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What I’m Thankful for this year

23 Nov

“Life right now, in this very moment, is all anyone can be sure of. So live it well. ” – Chas Yousey


I find myself preoccupied and concerned with too many extraneous details (errands that need to be run or what others think of things I say or do), that I sometimes fail to stop to enjoy the moment.  I take for granted all that I have in my life – and realize I may not adequately express my thanks for those people and things that provide me happiness each day.

– My wonderful, sweet little boy, AJ.  He is a happy, healthy, vivacious 10 month old but I often forget that he’s so young.  I find myself expecting him to understand and listen to everything I tell him and get annoyed when he doesn’t.  There are nights when he wakes up at 2am and I get frustrated because he wants me to put him back to sleep.  I (embarrassingly) sometimes don’t have patience to sit with him for hours each day because he doesn’t want to play with his toys without me next to him.  I take for granted what a good boy he is and how lucky my husband and I are to have him in our lives.  I’m thankful that he has unconditional love for me, that he smiles at me when I greet him in the morning and that he looks to me when he’s hurt or tired. Thank you, AJ, for being the best unplanned gift mommy and daddy ever received.

– My amazing husband and family.  Without being too repetitive (since I did a post on them last month – My Support System), I could not imagine my life without them.  When I sit and think about it, I realize that I do not do a good job of expressing my gratitude on a regular basis to them – especially my husband and my mom.  I am not the easiest person to live with or love – I’m moody, I can be sarcastic and snippy, and I have very little patience.  Yet they are understanding, loving, and will do anything for me (and AJ).  Thank you to my wonderful husband, mom, sisters, and extended family who fill my life with nothing but support and love each and every day.



– God.  I am not an overly religious person, so I usually do not bring up the subject of God or religion in posts or in conversations.  However, I am beyond amazed at how much joy and happiness that has come into my life.  I’m not a perfect person – I’ve done some things that are less than stellar in my lifetime – and there was a time that I did not know if I deserved to have happiness in my life. But, this last year has been the best in my life – and I’m grateful for all that God has given me – a precious little boy, health and happiness for me and my entire family, amazing friends who remain my friends despite my inability to call or email as frequently as I would like, the prospect of owning our first house (on Staten Island – where my family lives), and the gift of running (both during and after pregnancy).


– Lastly, and most importantly, I remain thankful – each and every day – for those that continue to put their lives in danger for me and my family.  Without their sacrifice and dedication, I would not be able to sit down tomorrow and enjoy a peaceful and joyous Thanksgiving dinner with my extended family – free from fear or terror.  I know how difficult it was to say goodbye to my family each deployment – but can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like to be away from your child for extended periods of time.  To all those that are serving – especially those who will be celebrating the holiday away from their loved ones – I say “Thank You” from the bottom of my heart.  And a special thank you to a fellow blogger who is getting ready to deploy and leave her family – Jess (from http://runningforreagan.blogspot.com/)


Hope everyone has a Happy, Safe, and Beautiful Thanksgiving!!!


What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?  Anything different or special?

Running through Pregnancy – Part 1

14 Nov

This is the first in a series that I am writing dedicated to running during pregnancy.  They will discuss what I experienced and learned from my successful “run” through pregnancy, some tips and advice as you and your baby continue to grow, and clothing options (if you are like me and don’t want to spend a lot of $$ on running clothes you will only wear for a couple off months). 


First, a disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, nor do I have “expertise” when it comes to running during pregnancy.  So what am I basing these posts on?  
– I am currently in the process of receiving my certification as a Pre / Post-Natal Exercise Specialist.  
– I ran up until the day before I went into labor and ran my first mile only 5 days post-delivery.


Second, a word of caution: Running during pregnancy is NOT for everyone.  If you weren’t a runner before you got pregnant, now may not be the time to pick it up.  Stick with what you were doing and comfortable with prior to pregnancy.  And, if you decide you want to give it a try, definitely discuss your intentions with your obstetrician early on in your pregnancy.


Background 
When I found out I was pregnant in May 2010, I was training for a 24-hour race in July. My husband and I had planned on waiting a few more years before having our first child, so I didn’t attribute the symptoms I was experiencing to pregnancy – it was the furthest thing on my mind. 


In the weeks prior, I hadn’t felt “right”.  I am normally pretty in-tune with my body, so the sudden change in how I was feeling was extremely disconcerting. I was achy and exhausted.  I was out of breath on short runs (even had to stop running on a couple of runs).  I was quesy in the mornings. 


Of course, these are normal signs of pregnancy.  And I’ve watched TLC’s I Didn’t Know I was Pregnant and wondered how these women could not know!!  But, we were using contraceptive methods and I had assumed it was 100% effective, so the possibility of being pregnant never even crossed my mind.  


I assumed something was lacking in my diet and even scheduled an appointment with a nutritionist.  I had recently completed the longest run I had attempted (28 miles) and thought I could need more calories, protein, or carbs in my diet because of the increase in mileage.  


But, a few days after a failed 20+ miler (I was able to run 16 slow miles), I decided to take a pregnancy test…and then another…and another.  They all came back positive. I somehow managed to get pregnant!! 


Although not planned or expected, I couldn’t have been happier.  My running plans and ALL the races I had signed up in the coming 6+ months no longer mattered to me.  And, in a way, I felt lucky – I was starting my first pregnancy in the best running shape I had ever been in.  The night we found out I was pregnant, my husband and I went on a wonderful 8-mile run in Central Park. It was during this run that I made the decision to try to run throughout my entire pregnancy. I hadn’t given it much thought prior to this because I hadn’t planned on getting pregnant and starting our family for another few years!


I saw my ob-gyn the following week and discussed my running intentions with him.  Not only was he supportive of my plans to continue running, but he actually encouraged it.  He told me that not running would be far worse for me and my baby then continuing to run.  The reason for this is simple: I’ve been running for years.  My body is used to the miles, the exercise, the movement, the sweat.  If I were to go from running 55+ miles a week to absolutely NOTHING the following week (and continuing to not run for 8+ months), my body would likely react in a negative way. So that was it – I was going to NEVER STOP running!


Below are the guidelines I set for myself during my pregnancy:
– Mileage did not have to dramatically decrease (at least initially). I continued running around 45-50 miles a week early on and gradually decreased over time (each of the subsequent posts will deal with a trimester of running  in which I will discuss how much I was running, what I experienced, how I felt).  In my final week of pregnancy, I was averaging between 20-25 miles/week (running 5x days/week).

Getting ready for 4m race @23 weeks pregnant

– Right off the bat, the biggest change I had to make was the intensity of my runs. Monitoring a pregnant woman’s heart rate is not a practical method to measure the intensity – pregnancy naturally raises your resting heart rate. Instead, I kept all my runs at a pace where I could comfortably hold a conversation.  Anything harder than that was too fast and could cause a decrease of oxygen and other nutrients to my baby. I continued to do mile repeats, tempo runs, and other interval workouts – but the fast portion of each was significantly slower.


– I was still going to compete in a couple of races I had scheduled – but was not going to train to PR or follow a training schedule.  


– I deferred my guaranteed entry for the NYC Marathon until the following year (I would have been 30 weeks pregnant at race-time). The longest race I was comfortable participating in while I was pregnant was a half-marathon.  Based on my comfort-level and my opinion on the subject, I felt that anything longer than that would be foolish. (However, this is all based on what YOU are comfortable with). 

Running the Staten Island Half Marathon @ 28 weeks pregnant

– I promised myself (and my unborn child) that I would listen to my body more than I had ever before.  I didn’t follow a training plan or have a certain mileage I wanted to run each week.  Each run was based on how I felt.  There were days when I woke up not feeling 100% – and so I didn’t run those days.  Or days when I would be a couple of miles in to a run and just not feel right – so I would immediately stop and walk.  This was not the time to set records in pace, mileage, or toughness.  This was a time to stay fit, healthy, happy – but most importantly, to have a healthy baby.


I was often given strange looks in the later months when I was running – as though I were crazy or doing something that could hurt my unborn child (SO UNTRUE!). And I was constantly asked the same question: Why? Why do you need to keep running? 


THERE ARE SO MANY REASONS WHY. (I plan to dedicate an entire entry to this at some point). These are just a few:


– I’ve run my whole life. I couldn’t imagine going even a week without lacing up my sneakers and being outside. I enjoy – and look forward to – the daily exercise, sweat, endorphin-high, and time alone. 

Loving pregnancy @ 30 weeks pregnant

– At a time when my body was changing and I was constantly stressing and worrying about becoming a parent and all that entails, I needed something that was a constant – something that made me happy, cleared my mind, and caused me to relax. 


– I wanted to have as much energy as possible.  Sounds like an oxymoron. Especially since you often hear pregnant women complain about how tired and sluggish they feel. But, studies have shown that daily exercise while pregnant strengthens your cardiovascular system, so you actually don’t tire as easily. 


– The better shape I kept myself in, the stronger I would be for labor and delivery. It is believed that staying fit while pregnant helps decrease labor and delivery time. 


– I wanted to prevent excessive weight gain during the 9 month journey.  I knew I would gain upwards of 25 pounds.  But, I wanted to ensure that the weight gain was not from me lack of activity and poor eating habits. But instead from my growing baby, increased blood volume, and other necessary changes my body was making to prepare for the miracle of childbirth.


– I was anxious to start running postpartum – and knew that if I took excessive months off, it would be SO much harder to get back to the running shape I was in.


– “Exercise can improve the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to your baby, improve stamina, and are associted with positive birth outcomes” according to Ann Cowlin, author of Women’s Fitness Program Development.


Up next…Running Through Pregnancy – Part 2 – The 1st Trimester

Why don’t friends with kids have time?

12 Nov
When my 10 month old son was born, I didn’t talk on the phone (except brief conversations with my husband, mom, or sisters), browse the internet (Facebook), or watch TV when he was awake.  I wanted all of my time and attention to be devoted to him.  I left phone calls, tv shows, and chores for when he was napping or at the end of the day when he was asleep for the night.  I assumed the lack of personal time was temporary and kept telling myself that I would have more time when he got older and was more independent. 
Here I am, 10 months later…with even LESS free time and LESS opportunity to chat or email with friends and family.  While I couldn’t be happier with my son and our days together, I sometimes feel that I am SO separated from the outside world and know that I am extremely difficult to get a hold of these days. 
So when my girlfriend, Leah, sent me this article, I couldn’t help but smile.  It’s a relief to hear that other moms have the same issues I do.  It makes me feel better knowing that I’m not the only one who sometimes just wants an hour of “quiet” when my son naps! 

Hope all the moms (and dads) out there enjoy this article as much as I did!!

Petunia Picklebottom Boxy Backpack Review and Giveaway!

2 Nov
CONTEST CLOSED!!!

I was turned onto Petunia Picklebottom (PPB) by my cousin who swore that all of my diaper bag problems would be solved if I tried a PPB Boxy Backpack.  At the time I was using a designer diaper bag that looked great – but had NO functionality.  It was impossible to get things from the bottom of the bag, there was NEVER enough room, and I could no longer carry the bag and my son at the same time (it kept falling off my shoulder).  After an afternoon trip out with my son when I  had to empty the entire bag just to find the triple paste container, I went to PPB’s website and ordered a Boxy Backpack.

It was the best decision I could have made.

– I have no problem when it’s time to change him – the front compartment makes finding diaper products a cinch
– the 2 pockets on the outside are perfect for his sippy cup and my bottle of water
– the main compartment is HUGE – and has a flap that velcros to keep everything safe and secure when I am tossing it into the car
– my favorite part of the bag are the shoulder straps.  For a mom that is on-the-go, likes to stay active, and has a son that moves a lot while he’s in my arms, having both hands free is HEAVEN!

Other features:
Hands-free backpack or long messenger strap 
Built-in changing station with detachable changing pad 
2 large diaper/wipes pockets 
4 bottle pockets 
2 organizational pockets 
Small pacifier pocket 
Detachable dirty diaper pouch 
“No more digging” key clip 
Water-resistant liner 
PPB monogrammed wipes case 
Dimensions: 13 X 13.5 X 5.5 in.

WIN IT!!
One nycrunningmama reader will win the Boxy Backpack in the pattern of your choice.  A $169-175 value!!  Visit Petunia Pickle Bottom and let me know what pattern is your favorite in a comment below.  Note: PPB can only ship in the US.  Contest ends Wednesday, November 9th, 2011 at 11:59pm EST.

By entering your name and comment below you are agreeing to the Official Rules” of the sweepstakes.

Official Rules: CONTEST CLOSED!!
  • “NO PURCHASE NECESSARY”
  • Must be 18 years of age or older
  • Must be a U.S. resident
  • Giveaway will run from Nov 3, 2011 until Nov 9, 2011.  You must enter by 11:59pm EST on Nov 9, 2011
  • Winner will be chosen Nov 10, 2011
  • Entry procedures – Comment on the form below with which Boxy Backpack pattern is your favorite. Additional entries:
    • Subscribe to  nycrunningmama and  tell me with a comment
    • Additional entry – follow me on twitter (nycrunningmama) and tweet me and tell  me with a comment!
    • Additional entry – follow PPB on twitter and tell me with a comment
  • Winner will receive a Petunia Picklebottom Boxy Backpack (valued between $169-175)  – pattern of their choice http://www.petuniapicklebottom.com/collections/original/boxybackpacks/ 
  • The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning
  • If duplicate entries are received, each duplicate entry will be deleted
  • If there are technical difficulties, the contest will be void and will restart the following week (more information will be posted if this happens)
  • Winner will be chosen randomly on Nov 10, 2011.  The winner will be contacted via email and has 4x days to respond and claim their prize.  If the winner does not receive an email within 4x days please contact me directly!
  • Entrants must submit their name and email address when making a comment in order to contact the winner
  • The winner’s name will be made public to viewers of the blog
  • If winner does not claim the prize, a second name will be chosen at random.  
  • Sponsored by Michele Gonzalez – http://nycrunningmama.blogspot.com/
  • Legal venue – NY state
  • VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW

Learning to love my flexible training plan

28 Sep


Up until a year ago, running was the most important part of my day.  If I were able to complete the run that my self-imposed training plan had scheduled for me, then the day was great – I was happy, cheerful, and relaxed.  If I happened to wake up late, hit snooze too many times, or just not have the time or energy to head out the door for a run, then anyone who spent time around me, knew to steer clear!  I would be irritable, impatient, and often times, a complete (insert expletive) to everyone, including (and especially) my family.


Fast forward to today.  


The NYC Marathon is only 6 weeks away – my longest runs to date are a 20, 18, and a few 16 milers (none with impressive or satisfying times).  I haven’t gone on a long run in 3 weeks.  My weekly mileage is about 20% less then what I wanted it to be.  Yet, despite all of that, I couldn’t be happier.  
I was blessed with a happy and healthy baby boy 8 1/2 months ago and quickly learned that following my training plan (or even getting out the door to run) is no longer what makes my day.  Most mornings I am able to head out the door for my run before my husband, Paul, leaves for work – however, teething, bad nights of sleep, and Paul’s work trips are the curveballs that prevent me from religiously following the training plan.  The amount of satisfaction I get from a great run – while still incredibly satisfying! – pales in comparison to having my son smile at me!!



So while I am already getting butterflies that the marathon is rapidly approaching and I’m most certainly not as prepared as I would have liked to be, for the first time in my life I am okay with not arriving to the starting line at my best because I know what awaits me at the finish line – my son!