Preparing for a natural childbirth

Like most people, I hate needles and cringe at the sight of an IV drip.  When I was a child, I decided that if having a baby required getting an IV, I did not want to have a baby.   As I got older, I realized that was not a good reason to skip the joys of motherhood but I still longed to avoid needles and an IV if I had a baby.  Fast forward to my 30s.  That viewpoint remained the same.  I am not a fan of taking medicine unless absolutely necessary; I prefer to feel pain and discomfort to taking a pill to mask it.

When I got pregnant the first time, I researched childbirth classes and found options for preparing for a natural, drug-free labor and delivery.  I found the Bradley Method course and what I read closely aligned with my vision of childbirth.  I mentioned it to my husband and he was on board with 12 weeks of class (yes, 12 weeks!).  We miscarried before taking the course but my desire for a drug-free delivery did not change.  When we got pregnant the second time and were past the first trimester, I enrolled us in the course.  Committing to 12 weeks of a childbirth class while I was traveling for work and working crazy hours was a challenge but it meant a lot to me, so we did it.

Bradley New Workbook

To me, the Bradley Method classes equip the partner (aka. “coach”) with tools to help the mom during labor and delivery and encourage practicing those tools every day.  It also teaches a lot about pregnancy, the stages of labor, potential complications and what to do for all of those to have a healthy pregnancy and childbirth experience.  Though we did not do all the assigned homework, we spent time every night doing the relaxation exercise that worked for us.  My husband was amazing with coming up with a verbal story to help me relax while giving me a massage; it not only helped me clear my mind but it helped my body relax and go to sleep.

Some of the key topics covered during the course were:

  • Pregnancy diet and exercise
  • Relaxing during labor
  • Stages of labor and what to expect for each (very detailed!)
  • Birthing positions and what position is best during situations that can arise
  • Writing our birth plan
  • Talking through how to handle potential complications
  • Guidance on breastfeeding and post-pregnancy care for mom and baby
  • The important role of the coach during pregnancy and childbirth

Our instructor was fantastic and gave us lots of resources and was ready to take our call day or night if we needed help during L&D.  We felt confident that we were prepared for me to give birth without any pain meds after the course and practicing relaxing and breathing.  Though labor did not go as planned (typical…), what we learned and practiced enabled me to forego the epidural and give birth as I hoped.  I highly recommend the course for anyone considering skipping the epidural and giving birth naturally;


Journey to motherhood: miscarriage and infertility

At 40.5 weeks pregnant, I am very eager to meet my baby boy. The extra days of pregnancy have given me more time to reflect on the journey to having our first child. While it is a very personal topic for most women, I took comfort in reading the stories of women brave enough to share their struggles with conceiving; I hope my sharing mine gives hope to someone else.

My husband and I waited until after we were married for three years to attempt having a child. Living in CA, it felt like we could never get to the place financially where we knew we needed to be. After moving to Texas in the fall of 2015, we tried and got pregnant the first month. I continued running and my long runs capped out between 10-14 miles; I had some nausea and fatigue and backed down based on how I felt.

The eight-week sonogram showed a healthy pregnancy and I had no reason to think it would be any other way. We planned how we would tell our families and took pictures and video that my husband used to create a video announcement; it was going to be our Christmas Day surprise. We went back for a sonogram the week before Christmas and received devastating news- the baby had no heartbeat. Because I had no signs of a miscarriage, a D&C was recommended and I had that procedure the week of Christmas. It was the roughest month of my life and I still think about the baby that we never met. As we grappled with the loss, I questioned whether running or stress caused it.

We waited a few months before trying again and thought we would get pregnant immediately again. Every month that did not happen, we felt defeated. I started tracking my menstrual cycles and charting my temperature and felt glued to my cycle tracking apps.   I noticed that my cycles were very off, which was the opposite of how they were before the miscarriage. I also felt physically drained and knew that something was wrong.

At the end of last August, I went to my obgyn and she ordered tests for certain hormones and fertility indicators. Getting the call that the results were abnormal was devastating.  I googled low AMH levels and spent hours crying after reading too many stories of women who could not get pregnant. The doctor referred us to a fertility specialist and I narrowed my choices down to the few closest to home. I had a gut feeling that I needed more tests run to figure out what was going on and expected that to be the next step.

September 26, 2016, we visited the founder of a local fertility clinic expecting a consultation and more tests. It was the most demoralizing doctor’s appointment of my life. He told us that I could not get pregnant naturally since that would have happened already.   He said that my running and mostly vegetarian diet could be reasons why I could not get pregnant. He said my AMH level was low and that we did not have time to waste.  He recommended we start fertility treatment immediately and emphasized we did not have much time to try something like Clomid before trying IVF. When I repeated that my cycles were normal before the miscarriage and that I wondered if there was something else wrong, he brushed that aside. Feeling deflated and hopeless about conceiving naturally, we agreed to the next steps and I left in tears.

Over the upcoming days, I could not shake the feeling that I needed more tests and a second opinion. I got an appointment with another doctor and nervously waited for that. It was such a relief that the doctor listened to me and found it interesting that my cycles were normal before the miscarriage. He recommended additional testing (HSG) to check for abnormalities in my uterus and Fallopian tubes. The wait for that test was excruciating (tests have to be done at specific times in your cycle).  Getting a call that the results showed something was such a relief.  The test showed that there was something – either polyps or fibroids – in my uterus and the doctor recommended a non-invasive surgery (hysteroscopy) to remove them.

Waiting for surgery was rough but I was optimistic that it would solve the issue.   The doctor found and removed two polyps and said those could have been what was causing my infertility. I finally felt a weight lifted since I had blamed myself for not being able to get pregnant. I am so thankful and grateful for a caring doctor who listened and got to the root cause of our infertility. We got the green light for trying the following cycle and hoped for the best.

A positive pregnancy test in January was surprising since it was only one month after surgery. The past nine months have been a roller coaster of emotions; after losing one baby, the thought of losing another lingers. Every week until I felt the baby move was stressful wondering if he was okay. Every day he was less active, I worried.  I’m trying not to think about what can go wrong during labor and delivery; I’m trusting God that things will go smoothly.


Today it feels like so long ago that I was told I could not get pregnant naturally but yet like just yesterday. It is crazy how much things can change in one year. I cannot wait to meet our little miracle baby and I thank God every day for blessing us with him.

Running through pregnancy

It has been a busy year leaving little time or energy for blogging after I announced my pregnancy to friends and family.  Since my last post, I went from being in my first trimester to being days away from meeting my little boy.  Part of my goals during pregnancy were to stay healthy by eating well, exercising and listening to my changing body.  I am pleased that I accomplished those goals.

Before I got pregnant, I scaled back my mileage.  After suffering a miscarriage and then having a rough year trying to get pregnant (details in a post to-be-written), I was hesitant to ramp up my mileage.  That made it easier mentally to tone down running as my pregnant body gave me signals.  Within days of the positive pregnancy test, I immediately saw my “easy” pace get much slower; I took it in stride and was happy to be able to run.  Running actually helped me with nausea, though getting out the door was tough due to exhaustion; after a run, I felt much better energy and stomach-wise.  I stuck to 2-3 mile runs during the week and my longer run capped out at 6 miles.  I mixed in strength training, yoga, PiYo and other cross training activities to keep my energy level up and nausea at bay on my non-running days.

I was extremely careful on trails since I was terrified of tripping on a rock or root, falling and having a miscarriage.  I wanted to run one or two races while pregnant as “baby’s first race” and one at the park miles from my house was a perfect choice.  At 18.5 weeks pregnant, I completed Race Revolution’s XTERRA Pedernales 10K trail race.  I had a blast taking it very easy running the technical trails.  With safety on my mind, I asked people to pass me when entering more technical single track sections because I wanted to be very careful without holding up others.  Towards the end, I kicked it up a notch and started passing people (most of whom were doing the 21K).  It was cool hearing people encouraging me as they saw my “Future Runner” shirt.  Since my finishing time was much slower than I have ever run that race, I did not bother checking the results until I got an email and noticed I was 3rd in my age group.

Exterra Race Pace Bend-136-X3

During my second trimester, I continued to average about 20 miles per week and kept my pace slow.  I traveled a lot for work and getting up at 5am to run was tough but gave me energy for the day.  When at home, I utilized the treadmill a lot due to the heat.  We went to LA in June for about 36 hours (super short trip);  I planned on a 20 minute jog before the baby shower but the temperatures made running so much easier that I squeezed in 3 hilly miles and loved every minute.

Alan and I continued our 4th of July race tradition by running the Lago Vista Firecracker 5k.  The course is somewhat hilly and being almost 29 weeks pregnant made it felt much tougher this year than last year when I won my AG.  Alan started out faster than I planned but I settled into that pace within the first mile and carried it through the race.  I finished in 26:48, which made me realize how easy I really was taking my runs compared to what my body could do.


The third trimester saw the return of exhaustion and my belly popped out more daily.  In my 33rd week, I started feeling more pressure in my pubic area; after a 4 mile run, I felt lots of pain and talked to my chiro about it.  She said my pubic bones were starting to separate and did an adjustment – ouch!!!   The FitSplit I was wearing for additional support on my growing belly did not help with the pubic pain.  I resorted to walking for a week and, in week 35, mixed short job intervals in to my walks.  The discomfort I felt running had me worried about damaging my pelvic floor muscles, so I decided to cut out all jogging at week 37.  Thankfully, power walking did not cause any discomfort, so 3-5 mile walks replaced my runs and I continued strength training and yoga.

At 39.5 weeks pregnant, I cannot wait to start running again.  Power walking, weights, yoga and barre are keeping me active- something my doctor has encouraged.  I know it will take time for me to recover from childbirth and get cleared to run.  Being patient is tough for me but I am thankful I was able to run for most of my pregnancy.


Hiking Violet Crown Trail

My workout goals for 2017 have shifted and I plan on hiking trails more than running trails.  One relatively new trail in Austin is the Violet Crown Trail, which is part of the Barton Creek trail system, and its location is near lots of shopping in Sunset Valley.  In fact, the easiest place to park to access the trailhead is the Spec’s parking lot.

I wanted to hike about 4 miles roundtrip and read that it took about 1 mile of hiking to reach Barton Creek.  I ran Barton Creek once before starting at a northern access point and loved the trail system.

After parking in the Spec’s lot, we walked the short distance to the trailhead and quickly were on a nice single track trail.  Like all trails I’ve seen in Austin, it was relatively flat but had plenty of rocks and roots creating obstacles.  Due to recent rains, sections were very slick and we were very cautious going downhill; I think it would have been easier to run down the slick surface than hike but the objective was a hike – not a run.


One of the low water crossing areas






Very cool to see the tree growing out of the rock formation


We heard the city traffic until about a mile in when the trail reached the creek.  The trail beside the creek reached some points where the slick rock surface made us a little nervous; at about 1.25 miles, the trail became a very narrow, slick rock path (with a chain on the wall of rock) and my husband decided it was time for us to turnaround — probably a good idea since a minor misstep there would have meant a brutal fall.  I want to go back and explore further but will go during a drier time of year.



Trail along the creek – bordered on the righthand side by a wall of rock

The hike back was easier, especially the uphill sections.  I obviously miss the truly hilly trails of CA!  It was a shorter hike than we planned but a great way to start a day of shopping errands.

Dirt Trails & Pony Tails 8K Race Report

Since I’m keeping my running to shorter distances, I’m checking out local races that are shorter than I am accustomed to running.  Trailhead Running has a women’s only trail series and I took a DNS on the half marathon.  This year I decided to try out the first race and hoped for good weather since I recalled it raining the day before the race last year.

The starts at Austin Ridge Church and I was impressed with the venue and the technical trails right behind the church.  Race organization was superb – parking and bib pick up were a breeze and the course was extremely well-marked with volunteers at various points of the course.  Trailhead Running promotes leaving no trace behind and that was evident in the course being cupless and their having reusable bibs (that’s a first for me!).

I lined up near the front but had no desire to run fast given the course conditions – wet and slippery.  About a half mile in, I went the wrong way for a couple of steps and, by the time, I turned around, a bunch of runners were in front of me.  Seeing how rocky and slick the course was, I decided to hang back and run slowly.  I did regret that when I found climbing slow harder but felt it was a good thing for the first loop given my knack for twisting ankles.  The hill advertised in the race description was extremely technical and more challenging that I expected and the descent was super slick– thank goodness they actually marked one of the downward sloping slick rocks with an X.

The 8k was two loops of the main course and I decided to pick up the pace and pass people on the wider sections.  The race directors had reminded us that the finish was uphill and to save something for that.  My legs are used to uphills from CA and our neighborhood and I used the final stretches to pick up the pace.  After crossing the finish line, I received a commemorative pint glass as a finisher’s “medal.”


Long sleeve T and pint glass

Overall, I was impressed with the race and loved the atmosphere.  Post-race food selections was fantastic for any race but especially for a small trail race.  I will definitely run another one of their races!

Tejas Trails Paleface 5K Race Report

Howdy everyone!  The 2016 Paleface 2 5K was the second Tejas Trails race I’ve run since moving here.  My last one was super well-organized, so I could not resist signing up for their race at Pace Bend Park and inviting my husband to join me.  I really wanted to run farther than 5K but I’m still limiting my running due to trying to get pregnant and my husband was not up for more than 5K.

The race venue was less than 5 miles from home (super convenient!) and I picked up our bibs and race shirts (very nice dry fit tanks) the night before.  I chatted with the RD and resisted the temptation to switch to the half marathon.

I ran part of the trails at the park earlier in the year and vaguely recalled typical Austin-area trails: rocky, some roots, and flat.  I’m very cautious on rocky terrain, so my plan was to go out and run easy.  I ran 6 miles the day before the race and, since that’s my average longer run nowadays, I thought my legs would take some time to warm up.


Pre-race picture w/gorgeous scenery- this place never gets old!

The field was small and I lined up near the front and parted ways with my hubby right before the RD told us to go.  I love low-key trail races — no big fuss, just 3-2-1-go!  The first mile was rocky and I ran carefully and happily let people pass me.

With less than a mile to go, I gained on a father and kid as they passed who I thought could be the female leader.  Still being cautious on the rocky course, I followed suit and passed her.  As I crossed the finish line, I found out I was the female winner — gotta love a small race!


Really nice medal & cool trophy

I picked out my “trophy” and waited for Alan to cross the finish line; I was very proud of how he did since he has not run trails in ages.  It was a great start to the morning and weekend!  As always, Tejas Trails put on a well-organized race with a cool race vibe.  I look forward to the next one.

Running in TX summers

This has been our first full summer in Texas and Texas heat is no joke.   Even the mornings are much warmer and more humid than CA, so it has been an adjustment.  Gone are the days of sleeping in and going for runs after work; that is the hottest part of the day here!

How have I survived?

  • My mileage is lower than when I was running marathons and ultras.  That is predominantly due to dealing with niggles for which root causes have finally been figured out and my focusing more on getting pregnant than running long.  It means less time outside since my “long runs” are not very long.
  • Running early in the morning.  My goal is to be out the door around 6:30am (depending on distance of run) and done running before the sun is out in full force.  Last weekend I thought it was cooling down and clouds were rolling in, so I ventured outside in the late afternoon; that was a huge mistake that my bottle of ice water did not help enough with.

Cloud cover briefly — water in TX at this time of year is unheard of!


Red faced and delirious after running when heat index was in 100s!

  • Hitting the treadmill.  When we were house hunting, a requirement was space for a treadmill.  I opted for one slightly more expensive than my initial budget and it’s been worth every penny.  I have slept in a few times knowing I could get my run in later in the day indoors.  Added perk — My husband is running again!  The couple that runs together stays together!

No excuses for not running on hot days!

  • Running in a sports bra.  I have always been self-conscious of running without a shirt over it but the humidity makes me forget all that.  As long as I’m out the door early, I skip the T-shirt and avoid a sweat drenched shirt weighing me down.  I don’t know if it actually helps keep me cooler but mentally it does and it’s all that matters.
  • Staying hydrated!  Water, water, water.  It’s also important to make sure you have enough salt in your diet to balance that out.  Most people get more than enough in their diets, but if you do not eat out or eat processed foods, you may not get enough salt.

It’s going to be a hot Labor Day weekend here.  I will definitely be sticking to my survival plan for running in the heat!

Firecracker 5K Race Report – Surprise AG win!

This is a late post but it’s been a crazy week.  I hope you had a fantastic Independence Day weekend!  We spent last weekend doing more things around the house (ie. buying more stuff like a grill) and doing yardwork.  But we also enjoyed relaxing, watching “Finding Dory” and continuing our tradition of running a 4th of July race.

The race options here are more limited since the area is smaller than Orange County.  We chose the Lago Vista Firecracker 5K since it was on July 2nd and I needed a distraction from thinking of the significance of the date.

The drive there was about an hour and it was a good chance to see the other side of the lake and explore more of the area.  Parking was right along the banks of the lake and we quickly realized it was a smaller race than the one we did in CA.  Packet pick up was a breeze and we dropped our our stuff at the car and hung out near the race start.

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Beautiful view of Lake Travis at the park near start/finish

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Pre-race selfie with my hubby


I quickly spotted a couple people warming up who looked “fast” and the competitive part of me could not resist sizing up the field– despite my glute feeling achey and zero fast running in months.  Alan encouraged me to “race” and I said I was going to take it easy.  It was already hot and humid and I do not run short distances well.

Sticking to my plan, I took the first mile easy and noticed I was passing people on the slight uphills.  I spotted a couple of women in front of me and I realized I was gaining ground on them.  On an uphill around mile two, I passed them and that gave me the encouragement I needed to keep a steady pace.  With less than a half mile to go, I passed a teenage girl and expected to see her fly past me in the finishing stretch.

To my surprise, I held on and finished in 23:29 –much better than expected.  Checking my Garmin post-race, I was happy to see I picked up my pace as the race progressed.

I walked back on the course until I saw Alan and I ran with him to the finish line; he finished in 28:30 — great time for not having run in about 6 months!

I checked the final results after realizing there were few female runners in the finish line area.  I saw that I was first in my age group (30-39) and 4th overall female, so we decided to wait for the awards ceremony.  Thankfully we did because I won a $20 gift certificate to Rogue Running!


Posing with my medal and g.c.

I love racing and pushing myself and I was thankful my hip/glute cooperated; PT is paying off!


Loving our new house!

Last week we became homeowners!  Six months ago, my husband and I suffered a devastating loss and last week we opened a new chapter in our lives with the keys to our new home.  I thank God for getting us through the tough times and I am so grateful and thankful that we are blessed with the chance to be homeowners!

I realized that the date we closed on our house was exactly 8 years after the last time I heard my dad’s voice.  I know he would be very happy for us and I am grateful that my mom will be here in a few weeks to see the house.  We left CA in order to be in a better place financially and the lower cost of living here made buying a house (impossible in CA for us) possible here.

I am adjusting to living in a serene area and having to “drive into town” to grocery shop and run errands.  But it is worth it since I feel much more relaxed than I did living in the hustle and bustle of Orange County, CA.   Even the deer move at a slower pace and lounge in our yards.


I love seeing the “Bambis” running through the neighborhood!

Serving with Mobile Loaves and Fishes

One of my goals for the year was to get involved in giving back to the community.  I have always felt compassion for the homeless and impoverished.  When I taught in LA county, my heart broke for students living in poverty, not knowing if they would have food to eat at home.  Austin has a large homeless and transitioning population and, moving here, I knew I wanted to get involved in serving that population.

Our church, Lake Hills, partners with Mobile Loaves and Fishes to send out trucks providing food, clothing and personal items with dignity to the homeless and impoverished around the area.  My husband and I did training for it early this year and our trip out on the truck was eye-opening and made serving more important to us.  Once a month, we spend 1-2 hours preparing sandwiches and prepping the trucks with donated food and clothing.


Last week, a few members of our life group met to serve and it was an incredible experience.  We visited a couple of places where the majority of those we served were children and elderly.  We fed people who told us they had no food in their apartments and did not know when their next meal would be.  I had flashbacks to my teaching days and recalled the conditions in which many of my students lived and how important giving them hope for a world beyond their was.

It is easy to take things for granted and that evening was a reminder of why taking a few hours out of my week to help others is so important.