And then she ran

Or is running…or will run A HALF MARATHON! And by “she” I mean, ME.

Or rather, WE. Chad and I signed up for the Southern Utah Half Marathon in St. George this upcoming April.

I felt hesitant to admit this endeavor on here because I’m afraid I can’t actually do it! Or that I won’t. Or that I’ll get injured. Or that something in my life will derail my training. Announcing that I’m signed up for a half marathon makes me committed. It makes me accountable.

That’s actually why I am writing about it. I want/need to be accountable.

It’s easy for me to say enthusiastically, “Yeah, I’m going to run a half marathon!” when so far my longest run in training for it has been five miles! It’s going to get a lot harder for me! (Open to training advice from fellow runners out there! I have NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING!)

I am not a natural runner. Before graduate school I had never run more than a mile in my life. Before losing Charlie, I had never run more than three consecutive miles. The farthest I’ve ever run in one shot is six miles and I can count on less than one hand the number of times I’ve done that. Sure I did Ragnar last summer but I had some of the easier legs and I practically limped my last leg!

So why would I want to run for about two straight hours? Good question.

Well, here is what I get from running:

*I feel happier

*I feel less anxious

*I feel energized

*It makes me respect and love my body

*It gives me the opportunity to reflect and gives me better clarity

*It quiets me from the chaos of my life and inside my head (it’s a source of meditation for me)

*It can be fun! (especially races)

*I enjoy having goals

*It gets me outside and in nature, which is always therapeutic! (I’m a new fan of winter running! I feel so cool being one of the only ones on the road and it feels awesome sweating and simultaneously feeling snow flurries hit my face)

IMG_5951Here is what I hope for by training for a half marathon:

*I want to be strong and healthy. I feel like running farther than I’ve ever run will help me toward this goal.

*More importantly than being strong, I want to feel strong. I want to know I can do it. That I can convince my body to run 13.1 miles. I want to believe in myself. I want to feel proud of myself

*I want to train myself to push through physical pain, exertion and boredom (mindfulness skills!)

*I want to keep healing and growing stronger emotionally!

*I want to outrun my own Blerch (My Blerch is fear, inadequacy, depression, laziness, and excessive amounts of chocolate) and find the void!

*I want a positive, fun experience both training and in the race with my hubby! I think it’ll be so fun to work toward and accomplish a goal together!

So there you have it.

And my final reason for running a half marathon: Why not?

But please quote me, “I DO NOT want to run a FULL marathon! EVER.”

 

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Cami’s heart

Today we showed up at Primary Children’s Hospital for Cami’s echocardiogram. I’ll be brief about the boring details.

*We showed up at 7:15am.

*There was a nurse, a Nurse Practitioner, an IV team, and an ultrasound tech (all were great)

*The IV and “falling asleep” were the hardest parts. Cami was very sad. Our eyes leaked to see her so hurt and sad.

*Sleeping Cami did great during the procedure

IMG_5982*Cami was slow to wake up from sedation because they gave her a little extra medication as she was so agitated and fought the sedation in the beginning.

IMG_5980*She finally woke up and did great! (A little grumpy and groggy and snuggly)

IMG_5979*The conclusion: The doctor came and told us that the echo revealed that CAMI’S HEART IS GREAT! No concerns!!!! The murmurs are “innocent murmurs.” Huzzah! We get to move on with our life!

IMG_5985After lunch Cami was back to her usual happy self, although she was a little tipsy walking around. We prepared ourselves for a groggy, sleepy Cami but she decided today was the day she’d figure out how to crawl out of her crib and not take any nap at all! Here’s to an early bedtime!

Seriously feel SOOO grateful today. Grateful for modern medicine and competent health care professionals. Grateful for their compassion, time, and caring. So grateful our rainbow is healthy and her heart is strong. Feel like we can take a big, much needed, breath of air!

Mindfulness boot camp

The year is already conspiring to give me loads of opportunities to use my new-found, amazing mindfulness skills! HA! The whole point of my theme this year is to get some skills in an area I generally suck at! So, it seems as though the year is conspiring to throw me into a mindfulness boot camp with tasks to confront fear, trauma reminders, doubt, and anxiety. Sounds fun right?

It all started a week ago when I had a follow up appointment with my endocrinologist regarding my Large Thyroid Cyst. It had been bothering me lately as I have begun to be able to feel it when I swallow and it seemed to me that it had gotten bigger. My endocrinologist informed me that my cyst hadn’t gotten any bigger but he went ahead and aspirated it because it was bothering me. After he sucked out an entire syringe full of black fluid (old blood he said) my doctor did an ultrasound of my thyroid. With my cyst completely deflated, he was able to see my thyroid more clearly than he had in previous visits and informed me, quite bluntly, that my thyroid doesn’t look normal. To make a long story short, he ordered a lab to test for Hashimotos disease. The labs came back normal. However, my doctor still isn’t convinced it’s NOT Hashimoto’s but didn’t condescend to my level to really explain his reasoning. But if it’s NOT Hashimoto’s, then I have either a benign nodule or I have thyroid cancer. Good times.

I’ll tell you that threw me for quite a loop for a few days. I totally failed my first few days in mindfulness boot camp. But I did everything I know to take care of myself and try to manage my anxiety. By Monday I was feeling a bit better and I have a plan: Get a second opinion from another doctor…now I just need to find one.

Then this Tuesday happened and my cancer-ruminations immediately disappeared; replaced by something that scares me even more.

What I thought was going to be a routine check-up for Cami ended up being the beginning of something more.

I brought Cami to the pediatrician for her 18-month check-up. During this check-up the doctor listened to her heart for an inordinate amount of time. After listening to her heart he asked me, “Have we talked about her heart murmur before?”

GAH! Heart Murmur?! What?! Another round of boot camp just sucker punched me in the gut.

While my pediatrician tried to be reassuring, he did recommend we see a cardiologist at Primary Children’s Hospital.

Thursday morning we met with a cardiologist a Primary’s and the appointment WAS reassuring and also very NOT reassuring.

They took a chest x-ray of Cami, an EKG, four limb blood pressure readings, and pulse ox. Cami was a champ through all these tests. The cardiologist then came in and listened to Cami’s heart from more angles than I thought possible.

He told Chad and I that Cami has, not one heart murmur, but three. She also has a “click” that can be indicative of a heart valve concern. The X-ray revealed that her heart is slightly enlarged (Top Normal the doctor said) and her EKG was “slightly” abnormal. After telling us these findings, the doctor quickly moved to try to reassure us. Despite these findings, he’s not convinced anything is wrong with Cami.

Cami’s blood pressure was consistent across all four limbs, her pulse ox was 99% and she’s healthy and thriving. Plus, I guess murmurs are kind of a dime a dozen. However, given the findings, the cardiologist referred us for an echo-cardiogram next week to get a better look at Cami’s heart. This is an ultrasound and doesn’t sound like that big of deal…except it is because Cami has to hold completely still for 30 minutes. That’s impossible for an 18-month old so they have to sedate her for the procedure.

Panic and nausea set in at this point. I immediately saw flashbacks of watching a nurse carry three-month-old Charlie away with a mask on his face for his Hydrocile surgery.  I remember how helpless I felt as I waited for him to come out of sedation after his surgery. I remember being so relieved as he cried but distressed that he didn’t eat anything for many many hours later. And even though Charlie seemed to recover great from his surgery…he DIED just over three weeks later. I KNOW correlation is NOT causation but I honestly don’t know how I will handle Cami being sedated and unresponsive. I’m worried it’ll bring flashbacks of even worse memories of Charlie (dead ones). I’m worried Cami won’t wake up.

But we had a pretty great tender mercy today: our cardiologist. When I called to set up an appointment for Cami, I simply asked for the “next available” appointment. The “next available” that fit our schedule set us up with Dr. Mart. Dr. Mart shared, shortly after meeting us, that he has lost two children himself. One of them is buried in the same cemetery as Charlie! Because he quickly learned of our history with losing Charlie (there was a question on the New Patient questionnaire “Had a child die suddenly and unexpectedly?”) and I suspect, given his unique ability to empathize, Dr. Mart went out of his way to reassure us and spent ample time with us, even though he was running about an hour behind schedule and had patients que-ed up and waiting.

I asked Dr. Mart if Cami could die suddenly, the way her brother did, and Dr. Mart reassured us that Cami isn’t at risk of sudden cardiac death as her EKG did not reveal any “rhythmic abnormalities.” He tried to describe her EKG abnormality as a directional abnormality and didn’t seem to be something dangerous or life-threatening. That was reassuring (but the Snuza is going back on!).

Dr. Mart also told us that he was pretty sure nothing was wrong with Cami but he was sending us for the echo-cardiogram just to rule anything out.

Before we left he asked us what other questions we had and he looked at me and said, “I don’t want you leaving, going to your car and crying.” I told him I probably would but that it was ok. In fact, both Chad and I ended up crying in the car. I haven’t seen Chad sob like he did today, in a very very long time.

For families that haven’t lost a child, this event might be mildly anxiety producing. But for us it is straight up GUT-FREEZING-SCARY. It brings up so many memories, so many emotions, and it feels so vulnerable. Dr. Mart acknowledged that he knows, given our history, that statistics aren’t reassuring, but that he’s 99.95% everything is fine with Cami.

Fingers-crossed he’s right.

I’m not liking Mindfullness boot camp so far.

18 months!!!!

IMG_5849This sweet, yummy rainbow is a year and a half today!!! Another milestone we get to celebrate!

I often call Cami my “puppy” because whenever I get home she greets me like an excited puppy: rushing into my arms, hugging me, quickly squirming out of my arms and then grabbing my finger to pull me somewhere she wants me to go.

At 18 months this little girl still doesn’t say a whole lot but she’s building her vocabulary. For example, when she is hungry she says, “Nom nom.” How cute is that?! Her favorite and most ubiquitous word is “Momma!” which of course I love…although I think she uses it to refer to many things besides me. Like, “Momma momma momma” might mean, “Please make me a quesadilla and this time don’t sneak beans and avocado inside.” I think “Momma momma momma” also means, “I love you and think you are the most wonderful person in the whole world!” At least that’s what I choose to believe. 🙂

Cami also understands quite a bit of what we say to her and responds with enthusiastically shaking her head yes, or no, or doing whatever we prompted her to do. Like if she points to the fridge water dispenser and does her “Nuh? Nuh?” indicating she wants water, I’ll say, “Go get a cup” and she’ll wander to the cup drawer and pick out a cup and mismatched lid, bring it back to me, and patiently await her water.

Cami is still our little eater! She loves cheese but still doesn’t like avocados. She’s also gotten in a bad habit of putting her dinner in her hair when she grows bored of eating. Or she turns her sippy cups upside down and waters her tray, or the floor, with a big grin on her face.

The toddler tantrums have fully bloomed. But they are pretty short lived, not super frequent, and Cami is still a very happy and easily appeased child.

Cami likes coloring, especially on the couch or walls. She loves her baths and trying to wash her own hair and body. She loves waving “bye bye” and “hi” to anyone she she passes. She is super easy to put down at night and is a good little sleeper!

Speaking of sleeping, Chad and I discussed months ago that at 18 months we were finally going to stop using the Snuza to monitor her sleeping. I know in my head that Cami is super out of the SIDS risk zone now and doesn’t need to Snuza, but I love the reassurance the Snuza brings. So I’m writing this in bed with the Snuza on the nightstand beside me still deciding if I’m going to break the habit tonight or not. This is another one of those life-after-loss moments of trying to figure out what I need to do to stay sane vs. not living in fear and choosing to challenge myself. Not easy decisions.

I know people gush about their kids! It’s so easy to do! Especially when my kids are so dang gushable! I feel so grateful to have our rainbow and watch her turn from baby to toddler! I love her chunky thighs, dreamy eyes, and wispy hair. I love how Cami will run so fast it looks as if she’ll fall forward at any moment, but somehow her feet always stay under her. It’s amazing to witness her personality emerge, see her learn and try new things, and just love life! I’m so grateful she’s ours!

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2015 resolutions

I am not one for specific resolutions. However, I like having an overall objective or goal to work toward each year. A theme, per say.

Last year my theme was wellness. At the end of 2014 I reflected on how well I met that goal and I think overall I did a pretty decent job. Of course I can always do better, but I feel pretty healthy and active.

This year I decided my theme will be “consciousness.” What I mean by that, is I want to be more present in my life. I want to be less reactive and more deliberate, proactive, and well, conscious. A synonym for this is mindful. Learning mindfulness skills has been a goal of mine for years. But it’s always felt like too big of a challenge to take on. So why now? I realize my close relationships, including my relationship with myself, are all suffering, because my default setting is reactive and not mindful, nor compassionate.

I hope as I develop more mindfulness skills, I will apply these skills across many fields in my life: my marriage, my children, other family and friends, my work, my health and physical activity, my spirituality, etc. Specifically I really want to focus on my family: Chad, Cami and Hailee. (Thanks for the idea Robin!) While I feel we are overall pretty happy and we make wonderful memories together, often, I feel we are in parenting trenches, and mindlessly living.

I just have to say, marriage is hard and parenting is hard. Perhaps that’s obvious but I don’t think people admit it enough, let alone talk about it enough. I know I don’t talk about my marriage much (hardly ever) for a couple of reasons: 1. To protect our privacy 2. I feel guilty and like I’m the only one struggling (because no one talks about it) so it feels ridiculously vulnerable to admit when things are less-than-perfect and 3. I don’t want others to judge Chad, or me, or our marriage.

I feel like it is more acceptable for parenting to be hard. More people admit parenting struggles than marriage struggles. For example, I’ll give details about my parenting struggles while neglecting details about our marriage struggles. I hate how often Mean Mom comes out. I hate that I find myself yelling at Hailee. I hate that I often feel on the brink of a meltdown. I hate how sometimes I get so mad that I feel like spanking Hailee or smacking her (I never do). I hate how quickly I lose my patience. I really want to be more conscious and present with my family! I want to like myself as a mother and wife!

I think there are things I do well as a mom (e.g. I am very affectionate with my kids and verbalize my love for them frequently. I also try to create fun memories for my kids like hiking a mile up the mountain and sledding the whole way back down with Hailee). But there is a lot I want to improve. And a lot of those aspects about me that I don’t like, are a result of mindlessness; simply reacting.

I’ve realized I can’t get out of the parenting trenches (ie this is just the stage of life where despite our best efforts, it will still be chaotic). So instead I need to be able to be in the trenches AND be the mom/wife I want to be.

So mainly my efforts will be with my family. But I will expand it from there to include other relationships: extended family, friends, my community, and also myself and my relationship with God.

The hard thing about a theme for the year is I don’t necessarily know how this will play out concretely. But I’ll figure that part out as I go. For right now I’m enthusiastic to have something meaningful to work toward!

Happy 2015!

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