NICU Awareness Month

I haven’t posted in forever. I keep meaning to go back and write about my last two months of pregnancy with Erik, but I can never find the time. I wanted to take the time now, though, because September is NICU awareness month and, in May 2016, I unexpectedly became a NICU mom.

Erik was born at 36 weeks, 2 days gestation. Not dangerously early, but early enough, and small enough that he had some complications.


Erik Spencer, 5/11/2016

We experienced intrauterine growth restriction. So at 36 weeks, he was roughly the size of a baby 4 weeks earlier. He was born 4lbs 1oz.

We delivered at a hospital with a Level II nursery and he was doing very well, and while they never talk in dates of going home, he was not expected to be there very long. However, on day 4, he had blood in his stool and the automatic worry is NEC (necrotizing entercolitis), which can be deadly for a little baby. Because the Level II nursery was not equipped to deal with this we were transferred to Women and Infants Hospital which has an amazing NICU.

It was the day of my discharge after my c-section and we were following an ambulance to the hospital 20 minutes away. Emotional doesn’t begin to describe it.

We got settled in and Erik had his own room at this NICU. He was going to start a course of antibiotics for 7 days and during this time all of his nutrition would come from a tube. My baby wouldn’t taste my milk for a full week.

He did very well, with not further signs of problems within his intestines. Then the waiting game started. He had to be feeding well to go home, so they kept upping the amount in his bottles bit by bit, day by day. Then, on a Thursday at 9am, they told us he’d be coming home later that day as soon as rounds were done.

Well, Erik had other plans. That same Thursday, about an hour later, he had difficulties eating and then breathing. His oxygen levels dipped and he turn a very concerning dusky shade of blue/grey. He recovered quickly, but that was enough for them to keep him for further observation to make sure it wouldn’t happen at home again when we wouldn’t have a team of people to help us.

Five days. He needed five days without another oxygen desaturation issue. This clock was reset twice in the following week when he didn’t make it through the night without a spell.

24 days after his birthday, Erik came home.

I can’t speak highly enough of the team of nurses and doctors that were with us those early weeks. Erik was an easy case as NICU babies come. He needed no serious intervention just a little more time.

My days were spent at the hospital and the rest of the time was spent keeping as much routine as possible for our older son.

That was probably the hardest part. Not seeing Erik all the time and knowing we were leaving him in the care of nurses for the better part of the day when we couldn’t be there for him.

I can’t speak highly enough of the NICU nurses. They are amazing at what they do and never a moment went by that I felt Erik wasn’t getting the best care possible.

In May, I became a NICU mom, and it will be a part of me forever.


Upcoming Events

September 13 – The Flattest Century in the East 100 mile bike ride

October 4 (tentative) – Smuttynose Half Marathon 

October 11 – Ronald McDonald House of Providence 5k, best 5K around! Register to support RMHP. 

October 11 (evening) – Grog and Dog Jog, a relay where each person needs to drink a beer and eat a hot dog before the next person can start. 

October 31 – Performance Physical Therapy 5K, also raises funds for RMHP

November 7 – Stonecat Trail Marathon (still not sure what I was thinking….)

Maybe the Hot Chocolate Run in December even if it’s a far drive to justify these days. 

What I’ve been up to…

It’s a been a while (I think I say that every time?). Babies sure are time consuming.

I’ve been working out here and there. Trying my hardest to get into a consistent routine but it’s just not sticking. I’m really hoping that things will get better in the fall. It’s my favorite running season and the baby will be a year old so I won’t constantly be worried about exercise affecting my already low milk supply.

Let’s rewind a bit.

When we last spoke about running, I had done a trail 10K(ish).

Since then I’ve done a couple trail runs, more than a couple road runs, a relay race and logged a bunch of bike miles. Let’s get the quick and dirty on each…

Trail Running
Two trail runs, mostly the same route each time. The first, at the beginning of May was the last bit of the North-South trail in RI as part of a scouting mission for my friend Anj’s attempt at a full run of the 80-something miles. The next time we ran it was the first weekend in June. I was joining her after she’d already been on the trail for 70+ miles. It was pretty epic to reach the beach in Southern RI as part of such an amazing adventure. You can read Anj’s recap of the whole she-bang here.

Relay Race
May 8-9, I ran my first Ragnar Relay with a great group of women that I worked my way into through social media. It was a blast even though I was under trained. I was runner 5 with legs of 5.3, 5.2 and 3.5 miles. I love relays. Reach the Beach in New Hampshire is my favorite, but this Ragnar was superb as well.

Road Running
I’ve logged a whopping 80ish miles since May. I used to do that in a month, easy. Oh well. It’s a starting point. My plan is to work on endurance and then speed.

Longest run in a while.

Longest run in a while.

Four miles with my buddy.

Four miles with my buddy.

This has been my focus this year. I’ve been feeling the bike is much more approachable after baby. I can cover lots of distance in much less time. There is something rewarding about that.

At the start of the MS150

At the start of the MS150

My husband and I participated in the MS150 ride that started in Boston at the end of June. It deserves a blog entry of it’s own, and maybe I’ll get to that, though two months later it’s probably not that interesting. The ride usually is two days, 75ish miles each day. Well, this year the second day was canceled. I was pretty bummed but when we woke up Sunday morning to crazy wind and rain we knew it was the right choice, especially since the morning miles would include going over the Bourne Bridge. Not that safe with high-force winds. So, I logged my longest bike ride ever of 78 miles and my husband went on to ride 100 (which was another option for Saturday riders). I had considered doing the 100 as well, but the course was closing and I didn’t think I’d be able to finish in time.

I also had the benefit of being registered for a Century Ride in September (the Flattest Century in the East) so I knew I’d hit that achievement soon, even if not during the MS ride. Training for that ride has taken up the bulk of my time lately. I’ve logged over 500 bike miles this year! Considering my previous years hovered around 100 that’s quite a change.

I really love riding. I feel like I can accomplish more. I miss running, but it’s been a good experience changing gears for a bit. Pun intended.

The rest of 2015
In addition to the Century Ride in September, I’ve got a few races in the books. I’m running two 5k’s in October. Hoping I can regain a bit of speed before then. I’m considering the Hartford Half Marathon (or maybe Smuttynose). Hartford works better with my training plan, but Smuttynose is beer. I also have a complimentary entry to the Grey Goose Marathon in Seekonk in November (I’m thinking I might do the half) because….drumroll, I’m running the Stonecat Trail Marathon on November 7! Let’s do this.

Let’s build each other up…

Instead of bringing each other down. Please. Women need this. Humanity needs this.

I recently posted an image to Facebook celebrating something that was important to me.


9 months of breastfeeding

I’ll admit, I was a little bit hesitant to post it. I know I had several friends that struggled with being able to breastfeed their children and really felt strongly about it. I didn’t want to offend them but ultimately I decided to be proud of my accomplishment shared it with my little corner of the internet.

I received a lot of support. Women (and men) sharing in my accomplishment. And some criticism, saying I shouldn’t share this because it could offend women that, for whatever reason, weren’t able to breastfeed.

While I can understand that point of view to a certain extent, when did we become a group of people that can’t celebrate others accomplishments even if it was something we personally weren’t able to do.

Breastfeeding is a topic surrounded by STRONG feelings. It can get heated. I read the comments on articles about the subject (even though I know better) and it can get UGLY.

But really, this isn’t about breastfeeding.

This is about supporting people.

We live in an age where everyone gets a trophy for participating. Which is fine. I think that participation should be acknowledged just like anything else. But where to people get to shine? Where to they get to celebrate themselves and what they have done in their lives?

Should I never share an academic achievement out of fear of offending someone with a learning disability? What about athletic achievements? I could make someone with a physical disability feel left out.

What happened to it being okay to be different?

Why can’t we be proud of significant events in our lives?

Okay…back to breastfeeding for a minute…

Yes, it’s hard. Someone women can’t do it no matter how hard they try. Or maybe they don’t want to try. Whatever. It’s all perfectly acceptable. Some people could say to me, “if it was so hard, why didn’t you give up?” and I really don’t have an answer. I guess it would be because I was stubborn. But that doesn’t make me think less of anyone who wasn’t as stubborn as I was. I’m not offended when I see other women fill their freezers with milk despite all my attempts I can’t even make enough for my son day-to-day. I’ll admit I can feel a little jealous, but at the end of the day I can appreciate the hard work it took for them to get there.

People feel as though breastfeeding is a biological imperative. That women’s bodies were made to do it so it hurts and stings a little more when it doesn’t go as well as expected. But that is true of a lot of things. Diabetics don’t process insulin the way they are “supposed” to. My thyroid doesn’t work as it is “supposed” to. Biologically, things let us down. It happens and it’s part of being human.

I will never be an elite runner. I probably will never even be fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Does it make me unable to cheer for those that can do what they do? Absolutely not.

Everyone has advantages and disadvantages in life. We are not all the same and that is what makes life interesting. Please support each other. The world needs more of that.

National Running Day

Happy National Running Day!

I hope you all got out and logged some miles yesterday. It’s a nice day to see how great the running community is.

I tried to run, but the little one was not having it. We made it about half a mile before he was a cranky mess in the jogging stroller. Oh well. At least I tried.

We really need to log more miles in the stroller to get him used to it, I think.


My sleepy buddy.

I think he’ll grow to like it given the chance. Sometimes he just chills and falls asleep, other times he whines and cries and I end up carrying all of his 24lbs half a mile home (which I guess is another type of workout! :p)

Big River 10K

I ran a race!

This was actually my 4th race postpartum, but like many things, this blog needs to be dusted off and updated.

I joined a Ragnar Relay team. The race is May 8-9 so I figured I need to get some miles in in preparation so I don’t die and I can complete three runs over the course of 24 hours. This past week (well, starting Thursday) was my real, true, redefined effort at getting in some more consistent miles.

On Thursday I went out for a three mile run…except my Garmin wouldn’t find satellites. Eventually it locked in approximately 1.3 miles into my run. I still felt the need to see that “3” on the watch so I ran about 4.5 miles total. Depressingly that’s about my second longest run since having the baby (I have run 5 miles a handful of times).

There is a local trail series called the 4th Season Race Series. Each year I’ve intended to run some of the races, but the weather never cooperated. I really don’t find anything less fun than trying to trudge through trails that are full on buried in snow and ice. I learned that from the Spring Thaw last year. But, the weather powers that be really came through for the last race of the series.

The Big River Half Marathon (and 10K) happened on Saturday, April 4 and it was a perfect 50 something degree day and 90% of the snow melted with the rain in the days before. There was a wind advisory during the race, but because of the trails and trees I didn’t notice much wind at all. It was a great day to be out there.

The race started at 11am, about 10 minutes from my house. Of course I got there at 10:59..luckily they still let me register. I missed most of the course announcements, but I trusted that it would be well marked and I’d at least have people around.

WELL… That wasn’t the case. Apparently since the course was marked the night before, some jerks unsportsman like individuals messed with the markings before the race. For about two miles everything was good and the trail was twisting and turning through the woods. Then there was an intersection with no direction. Someone remembered that we had to go around the lake and keep it to our right, so that’s what we did but it was probably good 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile before we saw another marking. During that time the half marathon and 10K runners split and the group I was with was down to 2. I was glad to have someone to run with, but we were often confused together.

We saw other runners, some who were already at 1 mile or more in excess of the 10K distance. Another half marathoner only ran 8 miles. It seemed like it was a bit of a free for all in the woods. After running around the lake, we got back to that unmarked intersection and followed the trail back to the start. Not sure if that was the route the course was supposed to take, but at least we knew it would get us home.

My husband and the baby came out to meet me at the finish, he was getting a little worried that everyone was talking of getting lost and that I’d now been out for an hour and a half for a 10K. But, I made it back, with total distance of 5.6 miles (so *almost* a 10K, haha).

Despite the confusion, it was really fun and I definitely want to make it a point to do more trail races.

getting back to it

Since the baby and since being cleared to run 6 weeks later, I just cannot get into it. I’m not complaining, just stating a fact.

Everyone says I need to cut myself some slack. That I *just* had a baby and I don’t need to worry about fitness right now. It’s not that I’m worrying about it. I actually miss it. Running was something I found enjoyable and it was mentally good for me.

I had a very had time after the baby was born. With having a scheduled, but unwanted c-section, with all of the issues of breastfeeding, of not feeling instantaneously head over heels in love with the baby. I needed something. I needed my release back.

I was so happy when I was told it was okay to run at my 6 week postpartum appointment. I was not prepared for how hard it would be. Everything felt wrong and I was so slow. I had expected to be slower but I was not prepared for the immense struggle I’d feel with every step.

Since then I have only run a handful of times. I can’t fall into a routine that fits in regular running. Now I blame the weather and the streets around my house that completely not navigable.

The feelings of not bonding with the baby are gone. He is the most amazing (and frustrating) part of my life. This makes it harder to fit in exercise. Going back to work, and being away from him a majority of the time is really hard. I don’t want to miss a single moment, but I know that mentally this is not good for me. Mentally and physically I need a routine. I need some sort of fitness in my life.

My body after baby was amazing. I was almost at pre-pregnancy weight two weeks after. In reality I was probably not eating enough with all the anxiety and stress I was feeling, but at the time I thought it was fantastic. Since then I have gained 10 more lbs.

Everyone says don’t worry, you *just* had a baby. But I do worry.  I don’t feel good. I know it is not the fault of the baby that I ate basically all day long while on maternity leave. Yes, I do need extra calories for my body to keep producing milk, but that does not equal 10 extra lbs and boxes and boxes of clothes that do not fit.

So, I’m making a change.

I ordered 21 Day Fix from Beach Body. A workout and eating program. Something I think is a gimmick and ridiculous. But I needed someone else to tell me what to do. I’m on Day 2. I’m hoping it is the kick start that I need and I can get back to running and feeling good about myself.

I hate negative talk about bodies and I realize that is a post entirely about my dislike of my own body. I need to be honest and I really do miss the body I created before getting pregnant. Marathon training made me fit and I really loved everything about myself.

Yes, I am a mom now and I did *just* have a baby… but that doesn’t mean I need to give up being happy in my own skin. I absolutely love that this body grew and continues to nurture an amazing little boy, but I don’t need to keep an extra 20lbs to keep just because it is okay since I *just* had a baby.

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