Monday, June 26, 2017

First Taste Of Pregnancy and a SUP Race

Finding out I was pregnant was not going to stop me from doing my standup paddleboard race! In fact, those first couple weeks after finding out I felt perfectly normal. The only "bummer" was that our wine tasting trip was no longer going to include any wine tasting, but, whatever, there are plenty of years ahead for that. Spending a few days in wine country and not drinking was just as lovely and also just what we needed!

So with the SUP race, knowing that I can be a stubborn competitive athlete with my racing and push really hard, I did choose to ditch the 8-mile long course and "downgrade" to the short course (they said it'd be 4 miles but it was really about 5).

Pregnancy 'Sets In'
We took a long, leisurely two-day drive up the California coast (minus the Big Sur area). Ate fresh fish tacos a couple times and found some great places to walk Finley.
Santa Cruz area
A little beach off Highway 1
Play time, all the time!
We spent night one in Paso Robles, went to our favorite restaurant, and had dessert but no wine -- embracing pregnant life ha! When I woke up Friday (6 weeks) my morning sickness and nausea began like clockwork. It was crazy. Just like that I couldn't even eat eggs and avocado for breakfast, and I felt so sick to my stomach. Trying to figure out what sounded good to eat was a chore; it ended up mostly being carbs and dairy, and that's how it's continued to be. I didn't think too much of any of it, I was warned that the morning sickness (aka all-day sickness) often sets in right at 6 weeks and I was ready. Honestly my symptoms were not and have not been worst-case scenario like the horror stories I've heard, and I'd like to think that's because my body was just ready for this.

We got to our "Stairway To Heaven" house in Guerneville on Friday evening and the house was simply breathtaking. A cozy yet kind of modern wood cabin tucked in the forest. Crisp and outdoorsy.
Heavenly, right?!
I was really excited to stay in Guerneville, but after a couple days I realized I wasn't that much of a fan. I mean it was cool, but not necessarily some place I'd want to go every year. There's a fun eclectic crowd around there, which was entertaining.! I had to be careful not to get high in the grocery parking lot while walking Finley around.

Saturday was race day and it didn't start till 11am. Which was good because I felt like shit in the morning, again. I figured this would be my new norm. I made some paleo pancakes and eggs but the pancake mix wasn't jiving and the eggs were gross. I forced them since I knew I needed food. Already I was thinking about the pizza I'd order post-race (and I ended up eating a WHOLE pizza to myself) along with a post-race smoothie mmmmm.

Race Recap
I was supposed to take a shuttle to the "private" race start (they don't tell you where the race start is) but I was struggling with how I felt and also it was overcast and chilly and I didn't want to be sitting out there in my bikini top, shorts and no shoes for 2 hours waiting for the race to go (it was point to point so I couldn't bring clothes to shed). So we decided we would just drive and find the race start to drop me off -- we knew the race distance so how hard could it be to just drive up the river several miles? Turns out it was really hard to find this damned start line haha!

We drove around looking for it for over an hour without success. It's kind of a long story but we ended up having to sort of trespass (shhhhh) and finally found it with literally minutes to spare before the race start. At one point I was like, "We're not going to find it. I'm not doing this race today." We should have just asked the folks at race registration and explained the situation but we didn't, whatever. I also had switched that morning from long course to short course so I wasn't in their system anymore since they couldn't update onsite. Living on the edge!

Finally found the start - whew! That was close.
For a low-key event I was impressed that it started on time. I also felt VERY nostalgic thinking about past Vineman races. I also had no idea how much of a current there is in the Russian River at various points, like the start line, where we had to paddle up stream before the gun went off to avoid drifting too far. It was fun. There were about 10-15 ish women in the open SUP race for short course and I accidentally started near the back, which was a bad call because I ended up being faster than pretty much everyone (this race was not filled with SUP pros for the record so me saying I was faster is all relative).

I quickly got to the front of the pack, and the first 1/2 mile included some rather tricky maneuvering through the river including mini rapids (hard to call them actual rapids but it also wasn't calm water) and even obstacles like big roots and trees sticking up in the middle of the river, along with some really narrow and shallow areas at the beginning. At one point I heard a splash and turned to see about 100+ yards behind me a woman had fallen. She was fine but it was a bit chaotic in the beginning. They had course markings for "dangerous" zones but it was still sketchy to actually avoid those zones.

Once I got in front with no one around I relaxed a bit more, started to really soak in the GORGEOUS scenery (seriously breathtaking!), and the river started widening with the current slowing down a bit too. I caught up to some of the dudes in the men's division that went off a few minutes before us. I found my rhythm. It was overcast and not hot at all. I had forgotten my hydration stuff at home so that morning I found the ONLY hydration pack in all of Guerneville and bought it for like $20. It was old school, tasted too plastically, and I realized I probably didn't even need it. I was on track to go sub-1 hour and was not too hot or thirsty at all.

About halfway I was like, "Dang I might win this." But then I stopped thinking like that because as is with any race, anything can happen. Sure enough a few minutes later a lady was gaining on me and ultimately passed me sometime in mile 3. That was an important moment of maturity for me. I was not giving 100% effort because of my pregnant state, but I was pushing comfortably hard. So, I had to decide: Do I push harder to catch her and make it a race, or stay within my comfort zone and not over-exert? I chose the latter because it wasn't about me anymore and I just didn't feel like playing with fire by pushing harder than what felt right on the day.

I still kept her within about 10-20 yards the whole rest of the race and we finished less than a minute apart going 1, 2. Near the end of the race (where the Vineman 70.3 swim used to be) the same ol' shallowness proved to be tricky and even after all the rain this year there were spots that felt like they were 2 inches deep it seemed and also some sandbars to avoid. Again, it made for some tricky maneuvering to find the deepest safest spots to pass (while avoid overhanging trees and bushes on the shoreline), and a couple times I even had to get off my board because it was too heavy and scraping the bottom. All that was short-lived though and not enough to make a big difference in pace nor hurt the board/fin.

I finished in about 55 minutes and it was 4.7 miles, but my watch had accidentally stopped for a couple of minutes at some point so those numbers aren't totally accurate. Still, that was my fastest paddle to date -- thank you downstream current! I felt a little winded and my upper-body muscles were awake, but certainly nowhere near exhausted upon finishing. It was like, "When's round 2?"

I chatted with the lady who beat me, she was awesome and turns out she was formerly a competitive SUP racer (you could tell with her strong arms!). Then there was a post race festival on Johnson's beach (Vineman start) where they didn't call my name at awards because I wasn't in the system due to the course change. Ha! Off those get my smoothie and soon after my pizza.... (and John his Russian River Brewing beers).

Still my #1 sherpa after all these years. And now my baby daddy.

Final Thoughts
I was personally proud of myself for this race. I could have easily bailed all together justifying that it'd be "safer" to not race while pregnant; meanwhile, I could have also pushed a lot harder and been careless during the race but I didn't because it simply wasn't worth it to do that. It's cool to feel like my life, especially while building a baby, is about more than me and it's not just about what I want anymore! It's a great feeling. I'm embracing the changes each day and fascinated by this process.

The rest of the trip was just the R&R we (I!) needed to get in the perfect mindset for building a healthy baby.

I'll share more of my first trimester life soon.

Baby's first race lol!

Friday, June 16, 2017


Part 1

March and April were pretty jam-packed with fun stuff—maybe too many distractions with my birthday, sailing lessons, another epic Ragnar with Team Endurance Planet, a wine tasting trip, and plenty of dolphin sightings from my SUP. Thinking about pregnancy truly became an afterthought.

Then it all started to chill out around late April, no more distractions, at which point I began feeling emotionally discontent, despite really trying to keep a positive mindset. It seemed like I was in a good place, but apparently not quite yet. I had no idea why I felt so shitty and was lacking my usual happiness and spunk. Not every day has to be all unicorn and rainbows, but this was dragging on. Unhappiness is usually a sign that change—in some way, shape or form—is needed and I was ready to see what else that meant for me.

I felt certain that trying to conceive (TTC) was not the source of these woes. I had truly changed my attitude toward baby-making (as discussed in previous posts here and here), and I knew I had come so far in letting go. Perhaps TTC was still related, probably was, but it was not the forefront; this felt like something else, something bigger than just that.

John and I both agreed it’d be a good idea for me to talk to a therapist. Hire a professional to help get it out of me—instead of continuing to keep whatever it was pent up inside. Right away I found someone and got started. One of the smartest things I’ve ever done for myself.

Another reason I decided to hit up therapy was after reading Olympic swimmer Amanda Beard’s memoir, In The Water They Can’t See You Cry. She also sought out therapy later in her career, and it seemed like things really fell into place for her thereafter. Her whole story really resonated with me, and while I’m not an Olympic-level athlete, it doesn’t matter, female athletes with intense minds like ours can cause havoc in our own lives. We just put ourselves through a lot of shit, often unnecessary, and as we get older we realize it doesn’t have to be so tough—and also how to seek help and not be so damn stubborn!

Therapy felt so relieving, just the mental housekeeping I needed—it's basically like having a coach except she's not also telling me how to train and eat, lol. I am and always have been a very thoughtful, deep person, and when I sat on that couch I just spewed it all out and we made some sense of it. My therapist did a great job of giving me the feedback I needed to hear. I have great people in my life with whom I can talk about anything, but having a therapist is just different. I’m a fan. 

It really doesn’t matter what the nitty gritty of my issues were, the fact is we all have our shit and sometimes we just need to talk to someone and find peace. I think I’ve done a pretty good job about addressing most my shit, and even opening up about it on a public platform, but apparently there was more work to be done, more deep digging. I ended up going to places I had yet to go. It was hard but so good for me.

In addition to adding therapy, I worked on a few more minor changes, things like...

I realized that in the past couple months I had been drinking more, probably at first as a way to rebel against not getting pregnant. I was basically having a nightly glass (or two) of wine and more on weekends, and for me that’s just too much to feel ideal. So I cut back on wine as soon as I recognized it. Leave it for the odd night and special occasion. Easy.

I also tweaked my free-time routine—mostly investing more time into my mental wellbeing. I started meditating a bit more, stream-of-consciousness writing and reading books on happiness. One book in particular hit home with so many wonderful messages, The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams.

I also went back to the fitness & diet style I love best; not trying to manipulate things in hopes of getting pregnant. I allowed myself to workout more freely and not put restrictions on it—SUP, a bit more running miles and strength training. I even got my butt back into bikram yoga after feeling too lazy and frumpy to go in recent months. Second, I started lowering my carb and crap-food intake; I had started eating more liberally for fertility reasons but didn’t like how I was feeling from that. I just do better on a nutritionally and calorically dense lower carb diet—and I know my limits as to not let it screw with hormones, wellbeing, etc. There’s certainly always room for indulgences IMO, but eating mostly a clean nutrient-dense diet along with limited drinking seriously is what I prefer.

Next, I decided to move forward with taking a break from hosting Endurance Planet for a few months. I had been dabbling with this and kept going back and forth. It was not easy to come to this conclusion and quite frankly felt (feels) scary, but it's for good reason, it's just a break, and not forever. I actually already miss it a ton, so don’t worry if you’re a loyal EP listener, I’ll be back! Not to mention, I recorded extra shows in advance before the break, and Lucho will still be doing our ATC show, woot!

In the midst of all this, early May we had a wedding to be at a couple hours away and it’d be with many of my old high school buddies and lifelong friends. It ended up being a wonderful night away; John and I somehow hung with the group till after midnight (that literally never happens anymore). The timing was perfect—it really helped me hit the reset button and put things in perspective. I was relaxed and happy with old friends, and I felt a sense of relief, like I was getting back to a good place with everything I had going on not to mention a new and better understanding of myself.

Last but not least, after a few therapy appointments, of course pregnancy and babies had come up, and for whatever reason I decided I wanted to fully stop trying to get pregnant for now, and John was ok with that. I was literally thinking about telling him the next time we… ya know… that we needed to use protection again. 

So all that in a relatively short amount of time (we're talking weeks!) and, man, that was everything I needed! I was feeling a lot better and it all seemed to happen so fast.

Then one morning in mid/late May I woke up feeling odd for that time of month in my cycle. I should have started my period the day prior, and I shouldn’t have had the symptoms I did. We had plans with friends that night and wine would possibly be involved so just to be safe I took a test...

Two lines.

It was positive.

Holy f---!

I took another test because I didn’t believe it.

Positive again.

I'm pregnant.

I did some quick thinking on when we likely conceived—that wedding!

Getting pregnant was truly the last thing I expected to happen during all this. We were both in shock. Just like that, our lives changed forever.

Baby Gibson arrives January 2018.

Oh yea, and I still did that standup paddle board race I mentioned, at 6 weeks pregnant, but switched to the short course (5 miles) and battled nausea all the while. As for the post-race Napa trip? We went of course, but obvi NO wine for me haha.

* * * * * * *

Part 2

To be honest, I really debated whether to say something on my blog and social media at all about getting pregnant. After my first couple posts about not having success I connected with many amazing women who shared stories of their own struggles with TTC. Many had gone on to have babies. But many hadn’t yet—and I could feel and sympathize with their pain. Trust me, I know what it feels like to see the news that someone else you know got pregnant and you still aren’t—it’s tough. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be that person saying, “Hey, look at me, I got pregnant.” So I hope this post doesn’t come across as a brag or insensitive. I’ve always openly shared my journey—the highs and the lows—and this turn of events it simply another chapter. Plus, if Im being totally honest, finding out I was pregnant didn't quite come with the response you'd except. It was mixed emotions. Of course I’m thrilled—we're thrilled—but it’s been a mindf*ck to be on this rollercoaster.

I decided to share the news because I’m hoping that my story can provide some comfort to women out there who are wondering if they’ll ever get pregnant. Whether it’s a gal with amenorrhea wondering if she’ll ever get her hormones back on track and one day start a family, or a gal who’s been trying for months with no success. Obviously I can’t sit here and guarantee success for everyone and there are mysteries of infertility in which it seems no one has the answers. But you just never know. I am reading a book on natural childbirth right now (Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth) and one of the birth stories is by a German couple who said it took them 15 years to conceive—they never used birth control because it just never happened, and then one day it did.

My journey to conceiving was a long one, if you think about it. It actually started in 2013 when I decided to change my ways, scale back on training and stress, and get my period back after 10 years of amenorrhea (I got my period back in about 10-12 weeks after making the official commitment). Obviously I was in no rush to have kids then, but certainly having kids in the future was a huge motivator—and having a partner like John definitely made me realize I wanted to have a family with him. Years went by before it was time for us, then from that moment in Hawaii, October 2016, when we decided to start trying to the moment it happened, May 2017, it was an 8-month journey. Quite frankly, I'm a better person thanks to the many months it took.

To all you gals who have depleted hormones and absent periods like I did, have faith that you can get your body back to a womanly state in which having kids is totally possible if you desire that. There’s no reason to believe you’re doomed. My story is a victory for all of us!

That said, it’s not just about your hormonal state or your man’s sperm. Those things matter but they aren’t everything. I’m fully convinced that in our case hormonal or medical issues were not the reason it took so long. It was my mind—and this goes beyond the advice of, “Just relax,” which, for the record, is still the most annoying thing ever that you can say to a woman who’s trying (so don’t it). I had to reconnect with my happiness, find peace with certain things in my life and work on me. In months prior, I had tried acupuncture and so many pregnancy hacks, none of which worked. Then when I went to therapy, mostly for reasons other than TTC, right away I got pregnant. I know that’s not the answer for everyone, I totally get it, but crazily enough that’s what worked for me.

Getting pregnant is such a mystery. Then when you do become pregnant it seems like there are so many more mysteries that no one has clear answers to because we’re just all so different. What I’ve learned the most so far (I'm 8 weeks pregnant at the time of publishing) is that pregnancy and having a kid is all about letting go of control. When I let go, it didn't take long to get pregnant. Now that I’m pregnant I’m continuing to let go of things. For example, once I got pregnant, I started freaking out about a few things (miscarriage risk, those multiple glasses of wine I had before I knew, whether my baby will be healthy), and I was a bit of a mess for a few days. Thankfully it didn’t take too long for me to realize I had to let go or I’d go crazy—there’s absolutely nothing you can do except enjoy the process, minimize stress, and do your best to treat your mind and body well. Otherwise, this whole process is completely out of our control. As a control freak, that scared me, but already it’s allowed me to grow and mature at an incredible rate. For the first time in forever I’m 100% at peace with just letting things be as they’re going to be and not overthinking or worrying about things at all. Even right now as my nausea and fatigue are through the roof and my food cravings and aversions are completely psycho, I’m just living each moment and listening to my body. I’ll eat gf waffles instead of vegetables, I’ll take 2-hour naps, and it just is what it is.

I also plan to have a natural birth, and out of everything thus far I’m actually the least afraid of that despite all the things that could be freaking me out regarding natural births.

So, no matter where you’re at in your journey, I hope my story can help give you a glimpse of hope and please know I have your back.

Decided not to wait the tradition 12 weeks or so to share the news. Here's our nugget at about 8 weeks!