How Robin Williams has helped me talk about my pregnancy experience

I think it’s safe to say the entire world is saddened by the news of Robin Williams’ death. Not only because of his legacy in show business, but also about how his life ended. There’s a lot of internet chatter today about mental health, eliminating the stigma and how we can bring it more out into the open.

For weeks now, I’ve wanted to write about my actual pregnancy experience here on the blog. But, I haven’t. So I’ve instead stayed silent.

And it’s due to a couple of reasons.

First, I should be so lucky to get pregnant and be blessed to have children. I truly do feel blessed and fortunate to be able to have kids, especially with such a ridiculously supportive husband. Seriously – that guy has more maternal instincts than I do.

Secondly, I have also felt that it’s something I’d be able to talk about once the pregnancy is all over and we’ve welcomed our second child into our lives. I thought it’d be better timed so that it didn’t seem like I was whining while in the midst of it all.

But why not talk about it now?

So…here goes. I’ve struggled with prenatal depression.

I don’t feel like myself. It’s hard to get work done. I’ve felt anxious. I just wanted to stay in bed. And for a while, I was sad a lot of the time. There were a lot of tears.

As parents, and especially as women, we’re expected to be thrilled about the pregnancy and there’s a lot of talk about having ‘the glow’. Fortunately, there is an increased awareness and dialogue about postpartum depression. But according to some reports, one in four women deal with some level of prenatal depression.

I ensured I communicated a lot with my husband about it as well as my doctors. I’m guessing the blues had a lot to do with being so sick in the first half of the pregnancy. It’s hard not to feel down about things when you’re spending a lot of the day hugging the toilet. It could have also been related to the medication I’ve been on to help reduce my vomiting and nausea. Since the nausea has reduced, so has my anxiety.

I had some of these same symptoms with my first pregnancy, but not to this degree. As soon as Alex came into the world, I felt like myself again.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s okay not to enjoy it. I don’t feel like myself when I’m pregnant, and that’s okay. Instead, I’ve tried to take it one day at a time, and reflect on what the outcome will be: welcoming yet another love of my life into the world.

Baby Alex

The news about Robin Williams made me think about how silly it was not to talk about my experience, especially if it is relatable for other women. When I learned of a mutual friend having suffered from prenatal depression, I reached out to her and she immediately made me feel ‘normal’ for facing such struggles. That kind of support goes a long way.

I’ve been scared to talk about it on the blog, because I think it sounds selfish when people ‘complain’ about pregnancy. But sometimes there’s a deeper level to it. And we should be able to talk about it.

 

 

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Going to Ikea. For the hell of it.

Based on our Dr. Google research (best parents ever?), we have concluded that our son has foot, hand and mouth disease. He broke out into a rash on his face and he slept like a mofo this past weekend. Even more so than me.

With that, we had to forego daycare and play at home today. By 8:30 a.m., I was going nuts. I can handle lying low over the course of a weekend, but I need to keep busy during the week.

So…we went to Ikea. For the hell of it.

Yep. I drove us an hour to pick up a potty for Alex and mentally spend hundreds of dollars on home decor.

This would look perfect in the living room. Right, husband?

This would look perfect in the living room. Right, husband?

 

Sidenote: I would have never thought that hearing my child say “poo poo” before crapping his pants would make me so proud. But it does.

It was surprising to see just how kid-friendly Ikea is – and they serve beer for parents! If you ever head there on a Tuesday morning, you’ll discover – as I did – that it’s where moms bring their children. Forget the library. Forget the pool. In the nation’s capital, Ikea is where it’s at. The kids think the toys and gadgets are fun and moms get to dream up weekend furniture projects for their husbands. It’s the perfect playdate location.

I was eating macaroni and cheese.

I was eating macaroni and cheese.

I ended up leaving with the potty, a leash hanger and a navy blue candle. So random.

We’re at home again tomorrow and I’m already thinking of ways we can spend our time. There are only so many minutes that Alex and I can play Megablocks before we start throwing them across the room.

 

Put the Fu#%ing Books Down: And other unsolicited baby sleep advice

It’s hard to believe we are already creeping up on Alex’s first birthday, which is Dec. 8.

For the past few weeks, when rocking him to sleep each night, I’ve reflected on the past year and what I’ve learned as a new mom when it comes to sleep. From the struggles to the successes, there have been many ups and our share of downs.

If someone was about to “poop out a baby” (my husband’s words), here’s the unsolicited advice I would give regarding babies and sleep:

"Sleep problems? None here. Now go fetch the soother I chucked across the room."

“Sleep problems? None here.”

-Put. the. fu#%ing. books. down: When Alex was a week old, I picked up the Baby Whisperer Book for the first time, and I tried to implement her tactics. Yes, when he was a week old. I tried the whole napping/feeding/playing approach. It was when I looked at Alex and said aloud to him: “How can you play?! You can’t even keep your eyes open for more than 10 minutes!” I continued to read and research crying/sleeping/feeding advice, often tuning out my own intuition and my husband’s insight. It took me about four months to finally put the books down and read my son’s cues rather than take the experts’ advice. Reference experts’ advice, but it’s not Gospel and every baby is different.

– Sleep habits always change: When I told bragged to my momma friend that Alex started sleeping through the night at three months, she kindly said, “the thing is, their sleeping habits always change.” I thought she was silly until I quickly realized she was right. Biotch. Alex continues to have up and down nights. He’ll sleep through the night for a week and then be up every night for two. It’s exhausting. So whether he’s in a good or bad phase, I get neither confident nor frustrated about his sleeping habits, because, as my (biotch) friend said, they’ll continue to change.

-It’s only a sleep problem if you think it’s a sleep problem: When stalking parenting advice on the internet during those first few months, I did come across a really good statement about sleep. The sleep expert stated: “It’s only a sleep problem if you think it is a problem.” For instance, if your baby needs a soother to go to bed, and you don’t think it’s a problem, then it’s not a problem. Alex likes to be rocked to sleep. ALL the sleep experts say that’s a short-term solution when creating ‘healthy’ sleep habits. They’re probably right. But then I thought to myself: I have limited time when I can rock this little man to sleep and I love it. So, for now, it’s not a problem (ask me this same question in six years)….

-Cut the guilt trip. I could not believe how easily guilt sweeps across me as a mom. Whether it’s because I’m frustrated that he won’t go down for a nap or not realizing that he needed a burp, I am constantly feeling as though I’m failing or letting Alex down. It’s an issue I still struggle with as I’m constantly suffering from mom guilt. This week my sister sent me a note and said: “Thinking of you and feeling guilty doesn’t help anything or anybody (especially you). I, of course, learned this the hard way, after years of GUILT, so trust me on this one! Lol ;)”.  Now that’s some good advice!

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Question: What’s the best sleeping advice you’d give to a soon-to-be new parent?

Hot Tip: You don’t really POOP out a baby.

Having a Baby Makes you Run Faster

Quick lesson: Having a Baby Makes you Run Faster. Yay.

Second Quick Lesson: But it may come with having to push for a really, really long time. Fack.

When I first started running 11 years ago, I learned pretty quickly that it requires commitment, proper training and a proper post-celebratory beer. I also learned you need a tough mental game, which definitely didn’t come naturally for me. I can be physically ready for a big run, but when it came to race day, I’d always mentally crumble and ultimately flake out on hitting any kind of goal.

Moms Who Run.

Moms Who Run.

This all changed after pushing for two hours and 13 minutes.

I’m not talking about a half-marathon completion; instead, I’m referring to the day we welcomed Alex into the world.

It was a long labour and as every mother knows, it is best described as the most painful and exhilarating day of your life. When it was time to push, the doctor told me the average pushing time for first-time moms is two hours. There was a clock on the opposite wall to me and I mentally made a note that I started pushing at 9:25 p.m.

After an hour of pushing, I reminded the doctor we only had an hour left to go. Long story longer, we met Alex at 11:38 p.m.

Two hours, 13 minutes.

Pushing hard like that somehow switched my mental game when it came to running. Now, when I go out for a run, I tell myself to suck it up and often remind myself that if I can push for 2:13, I can make it through a gruelling 25-minute run.

That mentality paid off for me yesterday when I ran my first post-natal five-km race.

Like every other parent, I’ve been working long hours, getting decent but sometimes not-so-decent sleeps and trying to help run a household and ensure our little one doesn’t eat dog hair or lady bugs, fall down the stairs, gets bathed, etc. Running and exercise has been sporadic these days and so I had no expectations when I approached the start line at the Cookie Run in east Ottawa yesterday.

When I got tired around the 3-km mark, I told myself to suck it up and to instead take advantage of a day away from Alex and mom responsibilities. So I pushed hard and finished with a 23:45 time.

I’m grateful for not only having a wonderful, cheeky and sweet son in my life, but I’m also thankful that the long push to meet him has paid off in my running life.

And that post-celebratory beer was pretty good, too.

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What helped switch your mental game when it comes to facing challenges?

How long did you push for? Will you remind your children of it for eternity, too?

 

My Selfish Runs: Dealing with Cancer

More than three years ago, I was in Edmonton, Alberta, for a work trip. I was doing a cross-country tour and just arrived in the city on a hot afternoon in June.

Only three months away from my wedding, life was busy. Stressful. So when I kept getting phone messages on my cell phone from my dad while in Edmonton, I didn’t bother returning his calls as I thought they were wedding related.

We be walkin.

We be walkin.

I was just about to go out for a run to discover the city on foot. But I decided to first return his phone call.

My mom was the one who answered the phone. She used words such as “your dad, tumour, doctor appointments, not feeling well”.

She ended it with: “He has colon cancer.”

I was stunned. I felt like I was hit by a truck and couldn’t respond. I got off the phone quickly. I cried, ignored my sisters’ caring follow-up phone calls, and tried to imagine life without my dad. I then did what I knew how to do best: I went for a run.

I ran hard. I ran fast. I ran with a lump in my throat.

In true symbolic form, I ended the run struggling up a big hill.

Running was my selfish indulgence to deal with my father’s cancer. Whenever I needed to deal with my sadness, I laced up my runners. It gave me time to reflect  and blow off steam.

One morning, following his first surgery in my hometown nearly three years ago, I was taking part in a boot camp session. The instructor led us to the little hill right beside the hospital. Inside, my dad was lying in bed, recovering from a long, tough surgery. Outside, I ran my heart out, often looking over at the hospital and thinking about how I’d be going inside later that day for a visit. I felt grateful for my own health and sad for my father’s.

Five surgeries later, my dad is cancer free and he’s back to enjoying the things he loves to do most: spending time with family, golfing, socializing with friends and writing. He’s also walking a lot these days, and has a pedometer strapped to his waist to witness how many steps he takes each day.

This Sunday, he’ll put that pedometer to good use. Our family will take part in the local Terry Fox Run. We are going to walk the 5-km route with my dad and then my sister and I are going to run the same 5-km route together.

I feel like Terry Fox did what he knew best and put it to good use. He ran his big heart out until he couldn’t run anymore. He proceeded to raise millions of dollars for cancer research, which has since turned into an annual fundraising tradition.

This Sunday I will run for my dad. For Terry Fox. And selfishly, for me.

If you’d like to donate to my walk, please visit the fundraising page at http://my.e2rm.com/personalPage.aspx?registrationID=2082794&langPref=en-CA

 

A Good Story.

It’s difficult to find the positive in each day. I wish I was an eternal optimist, but like everyone, I struggle to find that ‘cup-half-full’ approach.

And then I heard this story. It’s one of those pieces that makes your heart melt. And smile.

I had already decided to run the Terry Fox Run this year, thanks to the urging of my sister. We’re going to run the 5 – no – 10-km route in honour of loved ones who have been hit with the C Word, including our father.

My dad loves a GOOD story. I know he’ll love this story.

We be walkin.

We be walkin.

For that, we run – or walk or rollerblade – for those good stories.

Here it is:

“A fortunate find combined with a stroke of luck led to a considerate donation to next weekend’s Terry Fox Run here in Perth.

Two weeks ago, Mariposa Design owner Susan Storie happened upon a hearing aid. Her friend found it located outside her shop on Foster Street. Not knowing the rightful owner, the friend brought it into Storie’s store. Storie then began her quest. She called Town Hall and OPP, verifying whether someone had reported a lost hearing aid. With no luck, she kept it in her shop and hoped its owner would return to Foster Street. Sure enough, he did. A 90-year-old man walked into Mariposa and explained how he lost his hearing aid. She smiled at him and replied, “I have it here.” Wanting to thank her, the man started to pull out his wallet, but Storie immediately denied any monetary reward.

As an alternative, the man suggested giving a donation to a charity of her choice. Storie selected the local Terry Fox Run.

The man gladly provided a donation as he explained to Storie that Fox ran by his house on Highway 2 in 1980 when he tried to write a cheque to hand to Terry, but couldn’t do it quick enough. He has now made his donation to the Marathon of Hope.”

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Want to sponsor my run? Please do so at Cathy’s Terry Fox Run Page

 

Quick 20-Minute Workouts

Quick! Workout!

Or…sip on a glass of wine while staring at Pinterest recipes with Breaking Bad playing in the background. Mmmm….wine.

We’re all short on time but we’re also time wasters. Okay, I’m a time waster. For example, I’m wasting your time right now.

Lately I’ve been hammering out quick workouts and even if it isn’t a power-hour workout session, I’m happy to sneak in some exercise between dodging baby vomit and cleaning up phone interviews. I’m also really tired.

P.S. I’ve tried re-writing this blog several times now and I have NO idea where I’m going with my thoughts. 

So I’ll just get to the point.

Here’s my mantra: Take 20 minutes and workout. Doing it on your lunch. Do it while your child plays on the floor. Do it while your baby naps. Do it after dinner. Do it. And stop being annoying (that’s me talking to me. Not me talking to you).

Now, when I commit to the 20 minutes, I’m also trying to use this time wisely. Not make it a crappy 20-minute workout. Besides, I have to find some way to justify having three pieces of garlic bread with dinner.

Here’s how I’ve been trying to sneak in my 20-minute workouts to help drop my mom bum:

-Jillian Michaels. She’s the devil, but I can’t stop staring at her abs. I bought her 30-Day Shred DVD at Giant Tiger two years ago for $6. It takes 20 minutes to complete. I put it on BEFORE I put Alex down for his morning nap. Then, I have it ready to go once he’s down.

-Circuits. Here’s the circuit I did today:

(I changed step ups for skater legs. I used a 15-lb dumbbell for the kettlebell swings. I also died. Twice.)

-Power Run. Toby taught me this, and I love this concept. Just commit to running a 3-km route. But run hard. Don’t waste time and use the 20 minutes to your best ability. Sprint between telephone poles rotating with a recovery jog. Or do a negative split, which means you run faster for the second half of the run. You’ll be sweaty. Je promis.

-Sweat on the Treadmill. If you don’t want to sweat in public, sweat in private (that sounded weird). Here’s another workout I recently completed:

-Stretching. Technically, it’s not a workout, but when you’re watching television or hanging out with your kid on the floor, stretch. They’ll laugh when you start to groan. At least Alex does just that.

 

I’m not sure if I need to do a PSA stating I’m not a registered anything. This is just my experience. If you run into a telephone pole when out for a run, I can’t be held responsible.

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How do you sneak in your workouts?

 

Get it Done/Git ‘Er Done

Fun fact: babies make you tired!

Over the past seven months, I’ve been excited to return to running and working out. I missed having that outlet while pregnant, so I have been super keen to return to the gym and get my butt in gear.

Note: super keen.

Note: super not reality.

I’ve been in this boot camp class for almost five years, and I love everything about it. I run hard, I get to socialize and I can justify eating an entire bag of Reese’s Pieces.

Although our baby, Alex, has been good with his sleeping habits, he hasn’t been consistent. Which, in turn, means I haven’t been consistent at showing up for the 5:55 a.m. boot camp classes. The intention is always there the night before, but by the time my alarm goes off at 5:25 a.m., I’m quick to justify why I should turn off the alarm and stay under the covers. He’s up in the night, I’m tired and have to work that day. There are enough excuses to get me to at least 11 a.m.

But good intentions and half-assed excuses don’t get me in shape (another fun fact!).

Finally, this past weekend, I threw on my running shoes (well, I put them on my feet and laced them up – you can’t really throw on shoes. Unless you’re Astro Boy.), and headed out for fast four-km run. When I got back, the boys were all napping, so I continued my workout with a circuit.

It took less than an hour, I felt great and my energy was up. After the workout, I came to the realization that I need to just Get it Done. So if boot camp isn’t working with my sleeping schedule, Get it Done another way and time (you may also refer to it as Git ‘Er Done).

I work at the local college, so it was good timing that the Students’ Association was offering faculty/staff a free gym membership for the rest of the summer.

I went in yesterday and this is what I saw:

Umm...Pardon?

Umm…Pardon?

It’s honestly like having my own personal gym. It’s brand-new equipment and because it’s summer, it’s quiet. I worked out on my own and Got it Done/G’ED.

I didn’t take a selfie at the gym, but I’m pretty sure this is how I looked after the workout:

Source: PB Fingers

Actually, this is blogger, PB Fingers, and she has some great circuit workouts. I did the following workout on the weekend:

I died. Twice.

I’m still tired from Alex’s nighttime parties, but I need to find this time for me to feel energized and half normal.

Now pass me those Reese’s.

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How do you Git ‘Er Done?

Does Astro Boy kind of freak you out, too?