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37 weeks & mixed emotions

37 week bump

37 weeks

37 weeks! Full term 🙂 You think I’d be leaping up and down but for the first time… things have seemed a little hard.

Let’s focus on the positive: I still feel, physically, great. I sleep very well, can still focus at work, have no back discomfort (thank you chiropractor), no heartburn, and still actually forget I am pregnant, periodically. Seriously, TMI moment, but when I go to the bathroom, I sometimes expect my belly to have gone down when I leave… I just don’t feel much ‘different’. I don’t feel ‘pregnant’ as I expected to. I just feel great.

Mentally, this week has been a little harder. I love being pregnant, I love the energy, I love how I look, I love how I feel. I love how things are between Wes & I: we have this neatly settled life that runs so smoothly. We’re both happy and healthy and liking Houston, it makes us gentler on each other and ourselves. We’re getting to know each other better than before, and acting as a real partnership. Not two people doing their own thing towards a shared goal, but actively building something together. We have a routine that works so well (well, it does for me, but I am not the one doing all the housework 😉 ). And generally: life is good. It makes my heart sing.

I think that it is then only natural that in a way, I don’t want to upset all this. Let’s face it: when you love your pregnant body, a post partum body is not exactly something to look forward to. Clearly our life is going to become vastly different and I worry about what it will be like. I worry that Wes isn’t looking forward to being a 3-person family, that he isn’t looking forward to that in and of itself. I do also worry about not loving my kid… or not loving being a mother. I start think ‘holy moly, what have I (we) done?’. This intruder is going to be in our house and in our lives and basically all the pieces are going to be knocked down and who knows where they will land, and how we will pick them up, and what we will rebuild with them? I guess I am scared of what I have to lose, without knowing exactly what I will gain. It gives me a lot of respect for people who keep unplanned children, because at the end of the day, I keep telling myself ‘well, this is what you wanted, Lekki, one time you wanted this so desperately…’.

37 week bump

Love my bump – can’t believe it will be gone in 2.5 weeks!

I think this is partly motivated by the post grant-submission slump. I have written about the grant process before, and shared that while one would hope that when it finally goes in, when all those 2 am nights pay off (or 8 pm + some weekends if you are pregnant) one would hope you throw all your redundant drafts in the air, whoop with joy and run screaming to the pub. In reality you are far too tired, and far too behind on the rest of your work (and if you are like me, far too panicked about actually hitting ‘send’ when you *know* there are more typos). So, I don’t think I have ever felt good after submitting a grant… rather I have felt drained and panicked. And worried about having not been productive enough while I was writing it. And usually quite despondent at my chances of getting funded. Bleurgh. It’s just stressful and I get easily over wrought at the end.

The other stresses hit (e.g. finances… changing over our bank accounts to a local Texas bank has been so difficult! My paypal account got disconnected, which meant we couldn’t get money to the UK… which lead to a whole new load of stress because people treat you like you are a 47%er [sorry Romney fans, couldn’t resist 😉 ] ducking out of your responsibilities, not just someone doing their damned best in a difficult situation). And ugh. I think this is why I slept from 11.30pm on Saturday night – 9 am on Sunday. Then 10.30 am – 12.30 on Sunday. Then 12.45 – 3 on Sunday. Heh heh heh. And trust me it was an effort not to have another little nap at 5.

Welcome to my pity party y’all.

But. But. I am glad I have my faith, because I do try to trust that it will all be OK in the end. I do look back at my life, and see how I have got out of bad spots before and continued to love life, and love where I have ended up. I tell myself all the usual platitudes about how mothers do love their children, and they do adapt, and most choose to do it all again, and really, I do believe that having children can be the most wonderful thing (if it is what you want). And, I tell myself that those evil hormones are playing tricks on me. I spend my prayers in a different way at the moment: Instead of worrying and asking God for help and praying for forgiveness, I am focusing on Thanking God and basking in His love, and sending Him my gratitude and my love – it’s certainly a bit more positive 🙂

I do also recognize the fantastic support network I have – friends, Wes (who is consistently amazing at doing everything to make everything outside of work and pregnancy minimally stressful) and family. Just today a friend Skyped me and gave me words of encouragement about the inspirational power I have that brightened my day. From there: it is an upward spiral. Once I see people believing in me, I start to believe in myself, and my body, and my mind, and my work. It’s all good.

So, I don’t want people to think that I am miserable, or rocking in a corner crying to myself. I just wanted to acknowledge that sometimes things are hard, and not always as straightforward as one would hope, and write about it honestly. But also write that things are pretty darn good too.

And, when things all get a bit shaky, I can look at the latest pictures of those gorgeous chubby cheeks and remind myself just how excited and lucky that I am:

37 week 4D scan

He looks like he is smiling

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Tough Mudder, GA, 2012

Holy Moly I write this to you from a world of pain. Tough Mudder is a whole new race experience: very tough, but so much fun. Here is my experience:

It was a cold, cold Georgia day. It reached about 40 degrees, but the biting winds took it down to a ‘feels like’ 24. Yes, Europeans, that’s below freezing in your language. After the classic pre-race breakfast of a McDonalds bacon, egg and cheese biscuit (what?? all the best athletes eat this I tell you) I donned my Tough Mudder T-shirt (thanks Gabe!), joined my teammates Andrew, Andrea, Gabe and Amanda and registered. Obligatory war paint later…. we were off.

You climbed over a wall into a pen for your start wave, and the MC did a great job at getting us fired up… I was bemused / surprised / bewildered at having to salute the American flag before an obstacle course which threatened hypothermia (were we tying America to voluntary stupidity?? Who knows…) but enjoyed listening to the anthem. This nationalistic pride is a while new thing to me (I’m from a land where we say “I’m British… sorry…”). Then boom – we were off. Here is my hazy and imperfect memory of the race:

(1) First obstacle jumping over muddy-water filled trenches. Done.

(2)Second obstacle: crawling through deep, deep mud under barbed wire. Done. So far, so good. Then a 5K – easy peas… wait, what was this? The mud setting on my body like a plaster cast? Weighing me down and feeling like it was made of ice? Hmmm… OK, ok, I could do this.

(3)Third obstacle: scrabbling over walls. No problem! I didn’t even need help… but could help others…

jumped down and ran to

(4) a dumster filled with water. And ice. So much ice. I decided I didn’t care and leaped in next to Gabe. I did care at that point:

The shock was immense. Literally, breathing in was difficult. Then there was a wall up to the water level, so you had to fully submerge and swim under. OK… OK… it hurt. It really hurt. Amanda and Andrea were smart to go around this one. But we sign up for pain, right? So, I carried on, enjoying the challenge.

(5): Turd’s nest….  OKey doke, close by, a wall to climb over, and a rope thingie. Good good – all members of my team rocking it.

(6) Running through flaming hay. Not scary, not difficult and to be honest: darn nice to be able to warm up.

(7) Next up: bails of hay, each about 4 ft tall to scramble over, maybe 8 ontop of one and another. No safety net. Scary, yes, achieveable – yes. Up went all 5 members of  ‘tough mudder bitches’ and down again. Sweet.

(8) Then mud like I have never seen mud. I lost my shoe… Deep, deep mud and pipes to crawl through. This caused some tears from me – I am not good with narrow spaces and feeling ‘trapped’ and especially not narrow spaces with no traction…

but hey – seeing Amanda and Andrea and Andrew push through was encouragement enough. Andrew gave me a great tip: go on your side, as you don’t be able to push any other way except through momentum.

(9) Ah, next, the greased money bars. The famous & popular (spectators) or infamous and feared (runners). I mean, they would be bad enough… and painful, but of course, tough mudder had to put them over iced water. Gabe & I didn’t stand a chance, although Gabe is my all time Tough Mudder hero for doing it with a torn rotator cuff. Andrew made it! Rockstar!

Another colder, more mud covered 5 K. This was OK, although I was envious of Amanda and Andrea being DRY.

(10) Crawling through long and very dark trenches in the ground. I was terrified…. Gabe talked me through it 🙂

(11) Then running, this time over time logs piled up…

(12) to a tarpaulin on the ground, with electric wires hanging a few inches above. Bad enough, except that they also constructed a sprinkler. Water + electricity + a human = not good. I was scared, but figured I’d be able to slither through without getting touched. Wrong. As the first one hit me and felt like a sharp, sharp stab followed by a buzz I flattened totally. I remember being OK at this stage, but I wasn’t because when one spectator on the sidelines said “you’re doing it wrong, use you legs!” I stopped dead still, turned my head, glared him straight in the eye and said slowly, quietly and disgustingly: “You come and f&*!ing do it”. Then I carried on my miserable way.

Oh, look, another 5K. This one involved wading through a waist high bog of thick, foul-smelling stench (this time Gabe, Andrea and Amanda sensibly skipped it… Andrew and I carried on regardless).  Then running through a cold rocky brook for about a mile. The wind was up, I was soaked, there was no indication of how long this section would be, and when I saw ‘Mile 7’ I think I wanted to cry that I was only just over 1/2 way through. I didn’t. I carried on

I lost a lot of the obstacles here, the next I really remember was

(17) Really, really high walls, perhaps 8/9 feet (?) The guys on the course were awesome – the let me climb all over them (ouch) and boosted me over. I did both because I got so much help! BUt felt bad that I was totally unable to help anyone else.

(18) Holding wood and carrying it some way. Tiring, required mental grind but not too bad. Some guy yelled at me “That log is bigger than you!” which cheered me up immensely. It was here that the cold, cold, cold really set in. As I said, to al intents and purposes, it was 24 degrees. Not ideal. My hands were seizing up… my wet hair freezing on my bonce… but on to

(19) jumping over some tyres (with the wood) – again, quite nice and easy, except that you were so tired it was hard to keep your footing…

(20) Monkey bars number 2: swinging hoops. Me: Fail. More plunging into icy water (in the -24 weather: who cares? Me. I cared). Gabe, Andrea, Amanda: Go around. Andrew: Success! I was eternally grateful to Gabe for helping me out… a friendly face really boosted me

(21) Walk the plank. Honestly? Probably the second hardest obstacle. Climb 15ft into the air, wet and freezing, and jump into a freezing lake. I got up there no problem and stood next to Gabe. “Are we going to do it? Are we?” he said… I shrugged, “I guess so….OK”. Gabe did a count down and I didn’t want to let him down so jumped. I could not have done it without him – it seemed so high. This was the team support of which everyone spoke.

The cold was shocking. Shocking. Many people’s lungs spasmed a bit and they couldn’t breathe… this is where a few were carried off in heat blankets…. I was OK! Gabe was OK! Andrew appeared not to have noticed it was difficult and was battling on. We joined the girls who waited for us on the side and ran (I think I limped actually) onto

(22) Everest. A huge, huge plastic wall, at 90 degrees to the ground after a slope, covered in mud. You had to run up it, jump up, and be grabbed at the top by others who hauled you over. This was Andrew and I’s feeling on it:

We tried. After 2 very, very close attempts and the third failed attempt and the third set of cuts and blood trickling down my face, I walked around. Andrew: over like a champion! Waddling, limping onto:

(23) Going on your back across a wire, hanging over a lake. I actually quite enjoyed this – it hurt. It hurt like hell, but I made it well. I think Gabe and Andrew did too. Then onto:

(23) The most painful. Long narrow beams, above water (I think it may actually NOT have been iced). The girls waited on the other side as Andrew, Gabe and I slowly inched, inched our way. At end of it, I waited for the boys and broke down. My hands were frozen stiff, I was shivering uncontrollably, and couldn’t see the end.

But the end was in sight 🙂 1.5 more miles running, admittedly with limbs so sore from the obstacles, and with soaking, freezing clothes clinging to me – but still, 1.5 miles didn’t seem so bad.

 

(24) Walking through a bog (whatever, so over this) and then

(25) Running wet, through electric shocks. I am ashamed to say that I nearly wimped out. I stared them down for so long… Andrew ran right though, Gabe stayed to encourage me, until I started crying and told him to jut go. He did it! So proud of him, and I couldn’t bare to have tried every single obstacle except the last one.

So, I ran.

The shocks were light at first, but towards the end, strong enough that my legs gave way and I splatted into the mud.

Who cares?? Done!! Onto my free recovery beer!

I hate beer…. Wes’ fries were much more welcome.

 

 

I was so glad I did it. So proud I tried every obstacle… all the freezing water, all the electric shocks. In fact, I only ‘failed’ at Everest, because I was bleeding and battered. So impressed I ran the full 1/2 marathon, even when cold, and caked in mud. So glad my other Tough Mudder, bitches, helped me through it 🙂

Step out to stop Diabetes!

Our team: Pink Lightning!

Today, I raced for the American Diabetes Association. It was just a 5K, and I signed up last minute to help an 11-year old friend. I was in two minds after doing it: half the time I thought it might be too tough (I was on the tail-end of a break for knee-resting purposes, and hadn’t run for some 7 days or so), and half the time I thought it would be too easy (everyone kept telling me an 11-year old could not go much faster than a basic trot and I’d be bored). Half the time I worried… half the time I wondered how I was going to fit an additional cardio session in before a wedding reception that night.

Samford's campus

I was wrong on both fronts. It was perfect, and it turned out to be one of the best learning experiences I had! It was held at Samford, a University campus I have not seen before. I have to admit, that aspect of the race was a disappointment. I was told that Samford was really beautiful, and I had to see it… well, I thought it was OK. I mean, it was clean and neat but kinda small, and I had thought I would see something like the colleges of my Alma Mata  Cambridge…

One part of Cambridge - where I hung out. Not my favourite part actually. For real beauty, see Corpus Christi

or the buildings of Oxford (which are nestled in a beautiful town imho).

Oxford

But it looked more just like one of the nice stately homes in England… Williamsbug-ish… quite modern and a little uninteresting. But very clean and nice, it is true. And nicer than UAB (and the hideous Warwick), I’ll give it that. Don’t flame me, I don’t dislike it, I just thought it was not worth paying a visit to, if you were hoping to see something memorable.

So, what did I learn from this race?

Ah Young One, so much to learn you have (not youngest one, you seem on the ball)

(1) You can definitely train for different types of race. Just because I can run a 10K pretty well, doesn’t mean I can run a 5K. Example: I am used to running 8 miles +. The first couple of miles are often warm-up, and then I hit my rhythm. There obviously isn’t time for that in 3.1 miles….

(2) Check the bleedin’ course. I had no idea that it would be all uphill for the first half!

(3) Sometimes, forget what you “know”. I turned to Sasha in the first couple of minutes and said “we shouldn’t run at this pace, there is no way we’ll keep it up the whole way around”. She looked at me as if to say “Lekki, you get such funny ideas, why on Earth not?”. And indeed, I really could keep that pace up.

(4) I definitely don’t know how to push myself. I was tired at the end, but walking about. Sasha needed to sit down before she could even celebrate her win. Respect!

Recovery

It was, all in all, an awesome experience. And not just because I got my 5K time down from a 29.5 min best to 26.5 🙂