Saturday, October 4, 2014

The (very long) birth story of Summer Eliza

I wrote this a few weeks ago, figured I should post it!

Maybe it's hormones, I don't know... but I am just so thankful for this beautiful life and family God has given me. I am so crazy blessed, it's insane. Actually, it's not hormones, it's the real deal. Because my life is always wonderful and I have everything I want, desire, and need.
Beware: this is going to be a super long post. I don't usually read birth stories because really, I don't  care to be involved in the whole giving birth thing unless I have to. Which has been twice now. I'm writing this out just to remember, and then figured I'd make it a blog post because a) I know a lot of my friends would be interested to read it and b) because I want to be another testimony that preparing yourself mentally for birth IS a huge deal!
I did not write out CJ's birth story because it really did scar me mentally. I could not talk about it without feeling physically scared, however melodramatic that sounds, for about a year. It made me sad right away whenever I thought about it, because it was truly the most horrific experience of my life (except for of course whenever he was out and in my arms, that was fabulous).  I can recall perfectly that dark place I was in my mind for the last 6 hours or so, and the insanity I felt the last 2 hours when I was trying to push him out and he just would not come. I had my head buried in Clint's lap and was rubbing my head back and forth (let's just say I had quite the hairdo after...) and he was leaning over me telling me he loved me and just in so much shock himself with tears running down his face. It was horrible! I plan to never go back to that mental/emotional place ever again. The pain was so unfathomable, I don't know how a human body can tolerate that, but I'm still alive somehow.
Fast forward 2 years and I am pregnant with our second baby. We absolutely did not plan on CJ, he just kind of happened. :) But this time, we did not want them to be too far apart or too close together, so we "let things happen", and lo and behold, a baby was due in August.
It sounds bad, but I was "more" excited about this baby than CJ. With CJ, we had gotten married only months before and were planning on waiting 2 years on kids. He was quite the shock, but I would never return him, he's my little friend. I cannot imagine if we had missed out on him! God knows what he's doing even if it was not in my original plans.
Anyway, the pregnancy was different than CJ, but of course all was smooth. My belly was pretty small and shaped kind of funny, measuring about 7 weeks behind. I cannot tell you how often people would say "are you sure everything is alright", "are you sure your due date is correct", and worst of all "I KNOW your due date is incorrect! That baby isn't coming till October". Ugh. There are many, many reasons why this last one bothered me, the main one being that I knew my due date was correct, and that due dates are never acurrate anyway. There's a two week 'allowance' you give a due date. It's not like the baby is on a timer. And who are you to say my due date is not correct? Anyway, I can get very carried away on this one so I'll stop.
Everyone referred to my belly as "CJ's sister", and we all kind of assumed it was a girl given the small size and very different way I was carrying. Clint and I didn't have a preference about the gender. Two little boys together is always a good thing (or is it? ha). But a little girl would be fun because we didn't have one.
Because of our bad experience with CJ's birth, I did a serious amount of reading and research this time, specifically Hypnobirthing. My friend used this method with her fourth baby, and her and her husband swore by it. The only reason I gave it any real consideration was because I knew her to be an extreme realist and she was definitely not in the "birth is beautiful" gang. She agreed with me that birth was quite hellacious, and that was that. But after her fourth was born, she practically begged me to buy the book. So I did.
I am a horrible procrastinator and so I did not study the book and practice everyday, but I did read it and do my best to believe it, and practiced the visualization and deep breathing. I even put myself to sleep once doing the visualization practice. I read a lot of natural birth stories where the mother was positive and peaceful her whole labor (which are usually the new-age types), and did my best to completely revolutionize my outlook and to absolutely not feel any fear about my impending doom. I had to choose to not be scared out of my mind, however hard that was. I did not know if it would work but I knew it did not hurt to try. I mainly did this by just not thinking about CJ's birth, but rather focusing on the flowery positive affirmation stuff that I would usually roll my eyes at.  We bought a blow up pool on Amazon to use, and I reasurred myself daily that this would be better being a second baby, and that I was so much more prepared. I was.
My due date rolled around and the baby was not here. CJ was three whole weeks late was I was feeling a little down that the baby would sit in there forever, meaning I had to feel huge for extra time in the humid summer, and I knew a few people would say "I told you so". Immature, I know, but that would've been annoying.
I had a ton of deep, borderline painful Braxton Hicks the two weeks leading up to her birth. I would use these to try to relax completely and just focus.
Clint had bought a truck from a friend up in Ohio. He had been looking for a good deal on a diesel because he needed a more powerful truck to haul heavier loads, etc, and plus he just wanted an upgrade. He had been delaying picking it up for about a week because it would simply just be too far for him to leave with us having a baby any time. The guy wanted him to come get it but it would just have been not the smartest move to go on a 14+ hour trip. Also, my parents were coming in on the 31st and staying 8 days, so I really wanted the baby to be born so they could actually see it, since that is why they were flying all the way across the country. The baby just needed to come!
Fast forward to Tuesday August 26th and all this was weighing on my mind and I just prayed and prayed all day whenever I thought about it, that God would just send the baby that night so we could solve these little issues. I was also starting to feel very reclusive and not wanting to go anywhere because I just felt so big and easily worn out, and my ankles were swelling due to the thick, gross weather. I just didn't feel my greatest and was SO done with being pregnant (I never want to be pregnant in the summer again!).
I woke up in the middle of the night that night for my 30th pee trip thinking, 'well scratch that idea! The baby isn't coming tonight, oh well, it has to be born sometime'. But around 4:30 am I woke up with stomach pains that did not feel like contractions, but rather round ligament pain. But they were contraction-like in that they lasted about 40 seconds, were too painful to sleep through. I really didn't think it was labor because it just did not feel like a contraction. Clint was getting up at 6:15 to leave for work and I knew I had to know by then if this was it.
At 6:15 his alarm went off and he woke up. I told him I might be in labor, and he said he needed to know by 6:45, because his plans had changed and he could sleep a little longer. So I got up and started cleaning up the house, hoping I would know. They were getting more painful to where I would pause while they took their toll, but they were still not that period-cramping I had the first time.
At 6:45 I went back in bed and said I was pretty sure this was it, because it was just too consistent and too painful to not be it. He had to know for sure though, because he had a guy bringing materials out to the job (which was an hour away), and that guy needed to know if Clint would actually be there. I was scared to say YES STAY because what if was just pre-labor and it stopped? Then I would have totally ruined a lot of people's day. Clint works for himself so he can leave whenever he wants, so he was delaying leaving by sending his guys to get some other materials from our local metal company. I finally told him I was for sure in labor, and to just stay home. He wasn't quite sure because I wasn't screaming yet (haha). But at that point they were painful enough that I had to stop and be quiet to get through them.
I got up again and began getting stuff out (electric kettle, pots, bowls, towels). I texted my mother in law who would be bringing my midwife (who is her mother in law!). CJ woke up about 9 o'clock and we told him the baby would come today. He did his typical "OH!". It was weird because I felt pretty happy and positive in between all the contractions, which was polar-opposite of my first experience. When one would come, I would go in our closet and put my hands on the rod and kind of lean out while it happened. It seemed to help the pain. CJ started talking to me during one and touching me, hugging me, asking me why I was sad. It was extremely distracting to have him talking to me and I could not relax my body through them while he was there.
So Clint drove him over to his parents house (about 15 minutes away). I knew I would be just fine alone at this point. I got in the shower after he left and sang to myself through them (which I know sounds so silly, but it helped). The hot water felt amazing on my pained belly and it really helped me cope. I didn't want to get out but all the heat was making me feel dizzy.
Clint got home and kept asking me if I was totally sure I was in labor. He was extremely skeptical because I wasn't freaking out or moaning through contractions or even laying down. I managed to make him a plate of chicken quesadillas in between contractions (so weird thinking about it now!). I would go run into the closet whenever I felt one coming on. After I got him his food I laid on the couch with him and drifted in and out of sleep in between contractions (again something that did NOT happen the other time). I got about an 8 minute break between them, and I was feeling pretty happy about that until I remembered that long breaks meant a significantly higher level of pain. Oh great. It was close to 11 at that time and the contractions were pretty awful. I would relax through most of them and then once they reached the peak I SO badly wanted to yell out or rip something up or bite something, but I forced myself to keep my hands and feet and face relaxed. It was ridiculsouly difficult to do this, but it helped me stay in a normal mental place. Clint did not even know I was having contractions because I was so quiet. Every once in awhile he would say "do you still think the baby is coming today? It just really doesn't seem like it". I would tell him UM YES, I'm just not freaking out.
Around 11:30 I asked him if he would go blow up the pool. Our actual living space is on the second level of our house, and the bottom part has a bunch of rooms and a bathroom, but it's unfinished with a concrete floor. Clint blew up the pool and came back up and said he really did not think it was going to work to bring it upstairs, because how would we drain it. So he left it downstairs and filled it up while I stayed laying on my side on the couch.
While he was gone, the contractions were getting so wicked I started to cry (which is something I had been fighting for hours). The baby would literally move around during the contractions, which was a whole new level of awful. It felt like she would go down and then push herself up. So eventually I thought maybe I needed to stand up so she could just drop down. I stood up and boy did she drop down! I started to feel that things were going to be happening soon (don't want to be too graphic here!). I could hear Clint pouring buckets of water into the pool downstaris and I called to him and said could he please call his mom because I thought the baby was coming very, very soon. He went outside and called and then came back up the stairs and hugged me for a little while. I was getting emotional at that point because the pain was increasing rapidly. He went behind him me and wrapped his arms around me while we went down the stairs. He helped me into the pool and it felt so cold, it took me a minute to get in. He started boiling water and dumping it around me. He had used up all the hot water trying to fill up the pool, so he had to boil it in increments. In between it boiling he would come and stroke my face and my hair,  put water on my face and put his hands on my belly (which felt amazing because his hands were so warm). I was shaking violently at that point, not due to the cold water but to going into transition. I couldn't control the shaking and the pain was getting so bad in my back I started to cry a little and moan because I got that horrible feeling of needing to escape, but being unable to. He kept pouring hot water in when it was boiled. He was such an angel, helping me relax and kissing my forhead, making sure I was comfortable, just being his amazing self. At that point I would have gone nuts had he been gone. He is such an amazing man, so understanding and compassionate. His compassion is a trait that originally attracted me because it was just so uncommon in a young guy, and he still has it in a big dose. He was putting towels behind my neck and head and telling me to try to relax. I was impressed with how wonderful he was during CJ's birth, given the fact that I did not prepare him for it AT ALL. And this time, I only mentioned once my plan and that the way he could really help me was to keep me calm. Seriously... the guy is a natural. He went above and beyond. I am once again SO impressed with him.

He left again to fill up another bucket, as the water heater had refilled. He would leave and it felt almost instant like the pain got just so much worse. It was amazing though to go through the hardest contraction stage at the end in the water. I could move myself around with not much effort, unlike with CJ when I could not move at all. It helped the pain significantly, at least in my mind.
I started to feel some (ahem) pressure, and was hoping that Rachel would bring the midwife soon so Clint did not have to deliver the baby. It seemed like it was taking forever for them to get there.  I was calling Clint and telling him that I was going to need to push this thing out soon and he was pretty surprised. I kept thinking... why the heck am I here again? Why am I not at a hospital chilling out with the pain juice? Why am I pregnant again...? Why?! This is so STUPID.
A few minutes later Clint said they were here. Rachel and Mary came in and I never opened my eyes to look at them. Right away Rachel started rubbing my arms and my hair and telling me what a good job I was doing, and Mary was rubbing my legs and telling me to keep it up. I never looked at them until the baby was born because right then it seemed the pain had jumped up a few notches right as they came in. I lost it emotionally and starting crying and moaning and just freaking out, and told them the head was right there and the baby was coming now. They started running around in a flurry. Clint was gone in the bathroom again filling up a bucket when things started really happening. I started freaking out that he wasn't there and began calling him and calling him and sticking out my hand where he was supposed to be. I felt him grab it and then he put his face up against mine and I started pushing the baby out. It lasted only a few minutes and I felt re-shocked about how horrific the pain was. It was just sick! I started screaming and surprised myself with how loud I could scream (ha!). I looked at Clint and then shut my eyes again. He was gripping my arm and I don't know what else because my mind just kind of left for awhile. After some time (I'll spare you the pushing details) the baby slipped out and again, my body was just in shock with the relief. It's really the wildest feeling to be at such a high level of pain and then within half a second, it's just gone.
Clint went "OH MY WORD!!" and we were both smiling at each other and kissing and the baby cried for a couple of seconds; Rachel had the baby laying on it's side on a towel on the side of the pool. I saw right away it was a girl and Clint and I sort of whispered at each other that it was (I don't know why we were all quiet about it). I started shaking again and I was crying but there were no tears. I couldn't stop for some reason and I felt bad because I was truly very happy, and did not want him to feel like I was still upset or something. Clint was smiling and laughing and I felt just really weird, like I couldn't stop shaking and doing this weird crying thing, even though I was just so happy and relieved. I think my body was just in shock from the relief of the pain, and then the coldish water.
Mary and Rachel were drying off the baby and doing who knows what else (I didn't really pay attention). They said, "should we see what this baby is?" and Clint and I laughed and said it was a girl. They finally gave her to me wrapped up in a towel and we both said right away that she looked so much like CJ did. We were just amazed at how perfect she was. Seriously, she did not look like she had just been born. Everything was smooth and beautiful on her little face and her teeny little  head was perfectly round. I guess from being born in the water, she was very clean. We sat there for about 15 minutes before getting out. Mary had clamped the cord and then given Clint those funky little scissors to cut it. Once again it was a little weird seeing him cut it because it seemed like it should hurt the baby, although of course it doesn't. I'll stop there, but basically (among other things) the rest involved Clint carrying me up the stairs, laying me on the bed, and myself getting majorly fussed over (and me apologizing to him that I was heavier than usual... haha!). They weighed her and measured her and I took pictures from my perch. :) We named her Summer Eliza. She was 7 lbs 12 oz  and has been just a beautiful bundle of sweetness ever since.
Although at this point I still do not want to give birth ever again for the rest of my life, it was SO much less horrible than CJ's birth. I know that second babies and beyond are always supposed to be "easier" (HA), but I know that what kept me calm, in control, and avoiding another freak-out screaming saga was the relaxation practices I did. To anyone who thinks "it's going to hurt anyways"... it is. But practicing relaxation through pain, however silly it feels or seems, is totally worth it to keep you in a better mental and emotional place and not leave you with lasting hateful feelings toward the whole experience. Also to spare your husband of having to feel so helpless and sorry for you for hours and hours upon end. ;) It's hard on the guys when the woman they love is travailing for so long. And although I was miserable, staying calm I know spared him for growing some gray hairs, for which I am thankful. I did not have to drag him down to that depressing dark place with me for the whole 8 hours.

And now for a few photos. Because... what's a blog post without photos? I'm sure most of you have seen the photos on Facebook of right after she was born and that day. Those are on my in-law's camera so I don't have those. I just have what is on my phone. I need to get some professional photos done of Summer while she is little soon. I'm such a procrastinator.

First photo I took of her, about 2 hours after birth. 

Clint ran into town and brought this beauty back for me as a surprise. I imagine labor burns an ungodly amount of calories, so I ate it without any qualms. 

Summer's first night with us. 

My little ball of pink chub!

You know how they say that men holding babies get a lot of female attention? There's a reason folks... a good reason.

It is so precious how CJ's nurturing instincts have kicked in since her birth. He asks to old her, and immediately starts softly patting her belly, kissing her head, looking at her tenderly (like below), rubbing noses, and talking in a soft, high pitched, girly voice, saying "Summer 'wiza! Such a cute little gorl! So little!"

For some reason CJ desperately wanted to have a (clean) wipe on his head with his beanie on top, and then he tried to blow up this popped balloon for awhile. Summer was amazed, apparently. 

I thought CJ was little until Summer came... now he seems so massive. He is, I guess!

First stroller trip. CJ was very upset she was in his stroller. 

Thumpity thump goes my beating heart...

Hopefully I'll manage to get some higher quality photos soon. She is five weeks old now and her face has developed differently. She is so adorable, I can't help but laughing sometimes when I'm holding her because her cuteness just hits me hard.
 For those who are wondering about her name...
When CJ was a baby I heard the name Summer, and thought it  sounded adorable paired with CJ. I asked Clint if he liked it, and he didn't. So I forgot about it. We did not get an ultrasound while I was pregnant with him. So our girl name was Eliza, and a boy would be named after Clint (aka CJ).
While we were mulling over names for months and months while I was pregnant this time around, I suggested the name Summer. " I love that!" he said. Seriously? I thought he hated it. Turns out he doesn't. Over the many names we considered, we kept coming back to Summer (especially Clint). I felt pretty iffy about it just because I knew most people would not like it. It's kind of unusual, but not in a weird way. Paired with Eliza, it sounded so beautiful though... after she was born there was no question that was her name. I love it more and more everyday! Sometimes I call her Summer, sometimes Eliza, just because I just love both names.
Anyway...'till next time.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Future Plans

I have been so busy lately. Focusing on my Plexus business, whipping up the world's most natural makeup (yay!) and figuring out patent issues, cost, packaging, etc., keeping up my daily life of hanging out with, teaching, and caring for my little mini man and then my main Man (not the teaching part...;-), being a wife and homemaker, working out, being pregnant (that takes up some energy...), our social activities and more. 
I want to revamp this blog, give it a makeover, and dedicate some more time to it. So if you stumble across it one day and notice some weird changes, it's because I'm in the works of improving it's appearance. I'll be posting more photos and also adding in more health and fitness type content which I hope everyone enjoys.
Here's a little photo teaser of a cute little blonde boy who is very excited Mama let him have a marshmallow.

So, stay tuned! Talk about a boring post, I know. 


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Tips on running more than 2 miles with a toddler, and other such seemingly impossible feats.

I basically took off the entire winter from running. Besides random short treadmill runs during naptime and running during our three weeks in California, I hardly ran at all. It was just too darn cold this winter to even go alone ( I hate being cold). And I could definitely not take CJ out in the cold. When he was a litttle guy, I could cover in in blankets except for a hole for his nose, and he would be content and warm. Well, that no longer satisfies him, he must be eating or reading a book for his entire stay in the stroller. It's hard to eat with bulky gloves on, and he's pretty cold-intolerant like myself, so the running would have to wait. The last winter run I took him on I felt so guilty, because he was perfectly still with his bright purple hands (since he refused to wear gloves) sticking out to the side in total misery. I felt like a terrible mother! I flew home and defrosted him, babied him, and tended his every wish that day.

So this spring, I have been so excited to get out the door with him again. Talk about a shock though...he must have gained 15 pounds since the last time I ran with him. Try pushing a 30lb toddler up miles worth of hills in a 45lb + stroller carrying water, a phone, two baby books, snacks, a small gun, etc. OH HELP. Why can't my road be flat?? If you ever want to really feel the burn in your legs, do what I do. It is ROUGH. CJ has not been in the stroller for months, my first run with him in it was very interesting.
We get out onto the road, and about 20 ft into the run, he is all done with his popcorn and insists I take it from him.
Then he needs to wipe off his hands.
Then he'd like his water.
Then he'd like his popcorn again.
Never mind! He wants to get out.
So he stands up facing me and talking to me incessantly about the birds and demanding answers or recognition of whatever he says (as I am dying pushing his weight and not really feeling too chatty).
Then he squeals hello at the creepy neighbor guy that I always avoid and try to sneak past.
After being buckled (I decide to strap him down), the popcorn scene ensues again.

Needless to say, my 4 mile run turned into an out-and-back 2 miler, because my brain was going to pop open. CJ needed something every 15 seconds, so I had to stop every 15 seconds. He was definitely not used to this stroller thing, and it was very discouraging. How on earth would I get my runs in if he couldn't handle it?
But I went again anyway. And again and again. And I discovered that with each little stroller run, CJ grew more and more accustomed to it. Like muscle memory. And yes, although he needs some maintenance every seven or eight minutes, he knows now that it's not the end of the world to sit there for 30 minutes or so eating popcorn and fruit and drinking juice.
So now that I've gabbed on forever, here are some pointers I've figured out for running with a toddler successfully. If you are a serious runner, as in training for a race and timing your paces, intervals, and splits, I would not recommend stroller running. You need a konked out kid that weighs less than 10 pounds to get an "normal" seeming mile times.

What I've learned while running with an opinionated toddler:
(not in order, as usual)

1. Bring more than one snack. My go-to since he learned to love it has been popcorn with coconut oil, nutritional yeast and salt, which is one of CJ's all-time favorite foods. Now that his palate has expanded, he gets bored with this. So I bring other options...either sliced fruit, a granola bar, or actual granola that he has to pick up with his fingers, therefore being more time-consuming to eat. This keeps him interested.
2. Something to sip on! I used to just bring water, but now I've discovered that if he has a bottle of juice with a straw, he is entertained with that for several minutes.
3. His favorite book. CJ has one book he is always excited to read. It has about a hundred different photos of planes, trains, tractors, 4 wheelers, trucks, dirt bikes, etc. If he decides to be completely dissinterested in any kind of food, I hand him this and it *usually* does the trick.
4. Biggest tip of all! This should be number 1, but I don't feel like rearranging everything. I never feed CJ a meal or snack within an hour or two of when we got running. Might sound cruel. But if he has eaten too recently, he doesnt' care at all about his stroller snacks and is much more difficult to entertain for a few miles. When I say we're going to go running, he knows it means it's time to eat and he is excited to go.
5. An electronic device. If I had a tablet of some form, I would never go running without it. Whenever I want to run a little longer and CJ has no interest in the options before him, I give him my phone and let him watch old video clips of himself. He loves it. It's a last resort though, because I usually use my phone for music.
6. An open mind. Maybe this should be number 1. Hmmmm. If you are going to be running with your baby or toddler most of the time, don't ever, ever, ever expect to not be interrupted! A short 3 mile run will take you at least 10 or 15 minutes longer. It might get frustrating, but once you train your own mind (as you train their's), it's not so bad. The way I see it, is I am blessed to have a good running stroller, I'm getting a much harder workout having to push the weight of a large dog, my baby is breathing in fresh air, and... I'm doing what I love. I cannot tell you how many times I had to stop and nurse CJ on my first ventures out when he was just a teeny little thing. At times it can be frustrating... I just want to run x-amount of miles and be done! But it's not that way, and it's okay. Start off small, and once your kid gets used to it--and likes it-- go farther.

Of course the obvious solution is to get a babysitter. All of my sitters (who are all family) live close to twenty minutes away, so I prefer not to do the whole ordeal of driving there, running, socializing, driving home, and having a huge chunk of my day taken out. I did this quite a bit when he was an infant, but for day-to-day running, I just need to be able to walk out my door and go.
We'll see how it goes with two little humans to push in a few months. I'm not expecting good things, but hey... many have done it before me and many will after me. CJ has helped me rack up experience for the last 2 years, and maybe that will help. Maybe this next baby will be a quiet little mouse type so CJ can talk it's ear off. :)

Was he not just the sweetest little running buddy ever?!

Monday, June 2, 2014

My trick to chasing pregnancy-induced sciatic back pain away!

There's pregnancy back pain....
...and then there's pregnancy back pain.
Most pregnant women suffer from some sort of back pain due to the weight of the baby pulling at the spine, causing the mother to arch her back and thus throw her spine out of alignment and cause a lot of strain. 
Then there is sciatic back pain, and if you have ever dealt with this, you know it can take over your whole life. It's located very low on the back pretty much at the top of the butt (normally on one side) and feels like pinching, burning nerve pain or sometimes like bones rubbing together angrily. It can be miserable and has a complete mind of it's own, and not really massage-able. It will limit you hugely as it's not just a "sore" feeling, but an actual something-is-severely-wrong kind of pain that can knock you to the floor or make you cry.
While pregnant with CJ, I remember having limited amount of this pain. I remember laying outside on our concrete pad under the sun to tan, and without fail every time, this pain would haunt me when I tried to get up. I quickly learned not to lay on concrete (which seems pretty obvious). That was pretty much it.
This time around though, the sciatica has flared up so very badly, that it had handicapped me... a lot. Most mornings I would wake up feeling back to normal, but by the end of the day I could barely walk. Nothing helped at all... no amount of stretching, ab work, resting, walking, rubbing or moping around would help it whatsoever. If I sat on our couch I was pretty much glued to it unless I wanted to cause myself some major pain by attempting to get up. So I never sat down during the day for more than a minute until Clint came home and we were watching a movie or reading. Then it would take me 5 minutes to get up and go limping pathetically over to the bed. 
I was beginning to feel so extremely frustrated... this was no way to live. If I worked out, my back was on fire afterwards. If I didn't work out, my back was on fire afterwards. This sciatica limited me from doing a lot of things with my little boy and from feeling good at all. This is no way to live waddling around every day just tolerating the pains or being stopped in my tracks whenever it chose to get especially nasty. Welcoming my husband home from work with a big wince on my face wasn't too cool either. I didn't want to be stuck at the chiropractor all the time... I wanted the problem solved.
Then one day it just dawned on me. As I mentioned above, prenatal sciatic back pain is located so low on the back, it's pretty much at the top of the butt and will control your whole leg (thus severe pain while walking). It's joking referred to as the "pain in the butt back pain". It occurred to me that perhaps if the glute muscle was consistently fired up, activated, and being used all day, that it would support whatever terrorist activity is going on in there and ease the sciatic pain. They say ab work will help prevent pregnancy back pain, but I realized that the exact location of this specific back pain really had nothing to do with my abs. And besides, I tried that (a lot) already.
So, when I woke up in the morning the next day feeling back to normal, I immediately spent 20 minutes or so working out JUST the glute muscle... not even squats or lunges. I did hundreds of donkey kicks, glute bridges, and side leg lifts. When I got up and commenced my day, I made a conscious effort to always be keeping my heel to the floor with each stride so as to keep my glutes contracted. I went running and instead of just running "with my legs", and straigtened out my back leg (which flexes the glute muscle) with each stride. What can I say... it took a lot of subconscious flexing throughout the whole entire day. But my WORD!! I had NO pain the rest of the day and for the days afterward. One day I forgot to do my little butt routine (hehe...) and the pain returned with full force. I've learned my lesson now and was amazed that I found NO info on the internet about activating the glutes all day long to scare away sciatic pain.  Seems like there would be more info about how to ACTUALLY cure this by providing stronger support.
It all makes sense right? It makes sense because it works. I'm not a fitness nutcase or rock hard bodybuilder, but I work out regularly and would consider myself to be pretty strong. I wouldn't have thought my glutes were weak. BUT... by completely isolating the glute muscle in the morning and totally exhausting it, it stays activated and will provide support to eliminate sciatic back pain. During the day if I ever feel the pain threatening to come back, I'll do standing donkey kicks (basically a straight-leg back kick) 20 times or so and it instantly feels better. The glutes aren't just one big muscle that squats will do the trick for. It needs to activated at several different angles, and that is what I was missing.

Despite how much I'd just love to post photos and instructions on each exercises, I don't really have the time (or feel like it, ha!). If you don't know the exact form or how to do any of these, just type it into google or search it on YouTube, and you'll find thousands of other's willing to demonstrate for you. ;)
So here's a quick, simple, easy little routine that could change your pregnant life! Change up the reps to more or less. This is just a short version.

20 (each) Standing side leg lifts. (stand as normal, left one leg directly out to the side with glute muscle activated and lift parallel to the floor side a straight-legged side kick, drop back down).

40 (each) Kneeling Donkey Kicks 

30 Glute Bridges

20 (each) Lying side leg-lifts (Lie down on your side with head supported by hand, elbow on floor, top arm resting with hand on hip. Raise top leg as high as you can while activated the glute muscle, lower down to the floor).

Repeat 2x (or more)

I do a lot of variations of these very simple exercises. For the leg lifts, I'll often add a squat before kicking out to the side, or hold a heavy dumbell. For the donkey kicks, I wear ankle weights that tend to naturally force the butt muscle to contract. I also alternate between straight leg donkey kicks and bent leg. For the glute bridges, add a weight resting on your hips for resistance or alternate between lifting one let out in the air with each rep. A lot of times I will do the donkey kicks with either my hands of toes balancing on a stability ball which makes it more difficult. And of course there are so many other butt-specific moves (especially in Pilates and ballet-style workouts) that could be added to this. There are several more I do along with these (to keep from boredom) that I will perhaps post later.

Obviously, this isn't some ground breaking workout. It's just an example of what has changed my life the last few weeks to almost completely eliminate sciatic back pain during this pregnancy that was such a pain in the butt, it was depressing. My goal in posting this is to hopefully help any of the other preggos out there who are suffering from this! I tried constant squats, variations of squats, core workouts, and more. But the only thing that has made any ounce of difference is isolated glute exercises that don't really seem that hard. Even stretching was very painful. It worked for me and I think it could work for many other's. When you discover something that really affected your life, you naturally want to share. 
So to you other girls who have this special kind of pregnancy pain... work that booty!


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Life has returned.

Well, spring has sprung.
I wonder how many blogs out there have mentioned the beginning of spring? I'm guessing a serious amount. I hate to be all cheesy and cliche, but it's spring people, and it's awesome.
My life changes in the spring time since living in TN. Growing up, spring meant it was green for a month before the dryness of summer hit, but the temperature was not really different from winter (60's and 70's). There was no huge universal sigh of relief whenever spring came along. No escape from insufferable weather. Well here, it was in the single digits this winter, goshdarnit, so spring is really a huge deal.
I just hate being cold. I really do. I'm a total baby about it, I know. But I'm guessing it has something to do with having only been in the snow once in 17 years of life before moving to Tennessee and getting a severe weather and culture shock.
After three blissful years of marriage in this beautiful state, Winter and I are still on bad terms. I just don't get it. Why? Why does it have to be so cold?
That being said, I absolutely adore the spring and all of the promise it brings. The promise of all the adventures we have outside, promises of cookouts and long, humid nights of volleyball with creek dips in between games, lots of running, soaking up the sun, swimming and jumping off of bluffs into the river, boating, tubing, a happy little boy, frizzy hair, way too much produce, a bright green countryside, utter terror of coming across a snake... the list goes on. I love warm weather. And trust me people, you ain't been through no fun summer until you've summer'd in Cane Creek.
Aside from all the spring cleaning buzz and sudden dire need I discover within myself to paint something or completely rearrange my entire house, I love the warmer weather because my priorities change. It really does have this sense of refreshment and renewal to it. Spring is inspiring. I get all organized and am truly excited to (attempt to) be Super Woman. I know I'm not alone. For centuries, spring cleaning has been a common and even fun practice.
So, here's another cheesy little "I love" list. Because I know you've been just itching for me to write another one.
Things I'm Loving
-Hearing the birds every morning start to sing.
-Hearing a little teeny voice say "Mama, hear bird??!" while the cherub face looks anxiously out the window.
-Throwing open all the windows every morning and breathing in sweet smelling fresh air that...GASP!...isn't freezing cold.
-Having huge piles of weeds, leaves, and wildflowers brought ever so lovingly over to me by my little blonde boy.
-Long evenings with my Sweetheart spent reading, being sat on by a 30 pound child who is just completely star-struck with his Daddy, laughing at said child's antics, and talking nonstop.
-Iced Honduran coffee that I paid absolutely way too much for.
-Finding wasps flying around all over my house (just kidding).
-The freedom to wear flip-flops without looking like a complete nut-case.
-A sunburnt man coming home to me who isn't practically frostbitten.
-A baby bump that just got all official in the last few days.

What are the biggest life changes you have noticed this Spring? Mine are obviously pretty simple... but I love the simple. It's all those pleasant little things that add up in life and make it beautiful.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Hiya folks!

Boy oh boy has it been awhile! Yesterday we *finally* got hooked up to the internet at our house, so we've been enjoying that luxury for about 18 hours now (wink). This morning I woke up early with Clint to see him off, and I managed to get about 80% of my to-do list done already, and the child is still sleeping, so I'm feeling pretty good about that right now.
So I came to my blog.
My own poor little neglected blog that I gave up trying to maintain as my life became busier and busier.  For months now, I have wanted to pick it back up because I loved writing "on" it, and I've recently had a ton of people tell me I should. The stubborn bone that resides in my body is extremely large (i'ts my spine or something), so usually if a ton of people are pressuring me into something, I go against the flow there. I have no explanation for this, but apparently my husband has this too. This annoyed my sister to vast amounts in our teenage years, but her and our friends had a hard time convincing me to do something I didn't feel like doing (like going shopping that day, or something little like that). Stupid I know, but I was a lot worse in my younger years. Then I got married and that stubborn bone basically disintegrated, and I will only be resistant every once in awhile now.
Reading over the last post I ever posted, I couldn't help from cracking up. My life was so different then, but still just the same. Of course CJ wasn't a jabbering, strong-willed, busy little man then as he is now, and my life has more things going on in it. Oh, and that year I thought that 29 degrees was cold, but this year, we were in the negatives.
So as my little "honey, I'm home!" to this dear blog of mine, I will write out another "things I'm loving right now" in memory of my very last blog post about a year and a half ago. So here goes.

Things I am Loving Right Now
(not in order)

1. Gevalia coffee. Perhaps it's my Swedish lineage that has influenced me to love this stuff...I do not know. But it is good, people, and it's affordable. Which is it's first virtue.
2."Momu". Yes, my 2 year old child has nick-named me, and discovered that I am such a sucker for this nick-name that I will basically do anything he wants when he calls me this. Pronounced "Mom-oo", it's is just about the most adorable thing coming out of his little rosebud mouth.
3.My man. I'm loving him every season, but I realize "more" (if that makes sense) with every week that goes by, that I really DID get a 1-in-10-million. I'm going to cut my gushing short for now because I am sensing a seriously long paragraph about him coming on.
4. Busyness. I LOVE being (controllably) busy with my writing, my work, my goals, my little family.
5. Feeling little Teddy move. Clint nick-named CJ while he was still in the womb and he's done it again. We are not finding out the gender with this baby, but he still calls it Teddy. He's kinda nutty, I know, but it's the adorable kind of nutty. You should hear my multiple nick-names.
6. The sun! This precious fire-ball that brings happiness to many, basically hid the entire winter, and lately it has been showing it's lovely face. It was N-E-V-E-R sunny this winter.
7. The ability to run! I love staying fit while being pregnant and running has proven to be an empowering outlet for me there. As I read the last post I had ever written here, it was interesting for me to see my thoughts so long ago about running. I had just gotten into it.
8. My perpetually flat jogging stroller tire. (just kidding)
9. Cheese balls from Amish markets. Ha! Clint has been working on a big building the last few days, and has been bringing me home delicious little treats from this place. The last two nights we've been battling over the remnants of a bacon-garlic cheese ball he brought back. This stuff was even better than it sounds and Clint will forever get a thousand kisses for each cheese-ball he brings home to me (I'm hoping he'll read this).
10.  "Zay-zay", which is how CJ calls himself. Yesterday a stranger asked his name... he got this huge bashful smile, pointed at himself and said "Name...Zay-zay", then looked away smiling in embarrassment. It was so adorable, I'll never forget it.
11. "Flower trees" which is how I explained to CJ why on earth there were flowers on the trees. Spring is here, and there are beautiful white and red buds everywhere, and I guess this phenomenon was very shocking to him.
12. A tall, sunburnt, incredibly wise, funny, intelligent and sexy guy coming home to me everyday. He makes me laugh at dumb jokes and can do the ultimate redneck vocal impression. His mind will forever fascinate me and he looks ridiculously handsome when he's staring at whatever he's reading with his eye brows furrowed. I love him, people. He brings me cheese balls and dried apricots.

And that'll be it for my little list for now. In case you didn't know (which basically everyone knows, so that isn't likely), we are expecting our second little angel in August!  CJ was not "planned". In fact, learning we were pregnant with him was a complete shock... he came about two years earlier than what we were originally intending, haha. But as I'm sure just about any married couple can atest to, it's perty darn easy to get yerself in the family way. (blush) After he was born I was worried about getting pregnant quickly again... of course we want children, but it's our preference to have them with healthy space so we can enjoy each one in the stage it is in. So, my whole point is... we are SO excited for this new little bundle!! It's a strong little kicker and its made its nest in my waist, haha. It is due in August, and of course I am hoping for an early birth (to make up for CJ's three week late arrival). I am looking forward to going through the summer pregnant, which might sound strange to some.
Going through pregnancy for the second time is a whole 'nother story than with the first. But that is a different post for a different time.
Which is my cue. It's been real. It's been nice. It's been real nice. I plan to update this puppy a couple of times a week but don't hold me to it or anything.
To close this, here's a close-up of a little angel face. And some lashes to envy.