C-Section to SeaWheeze: My road to my first half-marathon

Sorry another long post! I figure by starting this blog I should start with long posts so you can get a feel for what I’ve been up to & how I tend to look at life.

My best advice to anyone who is wanting to recover from a C-section and get back into an active lifestyle is to TAKE IT SLOOOOOW.

I had decided prior to my C-section I wanted to run a half marathon one year after having my daughter. Well, perfectly timed the Lululemon Seawheeze half marathon would be nearly one year exactly from my C-Section. So in January, I waited online and hoped for one of the 10 000 spots up for grabs! This event sold out in about 15 minutes, but luckily my cousin and I both got our registration. I have never been a serious runner, I actually questioned the sanity of those who regularly ran marathons. As I (slowly) trained for the run, I really enjoyed the time I took for myself getting back into shape. Running was quiet. There was no pressure to clean, cook and keep people from crying on a rotating basis.

After doing very little the first 8 weeks after my C-section – walking to the mailbox was a big accomplishment – I decided it was time to start re-teaching my body how to get back into shape. I was in decent shape before being pregnant and I was able to do pilates up until 7 months pregnant. Once your belly gets so big the only thing thats really comfortable is child’s pose, and who wants to do that for an hour?

I knew I would not enjoy pilates at 8 weeks post-op. My body could not bend and stretch and move like I was used to it prior to pregnancy. So I started with warm yoga at 8 weeks. This is the best thing anyone recovering from any type of surgery can do. The first class was extremely frustrating, my range of motion was terrible, my balance was off and overall I had a pretty rough time with the poses and holding them. But it was also extremely relaxing to have an hour to myself, in a warm room re-connecting with my body.

Every week I would learn what had healed and what had not. Anyone who has had a C-section will tell you… below the belly button there is not much toning/training you can do. I am over a year out from my section and I still have numbness and am unable to strengthen that part of my body.

I am lucky to live near a gorgeous 5 km trail, so along with yoga I started walking that with the stroller & my chocolate lab in tow.  At around the 12 week mark I was able to lightly jog some of the trail and every week in yoga my range of motion and my strength were improving. I started going to hot yoga to challenge myself a bit more and around the 15 week mark I started with pilates. I would try and get to classes twice a week and go for a walk twice a week as well.

Making time for yoga/pilates is tough when you’re a new mom. The ‘mom guilt’ is overwhelming and especially if you’re at work all day. Weekend classes worked best for me or ones that were on my day off. I loved walking/jogging because I could take her with me and the fresh air was great for both of us.

… And then came the winter from hell…..

Any training for my half marathon (which was still about 9 months away) went to crap. It was -30 celcius, there was a ton of snow and basically it was miserable any time we wanted to leave the house. However, I discovered the BEST time for hot yoga is during the winter. So I at least made sure I kept up with that. Once February rolled around and we had a lot less -30 days, I started cross country skiing again. Something I haven’t done in over 10 years. It took a few runs, but I got back into it and enjoyed going out for 30 mins to an hour a couple times a week. Once spring came I was shocked at how conditioned my legs were to start training for the half marathon.

Personally, I cannot stand gyms or treadmills. So those were not options to help with winter training.

When I began to run again, I would run based on time, not kilometers. I found if I was watching my kilometers I would get bored pretty quickly. So I would start going for half an hour runs, then an hour, then an hour and a half and the longest runs I did before the half marathon were 2 hours. Lots of time to think about how crazy this was and how I would rather be at home eating french toast with my daughter.

I chose to do the Lululemon Seawheeze Half Marathon in Vancouver, B.C. At the very least I would get a summer vacation out of the whole thing. They have a fantastic training app that I would love to say I followed to a tee, however taking care of my family, working, owning the business (which were in the middle of a huge renovation/expansion) , and trying not to go crazy made it pretty tough to train. I would make a point of running at least twice a week and doing pilates or yoga once a week. This worked well with my schedule and minimized my dreaded mom guilt.

August 23, 2014 rolled around pretty quickly. Myself and 10 000 other Lululemon clad runners rant the 21.1 km through beautiful Vancouver. My goal was 2:30, I ended up finishing at 2:13.25!! It was incredibly, hard but also really satisfying. Plus my husband, daughter, mom & aunt were all there to cheer me on.

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Later that day we were able to enjoy an amazing yoga class in Stanley Park led by Blissology’s Eoin Finn

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I can honestly say I’m glad I did the half marathon – prior to that the longest I had ever run was 5K – however, I’m very happy sticking to 5K & 10K from here on out. I found after 15K my knees really started to hurt, not just during the half but also during training as well. I have loads of respect for all those moms who run half & full marathons on a regular basis. You’re my heros.

Since doing my half marathon I did one more 5k.. in Traverse City, Michigan through the Ciccone Vineyard. THAT was a tough, uphill, muddy race. But well worth it in the end when we were able to go on a wine tour for harvest weekend 🙂 I have done a few runs around home since and I do still enjoy it. However I’m someone who needs a goal to work towards, so once I find a new race/event that sounds more exciting than it probably is… I’ll start running a bit more. maybe.

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Pregnancy : Preparing for & Recovering from a C-Section

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For anyone needing a C-Section, I hope this helps prepare you for your surgery and the recovery after. Please feel free to leave comments with your experience or tips with what helped you through the surgery!

I count myself extremely lucky to have had a healthy, relatively comfortable full 9 months of pregnancy with my little girl. I was feeling great, sleeping as well as can be expected and worked right up to my due date. My entire pregnancy I tried to prepare myself for having a natural birth or needing a C-section. I was surprised that I found myself leaning towards wanting a natural birth, especially with all the horror stories out there.

Well, my little sweet pea decided she needed to be as close to my heart as possible and as such, ended up in a footling breech position. So at 38 weeks my OB scheduled me for a C-section 1 day before my due date. I was overwhelmed and surprised by the amount of disappointment. The safety of the myself and the baby was priority #1 but I had such an awful feeling that I had somehow failed at being pregnant, like starting something and not being able to finish it ‘properly.’ For my own personal reasons I refused having an ECV (external cephalic version). I did my research and felt that if my daughter had felt that there was enough room she would have flipped and engaged. She had NEVER engaged in my pelvic region during my pregnancy. I suggest every woman do the research and ask the questions if your baby is breach and an ECV is brought up.

I had two weeks to mentally prepare for the surgery and for the arrival of our new family member. I spent those two weeks thinking about anything else. The night before the surgery was surreal. I felt like I was getting ready to go on vacation. I had a nice long bath, painted my toenails, put on a face mask, groomed my eyebrows and dried & straightened my hair. Definitely a drastically different story than many other woman who go into labour the night before having their children (not that I’m complaining).

The best piece of advice I have ever received in regards to having a baby is “Leave your pride at the hospital doors and pick up what is left on your way out.” Anyone who is pregnant, has been pregnant or has experience with pregnancy knows the horrors that can go on in a delivery room.

The morning of the surgery my husband and I drove to the hospital, Bruce Springsteen’s “Lucky Day” was playing on the radio and managed to calm my nerves a bit. That is now officially one of my favourite songs. The nurses prepped me with my IV, and after the third attempt and me nearly in tears she got the darn line in. I was just trying to think that this would be the most pain I would feel all day so I should probably suck up the tears. I walked into the OR where I was given a spinal (didn’t hurt a bit, nor did the anaesthetic I was given prior), laid back and attempted to go to my ‘happy place’ while I was getting cut open. The surgery started at around 8:10 AM and I was a mother at 8:31 AM on that August morning. It was amazing seeing her for the first time, she was perfect.

It took about a half hour to stitch me back up and send me to recovery. As soon as I was wheeled into the recovery room I had a notion to start drinking as much water as possible to try and get the meds out of my system. Well, I’m not entirely sure why the nurse agreed with me, but 4 dixie cups of water later and suddenly I felt very nauseous. The water came right back up minutes later and that was when I realized it would take a bit more than just H2O to get me feeling better.

There’s no sugar coating a recovery from a C-section. It sucks. It hurts. You are expected to be a mother and not a person recovering from major surgery. Thank God for my husband and my family during this time. I was unable to change any of the first diapers, I could not even walk to go to the bathroom until that night and every movement hurts. The hospital missed the doctor’s notes on giving me morphine so I was simply on an anti-inflammatory. This was my first time giving birth so I had no clue what to expect from the hospital or doctor as far as pain management went and I really wish I would have talked to my doctor prior to having the C-section.

I was sent home after two nights in the hospital which, quite frankly, were the worst two nights of my entire life. Trying to recover, trying to breastfeed, trying to sleep and failing at all three of those things was hard mentally and physically. I was so happy to be back in my own bed and start figuring out our new life from the comfort of home. I did not take any morphine when I left the hospital, I figured the worst part of the pain was over and I would manage without it. I only realized I was supposed to have pain killers in the hospital when my OB sent me home with a script for them.

I followed my OB’s recovery orders pretty strictly, no lifting, no stairs, no driving (for the first 4 weeks), no over exertion. The surgery pretty much took all the energy out of me so I couldn’t even imagine doing anything but getting out of bed to go to the couch and back again. Breast-feeding was extremely hard for me, it took us nearly 8 weeks before she was fully 100% breast-fed. I was pumping and we were supplementing with formula while we all tried to learn the best way to latch and feed and attempt to get some sleep in the middle of it all. I found that eating regularly was nearly impossible for the first two weeks of recovery. Liptons chicken noodle soup and ‘green drink (as many green veggies as my husband can fit in a blender)’ were all I could really  handle.

In retrospect, even though I was frustrated with not being able to be my regular, go-getter, do everything self, the best thing I did was take my time with recovery. Since she was my first child, I couldn’t imagine how other moms recover from a C-section while having to chase around another little one. Without a close group of family & friends I can only imagine it to be more difficult and lonely and definitely a higher risk of post-partem depression.

I went back to work 3 days a week only 6 weeks after my C-section. Being self-employed and a business owner the bills need to be paid whether I’m working or not. So for my husband and I we had to get back to work to keep up with the bills. 14 months later we have still made it work so I am 3-4 days a week. I love the extra time during the week I get with my daughter.

Here in Canada if you are employed you are eligible for a year maternity leave, I couldn’t imagine the heartache of being home for an entire year and then having to go back full time. Just as I’m sure those with a year off couldn’t imagine having to go back after just 6 weeks off. To my American friends who are only entitled to 6-8 weeks off maternity leave before being expected to return to work full time, my hats off to you.

In my humble opinion, here’s the greatest life lesson of being a mom:

You do what you gotta do. (and screw those who think they have a right to judge)

My next post will be all about how I managed to train for a half-marathon nearly a year after my C-Section.

Hello Internet.

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Well, it’s taken me well over a year to muster up the courage to start this blog. I am a mom to a beautiful, energetic 14 month old girl, I have been married for 3 years to a wonderful husband, I’ve owned my own professional business for nearly 4 years now and I like pretty things.

I find the internet is a wealth of knowledge and google will tell you anything you want to know, not necessarily what you NEED to know. I have also come to realize that while there a few “working mom” blogs out there, none really helped me with day to day tasks of juggling it all. Or, perhaps I’m just so damn swamped with life I haven’t had time to comb through the internet and find what I’m looking for.

So , I promise a few things to whoever decides to stumble across this site and take a read:

1) To be honest and blunt about how rewarding and hard it is to be a mom, a wife, a professional, a cook, a wine connoisseur (really, if it’s red – it’s good enough for me), a traveller and an all around decent human being

2) To provide tips that have helped me in attempting to perfect all the above tasks.

3) My daughter is my sunshine, and as such there will probably be a lot of posts regarding children, children’s apparel, children’s toys, children’s books… etc.

4) I promise not to post any “open letters” to anyone. ever.