated and fitted for new shoes. My body had changed, there was a great possibility that my running form was different. 

Turns out my form was perfect and my shoes were a great fit, it was just going to take time for me to strengthen my ankles again.

For the next 3 months, I hit the pavement running a short 2 miles a day. On the weekends, I would try for 3-4 miles. Slowly, I was improving.

At 6 months postpartum, my daughter was ready to run with me in the stroller. She had strong neck control and was sitting up independently for two and half weeks. She was ready, and I was too. I was so glad I took the time before to build up my strength and perfect my running form solo. It made me ready to push that stroller.

At first while pushing the stroller, my stride was different – longer, slower cadence, but over time I found my mojo, and running with Zoe became one of my favorite things. Pushing a stroller and passing people on the trail made me feel strong and empowered. I have become a BAMR!!

Although, I always put my focus on how well my body preforms vs. what it looks like. Another great perk to training for this marathon is that  running totally transformed my body.  I have lost all the stubborn baby weight, and my body is leaner and more athletic.

My advice to any new mom…

Do not rush into it, and expect you will have your pre-baby body back. Actually, the truth is, YOU WILL NEVER HAVE YOUR PRE-BABY BODY BACK, but that doesn’t mean your body can’t be stronger, leaner, or even better than before. Just know that it takes time to get strong again, and embrace the process. And forget about what your body use to be, and start creating an even stronger better body. It is possible. Hello fit beautiful mom-bod!

Mentally

I am most proud of beating the record breaking summer heat mentally and physically. And becoming better with time management. Everyone is on a “flexible” schedule in my house. The demands of marathon training, and the time commmitment was possible because I made it part of our morning routine.

When it came to the heat… 

This summer was the hottest summer I have ever trained for a marathon in. It had record breaking heat, so it was definitely a physical and mental challenge to train in. All of us runners were out there together, chugging along with our hydration packs, giving eachother the thumbs up. There were times the heat got the best of me, and although, I made it through every long run, there were times I questioned, “Should I even run this race?” 

Because of the heat my pace was significantly slower… It made me question, “Can my body run this race at the pace I want?”  But, physically, I knew my body could do it, I just needed to get my mind prepared.

I am so happy I was organized enough. Planning a head is key to having good time manage. Making running part of our morning routine made everything doable. 

Expo Energy

I’m still mentally preparing. However, it will feel more real once I pick up my T-shirt and bib. The energy at the expo is always such an amazing feeling. This year Zoe will be with me. She’s my little side kick and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Mantras

I also mentally prepare by coming up with race day mantas. This year’s training mantra is, “Let’s Run all the Miles.” I’ll use this during the race. I also like to wisper while going up hills, “climb climb climb, and fly down. And when the miles get tough, “keep moving forward.”

Training Highlights

My favorite runs are always the ones I do during the week with Zoe. During this training it was amazing to run when she napped peacefully, or run when she was interactive- pointing at everything, waving at the cyclists. She talks to me, and she absolutely loves going over the wooden plank bridges on the trail. She is always a great help holding my cold water bottle on hot days, that would keep her cool. Then we would stop for a water break, she loves drinking from my water bottle. 

However, I had some really great long runs too. 

My favorite long runs were, my 12 mile runs, my 15 mile runs, my half marathon, my 18 miler and my 20 milers. 

12 Mile Run – One of my first 12 mile runs, I ran with my sister Emily. This run was the only long run I had company for. The weather was overcast, and I felt great the whole run. We ran passed a really cool piece of street art and it made me obsessed with finding more are to run past. 

12 Mile Run- Earlier, this month when my husband, Zoe and I visited Idaho, I went for a 12 miler on the Boise Green Belt. It was perfect running weather, such a refreshing treat compared to the heat wave we were having back home. I found a dirt path to run on, the sun was shining and the view of the Boise River was so gorgeous. So perfect! 

15 Mile Run – In August, while I was in Martha’s Vineyard celebrating my daughter’s first birthday, I ran a 15 miler along the beach. It felt amazing, running along the ocean, with the sun shining and the ocean breeze. 

I also saw a huge spider web, and kept seeing spider webs on every long run after.


15 Mile Run – All of my runs during this summer were done in 80 or 90 degree heat. I had a 15 miler on my schedule, but the weather man was calling for record breaking heat, and advised that everyone stay cool and drink plenty of water. Well, that’s not going to happen, when I am in the middle of marathon training. 

I was dreading this long run. I don’t do well in the heat, but who does? I headed out early and went in the direction on the trail where it was the shadiest. Tree branches canopied over my head and I basically was running through the woods. The shade was good, but the humidity still made it sweltering, plus the shadiest part of the trail ended up being the hilliest. 

I decided to turn my music off and listen to the audiobook, Born to Run. I listened to the chapter that talked about Scott Jurek running the ultra Badwater. It helped me get through the last tough miles. 

I also found the other runners on the trail very motivating. One guy even gave me a thumbs up and hollered , “Nice Job.” This kind gesture, made me remember that even though I ran my long runs solo, I wasn’t ever really alone. There were other runners out there in that very hot day, running high mileage, just like me.

18 Mile Run- I chose to do my 18 miler on a Monday instead of Saturday because the weather was a little cooler. My mom watched my baby as I hit the trail. It turned out being a beautiful run, and I made great timing. 

Half Marathon – My training plan had a half marathon scheduled for the same day that the Navy Half Marathon was scheduled in DC. Because the Army 10 miler is a couple week later (which is very popular) the Navy Half never fills up. So last minute I decided to register for it. Most of the other people I knew running it that were also running MCM were using  it as a training run. I decided to race it and boy am I glad I did. I ended up running an awesome time, 1:53:54, and felt great the whole time. This race brought me my confidence back. 

20 Mile Run – It is just 10 miles down And then 10 miles back. I decided to run this one from my house. It ended up being an awesome run. I came across another mural in Roslyn. 

Then I jumped on the trail to have some gorgeous views of DC. 

I finished in 3:40 so my timing was on point. It was good to get a really nice 20 miler done. 

20+ miler – I normally always do a 21 miler, just because mentally it helps me finish. I run 5 mile easy runs during the week, 21 ends up being my longest run. Then during the race when I hit 21, I tell myself, “Oh good, it’s just my 5 mile easy run.” It works every time. 

This 20+ miler was suppose to be my 21, but I was rushing out the door and didn’t get enough to eat. So around mile 15 my stomach started growling. I was starving. I ended this run at my car around 20.40 miles. I immediately went to Starbucks and grabbed a kind bar and a venti soy chai latte. Besides that, I ran through the sprinklers in Georgetown and hit up all the bridges including the 14th street bridge. 


This training season I tried to be very active in the online running community. I joined two running groups, Oiselle Volee and Mom’s Run this Town. And although, I only went running with them once, I was able to get support from them by posting online. 

I also noticed through Instagram that many runners were setting monthly goals. I decided to do the same.

JULY – AUGUST 


AUGUST – SEPTEMBER 


SEPTEMBER – OCTOBER 

Although, there were days that I dreaded running in the heat, and days that I worried if I could fit my runs in my busy schedule… Overall, I really enjoyed this training season. 

You are dear to my heart Marine Corps Marathon. Always teaching me that the possibilies are endless. 

No matter what happens race day, this training season has been unforgettable. And the best part is having Zoe by my side every mile of the way. She is not my EXCUSE… She is my REASON. 


Now let’s run all the miles, with the Marines! 

copyright 2016 sweat1xdaily

Zoe’s First Birthday!¬†

My sweet Zoe Annalise turned one on Friday, August 19th, 2016.

In honor of this amazing milestone, we had an unforgettable celebration for her on Martha’s Vineyard with our family and friends. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. The birthday party was absolutely perfect. Everyone, especially Zoe’s Grams and Gramps, went above and beyond.

DECORATIONS

It all starts with a theme.

Every kid’s birthday party needs a theme. Because Zoe is only one, still just a baby, I being her mama, chose the theme for her party. And because we were celebrating at the Vineyard, a¬†mermaid seashell¬†theme fit perfectly.

I didn’t over do the mermaid seashell theme, I mainly included it in the sign I made her.

You can find tons of birthday banners and sign options on Etsy. ¬†However, I thought it would be more special if I made my own sign for Zoe. It wasn’t hard at all. The sign consists of mermaid paper which I found at the Paper Source. The letters to create the word, ONE, I found at Michaels. They were originally white letters, but to add sparkle I wrapped then in gold paper. The gold tassels and twine were also found at Michaels.

Another decoration I made was Zoe’s growth display. This by far was my favorite decoration. It has been absolutely incredible watching Zoe grow mentally, emotionally, and physically. Seeing her evolve has been one of my favorite things about motherhood.

Every month since she was born, I have taken monthly photos to document how much she has grown. By displaying her monthly photos, I was able to share her growth with all of our loved ones.

To make this growth display it was quite simple. I found gold sparkled cardboard numbers at the Paper Source. I hot glued two clothes pins on each number. One clothes pin was later used to attach the number to a twine rope. The other clothes pin was used to hold the monthly photo. Each number was attached to the twine in order, 0 (being newborn) to 12 months.

The color scheme for Zoe’s party was pink, tourquoise, and gold. We purchased balloons in those colors.

The balloons were a big hit for the kids at the party. It was Zoe’s first time seeing balloons. She loved them. All birthday parties need balloons.

PONY and DONKEY ride

One thing about Martha’s Vineyard that not to many people realize is that there are tons of farms.

Grams and Gramps has a good friend who owns a beautiful miniature horse and donkey. So they arranged for the animals to come to Zoe’s birthday party.

When the pony and donkey arrived it was an amazing surprise for Zoe and her 2 year old cousin Stella and 4 year old cousin Fin.

Side note: (Let me explain something quickly. This trip was HUGE for Zoe. Although, she took a short trip to SoBe, Miami, back in February, she was only six months old and most likely doesn’t remember much of it. So this trip was full of a lot of FIRSTS for Zoe. It was a new place, she had never been before, with new people, she was just meeting. At times it was very overwhelming for her, so she wanted my comfort. She actually didn’t really want to be held by anyone else and definitely did not want me leaving her side.)

Sometimes it takes Zoe time to warm up to an idea. Whether that means trying a new type of food, or riding a pony at her birthday party.

So when Zoe first got on the pony she was a little overwhelmed, but then she warmed up to the idea, and actually started to enjoy it.

The pony and donkey were absolutely beautiful and really sweet. They gently trotted around the yard while each child took a turn riding them.

Bubbles

After Zoe took a short pony ride, we set up her bubble machine. Zoe loves bubbles, they are one of her favorite things. Watching bubbles fill the sky definitely put a smile on Zoe’s face.

FOOD
Food is really important to me. I strive for quality, organic, and local. One of my absolutely favorite things about New England is the fresh seafood, so of course that is what we had at Zoe’s birthday party.

The morning of Zoe’s birthday, Erik went clamming with his brother Ian and cousin Frank to catch some fresh wild clams. They also caught some scallops and the mussels (shown in the photo) were store bought, but also wild caught.

We had clams on the half shell. And the combination of clams, mussels, and scallops made for a perfect pile of steamers.

There was no question… We also had to have a lobster bake. My absolute favorite shell fish. Ten lobsters cooked to perfection, smothered with butter, made for a delicious main dish, potatoes and corn as side dishes.

We also had a watermelon, basil, feta salad that my sister prepared. Watermelon the queen fruit of summer is Zoe’s favorite. The salad was refreshing and put a smile on Zoe’s face.

For those guests that do not eat seafood we had other salads and beef tips.

There was definitely too much food, but something to please everyone’s palate.

The next day we enjoyed a homemade seafood stew. (Side note: it’s always good to have leftovers from a lobster/clam bake, that way you can make a seafood stew or lobster/clam chowder.)

CAKE

People say… “A baby’s first taste of cake is her first real taste of sugar.”

Zoe took a short nap during dinner. Which made her refreshed and ready for her first real taste of sugar.

Her Grams made three cakes, a Strawberry Shortcake, a Sheet Cake which said Happy Birthday Zoe, and then Zoe had her own personal smash cake.

Zoe loves fresh fruit and she loves bread, (pita, bagels, pb&j), so my thought was she would dig right into the cake. This was not the case.

She actually loved the candle lit on top of her cake…

But the minute everyone crowded around her and started singing happy birthday she cried.

She actually didn’t even like the cake at first, but once she had a few tastes she started to enjoy it.¬†

PRESENTS

Zoe loved opening her presents. She was actually able to tear the paper and was curious to see what was inside. She got a lot of fun toys, books, and cute clothes. She is one lucky baby.



FIREWORKS 

We ended the celebration with a bang, literally. August 19th, the Vineyard has a firework celebration similar to the 4th of July. Everyone goes to see the fireworks. We were lucky to be able to watch them on a private beach that belong to the local Boat Club, that way we weren’t smushed in between a mosh pit of people.

Because Grams and Gramp live right up the hill from the town and beach it was just a short walk down East Chop to see the fireworks.

Because we weren’t super close the sound didn’t bother Zoe until the finale. It was so cute watching her eyes get wide as she pointed her little finger to the sky, lit up with colors.

Fireworks was definitely the ultimate way to end our first year celebration together.

THANK YOU

This celebration wouldn’t have been nearly as fun, with out our loved ones. I am so thankful to everyone who traveled near and far to be with us at this very special milestone. It was so amazing getting everyone together!

MOTHERHOOD & FATHERHOOD

A friend of mine, congratulated me. She said, “Happy first birthday to Zoe, and to you…happy first year as a mother.” ¬† This reminded me that although, Zoe’s first birthday is an amazing milestone for her, it is also one for Erik and I.

When Zoe was born, I became mama and Erik, daddy. Over this first year, as I took monthly photos to record how Zoe changed, I too have changed, we all have. As Zoe reached each milestone, Erik and I have grown deeper and deeper into parenthood, becoming more and more acquainted with our new roles and identities as mama and daddy.

Motherhood is interesting for sure… but I have never felt more passionate, this confident, this beautiful, this much joy, and I have never felt this much love.

This has been one very special unforgettable year!

Happy Birthday my sweet Zoe!

Cheers!

Copyright : 2016 sweat1xdaily.com

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