In Ironman training, we often devote the final 3 weeks to tapering, or reducing the volume of training to make sure we’re fresh and ready to go on race day. In fact, 4 years ago I wrote a blog post called Week 36: Taper Time! leading up to Ironman Lake Tahoe. 9 months to train for Ironman, 9 months to prep for baby; and the similarities don’t end there! In the Ironman blog post, I wrote “It’s also equally about rest, recovery, eating well, hydrating, bike maintenance, making crazy detailed lists, and generally trying to avoid freaking out. It’s harder than you think!” Other than the bike maintenance part, this all translates well to labor!
For labor, my taper started at 36 weeks when I went on maternity leave and started ‘resting & nesting’.
Maternity leave has been incredible so far and I’m grateful to be in California which allows up to 4 weeks before the due date for short term disability. What’s crazy is that I’ve never in my adult life had a month of guilt-free, do-whatever-you-want time. (note: baby can come any day now, or may be late, so I may have less than a month or more!).
So, what have I been up to so far? The first week of maternity leave I met with friends for lunch, coffee and Friendsgiving, toured a vegan food company, plowed through our baby to-do list, and met with our midwife, doula and pediatrician.
The start of my maternity leave also coincided with the beginning of the deadliest wildfires in California history, which has resulted in unhealthy air quality across the Bay Area for the last 11 days and counting. I’ve cancelled a lot of my plans and the only way I go outside is with an N95 mask, and only for a very short amount of time. It’s devastating to watch and my heart goes out to those affected by the fires. I can’t imagine fleeing a literal firestorm and hoping to make it out alive; a lot of people didn’t. For information on how to help, please visit local station KQED for a list of organizations accepting donations.
As for the to-do list, it has involved a lot of nesting as well as preparing for labor & delivery. Again, baby could come anytime so we wanted to front-load a lot of the to-dos so we’re ready:
- Washed all of the baby clothes, blankets, bibs, swaddles and sheets in a special baby detergent
- Tested all of our baby gear and read the manuals: stroller, rocker, baby monitor, bottle warmer, sterilizer, baby carrier, baby scale, baby bath tub, breast pumps
- Donated 5 trash bags of clothes, and 6 grocery bags of kitchen supplies and other household items
- Cleaned and sterilized all bottles, pacifiers, and accessories
- Re-organized our kitchen, bathroom and pantry to make room for baby supplies
- Sorted all the baby gear in bins and created labels for each category
- Tested the stroller in both of our cars, and properly installed the car seats
- Created a playlist on Spotify for labor
- Scheduled a newborn photo shoot
- Acupuncture, journaling, prenatal yoga, meditation, epsom salt baths, funny movies, baking and other mindfulness/relaxation techniques
- Packed the hospital bags and loaded them into the car
- Pre-registered at the hospital and also did a second tour of it now that it’s open
What I haven’t done is workout, go for walks, and hang out in the park like I thought I would. While I feel like a bit of a hermit, being forced inside has allowed us to get through the to-do list a lot faster than expected. It’s supposed to rain Wednesday to Friday which will hopefully bring some relief to the fires and the air quality. And hopefully I’ll be back outdoors enjoying some fresh air.
The other realization I had when I started maternity leave is that I’m really not the “little Suzy homemaker“-type. I’m terrible at baking, I don’t know how to knit or sew, I have the artistic skills of an 8 year-old, and I always have to use Google Image before I set the table. And I’m perfectly OK with that! Being a great Mom has less to do with your skills in the kitchen, and more about the values that you plan to instill in your kids. We want Baby B to grow up with an adventurous spirit, an inherit desire to work hard, strong family values, healthy habits, and a kind and compassionate heart. All the other stuff? I’ll leave it to the experts at SusieCakes and Etsy.
Upcoming Maternity Leave Goals:
- Workout daily once the air quality improves (walk, swim, yoga, strength train)
- Meet with at least one friend or family member a day
- Keep the pantry and fridge stocked with healthy food
- Learn more about breastfeeding
- Learn at least one new life or career skill
- Nap, rest, relax, play videogames, watch movies, take baths, practice mindfulness and just enjoy this down time!
“How Are You Feeling?”
I still get this question a lot, so here it goes… honestly, I feel great. I was having a lot of discomfort commuting to work, but now that I’ve been resting at home, I feel so much better. And removing work stress from my shoulders has been a huge relief.
I’m still waking up once in the middle of the night, but I make up for it by sleeping in until at least 7am which is so much better than my usual 5:45am wake-up call to get to the office.
I’m getting quite a bit of cramping and baby ‘donkey kicks’ as I like to call them, but those are usually temporary. It’s always fun when Mark can feel the baby moving, too!
I feel ready for labor (“race day”), knowing that I have a rock solid support system in place. And I’m feeling more confident about this whole parenting thing. Mark and I have so much to learn, but we’re trying our best to get ready for baby’s arrival. Thank you to our wonderful friends who have shared so much advice and wisdom. Keep it comin’!
- My co-workers threw me a surprise baby shower which absolutely blew me away. They even got Mark to come! They had vegan appetizers, baby cupcakes, decor, and the most thoughtful gifts. Thank you to my EA fam!
- I found a movie theatre that has reclining seats! It’s the Century theatre in the Westfield mall. I saw The Grinch in 3D as a matinee which was the first time I’ve ever been to a movie alone, and the first time I’ve seen a 3D movie. There was only one other person in the 200-person theatre! haha it felt kinda weird at first but I loved it!!
- I really enjoyed touring the headquarters of Just, the makers of Just Mayo, Just cookie dough, and other plant-based alternatives. I learned so much about food science, how they travel the world to find plants to use, and how they determine which plants will work. For example, they found that mung beans have a similar amino acid profile as eggs, so that’s what they use for their Just Egg product. Genius! They also gave me a bunch of samples and they were all so delicious. Go to JustForAll.com for a store locator!
That’s all for now. Gotta get back to nesting and resting for baby’s arrival! Up next is to enjoy Thanksgiving with family, decorate our condo for Christmas, and do some fun date nights.