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Monday, July 27, 2015

10 Second Book Reviews

Geez, I'm so behind on this.


Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?: I listened to this one. I love listening to audiobooks written by comedians, because they normally are also read by the author. Mindy's was a good, funny one with a lot of thoughts about weight, as well as a lot of interesting tidbits of info about what it was like behind the scenes on The Office. Not as good as Bossypants, but still a good book by a female comedienne.




Prayer for Owen Meany: This seems like one that everyone had read except me. I chose to read it mostly because my son's name is Owen, and therefore I get comments occasionally about Owen Meany, so I wanted to read the book so I'd know what they were talking about. I loved it. It was funny and touching and heartbreaking all at the same time. I loved the character of Owen Meany so much, even if it was hard to get used to him speaking in all caps. The religion in the book is a little heavy-handed, but that was also something I could deal with while enjoying the rest of the story.

Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries: I do love Neil Degrasse Tyson. My only disappointment with this one was that I listened to it as an audiobook and it was not read by the author. Come on, NDT, I know you'd do a brilliant job reading your own book!

I learned a lot listening to this. The book included plenty of information about the formation of the universe, and what is out there beyond our planet, solar system and galaxy. I will say this though - the more I read of NDT, the more atheist I become.

Confessions of a Scary Mommy: I wanted to love this one more than I did. I think a lot of new moms (or even not so new moms) would really love how honest and true this book is. It is a lot of stories about motherhood, but also includes a lot of opinions about motherhood and how motherhood should be. I got tired of some of these very opinions. It's tough to read a book that preaches about not wanting to be judged by other mothers, which then turns around in the next chapter to judge other mothers. Right?


Orange Is the New Black: If you are a fan of the television series, this one may be a disappointment to you. The television series is loosely based off of the book. But, the TV show is over the top and outlandish, while the book is a bit more down to earth. That's because the book is true, the TV show is not. You will read about characters that you recognize, and you will find out a whole lot more information about what life is really like in a women's correctional facility.

I thought the book was a terrific companion piece to the TV show. It will make you rethink how we treat prisoners in this country.

12 Years a Slave: Oh gosh, as soon as I started reading this, I started thinking "why in the world am I reading this depressing book?" But, it was good. It's a real first person account of what it was like to be a slave in the south. The historical significance of this book just cannot be denied. The story is just plain heartbreaking and will make you angry.

Shortly after reading the book, I watched the movie. It did an excellent job of being true to the book. So, please either read the book or watch the movie so that you can understand what went on in the south in this country.


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Monday, April 27, 2015

Kelly St. Patrick's Day 5K 2015

I've run this race a bunch of times. My 5K personal record is here, set back in 2010. It's easy to set a PR on a course where the first mile is essentially all downhill. Because I have run this race so many times, I have a system. I park at the lot at Pier 5, right at the end of I-83 and walk up the hill to the start in front of the Washington Monument (no, the one in Balitmore). But, Charm City Run was advertising parkingpanda.com as where you should reserve parking, so I thought, ok, I'll reserve parking in advance.

Well. I reserved it a different lot, the one at Power Plant Live!. The one that is right at the finish line of the race. When I got to the end of I-83, traffic. So much traffic. I thought I'd find a different way to get to the parking lot. I still had an hour before the race started (remember, though, that it's a long walk up to the start). Bad choice. I ended up circling around, finding roads closed all around (for the race) and finally getting to the entrance of the parking garage but unable to enter because of the line of cars going into it blocking my way. I was going to miss the race if I didn't park and start walking, so I ended up parking in the next garage I passed. It was somewhere on Lombard Street, and it took parking panda, but not my reservation :( So, I double paid for parking.

I walked up to the start and arrived only about 6 or 7 minutes before the race was going to start. I couldn't get to the back because I was approaching from the starting line and the street was too crowded. I was panicking about this. After all, this is a crowded, fast first mile and I was going to get trampled. I was up at the front, where the people are that finish half marathons before I get across the starting line.

The race started, and I tried to get through the crowd to go farther back, moving in the opposite direction of the crowd. I guess this was disruptive, but I was really careful to not knock into people or whatever. Regardless, some guy said "you are going the wrong way." I replied "I should be in the back." He said, "No, you belong right here. Just run." So, I said, f-it, And headed on down. He was right, the course was all mixed up with no sense of anybody placing themselves properly at the start. People were weaving, people were walking, people were creating roadblocks, people were cursing walkers. All the usual cast of characters.

I was expecting to meet up with some friends at the race, but in the end couldn't find them. I ended up running alone, which was actually fine. I figured I'd find them at the finish. They were probably legitimately in the back of the pack.

It was a pretty fast first mile, as it always is. I seriously always amaze myself at this race. Then, the course flattens out but never really turns very uphill. I felt pretty good about it in general. I ran one minute of running and 30 seconds of walking and that worked out pretty well.

I crossed the finish line with a final time of 35:44. Not my best, not my worst, but my fastest 5K since having the baby (I have started re-categorizing my PRs as "before baby" and "after baby" since chasing my pre-baby PRs is too frustrating).

The finish was crowded. I decided that I wasn't going to find my friends and ended up just leaving without getting beer. I was still annoyed about the parking (and spent the entire race annoyed by it). In the end though, parking panda refunded my money for my parking and so I can say that I would recommend the service :)

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Walt Disney World Half Marathon 2015

In front of Cinderella's Castle
I can't tell you how excited I was to return to Florida for the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend this year. Since I started distance running in 2006, I had previously made every year to run one of the races, with the exception of 2011, when it conflicted with my trip to Indonesia. Then, in 2013, I was pregnant and in 2014 I had an infant and missed both years :( So, this was my first trip back for the event since 2012.

I chose the half marathon, since I am just uncertain when exactly I might be feeling ready to tackle 26.2 again. Maybe never. Who knows.

Anyway, Todd, Owen and I left for Florida on Thursday, January 8. Our departure was rather confused and rushed because Southwest decided to play this little game where they called and said our flight was delayed until 5pm. Then, later, they called back and said our flight was delayed until 4pm, causing me to skip Owen's nap and run around the house yelling "We're out of here in THIRTY MINUTES, GUYS!" Then, on our way to the airport, they called and said our flight was delayed until 3:45pm. Not cool. But, we made it fine anyway, we just ended up getting into our hotel (Animal Kingdom Lodge) very late. Late enough that Owen had to sleep in his clothes since our luggage hadn't arrived yet.

Todd and Owen before Owen's race
Friday morning, we headed over to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex for the Expo. Oh, how I've missed this expo! The first thing we had to do was pick up our packets - all three of us since Owen was running a Disney Kid's Race. We looked around, bought a couple of things (sunglasses, mostly) and got our packets.

Next, it was time for Owen's race! He and I waited in the corral, and he enjoyed a little pre-race nutrition (a granola bar). The kids in his age group were racing first, and they were racing about 10 kids at a time. But, there were maybe 200 kids waiting to race, so waiting was taking forever. It was getting so close to lunch and nap time that Owen was getting super grumpy.

Finally, after about 30-40 minutes of waiting, it was our turn. We were rushed up to the starting line, and in doing so, Owen dropped a plastic hand clapper that someone had given him. There was no time to turn back and get it, so we left it behind. Well, this was no good for Owen. He wanted it and started to cry. I tried to calm him and the race started. I put him down so that he could run, but he went boneless and would not even stand. Other kids were starting to line up at the starting line, so I picked him up and carried him down the track, dropping him down every 15 feet or so to see if he'd support him self (nope). Kids from the next heat were passing us. Then, kids from the next heat were passing us. Finally, we finished, with Owen still super-sad and boneless. We saw Mickey, crossed the finish, and got a medal, which Owen slapped away when I tried to give it to him. Naptime, Mommy!!!

boneless.
The finish line amenities included a chocolate kids clif bar and some water. Owen was all about the water, but wanted nothing to do with any photos. We got him into his stroller, and I gave him the Clif bar, which he devoured. Then, we headed back to the hotel. He fell asleep on the stroller ride to the bus, and stayed asleep on the bus. It was only when we got back to the resort and put him back into the stroller that he woke up. And that was his nap for the day (not good).

Later, Todd's parents and nephew came by and we spent some time at the playground at the resort. They went home and we had dinner, and my sister and niece came by. They were staying with us to watch Owen during the race, so that both Todd and I could run.

We were up at 3am or so. Owen didn't sleep well, so I'd been up off and on all night. Todd woke up with a terrible cold and decided that he wasn't going to be well enough to run the race. He ended up coming along to spectate for me, though. I was waiting for the bus in the lobby of the hotel when I read an email from my aunt and uncle about my grandmother who was not doing so well. They were calling hospice, so things weren't so wonderful for me as I was heading to the starting line.
He is proudly wearing his medal

We made it to the runners village after sitting in front of quite possibly the most irritating two women in the universe on the bus. I found Jeff Galloway's tent, and Todd had some coffee and I had some water, and we sat down and talked to other Galloway runners while we waited. Jeff also had his own set of portable toilets to use, so I went ahead and used one of those, too. Yay, Jeff! We missed meeting Jeff, though, by a few minutes. It's ok, I've met him before.

Soon, it was time to leave Todd. I headed down to the starting line and Todd headed to the monorail to wait for me. The walk to the starting line was LONGER than I remember. Granted, I haven't walked from the runners village to the starting line since 2010, but it just never seemed like it was quite THAT long. Finally, I made it down there, and then FINALLY I found my corral. It took FOREVER. By the time I was in my corral, the race had started, but I was in corral K - the 11th one. So, MORE waiting.

What I like is that they were shooting off fireworks and making a big deal out of every single corral start. How awesome is that? By the time my corral started, though, Todd had been waiting at mile marker 4 already for... um, maybe an hour? LOL.
Fantasyland

As my corral was getting ready to start, I threw away the pants I'd been wearing. They were Starter pants that I'd purchased for the Marine Corps Marathon in 2007, and I'd either brought them to or worn them for a TON  of races. Todd even wore them (they were mens pants) when he ran the 2010 Disney marathon with me. They were purchased to be thrown away at a starting line, and finally, 8 years later, they were being thrown away. So sad :(

The course was crowded. The last time I ran the half marathon, the course was crowded but there were fewer waves. The additional waves didn't help much. The course was packed the entire 13.1 miles. I was enjoying the entertainment on the course and the general awesomeness that is a Disney race, and I was also in awe of the amount of people doing the Dopey Challenge. This is the first marathon weekend for me since the Dopey Challenge came about, after all.

I felt great at the first mile marker, and then I checked runkeeper. Oh, I was doing a 14 minute mile. No wonder I felt great. But... I couldn't go faster. There just was not a way to go faster without weaving and I didn't feel like expending my energy weaving through a crowd. I wanted to enjoy the race and I didn't feel like the conditions were right for trying to go really fast. That was the mistake I made in Indianapolis.

not actually sure where this is
on the course...
So, I settled in. We headed on down the course. I saw Todd at mile marker 4 and briefly talked to him. I told him that I am slow. In the Magic Kingdom, it was awesome as always, but I decided to stop and get a picture in front of the castle, a photo op that I'd always avoided during races because of the lines. But, the lines for all of the characters up to that point had been LOOOONG. The castle lines were better, so I thought, why not. And, that is how I ended up blowing any chance of getting decent time.

I looked for Todd in front of the castle and finally found him, but I actually had to double back a bit to find him, wasting more time. So, eh, whatever.

There isn't a ton to report on the race, honestly. It was so wonderful to be back at Disney. I was heckled by a guy wearing a Patriots jersey because I was wearing a "Fleet Feet Baltimore" shirt and the Ravens were playing the Patriots that night. The crowds on the course never thinned. I took vaseline from a medical tent at mile 10, the first time I've done that. I was wiping my hands off for the rest of the race. Mile marker 12 was the Frozen mile marker, with Elsa blasting her music LOUDLY.

Epcot... almost done
The gospel choir that I love to death was still at the home stretch at the finish line. I love them so much, you have no idea. I saw Todd near the finish and then crossed the finish line, collected my medal and ate some awesome applesauce (omg... awesome sauce!).

Final time... 3:05:59, my worst half marathon time ever and the first time I've finished a half marathon in over 3 hours. Eh.

We headed back to the hotel and found my sister, niece and Owen, and they took Owen out for a while so Todd and I could shower and rest. I love my sister. Later, my mom joined us and we ate dinner at Boma.

The rest of the weekend was Disney all the way. I was so grateful to not be running the full marathon. We did get to see it in Animal Kingdom on Sunday morning. I cheered them on, but I was happy to not be one of them. We had a great time all around, heading home on Monday.

Now I just have to think... what about next year? Registration for Marathon Weekend 2016 opens April 28.
Finished!

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Celtic Solstice 5 Mile Run 2014

This is, in fact, the perfect race. Bear with me here, let me explain why. It's in December, at a time when few other races are going on, so unless you're doing a January marathon (which I sometimes am), it doesn't interfere with your training. Even if you are doing a January race, you can usually work it in because it's a great non-long-run-week run length - 5 miles. Speaking of the length, it's also longer than a 5K, so you don't feel like you're just showing up for the "beginner" distance. That being said, it's short enough that you don't have to put in a million miles of training. It has a warm tent to stand in at the start and finish, it's never too hot (although it's been a white out before!). At the finish is mulled wine, soup, and cookies. It's at Christmas time, the best time of the year, so people dress up! It has a wonderful, amazing premium every year. TONS of people do it - I see so many people that I know at this race. And yet, it's small enough to feel like a good ol' hometown race.

Yes, I love the Celtic Solstice. That's why I was sad for the past 3 years because I was in Florida the weekend of the race all three years and couldn't participate. This year, though! I was at home and happy to go down to Druid Hill Park and run!

The weather wasn't too bad. 30 degrees or so, cold and crisp, but sunny. The tent at the start was warm. Todd was home with Owen, so I was looking for friends. I knew my friend Elizabeth was running, but I'd made no arrangements to find her at the start. I had forgotten my watch, so I was hoping to mooch intervals off of someone. Then, I ran into Robin, who hasn't been running with us in a while and I hadn't seen in some time. I also found Elizabeth (and a whole lot of others, wow), but ended up sticking with Robin for the actual run.

We did 1:1s, which was difficult at the start. The course was pretty crowded. We separated for a while because it was just too hard to walk with all of the people. I expected that I wouldn't find Robin again, but then there she was! She was awesome and it was great to catch up with her.

The race was nice, same course that winds through some gentle hills in Druid Hill Park, around the lake and then a downhill finish. At the finish, like I said -- cookies (yum!), the most delicious soup ever, and mulled wine. Ok, the wine made my stomach turn a little, but it was still delicious.

The perfect race.

Final time: 1:04:57, a perfect 13 minute pace. Nice and comfortable.

Robin and Me and the finish


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Monday, November 10, 2014

Runner's World Half Marathon 2014

I made it! I made it all the way through half marathon training to my goal race even though I have a kid! I've known very few new moms to manage that, so I really should be proud of myself just for that. I can't say that my training was 100% perfect, and a lot of times I was doing the minimum or less, but I would still give myself a solid B+ for training this year.

After years of running the same goal races, this year Todd and I have two different races planned. That way, one of us can watch Owen while the other runs. First up is my race, the Runner's World Half Marathon. I've had this race on my bucket list since its inaugural year in 2012. The timing was right this year for this one, so I signed up.

Todd, Owen and I headed up to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on Saturday afternoon. Todd had a long run to do before we left and we had the nonsense of getting a toddler ready to go also, so we didn't get out the door quite as early as I would have liked. We made it to the expo in the last hour that it was open. It really didn't matter since there was very little that I was interested in there. It was a mediocre expo at best, just not a lot of stuff to choose from (and no sunglasses, which is what we were after).

Sadly, I ordered my shirt in a size too small and the size exchange wasn't open when I was there. I thought the sign said to come back after the race to exchange sizes, but it wasn't open then either, so I ended up with a shirt that is too small. It's my old, pre-baby size, so it can join the rest of my too small race shirts that I own.

After the expo, we headed over to our hotel and checked in, then headed back out to Wegman's for dinner. Dinner at Wegman's had gone so well when I ran the Wineglass Half in 2012, I thought it would be good to continue that tradition. It made it easy, also, to deal with feeding a tired toddler. Then, back to the hotel and to bed early.

Race start was at 8am, and I had set my alarm for 6, but at 5:15 I woke up and started getting nervous about traffic or other problems and decided to get up at 5:30 to get ready. This ended up being a good choice since it allowed us to easily find street parking and avoid paying the $10 for parking in the paid lots. We were really close to the finish line and parked in a location where Todd could easily get back to drive around if he needed to.

The race was starting and ending at the SteelStacks Campus in Bethlehem. This is the former Bethlehem Steel campus which has been made over to be a conference center, dining, shopping and entertainment district with the Steel Blast Furnaces still in tact and lit up. It was actually a very cool atmosphere, and very nice. The three of us hung out in the nice and warm ArtsQuest building for a while, and I checked out the bathrooms and decided the line was too long. At about 7:30, I decided to go ahead and make my way toward the starting line up the road in the hopes that I'd pass a bathroom with a shorter line on the way. Sure enough, at the Outlet mall, I found a bathroom with 50 stalls (!) and no line at all. Note to future participants - THIS is the place to get your pre-race pee on!

As I was heading up to the starting line, I heard someone calling my name. It was my friend Lynn, who moved to the west coast but came back for the race. We chatted for a few minutes and I was so grateful to talk to her. That conversation really calmed me down!

Then, I was at the starting line waiting for the race to begin. The national anthem was done on a violin, which I thought was really nice. Then, we were off. I saw Todd and Owen as we passed the SteelStacks campus. Owen was on Todd's shoulders and gave me a kiss! :) I love that little guy.

The race itself was hard. I was doing 1:1 intervals, which is what I had trained with. I knew that the course was hilly and it definitely was. Very early on (mile 2, I think), we passed over a bridge and into what I am pretty sure was the more "downtown" area of Bethlehem. Up, down, up down. The course was very hilly, but I was doing just fine. We passed through Main Street, which was beautiful and my favorite part of the course. We also headed through some residential areas. The trees were changing colors and Bethlehem is a pretty little town. I was doing my best to make my goal, which was under 3 hours. However, I knew I needed to use the bathroom at some point.

Finally, at mile 8, when I had just passed the Skirt Sports Waterstop,  I saw 3 potties with no line and a person had just come out of one so I knew it was empty. Yay! I went right in. Now, I'd been running my absolute best and I was not thinking clearly. The locking mechanism was some kind of crank and I was used to the sliding kind. I thought I just needed to turn it to lock it. It seemed like that worked, so I started to pee... Then, the door opened. Whoops. I sure surprised someone. I yelled "I thought it was locked, sorry!" as she moved on. Then, I looked at the lock and realized how it worked and felt like a moron. Oh well, first time for everything.

After that, I felt better, but I had lost time. So, I started doing by best to keep my speed up. It was rough. The hills were hard and I was getting tired. People were on the course with signs sponsored by Runner's World saying that there were no more hills. There were more hills. That's a dirty trick to play, RW..

Finally, we were back over the bridge with about a mile and a half to go. I was HUNGRY and TIRED. That last mile was so tough, but I was determined that I was going to make my goal. Finally, I was heading down the home stretch, with Todd and Owen cheering me at the finish. Final time, 2:55:29, my worst half marathon time ever, but under my goal of 3 hours! So, yay!

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Annapolis Ten Mile Run 2014

I was so very nervous about this race. Sure, I've run it 6 times in the past, but this race is notoriously difficult - hot, humid, hilly and an expectation of a fast time. In previous years, the rules clearly stated that there was a 12 minute per mile pace expected by mile 8 or else you'd be swept. However, the other day I was going back over the website, and I noticed that this year the expected per mile pace is 15 minutes per mile. I don't know when they changed it - it could have been several years ago for all I know, but I think that's a good change. After all, they never were actually sweeping people anyway.

This is the third race that I've run since having a baby, and the longest. I was trained for it, but I'm so much slower than I was when I last ran it in 2012. I tried to set a modest goal, but I didn't want to make this race the worst A-10 I've ever done, either. So, I looked at my last time, which was 2012, when I ran a 2:03, and my best time, which was 2010 - 2:00. And, I looked at my worst time - 2:12, 2007. I decided to set a goal for 2:10, a 13-minute per mile pace (which would match the pace that I kept for the 10K that I ran in April). My "true" goal, though, was to beat my 2007 time and make this race "not my worst."

Todd and I arrived in Annapolis in the afternoon on Saturday. We had planned to quickly pick up our packets and then walk with Owen around the city dock, but rain spoiled those plans. We are Ingress players, and there were tons of playing opportunities downtown, so we did drive around for a bit playing the game. It was not as fun as it would have been on foot with the stroller on a non-rainy day. Owen was fussy, so we went ahead over to the stadium and got our packets.

They gave us an orange hat with our race numbers. I don't get it - why an orange hat? It doesn't match anything else that we've ever gotten for this race. Maybe it matches some overall apparel set that the Annapolis Striders have going on? Who knows. Anyway, I also purchased a belt to hold my phone because I'd forgotten mine at home.

After packet pickup, we headed to my mom's house so she could enjoy some time with Owen. My mom and her SO were going to watch Owen during the race and Todd and I were VERY VERY nervous about this. So, we wanted to give Owen plenty of time to warm up to her. Then, the five of us headed out to Bertucci's for our traditional pre-A10 pizza.

In the morning, we got up early, but remained happy that we don't have to get up as early as people do who don't stay in Annapolis. We left Owen with my mom and headed down to the race. *TMI Alert* Since having Owen, I have had more of a need to go to the bathroom during runs. I was nervous about this, so I felt like I needed to wait in line for a potty and go before the race. This took up ALL of the time that we had before the race started, and the national anthem was playing while I was in the potty. But, I was glad I did and we were properly positioned in the back of the pack when I was done.

Looking towards the starting line from the back of the pack

Todd was running with me because his training has been spotty all summer. I was glad for this, though, it's always nice to have company. In years past, we've always known lots of people to be running this race also, but this year we had exactly zero Fleet Feet Baltimore people coming down with us, so we had no one to meet and no one to run with.

We started farther back than I've ever started and I LOVED it. I was able to easily take walk breaks before mile 1 was even through. We were doing 1:1s and things were going well. The weather was nice too - sunny and about 66 degrees at the start. That's a good starting temp. It was humid, though, and I could feel it.

Things went about as you would expect - I was beating my goal pace of 13 minutes and feeling great about it, but apprehensive as I knew I'd start to fade once I hit the big hills after going through downtown Annapolis. We made it over the bridge and I was slowly feeling a migraine coming on. Bleh. The race had running medics, so I started keeping my eye out for someone wearing a medical vest. We finally passed her at the out & back around mile 7, and Todd stopped her and asked her for some Tylenol. Todd stopped her because when the time came I was like "oh, never mind. It's no big deal," but Todd insisted. The medic gave me some tylenol and made a note on my bib. The headache was gone before we even hit mile 8.

I faded some in the second half of the race, but in general things were good. Todd was hamming it up with the other runners, at one point grabbing someone's sign and cheering me on with it as I passed him. We crossed the finish line pretty strong, and I ended up making my goal exactly - 2:10:18.

The bad part? They'd run out of XL jackets at the finish. Come on, race directors. I HATE THIS. The rule should be - take the size you registered for, period. At the end, after all of the runners had finished, if there is some left, THEN you can trade. Not, "oh, I didn't notice that the size chart was so small and this isn't going to fit me can I take an XL that is reserved for someone slower than me?" Screw people that do that.

I ended up with a Men's L, which I am not happy about. Boo Annapolis Striders.

All in all, a good race. I was dreading it since it's my first foray into long distance in 2 years, but I feel like I'm truly "back." Now, all eyes are on my half marathon in October...

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Friday, August 15, 2014

My Year of Breastfeeding, Part Three: Back To Work

I initially started writing so much about breastfeeding because of World Breastfeeding Week, which is over, I guess, but then it sounded like August is National Breastfeeding month... So, I guess I'm still within the limits of writing about it while celebrating something!

The most challenging part of breastfeeding for me, by far, was going back to work. On day one back at work, not only was I worried about leaving my baby, but I also had to produce food for him in a bit of a weird place to be doing so.

One important thing to note: by law (thanks to the ACA), employers with over 50 employees must provide a place for a mother to breastfeed her baby that is not a restroom. Details can be found on the US Department of Labor Website. They also must provide you with the time to breastfeed (although I don't think they have to pay you, I'm salaried, so I don't know).

Anyway, I checked with my HR representative before I left for maternity leave and made sure things were on the up and up from that perspective. She had a spare office ready for me when I got back to work. It was not 100% ideal, but better than the worst I've heard of. I would definitely recommend talking to your HR representative before leaving on maternity leave. Some of my previous employers had a designated room for nursing moms rather than a makeshift place like mine had. One of my employers had a really nice room with a comfortable reclining armchair, table and its own fridge. My office that I used to pump had a round table and four chairs, a file cabinet, and a lamp. The lamp was stolen about 4 months after I went back to work.

I had my fair share of issues when I got back to work. One of my fellow employees found it amusing to knock on the door while I was pumping, even though he knew I was in there and what I was doing. After I caught him doing it, he stopped. I think he might be the same guy who stole the lamp. I had trouble with people from other locations trying to squat in the office for the day, until finally I started locking the door all the time.

I was lucky that I was able to keep up with producing enough milk for Owen during the time that I pumped. I have a few tips that I think really helped me:
  • Get lots of rest, and stay hydrated. These aren't the be all -end all of making things work, but I know that the more rest I would get, the more I would produce.
  • Don't skip pumping sessions. If you have a plan that is working for you, stay on schedule. Make it a priority. Put it on your calendar so that others cannot schedule that time. Set an alarm.
  • Make sure you're nursing whenever you can when you're with your baby. I have to admit, I made it a huge priority to make sure that I was always with Owen when I wasn't at work so that I could nurse him. Nursing keeps your supply up better than pumping, so make use of that if you can.
  • Don't let daycare try and tell you to bring in more and more milk! This is HUGE. Daycare is used to formula fed infants, and they will try and tell you that your baby is hungry and needs more and more milk. I fought this over and over and worked with them. He would drink the bottle so fast and would cry when it was gone. But, I never sent in more than 9oz per day for him. In general, breastfed babies need 1oz per hour of separation. Kellymom.com has an excellent page on this, complete with a calculator for figuring out how much milk your baby needs. Personally, I think this expectation of more, more, more is what sabotaged many of the working moms that I know who gave up pumping early.
  • Don't increase the nipple size on the bottles. Breastfed babies east slower than formula fed babies and the slower they eat, the faster they'll get full. So, use the lowest flow nipples you can find, and don't ever increase them. Owen was still using newborn nipples at 12 months. I mean, your own nipples don't change the flow, right?
More tips can  be found at Kellymom.com, which is a tremendous resource.

My biggest tip? It's fine to breastfeed part time if you want to. At 12 months, I weaned from the pump and by the end of June, I was not pumping at work anymore at all (a WONDERFUL relief!). However, I still nurse Owen before bed and in the morning (and if he wakes up during the night). I also nurse him twice more during the day on weekends or if he's home from school. Yes, I still make milk (many friends have asked). Owen drinks whole cows milk from bottles at daycare now.

I hope that my posts on breastfeeding have been helpful. I loved reading about peoples experiences when I was in the thick of breastfeeding, because it made me feel a little less like the only person in the world who was not planning to give formula to my baby ever. Hopefully you learned something!

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