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Posts tagged ‘health’

Loving my body again: A tale of broken boobs

My daughter will be nine-months old on Thursday. When people meet her, there's generally a consensus about how happy she is, how much she smiles and how good of a disposition she has. I'm lucky that at this point in the mommy game, I'm rarely getting asked the question that I was so frequently at the beginning.

"Are you nursing?"

"That's complicated," was the standard and necessary response.

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Finding the perfect combination at

Confession: My pregnancy heartburn is painful and debilitating. Some nights I can’t sleep. Others I toss and turn, even after taking a Pepcid. So I’ve spent a good deal of time since my first trimester looking for foods that would be delicious but wouldn’t agitate my painful acid reflux.

My go-to breakfast during pregnancy has been oatmeal. Lots and lots of oatmeal. I’ve been eating a lot of instant apples and cinnamon oatmeal for the past seven months. I wish I had time to make steel cut oats or something more fancy, but the truth is that I warm up my bowl of oatmeal when I get of my office at school and eat it as I prep for my 9 a.m. class.

MyOatmealSo when I got an email from Sweat Pink a couple weeks ago about, a website that lets customers make their own organic healthy oatmeal combination that includes selecting the oats, adding flavors, adding fruits or/and nuts and sweetener, I jumped at a chance to try a different type of oatmeal than I’ve been eating for the past 30 weeks.

I immediately sent an email for a free code to score a bag, hoping I would be one of the lucky ones to respond soon enough.

I’m so glad that I was, particularly because since I hit the third trimester, my heartburn has become exponentially worse than it was. I was given a coupon code to purchase a medium-sized bag from the site, which is 2.25 pounds.

I set out to make my own concoction immediately.

First off, the site order site reminds me of a check list for ordering a salad or sandwich from one of my favorite local delis. Lots of check boxes, lots of choices.

Each choice leads to another set of choices, including a long list of options for added flavors. I was overwhelmed by the options.

Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 4.40.22 PM

I’m ashamed to admit, then, that I didn’t get as wild and crazy as I would have liked. I was incredibly tempted by the Snickerdoodle and Strawberry Shortcake flavors. Then I saw the Vanilla Frosting. And Cookie Dough.

I chose two flavors: Cinnamon Roll and Apple Pie.

I know, so predictable. But I know what works for me, especially right now, so I figured I’d stay with choices I knew were safe. I opted to add some raisins (another selection screen), but no nuts and a little sweetener for my blend. I also added some dried apples.


I opened the custom-made package I received immediately and the first thing I noticed was the smell of the oatmeal. None of my store-bought instant oatmeal smelled as delicious as the package from I sniffed it for awhile before I actually made myself a bowl.

Once I did, I knew I’d made the right taste choice.


I made myself a bowl for dinner one night (because sometimes that happens when you’re a pregnant woman) and sat down for ridiculously nutritious dinner. It was filling and tasty. My only complaint was that it wasn’t as sweet as the boxed oatmeal I’m used to, but I’ve had a need for sweet things for the past couple weeks.

My package has been split up into many bags this week so I could take them to work to eat before class, and I made some “protein balls” for quick snacks to satisfy my cravings between meals (see below).

The oatmeal is satisfying enough to get me through my class and to the noon hour, which is saying a lot right now since I tend to want to eat everything that is put in front of me.

The best part is that the Oatmeal is completely customizable and your blend can be sent to you once, every two weeks, every month, every two months or every three months. The smell alone is worth ordering, but the oatmeal selection is solid too.

Even better is that the oatmeal hasn’t caused me the horrible heartburn that’s been plaguing me for months now.


You can make your own blend at by clicking the “Build Your Blend” button in the navigation bar. Just be warned: There are a ton of flavors to choose from so you may need some time to seriously consider the array of delicious choices.

And it’s healthy.

[yumprint-recipe id=’1′]Disclaimer: I was provided a code from my affiliation as a Sweat Pink Ambassador to review, but the opinions are my own.

This is not my body


I don’t want the title to sound like a complaint. My husband likes to remind me that WE WANTED to have a baby. We consider this little girl a huge blessing. And we are incredibly excited to welcome her in a couple months. (Also: I look like crap in that picture. I don’t even care.)

What I didn’t know, though, was how difficult it would be to see my body change so dramatically in such a short time. My “baby belly” didn’t really show until December when I was a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding. But I started feeling “pregnant” nearly immediately.

Consider my last long run before I found out. I was exhausted. I could barely keep my pace. I kept stopping and sitting down. What was supposed to be a 15-mile run turned into a 12-mile run when I just couldn’t go on anymore. I stopped my Garmin and walked back to my car, thinking, perhaps, I was just having an off day.

That weekend I took a pregnancy test and immediately suspended my marathon training. I had 15,18 and 20 milers on the schedule for my next three weekends after that. I took the test because I could barely get up in the morning. I was having problems staying awake during the day. I knew, only weeks into the first trimester, that there was NO WAY I would be able to run a marathon at the end of September.

The positive pregnancy test meant that I slowly started pulling away from the running world, and this blog, and retreat to my everyday life. Why? Because, despite signing up for a bunch of races in that first trimester, I kind of knew I wouldn’t be running long distances for awhile. If I would have accepted it earlier, I likely would have been able to unload some of those race entries.

I’m finding, though, that at 30 weeks, my body is betraying me more than I ever thought it would. Health worries I thought I didn’t have anymore and coming back. My body is changing daily now and I never know what to expect. It’s exciting, because it means she’s coming soon, but it’s also so foreign to be in a body I don’t feel like is mine anymore.


I haven’t been on medication for four years, but the fact that I once was comes up in nearly EVERY appointment with my OB. At the beginning, it frustrated me. Now it’s just part of life.

Early in my pregnancy, I was given a new glucose meter to measure my blood sugar. I hadn’t owned one since right after my husband and I bought our house in 2010 and I purged a ton of stuff.

I was supposed to use it four times a day. But my hands started mildly swelling, and I couldn’t get any blood out. None. I would massage my fingers, put a rubber band around the finger I was poking, run my hands under hot water, etc. Nothing worked. I would get more upset with it than was really good for me or the baby.

So I stopped. Instead I opted to get my blood drawn for regular average sugar tests. So far? All within normal. But I can’t get past the fact that I’ve been on the medication before.

What irked me more than anything was the “you need to work out X amount of minutes a day.” I was already. The fact that my doctors didn’t seem to listen to me during my appointments when I told them I ran and did yoga was even more bothersome.


I lost 15 pounds when I first got pregnant. I didn’t have morning sickness. Instead, I just couldn’t eat anything. I picked apart my food for the first 14 weeks. I only ate small meals. I’d start eating something, then stop and give the rest to my dogs.

I was also too fatigued to run a lot at first.

The result of those two things was a decline in my leg muscles. It didn’t take long, particularly because I went from running 100-plus miles a month to 20 or so. My husband always told me that I really wanted to lose weight, I’d have to stop running as much. Turns out he was right.

When I did get back into it, in the second trimester, there was a noticeable difference in my running. My legs felt tight, and weak. They haven’t recovered.



My feet, my hands, etc. Before anyone jumps to “that could be a sign of something bad,” I know. My doctor and I have had numerous conversations about pre-eclampsia. We’ve talked about me going in for twice-weekly monitoring of baby girl’s stress level. My blood pressure is checked regularly.

Swelling is part of pregnancy for some women. I’m one of those women.

My running shoes don’t fit. Neither do any of my heels. In the past four weeks none of my flats have fit me well.

Worse even is that my wedding ring has been in our home safe for weeks because I haven’t been able to wear it out of the house.

The swelling makes me very uncomfortable. When I clinch my hands, it hurts. Obviously walking around is painful after awhile as well.


Maybe she doesn’t, but she sure seems to. My husband is concerned about pre-term labor (which is a real concern for us with my health history) and asked me to NOT run during the third trimester. Yoga is fine. Walking is fine. But no high impact. The funny thing is that I’m OK with it. I’ve been fine with it since I started getting Braxton Hicks contractions in the middle of two mile runs.

I also started responding to the baby when I feel as if she is sending me messages. Some runs were fine. I felt as if the movement had rocked her to sleep. Other days, I felt as if I was making her incredibly uncomfortable. She started kicking my bladder uncontrollably and then didn’t calm down about an hour later.

She would kick me relentlessly after. I started feeling as if she wasn’t all that comfortable when I was running, particularly in the past couple weeks of running.

So I stopped.

Now I’m sticking to yoga, but even that is becoming harder. I’m 30 weeks today. I’m going back and forth about registering for another few sessions of yoga. At this point I only am looking at five sessions at a time … because I had a couple weeks were I was too uncomfortable to go.

All of these things are making it hard to feel like “me” right now.

The after

A year ago I was sitting in an emergency room calming down after being administered an emergency Xanax. My very taxed brain was relaxing for the first time in weeks. My body was coming out of a panic-induced tension.

A year ago, I couldn’t have imagined what I would be like today. Because I didn’t know how I would get through the next hour. Or the next day. I didn’t know how I would wake up and take on another day.

My confidence was replaced with sadness and fear. My voice trembled when I spoke. For weeks I had a tendency to burst into tears and cry for hours. I had to excuse myself from rooms to do just that for months.

A year ago, I temporarily lost myself. I broke down.

I spent four months in therapy, putting myself back together. Recognizing that the cause was a job that I had spent too long trying to make better and fake people I’d spent too much time investing myself in was one of the greatest breakthroughs. Finally “separating” from said job brought a secondary emotional whirlwind that I worked through for even more months.

I waded through the darkest period of my life and the seeming loss of what I always considered mt first love only to realize that I never fell out of love with journalism. I never lost my passion for it. It just got buried under bureaucracy, middle management restrictions and office politics. It was buried under a deep depression that wouldn’t have become better if I had stayed.

I fought my way back to me by training for and running 26.2 three times, earning a 12-minute PR in April at the San Luis Obispo Marathon. I did my first out of state race in Portland. I bricked my half marathon schedule to achieve a significant half marathon PR and finish with a 2:16 in San Diego.

I ran because it was what I knew to do when things got bad. I ran because it was my way to cope.

Eight weeks ago, though, I remembered why I started running. At 200 pounds, I was a Type 2 diabetic on medication. I was sluggish and unhappy. I was also told, once upon a time, that I had Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and would likely have issues conceiving a child when the time came. (A surgery in 2010 found no issues with my ovaries, despite my hormone levels being way off.)

Get the weight down, health care professionals advised. Manage your diet better, the doctors warned.

There are things you don’t tell people when you start running. That was my thing. No one needed to know I was running to one day be able to have a baby. Because some things should be left personal.

To me, 2013 will always be the year of the personal best. Because I ran my butt off to put myself back together. Because my distance times improved.

But also because my personal best also means that eight weeks ago, my husband and I found out we will become first-time parents in May.


So as much as I will struggle to get through the one-year anniversary of the day that changed my life completely, I am celebrating the most beautiful “after” gift that I’ve received by way of the hell it took to get here.

The light at the end of the tunnel I so desperately sought a year ago burns brighter than I could have ever imagined.

Because I ran.

Every step.

Every mile.

Every marathon.

For this.

Yes, something is up

But I’m not quite ready to share.

There’s a great concern among readers of this blog when I suddenly drop off the face of the world for awhile. It’s not deliberate. I promise. I’ve been busy with my students (journalism conference last weekend and a new issue this week), website work and family stuff.

There are some confessions, though:

  1. My nutrition is still in flux and I’m working through it. I say that because I have received many, many suggestions for things that are “easier” on my stomach. The problem is I still have no gallbladder, so what works for one person sometimes (usually) doesn’t work for me.
  2. The nutrition aspect has wrecked havoc on my training. My mileage will be severely cut this month, likely in the 65-70 mile range.
  3. For two weeks, I couldn’t run without feeling like I was going to throw up. TMI, I know. But it was really bad there for a minute.
  4. I’m still running the Half Moon Bay Half Marathon, but I’m pacing myself. That should translate into “I’ll likely be slow and I don’t care.” And I’m already slow-ish. So “slow” may take on a whole new meaning.
  5. I’m still signed up for multiple races this month and have every intention in running them. Slower, with more deliberate thinking and motion going into each step.
  6. The “Year of the PR” is officially over for me. I’m completely OK with that. I’ll hold my 2:16 half marathon finish very close for awhile. And my 5:12 marathon finish. (Not to mention running a 5:15 in San Francisco on a tougher course than San Luis Obispo.)
  7. I’m OK with my level of fitness devolving a little right now. I ran a six-mile taper run yesterday. Today my butt hurts in a way it hasn’t since I trained for my first half marathon. I haven’t hurt this bad after a six-mile run in forever. After tomorrow’s 13.1, I may pass out. It’s likely.
  8. My marriage is fine, my husband continues to be the most supportive man I know. He even let me drag him to Walnut Creek last weekend for packet pick-up for the Half Moon Bay Half Marathon. He stood by me as I traded in my personalized marathon bib for a half one. I think he realized how bittersweet it was for me, but both of us KNEW it was the right choice.
  9. My mental health is fine. That comes up, not surprisingly, because it would be easy for me to regress into an anxiety-ridden, panic mode. That hasn’t happened.
  10. All of this equates to nothing bad. I ran with a cranky gallbladder for two years before the damn thing was removed. I’ve had to work much harder than this. Right now, though, every step feels like a mile. I’m working through it.

Working through it means I haven’t wanted to share as much, for the first time since I started this blog. So I’ve been stepping back and prioritizing. It doesn’t mean I’m joining the mass exodus of bloggers who stopped blogging either. I’m not there yet either.

I just ask for a little patience as I put my health back together. And a little understanding when my half marathon times really start to take a hit.

A hard-fought diet battle

Over the past four weeks my stomach has waged a relentless war against me. Everything I eat has made me sick. Every run I went on suffered from it. Every training decision I made was marred by the fact that I couldn’t fuel properly.

And now, as the problems seem to be receding, I’m having to make some difficult decisions about the marathon I’m supposed to be running in less than a month. The likelihood is that now I can’t. I won’t be able to get in my long runs. I don’t have enough energy to do so with a very limited diet either.

I’m losing the war.

When my gallbladder was removed in emergency surgery, I was told, repeatedly, that my diet had to change. I HAD to cut out certain foods and drinks. There was no way around it.

But over a seven-month period, my bad habits creeped back into what was once a very clean diet.

Those bad habits include an very dependent relationship on Diet Coke. And a love of the occasional cupcake. Then there’s a horrible habit of overeating.

Over summer, when I was working from home more, my diet became worse and worse. I was still running 100 miles a month, but I was also eating a lot of burrito bowls. Then I was drinking a lot of diet soda.

In July, I realized that I had packed on some pounds. My time for the Summer Breeze Half Marathon wasn’t bad at 2:19, but I was tired the entire run. It was definitely not my 2:16 half time from June. I was sluggish. But I also just wanted to stop running again, half way through 13.1 and give up.

By mid-August, I was having digestion issues that were causing to me call and cancel my runs with Sam and Jennie. The two had started running early in the morning three days a week. I could, maybe, get my stomach under control one day of the three to run with them.

My diet was all out of sorts.

I reverted to treadmill running where I had control over my situation a little better. By situation I meant that if I had to go to the bathroom immediately, I would be able to quickly. I know that’s TMI, but quick trips to the bathroom have become commonplace.

So two weeks ago, I did something drastic: I severely cut my diet. I removed nearly everything that was making me sick, or that I thought was, and added everything back one by one, slowly.

It meant that for about four days, all I ate was toast with an almond-butter spread from A Loving Spoon.

Seriously, two slices of wheat toast with a little almond butter (which is made locally in Mountain House with all-natural ingredients), was the only thing I could stomach for about three days.

In a week, I lost four pounds.

This past week, I started adding fruits (which were really, really hard on my stomach) back in moderation. Bananas first. Then apples. No peaches yet. My one experience with pineapples this week left me feeling a little queasy, so I won’t be trying that again for another couple weeks.

I’ve had chicken, but red-meat hasn’t been good to me either.

I’m also eating significantly less, cutting my portions by more than half.

So far, my stomach has felt A LOT better. I haven’t had as many issues with rushed bathroom trips (this is a good thing since school started back up and half of the women’s rooms in my building have been torn down). Yesterday, I finally got through a six-mile run without trouble.

It took two weeks. I know my stomach is nowhere near “healed.” I know I did a lot of damage to it with a summer of eating bad stuff.

And these weeks where it hurt more to run than it should have mean that I’m likely going to switch to the half marathon at for the Half Moon Bay International Marathon. I know I could probably slog (slow+jog) through 26.2 miles, but I’m starting to feel like it may not be worth it.

What would my motivation be if I knew I wouldn’t be at my top performing shape? Just to finish another one? To tell people I ran a marathon that weekend? It just doesn’t seem worth it.

Plus, I have two more half marathons the following weekends that I want to run. I don’t want to injure myself on Sept. 29 and NOT be able to run the other races, particularly the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon, which will be my “Grand Slam” Heavy Medal finish (and my last for this year).

Perspective is telling me there will be more marathons. Experience is telling me I’m not ready for this one.


All I know is I’m tired of looking like I did above, struggling, at the end of a race.

So instead of gunning for a PR in the full at Half Moon Bay, I’m going to work on getting through my next couple races while trying to work through these ongoing stomach issues. I feel like it’s going to be a hard-fought battle … which I’m hopefully now getting the upper hand in.

Bowing out before the run

This is as far as my tutu and running gear got on Saturday. It’s where it all continues to sit today. Needless to say, if my tutu, race belt and water bottle didn’t make it out the door, neither did I.

Instead, I went back to sleep after realizing, nearly at the last minute when my friend was on the way to pick me up, that I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t go run on Saturday. I didn’t want to. The thought of doing so paralyzed me with fear.

Thanks anxiety. I appreciate it.

Or not. I actually hate your face. If you had a face, I mean. Than I’d hate it.

I won’t get started on “how it all went down” rather I’ll say this: It’s been about three months since my last panic attack. This one was minor in severity to the first one (otherwise known as the “big one” or “the incident”) last October. It wasn’t as quick as the one three months ago either.

Suffice it to say, my morning wasn’t fun. I woke up with a huge knot in my stomach that just wouldn’t go away. And it didn’t until I fell back asleep after my husband handed me some tissue and sent out the obligatory “Tara isn’t coming” text message.

Life. Sucks. Sometimes.

The good news is that people tell me it gets better. The better news is that this is the first time in three months I’ve even had something like this happen. That’s a win. Even if I didn’t feel that way yesterday, it truly is.

Saturday marked the first day anxiety has broken into my running in such a way. My last race was the San Francisco Marathon. And while I had moments of “why am I doing this?” and “I cannot do this today” I made it to the start line. To the midway point. And to the finish.

It was easy to diagnose the “trigger” for Saturday, which had nothing to do with running at all. I know it had nothing to go with running because I was able to hop on the treadmill later in the evening and run eight miles, no problem.

But I was smart to know my limit, to not push myself when uncomfortable. My husband kept trying to persuade me, to push me out the door with my friends, to tell me everything would be OK. I think deep down, though, he knew it was a lost battle from the moment I started to breathe heavy. He did what he could.

And I did what I knew had to be done: I laid myself back down. I bowed out before the run.

I knew the damaged I would do if I kept going. I knew what would happen if I got out the door and on the road, or even to the race. I knew it would be all bad. I knew once I lost my composure, I wouldn’t be able to get it back.

Part of learning to live with anxiety, and specifically without anxiety medication, is that I have to be the one to pull back for myself. I have to set my limits. I did that on Saturday, which meant there was no 5K. I want to be disappointed about missing what looked like a good time, but I’ve run too many races lately (and many since October) to know that I never felt this way before one.

Something was different. Something was wrong.

I listened to that gut instinct which I didn’t listen to last October, which led to that “more damage” down the road. Because my hope is that if it’s been three months since my last panic attack this time, it will be six months in between the next … or maybe they’ll stop all together.

I can cross my fingers and hope. But I can also recognize the signs early enough to stop it from happening all together, lean back, relax, breathe deep and remove myself from a situation, temporarily, before it gets too bad. Even if it means giving up a fun run.

A not-so-subtle reminder


I haven’t really talked about my broken arm since the doctor gave me an “all clear” weeks ago. The mobility is far better than it was. It feels, mostly, normal. In fact, it really doesn’t bother me most the time.

Then I get a not-so-subtle reminder that it’s not quite at full operating capacity.

It usually comes when I’m in the middle of a cross-training activity. It starts as a dull pain at the site of the fracture. It’s not really noticeable at first. Then there’s a feeling of faint pressure. It’s followed by an all-at-once feeling that something is tearing the bone apart from the inside.

Needless to say, I’m not healed completely.

I can’t even do a 30-minute Jillian Michaels workout video with my friend Sam without saying “nope, can’t do this one” when we get to a move that would involve my left elbow.

I knew this would be the case.

The doctor didn’t promise me a miracle healing or even guarantee that I’d be back to my normal, push-up able self within a month. He said it would take time. He also advised me not to push as much pressure on it as I would my right arm.

So when Michaels instructs Sam and I go into a cobra position (or whatever it is, I don’t know, that 30-minutes kicks my butt), I shouldn’t be getting as much into it as I am. But I tend to push things like this a little far.

I think my arm is better. The truth is, it’s not.

In fact, the doctor told me to watch out when I run even more so because the likelihood is that if I fall on that same spot again, which I’d likely do because my luck is that great, I could completely fracture my radial head all over again.


Doesn’t it look all healed up and unsuspecting? The pressure in that stupid little bone is ridiculously painful. I’ve never experienced “pressure” pain before. When it gets really bad, I turned to my “breakthrough-only” Ibuprofen. That’s pretty bad.

Even better, apparently I haven’t learned my lesson from all of the doctor visits, the week of a sling and the inability to move my arm completely for more than a month.

As Jennie and I were finishing up our six-mile run today, we were back into the neighborhood area where we run in front of houses. About four miles of our run twist down tree-lined paths by my house. The neighborhoods are basically at the beginning and end of the run as we make our way back to my house.

“I try to avoid these since you fell,” she said to me, gesturing down at a lip of a driveway.

Of course, I turned around. And looked down. As I was running.

Basically, I did all of the things I did when I fell in March. I didn’t fall tonight. But it made me realize a couple things: 1) I didn’t even realize that I had fallen over a lip of a driveway, but now that I think about it, yeah, that’s what happen. 2) I really should start paying more attention to the sidewalk while I’m running.

Knowing the time is right (and why my husband is a saint)


I’m going to start this blog post with the truest statement I can: My husband is a saint.

I know a lot of women gush about how amazing and supportive their husbands are, but I know everyday how lucky I am. When I met Thomas 11+ years ago I didn’t know that we’d be sharing our lives together this far down the line. I never envisioned us being at each other’s college graduations. Or getting married. Or buying our first house. Or having three dogs.

I didn’t know. I was only 17, though, not even a high school graduate. He was 20 and still trying to figure out what he wanted to do with his life. He was studying to be a photographer. I think both of us are glad he eventually chose engineering. (Because really, two unemployed journalists in a house? Bad news.)

We don’t have an easy relationship. But relationships are hard. They take work. Both of us aren’t afraid of working hard.

I’m hotheaded even on my best days. I have a sharp tongue that gives me an upper-hand in verbal confrontations, but often leaves my opponent feeling lousy. I’m stubborn as all hell. My voice, even when I’m not mad, has a way of moving past “indoor conversation” volume. And I can hold a grudge forever without it bothering me too much.

I’m the one who calls our insurance company when they over bill. I’m the one who negotiated with the car dealer last fall when we purchased our Jeep. I’m assertive, much to the dismay of some.

So when I emotionally “broke” last fall, my husband was left picking up the pieces for a woman he’d never seen fall apart so badly in more than a decade together. It scared him. Probably more than anything else in his life or our relationship had ever scared him. He lost the essence of who I was. He lost me.

Now, he’s not a timid type or anything to that nature. He’s a man who handles large-scale projects for a living. He’s a man who really “sees the forest through the trees” in every aspect of what he does. He’s ridiculously intelligent, which he would say about me in return, but in a much different way. I’m a creative type, I can visualize projects, pages, design and code, putting it all together in my head. He’s analytical. He sees numbers and measurements. He’s a “measure four times, then cut” kind of guy.

This may, we’ll be married for five years.

What it means to us? We’ve made it this far in a loving, amazing relationship. We’re doing a good job! Good on us for keeping it together!

What it means to outsiders? We should have had children four years ago.

I’m not even kidding.

I’ve been asked, in recent years, whether there was “something wrong” with me. I’ve been confronted, point blank, by someone inquiring if I was barren.

“All that running you do can’t be good for getting pregnant,” someone once told me.

Even better was when someone told me they could recommend a good specialist in “that area” of concern.

When we got a new dog this year, I nearly died when I got this text message: “So you’re going to keep getting dogs instead of having children?”

My reply to all these things isn’t exactly holding my mouth:


Instead, I’ve become accustom to using a phrase I heard from a once-friend: “Ladies and gentleman, please get out of my uterus!”

My grandmother, who I love dearly, even pulled a guilt trip on me last summer when I turned 28. She told me that women my age have two or three children by now. “I’d like to see your children before I die,” she implored. Thanks grandma. THAT’S exactly what I needed.

When I called her up saying I had “good news” recently, she responded: “You’re finally pregnant!”

No grandma. No. I had signed up for another marathon. She wasn’t impressed.

My husband once told me he wanted children by the time he turned 30. He was also 20. A lot changes in ten years.

He’ll be 32 this year. In a month, I’ll be 29.

And you know what? We’re talking about it now. In detail. We bought a four-bedroom, three-bath house in 2010 with the intention of “growing” into it. But not with 10 dogs. With children. (Want people to REALLY start nagging you again about children? Buy a house that’s too big for you.)

But the conversation started last year, when I still had a full-time job that kept me away from home 60+ hours a week. Then the part-time job that sometimes ate up 30 hours a week. I had tests done last year before my gynecologist skipped town (seriously, she was just gone one week). Soon, everything else got in the way.

This month, we started going through the motions again. That means no more birth control. Period tracking through an iPhone app (ahhh, modern technology and sorry for the TMI, not really sorry though). It also means vitamins and supplements.

We’re not jumping in full boar quite yet.

With my history of diabetes I’m actually not really “allowed” to try until at least three months worth of blood sugar tests. And I’m still hanging onto some weight it’s recommended I drop. I know not everyone gets pregnant immediately. But my new gynecologist has recommended a timeline that includes waiting to really “start trying” in the fall. As in September or October. Not tomorrow. Or Sunday. Or our fifth wedding anniversary, etc.

(Side note: I’m a bridesmaid in a wedding this December and I love the bride so much that I don’t want to be the ridiculously pregnant bridesmaid, so this timeline works out just fine. I go back for blood sugar tests after a couple months of diet watching through the summer.)

We’re also watching my recent history with anxiety and depression carefully.

Which is where the part about my husband being a saint comes back into play.

When everything that happened to me at my previous job reached crescendo and less than 24 hours later I was in a hospital recovery room after having my gallbladder removed, my husband noted the lack of people who even bothered to come see me. People he thought were my friends didn’t even send text messages. People who’d I worked with for years. (To be fair, I would have been more upset if I wasn’t so incredibly drugged up.)

One person came to see me. One person who truly loved me. She’s one of my best friends.

Thomas would have done anything to make me better. Anything.

So he did.

“You aren’t going back there,” he said to me while I was eating strawberry Jello with tears in my eyes. “If they don’t care enough about you to show up or even wish you well, you aren’t going back.”

He made the decision for me. For my health. For my sanity.

There was no discussion about money or responsibility or bills. He assured me it would be fine. He was heartbroken when I tried to get my surgeon to clear me as soon as possible so I could send a letter of resignation (the surgeon wouldn’t, he made me wait two weeks before he’d clear me if only because he thought the surgery and painkillers were impacting my decision making: “See how you feel in two weeks, then let’s talk…”).

The Tuesday after my surgery, I received the email informing that I would “not be returned to my position.” My mild-mannered, gentle husband, who isn’t prone to hyperbole, flipped his shit (there’s no lack of a better statement here, that’s what happened) even though we knew I wouldn’t be going back. I didn’t need to be mad. He was mad for me. I’ve never seen him so angry in all the years we’ve been together.

Because to me, it felt like the weight of the world was released from my shoulders. To him, it was the ultimate insult after more than a decade of work.

So you can imagine, at this point, that we don’t come to our discussions lightly about children. We’ve rarely come to any decision together lightly, even five years in to a marriage we hope will last us until we’re old and gray.


One of my favorite photos of us, from our first dance at our May 2008 wedding.

But I know something now I didn’t know six months ago when the world I knew changed forever: I know that when he said “for better or worse” he didn’t mean it as just a simple recitation.

We’ve been through a lot of “worse” in the past year, from my crying everyday at after work home for months to the initial prescription for Zoloft to my leave from work to what happened in January. All the time, he’s been there. My biggest cheerleader. My best friend. The smiling face I see at the end of every run I do. The person who celebrates my PRs just as much as he celebrates my finishing bad races. The man who made the biggest decision of my life in a moment I couldn’t.

“We’re waiting for the right time,” people say when others ask about having children. It’s a stock reply. It’s the avoidance reply. It’s the polite way of saying “I don’t want to talk to you about that” or “stop asking me that question.”

The reason I’m front loading my race season? The reason I’m running two marathons in the spring/summer and don’t have one scheduled for the fall/winter yet? Because now, we’ve decided together, that it’s getting so close to being the “right time.”

When time works for and against you


When I was in the middle of intensive counseling sessions last fall, my therapist told me to write down a list of things I couldn’t control. Want a lesson in humility? Make that list.

You’ll end up realizing that you can’t control anything. You’ll want to give up, buy a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice cream and eat it while watching afternoon talk shows (Ricki Lake has a show again, who knew?). At least that’s what I did. Months later, I’m not ashamed of it. The ice cream was good. And my soul needed more soothing that I realized.

I still have my list. The third item down is “time.”

I can’t control time. Because it keeps ticking away. Because there’s always a sun up and a sun down (unless you were the dinosaurs, as one of my students pointed out to me recently). Time just moves. You either embrace the temporal moments as just that or you let some bad drag you down.

Five weeks ago today I fell hard on my left side while trying to get in my 15-mile run for this marathon training cycle. It laid me up for two weeks. Three weeks ago, I finally did that run. On my treadmill. I also ended up in the doctor’s office being properly diagnosed with a fractured radial head.

This training cycle, I didn’t do a 20-mile run. I didn’t even do an 18-mile run.

Two half marathons, one 10K, various eight and 10 milers, but no marathon-standard runs.

And I’m running a marathon this weekend.

Time. It just kept moving.

When I ended up in the hospital in January, I wondered if I’d even make it to the start line in San Luis Obispo. My husband and I did a lot of talking in the hospital. We had conversations both of us had been avoiding, or hoping we wouldn’t have to have. They concerned work. Money. Running. Happiness.

I worried more about the 10K I’d be giving up than the marathon. I’d be fine by the marathon, right? I don’t even know how to define “fine” anymore.

Three weeks ago, sitting in my doctor’s office, I was more concerned about the Oakland Half than SLO. I PRed in Oakland.

In that time, my arm has become stronger. I’m able to bend more, but still not put a lot of pressure on it. I’m able to do some of the things I couldn’t before. And I’m grateful, because time helped that. I didn’t think it would ever be better. I was convinced I was going to walk around with T-Rex arm for life.

But I was back in Modesto getting my arm looked at today. The stiffness is causing the pain. I need to regain mobility. The fracture has healed nicely so far. (See image above, where the cursor is pointing? That’s where the crack was. I took the photo for my husband.) Time healed.

Runners say that by the time you get a week out from a marathon, there’s really nothing you can do that will prepare you more. Taper. Stay off your legs. Get your gear assembled. But don’t go crazy. This past week, I kept wishing for more time. In the middle of multi-hour meetings, looming deadlines and prep to take my students to a journalism conference out of town next week, I needed a minute or two extra. Something. Anything.

The reality is that I was wishing and wanting more time to feel better about this marathon. I guess I could just not run it. But my husband doesn’t really give me that option anymore. (You know the meme that says “you had one job…” where someone messes something up even though that’s all they had to do? I kind of feel like that. I have one job on race day, and that’s to run my ass off.)

Nerves? Anxiety? Yes. Always now. But if I had four more weeks, two more weeks, I know I’d be better for it.

Tomorrow we hop in the car early and head the 3+ hours to San Luis Obispo. We’ll be staying in Morro Bay, where my husband has family. The good news is that this course has an eight-hour limit. The bad news is that last year’s finishers mostly came in well ahead of that. I’m just hoping I’m not too alone out there on the course.