November 6, 2017

monday mantra: FUCK YES

It's been a while since I've written a Monday Mantra post but I feel like one is in order today (disclaimer: sorry for the potty mouth but these are Shalane's words, not mine! And she's the first American to win the NYC Marathon in 40 years so in my book, she can do no harm)
Thank you @SamSonOfRobin for creating a most perfect Gif!

Anyone else keep repeating "Fuck Yes!" in their head?!? As in

🏆 "Fuck yes, it was an amazing weekend for American women in New York City!"
👊 "Fuck yes, Molly Huddle won the 2017 USATF 5K national road championships on Saturday morning in a blazing fast time of 15:24! And, she did it while wearing an Erica Sara Designs necklace"

👏 "Fuck yes, badass mother runner Steph Rothstein placed in the top 10 at NYCM!"
👍 "Fuck yes, Allie Kiefer shaved 26 minutes off her PR to place 5th at NYCM!"

🙌 "Fuck yes, thousands of runners ran their first marathons, crushed their PRs, or simply gutted out a tough 26.2"
💋 "Fuck yes, Erica just added a bunch of new race designs on her website to celebrate!"
💗 "Fuck yes, ALL RACE JEWELRY IS 20% OFF with code NYCM2017 at until midnight tonight!"
"Fuck Yes!" new race jewelry designs! And 20% off today with code NYCM2017!
So, that basically sums up how I'm feeling on this Monday morning and how I plan on approaching the rest of the week. I have my first post partum race on Sunday, a local 5K, and I plan on channeling as much Shalane as I can to get through it. Hoping to feel a whole lot more "Fuck Yes!" next Monday too!

July 28, 2017

Secondary Infertility & Asherman's Syndrome. My Story.

Disclaimer: 1. This post includes miscarriage and period talk. If you consider these things triggers or gross, I suggest you move on and 2. I'm not a medical professional. I wrote this post based on my experience and don't use many technical terms. Please keep that in mind when reading.

I always knew I wanted more than one child. When Emmett was almost a year old, Robert and I agreed that it was time to start trying for Baby Reese 2.0. I figured it wouldn't be that hard and we'd be pregnant in no time. After all, we got pregnant with Emmett on the first shot. But month after month, I took a test and month after month, it came back negative. We finally got that positive sign on the fourth try and I was ecstatic. Scared, but excited.

Fast forward to our first ultrasound at 8 weeks. The technician was quiet. Her face a blank stare at the screen. I knew the news wasn't good and tried to stay calm, smiling at Robert with hope but feeling dread.  A blighted ovum. Pregnant with no baby to be found is a weird feeling. I went home and googled, googled, googled. I found every story I could that gave me hope, stories of women with diagnosed blighted ovums that turned out to just be fetuses hidden in a tilted uterus. My uterus is tilted! My fetus could just be hiding, right?!? I refused to get a D&C until we could be sure and held onto that pregnancy until 12 weeks when another ultrasound confirmed the original diagnosis. I cried, I grieved, I had a D&C and we resolved to move forward. The good news was that I could get pregnant and that I could carry a child to term, things we knew to be true.

And so we resolved to be positive and to try again. I waited for my period, knowing that the month after a miscarriage or D&C could be the most fertile. But my period never came. My doctor told me to be patient, that my body would take care of itself and once my hormones stabilized, I'd get my period again. Four months after that D&C, I thought it was finally coming. I was actually scheduled to run a 4 mile race that morning but when I got out of bed, I could barely stand. I spent the morning laying on the bathroom floor, vomiting and shaking. But my period never came. Two days later, the cramps stopped but Aunt Flo was missing. A month later, the same. Cramps, no period. My stomach was constantly bloated. I'd do speed work at the track and it felt like there was liquid gushing around in my belly but I knew my stomach was empty. I called my doctor, insisted on tests. Blood work, ultrasounds, more blood work, etc... I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome based on one little number in my blood work, even though no cysts were seen on my ovaries.

Throughout all of this, I was pretty open with some of my closest friends. Hiding these most important things in my life would have felt like lying so I didn't hide them. My friends knew about the pregnancy, the miscarriage, the cramps, and missing periods. One friend in particular had been through her own ordeal with infertility and miscarriages and when she heard my story, she told me about Asherman's Syndrome (AS). AS is a condition in which the uterus forms adhesions, or scar tissue, resulting from uterine trauma. In other words, you know how when you cut yourself you can get a scar? The same goes for your uterus. Suddenly it all clicked. In just over two years, between Emmett's birth and resulting surgeries, miscarriage and D&C, I'd had five surgeries on my uterus. I called my doctor and asked her about AS but she brushed it off, sticking with her original diagnosis. So I switched doctors.

It turns out that there are very few AS specialists in the country but one happened to practice an hour away from me. I called, made an appointment, and a month later I had an official diagnosis. I had AS. The doctor could see some scar tissue on an ultrasound, along with fluid that was likely trapped period blood. My uterus was sealed closed with scarring. Nothing could go in, nothing could come out. I was scared but so relieved to finally have an answer.

An AS diagnosis is officially confirmed with a hysteroscopy, in which a small tube with a camera is inserted through the cervix into the womb. Since my doctor was pretty sure there was significant scarring based on my ultrasound, we decided to schedule my hysteroscopy at the same time as surgery to remove the scar tissue. Not only would this save me an extra procedure, but it would give my doctor great visibility to the scar tissue that needed to be removed during surgery.

After the surgery, a uterine balloon was placed inside me and blown up, with a small catheter coming out of me. The purpose of the balloon was to keep the uterine walls apart, preventing more adhesions from forming. After seven days, I returned to the doctor to have the balloon removed and had another hysteroscopy to make sure the scarring was totally gone. This time, since there wasn't any surgery along with it, I was wide awake. The doctor had trouble getting the tube through my cervix and as he pushed through, I remember screaming in pain and tears streaming down my face. I was physically and emotionally drained. I wasn't sure how much more pain I could take. But the news was good, my scarring had healed nicely and since the top of my uterus had been spared from scarring, there was a good chance I could get pregnant again. Just another week of hormone therapy to get my body ready and after my next period, we could start trying again!
Post surgery. I was so relieved that it was a success and the surgeon confirmed that the top of my uterus looked perfect. I could most probably get pregnant and carry another child to term! If you think you may have AS, it's imperative that you find a specialist for your surgery.
Our first glimpse of "Zelda" (real name TBD)!
So we started trying again. And again, month after month, the tests were negative or I'd get my period before I even had a chance to take a test. I wasn't ready to give up. I began charting everything from my basal temperature to my cervical fluid. I logged it in two apps on my phone, just to be sure all my bases were covered. I confirmed we were "trying" during ovulation but after a few months, I realized that those days weren't coordinating as they should with the quality of my cervical fluid. In fact, I had no cervical fluid on those days. Damn hormones. Hmm... google, google, google! I found that in these cases, women who had taken Mucinex the week leading up to ovulation, but not during ovulation (so as to not expose the fertilized egg, in case!) produced the appropriate cervical fluid and got pregnant pretty quickly. I tried it. It worked!!! I got pregnant the first month trying Mucinex! Today,  I am 35 weeks pregnant with Emmett's little brother or sister.

Writing this was hard. I'm sitting at a cafe trying to get it all out, to sound coherent, and I'm crying. It's hard to remember it all to put it all out there. So excuse me if this is long and lacks sophisticated writing. I'm just trying to get it out.
35 weeks pregnant. Say hello to baby Zelda (real name TBD!). He/she is looking right at you!
I try to keep private matters to myself, especially making sure to respect Robert's and Emmett's privacy in the process. But if I hadn't told my friend about my struggles, I may not have found out about AS in the first place, and I might still be struggling to get pregnant. Asherman's Syndrome is extremely rare and many doctors don't even know about it. I wonder how many women going through unexplained infertility might be suffering, might benefit from spreading the word and knowledge. Some of my friends who know my story have actually asked to share it with their friends, thinking they might be going through the same thing. Three women have received Asherman's Syndrome diagnoses as a result. So this is my story. If you've been through miscarriage and/or infertility, I hope it helps you. If not, perhaps it'll help someone you know and love.

July 25, 2017

Preparing for Maternity Leave with a FLASH Sale

When I gave birth to Emmett, I didn't take any maternity leave. I worked until 2 hours before I left to the hospital, running around like a madwoman getting last minute orders out. After 25 hours of labor, 5 hours of pushing and a c-section, I picked up my laptop the very next day and answered customer emails as I breastfed from my hospital bed. Why? Because I was a new mom, literally by just a few hours, and I had no idea how to focus on just motherhood. I figured I'd just juggle and make it work. I quickly learned that I couldn't and now, almost three years later, I think I might have figured it all out. Maybe. I hope.

As my due date for this baby quickly approaches, I'm laying down the groundwork for actual maternity leave and I have to admit, I'm pretty excited about it. When you run your own business, it's rare that you actually take real time off. Even on vacation, I'm answering emails and placing orders for materials. This woman could use a break!

My due date is just 5 weeks away but it's anyone's guess when I might actually birth this kiddo so at the moment, my plan is to close for the month of September. Of course, that's subject to change if I go into labor early or late. But that's the plan at the moment. I hope to re-open my studio the first week of October as Fall marathons get under way and in anticipation of the Holiday gift giving season.  So in anticipation of maternity leave, I'm having a last hoorah FLASH SALE! I have no idea what my work load may be around holiday, especially as a mom of 2, so this just might be the last sale of the year.

Today only, everything on Erica Sara Designs is 25% off! And yes, this includes sale! I rarely ever have 25% off on my site so this is really exciting. You don't even need to enter a code, the discount will appear in your shopping cart. Sorry but this discount cannot be applied to previous orders.

Happy Shopping!

July 21, 2017

On Running, Or Not, During Pregnancy

Hello from week 34 of pregnancy, my first blog post of the year and my last pregnant run ever. Yes, I'm back writing and hoping to make this a weekly practice which is probably silly since I'm about to have my hands full with the birth of Zelda. But no one's ever accused me of being anything other than silly so why not, right?

This week I went for my last and final pregnant run and it felt great. No, the run didn't feel great but letting myself off the hook as the weight of my belly finally made it impossible to get my feet off the ground feels like the right decision.
My last official pregnant run at 34 weeks pregnant. Look at the heel strike! I think it's me overcompensating because I can barely get air between my feet and the ground. One of the many signs that it's time to focus on other exercise I'm ready to run after this kiddo is born.
If you've been following me on instagram, you've seen my pregnant running pictures. My belly getting larger week by week, my runs getting slower and the walking breaks longer. It's easy to look at these pictures and assume that my pregnant running has been all peachy keen, easy peasy miles. In fact, I've received a bunch of direct messages asking me how I do it from other pregnant women who are struggling to run. And so here I am, writing my first post of the year because I feel it's so important to be transparent.

What you don't see on instagram if you haven't followed along from the very beginning is that for the first 19 weeks of this pregnancy, I didn't run. In fact, I barely made it out of bed. Whomever named it morning sickness had no clue because I was ill all day, every day. Unable to eat or even keep down small sips of water, I shrunk down to 103 pounds; it was gross. My husband, Robert, even had to take a day off from work to watch him and to take care of me because I was too weak to lift my head. It became clear that unless I did something about my all day sickness, I'd put myself and this baby at risk. So when it was time to choose between a hospital visit or a call to my Dr for some help, I choose to call my Dr. and agreed to take anti-nausea medicine against which I was so opposed. Within hours I was finally able to sip water and slowly began eating again. But it wasn't for many more weeks that I was able to actually work out. I accepted that with ease. It took me over a year to make this baby happen, a story for another blog post. I chose to focus on that, on staying healthy and on getting my strength back.

At 19 weeks, I woke up and pooof! Just like that I suddenly felt amazing. I had all the energy in the world and felt so strong. Suddenly, I could run again. And so I did. And so you began seeing my running posts on twitter and instagram. And at the same time, you were probably seeing all the stories out there about other pregnant runners, much more accomplished (emphasis on the MUCH MORE) than I, running and racing. I began receiving the emails, the direct messages asking me how I do it, telling me how difficult it has been for some of you to run during pregnancy, how impossible it feels. I remember having those feelings during those first 19 weeks. In fact, I remember having those thoughts during my pregnancy with Emmett, when I was on modified bed rest during my first trimester and had to drop out of a half marathon because of bleeding. It's so easy to look at pictures and compare yourself with what others want you to see, what they're willing to put out there. Which is why I'm writing this post.

Mamas, give yourselves a break. If you can run and it feels good, by all means go for it. Rock those miles. But when the running starts to hurt. When every step sends a sharp pain through your pelvis or back, when you pee yourself every quarter of a mile, or when you can barely catch your breathe and your heart rate begins to soar, listen to your body and STOP. You have nothing to prove to yourself nor to anyone else. What you do have to do is keep it safe for now, and for your future self who'll need to be there for your newborn.

Is exercise during pregnancy important? Absolutely! But there are so many things you can do. Take walks, practice prenatal yoga, lift free weights and incorporate squats and lunges into your every day activities. Keep your body strong for delivery and so that you can bounce back easier once your baby is born. But listen to your body.

During the past few weeks, each of my runs was followed with hours of strong contractions. I hydrated, hung out on my left side, took deep breathes, everything. But the contractions would go on for hours and would get pretty scary at times. Finally, Robert opened my eyes when I wasn't willing to open them myself and reminded me of all the hard work, doctor appointments, tests and surgery I went through to make this kid. It's time to stop running for now and I'm actually really excited to take it easy for the next few weeks until I meet Emmett's little brother or sister. In the meantime, I'm spending as much time with my little man as possible.
Hanging in my lap, enjoying his last few weeks as an only child. Man I love this kid.
Did you run during your pregnancy? For the whole thing? And if not, when did you stop? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the topic and any ideas on how to stay in shape until delivery.

October 28, 2016

No Excuses? Someone Tell My Toddler.

Friday morning. 5:45 am. I'm sitting on a couch by the fireplace, a cup of cold coffee in hand, writing instead of running. This isn't what I've planned but I've come to realize that planning is a futile effort these days. You see, my plan was to wake at 5:00 am, gulp down a cup of coffee and hop on the treadmill for my first intense workout in three weeks. But Emmett had other plans.

For the past week, my 23 month old son has refused dinner. No matter what I make for him, he won't eat it. Last night was no different, so off to bed he went with an empty stomach at 7pm. At 8pm "Mama Heeeeelllllppppp!" and crying. So much crying. We explained that with since he didn't eat dinner, he was hungry and that since mom isn't a short order cook, he'd have to wait until the morning to eat. Hard? Yes, it broke my heart. But giving in means making this the new normal and I refuse to make this normal. Emmett went to sleep with a little love and cuddling from Robert and I made plans to wake at 5 to run. 

I didn't even need an alarm. Ever since the kiddo started 4:30 am wake ups a year ago, my body clock is set to wake at 4:30 am. So I hopped out of bed this morning, headed to the kitchen to make coffee and just as I was heading down to the basement to run... "Mamaaaaaa oh noooooo! Mamaaaaa heeellllp!!!" Bam, the kiddo is awake. I hoped it was just a missing pacifier situation and quietly entered his room, picked up the 3 pacifiers thrown out of his crib, gave them back and whispered "Still night night time Emmett. Please lay down." But the kiddo smacked his lips, his sign that he's hungry, and I knew that the only way to get him back to sleep was to grab a bottle of milk. Otherwise we're facing a difficult overtired day filled with tantrums and a too short nap. 

So here I am, sitting on the couch, drinking the coffee I made at 5am but too scared to warm it in the microwave for fear that it might wake him back up. And I can't help but smile. Motherhood has changed me. I've learned to surrender, that I can't control it all. I'm learning to look at the positive. It sounds cliche but I got to snuggle with my little boy this morning. One day he'll sleep until noon and we won't have those 5am snuggle to get back to sleep sessions. One day, he won't scream "Mama Heeellllpppp!" When I lifted him out of his crib this morning, the thing that struck me most was his warmth. The warmth of Emmett's little body next to mine, how perfect he felt in my arms, how soft his skin and hair felt as I stroked it while he drank. It made me feel better about having to miss my run. No Excuses? Nah... getting my child the rest and comfort he needed this morning was the perfect excuse to miss a workout.

... and he's up! It's go time! Writing break....
The post needed cute pictures. Besides, doesn't everyone wear a crown to breakfast?
Friday. 1:33 pm. That run I missed this morning? I just got it done during Emmett's nap time.  Warm up, 1 minute speed, 1 minute recovery x 10, cool down. Then some arms & abs. Not as long as I would've liked to work out but I heard Emmett stirring and wanted to shower before the afternoon began. 

So there you have it folks. This is how I don't get it all done. How I believe in excuses. How I'm learning to be a mother bit by bit, every day.

What are your tricks to fitting in workouts? How do you cope with missed work outs or shortened ones? And any ideas how to get this kid to eat dinner?!?