March 16, 2017
My first post of 2017 is probably a bit overdue, depending on how you look at it. The back issue that I mentioned in my last post cleared right up after visits to Marty Maddox at Ultrahealth and Andrew Castellanos at Acupuncture for Athletics. Some magic was worked by their hands and needles and by the first week of the new year, I was running pain-free (yayayayay!). I felt good enough to start working out the second week and basically haven’t looked back. I ran a few workouts with the West Valley Tuesday night crew but as my wife’s due date drew closer, I found myself running in Mill Valley more and more often to be near when the inevitable call came that the birth of our child was nigh.
The due date (Feb. 14) came and went without much to-do. Then several days later, Rachelle started experiencing contractions indicative of early labor. The problem was that they weren’t progressing. She dealt with them for 4-5 days and they got as close as 4 minutes apart but only while walking. Every time she’d come home and rest, they’d spread back out and diminish in intensity. Finally, on Feb. 23 we went to the hospital and they measured her amniotic fluid level. It was 8. The normal range is 8-18, so it was low, but normal for someone who was 9 days late. We made an appointment for Friday, in the hopes that it wouldn’t be needed and that she’d be in labor or we’d have a baby by then. Well, Thursday came and went without any progress so we showed up Friday afternoon for our appointment. The midwife did another fluid level check (always makes me think of bringing your car into the shop) and found that Rachelle was at 2.5, or really, really low. They weren’t going to let us go home and unless things progressed in the next couple hours, they were going to induce, which wasn’t in the plan. So we took a few minutes to readjust, realizing that healthy mom and healthy baby were the priorities, and moved forward. Things didn’t move and so they induced Rachelle with a bit of Pitocin around 9pm and come midnight, she was in active labor. I won’t go into details, but 5 intense hours later we had a healthy baby girl in our arms, named Ava Marie Varner (we wanted to meet her before finalizing her name, and thankfully it worked out because we didn’t have any backup names).
We spent the next 2 nights in the hospital, as Rachelle lost 1.5 liters of blood during the birth due to some hemorrhaging. It also allowed us to get used to having Ava and made sure that her feeding and sleeping were going as well as they could. We went home on Monday, Feb. 27, and I began 2 weeks of paternity leave. 2 weeks wasn’t quite as long as I would have liked, but that’s one of trade-offs for the more longer-term flexibility that comes with being a partner at a small firm. So, I knew I had to really make the most of those 2 weeks. I didn’t have any real running plans, as I wanted to be there and be as supportive and helpful as possible for Rachelle and Ava. Rachelle’s mom has also been staying with us in preparation for Ava’s arrival and the transition has been greatly eased by her help (thank you, Lauren!). As it turns out (and hopefully this isn’t going to jinx anything), Ava is a great eater and sleeper. Rachelle had very little issue getting her to be comfortable with breastfeeding and she sleeps like a champ. She regularly sleeps for 2.5-3 hours at a time, which means we’re able to get decent night’s sleep. I can’t feed her, so I generally wake up once during the night to change Ava’s diaper and then go back to sleep while Rachelle nurses her before she returns to sleep. It has also meant that I got in some really good training while I was home for those 2 weeks. I unexpectedly hit 100 miles in a 7-day span for the first time in over 2 years and have generally been feeling quite good in workouts (except for Tuesday, but that happens). My hamstrings bark occasionally, but I seem to be able to manage them with stretching and rolling. I’m finally feeling truly healthy for the first time in quite a while and am hoping this continues as I head towards Boston and the Dipsea beyond that. But that may change any day now, as I’m back at work (don’t pick the week after DST spring forward to come back from a vacation of any sort, BTW – it’s terrible) and Ava’s habits might evolve. For the time being, I’ll take what I can get, but thankfully I have an understanding wife who knows that a large part of my mental well-being ties directly to being able to run. She’s a similarly active person and is overjoyed to be recovered enough to start hiking again, now with the grom in tow.
As for Ava herself, well, she’s pretty great. She’s calm, makes noises like a baby hippo when she gets hungry (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mp0v8UTgR2M), and has gained 1.5lbs since birth (when she was 7lbs 7oz). Having never been parents before, it’s remarkable to see how much she’s changed in only a few weeks. She used to wake up and immediately start crying to be fed. Now, she’s alert and looking around for 20-30 minutes before she wants to be fed again. Her eyes are less crossed as the muscles strengthen and she can move her head around even though she can’t fully hold it up on her own yet. We created an Instagram account for her @DarthVarner for those who want to see pictures, but here are a couple because I can’t resist. For now, I think that’s about it. I’ll try to have another update posted before Boston (less than 5 weeks away!), but won’t promise anything using my child as an excuse.