Saturday, December 31, 2016

The New Normal

Here's my attempt to catch up the last 6 months in one update...

Last few weeks of Pregnancy:
I slowed down a LOT in the final weeks.  For fitness I was basically just swimming a couple times a week, around 2km, and walking the dogs.  I would get out of breath very easily and was feeling quite tired all the time.  I stopped working as of June 1, so I had the whole month of June off and had tons of time to relax and spend with the pups.  The last couple weeks I really slowed down in the pool, must have been due to dragging around all that extra weight haha!  I swam up until about a week before I gave birth.  Total weight gain was about 47lbs.  Luckily I was able to avoid getting stretch marks, I think mainly due to drinking a lot of water each day (like 2-3 L), as well as putting coconut oil on my belly/hips/boobs twice a day starting at the end of the first trimester (try Palmer's Coconut butter oil, it worked awesome for me).

Love swimming in an outdoor pool!

Look at that huge belly!

The twins' birth - July 3, 2016

I had to be induced, which I didn't know at the time is much worse than going into labour on your own!  For twin pregnancy they don't really let you go past 38 weeks.  I delivered a day short of 38 weeks.  These girls were cozy in there and didn't want to come out!  My labour went pretty smoothly and uneventfully, but they had to break my water and it was absolutely awful pain with the contractions immediately after that, like nothing I have ever experienced.  I requested an epidural at that point (had to wait over 90min though!), and was able to avoid a c-section and deliver naturally.  I am really thankful I did not have to have a c-section, as the recovery is much longer.  From the time I arrived at the hospital to them being born was about 11 hours. The twins were 8 minutes apart.  Nola Portia was first and weighed 5 lb 13 oz, and Aisling Cordelia (Ash-ling) was second and weighed 6 lbs 3 oz.  Great weights for twins.  Crazy that there were 12 lbs of babies in my belly.
Whoa mama! Taken in the last week before the babies arrived.  Hard to believe there were 2 little monkeys hiding in there. 

The babies and I were both discharged the following day from the hospital, but Geoff and I decided to stay one extra night.  You kind of feel like how a deer in the headlights looks.  The babies didn't cry all that much the first night, but they cried a bit the second and you really have no idea what to do, I didn't even know how to swaddle a baby in a blankets.

First 6-8 Weeks Post-Partum:

OMG.  This was SO tough and challenging.  Nothing could have prepared me for how hard it was.  I'm sure every brand new mother finds it tough, but with two newborns at once, it was extremely crazy.  Getting home from the hospital was like 'OK, what do we do now'.  Unfortunately there is no instruction manual that you get when you go home with your baby.  Thinking back to this time period now it all seems like a huge blur, but I remember it was so hard.  The hardest thing by far for me was lack of sleep and dealing with sleep deprivation, as I've always been a really good sleeper and a good sleep is very important to me.  After the first couple nights of pretty much not getting any sleep, maybe 30 minutes here and there, and then realizing that a full night's sleep was nowhere in the near future was tough to come to that realization. Geoff and I basically lived in the bonus room upstairs for the first 4 weeks, as the babies' bassinets were in there.  Anyone that came to visit just hung out upstairs with us.  And everyone who visited brought food and meals, which was life saving!

Luckily the girls were such good eaters, and ate and ate and ate (which was really hard for this mama as I was constantly feeding them, still am, haha!) and put on weight quickly.  At their 2 month immunization and check up, they were both 11 lbs already.  Once they hit 2.5 months they both all of a sudden started sleeping through the night from about 9 or 10 pm, with just one feed around 4 or 5am, then back to sleep until 8am.  It was luxurious!  We started putting them in one crib in September for sleeping, then a month or two ago started putting them each in their own crib, as they got so big they both didn't fit in one crib!  They sleep in the cribs in the nursery every night.

This is pretty much what it looked like, sleep deprived and catching some zz's whenever I could. 

The stuff Nobody tells you...
-you're going to still look 5 months pregnant when leaving the hospital.  I weighed myself about a week after giving birth and was still about 20lbs above my pre-pregnancy weight. You don't lose it all during delivery!  The uterus takes time to shrink back down to its size.  Breastfeeding really helps with this.
-the first few weeks of breastfeeding are so tough - painful, uncomfortable, raw/cracked nipples, you're feeding on demand, sometimes cluster feeding, and engorgement is no joke.  It's hard!  Once you get past those first few weeks though, it gets easier and you get into a groove.  You basically have to just tough it out for a couple weeks then it gets better.  I'm really pleased I've been able to make it through 6 months of breastfeeding, and I plan to continue for at least another couple or three months.  At the beginning we had to top up with some formula, but this only lasted for about 4 weeks and they've been fed exclusively on breast milk since then.  However, we just started incorporating some solids last week (mashed banana and rice cereal mixed with breastmilk).
-you kind of go through a mourning period for your old life (I did, anyway).  In those early days I found myself thinking back to previous times when I could just go out for a workout whenever I wanted, or do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted, then I would feel guilty for feeling this way.  Luckily this didn't last too long.
-having newborns will test your patience and relationship!  You're going to be short with each other, patience wears thin, irritable, angry, all due to lack of sleep.  Once you can get a routine established, things get better!  I found the most important thing that helped was to ensure we both got to squeeze in a workout of some sort each day, even for 30min.

Now that they are basically 6 months old, we have settled into our New Normal and gotten used to everything.  Lots of changes and adjusting, but life with twins is hilarious and awesome at the same time!  They're now at the age that they're super active, rolling everywhere, sitting, tons of crazy noises, and they're so happy all the time.  I still can't believe there are two of them!  Can't imagine having just one, though.  It's tons of work but super awesome.

              The twins were about a month and a half old in this picture, my 'new normal' (crazy).

2.5 months old!

3 months old!

4.5 months old - in Phoenix!

Post-Partum Fitness
The first week or two after delivery, I just got out for regular walks with the dogs and sometimes with the stroller.  Sometimes I wasn't able to get out with the dogs until the evening just before the sun started setting, but I remember how beautiful it was and how happy and grateful I was to be outside in the lovely fresh air, even for 20-30min.  During this time, I started working on some basic abdominal contractions, then started incorporating some isometric and basic exercises to start the process of strengthening my abdominal muscles that had been stretched during pregnancy.

About 3.5 weeks after giving birth, I went for a 30min run.  I was so slow and out of shape but it was glorious to be out running again after having 6 months off!  Since then I have consistently run 3 times per week, building it up to 45-50min each run.  The first few weeks I stuck to about 30min or so then gradually built up the time.  All the running I've done has been easy, MAF-type runs, slow pace and easy effort.  My average heart rate has decreased to the point where it is now just above 130 for these runs.  The longest I have run has been 60min, not because I can't aerobically  but really just due to time constraints and not being able to sneak away for longer.  My running fitness has gradually improved and I am feeling fairly decent running again, although I haven't done any speed work.

This is what I've been doing weekly for the past many months now:

Running 3X per week - 45-50min each run, MAF effort and HR
Bike 1X per week - 60min with lots of big gear work
Strength or Hot Yoga - 1 session a week - 45-60min (strength/weights at home)
Swimming 2X per week - 30min, about 1600-1700m

It adds up to about 5-6 hours a week, which is all I have time to fit in.  A lot less than I would do previously, and I'm not at my pre-pregnancy fitness yet, but this schedule has helped me to regain some decent shape.  I haven't weighed myself in a few months, but back at the end of October I was about 6 lbs above my pre-pregnancy weight.  By now I think I have lost a bit more and am likely at or near my prior weight.  I'm going by how my clothes fit, and pleased to report I can fit into all my clothes :)

Geoff and I had some very sad news just after Thanksgiving.  We had to say goodbye to our beloved Hugo, who was only 8 years old.  He had been diagnosed in April with an auto-immune disorder, and the vet had been treating it with some medications and injections every 4 weeks.  Hugo had been doing fairly well, but it was an unpredictable disease.  It was somewhat unexpected but incredibly heartbreaking, and so hard to deal with.  He was our first baby and such a wonderful companion.  We miss him so much.  I'm glad we got 6 more months with him after his diagnosis and that the girls got to meet him and spend 3 months with him.

In November we went on a trip to Arizona, which was the babies' first trip and it went really well.  It was nice to be in some warm weather and wear shorts/tanks for runs, and to take the stroller out with the girls dressed in only onesies with no blankets!  I was able to jump into a triathlon with Deborah, the sprint reverse triathlon I did last year (when I was 6 weeks pregnant, and I knew I was preggers but had no idea it was twins!).  I borrowed my father in law's old road bike and raced on that.  The race turned out not too badly, I ended up 3rd female OA and 1st in my age group, 4min faster than last year.  I was pleased to run around 7:15 pace for the 2 mile run, which was the first leg of the race.

Looking forward to racing in 2017!  I'm thrilled to have been selected to Coeur Sports as an ambassador for the third year in a row.  It's a fabulous team of supportive and inspiring women and I'm proud to represent!

I haven't signed up for any races yet, but planning for sure to race Wasa Lake triathlon (Olympic distance) on June 11, as we will be camping in this gorgeous venue with the babies and my in-laws (in their lovely oversized trailer, anyway).  I will probably do some other local races in July/August (GWN? possibly Invermere Olympic).  I'm hoping to race a 70.3 in October (Arizona), but this will depend on whether I can fit in the training needed to perform well, only time will tell.

The girls will be 6 months old next week (what, seriously?), and I'm heading back to work next week as well.  Can't believe it has been 7 months that I've been off work, time just flies!  Geoff will be staying home and working when he can, while taking care of the babies.  I will work from home one day a week.  We will make it work!  We may have to get some extra help on a casual or part time basis but will see how it goes.  I'll still be nursing so I plan to pump twice at work, nurse in the morning and evening/after work. I feel if we were able to get through those first two months, we can get through anything!

That's all for now.  Cheers and Happy New Year!