Friday, October 13, 2017

Rest In Peace, Grandma

It was a really shitty week. My grandma passed away. Her health has been declining for most this year and we knew it was coming, but it didn't make it any easier. I was basically a wreck. She and I were very close, and had been my entire life. There was no one like her. The hardest part is that she was beyond excited to meet her first great grand baby early next year, and I know she tried so hard to hold on.

For the most part, I was really good at staying strong as I watched her go through hell this year in effort to keep a low-stress environment for the baby's sake. But early this week when my mom called to say it was happening and that she was passing, I lost it. I'm lucky that our new house is only 1 1/2 miles from where she was being cared for. I literally dropped everything, my headphones went flying, and John and I jumped into the car to rush to her. She was gone by the time I got there. I had been with her the night before (and every day before that) so I had ample opportunity to talk to her, say goodbye, give her kisses, let her know how much I love her and just be there... even when she wasn't able to respond anymore.

My mom and John did their best to calm me down, and I was trying my hardest to stay relaxed as well because I didn't want my baby suffering from this, but it wasn't easy. Her death hit me harder than I ever expected, and I'm sure my hormonal state didn't help. The only thing that made it better was knowing that she wasn't suffering anymore.

For most this week, I've been breaking down in tears multiple times a day and just having a tough time. I've been exhausted. Today was the first day I felt a little better. I even got out for a little run/workout this morning and was smiling (not to mention, laughing at myself for choosing to wear a shirt that is way too small for 25 weeks pregnant).

The day she passed, words came flooding out of me. Often, writing is the best way for me to let it out, remember the good times, deal with the heartache, and find some peace...

At the finish line with grandma in 2012 after 50 miles of mountain bike racing. She went out of her way to support my racing and career. She ALWAYS called me before/after all my races, or in some cases showed up.

Rest In Peace my darling Grandma Arleo. 
I hope you knew how much you meant to me. I know you wanted to be here for the birth of your first great grand baby, but don’t feel bad. You’re at peace now after a tough several months. And don’t worry, our baby will know all about you.

You made the biggest impact in my life and taught me so much. When I was a little girl, you made life magical. We’d make up stories, play the piano, take the dogs on adventurous long walks through the lush greenbelt, and so much more. If my mom had to go shopping you’d come along to save me from boredom, bringing colored pens and paper, and we’d sit there and draw houses, flowers and animals. When my parents would go out of town, you were the only human I wanted to stay with and you always made sleepovers so special - each morning you’d surprise me with a different kid’s placemat to make meals more fun, you’d have stashes of those cookies I loved, and your bed was full of the cuddliest pillows and stuffed animals. 

Summer days at your pool were my favorite growing up, from before I could swim to all the way through high school when I could drive over there myself. The sound of airplanes leaving John Wayne Airport still remind me of those days in Corona Del Mar. 

When I got into triathlon you made sure to call me before and/or after every single race I did, and if I didn’t catch your call you’d leave the most epically cute messages with your signature phrases, which I’d save on my phone forever. A few times you were able to show up to the finish line (like pictured above). You also called me a million times to tell me how proud you were, and you’d want my advice on nutrition and fitness. You cared so much, and I loved that.

You endured heartbreak in your life, but that didn’t stop you from being an incredibly loving and caring mom and grandma to everyone - even extended family and friends. Your love was contagious, and your hugs unforgettable. You were so happy for me when I found true love with John, and even though you didn’t drink beer you loved his. 

In your final weeks we wanted nothing more than to be by your side and give you the same comfort and love that you gave to us for a lifetime. 

You were a fighter, and refused to go easily. Even in years past you kicked cancer to the curb twice. This year it wasn’t cancer, but it was a lot to fight. You beat the odds and hung in for months. You looked so peaceful when it was finally your time.

It’s so weird to have to say goodbye to you while being pregnant with new life. I wish it were different circumstances. I’m having to dig deep to stay strong (doing my best for baby). But at least we know we have a special angel taking care of us now. 

I’ll love you forever, Grandma. 

She adored her granddaughters, we adored her, and she was so excited to become a great grandma in January. Her memory will live on in my baby girl; we have something special planned.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

5 1/2 Month Update

Pregnant life as of 24 weeks is thankfully smooth sailing, and I think my belly button is going to pop soon :) I've gained 16-18 lbs since May depending on which scale you ask, and it's getting harder to put on socks and shoes.


In my last blog I said that next time I'd share the gender, so.... drum roll....

It's a girl!

We're so stoked. I thought John really wanted a boy (I assume all guys want a boy), but I think he was just as or more excited than me when we found out we're having a baby girl. Personally, I'm beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to raise a strong, confident, kickass little girl. She's going to be rad, and already she's an active little thang in my belly -- kicking around like crazy! We have a name too, but I'm not sharing that yet ;)

We didn't do a big gender reveal hoopla... in fact, we were sitting in a brewery in Denver (John was drinking not me!) when we got the call with the news. Typical lol.


We went to Kauai for a week and it was, as usual, paradise perfection. We needed that trip after a rather stressful moving process (stressful because of how fast it all happened). We stayed solely on the south side this time (Poipu), and it was much more relaxed and slow-paced than we're used to, but it was nice to just lounge around and not feel like we needed to pack in a ton of hardcore action in the week. Many of our friends were there since it was for a wedding, and that made it extra fun.

I definitely felt FOMO about going to Kona for Ironman this year (we're not going), but it's ok. We have a lot going on right now and other priorities this season. We'll be back to the Big Island next year for sure. While we were in Kauai, I was just getting back to running and, ooof, that Hawaiian humidity was extra harsh on me this year but it was good for me to move & sweat. Although, I can live without the massive thigh rub and thigh chaffing I endured ;)

21 weeks on a beach in Kauai! More Kauai pics on my IG @tawneegibson.

Wedding time! Practicing with our friends' cute kid :)

I "cheated" and had a poke bowl with ahi and salmon while in Kauai... 100% worth it!

Prenatal Exercise

Speaking of, I'm exercising consistently again. Nothing crazy. Besides walking, I usually don't exercise for more than 30 minutes at a time yet. Taking an 8-week break in the middle of pregnancy while coincidingly having my uterus take over my insides and gaining weight doesn't necessarily make it easy to get back to running. It was HARD!!! But a good hard, and I'm just taking it slow and easy. At first it was nothing faster than 11:00 miles, and nothing more than 2 miles. Now I'll run 2 to 3 1/2 miles at a comfortable pace (usually 10:00-10:30 avg, with some sub-10), and I'll do that a few times a week. Just this weekend I had my "longest" run since my break, 40 minutes and just shy of 4 miles, and felt great. Get it in now, before I'm giant in my third trimester!!!

I also reintroduced some light strength training. The first session I did was 10 weeks after my last strength training session, and despite it being just a gentle 12-minute workout I literally started having DOMs immediately (not such a delayed onset lol). Thankfully the second session I did a week later fared better and I was way less sore. For any preggo mamas who are curious, a triathlete friend of mine told me about Melissa Bender's YouTube channel with prenatal strength workouts, and I like some of her circuits and the pace (i.e. not overly strenuous!).

So overall, I'm doing:
  • ~3 runs a week, 20-40 minute duration, low-intensity
  • Several walks a week of 20-60 minutes with the dog and John
  • 1-2x strength a week, 10-20 minutes
  • Prenatal "movement snacks" to prepare my body for birth, more below....

Birthing Classes

We started birthing classes this past week, and we love it so far. We're doing the Bradley Method. I don't know much about this stuff, but this method appealed to me mostly because the husband is the birth coach and, thus, is very involved. John and I are a great team, and I want nothing more than him to be my No. 1 person on the birth day. Plus, Bradley is geared toward more of a natural-style of birthing that encourages movement during labor, relaxation and low intervention.

I love Bradley's recommended prenatal exercises (aka movement snacks) to work the pelvis and hips in ways that will prepare mama for birth. There are little things I'll do daily; dozens of kegels included ;) Here's a video of some of the exercises.

At our first Bradley class I couldn't help but laugh a little because many of the concepts she covered are things that I deal with in my line of work and teach my clients, e.g., relaxation methods, deep breathing, the harms of sitting too much (instead, sit on the floor; move around!), mastering deep squats, nutritional needs, and so on.

I'll also read the book on Hypnobirthing, another popular method that, as you might imagine, includes mindfulness techniques to work through the contractions and pain.


Protein is a big topic in pregnancy. It's come up a lot, and everyone's like "make sure you get enough protein!" The low amount being 75 grams a day, with 80-100 grams a day being optimal recommended range. (Although, some say too much protein yields bigger babies, but I don't know if there's actual science on that. On the other hand, too little protein can yield a premature or low-birth-weight baby.)

I was advised to do a food log to check my intake, and I didn't get around to it for a while because I knew I was doing fine on my macros. But then the Bradley teacher mentioned it again, and I got more curious so I logged on my fitness pal. Sure enough, I'm in the sweet spot of 80-100 grams of protein a day, closer to the 100 gram mark most days. Hopefully the rumors of high protein leading to bigger babies aren't true -- I know in John's family and mine, there's already a history of having big babies. And I plan on doing this totally unmedicated. Mmm hmmm.

Other than that, I'm loving my carbs and sweets. One of the things they say, and it's probably a myth, is that moms who are pregnant with a girl crave more sweets. It feels like I'm eating so much of that stuff, but logging on MFP showed me it's still in reasonable ranges, which was reassuring. Plus, even though sugar is sugar, I still eat things made with super quality ingredients and have not resorted to crappy junk food.

Chicken and apple sandwich on GF bread with Primal Kitchen mayo & arugula. Not a donut ;)

Baby Gear

Our "baby list" of things to buy is done. That was a daunting yet very fun project. John helped me narrow things down to what we need, what we can omit, and we talked a lot about what will fit our lifestyle and philosophy on kids. I also asked advice from my mama friends.

Not surprisingly, I did a lot of research and made sure to choose mostly all non-toxic, chemical-free, safer items, especially the "big" stuff where baby will be spending lots of time -- crib, crib sheet, car seat, stroller, etc. You can really go down a rabbit hole in trying to create a non-toxic world for baby, and it can get super expensive and nit-picky, so I just tried to keep a smart balance and realize not everything needs to be absolutely perfect; it never will be.

A book that really helped me learn more about what I need (and don't need) and "clean" choices is The Mama Natural Week-By-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth -- it's a great pregnancy book in general with tons of info! I also did lots of google searches to read what others had to say and investigative reviews on on products with third-party testing results, when available. Lastly, this blog post by Dr. Rhonda Patrick's husband inspired a few new, innovative items that we'll definitely be getting.

If anyone's curious about the items I chose, just ask and I can send you a link to a google doc I made with everything we plan to get and my references; yup, I saved some of my favorite links on choosing non-toxic, safer options. (NERD!!!) Or, you can see our registries on Amazon and BabyList; those registries don't have everything we're getting on there, but they're public so check 'em out.

We already bought some stuff and are in the process of building out baby girl's room. Crib, decor, nursing chair.... Nesting mode in full swing! Love it.


I'm learning to sleep on my sides (especially left side), as that's better for the baby than sleeping on your back -- right now she's only ~1.5 lbs, but the more she weighs, the more pressure that puts on the arteries and organs if you're laying on your back, and that isn't really that good to for long durations like sleeping through the night. It can even restrict blood flow to baby. I got a pregnancy pillow a while back, C-shaped, and that helps a ton to get comfy every night! It's all about pillows!

That's it! I can't believe my due date is in less than four months.