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Lauren Fleshman, wife of JayBird sponsored athlete Jesse Thomas, recently wrote an article for Runner’s World detailing the ups and downs of childbirth from a pro runner’s perspective. Her article puts a unique spin on the experience. Check it out for a good read!
It started with a stuffed jalapeño wrapped in bacon.
Okay, it was four stuffed jalapeños wrapped in bacon.
We take “Game of Thrones” night seriously in the Fleshman-Thomas household. Six family members, bonded by a hatred of Joffrey Baratheon and a love of hot dragon mamas, eating homemade chicken enchiladas and the aforementioned jalapeños.
Someone should have put a disclaimer on the produce sticker of those jalapeños because four days later, my boobs looked like this:
Oh yeah, and a poop machine that looked like a tiny human was about to show up with hypnotic powers that sedate and mesmerize otherwise high-functioning adults. The lesson here is to watch what you eat, ladies. Practice safe Mexican food.
But back to “Game of Thrones” night. After the season finale came to a close, and we had our round-table discussion of the plot developments and predictions for season three, Jesse and a very pregnant, three-days-past-due me drove home. We didn’t know it when we closed our eyes that night, but it would be our final night as a family of two.
Two days prior, when my doctor’s exam showed no signs of impending labor, I decided to stop trying old wives’ tales to induce it and resigned myself to the fact that Lima Bean was in it for the long haul. My parents had to fly back to L.A. in two days. They’d miss the birth, and that was just going to have to be okay. I stopped whining about being pregnant and released my desire to control the whole thing. Funny thinking about it now, but the same “letting go” of the uncontrollable in my running career is what brought me the performance results I so desperately wanted, and it would do the same for my labor.
Lying on my side watching Jesse sleep that night, I dreaded whatever tomorrow’s jalapeño exit strategy would feel like. I rested my hand on my cramping stomach. This was going to be a five-bathroom-trip kind of morning. Why did I have to eatfour? The cramps left me groaning a few times throughout the night, and I’d fall right back asleep, but at a certain point I noticed they were happening with a regular frequency. I pulled out my iPhone and started up the timer at 4:30am. I took lap splits as I’d done so many times for Jesse’s swim workouts. Every five minutes or so I’d feel a cramp for around 45 seconds. Could this be early labor? Could labor really feel exactly like sketchy Mexican food sh–s?
It had to be labor, and I knew I should wake Jesse, but I wasn’t ready to. Creating a kid, going through pregnancy, and having a kid would all be things we shared forever. A part of me just wanted to be alone in this for a little while. For two hours I lay in the dark, taking lap splits on my contractions, thinking about everything and nothing at the same time. When the morning sun began filtering through the blinds, I touched Jesse’s shoulder. “It’s happening, J. We’re going to be parents today.”
I called my doulas, Tabitha and Gina, and woke up my parents. “Looks like we will get to meet our grandbaby before we leave, after all!” Dad said, with a sparkle in his eye. Throughout the morning the doulas coached me on staying relaxed so I could labor at home for as long as possible before going to the hospital. My mom and I sat in the hot tub together, and Dad cracked jokes from the sideline between contractions. By 11 a.m. things were getting serious, and we calmly decided to head to the hospital. Two minutes later I was screaming at Jesse to get in the freaking car already. Things happen fast in labor, and other things so very, very slowly. Dilating, for example.
If you’re like me, you’d rather listen to Metallica played backward than listen to words like “cervix,” “dilation,” “effacement,” “perineum,” “bloody show,” “bag of waters,” and “cervical plug,” but alas, this is the language of labor. They say you forget the pains of labor as soon as you hold your little creation in your arms. That’s a f–-ing lie, for one, but for two, if I could elect to forget one thing, it wouldn’t be the pain. It would be 11 hours of communicating in labor dialect.
…she’s not dilating…
…contractions are too long for this early…
…the back labor isn’t giving her any break between contractions…
…cervix is still too far back…
…it’s as if she’s in transition, but she is only at 4 ½ cm…
I walked the halls and bent over the hand rails. The doulas poured hot water over my prone body in the tub and massaged and encouraged me. Jesse stayed in my line of sight and pushed on my back to ease the pain. I sat on a birthing ball, gripped a squat bar, bad-dogged, slow danced, and got on all fours. And still I remained at 4 ½. The contractions got longer. The break I so desperately needed was filled with stabbing back pain, making it feel like one long, two-hour contraction that reduced me to a sobbing mess. My whole body shook, my teeth chattered in my skull, I cried and called for a God I rarely speak to and choked on the words I hate more than any on Earth: I can’t do this.
My goal was to have a natural labor. Not to be on some moral high ground against the use of medical technology, but because I wanted to know what it felt like. Call it old-fashioned curiosity. Part of my job as a pro athlete is believing in my body’s ability to do amazing things, and I wanted to test its limits. Experiencing a natural birth was a challenge and an opportunity to feel a bond to all the women around the world since the beginning of time. But when talking to my doulas, I made one thing clear: I’m not interested in heroics. If I’m having what’s considered an average birth experience, I want to be coached to persevere, but if things move toward the extreme, I’m open to the help of modern medicine.
So as my teeth chattered away, my body shivered, and I cried and moaned and felt myself breaking, I had a moment of truth with myself. I could go on stubbornly this way for 5 ½ more centimeters—and God knows how many more hours while my pro athlete pelvic floor flexed against my goal—or I could be humble and ask for help. Before I went into labor, I thought about what I’d do in this moment and feared it would make me feel like a quitter to ask for drugs. But when I finally got the words out, it wasn’t failure I felt. It was courage. And sweet, sweet relief.
Within 30 minutes of having an epidural from the world’s least empathetic anesthesiologist (I lovingly call her Ms. Meaniepants), a switch finally flicked. Ms. Meaniepants had “exorcised the demons,” if you will, and instead of punch her in the face, I wanted to give her a kiss on the mouth and the other half of my best friend necklace. She had reached down into the pits of hell, pulled me up by the collar, and given me a beachfront condo to view the final tides of my birth experience.
I could still move my legs and feel enough sensation to know what was happening in my body, and mentally I felt completely like my old self: excited, optimistic, and full of anticipation to meet Lima Bean. In one extremely short, pleasant hour spent joking around with Jesse and the doulas, Doc came in to do an exam and declared it was go time! After all that! In another hour that felt like minutes, the result of my pushing emerged: a slimy little gremlin with powerful lungs, screaming at the world in a way that made us all laugh with surprise. He was a little man. Our little man. Jude Eiger Thomas.
One week later, I’ve had some time to think about the whole thing, and these are my six big takeaways so far:
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be chronicling my return to fitness via Runner’s World and my blog, so stay tuned! You’ll be able to pick up some really awesome tips and tricks as I start over as a beginner and launch my quest to get my six-pack back.
Lauren Fleshman is a pro runner with Oiselle and co-founder of Picky Bars. Follow her on Twitter at @LaurenFleshman.
At a few points during the race, two-time defending champion Jesse Thomas didn’t think it would happen.
Trailing for nearly all of the men’s elite Longcourse competition at the Wildflower Triathlon Festival on Saturday, there were moments where he thought he wasn’t going to be able to come out on top. And despite pushing his way to second on the final 13.1-mile run, there was still doubt. Read More »
Come see us this weekend, we’ll be at the Orange County Marathon Expo! The Expo is a 2-day extravaganza at the OC Fair & Event Center Exhibit Halls.
The Expo is free to attend, but there are parking fees for the Expo and for Race Day. There is a charge of $5.00 for General Parking on Friday and Saturday. Pre-paid race day parking can be purchased for $5.00 at the Allergan Health and Fitness Expo.
Despite being barely any larger than a typical set of earphones, the JayBird BlueBuds X are good for eight hours of wireless audio, thanks to a tiny, high-capacity micro-USB chargeable battery. Audio is also excellent, lending weight to the claimed benefits of the Jaybird’s proprietary Shift compression algorithm, although the odd pop and crackle was evident as the BlueTooth connection dithered. They fit great too, thanks to a highly customisable fitting system, featuring soft ‘ear hooks’ and detailed fitting instructions – an area that’s often overlooked. The price could make some people gasp , but they’re hard to fault once they’re in your ears.
We are the official headphone of the Mid-Week Mountain Bike Series and we’re thrilled about it! In case you’re wondering what the Mid-Week Mountain Bike Series we thought we’d let you chek out the rules. Read More »
The sun is shining longer every day, telling you that it’s time to get ready for vacations, activities with family and friends and of course, swimsuit season. To help you prepare, there are some simple fitness tips you can follow to look and feel good this summer season.
Celebrity trainer, Dolvett Quince, helps people to look and feel their best on a daily basis.
“Summer is just a few short months away,” Quince says. “Getting your body ready for summer requires full involvement of one’s self. You need to be prepared mentally as much as you invest in yourself, physically. So, you need to be ready from your head to your toes – it’s a full body commitment. Hard work aside, you’ll be sure to enjoy the new you as you reach your goal.” Read More »
It’s funny to think it was only 2 years ago. Most of you are probably sick of the story (if so, skip the next paragraph), if not, here’s a quick recap:
A bright eyed, bushy haired first year pro out of Eugene drives the ManVan with his buddy Matt last minute down to the historic Wildflower Triathlon. The kid doesn’t have a clue. He uses a borrowed bike (his broke 4 days prior), a borrowed helmet (also Matt’s), a hand me down race kit & of course, $8 drug store aviators. But, he lines up, has the race of his life, and while the announcers literally don’t know his name, crosses the finish line to win.
I was pretty dang excited. I honestly felt like my short “career” could have ended and I’d have been happy. A year later, I defended the title, and proved to myself that I wasn’t just a one hit wonder. It was one of the most important performances of my career. Read More »