Monday, November 2, 2015

A Fall To Never Forget

I have about half a dozen blog posts ready to go up to catch ya'll up on the grand adventures of Beanie Girl and the ups, downs, and in betweens of motherhood. Don't worry. They'll be posted soon enough. But tonight there is something more important going on.

On November first, a friend of mine lost her husband in a motorcycle vs car accident. She's a 34 year old mother of 4 young kids, one of which is special needs.  No, the 21 year old driver wasn't drunk or on his phone... he just changed lanes without looking. Yes, the motorcyclist was wearing a helmet, but helmets only do so much. Brain injuries too severe to come back from caused death.

Now, I always knew this gal family was special. Fun and rambunctious, they were always on the go. Excuses didn't seem to existas this Submariner's wife raised 4 young kids while getting her Master's degree and even then, went on to work with to help homeless Veterans find housing.

She chatted with me through buying our house while the Sailors were gone, workingon our foster license, helping me understand Submariner Wife life, and even after we parted ways, she inpressed me with her drive and unconventional parenting attitude. (One of her girls juat happens to play co-ed football and another is a cheerleader!)

It didn't surprise me to hear over 200 people visited him in the hospital over the 2 days he was there prior to organ donation. It didn't surprise me to hear they were donating his organs, or even that they had a plan for his passing. It's something we military spouses live with every single day. There is always a chance our loved one could not come home from a deployment, though we are lulled into security when they aren't 20,000 leagues under the Sea. Somehow on land they seem safer- indestructible. We know who is to take care of Beanie Girl or any future kids, if one of us passes. In fact, we have Plan A and Plan B and Plan C.

What struck me to the core is how his passing has brought together an already tight community.

For example, his daughter always wanted to score a touchdown. Not knowing that her dad was in peril yet, the other team (a KIDS league, mind you) conspired to help her score. Kifs can be incredibly unpredictable in the heat of a moment on a sports' feild. The best they could do was at least give her the ball and the opportunity to score. (Her dad was the assistant coach on the team, and they had been working towards that goal.) According to the final defender that was supposed to let her go, he didn't 'let' her... she flattened him! Her dad is no doubt smiling about that one...

The family is taken care of for meals for the next month, and I'm sure anything else as they figure out this new, unwanted, adventure.

But what struck me the most is the caliber of women I get to call 'friends' through this Sub life. I mean, yes, ALL of the stereotypes about military wives are true. I'm pretty sure I've met them all at one time or another. But I've also met people who continue to inspire, humble, and empower me. There is a reason why this gal made the cut. It's perhaps embodied in her reaction to the kid who hit her husband and changed her world in the blink of an eye.

She's mad as hell. (I mean, who wouldn't be?!) An accident like this would cost the kid his job in most cases in the Submarine world. Assuming this kid made a true error in judgment (which seems to be thencase as he's done EVERYTHING right regarding how to handle such an accident), he will have to live with the consequences. He, too, is a Navy Sailor, new to the area.

She sees that as punishment enough.

She sees that he has the capacity to turn this experience into the BEST OBJECT LESSON EVER of safe driving.  She recognizes that this guy could lose livelyhood and NONE OF THAT would rewind time and change things.

She supports him.

She's a unicorn; I'm convinced.

Since hearing about this situation, I also heard of a high school schoolmate being gunned down in her hometown by no fault of her own (wrong place, wrong time)...

So these days, I hug my little family a little tighter, rush to judgement a little slower, and count myself blessed to have such amazing people cross my path.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

When Grocery Stores Change Your Perspective

A few weeks ago, I was walking through a local gourmet market with My Sailor and Beanie Girl. She started to cry, so I went and changed her diaper, but that only helped for a moment. It had been a long day out for a 6 week old (at the time), so I knew she was just over stimulated and just done. Which was fine, but we needed a few things before we ended up at home.

My Sailor left to expedite the process by getting the necessary shopping done, while I carried Beanie Girl in my arms, bouncing her gently and trying to get her to take her pacifier. For those few moments, I noticed people exiting the aisle quickly and generally avoiding the screaming baby. I  didn't blame them one bit. I hadn't lost my cool, but it was obvious my nerves were frayed and we were both exhausted, despite the reassuring tones in my words to her.


Suddenly someone approached us. I was waiting for a well intended peice of advice at best, or reprimand at worst.

Instead, the lady smiled at us and asked how old she was. I told her, still trying to calm Beanie Girl down, "Almost 2 months."

I couldn't bring myself to look at the woman. I thought, "Here it comes," and steeled myself for more of the unsolicited critiques of my lack of mothering skills that everyone seems to love to dish out.

Instead, the lady surprised me, complimenting Beanie Girl on her lungs and good looks. She passed by us, saying, "And don't worry. She's not that loud." 

And she left the aisle, without grabbing anything from the shelves.

An unexpected wave of relief washed over me, and I realized that THIS is what we need a little bit more of. 

Sometimes a situation doesn't need to be fixed. (Sometimes, it can't be.) But I can't think of a time when encouragement has been unwelcome.

So, thank you, grocery store lady.

And Beanie Girl thanks you too.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Beanie Girl Joins The 'Cyst'erhood Too Soon (Photo Heavy)

So, I've thought long and hard about sharing this information. It's a unique part of Beanie Girl's journey. What sold me on sharing this a) is that it's so incredibly rare, perhaps there is some other family out there that could use the information, and b) I've been an advocate for PCOS for so long, it seems wrong not to crack the window to it when it hits home. I'm now experiencing it from an entirely different angle -

My daughter's.

Following the legacy of 'the Impossible Girl' that she is, Beanie Girl has shown up with a condition that even the radiologist and pediatrician had never heard of.

Now, I don't have a lot of experience with infants this small, but meeting her needs thus far has been pretty simple. Feed her. Change her. Keep her warm. Love her. The basic demands of an infant are all there. She's pretty easy going (which we appreciate!). She is about six weeks old now, and sleeps well, nurses well, and is the resident expert in being adorable. While she struggled to put on weight during her first to weeks of life, she's now up to a whopping 8.6 lbs and is (finally) nicely filling out her newborn clothes, and starting to no longer wiggle out of 0-3 month clothes. 

She's busy growing and being adorable and doing all the usual baby things - hitting milestones a bit before their time. A bit of an overachiever, she's wasted no time in confounding her doctors.

About 2 weeks before she was born it was confirmed via ultrasound that she had what was thought to be a 7cm cyst on her ovary. That's right - her ovary. To give you readers some perspective, the ovary of an average adult female is only about the size of a walnut. A 7cm cyst on an adult is large.  The large growths that necessitated the removal of one of my ovaries was only 9 cm. There she was, not even born yet, and already outdoing her mom.

If that wasn't scary enough, the information out there about this type of condition is scattered and largely unhelpful. With a medical background, I have many resources. Research is my friend, but in this case, the research from the USA is completely and utterly mixed. (Here's the link if you're interested enough to read the report.) The report speculates that this condition is more common in children than we may think; we just now have the technology to catch it. While that's a little bit comforting (and makes me wonder what they would have seen on me had that technology been widely utilized in the late 1970's) the news regarding cysts her size was alarming.

To save ya'll some heavy duty reading, here are the concerning findings from that study for us:

"...large cysts are reported in 20-34% of newborns who succumb within the first 28 days of life."
For the purpose of the study, 'large' is defined by 4-8cm. 8 was the largest one they found... Anyway, obviously Beanie Girl made it through her first month of life with flying colors.

While complications occurred in 34% of the study's participants - "The most frequent and frightening complication of simple cysts is torsion of the ovary." Torsion is when an ovary twists on itself, cutting off blood flow. It's vomit-inducingly painful and comes in with little or no warning. The large cyst IS the warning. When/if the ovary goes into torsion is any one's guess. While many adults have large cysts that don't result in torsion, they are more developed. Little humans are a bit more delicate when it comes to organs. Either way, adult or child, the result is the same. The offending ovary is removed. Having an organ (even one you have 2 of) removed is MAJOR surgery. (Trust me on this one - I know!)

"Other complications are intracystic hemorrhage, rupture, dystocia during birth, pressure on nearby structures such as blood vessels, uterus, intestines and urinary system." 
Don't those sound like fun? Not...  Thankfully, she dodged many of them in utero, and continues to.

"Neonatal ovarian cysts may cause pain, irritability, vomiting, fever and abdominal distension. Peritonitis, anemia due to intracystic hemorrhage, fetal tachycardia due to peritoneal irritation or anemia, and sudden infant death syndrome may also occur."
Before I scare everyone, they don't KNOW what causes SIDS. If they did, it wouldn't be called SIDs, it would be called whatever-it's-caused-by.  But needless to say, this requires some extra monitoring and caution. When she gets a fever, even a low grade one, we're monitoring it. When her stomach gets bloated (which is completely normal when a newborn eats), we're watching to make sure it goes down within a reasonable period of time. When she's crying, we're quickly running through everything to try to resolve it, because if we suspect it's caused by intractable pain, we're on our way to the ER.

Here's What This Means For Us

Since we know about her cysts, we can keep an eye on them.

Her first ultrasound (before she was born) showed a 7cm cyst. Her last ultrasound (about a 10 days ago) showed a 4x5cm cyst and a bunch of small ones where the 7cm one used to be. We're taking the conservative approach and watching and waiting. We need to go in every 4-6 weeks to monitor them. The hospital for the ultrasound is in Tacoma - about 45 minutes away from home - and we need to keep her NPO (nothing by mouth) for 4 hours before hand.

Though we know they aren't hurting her, it's far from 'fun' to hold her down while she screams in hunger and confusion on the ultrasound table...for over an hour... (They finally let me crawl up on the table and feed her as they tried to finish up their imaging...I get cranky if I go 4 hours without eating or drinking. I can't imagine how it must feel to a then-1-month-old! But I digress...)

So, here's where the conundrum lies - Small cysts studied usually shrink on their own. About 1/2 of the large cysts in the USA study (which only included 14 patients in 2 hospitals) required removal of the ovary due to torsion within the first 10 days of life. So we are somewhere in the middle right now. She still has a large simple cysts, but it's possible it's shrinking on its own.  

We are banking on that. Only time will tell. I hate to put all my eggs in one basket, but this is really the direction things take... Let's not find out if she Keloids too, please.

Now, when I had issues with my cysts I was older. I could tell folks what was happening.  I could tell them my back hurt, my stomach hurt, I was nauseated, etc...

We have just become Beanie Girl's translators.
This makes things like childcare a bit more challenging. Babies cry (seemingly) inconsolably for LOTS of reasons. But we don't need our sitters to 'tough it out'. We need them to call us if they can't discover the cause of the tears. Torsion, left unchecked, can quickly become a life-threatening situation - especially in someone so little.

 Every time she comes down with a low grade fever (common for someone who is doing a lot of growing) or has a gastric issue (common for someone just getting used to, ya know, digesting), we're to call the pediatrician's office.

All of those could mean big things for her.
A Bean and her Boxer
But we're lucky. We have a team of physicians who admit they don't know everything and are up for the challenge of researching and learning about this with us - rather than a team who ignores what they don't understand. Stumbling upon a good team is truly a gift.

"I talked to the Radiologist after they talked to you and she said she was relieved. She said [Beanie Girl] has the perfect mom for her condition." - Dr. Awesome, Beanie Girl's Pediatrician, today.Okay, let's talk turkey here.
The reality of genetics is that Beanie Girl might not even have this condition if she was born to anyone else. There is a good argument for PCOS and similar conditions begin genetically passed on, but I don't blame myself (or my heavy back squats - which didn't cause, help, or hurt the situation, for the record). Blame is non-productive, utterly useless, and a waste of energy (and energy is hard to come by these days!). I believe she is supposed to be with us or we wouldn't have been able to have her to begin with.  Science told use we shouldn't be able to have kids, statistically. We didn't use any advanced medical methods to have her. She's here because she's meant to be and that's all there is to it.  Having had rather extensive experience on ovarian cysts (including decades of research), I have a few tricks for controlling them up my sleeves. However, they make things like formula an absolute no-go which, at the moment, isn't a problem since she's exclusively handling boob-juice like a champ. But in the future, we'll be avoiding/limiting her soy intake, since she's now prone to these cysts, as well as foods that encourage inflammation. Staying lean seems to help most 'cyst'ers, and I'm sure research will continue to turn over new ways of avoiding the complications they cause. While I feel that women's medicine is still (largely) in the Dark Ages, there are shafts of light from time to time.
Out and about on a rough day
 This is just part of her journey. 

And, whatever form or path this journey take - we'll be there for Beanie Girl.

After all, she's our Impossible Girl.
*Bonus points for those who understand the DW reference.*

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Beanie Girl's Grand Entrance

The last picture of me pregnant - 3 days before Beanie Girl's birthday

I get a lot of questions about how the birth went. 

Questions like:

"Surely your labor was short because of all of that fitness stuff, right?" 
 "Surely your tolerance for pain must be immense since you can get through 200lb back squats, right?"
"Surely your water would break on the gym floor during some massive squat or deadlift, right?"

Well, here's the skinny on that.

We arrived at the hospital at 6:30pm on August 17th. And no, my water didn't break in the gym. (In fact, I'd been afraid that I would be one of those women who couldn't tell when her water broke. I can be kinda obtuse that way, and I've never had a kid before. All I knew was that "It doesn't happen like it does in the movies." Gee.. that's helpful. (Not.) That should have been the LEAST of my worries.) It actually had the good timing to (nearly audibly) 'pop' while I was on the toilet in the bathroom. Imagine that! Clean up made easy.

 I'd been in early labor for nearly 3-4 days and the slow progression was exhausting to say the least. For 2 weeks, the doctors were waiting for "any time now", so I had to cancel my appointments an hour away from my chosen hospital. It's amazing how long 14 days seems when you're told 'any time now'... It felt like an ETERNITY!

So I did everything I could to (safely) expedite the process. I tried hiking (logged at least 3 miles/day), pineapple, curry, spicy foods, bedroom antics, and I began taking Evening Primrose Oil. I was almost desperate enough to start Castor Oil (yes, that's a 'thing' when it comes to kick starting labor!!!) but nothing was getting labor going, until my nutritionist reminded me suggested that activity was my 'norm'. While it was priming my body, it was keeping The Bean far too comfortable. So she wisely suggested doing "nothing" and "actually rest". Three words I'm not as familiar with these days as I should be.

Turns out that's exactly what helped kick start the 'eviction' process. Go figure!

I still wasn't having contractions by the time we made it to the hospital, about 1/2 an hour later. My blood pressure was elevated, for the first time all pregnancy. That's never a good sign. They kept monitoring me and The Bean during labor and beyond.  (I'll tell you, I hated that constant blood pressure cuff more than the contractions. )

I asked for a birthing ball, and they gave me the run down of what to expect and asked what my plan was.  They were more than satisfied with my answer of "Whatever gets everyone out safely."
I was along for the ride, and trusted that my medical team (and my body) knew what to do.

  When the contractions kicked in almost an hour later, they didn't waste time and ramped up quickly coming hard and fast. I'd messaged a few friends to help bring My Sailor some food, and The Lady in Grey (mother of 4 and la maze trained coach) arrived. And it's perfect that she was the one who showed up.

You see, the labor and delivery ward was FULL that night, and for some reason, the monitor The Bean and I were hooked up to wasn't reading my contractions. So while the nurses went about their other duties, believing I wasn't REALLY in active labor yet, The Lady in Grey was able to track them down when, ya know, contractions were 2 minutes LONG and 15 seconds APART (though the big catalyst involved me throwing up everywhere... something NO ONE warned me about. Birthing is NOT a pretty process.) Within an hour and a half or so, I was 6.5cm dilated, and couldn't stop shaking with each set of contractions. The vomitting kept creeping up as well -though I had next to nothing in my stomach. (Labor killed my appetite.)

 That's when it was epidural time. They brought someone else in for me since the scheduled guy was doing a c section and, with climbing blood pressure, vomiting, shaking, the risk of me going into seizures was getting higher as the clock ticked onward. I'm still not sure how I held still for the needle... but the guy did a great job!

I was really nervous about getting stuck in the spine. I'd worked in OBGYN enough to hear a million horror stories of epidurals gone wrong. Maybe that fear helped me stay a bit more frozen in place for him, but I'm glad to report that I am not one of those horror stories.

I later learned that I'd been nearly breaking my husband's hand squeezing through the contractions... apparently it was turning purple. (I was just wondering why he wasn't squeezing back!) I had absolutely no concept of how hard I was squeezing. To his credit, My Sailor never complained. In fact, he just said I could squeeze his hand has hard as I needed to. So that's exactly what I did.

The epidural slowed down labor considerably. It then took about 7 more hours to get ready to meet her. The Lady in Grey went home. My Sailor got some sleep, and I channel surfed for what seemed like forever as the night wore on. Still able to feel a dull ache for each contraction, at least the vomiting and shaking had stopped. (A great side effect to epidural anesthetic for me is that it lowers  blood pressure. As long as it was in, my blood pressure normalized, giving everyone a sigh of  relief.)

  When my doc came in to check on me, she let me know we were ready for the pushing stage, and that she was zipping home to shower while the nurses came to put me in position and do some practice pushes with me. She'd be back in 30 minutes or so for the end game.

  She didn't make it back in time. The nurses came in. My Sailor woke up, and we worked on 2 pushes... and that's about the time they asked me NOT to push and, with a quiet level of slowly rising panic, they called my doctor.

She was still 20 minutes out.

So they called the on call doctor. He was down the hall, but The Bean wasn't waiting. Despite my lack of effort, she was coming,  ready or not.

Beanie Girl and I, 1 hr later
Quickly realizing the docs were too far away, they punted. On the next contraction, and instruction for 1 small push, Beanie Girl came into the world in her entirety.  No slow delivery here! The nurse that caught her had never caught a baby before. I'm glad to say, she didn't drop her. No catcher's mitt necessary (but it might not have been a bad idea...).

They put her on my chest and asked me not to move until the on call doc could get there to complete the delivery and the (now necessary and fairly extensive) repair work on the undercarriage.

Dad and daughter, Day 1

We spent a few days in the hospital, but emerged as a party of 3. Beanie Girl was 7lbs and 20 inches at birth. We're working on helping her gain some weight and we're working through some medical issues with her, but she's a trooper. She's 5 weeks old now - still growing up strong. As we're about to entertain the last of her Aunts/Uncles/Grandparents from My Sailor's side, we're slowly finding our stride.

And we're lucky to still have the best support crew ever up here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Realizations from the Other Side

Jan. 1982

Family Candid from 2012

 This is my family. My father was a tall, dark haired man turned white. At 6'3", most people noticed him when he walked into a room. My brother, a blondish/reddish ruddy complexioned man. My mother is Irish, from her firey red hair to her powerful personality. And there's me - the blond girl in the middle.
Me and My Brother - probably in the 1980s
That's how I grew up.

For me, it wasn't at all unusual for family not to look like each other. In fact, it's one of the most beautiful parts about the way I was raised. I was no one's 'mini me'. I was just allowed to be 'me' - whatever that looked like. I wasn't expected to be a nurse, like many women in my mother's line. I love that my parents didn't waste time and effort looking for themselves in us. They just let us be 'us'. They were the bumpers that helped keep us out of trouble, taught us right from wrong, and helped us learn and grow.

As My Sailor and I are getting ready to welcome our first little one into the world, in a fashion I never expected to use to start our family, I find myself realizing that this is the first time in my life I'll spend my life with someone who might physical resemble me in some way. I mean, she may take after My Sailor more than me for all we know, but there are already signs that my genes have far from been omitted.

Becoming a parent makes us think about all the things our parents got right, and those things we'd do differently. My Sailor and I grew up very differently, so we've had some great discussions, but there is one thing we both completely agree on.

Neither of us need a 'mini me'. One of us in the world is enough.

If she never picks up a barbell, that's okay!
If she decides she hates theater, that's okay!
If she decides she hates sports, that's fine!

Instead, we look forward to getting to know her as she discovers herself and the world around her and finds all those things that make her uniquely her. That doesn't mean there won't be guidance, but we both believe in exploration.

'Family' doesn't necessarily mean a carbon copy of ourselves, but more partners along for this great adventure called 'Life' that we're all on together. 'Legacy' doesn't mean following exactly in each other's footsteps. Maybe it's about blazing our own path while carrying the ones we love with us...

I'm also looking forward to seeing her at my age - and seeing what kind of 'family' she chooses to have in her life as well. I've been incredibly blessed by mine. From my 'Strongman Sisters' to my childhood friends, from those I see every week, to those who see me a few times a decade, these men and women have all contributed into making me up nearly as much as the family that raised me.  I don't know where I'd be had these folks not crossed my path. 
A few of the gang from Strongman 2014.

We are only the first people to cross hers....

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Roadmap on my Skin

Late June 2015, 6 months pregnant
I've been lucky enough to have some great conversations with people at the gym lately. Like I've said before, I love my job, and with Strongman coming up quickly, I'm excited to see how my participating clients fare.

Nearly each person I meet considerately asks when I'm due (in about 3 weeks, for those curious) and how I'm feeling. My answer is usually something to the effect of, "Tired, excited, anxious, ready to be done being pregnant." And if they ask about my "birth plan", it's pretty simple. "Whatever gets everyone out of the hospital healthy." Sometimes I can imagine going all caveman and managing it all with minimal assistance, and other times I consider what it would feel like to be wheeled into an operating room for surgical help - and everything in between. I'm open to options. But the pre-admission paperwork is done and the hospital is ready for me and The Bean, so it looks like I won't need a cave after all.

One of the topics that almost always comes up is that I don't 'look that pregnant'. I'm not exactly sure what that means, since I remember my waistline looking more like this - well muscled and showing just the vaguest signs of firm definition underneath.
 But it's all this talk has made me come to a realization that I didn't expect -
I don't 'need' my old body back.  
In fact, I don't even think I 'want' it.

Here's what my 2 cents -
  We start off this world pretty prestine, for the most part. We may have birth marks or freckles, or spots, but those are the things that make us unique and distinguishable from everyone else in the world.  Me? I scar - badly - from everything.  My scars continue to outgrow the wounds that made them, regardless of treatments available on the market. I mean, seriously - I scratched the back of my hand 6 months ago a little too hard with my own fingernail - and the scar is already bigger than the scratch was.

  So, while I haven't gained any new stretch marks from carrying our daughter, I am sure this will leave its own mark on my skin. See, I've already been 255lbs in my lifetime, and I'm still well under that, so the stretch marks I gained from that experience have pretty much scarred over. I expected them to regain their color, but they haven't. See that 1/4 of an inch of extra skin at the bottom of my belly? I'm sure that will still be there - if not a little larger, when all this is over. Of course, if I end up getting surgical help, I'll no doubt have more scars to show for it.

  And I'll still wear a bikini when I want to. I figured out that, for me, getting my body 'back' isn't important. Now, that's not to say I'm not looking forward to getting into the best shape I can be in as a Mom - but I have no desire to 'reclaim' anything. Maybe that's because I don't see it as 'losing' anything... Becoming a parent, I didn't 'lose' anything. I gained a family member.  I know how to dial in my diet and I naturally keep active. The effects of that will be whatever body I end up with. I've met my goal of keeping my body fat added to a minimum, and I've been lucky enough to remain active (though I'm noticeably slowing down these days - spending more time in the pool and less time running and rowing). And I'm lucky enough to have married well - My Sailor finds something attractive even in my currently rounded state. (I just find it amusing that the clothes I wore YESTERDAY suddenly don't cover the belly THIS MORNING!)

  I do appreciate the reassurances that my body will bounce back quickly, but all in all -  I'm not too concerned about it. It will be what it is. Just as its always been.

Where the brain goes, the body follows.

We're just adding a few more lines to the map.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Quick and Dirty Honest Update

The reason behind our Spokane Adventure - Lindsey Stirling!
She's an amazing contemporary violinist. Click Here to See one of my favorite songs.

As our last holiday as a twosome approaches, I figured it's about time for a photo heavy, short and sweet update. We've taken advantage of some of the time and snuck off for a quick overnight trip to Spokane. Neither of us have ever been to Eastern Washington, so it was a nice little get-away. We had gotten tickets months before for the Lindsey Stirling concert. It was completely worth it, even though we got seated next to someone who clearly belonged at a metal concert, rather than Pop violin music. Either way, it was totally worth it. I can't wait until more of the world sees this amazing talent.

The next day, we explored Riverfront Park, which was GORGEOUS.

And, in case you're wondering, yes, I am looking more and more pregnant, but it didn't stop me from getting in a good 5 miles or so around the city.  I couldn't have helped but think that my dad would have loved a trip like this - good food (we'd stopped at an Irish pub for dinner), great music, and a trip to a historic (beautiful) park and library. It would have been completely up his alley, and the thought of that made me smile. It eased some of the bittersweet feelings that sometimes creep up on me when I get to thinking too much about him missing out being a grandfather. But those thoughts are quickly remedied by remembering that he's not missing out. This is the adventure all of us were supposed to have - and it's perfect just the way it is.

A couple weeks later, we had some good fortune and ended up doing a quick trip to California, thanks to some frequent flier miles, a friend with a cabin, and some Disney Gift Cards I'd saved up for a rainy day.

Obligatory Pre-parade smooch
I wasn't sure what to expect from this trip, other than knowing that I wanted to see some of the 60th up close and personal - and My Sailor hadn't been to Disney in FAR too long. The funny thing was, it was actually kind of nice and relaxing. Sure, there were a few rides I didn't go on (lap belts and baby bumps don't mix), but we had a good time just soaking in the atmosphere. I was concerned about our shoestring budget, but ya know what? When I look back on this trip, I barely remember the cut backs we made. I remember going on the Haunted Mansion a few times - seeing the Hatbox Ghost up close and personal. I remember My Sailor getting his first set of Mouse ears, and watching the Paint the Night Parade a little overwhelmed by the thought that the next time I see a Disney Parade in person, it'll be with The Bean (on the outside, rather than the inside).  I'll remember the new World of Color and the way it was a fitting tribute to Walt.

As for everyday life, I'm still working out - and yes, it's all plenty safe.

The biggest challenges I've found with workout have come from overheating (hard not to do in the dead of summer - and the hottest, dryest summer Washington has seen in a long time) and low blood sugar. (Yes, my gestational diabetes test came back as clean as a whistle.) I've learned to sip at something sweet while I workout, and I keep a piece of fruit or two close at hand throughout the day. I take a few more rest days, but I'm still moving well, and that bodes well for me, The Bean, and recovery.

I went to a friend's baby shower - the first baby shower I didn't avoid. Some friends will be helping us out with throwing us a shower soon as well - which will ease some of the worry.
New parents always worry - so I expected that. Granted, it's nearly all financially based. See, Washington state doesn't have any temporary disability program for new mothers, and I work for myself, which means I can take as much leave as I want - if I'm willing to rebuild the business and/or take the financial hit. Since summer has been a bit of a slow season (which is awesome in some respects - ensuring I can physically get enough rest), it means I need to be back in the gyms training folks as soon as I can walk again. We're looking into places that offer daycare before 6 weeks of age. It'll be tricky, but ya know what? We're not the first people to figure it out. We won't be the last.

It's amazing the amount of judgement that comes with parenthood. And I'm sure we'll make our fair share of mistakes, but ya know, that's our journey - Mine, My Sailor's, and The Bean. In the end, every family does what works for them.

I'm hoping to be able to put together a 5 day trip to one of the Disney parks over the holidays, but we'll see how it all rolls out. For now, we're taking it one days a time.

And it's still good.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Dear Dad, 'Because of You'

Dear Dad,

I know when you passed away, the idea of being a grandfather was likely wasn't even a twinkle in your mind. A friend of mine mentioned recently that she thought it was a great tragedy for a child to grow up without a grandparent close at hand, but honestly, I never really saw it that way. To me, The Bean will know you - even if he/she never gets to meet you. Too much of me is made up of what I learned from you for you to ever truly be absent from his/her life.

My Sailor and I, Index, WA, June 2014
Because of you, I married this awesome goof ball. You approved immediately - and you were right. He drives me nuts sometimes, but I wouldn't have it any other way. There is a quiet strength about My Sailor and I - that 'giving up is not an option' mentality that I recognize. I recognize it because I got to see it you and Mom.
Because of you, I am incredibly patient. I think that's a skill that has done me well over the years, and likely something I picked up from you. I've learned there is a difference between being patient, and being a doormat. I've learned to remember that words have power.

Because of your love of travel, I will always be restless, with a slightly overdeveloped healthy sense of adventure. Even when we were paycheck to paycheck, you made sure we got out and saw the world, even if it a local adventure. Because of that -  traveling, from luxury resorts and fine dining...
Turtle Bay Resort, Oahu, HI, July 2014
to daring adventures...

Shark Adventure Clip 1
Clip 1
Posted by Jay Humenay on Wednesday, July 23, 2014

to exploring the wilderness...
Lake Crescent hiking, June 2014
and theme parks...

Downtown Disney, California, 2013
will always be part of my family's life. Sure, it might mean we carry a little but of debt into eternity, but that is little cost for an expanded world view.

Because of you, I have silly, always affectionately intended, names for things and people occasionally. I think you might have beaten me to nicknaming The Bean, but because of you I have the patience not to rush and put a name to someone I've yet to really meet.

Because of you, I went to the school of hard knocks and opened my own business, understanding that it's better to be happy and give back to the world than live in pretty golden handcuffs. So, because of you, I get to empower people to change their lives every single day. Though you never got to see me as a strength competitor and coach, I have no doubt you'd approve, and applaud the whole way along.

Because of you, The Bean will end up knowing about such inside family jokes as 'Bob and Billy' and 'Sam the Snake'. Those little things I grew up with that I (eventually) rolled my eyes at are now part of the family legacy.  A child doesn't need to meet their grandparents to know them.

Because of you, April 1st is no longer 'April Fools Day' - but instead, it's the day I said my last 3 words to you in this life. I was lucky enough that they were "I love you, goodnight." Some people never get that much.

A lot of things in life shape us into the people we are today. My impending parenthood helps me reflect on that and truly absorb that. 

Because of You, it's a little easier to be me.

Brother, Dad, Mom, Me, and My Sailor, 2012

Monday, March 30, 2015

Tipping the Scales, and Finding Some Balance

(Video complete with narration... ooo... cool... a vlog...2 weeks ago above. Last week's 100lb snatch at the bottom of the blog...)
Today I went in for one of the millions of tests many 'high risk' mothers go in for. It's a simple blood draw, but still the insisted on weighing me in. Now, I don't put too much stock in the scale as a measure of health and fitness, but I'll admit to still having that mild moment of deep-seeded panic when I go to step on the scale.  I've gotten to the point now though, as the scale slowly climbs ever higher, that I try not to pay attention at all. In truth, I don't take my shoes off or try to weigh less than I do.  Doctor's offices tend to weigh me in at the WORST times of day anyway.
  But I'll admit to a quiet bought of "WTF?! OMG I'm getting FAT!"  when I got on the scale today at the doctor's office and saw a triple digit number I struggled with for a couple years appear on the scale - and it didn't start with a 1.

Now, keep in mind that this was likely the WORST time of day to weigh in. I hadn't gotten adequate sleep and I'd just eaten a real breakfast less than an hour before. So it's likely the weight displayed was about 5lbs off, but the truth of the matter reminds.

I'm getting bigger.

And I'm going to continue to get bigger - odds are.  Okay, so I've put on about 15lbs and I'm about 1/2 way through my pregnancy. Not so bad, all things considered. It's been a really good test in positive self-talk, as well as a great way to be conscious about my own body image. Even as a Coach and Trainer, we all have our hang ups. It's how much we let those hang ups dictate/impact our lives that we have a choice about. A conscious choice.

So I could have gone around all day, feeling much  more out of proportion than I am, or I could just ignore it for now, and head on with my day - which included going to the gym to get my workout in.

I opted to go to the gym. (Okay, so I had a couple of badass lifting clients to see, but I was interested to get my own workout in once I was done with them.)

The workout went well. I was able to jerk within 10 lbs of my lifetime max still, and I actually got a power snatch I'd been missing for the past month-ish. All in all, I was very happy with what I'm able to do.

And - all of a sudden- the 'weight' didn't matter. Because I can do the things I love to do, and I get to be involved in the success and wellness of others. When I did start to feel huge later on in the day, I reminded myself that it's likely to all melt off when the Bean gets here. I just have to keep doing what I'm doing and we'll all be just fine. I know my crew remind me of it all the time - and they wouldn't lie to me. I choose to believe them rather than stress out (for long) about 'what if's.

Many women would say 'enjoy pregnancy' or 'embrace the experience'. I think I do that about as much as I can. I find the humor in a lot of things - including the strange noises I make getting up and down lately - but it's hard to 'embrace' the physiological consequences of pregnancy (like getting excited that I didn't wake up with a nose bleed for a whole 2 weeks, or that I went a whole 2 days without heartburn, or that my hips randomly decide they are done responding 1/2 way through warm up and then get back on the band wagon 15 minutes later...). Yes, I get that it's all a means to an end. The Bean and I are both healthy, and that's the important part - no matter that digit staring back at me on the scale.

Sure, I've retired my jeans, not 'for good', but just for now (the waistline makes sitting uncomfortable and an uncomfortable pregnant lady is a grouchy pregnant lady...and NOBODY wants that). But they'll stick around in my closet. Someday soon enough I'll be grateful that I kept them - just like I'm grateful I kept some clothes from my 200-some lb days.

Oh, wait... those 200-some lb days are back! 


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Antisocial Trainer

I love my job.

I love the people I get to work with.

I love watching them all make strides every single day.
Seeing potential where they've already decided they are limited is one of my favorite things. Watching the discovery of all they are capable of? Awesome.

It always encourages me to push myself as well - even though right now I'm having to reframe my success. Trainer Guy reminded me that I made a 20lb gain on my backsquats from last year's personal record (215lbs last year, 230 this year) while that doesn't seem like a lot of weight. But he reminded me that, if I gained 15-20lbs on my squat every year for the next 10 years (not realistic), just think about where I'd be... And he has a point. So even though I've "only" gained 20lbs on my clean and jerk, that's still an achievement that, in the big picture, is pretty huge.

So being pregnant (and generally lifting within 10 lbs of my last PRs), I've had to reframe my fitness journey a bit and look at it as a day by day sort of thing. I can still lift comfortably, but there are days/times when The Bean lets me know that it's rest day. And I listen. Thursday was a great example of that. I certainly had the energy to do more, but The Bean had other plans. Instead of acting on jumping on some training homework, I mobilized, coached, and did a few light stability movements (ya know, working on Turkish Get Ups and Handstands/handstand walking). Being inverted seems to agree with The Bean and helped relieve some moderate cramping (totally normal at this stage in the game).

So when it came to 1 rep max day today, I probably could have used 1 more day of rest, but The Bean was cooperating, so I rolled with it.

And, yes, I didn't set any new personal bests, but my snatch was up 5lbs from last week, and my clean was as well. (Experimenting with a different Jerk style caused me to miss the jerk, but I later made it as a jerk from the rack after some rest and reestablishing the form that worked thus far - see video above, 135lb clean.)

Realizing that I'm almost 19 weeks pregnant and still able to do what I love is kind of a big deal. And I'm still improving, staying sharp, keeping my strength. I'm more process focused than ever - less "goal weight" focused. And each time a client sees some sort of improvement - whether it's a big improvement that came easy, or a tiny improvement that was hard won, I'm reminded of the power of focusing on the process. It's simple. Do the work - reap the rewards.

I've been asked by those who knew me back when I worked from home, if I'll go back to that once The Bean makes an appearance outside of my body.  I never gave it a second thought, to be honest. A step backwards doesn't seem like a viable solution to the problem. In fact, I kinda look forward to the first Meet that The Bean goes too.

For now, I love my time with my clients, and a little down time with my friends, but I can't deny having a newfound love for my couch time - very little of which is spent conscious these days.  Call me antisocial, but when it comes to my weekends, I generally opt to spend a good 1/2 of it giving Clydas a run for his money in the snoring department....
So if I turn down your invitation to hang out - it's nothing personal.
I'm not being antisocial.
I'm just busy making a person.
And that shit is exhausting...

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Better Coaching, Burned Burgers, Comfy Couches, And an Adventure

Tonight is pretty simple. I'm propping my feet up (a new habit of mine whenever I get a chance) and lamenting my terrible burger making skills...From the skillet to the microwave and still not done right. Adding this to the list of things I need My Sailor home for. (Sigh) Ah well, at last I have "Finding Neverland" (a remarkable movie... which has since been turned into a musical... which is kind of odd since it's about the writing for Peter Pan, the play, to begin with...) on Netflix to keep me company. Movies about writers always make me think big thoughts.

I hear that kids change your life - and I'm not writing with any attempt to dispute that. Of course, in my opinion, just about everything changes your life in one way or another. From the weather to the passing of time, everything changes life. So big changes of course influence our perspective more than others. And there have been a lot of good, big changes at our house (growing belly aside). From the hard-won success of Earn Awesome Training, to my personal competition goals, to My Sailor looking into Shore Duty and College, 2015 is a HUGE year for us. But one thing pregnancy (as a medical condition) has undeniably done, is changed my perspective on competition. Instead of the once-borderline-destructive-self-imposed ideas I had about competition, I've learned to embrace the 'fun' of it all. I hear lots of unhealthy views on the Crossfit Open... and here I sit, eagerly awaiting the sale of regionals tickets so I can go watch the elite athletes do their thing. As for the Open itself? Maybe that will be my 'come back' next year. For now, I am saddened to hear how it's being treated. The Crossfit community is usually amazing, but the Open brings out the best in athletic performance, and the worst in attitude in some folks. Honestly, my lesson in this really started sinking in last summer during Strongman... but it's really carried over and became part of my life once The Bean has made me learn to stop and smell the roses, and spend a good deal more time with my feet up.
400lb tire flip over the finish line, August 2014
Having amazing clients helps drive it home to. Everyone really pushes and reaches. Whether they are learning a new skill, fine tuning a known one, reaching for PRs, destroying some body fat, or preventing injuries, they are constantly remind me that it's the big picture that matters. When I get impatient that the weight isn't going up quite the way I'd hoped, it seems that same day, I get a new client who is wondering how this whole Strength Training thing I do works... and I get to break out these...

Progress photos March 2013, May 2013, and April 2014
And I'm reminded of the big picture. I'm reminded of where I started - and how much fun I've had along the way. Even though I still push myself (with a well measured shove), I wish I'd had figured out this perspective a little bit earlier in life. No doubt it would have served me well in the theater world as well. But that's the past. I'm grateful for the lessons learned. Time is an excellent teacher - and continues to make me a better coach with every new experience, bit of research, client/athlete I come into contact with. I considered a lot  of the possibilities when I learned I was pregnant. None of them included making me a better Coach... but oddly enough, I think it has.
Disneyland, Jan 2013, Waiting on our Adoption...
And even though My Sailor has missed a few competitions here and there, he's still my biggest fan. Though getting married again after having been divorced was probably the scariest thing I'd ever done, it isn't a decision I've regretting for a minute.  We're not perfect. We have our gripes about each other here and there, but when it all comes down to it, he's seen the good, the bad, and the ugly for the last 15+ years. Granted, a good chunk of that was from a distance, but all along, he's really seen me for who (and what) I am - and that's a rare quality in a person.  He makes it easier to be me. Even from 20,000 Leagues under the Sea - I get a message like. "I am so proud of you for keeping up with everything and not using your pregnancy as a crutch.  This is why you are such an amazing woman and partly why I married you.  Because you don't let life hold you back."

From my comfy perch on the couch, with my feet on the table, and 2 dogs snoring to a degree that would make any old man proud, I'm still living the great adventure. It may not be an adventure I planned on going on, but often times -  those are the best ones.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

In The Middle of the Contraversy - and 'Clean'ing Up

Ever since my last blog went over the loud speaker, people have been keeping their concerns to themselves for the most part regarding my weight lifting, or come out rooting for me - both of which are much appreciated. (As for my MD, she is looking forward to seeing footage from my last competition.)  There are still a few people who say they 'can't wait' for my joints to give out, stretch, etc. Still others who are (quietly and not so quietly)  horrified to find women like this:

My mind is absolutely blown to be a part of the "pregnant people that workout contraversy. I honestly don't understand why it's a contraversy to being with. In no other time in life can I think about when women are under more scrutiny. I mean, this shit makes high school seem like a cake walk, when it comes to the amount of pure, uninvited judgement that's openly shared. If you look in the comments on youtube of the video above, you'll see the ridiculous amount of comments referring to the athlete as being "irresponsible".  Honestly, she's taking care of herself, and she's proving it. You know how hard it is for the average Joe to make it into the gym? Imagine having those days and the perfect excuse!  It's even harder on days when your only reason for not going in is "I just don't want to." Sure, we need more rest and fuel than your average Joe (er... Jill), but we're not broken. In fact, pregnancy is something like a parasitic relationship. The Bean will MAKE SURE he/she is getting what he/she needs before my body gets what it needs.

My Monday work out. Red being the Rx weight. Black being the completed weights.
Working out releases endrophins, increases flexibility, and weight training specifically helps hyperflexible people (like me) learn how to control that flexibility, putting me at lower risk for injury. I know, crazy right?

Anyway, since I've been pretty vocal about all this now, I've gotten pictures, emails and messages of people that are like 8 months pregnant and don't look as pregnant as people would expect - asking me to weigh in if I think this athlete is "healthy".

Want the truth?

I assume she's taking care of herself - just like I generally assume the same is true for ever other pregnant woman I've ever encountered.

One of the best things about my job is that I get to see a lot  of potential cross my path. Drawing a quick assumption about anyone really isn't in my day to day life, so I tend to 'assume' (ha ha) that other people do the same thing.  I mean, here's a great example...

Courtesy of Modern Fit Mom
We're our own worst critics. If kids can see one of their parents this way, why can't we cut other people the benefit of doubt too, eh?

Sunday, March 8, 2015

"Bikini Babe Gets a Bean" or "Coming Clean. Soap Box On Blast."

Largely, whenever something has happened in my life and left it's mark on my life, it's ended up here.
The good, the bad, the ugly, the mundane... It's all ended up on the digital pages of this blog. From auditioning for America's Got Talent, to marrying My Sailor, to coping with various deployments and deaths in the family, from the adoption chaos, to transitioning from a job I where I made rich people richer to one where I help make people stronger - it's all been here.

At least - that's been the case for the last several years. So it's well past time that I came clean about the recent changes going on here.
My Sailor's Recent Reading Material
2 days before Christmas, My Sailor and I found out we're likely to be parents. And, no, not to a 4-9 year old from the Waiting Kids list. Instead, much to our shock and surprise, the first addition to our family is coming the far more typical, biological route.  Yup, that's right. I'm pregnant. That said, even now, about 17 weeks into this craziness, it's a little bit hard to tell.
Left: November, 2014 (pre-Bean) Right: March 5th, 2015 (about 17 weeks pregnant)
I didn't blog about it for quite a while. As any of my long term readers know, this situation was a near impossibility. It took a long time for the shock to wear off. Basically, in our position, it's anybody's game in how this would go.  So, while those that needed to know were informed, I have retained a general air of distance from the whole situation - well, not that it's actually 'easy' when you're the one who is pregnant, but enough adoptions had fallen through (and the fact that I never dreamed I'd be in this situation) that it's pretty common for someone in my position to withhold getting too attached or daydreaming too much about a family. I'd already retired those dreams and was still licking my wounds from the last waiting list falling through. But - so far so good. As far as pregnancies go, I hear I have it relatively easy. That said, I'm honestly going to say that even an 'easy' pregnancy is 'rough'!

So, not that ya'll are 'in the know', let me do a quick flash back for ya'll.

That means I did this...

And this...
My favored reading material
All while knowing I had a little passenger incognito.

Now that it's becoming more apparent at work (I'm noticably thicker around the middle, and often a good bit more tired in the mornings... and I eat... ALL THE TIME...) everyone is full of advice... and a good chunk of folks have made their opinions about my weight lifting well known. I've been quietly accused of endangering The Bean (which shall hence forth be the nickname of this kiddo). From "You had FISH yesterday?! Aren't you not supposed to eat fish?! It has Mercury!" to *my personal favorite* "You shouldn't be lifting anything over 25lbs!"

Well, I asked my OBGYN about the "anything over 25lbs" issue... and you know what her response was? She burst out laughing.

While every piece of advice comes from a well-intentioned friend, the pieces I've most appreciated have come from an ER doctor, who saw me when I accidently overworked myself (and made up for 3 months of no morning sickness in a single 7 hr stretch). You see, she is a physique competitor (aka bikini model, to oversimplify it) in her spare time, and a weight lifter at my gym. Funny that she happened to be working when hauled my nausated hide into the ER for some fluids and some help. (I'm new to all of this - and each day is different, so I'm learning how to mitigate my energy output vs rest and nutrition. Generally, I'm pretty good at it, but we don't know our limits until we reach them. I'm not exception there.) Turns out she had her kids in her mid-late thirties, and weight lifted up until the day she delivered for every single one of them. See, the medical professionals in my life have been nothing but encouraging.  It's the other people who seem to be worried by my seemingly 'irresponsible' behavior.

In lots of situations in life, we get to choose how to see things - especially situations well beyond our control. This is one of those for me. I can dwell on the fact that I had just finally started to get abs, that are disappearing by the day (which I moarned for all of 5 seconds), or I can realize what a badass  story this will be to share with The Bean later in his/her life. For me, there is a difference between being sick, and being pregnant.

Sometimes in life, you don't get to pick when you're broken and need to recover. That's getting sick. That's getting injured. That's getting a serious uncontrollable set back. While, yes, this wasn't in my playbook, this isn't one of those times.

I'm pregnant. Not broken.

My coach was one of the first to know of my condition, as it impacted our training. My focus has changed from volume to technique - and it hasn't suffered because of it. If something isn't working on a given day, I change the plan. If something is working great, I run with it as far as I can.

If, for some reason, something goes terribly awry and The Bean is never more to this world than he/she is right now, rest assured I won't be blaming a heavy squat for it. I've been in the medical field myself long enough to know that sometimes, some things just aren't meant to be. (And after spending over a decade reading reports for and coding for OBGYN physicians, I can honestly say I've never once read a report that stated "pre-term labor caused by weight lifting", so it must be incredibly rare.)

Now, that's not to say I'm turning a deaf ear to all advice, but rest assured that I am in no way endangering The Bean. I generally believe that no pregnant woman would KNOWINGLY put her kids at risk. Despite the unexpected nature of 'expecting', I fall into that category as well. The Bean gets a happy, healthy, strong mom, who appreciates her supporters more than ever.

And that can't be a bad thing.