Thursday, December 4, 2014

Dallas Patrick Tolsma; our All American Boy.

Finally, he has arrived!! As I write this, I have the cutest 8 day old laying by my side. Dallas Patrick Tolsma, our All American Boy.

The night was Nov 23rd, more like early morning on Nov 24th. After the fact, Brian did a quick back story about the events of the evening. Instead of repeating the story, here it is through Brian's eyes:

Back story: I had a late hockey game Sunday night. I did my normal routine of telling Baby T to "stay put until I got back" and that he did, but not much longer. I put my head down on the pillow at 1:30 am Sunday night. Melissa had a couple trips to the restroom. On the third within 15 minutes, we got a little surprise... it was not urine, but her water had broken. 

A quick call to the doctor and we were off. A fun and frantic ride all in one. I may have run a few red lights in the middle of the night, but we made it safe by 2:00am

We spent a few hours in triage to confirm all was ready to go and off to delivery we went. She went from 0 to about 8 cm dilated in about 10 hours. She was a trooper trying to do it without an epidural, but after 4 hours of regular contractions, she went with the epidural to reduce pain. This was a good thing. It was hard to watch.
Melissa had spiked a small fever so they started her on some antibiotics. They told us Baby T was gonna need to go to the NICU for some evaluations right away. 

Jake was eager to help. He did great. 

She was slow growing for the final two centimeters and at about 9:00 pm it was time to start pushing. She was sooo strong. She needed a break and anesthesia needed to do some adjustments to the meds. By 10:15 she was back pushing. By 11:15 pm, little progress had been made despite some serious pushing from a strong woman. We had a discussion with the doctor about the babies position and Melissa's anatomy. Doctor wanted to give her a chance to push Baby T out, but at 11:30, she strongly encouraged she go in and get him. We were escorted off to the OR for a c-section. 

I was at her head and watching the doctor and resident struggle to get him out was one of the scariest events in my life. The resident had sweat coming from her forehead. The doctor kept grunting and saying "he just isn't coming out". Finally, they shouted "DELIVERY" and we heard a big cry. At that moment, we both lost it. Nothing can describe what I felt in that moment. They whisked him away to the NICU team in the next room. More waiting, I sat there holding Melissa's hand waiting for more news on Baby T while they closed Melissa up. 

Finally a NICU doctor came in, very calmly said that baby was doing good. He "had a little trouble breathing on his own, we are stimulating him to take better breaths. We are gonna take him upstairs for the night, but you can come see him". I met my son for the first time. Again, no words. They wheeled him into the OR and brought him down to Melissa's head, I saw my son get a kiss from his mama. Again, no words. 

Away he went, but Dallas Patrick Tolsma is here and he is ours.

And there it is. Moral of the story is things never go as planned. I went in thinking I would have the baby naturally. I was tough, I wouldn't need an epidural...until I felt those contractions. Boy do they hurt... I also went in begging not to have a c-section. It is a longer recovery and as you all know from previous posts, I am
anxious to get back into everything and patience is not my strongest virtue. But after almost 24 hours of being in labor, pushing and having no progress, I didn't have much of a choice. So a c-section it was and 7lb 10oz Dallas was born. An interesting fact is that my pelvis is to narrow to deliver a baby the so called 'normal' way. I could have pushed and pushed and he wouldn't have come out. This is why Dallas ended up stuck in my pelvis, causing the commotion to get him out. If I were to have another child, I would have no choice but to do it via c-section. The things you learn..

The days that followed his birth seem like they
were months ago now. He ended up in the NICU for 2.5 days. First from the antibiotics he needed from my fever during labor, then a concern of low blood sugar, and then high bilirubin. We would visit him in the NICU every 2-3 hours to see how he was doing and to feed him. Due to some excessive swelling from all the fluids I got, I was unable to wear my prosthetic leg and my right leg was huge. So huge I could barely move my foot from all the swelling. Not a pretty sight. And not an optimal situation in the days after a c-section, using a wheelchair and eventually my crutches to get back and forth to the NICU every few hours. But we managed and finally on Thursday night he was discharged from the NICU and got to spend his first night in my hospital room. A small panic attack of, whoa, this little guy is ours. And wondering if I'll be able to keep him alive through the night. But the hours pass and even though he slept in the bed with me much of the first night, he was alive, and that's all I cared about.
A quick thank you to all the nurses from the NICU (especially you Aime!) as they worked long hours to get our little one healthy
and back to us.

We had a steady stream of visitors starting with Brian's mom, then Brian's dad and then my parents who drove up from SC and some friends along the way. An unfortunate event with Brian's dad on Wed night is that he had a mini stroke behind his left eye and lost vision in that eye. He was rushed to the ER by Brian and admitted for a few days to run tests and see about getting his vision back. So Brian, went back and forth from me, the NICU, to his dad across the street. I'm always amazed at Brian's composure during a stressful time and I was so impressed by his ability to
handle it all. Not to mention that Jake ate a box of chocolates and he had to be dealt with also. Who knew that feeding a dog hydrogen peroxide can get them to throw up? Brian's brother drove down to help and my parents were here the next day but it was an eventful night. Keep Brians dad in your thoughts as his vision has yet to fully come back, we are hoping it improves over time.

Finally, mid morning on Fri Nov 28, we got to head home. An exciting car ride with a newborn in the car for the first time. We walked in with the car seat, Jake in tow, and the realization slowly set in that this was our new life, we were a family. And we were home.

That night we laid in bed with Jake at our feet, holding Dallas, and Brian and I looked at each other
as waves of happiness passed between us. I never knew there could be so much love for a little man. We were a family, we had a healthy little boy and my heart felt like it might explode.

Since then, our time at home has been a learning experience. From how much we need to feed him, how often, realizing that a baby can poop 3,412 times a day, sleeping patterns, never ending laundry, etc. My parents have been here all week and have been so helpful. From meals, to laundry, to wedding planning, it will be telling to see how I do with all this once I am on my own. Brian's mom will be back for a few days next week and then the true test will begin.

Jake has been tolerating Dallas. I can't say he's in love with him yet, and any pictures you see are staged. But he's licked his head a few times, he ignores the crying and has his moments wanting a
little more attention than usual. I have hopes that Jake will come around, and he will love Dallas as he loves us. I have yet to see any new gray hairs so I'll take that as a positive sign.

And lastly, a little Presidential bragging..
Last week Brian heard that former President
Bush was going to be in town for a book signing. We are friends with his aide and contacted him asking if we could get tickets and bring Dallas to meet the president. We were thrilled when we got VIP tickets for Dallas, Brian, myself and my parents. So this past Monday, on a cold 30 degree day, we all made a trip out to Naperville to see the President. A bundled up Dallas made his way through the line with us. As we entered the room, we got a big smile from the President and I got a quick hug and kiss from across the table. We told him that here was the youngest member to ever ride his mountain bike trails. He asked his name and as Brian said Dallas, his smile widened and he reached over the table to hold him. A kiss by the President at 6 days old... Dallas has already started his
life out with some excitement and a pretty great picture for show and tell someday. We had some quick conversation and the President asked if I planned on getting back in shape. I had to chuckle and responded with, I sure hope so! I've said before and I'll say it again. Regardless of your political preference, President Bush is a great man and it is always such a pleasure to see him.

So, there you go. We have a baby. And he is all ours. Everything from his long arms and legs, his perfectly round head full of hair, his beautiful face full of expressions and wonderment as he sees his
surroundings, his cute whimpers when he's a little
upset, his loud cries when his diaper is changed, his perfect face with what we think are dimples. He is absolutely perfect.

And Brian. Oh how I love him. A hands on dad that has so much love for his family. I truly hit the jackpot having him by my side.

As the days go on, I know things will get easier as we settle into lives as parents. My scar will continue to heal, I'll learn that while a post baby body might never be the same, I can still work to get it back in shape, and I will eventually get back to the active lifestyle I've been missing. This time, with a little more motivation for fast runs and bikes and wanting to get home to my loving

I have the perfect family and a wonderful life. Welcome to the world Dallas!


Monday, November 3, 2014

An overcooked bun in the oven.

Well....I was hoping by now I'd be writing about some beautiful baby boy that had made his way into the world. Even though I'm still 3.5 weeks out, I was sure that he was going to be here by now. And to say I'm ready is quite the understatement. But... I. Am. Ready.

I mentioned before that the 3rd trimester was my favorite. As I enter these last 3 weeks, I'm not so sure anymore. The uncomfortableness of my enormous belly, the carpal tunnel, needing a bathroom every 10 minutes, the swollen feet and hands and the inability to be as active as I want is getting to me. Especially on these gorgeous fall days where I would do anything to get my running leg on and go for a run, but can only look at my running leg collecting dust in the corner. Plus, I miss my feet, which I can't see much of anymore. And apparently I snore now. And lets not forget the difficulty of getting my shoes on, bending over and getting out of bed. Jeez, am I a downer or what!

On a happy note, I do still enjoy feeling the baby kick and the general kindness and generosity of the public is pretty great. I can drop something and someone will run from across the room to get it. People open doors, offer seats, give me a compassionate look... and as much as I am trying to eat better, I can still rationalize the extra 2 (or 8) pieces of candy I eat. Not to mention the apple juice which has been my main craving. Obscene amounts of it to be honest. Probably not the best for my sugar count but it sure is tasty. That picture to the right..that's all gone. All of it. And decorating the nursery has been pretty fun. Brian is quite the handy man and aside from waiting on our new rug, it's all done and ready. I've even taken the stroller out around the neighborhood for some practice. Now I just need that baby...

I've made a few trips in the past month and they have all been awesome. One to Minnesota where I got to see all my high school friends and Megan threw a spectacular baby shower. Megan and I also got a full day with our moms and the 4 of us had lots of laughs and good times.
We made a trip to a bridal shop where I tried on some wedding dresses. Note to self, that trying on wedding dresses while pregnant is not recommended! While we found a few decent ones, I won't make any final decisions till I can see it without the belly. 

Then a last flight to Atlanta to see my sister and her kids and my parents. I don't get to see my nieces and nephews nearly enough so to have a few days with them was pretty great. I even got to see my nephew Jackson play some soccer and the laser light show at Stone Mountain. Good times. The last day I was there my mom and sister threw a baby shower for some friends from Atlanta and as usual, it was a fun time. Games, and gifts and tasty cake and seeing some old friends. And I always enjoy seeing my parents and sister with her family.
And then a 'baby moon' as some call it down to Nashville, TN. A surprise weekend by Brian and one of our last trips before we expand. Think country music, cowboy boots, delicious food and more country music in this crazy town. He even threw in a Wilson Phillips concert that was nothing short of amazing. Yes, Brian, went to a Wilson Phillips concert with me. I'm a lucky girl.

In some exciting news, the disability classifications for Rio were announced and my class, the Tri2 women made it in! As a reminder, there are 5 disability classes for both men and women and they were only taking 3 of the 5 to Rio. It was dependent on the number of countries and athletes each class had and to be honest, I thought Tri2 wasn't going to make it. It is unfortunate that all the classes can't compete and when they announced the classes, it was exciting that Tri2 was a go but I felt for my teammates who had a similar goal and would not have the chance in 2016. Rumor is in 2020, all classes will be involved but too many have to sit out of 2016.

The whole reason of trying for a baby this year was in hopes of getting back into shape and the possibility of the Rio Paralympics in 2016. This won't be an easy feat, as I will need to get back into shape ASAP and by the time I am able to run again, it would have been over 6 months since I put that running leg on. I'll need to get into races with virtually no points from this year and do well
enough to get points at the races I am at. The more points, the more likely you are to make it to Rio.  To add to it, many of the races are international, meaning time away from a newborn.. But.. this has been the goal and still is, and I am ready to give it a shot.  Thankfully, Brian is on board and willing to help with the logistics of making it work. If it all works out as I hope, the timing couldn't be any better. And maybe this new addition to the family will give me some extra motivation. I'm dedicated to this goal and ready to tackle it head on. Even more reason for this baby to come out now!

And last, but certainly not least, having a baby is a great excuse for a stellar Halloween costume. Brian and I were pretty proud of our creation, my first homemade costume ever. In case you can't tell from the pictures, it's an oven with my belly in it. If you still don't get it, it's a bun in the oven with Brian as the master chef. Clever? Why yes, thank you. And of course, our thrilled bumble bee, for the 4th year in a

So, the next few weeks will be spent waiting for this little one. I've just decided that I can't be miserable for the next month so I will do what I can to embrace it. The pool continues to be my best friend and I'm in it 4-5x a week. And if you guys can run on these awesome days, do a few miles for me. In return, I'll eat an extra bowl of cereal for you.

Next time I write, there will be a baby. That I'm sure of.

So here's to as much sleep as I can get, more laps in the pool, warm baths and spicy food. C'mon Baby T!

Until then,


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Baby BOY 'T' and a sweet pair of cowboy boots.

Well, well, the months just fly on by…is it really the end of September already?

You can probably gather by the title that gender of Baby T has been revealed and it’s no longer Baby T but Baby BOY T, whoop whoop!

We knew we wanted to find out the gender but had the ultrasound lady write it on a sticky note and put it an envelope that was pinned to our bulletin board for a solid 6 weeks. Brian’s sister in law Karla had offered to throw a gender reveal party so we were waiting for the big day, to share with family and friends before we found out. Brian and I had talked about what we hoped for and both decided that all we really wanted was a healthy baby, gender didn’t really matter. I know everyone says that but after the adventurous 1st 14 weeks of pregnancy, we are all about the baby’s health.

The gender reveal party was amazing and way more than we ever thought it would be. Starting from balloons on the mailbox, to a pink and blue themed party filled with all sorts of cute additions. Think pink and blue candy, a tally station for the guests to vote on what they thought it would be, boy or girl, mason jars wrapped in pink or blue ribbon with fun sayings on them, and of course, the cake, which was filled with a pink or blue frosting, and would reveal to us what it would be.
When the time came, we skyped in my parents and sister so they could be part of the fun. We picked up the knife, dug in and as many had predicted, we saw BLUE! We were having a boy! There were many hugs, maybe a few tears and much excitement, as we will be having the first boy on Brian’s side of the family. Everyone was thrilled, even my parents who can already boast of their 7 grandchildren!
It was a moment that made everything seem more real. Instead of this ‘thing’ growing inside my belly, it was a boy, and he was going to be our son. A little surreal still and an idea that is still sinking in. And some added excitement as one of my best friends Keri, just had sweet Baby Boy Benji and knowing that they will grow up together, living only blocks apart made the idea of a boy that much better. He isn’t even born yet and already has a best friend.
Brian did confess after that deep down he was hoping for a boy. He wants to teach him how to play some hockey and my guess is the kid will be up on the ice as soon as he can walk. And although Jake pretends to care less, we know that deep down, he too is excited for a baby brother to protect. As long as he doesn’t take his tennis balls…

So a boy it is. The next step was to register for a baby registry as a few baby showers were planned and we needed to get going on it. We walked into Buy Buy baby one Sunday having no clue what to expect. We were given that little gun thing to register the items, a checklist and set out on this 4 hour adventure. Yes, I said 4 hours. Who knew that there are 5,238 types of swaddles and just as many types of bottles, and car seats, and strollers and bouncy seats, oh my. I mean really, does anyone really know the difference between all this stuff? We walked out dazed, not really sure what we had done but convincing ourselves that we were all set. I mean, we had checked almost everything off the list, that meant we were good right?

To take a break from this baby stuff, lets go back a few months to an exciting announcement. As many of you know, I love country music. Love. it. And as far as artists go, Garth Brooks is near the top of my list. When I wrote out a bucket list about 20 years ago, seeing Garth was a top priority. And much to my excitement, a few months back it was announced that Garth was going on tour for the first time in 20 years and his first stop was Chicago! Beyond amazing and something I was going to figure out a way to make happen. Tickets went on sale at 10am one random day and like the rest of Chicago, I was online and on the phone trying to get tickets. He had a total of 10 shows and my goal was the Sep 11 show because what could be better than Garth Brooks on Sep 11. In my mind, nothing. After calling ticketmaster a whopping 140 times I finally got through and was able to get tickets for Sep 14th. Not the 11th, but that was OK, I was gonna see Garth! After posting it on facebook (the miracle site) a friend offered to trade her Sep 11 tickets for my Sep 14th ones and a dream was gonna come true. Whoop!

But let’s go back again, this time to Saturday July 26, around 2pm. Yes, I’m getting specific. My phone rang, caller id said somewhere in TX, I picked up the phone and a guy on the other end of the line says, ‘Hi, my name is Walter and I heard through a friend that you were hoping for tickets to see Garth Brooks on Sep 11.’ I replied with a ‘Yes, I was, but thanks to friend I already had them’. After a few awkward minutes Walter offers up the information that we have a mutual friend in high places and that Garth himself wanted to give me 4 tickets to his Sep 11 show. After a slight heart palpation and a stunned moment of silent, I replied with, ‘Um, what?’ Walter went on to explain that he and I had met before at the W100 (high places, eh?) and that someone would be in contact later on that month with more details but that I was going to get 4 tickets from Garth to his show. I hung up in disbelief. I couldn’t breathe and being home alone and not knowing what to do, I danced around the house in excitement wondering if this could all be true. I called my parents who immediately asked if they could have the other 2 tickets and would make the drive up for the concert. We speculated on if there was more to it, maybe a backstage pass, maybe front row seats, who knew really…

My first action was naturally the purchase of some pretty sweet flag cowboy boots that I’ve had my eye on for years. Finally, an excuse to buy them! And then waiting in anticipation for the concert and the wonder of if this was a hoax or if tickets would actually be at will call, like I was told they would be.

One of my best friends Megan made the trip down from MN for the concert and a group of us decided to take a limo to Allstate, arriving in style. Brian in his cowboy boots and belt buckle was a sight, I always said I wanted to marry a cowboy and I couldn't keep my eyes off him.
 It was Sep 11th and what greater American way to celebrate my love for this country than with Garth Brooks. The limo pulled up and I anxiously waited in line at will call hoping the tickets were there. A huge sigh of relief that not only were 4 tickets there, but in the 3rd row! We made our way to our seats, preparing for the show of a lifetime. And let me tell you that at 53 years old, Garth dances around like he’s in his 20’s. Never a dull moment as he runs back and forth, up and down off his knees, sweating 
profusely and singing so many of his old tunes that we all wanted to hear. A great concert no doubt, even better to be there with Brian and my parents and Megan, all dancing away in our seats. The only bummer was that he didn’t acknowledge that it was Sep 11. Maybe I talked it up too much in my head, maybe I’m more patriotic than some, but even when the crowd started to chant USA, there wasn’t a word about it. So a little bit of a downer but still a phenomenal show and a check to add to the good old bucket list!

And before we get back to this whole baby thing, we had an awesome 
Chicago weekend back in August when one of my best friends Tiff and her boyfriend Tim came for a visit. Think the air and water show, architecture boat cruise, Kayaking to the pier for some fireworks, Some wine and paint, lots of tasty food and some good laughs. How I wish we lived closer, it's always a great time when we get together!

Ookk, back to the baby. As I write this I am at 30 ½ weeks, so 9 ½ weeks left and I know it’s gonna go quick. Aside from some pretty bad headaches and this weird rib pain, I can’t really complain too much about the pregnancy. Although my prosthetic leg doesn’t fit as well as it used too, I’m still able to manage getting around pretty well, I haven’t had any sickness or too many cravings and things seem to be going well. As much as this pregnancy thing is not for me, I’ve come to slightly enjoy the 3rd trimester and the reassuring kicks or body parts that make their way around my belly.

As an athlete, I think the hardest part for me is the body changes and not being able to be as active as I want to be. My running leg is collecting dust as it doesn’t fit well and running just doesn’t work anymore. I’ve been told by my doctor to do no core work and my biking leg no longer fits. Sooo.. I’m left to the pool. Not a bad thing as I’ve always loved the water but stepping away from athletics for 5 months has been harder than I ever imagined. Seeing my USA teammates compete at World Championships while I’m home with my feet up staring at my growing belly. A sacrifice that I know will be worth it come Nov 28, but still a tough adjustment. Especially on these beautiful fall days when there’s no better feeling of a cool morning run.

Next month we will hear what classifications will be going to Rio in 2016. If my classification, Tri2, is in for Rio, that is the absolute goal. To have a healthy baby, an uncomplicated birth and to get back in shape as quick as I can. A process that will be a tough one after not running for 6 months but one that I am prepared to tackle. The goal will be to get back into shape and competing as soon as possible to get the much needed points that could eventually pave the way for Rio. Next year is a crucial year and I need to come back quick. A lofty goal but one that I’m excited to give a try.

And if it’s not in for Rio, well, I still have a wedding to get in shape for. That’s right, next May, I get to marry Brian and I am already counting down the days for him to become my husband. We have the venue set and are getting all the big stuff done before the baby is born. Including trying to find a wedding dress, which I would NOT recommend when you’ve gained 25 pounds and are 7 months pregnant. But it will all get done and it will be a wedding to remember as my dad will finally get to walk me down the aisle. And this time around, our son will be there to look on. It’s gonna be a good one.

Some exciting stuff for sure. And now doing some last minute travel while I still can, getting the nursery going and realizing that ready or not, I am going to be a mom. Crazy? yes. Scary? yes. But rumor is, its an adventure well worth taking on. And lucky for Brian and I, there are all sorts of baby classes offered to we can figure out what we’re doing. Or maybe we’ll just learn as we go. Can it really be that hard?

I cant help but share a quick link that aired on the Today show on Labor Day... A story of myself and 3 other female wounded warriors who were all at Walter Reed together 10 years ago. All of us having lost a limb and becoming the first females to be injured in Iraq. And now, 10 years later, all having kids of our own. A story I am honored and proud to be a part of. The ‘Band of Mothers’ and a truly happy story. How I love these ladies.

And lastly, but certainly not least, a huge THANK YOU to Debbie Tolsma for throwing such an awesome baby shower last weekend! My mom and
soon to be mother in law, what great ladies they are.

So there you go. Baby BOY T and a sweet pair of cowboy boots. Until next time.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I'm havin' a baby. And It's a triathlete.

The title says it all. We (as in Brian and I) are having a baby. Our baby. A planned baby. And we are thrilled. Or scared. Or maybe a little of both.

How about a little backstory..

At the beginning of this year, Brian and I decided that this year would be the perfect year for a baby. We both want kids and with hopes of Rio in 2016 and the fact that we aren’t getting any younger, this year just made sense. The window of opportunity was from Jan- early April as if I got pregnant after that, it would make any sort of athletics and the possibility of Rio in 2016 less likely. That window came and went, with all sorts of other drama (both good and bad) in there. A house fire, an engagement and the purchase or our first house.  Come mid April, all signs were pointing to no and that a baby just wasn’t going to happen this year, the window had passed.
As April continued I knew there was something going on, I just couldn’t figure out what. I was exhausted all the time, I was starving and had no energy. Since all the usual signs were still pointing to no baby, I called my doctor to order some blood work. When I lost my leg, I was anemic and I thought maybe that was the case again. Under the advice of my friend Keri, who is due herself in Aug and was probably sick of my constant complaining about how I felt, she suggested I take a pregnancy test. I was apprehensive, there was no way I was pregnant, but three days before my blood work I did just that. Imagine my surprise when the results came back as not negative, but somewhere in between. The next day, the same thing. And then a confirmed test a few days later in early May at the VA that I was in fact pregnant! As most mothers can probably relate, the news doesn’t really set in right away, but it made sense with how I was feeling and I felt a little silly, as at 34 years old I should know if I’m pregnant. But apparently that’s not always the case.
We timed it back and figured that I was 7 weeks along and due in mid Jan. Not bad as that is only a few weeks into the new year. Brian and I celebrated as our plan had worked, we were going to be parents!

This story continues, but a side note here that in the end of May, I was registered for a big triathlon down in Dallas. At the time I thought I was 7 weeks along and a triathlon would be fine. Might as well start this kid out in world of sports early! So the plans continued for Dallas and that I would race with this little triathlete to be.

Fast forward to the day before we were supposed to leave for Dallas. Some complications and a trip to the ER thinking that I might be loosing this baby which led to my first ultrasound making sure the baby was OK. Before the ultrasound the ER doctor said being only 7 weeks along, they probably couldn’t see much but it was worth a try. As they started the doctors eyes got real big and Brian, also looking at the screen, got this strange expression on his face. I couldn’t help but laugh and ask if everything was OK. The wide eyed doctor looked over and said ‘ummm, I think you’re a little further along than 7 weeks.’ He turned the screen and there was this baby, kicking and waving at us saying here I am! A real baby. In MY belly. After some measurements they concluded that I was not 7 weeks along, but a whopping 14 weeks along! I was in my 2nd trimester already, how insanely crazy.
We left the ER with a mission to find an OBGYN the following day and see if this was for real. After some searching we found an office that would get us in and they confirmed that yes, I was 14 weeks along and due on Nov 28. Because of the complications, I was instructed not to do any physical activity for the next week to make sure everything was OK so the race in Dallas was out. I made her repeat it a few times before it sunk in, my life was about to change big time. Instead of being all about me, I had a baby to think about.
As we thought back to the past 14 weeks the realization of what this kid has already done set in. It had been to Napa, enjoyed many glasses of wine, eaten plenty of sushi, skied in CO, mountain biked with the President, been to Disney World, to Boston, to DC, celebrated Little Leg’s 10th birthday and even danced on the bar. They were starting their life out with adventure and we hoped then that the baby would be a healthy one. I know everyone says that, but after a 14 weeks of all that, the worry was genuine. Thankfully all looked fine and the complications have not returned.

We still ended up going to Dallas as Brian was racing and it was a great chance to watch my teammates race. As we flew down there we were that cliché couple that was reading What to Expect When You’re Expecting and Brian reading, what to Expect when your wife is expanding. We had a lot of catching up to do.

Dallas went well although it was strange to be on the other side of things and not racing. A bit of bragging that Brian got 2nd in the Clysdale division and got to stand on that podium. I was proud.

Back in Chicago, it still really hadn’t set in. Everyone knew, my belly was growing a little but it was still so surreal. Luckily I have Brian to convince me that I don't look fat and that you can't even tell I have a bigger belly....right...
There was a big international triathlon coming up at the end of June and I decided that I was going to race it. Slowly of course, as I was instructed not to get my heart rate about 140 (I heard 150 :)), but I couldn’t pass up a race in my backyard. Plus, I wanted the chance to get these much needed points that could help me on the Road to Rio in 2016.
I did little training. Swimming and biking felt OK but the run wasn’t. I felt so heavy, so slow and on my practice triathlon a week before Chicago, I ended up having to walk the whole run. Spectators would encourage me along the way and I wanted to yell back, I am pregnant, leave me alone!

The Chicago race came and at 4.5 months pregnant I got mixed reviews. Some thought it was silly to risk it, others thought it was great. I promised myself to go easy and I wore a HR monitor to make sure I didn’t go too hard. That morning I struggled to get into my too tight one piece spandex race suit. My handler Keri who is very pregnant and I were quite a sight in transition. Eating whatever was around and lying on the carpet not doing much at all. My goal for the race was to simply not walk the run. This was a big race, there was a blue carpet at Buckingham Fountain that we got to finish at and I wanted to at least have a reasonable finish. The swim started and of course I was off like a cannon, not being able to hold myself back. I got out of the water knowing I had to slow down. On the bike, my HR went down slightly but I realized that once it’s up, its really hard to get down unless you stop. And that wasn’t going to happen. Plus, my competitive side was out. Knowing I was tri’ing for 2 but still wanting to push myself. I got of the bike and was able to run through till to the end. I got lots of ‘Go Mamma’ cheers from friends and tried to unsuccessfully suck my belly in as I went by. I crossed with a time of 1:38 and I was pumped. It was a great day, a great race, I didn’t walk and I was thrilled. I got to stand on the podium in 2nd place with Hailey on top and give myself a silent shout out that I had done it. Plus I had earned some points. We still aren’t sure what that all means, but if I needed them, at least I had some. After the race one of my favorite articles was posted on the relationship and good sportsmanship between Hailey and I. You can read it here,

Looking at race data after the race I realized  that my heart rate got up Much higher than it should have and for safety for all involved, that would be my last competitive race until the baby was born. It’s too hard to not push myself and go hard. There might be an easy 5K or two but no more triathlons. Plus I don’t think I could get into that spandex suit anymore. But.. I am proud that our baby is already living the multisport lifestyle, maybe it will come out running? And in case anyone was wondering, a Garmin heart rate monitor cannot pick up the heart rate of a baby that’s still in your belly.

To answer some common questions we get:

1. We will find out the gender. We actually have it in an envelope at home but are waiting until Aug 2 when we will have a gender release part where the inside of a cake is either blue or pink. Cheesy, probably, but I’m excited.
2. Wedding plans haven’t changed and we will be getting married next year, most likely in May. We are just doing things a little backwards. A house, a baby and then a wedding. Although in 2014, there isn’t really a right way to do things.
3. And yes, Jake is thrilled. He says he’ll be a great big brother as long as the kid doesn’t touch his tennis balls.

So there you go, that’s the big news. Other than that, things continue as usual. Work, speaking, Dare2tri in full swing with racing and our hugely successful 3 day camp.

 It is strange to be around my teammates knowing I won’t be racing anymore this year. No nationals, no worlds and the hope that I can come back stronger next year and be successful post baby. There is still the question of if my category will be included at Rio but we should know in a few months and here’s to hoping it’s a yes. That and a wedding will give me great motivation to get back into shape quick after the baby is born. And rumor is that you get stronger after a baby. Or maybe I just made that up.

We’ve had some great trips these past few months. A favorite was a trip to my parents in SC on July 4, which is our usual destination to see the fireworks. Lots of games, golf, a celebratory bottle of Bourbon (for the guys) and much needed time with my awesome family. With my sister and her 5 kids, I have all the resources I need if I ever have any questions.

And in breaking news, I got a new car! Although the Element will be sorely missed, I love my new Subaru Forester, with embroidered flag headrests and all.

 Until Nov, it’s more of the same. Traveling to speak until I can’t fly anymore, work and visiting friends knowing that things will change come Nov. Although how hard can it really be to change a few diapers… (that’s sarcasm people)

It’s been quite the exciting few months and just when you think things slow down, you realize they might get busier than ever. What a life it is!
So cheers to a new life and the start of our own family. I can’t think of a better father than Brian and hoping I can be just as good of a mother.

Until next time,


Monday, May 26, 2014

A birthday, a President, a mountain bike and America.

How to even begins this one, it's been a jam packed two months and of course, I'm behind in writing any of it down. To avoid anything too lengthy, I'll do a highlight of some of the top events and fill in the rest as I go.

But first, before I go any further, I must start with a Happy Memorial Day to you all. I hope among the BBQ's and picnics and friends, you all took some time to reflect on what this day is all about. It's about giving thanks to those that gave the ultimate sacrifice, that allow us to enjoy those BBQ's and good times we continue to have. Freedom is not free. We should remember that everyday, but today we give some extra thanks. America is the best country in the world and life is good. To that I cheers to you all, in a debt of gratitude for those who gave their lives for our
freedom. Always remember those that gave all.

All right, where to begin. How about with one of the most important events of the year, LITTLE LEG TURNED 10! Can you believe it? 10 whole years since I lost my leg. Sometimes it feels like yesterday, other days I think back on all that's happened since then, and it feels like 10 years. Like every year, a big bash was to be had to celebrate Little Leg's life and all of us. It's a day of being thankful for what we have instead of mourning what we no longer have. A day of celebrating life and all it has to offer. This years slogan was an appropriate, 'A Decade to Remember' and that it's been. When I think back and reflect on the past 10 years I can hardly believe all that's happened. There's been ups and downs, there's been some serious highs and athletic accomplishments and being able to travel all over the world. I've met some of my very best friends that have only known me with one leg and their friendship is as true as they come. I've been able to give back with the Wounded Warrior Project and Dare2tri, hoping that this next generation of wounded warriors or athletes with disabilities can be inspired to dream big and to follow their dreams, whatever they are. I've found a home in Chicago with my trusty 4 legged best friend Jake by my side, and now a fiance that I am beyond thankful to have found and to have in my life. To say life has been good is an understatement, it's amazing. And this year's party reflected just how amazing it's been. It was extra special this year as my parents and my sister Amanda and her husband Gavin came into town. This was a rare weekend for Amanda and Gavin to get away from their family of 5 kids and I know getting here was no easy feat. My faithful Little Leg fans Brandi, Molly, Joe and Lauren came from out of town along with my cousins Tim and Annette who all have made the trip countless years to help celebrate. All of them along
with so many others, at 6 degrees,
our favorite neighborhood bar. Think lots of drinks, lots of dancing on the bar (dad too!), lots of laughs, some serious drinks out of the socket and a good time had by all. I am so thankful. If this next decade is half of what this one is, then I'm in for a treat. And Little Leg, 10 already?! She's growing up fast..  

Next was a trip to Florida with Brian's family.
The whole family. Mom dad, both brothers, grandma and both nieces. A day at Disney World, one at Sea World and then a few back at Brian's mom's spent by the pool. Now we have been to Disney 3 times in the past year and a half and it's safe to say we are Disney'd out. But to be there with Maddie and Laney, and to see their faces when seeing all the characters and the fireworks show, and to watch them on Dumbo,  and seeing Shamu, it really does put Disney in a whole new light. I feel so lucky that I will have in-laws that I truly enjoy being around. Brian's family is so warm and inviting and included me in everything from the start. Once again, a lucky girl I am.

Now the third main event, but a highlight of the year. The W100. 3 days of mountain biking with President Bush and 20 other wounded veterans. I did this ride 2 years ago with Keri, and this year was just as amazing. To have Brian with me and to show him off to the President and all the staff and volunteers that we knew from the years past.. what a week it was. The trip started out the first morning with all of us ready and the President showing up and saying his hellos. He shakes all of our hands, he gets to me and says, 'Melissa I hear your fiance is with you'  I said, 'yes, sir, he's right back there'. At this point Brian waves and says 'Hi sir'. The President didn't skip a beat and yelled out, 'hey Big Bri, stay in the back would ya!' A fun moment and a new nickname that Brian was affectionately called the rest of the weekend.
Once again, there was a dedicated Team
Melissa, that rode in front and behind me and
helped he up the hills if I needed it. Brian was there and always a bike behind and jumped in to help me more than once. Trek was beyond generous and gave all of us wounded veterans sweet new mountain bikes that we got to bring home with us. The trails of his ranch are amazing and even
more so to think that it is his backyard. There were some good falls and road rash to be had, but what's a mountain bike trip without a few bruises. This was a trip to re-enforce that President Bush is a great man. Here, he brings 20 wounded veterans and invites them to his backyard and his home. Literally. He  shows up and eats dinner with us, he makes sure he spends time and talks with all of us, and he tells us that he feels he is the one with the most responsibility to make sure we are all taken care of. A man and a President that is acutely aware of the decisions he made and the impact they had. A great man, always quick with a witty comment, a quick laugh and a stud of a mountain biker. Not to mention a dog lover and now a new friend for Jake. We are still on a high from the trip. The teamwork and camaraderie of the warriors, staff and volunteers. The generosity of the President and Mrs. Bush allowing us to ride our bikes through their backyard and inviting us into their home. A trip I feel so fortunate to be a part of and once again, a proud American. Thank you Mr. President for your continued support and belief in all of us. Oh happy days.

 And last, but certainly not least, a trip to Washington DC for some sightseeing and a wedding of Jen and Jen, some friends we have met through the small world of triathlon and CAF. This was Brian's first time DC and I was anxious to show him around a city I loved. We walked 7 miles the first day, all over that city, and saw almost everything. The whole mall, Thomas Jefferson, MLK, Iwo Jima and Arlington Cemetery. The next morning we got up for an early morning run on the mall. One I had talked about for months and how peaceful it was to run among the monuments as the sun came up. We didn't know it but we were joined by thousands of other walkers and runners doing the Susan Koman 5K, so not quite like I planned, but still an experience. And then a quick drive to Oxford, MD where we got to be a part of the great love of Jen and Jenn and dancing the night away.  

An eventful couple of months it's been. Our new 
home has come together so well and we love it and calling it home. All the generosity from everyone after the fire helped make it home faster than we ever thought it would. Our home, for our new life together. As usual, things always work out.

My 6 month old post- Ironman blues are still there some days but going away slowly. There or not, I have my first race in Dallas this Sunday. Admittedly, I started getting back into things and hard training a solid 2 months later than I should have. Trying to get back up to par and happy with my workouts has been tough. I'm not sure Dallas will be my best race but I'll do the best I can and be happy with it. At least it will be a good benchmark to see how much work I need to do. 
This year is a little different in the triathlon world as we are moving to a new system of elite athletics and an attempt to make it a fair system. While all new systems always have issues, the basic idea is that we all have to acquire points, which we get by racing in certain races and the better we do, the more points we get. Those points will qualify us for Worlds this year and then half of our points carry over to next year on the path to Rio. While there is still a lot to be decided on, you could say the Road to Rio starts this year. An exciting venture and crazy to think it can be so close. So Dallas will be whatever it is, and then a race in Chicago a month later which I hope to be fully back for. 

Wedding plans have yet to start, but they will soon enough. Can't someone just plan it for us and we can show up and it's amazing?
And as always, Jake always makes our days better. A young six and a half years old with multiple promises by him that he's never going to get old. Or have bad hips. And why would he lie?

I think that's it for now. A busy, exciting life it is. Until next time,