Running Parallels Life: It’s Never Easy

I have a friend who has dozens of half-marathons and several full marathons under her belt.  She is tall and thin and gorgeous and smart and is one of those people who might give the impression that running is effortless for her. Old Me thought that for her, running was easy.

Old Me never considered the possibility of being able to run a half-marathon myself, and most definitely not a full.  I distinctly remember saying to her, I will NEVER fucking run that far! and really believing it.  Old Me believed that for her, running was accessible, but for me, it was arduous.  It was evident to Old Me that her success was due to some supernatural ability, something outside of the realm of possibility for my own normal crappy self.  Seeing her accumulation of countless race ribbons and medals was really not that inspirational to me.  Actually, it probably had the opposite effect.

It became possible for me to run with her when she was recovering from a serious back injury and was re-entering the running world, starting from square one.  She convinced me to join a running club with her and we met for our long runs every Saturday morning, with hundreds of other runners surrounding us, and often for another short jog or two by ourselves during the week.  My pal was a built-in running coach, she helped me work on pacing (I was shocked to learn that people actually monitored the exact pace they ran at, as my strategy apparently used to be sprinting at the start and then crashing and burning a short while later), she helped me work on my form and on recovery strategies.  She taught me that there was technique to running.

I was amazed at the progress.  We started our first long run at 3 miles and each week bumped up the distance.  I used to text my dad after each run, wanting to share the excitement I felt.  4 miles!  5 miles!  8 miles!  She really coached me through those long runs, and I will forever be indebted to her for her help.  The 10 mile mark was a game changer. 10 miles became my Favorite Distance and the beginning of New Me.

In just a few weeks something I didn’t think was possible for me to accomplish had become A Favorite.  It made me wonder what else I had been missing out on.  What other things did I not think were possible, so had never attempted?

The thing about the training, other than how helpful it was to my progress, was that I saw HER training.  My Amazing Supernatural Marathoner Friend actually had to work.  I saw her pant, and sweat, and bend over, placing her hands on her knees, and catch her breath.  I saw her energy wane and her desperate consumption of gel blocks.  I saw how even she was tired in the mornings and even she looked exhausted at the aid stations and even she had some days that were harder than others.  Old Me assumed it was easy for her, New Me realized that there was relentless effort and dedicated practice behind all of her triumphant race day photographs.

Seeing her struggle reminded me that she isn’t supernatural.  She gets tired and frustrated and has moments of weakness.  She is a normal crappy human being like the rest of us, except she works her ass off to earn those medals.  New Me now thought maybe I could too.

I ran my first half-marathon that year and it was horrible.  I overheated, had to walk much more than I wanted, and felt nauseous the whole rest of the day.  Nevertheless, I had become addicted and continued to run, just usually during the cold weather months and not in the scorching heat.

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After Baby Grouch Number One was born, I started running again, after quite a hiatus. Favorite Distance was my goal and once I got there I just kept going and ended up training for, and running, my first marathon.

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Lucky me is now the new mama of Baby Grouch Number Two, and I find myself back there at the beginning, starting to run, once again.  Old Me would get frustrated with my need to occasionally walk, with my slow pace, or with the aches and pains of restrengthening the muscles that have been idle for so long, or even with the fact that my face turns purple and I sweat like a pig after only running half a mile. New Me is constantly reminding myself that running is never easy, not for anyone. Not at any distance, or any pace, because once one milestone is hit, another is up ahead, just waiting to be reached.  My goal, again, is Favorite Distance.  I know I can do it.  I know it won’t be easy.

This Is Why Runners Run

How Her Morning Went:

She thought about what she had to do. It seemed impossible.

“I cant do it!” She said. But she knew she had to try so she started.

It was hard. She knew it would be hard. But good grief, it was SO hard.

She bent over in exhaustion. She wiped her dripping brow. She paused and shut her eyes. Her shirt was wet. From what? She did not know. Tears? Sweat? Both?

She opened her puffy eyes and kept moving.

She knew a jog would help.

 

How Her Mid-Morning Jog Went:

She thought about what she had to do. It seemed impossible.

“I cant do it!” She said. But she knew she had to try so she started.

It was hard. She knew it would be hard. But good grief, it was SO hard..

She bent over in exhaustion. She wiped her dripping brow. She paused and shut her eyes. Her shirt was wet. From what? She did not know. Tears? Sweat? Both?

She opened her puffy eyes and kept moving.

She made herself keep moving. Somewhere along the way it became a little easier and she astonished herself by realizing she COULD do it. She WAS doing it.

Tomorrow she would be stronger.

He Kept Trying To Help

He kept trying to help, but no matter what he did, it wasn’t helping. On the days he made dinner, he left the counter dirty and loads of pots and pans in the sink.  On the days he completed projects around the house, he was busy for so long she felt abandoned.  On the days he stayed nearby she felt smothered.  When he said to wake him up whenever she wanted him to feed the baby, she knew she’d be awake anyway, listening to him feed the baby, so what was the point?  When he asked if he could pick anything up at the store on his way home, she couldn’t think of anything she needed.   He kept trying to help, but she didn’t feel like he was much help at all.

He tried a new tactic.  “Tell me what you need”, he said.  She had to think. What DID she need?

As ridiculous as it seems, she didn’t really know what she needed.  All she knew was that she needed to feel better.

She worked to organize her thoughts so she could come up with a response.  Even though it was difficult for her to do, she made attempts to start telling him when she needed something.  She noticed that he became infinitely more helpful.

One day, she pulled in the driveway, with the kids loaded in the back seat. He greeted her at the car and looked at her face, at her drawn mouth, at her tired eyes.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing”.

But her quivering lips betrayed her.

“Something must be wrong”.

She wanted to tell him what was wrong, but was coming up blank when she tried to think of what exactly it was that was so bad.  She had no legitimate complaints.  She knew she couldn’t say “nothing” again, so she said the first thing that popped into her head.

 “I don’t have time to get anything done”.

“What needs to get done?”

“All I’ve done today is change diapers and feed the kids and the kitchen is a mess”.  

She realized that she didn’t answer his question, but couldn’t think of what to say about what it might be she wanted to get done that she wasn’t able to do.  She hastily added the only thing she could think of that resembled a reasonable answer to his question, “And I didn’t have time to go for a jog”.  

Ah ha.  Something he could work with.  Something he could help with.

“You’re the only one who thinks you don’t have enough time to do anything.  Go work out”. With that, he grabbed the kids and the diaper bag and when she opened her mouth to protest that there wasn’t time, he looked at her and repeated firmly, “Go workout.  Go”.

Instead of arguing, as she was often quick to do, she took him up on his offer to watch the kids while she went for a short run.   As she was jogging, she realized that he helped her in a way she didn’t always acknowledge, or even consciously remember, that she needed help with.

She needed a lot of help feeling better.  She always had, and she always would.

Somehow she kept forgetting that what she needed to do was to make sure she wasn’t falling apart.  She kept forgetting that even though she sometimes felt on top of the world, she would never be capable of holding on to that feeling for very long.  She kept forgetting that her natural inclination was to sink into a never-ending pit of depression and that the only way out was to keep doing what worked to pull her from the darkness, instead of pretending she was cured and stopping her needed therapies.

Running was one of the things that helped her.  Without the movement, without the chemical release, she sometimes wouldn’t feel good, or okay, or even so-so. Without it, she was capable of feeling horrible, or melancholic, or like maybe it would be better if she wasn’t here at all.  She couldn’t be a good wife, or more importantly, a good mama, without feeling better.  

THAT was really the most important thing she needed to get done. The kitchen could wait. Feeling better could not.

She knew she wouldn’t magically feel better just because she wanted to.  She knew she couldn’t feel better solely on her own. Thank goodness he kept trying to help.

 

 

 

10 Disgusting Truths About Postpartum Recovery

Women who are pregnant for the first time are hungry for information about pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum recovery.  They’re relentless scavengers of information, devouring books, posts, and pins, their appetite for knowledge as strong as the craving for human flesh by the man-eating lions of Tsavo.  Unfortunately, most information available is generic, repetitive, or far too sugar-coated to be worth a damn, revealing none of the open and honest nitty-gritty they are craving. Lucky for those on the information hunt, I’m a tell-it-like-it-is kind of girl and I don’t hold back on the good stuff.  If you stumbled across this on accident, it is possible that this kind of post may give you anxiety and fear and an intense desire to never have children (especially if you don’t read all the way to the end). Either way, I’m a believer that honesty is the best policy when it comes to postpartum preparedness.  So, here we go, researching beasts, this post is for you.

Photo Credit:  Wikipedia

10 Disgusting Truths About Postpartum Recovery Photo Credit: Wikipedia

1.  You will sweat (a lot) from weird places.  No matter how much weight you gain during your pregnancy, some of that weight is water weight. After delivery, that water starts to seep out of you, and it could seep from anywhere.  Your eyelids, your hands, your kneecaps. After the birth of my first child, I lost approximately five pounds of water during a brisk walk around the grocery store, solely through the bottoms of my feet. You will feel the water draining out of you in the most disconcerting way, picture more of a roaring waterfall opposed to dewdrops glistening on delicate leaves.

2.  You will be able to see and feel logs of shit through your paper-thin abs.  After my first child I remember doing a bit of yoga, bridge pose to be exact, and thinking, “What the hell is going on with my stomach?  Do I have some sort of hernia? Hemorrhage?  Did some part of my body get out of place?” But, no.  It was just a hunk of shit moving through my bowels, and I could SEE IT through my non-existent ab muscles. Horrifying.

Photo Credit:  Adrian Valenzuela via Flicker

This is Bridge Pose. Photo Credit: Adrian Valenzuela via Flicker

3.  You will be so excited to take a crap (after that first scary one).  Okay, so as appalling as it may be to basically see your bowel movements before you can feel any indication that you need to expel them, after nine months of constipation, the ability to take a normal crap will make you ECSTATIC.  For months after birth, you will give yourself a little mental high-five after sitting on the throne and taking a shit.  The bigger the better, again, after first scary one, but just go ahead and get that one out of the way and then ahhhhhhhh.  Heaven is the absence of digestive distress.

4.  You will discover that your fat has stretched out.  And fat doesn’t exactly bounce back like your abs eventually do.  If you’re like me, someone with an overall healthy lifestyle, full of exercise and fitness, but also full of friends and fun (both of which often involve NACHOS and WINE) and no desire to go to extreme lengths to become the most fit mom on the planet, you will find that you have developed a poochy stretched out bit on your lower belly. I found this to be true after my first, and found it to be OH-SO-MUCH-MORE-THE-TRUTH after my second.

5.  Your vagina might feel like it is collapsing in on itself and/or falling out.  Yes, it is possible to feel like your vagina is going to fall out of your vagina. This informational gem is strategically placed in the middle of the list, kind of like how FIVE, GOLDEN RINGS! is situated in the middle of The Twelve Days of Christmas.  It’s the highlight, clearly the important one, and it is iterated with a distinctively different tone than the rest of the song.  You will have no idea what this means or how it could possibly be true unless you have birthed a child (okay, full disclosure – you may feel this way just solely from being pregnant with a child).  I remember hearing from a few sources how they “couldn’t wear tampons” after they had given birth.  Naive me said, “Huh?” and scratched my head.  Wiser, post-childbirth me said, “Ooooh” and nodded in understanding (whilst doing kegels).

6.  You will develop pancake boobs.  Your breasts get larger during pregnancy and afterwards that boob fat makes good on the promise I gave in number four.  It doesn’t matter if you breastfeed or formula feed, pregnancy itself makes your boobs less perky. You’ll want to invest in a bra with some lift.

7.  You might not be able to have sex or sit on a bicycle for longer than you think.  At your six-week postpartum visit, when your doctor tells you how great you’re healing up, and gives you the go-ahead for sex and exercise, know that a lot of what they are examining is your vaginal muscle tissue. However, you may continue to have pain in your pelvic/public/tail bone area(s) long after any tearing or stretching has mostly healed up. Wowza. The pelvic bones are kind of important and hard to ignore. It took me a full year after baby number one was born to be able to go for a jog without experiencing any pelvic pain for the twenty-four hours immediately following the workout.

8.  You will not care about getting shit on, getting pissed or getting puked on. What used to seem disgusting when it happened to other people suddenly becomes no big deal.  Your kid shits all over his or her crib and you are covered in feces after cleaning it up?  You will not care.  Your child spits up all over your hair and sweater three seconds before you are supposed to walk out the door to go to work? You will not care (and you won’t change, you’ll just rub it in).  Your kid pees on you?  Of all the substances, that one is the most benign.  It’s basically just baby flavored water!  You really will not care.  You will care only that your child is clean and taken care of. I’m not being sarcastic here.

9.  You will pee on yourself at least once.  When you sneeze.  When you cough. When you wait to long to go because you’re taking care of the baby.  You may have experienced some of this during pregnancy, but it is important to be aware that it does not go away just because your child is no longer punching or head-butting your bladder. I’ll be honest, this is much more disgusting than the baby pee you didn’t care about.

10.  There will be something more disgusting than what I mentioned here.  What it is will depend on your body, and your birth story, and your comfort level when it comes to disgusting things.  Maybe you will shit the bed the day after giving birth, maybe you will wake up soaked in your own breast milk night after night, maybe your breasts will be so uncomfortably engorged you will stuff chilled cabbage leaves in your bra to reduce the swelling.  You will very likely be embarrassed and feel like you are the ONLY ONE who had to deal with whatever this disgusting thing is, but I assure you, you are NOT ALONE.

Are you still here?  Those who got scared and didn’t finish reading miss out on the best part, and that is:  Don’t worry, ladies. Our bodies are amazingly resilient and things go back to how they were before. Ish.  For most of us, any small changes that remain with us forever are really no big deal. You tend to not give a damn about your husk, when your heart and soul have doubled in size and made you happier than you ever thought possible. Disgusting realities be damned, it really is true when people say that it is all worth it in the end.  Some of the anti-saps reading this may find THIS truth to be the most disgusting part of the whole post.

If you liked this post you may also like A Comprehensive Pre-Pregnancy To-Do List and 10 Things Pregnant Women Do Not Want to Hear Coming Out of Your Mouth

10 Disgusting Truths About Postpartum Recovery

10 Disgusting Truths About Postpartum Recovery

Catching a Nap When You’re a Parent is Like Trying to Catch a Mythical Beast

Prior to becoming a parent, I was a napping PRO. I have insomnia and crazy sleep issues that have left me waking up exhausted for most of my existence, so I utilized the mystical force of the power nap to keep me going on a regular basis.  In the weeks leading up to the due date of our first child, one of the most common pieces of advice I received was “sleep when the baby sleeps”.  I quickly learned that while this might be the first thing that pops out of people’s mouths, it is often the last thing that is realistically going to happen, at least after the first few weeks of delivery.  Now that I have a toddler, and baby number two on the way, napping still sounds great on paper, but the reality is far from the fantasy. Here’s why:

1.  It’s Easy to Get Caught in the “I’ll Nap Right After I Put Away These Few Things” Trap, because it feels better when the house doesn’t show the full extent of the damage an F5 Toddler Tornado can do. Nap time is one of the few opportunities during the day when it is possible to cook, or scrub, or de-clutter, at least without constantly having to stop what you’re doing to investigate impish laughter, (or scarier still, utter silence) or without sidestepping a freshly dumped bucket of Legos or an upturned tub of flour from the pantry (though this won’t happen until after you vacuumed and mopped this section of the floor).  Just picking up a few things can very easily spiral out of control, as parents seem especially susceptible to getting sucked through invisible wormholes and zipped through time and space, causing what you’d think should take ten minutes to actually take an hour and fifteen.  By the time you plop down on the couch, your lower back is sore, and you can barely keep your eyelids pried open far enough to peer out of, and you can bet your ass the baby will start tossing and turning within five to ten minutes of being seated.  You thought the nap was within your grasp, and you’re still not sure how it eluded you, but somehow you were fooled. It was all a mirage and any illusions you had of catching some zzzzz’s slipped through your fingers, once again.

2.  New-Parent Hormones Result in the Development of Unparalleled Hearing. Suddenly the tiny ear cups we have as humans are able to funnel the same quantity of sound waves into our eardrums as those of an African elephant. This must be an evolutionary tactic, for the preservation of small children, but for parents this can be exhaustingly detrimental to one’s health.  Even from several rooms away, without the use of a baby monitor, all possibly-baby-related sounds are amplified.  You will hear when the baby rolls over, you will hear when the baby makes a snorty sound through his nose, you will hear when your baby sucks on his finger.  Small babies make a LOT more noise than one might think when they are sleeping, and each time they do, hormone surges result in a body being able to leap from the a prone position straight onto one’s feet, without any intermediary steps, in about 0.3337 milliseconds.  Even if you manage to remain horizontal, hormones work like witch’s sorcery, making baby blinks sound as loud as thundering hooves, and it’s impossible to sleep through that racket.  It takes awhile for those hormones to dissipate, but eventually there will be a few times when your kid rolls off the toddler bed and you may not hear the thump, which one would imagine would be much louder than the newborn baby blinks.  I suppose no spell lasts forever.

3.  Phantom Noises Keep You Up.  You will definitely hear every sound your child makes, but even worse, sometimes you start to teeter on the edge of sanity (and maybe even take a slight dip on the other side) and you start hearing your child even when there is nothing to hear.  Like, when you think you hear the baby crying, but when you go to check on them they are perfectly silent and they clearly haven’t budged an inch. Or, when your baby is staying the night at grandma’s, but you’re still hearing him.  And you might go check the crib …. just in case.  For months I was hearing phantom baby cries, that sounded like my daughter, but seemed really, really far away.  Little creepy ghost cries that made me feel like I was in a Blair Witch scenario in my own home. They were hushed and dim sounding, but were loud enough to wake me regularly, giving me that heart-attacky feeling in my chest.  Eventually I realized I was hearing air going in and out of my cat’s left nostril, making the faintest of faint whistling sounds.  What the eff?

4.  Nap Time, Like Bedtime, Can Be Filled With Anxiety and Fear.  It is very possible you’ve reached an exhaustion level similar to that of someone who just swam across the English Channel, and you are at the point where you physically flop over the moment you put your child down.  Your right eye will remain cracked open until your kiddo stops adjusting and fussing, and you think he’s snoozing soundly and you finally allow your body to relax.  You start to fade into a blissful slumber and then RIGHT before you drift off to sleep, PING! your eyes will pop open and the damn adrenaline surges return and you will wonder why your little angel is snoozing so soundlessly … and you PANIC! PANIC! PANIC! and bolt from the couch so you can place your hand on your child’s chest, feeling for the cyclic rising and falling. I probably could have consolidated numbers 2, 3 and 4 and just said that adrenaline surges are not conducive to napping.

5.  Nap Time is One of the Only Times You’re Able to Sit and Relax.  Even if your house is clean (enough) and you’re physically and mentally drained, you still might not get that longed-for snooze. While it sounds great, you find that it takes a level of exhaustion comparable to that experienced after hiking a large segment of the Himalayas, sans sherpa, for you to pass up the opportunity for a little unexpected Me Time.  Thirty minutes to sit on the couch?  To sip on a hot cup of coffee and not worry about spilling it on your kid’s tender skin?  To sit in silence with no yelling, crying, or the Frozen soundtrack blaring in the background? That golden trifecta is better than all the riches found in the kettle at the end of the rainbow, my friends.

6.  “Sleep When the Baby Sleeps” is Only Hypothetically Possible When You Only Have One Child. Um, so yea, people seem to forget that if you have more than one kid, the odds of having only one nap time are on par with the odds of the hundreds of moons within our solar system aligning. More often than not, not only do you miss out on the nap time, but you miss out on the bonus cleaning time.

7.  There are Always Other Unexpected Nap-Jackings.  A salesman rings the doorbell.  Sirens blare through your windows.  I used to be an expert Car Napper, when my husband drove I could be asleep faster than my car was able to accelerate from zero to sixty.  It was a sad day, shortly after the birth of my first child, when I realized I could no longer recline the seat of my car back far enough to nap comfortably, because it was impeded by my daughter’s car seat.  Nooooo!  Another unexpected and tragic napping dead-end.

Every so often a golden napping opportunity appears before you, similar to when a lucky hiker is able to snap a photo of a yeti lumbering across an arctic ridge.  It’s unbelievable and you try your hardest to preserve the feeling the golden experience provides, like one tries to capture a snapshot of the wooly beast. But the memory, like the image, (and the yeti) is often fuzzy.

Any other napping road blocks I missed?

 

Napping When You're a Parent Hardly Ever Happens

Napping When You’re a Parent Hardly Ever Happens

Once We Become Parents We Don’t Want To Hang Out With You Anymore (But Not For The Reasons You Think)

Before I became a parent, I had a few relatively close friends who began starting families, and after the birth of their little ones, I never really saw them again.  I tried calling periodically, and would offer up the same sort of date idea we used to do together, usually coffees or lunch dates.  Usually the offer was rejected and after a few attempts to stay connected, I got pissed and gave up.

I remember thinking, What assholes.  Don’t they give a shit about their friends anymore?  I mean, I understood they were busy, and of course family comes first, but  I hardly ever saw them again.  It seemed ridiculous.

A few years later, I had a child of my own, and while I make a concerted effort to schedule in time with friends, I’m sure there are some people out there who now think this about me.  Possibly even some of my own family.

So for the non-parents out there who think I’ve turned into an asshole, here are my excuses.

The kid’s schedule is more important than one would think.  Turns out kids need to eat, drink, move, sleep and poop.  Every damn day of the year.  And for the most part, it really DOES make a difference when and where these events occur.  No parent wants to deal with a kid who is dehydrated, has low blood sugar, is exhausted, or has shit his or her pants.  I’m quite sure none of our friends want to deal with these scenarios either.  This means that the noon lunch dates, or 4pm coffee dates or going out to dinner at any time is really, really hard to swing.  Yes, sometimes we can do it, but when we do, we are pushing it, so we tend to save up these moments for holidays, vacations or other special occasions.  Even if it works out okay, and we/our kid makes it look easy, it leaves us exhausted because it basically gives us a heart attack worrying about whether or not our selfish choice will result in us having to calm our child who is screaming bloody murder and/or having to clean urine or feces off of a public bench or the seats of our minivan.

Kids put their parents on a schedule of their own.  Parents usually blame schedules solely on their kids, but the truth is, we now have a schedule, too.  Before the kids get up, we get ourselves ready for the day, empty the dishwasher, pack the lunches and enjoy 15 minutes of alone time with our cup of coffee.  If we’re feeling overly ambitious, waking up somewhere in the 4 a.m. time slot, we might get a workout in or an hour of blog writing before waking up the kids and getting them ready. Before we get to work we’re already several hours into our day. When the kids nap, we clean the kitchen or the bathroom or fold the laundry.  Once the kids go to sleep, we may or may not get to any of the items on our to-do list, bills, home improvement projects, workouts, or any of the other things normal people do on a day-to-day basis (and are virtually impossible to do while the children are awake), before we basically collapse in a useless heap on the couch.  Yes, we know it’s only 8.30 p.m. And, yes, we’re TOAST. If we do see you outside of our typical schedule, particularly in the evening hours, take it as a huge compliment. We’re still getting up at the ungodly hour we always do the next morning, and are unable to make up that extra energy we are expending for the next 18 years or so.

We like hanging out with our kids.  And if we work outside the home, we feel like our time with them is very limited.  Going out to dinner could mean not seeing your kid all day, going away for the weekend could mean not seeing your child for 80% of the week (that we are not working and they are awake).  Seemingly boring activities, like stacking cups, singing the ABC’s, pushing a little one on a swing, or even simply eating a meal with the kids have turned into some of our favorite moments.  Even if you see our kid act like a total asshole, crying every five minutes, or bouncing off the walls like a human pinball, at home there are more instances than you can imagine that result in us smiling the biggest smiles, laughing the loudest laughs, or otherwise NOT being annoyed with our own offspring.  This can be hard to imagine, I know.

“Just bring the kids” is an option.  But it is one that sucks.  Even though we thoroughly enjoy our time at home, we want to see you, too. We really do.  Even so, we often decline invitations to your fun events, not because it doesn’t sound like a blast in general, but because we know, for us, it just won’t be fun. This is not because YOU aren’t fun.  You are a riot.  (Do you hear us?  We really do think this, even if we neglect to express this enough).  We just can’t focus on you very well when we have to simultaneously keep an eye on our kids making sure they don’t choke, drown in randomly placed vat of water or get a head injury bumping into the pointy corner of a table.  We spend a lot more time and energy worrying about keeping our brood alive than you might imagine.  A lot of times we host events you don’t get invited to.  Again, this isn’t because YOU aren’t fun, it’s because our events aren’t fun, at least not for most adults. They are loud, obnoxious, and strategically located where there are wide open spaces or playscapes that allow toddlers to run and bounce off padded surfaces, screaming like banshees, that allow us to leave the Xanax at home since we don’t have to fear death by pointy edge.

Seemingly benign household chores suddenly seem to consume our lives.  Things we used to think were nothing now seem to consume our lives. Washing, drying, scrubbing, cooking. I still haven’t figured out how one or two tiny little humans results in thirty-five times the number of dishes, loads of laundry, and crumbs on the floor, but it does. Chores that we used to be able to put off until we felt like doing them now Must. Be. Done. Immediately. If they wait, we fear our house might implode, much like a black hole, from the massive amount of grime and toys and dirty dishes concentrated in one place.  To top it off, feeding and housing small children results in such an exponential increase in clutter and dirt (which we care about more now, since our kids are rolling around on the carpet all the time) that it is now unacceptable for our own shit to add to the mess, so there’s the double whammy right there.  Not only are we responsible for cleaning up after our offspring, we now are being held responsible, if only by our own OCD, for cleaning up after ourselves.

Kids go to sleep pretty damn early.  Which means we have to leave events even earlier, or we miss attending them altogether.  It’s easy to look at our kids and say, “Oh, they don’t even look tired!” and you’d be right.  And that’s why we’re leaving NOW, before they have a total meltdown and lose their shit.  We can preemptively sense these things like some animals can sense earthquakes before they register on any seismograph.

Leisure time is so limited that we tend to spend it on ourselves (often by ourselves). Fitting in time to relax and engage in activities we enjoy can be so elusive that sometimes we think we are being assholes to ourselves, for not spending enough time with our own self.  I’m not making this up. Getting a manicure or a haircut or a taking a trip to the gym requires creative scheduling, and everything else in our life to go according to plan – our spouse’s engagements, our kid’s health, work obligations. A lot of our hobbies end up being things we can do at any hour of the day, on our own time, by ourselves: jogging, reading, writing or activities that can be done just as well at 3 a.m. or 3 p.m. The demands of the social calendar scare us.  If we’re going to fit in time to actually see another human being, it’s usually someone who can give us the most bang for our buck. A workout buddy or someone to chat with during a playdate, or, rarely, a meet up with a pal who can completely de-stress us, who is totally on board with our entire excursion being completed within a thirty to forty-five minute window. We do not have the time or energy for idle lingering.

Sometimes we just need to idly linger.  Okay, this might seem like I’m refuting my last point, but I’m really not.  We’re spending so much energy carrying, wiping, toting, cleaning, chasing after, listening to, reasoning with, teaching, and doing, that sometimes we need to just sit, in a quiet space, for ten or thirty or one-hundred-and-twenty minutes in a row, for our own sanity, and for the safety of those around us.  There is no sleeping in, or afternoon naps, or resting on the weekend, so these moments are critical to help our bodies and minds recover and recharge for the remainder of our day or week.  God help you if you infringe on our time we’ve allotted to revive ourselves.  My friends might notice that I played Words with Friends at ten p.m., but they shouldn’t take that as a sign of me being capable of sustaining vigorous nighttime conversations or activities. I’ve probably been in my pajamas for hours, expending almost zero energy, using this time to replenish my life stores, an act of sloth equivalent in importance to the hibernation of bears in the winter.

Keep in mind we’re not upset about these things, we are not complaining about our choice to raise our little ones. We are happy as clams, but we still do miss you and recognize we probably don’t tell you this enough.

Basically, when it comes to friendships, parents of young children are forced to hunker down and encase themselves in a protective cocoon in order to preserve their energy, like some spore that can withstand the harshest of elements.

Don’t give up on us, we’ll emerge and thrive again, once conditions are right. In the meantime, if you are not deterred, let us know if you want to come over at 7 a.m. for breakfast. That’s when we are at our peak.

once we become parents

Once we become parents, we don’t want to hang out with you anymore. But not for the reasons you think.

Her Three Favorite Skeins

She knit because she loved to.  She enjoyed sitting in her chair, her mind and body calm and quiet and still, with the exception of her hands, which moved furiously back and forth, clicking and clacking and whirling.  She loved the way the needles tinged and pinged, and the fibers twisted and twined, and she could not get enough of her hobby that embodied the essence of the yin and the yang.  She appreciated fibers of all colors and textures, but she was particularly fond of three particular skeins of flaxen thread.

One was a tightly wound orb with a cool blue complexion.  The color reminded her of a maritime tide that rolled rhythmically in and out, consistent and predictable and beautiful, a tide that always felt a little bit colder than expected when you dipped your toes into it, turning them into icy blocks if you left them submerged too long.   The thread was perfect for creating a quilt comprised of squares of equal size, neat and tidy with sharp ninety degree edges, perhaps one that would be placed over the back of a chair or sofa, perfectly capable of keeping one warm, but often unused, for fear of mussing it up.  The yarn sat neatly in the basket, a perfect sphere, its knitting needles poking out, held nicely upright.

Another was a bit more loosey-goosey, composed of wavy, filamentous tendrils that jumped and danced, and could not be contained.  It was a ball of blazing orange, hot to the touch, perfect for producing a project of passion, something fanciful, perhaps a gown, a decoration, or a romantic ornament.  It was beautiful enough to be crafted into a stunning lace, yet strong enough to endure rigorous wear, due to its immense tensile strength.  It was a bit difficult to coil up this yarn when it was not in use, it’s unbound threads could never be shaped into a perfect orb, but it still stood proudly when stacked with the others, even if it looked a bit lopsided, the needles poking out at slightly awkward angles.

The third was able to be wound tightly into an orderly sphere, yet it could easily be snagged, often becoming unraveled, its cords becoming messy and tangled until it was wound up neatly once again.  It was the color of cut grass, an earthy green, that reminded her of an ebb and flow, though the pattern was less like that of the ocean, but more akin to rolling fields: irregularly scattered zones of steep inclines and descents, plots of level ground, and the occasional divot that appeared out of nowhere and required one to watch their step.  This thread was perfect for constructing cozy comforters, insulating pot-holders and other projects that were made to be used on a regular basis, ones that were only put away when guests were coming over, the infrequent ones, who would frown upon the stained and frayed edges.  When this yarn was put away, it sometimes looked neat, and other times looked a mess, and when it did, its needles poked out defiantly, as if to dare anyone to judge it for its superficial appearance.

The fibre artist created projects of all kinds, carefully choosing the threads to meet the needs of her creations.  She found that it was rare that the blue, orange and green threads could be used on the same project.  It was as if the blue one didn’t want to touch, get snagged, or dirtied by the other yarns.  It seemed that the orange one wanted to wrap itself around the others, but it’s radiating heat would make the other yarns feverish. The green one seemed to poke the others with its needles, a gentle prod, a little tickle, when it was in a teasing mood, or a sharp stab when it was feeling low. While she would never have admitted this, she felt as if her favorite threads bickered like siblings.  A silly thought, she knew.

Every now and again, the knitter would make something very special.  Something that was simultaneously neat, professional, dramatic, and comforting.  These were always her favorite pieces to make, the ones that were most admired by others, the ones that endured, no matter how much they were used, or how often they were laundered. They were her showcase pieces, the ones that utilized her three favorite fibers, all together. When these threads were intertwined, the results were exquisite.

yarn

For my sisters. I’m the green one (they already know this).

 

Here’s Why You Need To Know About My Infertility

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week.  RESOLVE, a National Infertility Association, chose the expression Resolve To Know More as their campaign theme for 2014.

Jesse and Lauren, at Our Crazy Ever After, are doing their part to raise awareness by pairing up bloggers, having the ones with experience dealing with infertility guest post on the ones without.  They’ve compiled all of the posts in a link up here.  Below is a post I wrote for Kelsey’s page, Randomly Randts about why you need to know about my infertility (and everybody else’s, all around you).

I’ve written quite a few posts about our infertility journey here on my blog, including a humorously bitter rant, our infertility story, with the happiest of endings, a view into my refrigerator, the heartbreak of our first miscarriage, and the emotional roller coaster of the early loss of two out of our three triplets. I’ve written about my successful pregnancy, the immense gratitude we felt about finally becoming parents, and how it turns out that infertility prepares one pretty well for parenthood.  While you can’t seem to shut me up about it now, I wasn’t always so open about our infertility journey.

It wasn’t until three years after we initially started trying to conceive, and I was already pregnant past my first trimester, that I was brave enough to share any of our struggles, even with most of my family and friends.  Looking back, it was crazy for me to keep silent, to try to rein in all of the emotions that surrounded my infertility.  But, I felt alone, a little embarrassed, a lot depressed, and didn’t realize the abundance of support that existed, if only I was willing to put myself out there and seek it.

So, now I’m pretty outspoken about my infertility, making sure that if someone else is going through similar circumstances (and they’re out there, I know that), they know they aren’t alone and that I am someone they can reach out to, if and when they’re ready.

 

Here’s Why You Need to Know About My Infertility

To someone who hasn’t dealt with infertility firsthand, the question, Why do we need Infertility Awareness? may come to mind.  The answer is pretty simple.  It is easy for all of us to get wrapped up in our own existence, our own experiences, as we are all egocentric at the core.  Even so, most of us want connections with other people, need them, really, for our own well-being, and find that nothing is more important in life than our network of friends and family.

The good thing is that most of us can be wakened, relatively easily, from our narcissistic slumber by learning about the experiences of others, and connecting something within ourselves to something within them.  The more we understand others, the more we understand the world around us, and when we assimilate information from others into our mental repertoire, if we allow it, we end up learning more about ourselves. Convenient for the egomaniac part of us that it all comes full circle and we get to think about ourselves again, right? Ultimately, integrating the accounts from others with our own experiences is how we grow into better people, and that’s pretty damn important.

The problem is that when it comes to infertility, most people remain silent about the issue, one that has taken over their private lives, is eating them from the inside out, causing them to turn into bitter, crumbling, empty shells of themselves who feel like they might not make it through the day.  They hide it.  Put on a brave face.  Say, Great!when someone asks how they are doing, even though they are NOT great.  They are fragile vases, full of water but devoid of flowers, who could easily shatter and collapse into a puddle of tears the moment they reach their car and shut the door behind them, after leaving one of the many doctor’s appointments, after leaving a baby shower, a family gathering, or even after leaving an afternoon coffee with a friend, who just happened to say the wrong thing.

There are SO MANY people going through their own personal conception-seeking hell. SO MANY!  There are currently over 7 million individuals in the U.S. alone who have a medical condition making it difficult, or impossible, to conceive, or carry a child to term.  That’s 1 in 8!  They surround you.  At your workplace, at your gym, at your knitting club, in your classes, in your own family.  Usually, you aren’t even aware of this, yet it’s impacting you.  It is impossible to make those true connections we all seek with others when such an all-consuming piece of oneself is ensconced in fear, shame, anxiety, and ignorance.

It’s important for us to know about the infertility struggles that exist, so that we can better understand the reality around us, the people around us, and are able to reflect, respond and react in the best way possible.  In other words, so we can grow ourselves.

It’s important for us to know about the infertility struggles that exist, so that we can be informed, and aware, to know how to support our siblings, friends and coworkers when we find out they are dealing with something we haven’t dealt with firsthand.

It’s important for us to know about the infertility struggles that exist, so that if it turns out that we are suddenly one of those people who is fighting this exact same battle (that we never before thought could be possible) we are better prepared, and don’t feel so alone.

The barriers that get in the way of making authentic connections with others can be combated with information, with awareness.

All of us infertiles who have “came out” have had friends and acquaintances emerge out of the woodwork, contacting us publicly or privately, sharing their own experiences, sometimes to let us know that we are not alone, sometimes to talk so they can continue healing and processing their own grief, sometimes to thank us because up until we spoke out, they felt isolated, solitarily suffering, with no support in sight.

Those of us that are recovering infertiles, who now have children of our own, need to let those still stuck in the trenches know that hope exists. Real living and breathing hope, not the grasping-at-straws-hoping-yet-hopeless feeling that we get from the doctor’s office alone.

Those of us who are recovering infertiles, who were never able to have children (we don’t hear too much about these people, but they’re out there, too) need to let others know that modern medicine doesn’t equate to miracles.

It is so important for those of us who have struggled, to speak up.  

For the naysayers who use the excuse that people are overly sensitive or that everyone gets offended by something, let’s be clear about this one thing:  This is not about being exceedingly politically correct.  This is just about not being an insensitive jerk.  Resolving to Know More doesn’t have to apply solely to infertility.  We could easily replace all of the “infertilitys” within this post with Sexual Orientation, Depression, Grief, Eating Disorder or Addiction.  By resolving to know more about OTHERS, and their experiences, we are resolving to better understand the people all around us, and to become better individuals for having done so.

Resolve to know more.

 

Need a basic understanding of the disease of infertility?

Learn more about National Infertility Awareness Week.

 

Here's Why You Need to Know About My Infertility.

Here’s Why You Need to Know About My Infertility.

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