What’s SUP? Eleven Weeks Post-OP

Today marks eleven weeks post op! I’ve been trying to get some decent pictures as the swelling continues to diminish- though it will still be some time before that process is complete. On June 15th I hit the 8 week mark and was officially cleared for regular exercise at that appointment. I decided to give it another 2 weeks before I started running and ab work. Long story short- I just didn’t feel that I was there yet and did not want to risk opening anything up internally. I’m glad I waited because once you start back into heavier exercise you definitely feel it in your abdomen. There was a period of a 2 days where I thought I did something to my upper left side, but it seemed to resolve on its own.

The other reason why I delayed was my work schedule. Our runDisney sales have been growing rapidly and I needed time to get everything settled for our latest pre-sale. There are several races that I will be running for work in 2016 so I decided to register and begin training for a 10k in October in order to submit a better proof of time (improves corral placement) for my early 2016 races. FYI for any running friends- I’ll be running the Disney Princess Half Marathon/Glass Slipper Challenge again, followed by the inaugural Disneyland Paris Half Marathon in September- there is a Chateau to Castle Challenge that Disney just announced and I am SO excited about it- cannot wait to dig deeper into training this time around!

With 2016 plans beginning to take shape I am now (finally) actively exercising and working towards a decent time in October’s 10k. Currently I am sticking to a ‘tri-cycle’ every three days in which I walk, bike and run. For each day’s cardio I try to add in 20 minutes of ab work. One of the things that my surgeon advised was to avoid crunches and to focus on leg lifts. This is one of my biggest challenges- how to find tone and definition through ab work. I feel like my current routine is not challenging enough and I am considering working with a trainer to get more focused on the ab work. I’m either not doing the leg lifts correctly or they aren’t enough for the definition that I am after. Now that my abdominal muscles are re-connected I really want to work on creating definition. Not necessarily a six-pack, but certainly more definition than what I have today.

What's SUP? Check out C2's pink hair! :)

What’s SUP? Check out C2’s pink hair! :)

At my 9 week appointment I looked at my scars in the full length mirror on the back of the exam room door and noticed that my left breast had an area where the scar was beginning to widen and raise slightly. It’s called a hypertrophic scar– I had this with several of my c-sections. When the surgeon came in he agreed and directed me to use both hydrocortisone once daily as well as silicone scar patches worn as much/long as possible. The weird thing is that it only seems to be happening on this one area as opposed to all of my scars (thank goodness!). It has been 2 weeks and I think that this is helping as that section of the scar seems to be flattening out a bit. It takes time with these milder approaches so I’ll post more in a later update. If it becomes necessary he will prescribe a topical steroid to shrink it further and then an injectable one would be the last step- though it has drawbacks and can actually widen the scar further.

For now that brings me to some post-op photos. These were taken just before 11 weeks on the 4th of July. As you can see the scaring is still dark around my belly button (the other scars are also still pink). If they need help fading he said that we will look at lightening options when the weather cools down and I am not out in the sun as often.

This one shows the results of the reduction/lift thus far.

This one shows the results of the reduction/lift thus far.

Side View 11 Weeks

Side View 11 Weeks. I LOVE the smaller boobs!









Lower abs at 11 weeks post-op

Lower abs at 11 weeks post-op

Longer view of lower abs and upper thighs.

Longer view of lower abs and upper thighs.










If you look closely at the open area in my side tie you will see the tummy tuck scar peeking out. In this bikini bottom you can see that the scar is completely hidden below the fabric (it sits right around the top of it). I have been told that as the swelling continues to go down the scar will drop a bit further. There is one area on the left side that is still rounding out above the scar which irritates me. My surgeon thinks that increasing my abdominal work on the left side will help flatten it out. I’ll update on that in a future post. The line between my belly button and bikini is just a mark from my compression garments- I took them off right before snapping these pics and didn’t allow for that to fade. I wear a bead in my belly button to try and keep the shape rounded (vs a vertical slit) and I still wear compression undergarments every day unless I am out on the water. I have to keep high level SPF on the scars and cannot expose them to the sun at all (even through clothing or swimwear).

Now on to the boobs. THE BOOBS! The breast reduction/lift has been life changing for me. The silhouette I have in these photos includes a sports bra- but if I go bra-less it is exactly the same. I don’t even have a crease under my breasts which is ah-mazing!!!! That said, I wear a sports bra 24/7 even though I don’t have to. I have anxiety about my breasts sagging again and I know that wearing the bra 24/7 will drastically reduce that. If they ever do sag I will (with absolute certainty) have another lift. One thing is for sure- I will never go back to the National Geographic breasts that I used to have. Ever. I know I haven’t posted full frontal ‘before pics’ (gross) but if you are considering surgery feel free to message me regarding those pics- though I must say they make my eyes burn :)

So this is where I am at right now- I’ll update again in a month or so and will try to work on some of the Q/A’s that I get from people via email and messaging. Feel free to ask if you have specific questions! I am also considering some additional surgery later this year which I will talk about later- Pandora’s Box has been opened ;)

Post-Op Week 5 And More RunDisney!

It’s been a few weeks since my last update- life has gotten busy as the end of the school year approaches for the three oldest C’s but I hope to have more time for blogging through the summer! As of this Monday I am 5 weeks post-op and feeling great! The drain was removed 10 days post-op- just in time for a fun trip! We headed to Walt Disney World when I was 1.5 weeks post-op and had a blast! I was scheduled to run the 2015 Expedition Everest Challenge (the final run for this race), but due to the change in the surgical date I knew that running would not be an option. I ended up walking the race which combined with the scavenger hunt was only a 10K (5K for each part).

Doesn't everyone do this in flip flops?

Doesn’t everyone do this in flip flops?

Yes, I did the whole thing in flip flops. I live in them so my feet are pretty used to them. By the end of the race I got pretty miffed with the number of people behind me making comments about me being in flips so at one point I actually turned around and addressed the comments with something along the lines of- “FYI, I can hear you. Yes, I am in flip flops, and just for the record I am currently moving along in front of you. And BTW I just had surgery.” That seemed to help as I neared the finish line :) C1 also participated with me along with one of my amazing agents- M. The two of them ran most of the 5K and we planned to catch up during the scavenger hunt, but somehow I ended up passing them without realizing it and crossed the finish line before them which was a bit of a bummer as I had hoped for us to all cross together.



We still got a great pic together just past the finish line:

We did it!

We did it!

I’m truly sad to see the end of the Expedition Everest Challenge as it was a great race! We ran through Animal Kingdom from 10pm to 2am and the scavenger hunt was a fun challenge that kept us on our toes. I truly hope that RunDisney replaces this race with something similar as it will be missed. My next run will likely be the Disney Princess Half Marathon again in 2016 and I will also be running the inagural Disneyland Paris Half Marathon in 2016! More on that later this year! I was really, really, really swollen and bloated after the race (which was expected) so I began doing double compression wraps. After a tummy tuck you have to wear compression garments for months- but they tend to stretch out over time. My post-op garment was a white abdominal binder that velcro’s around the waist. A few days later they changed me to a compression garment that reminds me of a granny girdle. At first I dreaded it, but after about 5 minutes I LOVED it- not for style (it’s hideous and creates very rough lines) but for how it secures you. Compression helps not only with swelling but also with comfort- the pressure from the binders makes you feel very supported and secure. It snaps up on two sides with hook closures (like a bra) and has a zipper on top of each row of closures. After the race I double wrapped by placing the velcro binder over it for more compression which helped a lot with swelling and comfort. I probably wouldn’t leave the house in two binders (it’s too bulky) but while at home I am almost always double wrapped- and always at night when I sleep.



We spent the first part of the day after the race at the pool and rented a cabana which gave me some down time from walking through the parks. I didn’t go in the water but I did get to rest and watch the kids have fun for the day! That night we headed into Hollywood Studios for several hours. The only bummer about the trip was that due to the surgery I couldn’t ride anything that had a height restriction. It was like being pregnant again!

No rides means lots of people watching!

No rides means lots of people watching!

France is where it's at- trust me :)

France is where it’s at- trust me :)

For a die-hard Disney girl it was tough, but it was still worth it just to be there in the parks and not having to postpone the trip because of the surgery. Plus there is ‘drinking around the world’ in EPCOT- WIN! When I got home I had a few weeks of follow up complete with lots of questions at each visit. Most of my questions revolved around scar progress. The tummy scar changes a lot as you move through the many stages of healing. The breast scars are less visible due to their location so it seems as though a lot more of my focus fell on the abdominal scars. One side seemed very puckered than the other which really freaked me out, but I was reassured that it is part of my recovery along with the ridge that was still very prominent last month. My surgeon calls it the healing ridge and said that it is an important part of the healing process. This is where you have to place a lot of faith and trust in your surgeon. You are working through a process that can take up to a year for full healing and one that comes with various stages of change. Unsurprisingly it’s hard for a control-freak like me to surrender to a time consuming process that I don’t have a lot of control over. Overall I try to keep busy and focus on my tasks- mainly scar massage and constant compression. By week two and a half one area of my abdominal scar seemed to be weeping excessively so I started an antibiotic as a precaution. My surgeon isn’t convinced that it was an infection because any area where two incisions meet can be a difficult spot to close especially after the drain is removed. Regardless, I was glad to be on the antibiotic just in case and by the next day the area dried out and began to close. I have resumed walking most nights for at least 2 miles. By next week I hope to be able to resume running. I will try to post pics in my next update- but for now I have one that illustrates how much the reduction has changed my shape. While I have no problem showing people my actual before and after photos face to face, I won’t be posting them on the net and burning the eyes of anyone who reads this (you are so welcome) :) This pic was taken around week 3 or 4. The stretched out area of my tank top is where my breasts fell before surgery. Really.

Never going back!

Never going back!

As of today the girls are high, dry and pointing to the sky! I don’t need to wear a bra so the shape you see in this pic is where they actually are without it- but I will probably wear a sports bra day and night for the rest of my life because I never want them to sag again! In all seriousness- they are AMAZING and I feel that the breast reduction/lift was the best body-altering decision I have ever made. The scars are already beginning to fade and they look great! I’m wearing the granny style compression in this pic so you can see the zipper silhouettes if you look near my hips. Necklace styling by my beautiful daughter :) As to pain management I weaned off the Demerol a few days post-op and switched to Motrin. I had to take one Valium each night for about a week to control post-op muscle spasms. I stopped taking Motrin about 2 weeks  after surgery because I no longer needed it for pain, but my nurse had me start back on it to help reduce swelling. My abdominal swelling was very uncomfortable for the first 3-4 weeks and is only now starting to be more manageable- though I still have more progress to make in that area. I would say that the overall pain I experienced was actually less than what I expected. I had absolutely no pain at all from the breast reduction/lift. All of my pain was from the tuck and I would liken it to the same feeling as a c-section. I have had several emails with surgery questions so I am going to create a list of Breast Reduction and Tummy Tuck ‘things to expect’ and I’ll link it back to this page once I finish it. In the meantime let me know if there is anything I missed that you are wondering about! Thanks for following along and for all of the kind words of support!

Post op- Days 4-6

Well here I am on the other side! It’s been a crazy week and I am surprised to say that physically I feel much better than I would have expected.

The day of surgery was a wash- I slept off the meds and really didn’t do much else. On day two I apparently had a convo with a sweet client that I had completely forgotten by day thee. Oops. Luckily it was a a good enough convo to repeat 😊

By day three I went for my first follow up. The visit was to do a surgical site check, bandage change and training on wound and drain care.  I have to admit that I was very nervous to see the wounds. I almost didn’t look. As the nurse took off each layer of the dressings I forced myself to glance in the hopes that I would build up to the final reveal- which I did.

My boobs y’all. MY BOOBS are amazing! They are small, high, perky, and pointing straight forward! Did I mention they are small and perky!? I was so thrilled when I saw them- there is still some swelling that needs to go down, but the scars were much less scary than I expected and I even sent my mum and bestie a chest shot. 😊 I have honestly had almost no pain at all in my chest from day 1 which really surprised me.

Unwrapping my belly area felt really weird. My entire abdomen is numb- but I can still feel the sensations of movement which makes no sense- it just feels weird. The scar is long- hip to hip and right now it is not very pretty, but I know that it is going to take a lot of time to heal and calm down so I wasn’t completely freaked out when I finally looked. My belly button is hideous right now- thankfully the nurse said that is to be expected and that it too will heal and improve in appearance. My surgeon came in and said that everything looked great at this stage in the game.

We are going to leave the abdominal drain in until Monday just as a precaution. He said that as I get more active the drainage will likely increase and if we pull it too soon and fluid builds up he would have to aspirate. No thank you. So it’s staying until my next appt. on Monday. Right now I’m wearing a front closure support bra and a full abdominal binder. I actually love the binder and feel more secure with it on than without it. (I have to wear it 24 hours a day right now).

I took my first shower Thursday and to my surprise it was easy and painless. I have been able to fully extend my arms above my head since the day after surgery so that helps a great deal. I have weaned off the pain pills and as of Thursday I have been taking only Motrin for pain relief- which is a similar wean schedule to my c- sections. I have to take Valium every night to prevent muscle spasms, and I’m still on a prophylactic antibiotic.

I sleep propped up on pillows with two additional ones under my knees. I’m not standing up straight yet but I really hope to soon because it puts a lot of strain on my lower back. I change the dressings each day and have gotten that process down to a routine that works for me. All but one of my kids have seen the incisions and I’ll be doing a post about how I am explaining plastic surgery to my children. Hint- I am very particular about this as I don’t want any of my children to be self conscious about their own bodies or to think that they have to live up to anyone’s standards but their own.

So far so so good- more to come as I approach my next appt!

Post -op. Day 2

I lost track of time the day of surgery into this morning. According to the surgeon everything went as planned and he had me in the OR for fewer hours than he originally estimated.

I don’t remember much from the ride home or the first few hours post-op, but today I’m a bit less foggy. So far the pain I have is all in my abdomen- it’s kind of like c-section pain, but it runs higher up towards my ribcage. My chest really doesn’t seem to hurt at all and I can get my arms up above my head much further than I thought I would be able to- which will be good once I’m allowed to take my first shower.

I haven’t seen the incisions yet- I’m wrapped in gauze, surgical dressings and binders. There is also a drain in my abdomen that has to be emptied a few times a day. Tomorrow I head to the office for my first post- op appointment where they will change all of the dressings and instruct me on how to care for the wounds. I’m hoping I don’t freak out when I first see the incisions 😁

Overall I’ve been sleeping throughout the day and getting up to walk a bit every few hours. Here’s a pic of my sad face- hoping it will be a smile sooner than later 😊


Surgery is in less than 7 hours- and I’m hella nervous. I haven’t slept the past two nights- which is completely out of the norm for me. I’ve been out running around 1am trying to ease myself towards sleep, but it hasn’t helped.

I have wavered back and forth about posting photos both before and after surgery. I finally decided that I opened myself up by going public about it, and it seems as though those who are considering their own journey might benefit from seeing everything- within reason of course!

I received a few private comments and FB messages after my first post about plastic surgery, and I am incredibly grateful to the amazing women who are following because they are considering this, as well as those who shared their stories because they have already been through it. You ladies are THE BEST!

Brief post- here goes. Below are pics that were taken within the last 7 days. The first is of me fully dressed in all of my 80’s glory (it was a themed girl’s night out):

Like, totally awesome :)

Like, totally awesome :)


The next are photos that show my profile from each side pre-surgery. First- from the right which I think looks good- if both sides looked like this I probably would not be having the tuck in addition to the breast reduction/lift:
*(Note these were taken in the am)

Right Side Profile

Right Side Profile


Then we come to the flip side- my left. If you look near my waist band you will see the c-section ‘pooch’ that drives me crazy. It’s scar tissue that has formed after every surgery and can’t be removed through any type of exercise. It’s like having a second, smaller belly.

Left side profile

Left side profile


This photo shows the scar and scar tissue a bit more clearly (along with my soft belly lol):

Lower side profile

Lower side profile


I can hide the pooch under my bikini but it still shows through as a bump. The full c-section scar is 5″ wide and has a solid mass of scar tissue that begins on my left side and ends just past the middle of my belly. The scar from the tuck will be shaped like a U from hip to hip- he will use my existing scar, remove it, and pull everything down to that location.

I’m also including a closer shot of some of my skin. If you look up near my shirt line you can faintly see some of the excess skin that pushes down with my bra- the lighting in this pic doesn’t help much. After giving birth to 6 children I’ve tried to get it all back in line, but the more weight I lose, the more that skin loosens up and wrinkles, which looks awesome. Same goes for bending over- not a pretty sight. The surgeon will keep my existing belly button but re-locate it (to fit the pull down) and make it smaller.  The tattoo (my first) from college is history. index-3


A few of these photos also give a pretty clear shot of how my chest looks in a really supportive bra. The problem is that once it comes off the girls tumble- hard. I’ll try to get a pic of where they fall on my ribcage by marking it with a pen. For obvious reasons I won’t be sharing any bare chested photos- although they have plenty of them in my surgeon’s office.

I think that is it for tonight- I’m going to try and get a few winks before dawn breaks. Plus I have to go douse my torso in some pre-surgical antibacterial wash (yuck). I expect to be a wreck for the first two days post-op so I’ll post again as soon as I can. Thanks for the love and light :)

The heart of the matter

I shared this on FB today and I think it is fitting to share it here as well:

Here is my take on the protest that was planned for today in our community. Take it for what it is- but whatever you do- please don’t focus on being a voice solely for yourself- be a voice for change.

The issue behind what these protesters were aiming for is not solely tied to what just happened. What happened was a wake-up call because it was fortunately caught on film. It is a universal issue that is ongoing and that, as much as I wish it were different, has not made enough progress in our modern age. The chief of police admitted that had the young man who videotaped this entire event not come forward with the footage, this case would have had a very different outcome.

THAT is the issue.

Standing as a white female I have never experienced what it is to live as a black female in this world. I do however have dear friends of color who have painted the picture of what it is like for them simply to walk the streets downtown Charleston after a night out with friends- and I can tell you that black citizens are absolutely treated differently than white citizens. This is a travesty.

The protest that (was or was not) planned for today was about more than the inconvenience of closing down a bridge and impacting commuters for a few hours. A few hours is nothing. For our black brothers and sisters the perceptions made based on skin color are part of life every. single. day.

I saw many FB posts today filled with opinions on this ‘protest’ today and most of them turned my stomach. Every post was about how the protest would impact the writer- but what would it be if we as community stopped to consider what society deems as acceptable actions toward an entire race(s) every single day? I agree that the bridge may not have been the best place to hold the protest today (had it occurred) more so for the safety of the protestors than the inconvenience of people who have no idea what it is like to walk in their shoes.

If the bridge had closed maybe that would have been an extra couple of hours in the day to take a walk and think about how one could get involved and work towards change for our community. I also believe that a peaceful protest is not only acceptable- but that it is necessary to continue to spread the message that in this world every life matters. Black, white, hispanic, indian, muslim, christian, jewish. They ALL matter.

Skin Deep

This is the story about how I came to a pretty big decision. As told in a bunch of Gif’s. If you know me in real life, or if you have read here for any length of time, you probably know that I am a fairly open person- as open as anyone can be while writing a public blog about life after loss. 181vbek0mn7figif While there are some things that will always remain deeply personal, the whole of my life that is visible to the outside world is pretty much fair game in my book. Several years ago I started joking about what I would do with my body after I finished giving birth to all of my amazing babies. It seemed like it was light years away- a time when I wouldn’t have to base any decision about what I put in my body (or did to it) that didn’t involve consideration of 1- trying to conceive a human being, 2- another human being growing inside me, or 3- breastfeeding said human being for a few years. send-this-to-your-pregnant-friends-19-photos-1Five c-sections and six children later I think I can finally say that my uterus is closed for business. Notice that I did not say I am done having children (personal note- I would love to adopt or foster one day). My body has been though a lot over the past 10 years and as I started contemplating the twins’ THIRD birthday I realized that my thoughts on how I wanted to handle my body post babies have evolved over the years.

Generally speaking I’m a pretty athletic person- but two things have always stood in the way of me feeling completely comfortable when I’m running- or when I’m doing anything that involves physical activity- and by physical activity I mean getting up in the morning. Lefty and Righty- and their complete and utter lack of regard for gravity. iKzNb8ITwQSdVThat’s right my friends- as I have gotten older and had more children and breastfed those children my breasts have waged their own personal war against the laws of physics- and the results are not pretty- nor are they doing my aching back any favors. I had always considered cosmetic surgery as an option, but it was only in the last few years that I truly got serious about it. I wanted to wait until the twins were a bit older- both for recovery reasons and to make sure that my skin had returned to it’s most ‘normal’ shape after pumping for them for 19 looong months.

A few months ago I finally decided that it was time to pull the trigger and I made the call to a local plastic surgeon who came recommended to me several years prior by anther mamma who had also used him for breast reduction. The initial appointment was not a scary as I anticipated. For some reason I pictured him walking in with a marker in hand ready to cover me in sharpie ink and tell me all the areas I needed to nip and tuckniptuckAfter bypassing my ninja-like skills at hiding my chest size, the bra came off and with a wave of the measuring tape I was officially deemed a viable candidate for surgery- though just barely by the requirements for ins. coverage. Initially he planned to reduce my size 32 F (yes you read that right) chest to a small C cup, but after talking with other women who have had reductions I am now pushing for a B, a very small B. There are certain factors that weigh into how small he can safely reduce my size, but he has agreed to go as small as possible without sacrificing safety. Of course it doesn’t end there.

After my initial consult I started to think about being under anesthesia and what- if anything- I would add to the to-do list. Let’s just say that after having six kids it wasn’t hard to envision a wistful dream of flat abs returning to my midsection. While I am in fairly decent shape ( I finally backed off the Butterfinger Bites diet in 2015) there hasn’t been a whole lot of progress made in my mid section over the last few years. The more I thought about it, the more I leaned towards the bonus round of adding on a tummy tuck and I am pretty sure that mine was not the first “since I’m going to be under anyway” call made to the office…200 It wasn’t until after the second consult that I began to second guess myself. I was always 100% committed the breast reduction/lift- even though it would mean trading larger saggy boobs for smaller, perky scarred ones. Yes PLEASE! I knew that adding the tuck would mean a longer surgery and much longer recovery, but I didn’t expect the crazy nerves that came with my decision. I don’t see any other way around the issue though- a pesky diastasis means that my abdominal muscles have gone their separate ways- essentially there is no amount of crunches in the world that will put them back together. tumblr_niwtacTIA51r5ad6vo1_500The full abdominal revision (tummy tuck) would allow the surgeon to literally re-connect the muscles (tight as hell please) and of course remove the excess skin that has come with multiple pregnancies (BONUS!). The toughest part for me has been accepting that I will replace my small low line c-section scar with one that will run in a full on ‘U’ shape from hip to hip.  OMG. For real. This my friends is where I start to come to the whole point of this post.

Last month I decided that if I was going to move forward with the tuck I need to talk to other women who had been through it. I wanted to ask if they had any regrets, if they were ok with the scar, if they liked their surgeon, how long recovery took, and the list goes on… I sat at my computer and made a decision to out myself to a large group of women who know me (and many who don’t) through a local mommy chat board on facebook. I posted asking if anyone had used either my surgeon or one other who was suggested to me, and if they would be willing to comment or private message me with their personal experience. giphy+(4)A few women commented on the thread but my inbox immediately lit up with nearly 20 private messages. That surprised me. While nearly 20 women came forward privately to share the intimate details of their experiences with plastic surgery, less than five posted a comment on the public thread. This is why I decided to write this post. I was utterly blown away by the support and encouragement I received from these women (not a single bad comment about my surgeon by the way) but my heart ached for the way that society has clearly turned plastic surgery into a dirty little secret. I know that there are women who read that post and judged me- but I didn’t care. I felt an urgent need to connect with others who had been down this road, and coming clean about what I was about to do was absolutely worth any criticism I might receive.

After talking to these women and hearing their stories I realized that I didn’t want this decision to be seen as any type of failure on my part. The fact of the matter is that I have been pregnant 8 times and brought 6 children into this world (that is a very difficult sentence to type). I am proud of what my body has done- but I am not too proud to say that I don’t want a bit of an upgrade after what it has accomplished. I have decided to write about this part of my journey because when it comes to the scars that cover my body, I don’t have anything to hide. They all tell a story- a chapter in my life- and they hold meaning beyond their visibility. If by writing about this I can help just one woman find the courage to make a choice about this for herself- and for herself alone- it will all be worth it. 200+(1) So here is the start of a few blog posts about plastic surgery. 181xv3sl5a0r6gifThe good, the bad and the downright ugly. It’s going to be a long haul- as full recovery (scar healing) takes up to year. Feel free to ask questions along the way- as long as they are non-judgmental I promise to answer :) Any comments that are degrading, belittling, nasty, rude, or otherwise obnoxious won’t see the light of day- and will be personally greeted by my friend over here.

Surgery is scheduled for just a few weeks down the road- if I don’t chicken out. Fingers are firmly crossed…see

Like a Princess

It’s been just over a week since I returned from The Most Magical Place on Earth- aka- Walt Disney World. When I was pregnant with Cullen in 2010 I decided to sign up for the 2011 Disney Princess Half Marathon as a way to slingshot my body back into shape after having 4 kids. After his death the thought of running a glitter filled race was just about the furthest thing from my mind. I didn’t even bother deferring- I forefitted the race registration, tucked away my Cinderella inspired outfit and put the crystal encrusted tiara on the shelf- where it sat collecting dust for 4 years.

I spent the next few years riding the waves of a crazy medical diagnosis and infertility. When the twins were born I found myself admiring the light for the first time in years- and its warmth felt almost like the embrace I had always wished I could have from my son. I was ready to start living again- to start doing things for myself because as many of us know all to well- there is no guarantee of a tomorrow.

Last year I found myself coming back to the race. It was a big step both emotionally and physically. I stared at the screen last July and a little voice in my head said- do it, it’s time. I decided that if I was going to run I wanted to do something slightly different from the race I had intended to run in 2011- so I pulled the trigger on something even more shiny. Disney’s Glass Slipper Challenge- 19.3 miles over two days- the Disney Enchanted 10k followed by the Disney Princess 1/2 Marathon. Go big or go home.

Registration in hand, I filled my mind with grand ideas of training. At first I targeted the fall- September or October would mark my first return to running and I would jump in ready to smash through my old times. Then reality set in. My business was growing and with each monthly goal I set for myself I found a million reasons why I couldn’t yet start the training schedule. Days turned to months and before I knew it February was knocking at my door and realized I had not run in almost two years. By the first week of February I had to make a decision- I was either going to do the full 19.3 with absolutely no training or I was going to lose the registration again as it was too late to defer. Big surprise- I couldn’t admit defeat. Naturally there was only one logical choice to make.

I finished piecing together my costumes (although the tiara stayed on the shelf) and I set myself just two goals- complete the races ahead of the pacers, and without landing in the medical tent. I didn’t care what my time was- I just wanted to cross the finish line in one piece. Twice. Without being carried. We drove to Florida on Feb 20th and I headed into the expo about an hour before it closed in hopes that I would have enough time to grab my bib along with the laundry list of items I hadn’t realized I needed until a day before I arrived. Shot bloks, KT tape, body glide, and compression sleeves just to name a few. I circled the booths like a junkie looking to score. I had this awesome photo snapped of me as I finished my expo run with about 39 seconds to spare:

This is me about to crap my pants because it has just settled in that I am about to attempt 19.3 miles of insanity with absolutely no training. The chick who runs a 7 minute mile left the expo about 6 hours ago.

Dinner that night consisted of a plate full of veggies and carbs at 1900 Park Fare and a nearly bottomless margarita. On the morning of February 21st I woke at 3:10am after going to bed around 12:30am. A night owl by nature, my bed time isn’t until 3am so I knew this was going to be a challenge. I slipped into my gear and headed out the door to grab the monorail- unsure of what was to come and sucking down the remnants of a still cold margarita. Layered in my toss away clothes I chatted with another mamma as we made our way across the property an into the party area for the 10k. She had trained. Pretty much ever person I met had trained. This was going to be awesome.

We loaded into our corral and the gun went off at 6:20am- about 48 minutes after the first corral of elite runners. My new friend and I parted ways and as the sun began to rise I felt strangely secure about the race. My only fear was the thought of an unexpected pit stop in the port-a-johns if the margarita should decide to avenge its honor after my early morning pillaging. Luckily that never happened. I kept a slow pace in order to avoid doing any extensive damage to my legs before the 1/2. In all honesty I was shocked to see how easily my body slipped back into the routine that has been such a huge part of my adult life. The miles started to slip away I found myself taking in the sounds of cheers from the crowds. I saw some of the best signs ever along the course- including these gems:

THIS dude just broke the internet/10k. Best sign ever!

THIS dude just broke the internet/10k. Best sign ever!

Love it!

My people!

We wove on through outer roads and into EPCOT- it was pretty cool to see the backside of Disney. I stopped for only one character photo- my old pal Jiminy Cricket. Long story, but this photo was about 6 years in the making and the timing was right so I went for it.

Me and the Cricket.

Me and the Cricket.

Character stops were a risk because I knew my pace would be slow and I didn’t want to risk losing more time. The course took us behind stage where we saw cast members arriving for work ready to load up the day’s dose of magic for park guests. As we re-entered the park and rounded the iconic geosphere I got giddy and realized that this race was almost in the bag. Short of an embarrassing face plant I had this one down- below my excitement is apparent:



I crossed the finish line in 1:26 and kept a pace just under 14 minutes. Pitiful for an avid runner, but acceptable for a crazy woman in a red wig who hadn’t run in ages. One down, one to go. Bottoms up!

Workin' the wig. Ariel would be proud!

Workin’ the wig. Ariel would be proud!

We spent the day in EPCOT and I found myself unnaturally attached to the bright red wig:

The corner of bombdiggity and motherfucking awesome!

The corner of bombdiggity and motherfucking awesome!

I loves it.

I loves it.

That night was spent in the company of a  sweet friend/agent and her family- Via Napoli served up an amazing pasta dish that left me with a clear reminder of just how much I love Italian food. I laid out the next morning’s gear and headed to bed around midnight. 3am came all too soon and I woke up a bit sore, but ready to face the true challenge. I layered my shins in the awesome Minnie Dots KT tape and pulled on compression sleeves as I headed out the door. The morning was warmer than the last and I found that I didn’t even need my toss away pants which was a relief after several wake-up’s to frigid temps.

As I entered the gathering/party area for the race I tried not to let my nerves get the best of me. I was about to attempt 13.1 miles through walk/run intervals on legs that were already a bit sore from the previous race. I was also obsessively worried about the call of nature surprising me during the run. I met up with a few of my amazing agents, wished everyone luck and headed down the winding path to the starting corrals. I joined my corral and worked my way to the front where I promptly grabbed a seat on the cold asphalt to wait. And wait. And wait. Around 6:30am we were herded to the start line and the gun went off at 6:31am. This was it- there was no turning back.

In the gathering area with my girlies!

In the gathering area with my girlies!

The first stretch of the course was painfully boring. The elite runners had started at 5:30am and were now making their way back to cross the finish line as we headed into mile 3. It was pretty amazing to see these insanely talented women sprinting by on the other side of the highway and almost everyone slowed down to shout words of encouragement as they passed us. For the first 7 miles of the race I held a pretty decent jog and stayed around 13-14 minutes. As we entered Magic Kingdom the crowds thickened and the excitement of being on Main Street was palpable. The only disappointment was running through the castle- being that far back in the corrals means a lot of slower runners so there was huge bottleneck (mooooo) as we squeezed our way through the castle and down the ramp to cross to the other side of the park. I had my heart set on an awesome photo running through the castle but alas my hope we squashed and I was left with this pitiful shot:



We wove through the park and went behind stage in Frontierland next to Splash Mountain. Once again it was pretty amazing to see the back side of the park- even if It was through a haze of sweat and broken dreams over my failed castle shot. As we shot down Floridian Way my legs stared to fight my desire to place one in front of the other. My pace slowed drastically and my walk splits became longer with each 1/2 mile. Around mile 9 one of the DJ’s was kind enough to inform us that we were about 50 minutes ahead of the pacers (balloon ladies) which gave a momentary burst of confidence. I lost my favorite sleeve of shot box in the first three miles of the race and was left to gag my way through a warm bag of goo beans. I forced myself to drink at every water station and sucked down powerade like it was a cup full of unicorn tears.

I rounded the 15K split at 2:16- the end was finally in sight- though it wasn’t looking as pretty as it seemed nearly 10 miles ago. I looked at my hands and legs and found caricatures in their places. My fingers had swelled to three times their size and bending them was nearly impossible. My legs looked like tree trunks and the cankles I swore off with my last pregnancy were back to mock me in all of their bloated glory. Somewhere near mile 10 or 11 I realized that the executioners race designers had the twisted idea to send us uphill across an overpass to make our way back towards EPCOT. Around mile TEN or ELEVEN. I cursed them the whole way up but took a moment to reflect at the top. There were still thousands of people making their way down the highway towards that very overpass. I was doing this, and come hell or high water I was going to finish.

We wound through EPCOT again and this time, though I longed to jump in the air with a gleeful smile of spunk, the best I could muster was this gem:770798_1207_0013


Sausage fingers and cankles- worth every swell.

Just ahead I heard the pulsating music of the finish line. Volunteers and spectators lined the path with cowbells and a gospel choir brought us in to the last few kilometers. As I rounded the corner to the finish line I saw the Mouse himself waving the runners on and I realized that as crazy as it seemed it was almost over and I was about to cry. Four years of anticipation. Through years marked by grief, despair, determination, joy and longing I was about to cross more than just a finish line. A desire to prove to myself that even though I never imagined it would, life after loss continued to move on, and somehow I had found a way to keep moving.



At 3 hours and 13 minutes my race came to an end across a confetti covered finish line littered with glitter. I had completed 19.3 miles over 2 days ahead of the pacers and without setting foot in a medial tent. I thought of my son and of all that his short life had taught me, and in those moments I was grateful just for the ability to put one foot in front of another. Mission accomplished.



I had a truly amazing time. Though I paid for my lack of training with swollen extremities and a very strange looking gait for the next two days, I kept on moving. I was proud of what I had accomplished and I spent the next few days chasing 5 of my 6 kids through the most magical place on earth- truly it is when you allow yourself the space to see it.

I’m going to do the challenge again in 2016- maybe this time I’ll actually get some training in. I’ll add one goal to the 2016 race- beat my time from 2015. Be sure to hold me to it :) Until then I’ll see what I can do for the upcoming (and final) Expedition Everest Challenge- there is always time to get that mile under 11 minutes- especially if you’re being chased by a Yeti.

See you next year!

See you next year!

I hope that you never know…

It has been awhile since I last wrote in this sacred place, and I hope to write more frequently now that I have returned. Tonight I read an article posted on a sugar filled mom blog that was written by the friend of a bereaved parent. It was titled ‘The Most Powerful Thing You Can Say to Another Mom’ and it was about five words that were uttered by her bereaved friend shortly after the death of her 21 month old daughter. When the bereaved mother was describing her pain to the writer she was quoted as saying “You’re a mom, you know”. The writer made an inference that the most important words she can share with someone who is facing the pain of loss is “I know, I’m a mom”. It is a well intentioned article, but unfortunately the writer simply does not know.

Let me begin by saying that I will not ever question the feelings or sentiments of a fellow bereaved parent, but I will use my voice as a bereaved mother when an article like this is published and beg people to temper their words to the bereaved very carefully. As mothers we do share the common connection of our hearts bond to our children, but when the physical manifestation of their life is ripped from us it is so profoundly life-altering that words alone cannot truly describe it. In the simplest of terms, unless you are a fellow bereaved parent you do not know. And I hope that you never do.

If you have never had to listen to the deafening void from a heartbeat once so strong and vibrant fall silent you do not know.

If you have never held your child’s body lifeless and limp in your arms as you whisper your last goodbye you do not know.

If you have never laid your beautiful and precious child into a body bag and felt as though the sound of it’s zip was literally ripping your heart from your chest you do not know.

If you have never chosen an urn, a casket, or planned a funeral or memorial service for your child whom you have outlived you do not know.

If you have never felt that the crushing pain of your child’s death would literally drown you with nothing more than air you do not know.

If you have never contemplated leaving the world behind because the pain of losing your child is so completely unbearable you do not know.

If you have never managed to discover that somehow, in some insanely miraculous way you did in fact manage one more breath in that moment, and even more in the days that came after, you do not know.

If you have never looked in the mirror and found that you did not recognize the shell of a person that was staring back at you in the darkest moments of your grief you do not know.

And then….

If you have never whispered your late child’s name to the air praying, wishing, hoping with all of your heart that it could be heard by him you simply cannot know.

If you have never heard your late child’s name shouted across a playground and thought that just for a moment- ‘what ifyou simply cannot know.

If you have never felt the whisper of a tear and the immense gratitude as an old friend told you that she thought of your child and said his name aloud you simply cannot know.

This is not the grief Olympics. In losing my son to stillbirth I do not pretend to understand the the pain that is carried by my dear friend who said goodbye to her son after 8 short years of his life on this beautiful earth. I don’t know her pain simply because I have lived with my own. In this sentiment alone I want the world to know that what a bereaved parent truly needs is not found in a platitude about motherhood. What we need comes in varying forms throughout the grief process and believe it or not there are times when it can even be found in shared silence. I understand the need to say something, anything. If I had to choose a phrase to speak aloud I think it would be simply this:

I am here for you.

No more, no less. When you reveal those words I have this advice- embody them.  Be there. Whether it is in physical presence or in spirit across them miles. Mean it. Own it. Even if you are pushed away. Take these words and use them to breathe life into the person who will likely find it hard to even comprehend waking to one more day without her child in her arms. Be a light during the darkest moments of humanity. Find a way to offer support and to show that your heart is also breaking, because I know that it probably is. Even so, know that no matter what the circumstance, unless you have lost a child yourself you will never, ever know this pain. And know that this is alright. We do not expect you to know this pain, or to carry it for us. In all honesty we would hand it to you in an instant of we could, but unfortunately it is ours alone to bear. Walk alongside us, even if you no longer recognize the person you thought you knew. We are changed, we are shattered. But in time we will walk again and see the world with an entirely new set of eyes.

I hope that you hear my words. Because unfortunately I know. And I wish more than anything that I did not.


Wow. Two posts in one day after months of silence!

The last one probably won’t make a whole lot of sense to most, but as always, the writing is cathartic for me.

I haven’t been here in awhile, but I have been with my fellow medusas in other places- sharing light and celebrating memory. It’s a good place to be when you have kindred souls to walk with.

I have lots to catch up on, but I’ll probably just springboard from where I was. Halloween. Thanksgiving. Disney with the family and the bestie and the friends. A birthday girl. Lots of good times- amazing times. Memories.

In the lead up to Christmas I’m faced with all that I have, and all that I have not. It’s a really delicate sword to balance. Still, the good days far outweigh the bad, and life is- dare I say– seemingly normal to those looking in. Even though they are looking through a stained glass window.

The biggest thing lately is keeping his memory alive.

So then.

I had a tough spell with the PV. A few months back my numbers were steadily growing out of control. Arms loaded with track marks from phlebotomies taken every other week (including the most painful IV I have ever had in my life). This brought with it a discussion about hydrea, though it was put on the back burner because I was still nursing/pumping for the twins.

Speaking of.

I just finished pumping this week. We made it just past 19 months. I’m pretty proud, though still a bit broken over letting go of my own milk. Three years ago I had to bind my chest to stop it flowing for a baby it would never sustain. I wondered about ever feeding a living child again, and yet I did- two of them. While things didn’t work out quite the way I expected in nursing the twins, they still got it- and nothing else until we added cows milk when they turned one. I pumped my heart out. For them. And it was worth every ounce of determination I put into it. There was no need to bind, just a slow and gradual trend towards letting go. How appropriate.

I’m not used to not being pregnant. To not trying. It’s quite foreign actually. For over 8 years it is all I have known. The cycles just returned last month and it feels so strange. Almost pointless for the time being.

Back to the PV though. I had a really hard time considering hydrea. I just don’t want it in my body- regardless of who is being fed from it. Like a light switch the frequent phlebotomies have finally started to work. For now hydrea is off the table again, and I’m trying hard to keep it that way even though I know it’s a futile effort.

I’m busy- and that is a good thing. To feel life pulsing through my veins. It’s a gift, for certain. For while this life of mine is far from perfect, it is still quite beautiful- despite its scars.


The view from last night.

More soon.. I promise not to be a stranger.