Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Race report: the one with the best finisher souvenir ever

A few weeks back, I did say that expecting a baby was like training for a marathon... and you don't even get a medal at the end. Last week, the marathon organisers got their act together and fired the starting gun. It wasn't especially well-organised, there definitely weren't enough portaloos, and I still didn't get a finisher medal (technically, I won't be sure I've finished for another 18 years) - but I got something even better: this guy.

Meet baby D, 7.5lbs and 19.25 inches at birth - that's 3.4 kg and 49cm for those of us thinking in metric. Champion pooper and thumb-sucker extraordinaire, but he's still getting the whole eating thing figured out. He enjoys sunshine, a good burp, Rockabye Baby music, and being IN CHARGE.

Speaking of the eating thing, we live in a studio apartment, so visitors are...um...tricky. I put a sign on the door that says: "CAUTION: Breastfeeding mom, crabby baby, and stressed dad within. Visitors may make themselves useful or leave."

So how did the 'race' go? Well - as you all know, nothing ever really goes according to plan. At the same time, it wasn't one of those races where you are all-out miserable and hot and exhausted from the word go.

On Saturday night, I started having cramps and contractions which were irregular...all the way till Tuesday. In all I think I was in early labour for nearly four days. By the time I got to the hospital on Tuesday night/ Wednesday morning, I was 7cm dilated, in active labour, and thoroughly fed up - so asked for an epidural. (I'd been wavering on getting one, but it makes the difference between doing an ultramarathon with a support crew vs without a support crew.) After that, I was in labour for another 8 hoursincluding 3 hours of pushing  (I did say ultra).

The upside is that early labour pains weren't that bad for me, much like bad period cramps. I finally called and went to hospital because I'd started bleeding and was worried it might be a placental abruption or something, but it turned out to be perfectly normal. And with an epidural, you don't feel a thing when they stitch you up afterwards. However, your lady bits have still undergone massive trauma, with all the horrors that entails. Though I feel the alternative - major surgery - is probably worse.

We are totally in love with the little fellow, especially his hair!

It's all about the gas, bout the gas, no bubble.

Right now, baby has a little bit of jaundice. To flush out the bilirubin, we have to feed him quite aggressively, giving him a little formula or pumped milk through a tube setup to supplement what he's eating, while he latches and nurses. EVERY TWO HOURS. It's a juggling act... I wish it were just a little bit warmer out so we could sit out in the sunshine with him.

A few lessons:

- Proper fuelling is essential to a happy, healthy marathon. I didn't really have time to eat as much as I would have liked before getting that epidural, and after that they didn't allow me anything but water and ice chips. I'm convinced I had to push for three hours because I ran out of energy, and I ran out of energy because I had to push for three hours - it's kind of a vicious circle.

- One thing I've learnt from first aid and outdoor risk management classes is "make sure the scene is safe". In other words, you don't want to be the next casualty while trying to rescue your first aid patient. Likewise for being a new parent: you will be much better at your job if you have brushed your teeth, taken a shower, stayed hydrated and fed, got some sleep, had some coffee, (for breastfeeding mums) put nipple cream on, and generally feel more human.

Future race goals:

- Our apartment overlooks a little playground and I always see the kids out there. I am really looking forward to having a toddler or preschooler, because three-year-olds are hilarious.

- I loved growing up with my sister and loads of cousins always around, and I really wish we were geographically closer to baby D's cousins. We have a niece (on my side, directly, plus another six of my cousins' children) and a niece and nephew on the husband's side. They're all pretty close in age and I'm looking forward to spending time with them.

- We'll see how this parenting thing goes, but I'd really love to start actually running again by about late June and do a few more fun runs this summer. I'm really eyeing the 7-mile Falmouth Road Race in August...though I'm not certain I'll be in shape to enjoy 7 miles. And then I'll probably train for the Tufts Health Plan 10K as a goal race in October to sort of see what kind of shape I am actually in.

The lowdown:

Finishing time (stage 1): 13 hours from hospital admission.
Race date: May 13
Entering this race is free, but there are a number of participant fees to pay along the way, and it's totally a personal decision.
Race experience: ups, downs, pretty euphoric.