Wednesday, 29 June 2011
This morning was typical in that I exercised from 8am to 12:30. There was also a shower in there (before and after the pool) plus socializing, etc. Sound excessive? Well, I guess it would be if I had other responsibilities. But family on another continent + maternity leave = lots of time to do what I want. This morning it was
road bike for 50 minutes
swim for 62 minutes
raod bike for 50 minutes again
trail run for 50 minutes
(this was a relative rest day since none of it was strenuous. And no, I don't precisely plan out these times ahead of time, I just sort of went with the feeling)
Then I finally had to stop to get to my midwife appointment at 1pm.
I actually weighed myself beforehand since they don't weigh you here - not even once have I been weighed at an appointment here and I am officially just over 62 kgs now! I thought it was a fluke the last time I weighed myself, but no I am that heavy. So that's a just over 8kg weight gain and I hope this is where I stop - really, he is big enough and so am I.
Blood pressure: well, I was hoping it would be low since blood pressure is always lower right after exercise (unless you're like gushing out blood from an injury or in rhabdo, etc), but it was 108/56. I was a bit disappointed because I always like my health practitioners to think I'm on the verge of fainting. (as an aside, I have one time in my adult non-pregnant life weighed over 130 lbs and at that time my systolic blood pressure was over 130, so I took it as a sign today that I shouldn't gain any more weight. Ie. the higher my blood pressure the closer I am to weighing too much. OCD? Yes.)
Baby's pulse: 130. Dang. I liked it better when it was low, but he seemed quite bothered by the fact that she was fidgeting with him and he was kicking and moving like crazy so I won't obsess about it. Or will I?
Baby's position: head "very deep down" in pelvis. She said he was completely "locked in" now and that nothing anyone could do would turn him. I asked her what she thought it was like to be doing a headstand in a bony pelvis (albeit in water) 24/7. She laughed as if she had never considered it. Of course he must like it, in a way, but I must admit I think about what it must be like all of the time and it just doesn't sound pleasant. Please come out soon baby, then you can sit upright on me and eat my boob.
Fundus measurement: 28 cm. She said "I would automatically have to refer you to a scan now if you hadn't just had one because you're 2-3 cm below the curve". Well, there you have it: Denmark does not systematically ignore small measurements after all!
Internal exam? Nope. They don't do that anymore. The midwife explained it has apparently no predictive value. Plus, "it is unpleasant". I was like, "I find them very pleasant" and winked at her. Okay, I didn't really. Are internal exams still done in the US before labor begins? I remember getting one at 38 weeks with The Lorax.
These last two days, while nice for me, have been shadowed by the fact that SR is going through a lot. And I feel terrible about it. He said good-bye to Natti for 3 months. Can any of you moms imagine being away from your child for 3 months? I just don't think I could live without The Lorax for 3 months. And for SR, it is no easier. Every time period he lives without Natti, a little part of him dies; the part that should have been experiencing the world with her, but isn''t. And neither The Lorax nor I nor a new baby can substitute for this feeling of loss.
I keep thinking about the fact that SR went to a movie about penguins with Natti and Andreas and that he cried at the end. When even penguins can become a metaphor for how sad your life is, things are really rough.
But on Sunday (already) we are leaving for a week's trip to Sweden. That is SR, The Lorax and I, together with SR's extended family. I am going to soak up this time with SR and The Lorax as never before.
Finally, I owe you all at least one running song, and this time it is "Guess I lied" by The Qualia.
While musically it is a great song for running, I was extremely impressed with it because I thought the lyrics were about an incestuous relationship between a brother and a sister. No, I don't condone that kind of relationship - but I just kept thinking "Can you SING that?? In a song??". Now, despite having been an English and French literature double major in college, I am terrible at interpreting poetry. I tend to read tons of things into poems or songs that aren't there. Or just miss the point entirely. This song was no exception because the band says on their website that it is about a brother and a sister "sharing a joint". Well, that basically ruined the song for me. But I still like running to it.
Fun facts (now, in times of uncertainty, such as now with SR & Natti, I tend to turn to exercise and weight loss to make me feel in control. No secret there. So I thought I'd share with you a little tidbit I read from the June 23rd New England Journal of Medicine)
Top 3 lifestyle factors associated with weight gain in the US:
1. Quitting smoking
2. French Fries
3. Potato Chips
Top 3 lifestyle factors associate with weight loss in the US:
Ooooh. I can't wait to see SR and The Lorax at the airport tomorrow! It just can't come too soon!
Sunday, 26 June 2011
I arrived very, very early. I wanted to run before the start to warm up. It is really important for me to "warm up" now that I am so far along. And I hope you all realize that when I say "warm up" it actually means "evacuate bladder and colon" :). So I decided to run the 4.2 km run route before the tri actually started. Since I was so early, I was awared start number 1!
This is my first time with number 1. (and it seemed ironic and sad that number 1 might also come in last. I just hoped I would't be too far behind everyone else.)
My "warm up" went really well and I figured I was ready.
Here were the distances:
375 meter swim
15 km bike
4.2 km run
Here is the lake and the ladders we used to climb out.
Here is a video of the beginning of the swim. Can you identify the large pregnant woman in a bright orange swim cap scurrying to get to the side before the start so she doesn't get kicked?? Okay - normally I swim with a better stroke, but I was so irritated that the guy in front of me was walking. Is that allowed??!!
(if you can't see that video, like me, here is the link: https://picasaweb.google.com/101306852460861752402/AltanTriSor2011?authkey=Gv1sRgCOqJnJGizYqbfA&feat=directlink#5622486249829061810)
I remained to the side the entire swim, which wasn't the fastest way to accomplish things, but I only got kicked once and not in the uterus. I still ended up finishing in about the middle of the pack in around 18 minutes. By no means a fast swim time, but it was fun! (I adore lake swimming!)
My transition was terrible. First you had to run about a quarter of a km on rocks and across a street to the bikes and then actually getting out of the wetsuit was probably the biggest challenge of the day. I was rolling around like an eel trying to get out of that thing. (they are made for a normally-shaped human body after all).
Why is it I always resemble a boy when I see picture of myself on a bike?
The bike route was fast, except for the big hills, rain, potholes, etc. Okay, so it wasn't that fast. But I was able to use my tri bars nearly the whole time, at the expense of some lung capacity. Let's just say I was happy to pass the hung over high school student talking on her cell phone and biking at the same time. She was the only person I passed who didn't have a flat (and she wasn't even in the tri, so it probably doesn't really count!). Time: 35 minutes. Ouch.
Oh geez, when I arrived, Helene, (seen here)
a good friend from our tri club, had just finished! Wow. She won second woman and I was so proud - had to stop and congratulate! But then I was off.
It was a 2.1 km x 2 (=4.2 km) trail route in a woods. The first loop was slow and I had to make two visits to the bushes. The "warm up" hadn't been as effective as I had hoped. But then, by the second loop, I actually started passing people and came in with a run time of 23 minutes. Hey, hey! Not bad for the end of a tri!
Total time was 1:22, with way too much time spent in transition, but I am just so big and awkward these days. (all of these times were from my watch, by the way, so they are approximations from when I looked down at the time. But I do know we started at 10am and my watch said 11:22 when I crossed the finish line. Turns out it was good I had a watch, by the way, since their timing system stopped working because it got wet in the rain!)
I was awarded a seriously nice black backpack by the Sorø Tri Club because they were so relieved I didn't go into labor. What an awesome morning! Thanks to the Sorø Tri Club and to Daniel for all of the pictures!
Thursday, 23 June 2011
I guess the celebration started last night when I went to dinner at Frederiks Have in Copenhagen with a few (hopefully this is nerdy enough for you people) MD, PhD ophthalmologists. Have I mentioned you need to have an impressive cv to eat at the same table as me?
Then, the real treat, the 12 mile run in torrential rain. For once I wore my Garmin, so I knew exactly how long the whole thing took and the distance. It took 3 hours and 1 minute, but I almost felt baptized afterwards. How does it feel to feel baptized, you ask? Well, like it is going to be a good year. My year honestly never starts January 1st, but always on my birthday, June 23rd.
This year I'll be the mom of another little boy.
This year I'll work 10 hours a week.
This year will be spent half in Næstved Denmark and half in La Crosse, WI.
This year The Lorax will learn English.
This year I will get to know my stepson Andreas again.
This year I will set a PR in the 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon.
This year I will complete an Ironman (well, that might actually be in August next year)
This year I will win Voyageur.
This year I will become slightly less effective at evacuating my colon.
Okay, okay, okay. I know I won't win Voyageur. But beat my 9:43 from 2009? Definitely.
Here I is, just baptized. I don't know why I don't look wet, but trust me, I am soaking.
Wider from the sider.
And here is the birthday present SR bought me, along with birthday money from his parents. They just don't know it yet (Thank you!). A bike for every day. The child seat needs to be added, but otherwise she's ready and fast. My old bike was terrible, but don't get me started. Okay, DO get me started - you had to pedal backwards to break and that resulted in me almost dying at least 15 times when I attempted to use the broken hand break. And it was SO heavy that I couldn't even keep up with The Lorax.
(No, I didn't run over those bags, I just set them there, okay?)
And WHAT on earth is that sitting in the freezer? Nope, no mashed potatoes there. It is extremely fine-ground, very cooked cauliflower mixed with egg, tomatoes, zucchini and pasta (whole wheat pasta - anything else is crap). The soy sauce is yet to come. Ahhh! Now you all know what I like to eat for dinner - but it changes every night. This was just my birthday rendition.
So all of this was fine and good, but it was not quite the same as...
Oh, dear, I am starting to cry now.
Want to give me a birthday present? Well, you guessed it: I want a running song suggestion from you! Please! Or just a hello.
One more thing. Just because you will love it (thanks, Magnus).
Sunday, 19 June 2011
Let us now rewind to the beginning of the race. My best friend in Næstved, Stine (that's pronounced STEEN-eh), asked me to run this 5k relay with the athletic instructor team at Scala. I was actually quite honored since I'm not an instructor. I just give free medical advice about their classes. The other big bonus was I got a shocking lime green t-shirt for free. The downside was that their female team had won the year before. And I was not crazy about having time pressure on me.
I was nonetheless really looking forward to it. I mean, they have noticed my big belly, so they weren't putting pressure on me either. The race, by the way, was Danmarksstaffet, which is run in the woods right behind our apartment; on the trails I run on most days of the week.
What was my strategy? Wake up early to eat a smaller breakfast at 6:30. (The race start was 11:00). Then go out for an hour run, to get all of those initial potty breaks out of me. I had hoped this would be just the warm up I needed - I knew it was going to be all about avoiding stomach problems.
I biked to the start in the pouring rain and learned I would be running first. I had just enough time to pee and line up at the start.
I had music today and my garmin. I couldn't help being reminded of this exact race one year ago, where I ran a 20:12 (as the first half of a 10k, actually), which was, according to the local paper, the fastest female time. I felt really energetic, but had to force myself to start in the middle of the pack. The gun went off, and I immediately started passing people, despite the crowded conditions. I ran between a 7:30 and 7:45 pace for the first 2km and felt just awesome. I wondered if I could make it under 24 minutes.
2.5 km came and this is where I got a sudden very sharp pain in my left lower abdomen. It was too much. I had to stop. I walked. Maybe it would go away. I ran again and it got worse. I know my pregnant body well enough at this point to know it was my intestines. I tried to run again, but it was excruciating. I had to walk. I hobbled to 3km and ducked into the woods. I thought I had taken care of the problem, and I had somewhat, but could really only hobble-run in pain the rest of the way. It was so extremely frustrating because I had a TON of energy, but couldn't run through the pain. I walked and ran in spurts and watched everyone I had passed before now pass me.
ØV! It was tough to accept. I do realize I'm over 34 weeks pregnant, but in my mind I am STILL the woman who runs a 20 minute 5k. (øv, by the way, is this little Danish word that conveys both disappointment and a sense of "oh well!") I rallied my strength and ran in terrible pain the last ½ km to cross the line in 27:59. It was not fun. It hurt. I waited for Finnbjørn to kick and that took less than a minute. It's always nice to get that immediate feedback that even though I'm suffering, he's doing just fine.
Ok, so let me level with you all. I hadn't expected to run fast. But the first 2km went so well, that I suddenly thought I could. So give me your opinions: are all these stomach troubles simply due to a big baby pressing on my intestines or do I have a lingering gastroenteritis that needs to be investigated further? Anyone with have personal experience with this?
In other news, SR, The Lorax and Natali left for the US yesterday. Life for the next 11 days will be very strange.
Running songs of the day: Well, I only listend to two songs - Dance Floor by The Apples in Stereo and Colours by Grouplove.
Thursday, 16 June 2011
Today was finally the day for the ultrasound. For those who are new here, I fell off the normal growth curve in terms of fundal height in week 32 of pregnancy (I measured between 25 and 26 cm to be exact). It was the general consensus of the blog readers that I get a scan to make sure the baby was growing right.
All week I was fielding questions: "Are you sure you have your dates right?" "You can't be 33 weeks" "Can you lift up your shirt so we can get a better look?" (that was actually a woman and not a man ;)). Then yesterday we went to a hospital birth preparation meeting with women who were between 30 and 32 weeks pregnant and SR was like "why do you look so tiny compared to everyone else??" So, I was starting to worry a little. But in reality, my ego was inflating more and more, though with a nagging sense of "what if??"
So at today's appointment I got to talk with an Obstetrics attending. It was nice just to see "attending" (overlæge) on her name badge. She hinted it was a bit silly that I get a scan since it is probably just me and the way the baby is sitting (I couldn't help getting the feeling - like the true socialist I am becoming - that "I don't deserve this scan"). But she scanned away, right there in her office. Gotta say I was surprised when she started getting some measurements that were bigger than expected for my due date! I had never imagined that. I suddenly started wondering if I had my dates mixed up in the opposite way. But, no. He came out measuring almost exactly average for the 33 week 5 day old baby he is at 2256 grams (that's exactly 5 lbs!!). Okay, so in my limited experience average is HUGE! The Lorax weighed 6lbs when he was born at 39 weeks and 1 day. And little Finnbjørn is almost that big right now!
Needless to say SR and I are relieved. And if he were born today, he'd be an ok weight. But I'm starting to wonder how easily the "little" guy will come out on the big day.
Now I know why I am vomiting up nearly everything I eat. (and why I seem to get gastronenteritis, of sorts, every time I run) There must simply be no room for him. I woke up this morning with excruciating heart burn. My stomach must be the size of a cheese ball right now. It has meant absolutely NO running or activity of any kind after lunch -otherwise lunch all over clothing and sidewalk, etc. And all of the pressure in my pelvis has turned my legs out so that my toes point away from each other at a 90 degree angle. Despite how silly this looks, and the intestinal issues, I continue to run, which is still a big source of happiness for me. Here is how the last week looked in terms of exercise:
Thursday: 1 hour pulse/core pilates, 2 hour run
Friday: 1 hour run, 1.5 hour bike, 45 min swim
Saturday: 1 hour pulse/core pilates, 2 hour run with SR
Sunday: 2.5 hour run with SR
Monday: 2 hour run
Tuesday: 1 hour pulse/core pilates, 2 hour run
Wednesday: 2 hour bike ride, 1 hour run
The only thing I wish I could change is I wish I could swim more, but the swim club we belong to is only open 1 hour most days and it is hard to get it to fit into my schedule. Plus, there were holidays on Sunday and Monday, so the pool was closed. Soon the ocean will be warm enough to swim without a wet suit (mine is, as you can imagine, much tighter than intended).
A 5k relay is coming up this Sunday (Danmarks Staffet), which I am running with ladies from my athletic club. It will be great to open up my stride a bit and try to run fast. I'll give a full report, I promise.
Monday, 13 June 2011
So why hanven't I written an update? Because nothing has happened.
I called my nurse (who may actually be a doctor; I can't find it anywhere on the clinic's website) and I got the secretary. The secretary told me the easiest way to contact my nurse/doctor was to write an email. So I did. 3 days later (Friday), I got a reply that she would refer me to an obstetrician. Saturday I received a letter saying I have an appointment with an obstetrician this coming Friday. At that time the obstetrician will decide whether or not I should get a scan.
If something is wrong, we're not going to find out about it in any sort of timely fashion. I feel like if I get that ultrasound before I actually give birth, I will be lucky.
BUT, I don't have any sort of *inkling* that anything is wrong. I feel like everything is going as it should. But, as SR's cousin pointed out: "how would you know something was wrong?". Good question.
So that's on the back burner.
In other news, I feel entirely overwhelmed right now. And it has nothing to do with the pregnancy or my work, actually. It has to do with the fact that my step-daughter, Natali, is moving to the US in 5 days. In these 5 days, I can't make up for the things I have done wrong or the things I wish I had done with her. I can only hope she is happy during her year in the US and that she has gained some self-confidence and a sense she is loved here. As SR has worked out with his ex-wife, she will be moving back to Denmark again after one year. It is a rough life for a 10 year old. I don't envy her one bit. But the whole situation leaves me feeling powerless and tired. In 5 days, she will go from a girl who has basically been my daughter for two years, to a girl I talk to from time to time on Skype. But then I think about how SR feels, and I feel even worse.
Yesterday at a family gathering, a cousin asked Natali "isn't it hard for you to have to move back to the US again?" I expected her to say she was looking forward to it. But instead she said "Yeah, it is hard."
Here is a picture of SR's immediate family from this past Sunday. Sunday and Monday were holidays: Pinse. It is a tradition in Denmark to celebrate the time period when the Apostles had the ability to speak in tongues. It is called Pentecost in English.
Monday, 6 June 2011
So, Skodsborg is, of course a half marathon or a marathon. One can choose. I just decided to make my very own race yesterday; 30k sound like a nice race distance to anyone else? Well, it was more or less my stomach that chose the distance, if you were wondering.
So, Skodsborg is simply a marathon among friends in the woods and that's why we keep going back. We can show up 5 minutes before the start and get a good picture taken, fumbling to get things ready.
(Thanks to Karen for all of the following wonderful pictures!!)
In honour of the Danish constitution, I wore my Thai tank top. I think that is what Jerk had in mind when he said we should wear red or white. (I'm not actually sure it's Thai... anyone?)
The odds were stacked against me. Every time I have run since The Copenhagen Marathon, I've gotten sick to my stomach, not that it hurts, but it's more like I have some mild gastroenteritis that even daily iron tablets won't reverse, if you know what I mean.
Here is a quick race summary:
It was a warm day made cooler in the shade of the woods.
SR was going for the course record, which was 3:10. On a warm day and on a tough course, I knew the odds were also stacked against him. Here he is among the early leaders.
My race, not surprisingly, started out pretty "crappy". Let me just say I can totally respect why women don't run at all at this point of pregnancy. Every 5 minutes I was behind another tree. My stomach was a wreck. This lasted about 10 km! Most people would stop, I know. But it was getting better all along. After 10k I started running with two really sweet girls who were running their first half marathon. They had gotten lost on the first loop (just like I had the last race). We had a fun time and I navigated them through the confusing turns.
So 10-20km was lots of fun.
Here Karen told me to pull up my shirt for the picture - how silly.
But problems started again - if it wasn't a side stitch, it was a Braxton Hicks contraction, or both at once. What an awesome surprise when SR came to meet me. He had started out well, but by the half, he realized he was not on pace for the course record, so let it go. He was pleased with his first place in 3:16 until we were informed by Jesper H. that Jesper Noer had actually won and had run it in 2:55! SR had thought he was running a half and I had thought he came late and was trying to catch up. Anyway, awesome race, Jesper! We made it to the aid station with Jesper and Helle (pictured here)
to round 30km for me in 4 hours and 3 minutes--- and I was more than done. But SR and I thoroughly enjoyed another Skodsborg Marathon! So great to see so many friends again.
Here's Birgitte Nielsen, my dear friend, looking beautiful and well on her way to winning for the women in 3:59.
And here Jørgen celebrates running his 100th marathon
- by receiving a Houston Oilers helmet ????? (again fitting for the Day of the Danish Constitution!)
So, lots to write about today. I saw the nurse practitioner today, who is very nice, but was very adamant that I stop running now. Not for any particular reason that I could get out of her other than she thought the pelvis muscles couldn't take it. I told her my pelvic muscles were stronger for it and she started to hone in on the fact that I wasn't completely normal. We discussed that there really no evidence saying I shouldn't run at this point in pregnancy, but I told her I was cutting back without intending to due to stomach issues.
She did an abdominal exam and said the head was down and that he probably wouldn't move out of that position, so I learned something very good! Then she measured me and I was only 1cm more in fundal height than at 29 weeks, thus WAY under the chart for normal growth at over 32 weeks. I was kind of like - you're not worried about that? "Well, it's just cause you run so much". I actually begged to differ because I think lots of women who run measure normally. But since I measured small last time (though we don't have the records), she said it was probably just me. But this time I had measured at 50th percentile just 8 weeks ago. I told SR and he was like "are you worried?" and I was like "I don't know. Are you?". Okay, so we both are a little worried and that was my last doctor's visit before the birth. Though there is another with the midwife in a few weeks.
I hate how my growth trajectory resembles that of women who have had Malaria in the beginning of pregnancy. Of course it is hard to make sense of it, but does it just naturally go along with running and exercise that one measures small at the end of pregnancy? And should I be worried I haven't gained any weight since week 29?
Of course, everything is probably normal - but I'm also crossing my fingers it's not a fluid problem or growth restriction or any other thing that women who read this blog might feel like mentioning just to make me not fall asleep at night...
But seriously, should we "demand a scan" as SR has suggested??
Friday, 3 June 2011
1. I say yes to too many projects
2. I sleep too much
(feel bad for me?? okay, probably not)
Yes, sweet sleep. I think about it all of the time now. My days consist of at least 9 hours of sleep at night and sometimes a nap on top of that in the afternoon. It is wonderful. I am the type of person who is always bordering on mania. I normally can't fall asleep, I wake up early and I can never nap. But during these last few weeks, I've seen a change in all of that. Yesterday, I fell asleep on SR's lap as we watched a show about Alaska. Maybe he thought I was dead. I've never done this before. And it was amazing. (I would be much more likely to fall asleep watching an episode of Lost than a documentary about Alaska, by the way).
But what is all of this I've said yes to???
1. This is the blog's fault. I started ranting to the head researcher in the population study I'm working with about how bad the Tanita scan is for measuring body fat and how ludicrous the guidelines are that are given to all of our research participants as "healthy fat ranges". I didn't realize this would be such big news to everyone involved in the study, and suddenly I'm the expert on body composition, trying to design a protocol to verify our own Tanita scan and understand the importance of body fat to health.... And I'm supposed to be studying eye diseases!! (trust me, I know a LOT more about body composition than I did a month ago - and WAY more than I ever wanted to know!)
2. This is ALSO the blog's fault. I've become passionate about general medicine again. A number of you have written to me with questions about your own health (yes, I guess you know who you are). And I have realized there is almost nothing I enjoy more than helping people with their general health concerns. I have, almost certainly, come to the conclusion that I am going to do a residency in Family Medicine. It's a big change from Ophthalmology, and it will take some time and effort to work out the details (but at least SR is thrilled).
3. I think I have discovered a major risk factor for the development of macular degeneration, at least in the Danish population. Of course, nothing is published yet and I really shouldn't write preliminary results on a blog. But what the heck, you guys teach me so much; maybe you'll have input on this, too. It seems that even more important in the development of macular degeneration than smoking itself is whether one's parents smoked when one was a kid and/or whether one's mother smoked during pregnancy. It is kind of a long, complicated story how this discovery came about, but I will give you the link to the article when I publish it.
And what about the pregnancy? Well, I feel good but running is anything but effortless. There is no pain per se, but I feel big, sweat a lot, breath really hard, etc.. The weird thing is, one would think I would get faster since I have gone the last 3 weeks without gaining weight, but the opposite is true. But swimming and biking times still remain basically unchanged.
We are running the Skodsborg Marathon on Sunday (NO, I won't run the whole thing!) and, as far as I am concerned, it is going to be kind of a joke ("make it to the next tree, then you can walk!", etc.), but I don't mind spending the day in those beautiful woods again :).
And music. I hardly listen to music anymore when I run. But I heard something on the radio yesterday that made me laugh. If this makes sense to anyone but me, please speak up "Australia is the new Sweden". Exactly. Now that I've been pushing Architecture in Helsinki for the last couple of weeks, it's time to tell you about yet another awesome Australian band, Cloud Control. My current favorite is: This is what I said
Finally -- I need your help. We are looking for a double baby jogger. Anyone have any recommendations? Any warnings about bad ones? Anyone selling theirs.... ???