The Pregnant Athlete

Learning To Embrace My Changing Pregnant Body While Swimming, Biking, Running & Practicing Yoga


The story of Quinn River’s birth: A natural, unmedicated second-time mother’s story.

Starting a week before I gave birth, at 38 weeks, I went to bed each night wondering if that night would be the night I would go into labor, as I had given birth to Keira eight days before her due date. Selfishly, I had hoped not because it was Thanksgiving week, and I wanted to spend time with my loved ones over amazing meals through the week before the baby arrived.

On Monday, November 28th, just after Thanksgiving weekend, I was awoken at 5:30am by slight cramping in my lower abdomen. I called Amanda, the midwife who was on call that morning, to let her know what I was experiencing—I was well aware that second births can be swift, and that, if this was the start of labor, I would need to be administered antibiotics early, since I had tested positive for Group B Strep.

As we do on any typical weekday morning, I got myself ready for work at 7:00am, Ray and I both woke Keira up at 7:15am, made her breakfast and got her ready for preschool, and, at 8:00am, Keira and I kissed and hugged Ray before starting on our 50-minute subway commute to school and work. Two overcrowded B trains passed us before we finally barely squeezed onto one. No one offered me a seat—typical. Subway commuters’ lack of regard while I was so pregnant usually irritated me, and I’d normally ask for a seat, but I was experiencing contractions every 15-20 minutes, lasting 30 seconds each—my mind and body were occupied, and I didn’t have the energy to even ask. I closed my eyes for much of the ride, and, surprisingly, Keira didn’t ask me to read to her or let her out of her stroller but rather looked at a book by herself quietly.

We arrived at school ten minutes late, and bumped into the mother of one of Keira’s classmate’s, who remarked, “You’re still here.” “Oh yes! The trains were overcrowded this morning.” “No. I mean, you’re still here.” “Ah. Yes, I am.” I shared the fact that I was experiencing contractions with her, and may not be at drop off tomorrow.

I rushed off to work at Sacred Sounds Yoga, and acted on a strong urge to “nest” at work, or to prepare the studio for my likely impending maternity leave and tie as many loose ends as possible. I replied to emails, updated our website with December and January workshops and events, texted our studio managers to let them know that they may need to cover for me starting tomorrow, and headed to the bank to take care of the studio’s monthly banking needs. The first week of the month is always the busiest week for me, and this month was especially important leading up to January, when students returned to classes following the holidays and New Year’s Resolutions. Knowing that December was only three days away, I needed to maximize my use of time in these precious few hours as best as I could! While standing in front of the bank teller, at 1:54pm, I called Amanda to give her an update—my contractions were eight to 15 minutes apart, still lasting 30 seconds each.

I was so busy working that I’d forgotten to eat lunch! I headed to byCHLOE, a vegan café that was a block and a half away from the studio and one of my go-to places for lunch, and ordered their Guac Burger and Baked Sweet Potato Fries, realizing that I needed to carbo-load with something substantial. “Your big day is almost here!” smiled a friendly face behind the counter. I visited byCHLOE so frequently that some of their employees knew my due date, and I knew that my due date was this particular employee’s birthday! “Well good luck on your birth if I don’t see you before, but I’m sure I will.” I nodded and smiled back, before rushing back to the studio to scarf down the burger, and finish more work.

My mother picked up both Keira and me at Keira’s school by car during pick up, as we agreed that it would be best for me not to bring Keira back to our home in Brooklyn when the Birth Center at Lower Manhattan-Presbyterian Hospital, where I had planned to give birth, was near my parents’ home. I was also afraid that the contractions would be too strong for me to handle another subway commute. Boy were we both right! By the time we arrived at my parents’, I was in active labor! At 3:46pm, I let Amanda know that my contractions were five to seven minutes apart, lasting 60 seconds each, and she told me that she would meet me at the hospital. I called Ray, who was already driving into Manhattan with my birth doula Caprice, and told them to meet me at the hospital. However, merely attempting to carry my hospital bag brought on a contraction each time I tried, and I asked them to drive me too. The contractions were much harder to manage now—they stopped me dead in my tracks each time at this point, and made my fingers and toes curl. I headed to a bedroom to lie down, despite Keira’s protests. “Mommy, come lie down on the couch!” she said while patting the spot next to her. My mother then tried to start a conversation about Christmas gifts. “Oh. You’re in pain right now.” “Yes. Not right now,” I muttered, as I walked toward the bedroom again. My sister Samantha spotted me in the foyer just before I entered the bedroom, and noted, “It looks like they’re really painful!” I finally shut the door behind me. Laboring at my parents’ crowded home was certainly a very different experience from laboring with Ray in the comforts of our own home two years ago.

Ray and Caprice finally picked me up, and we headed to the hospital at 4:45pm. Ray parked the car, and Caprice escorted me arm-in-arm into the hospital. “We’re going to Labor and Delivery,” I mentioned to the security guard on our way in. “Are you getting induced?” he asked. “No, she’s in active labor,” Caprice replied as we passed him. What a strange question to ask.

At the nurses’ desk in Labor and Delivery, a nurse insisted that I fill out a lengthy form completely. Because of the intensity of the contractions, Caprice attempted to fill it out to the best of her ability. After the form was nearly completed, the nurse finally asked,” Are you pre-registered?” “Yes,” I replied, and asked Caprice to retrieve the form from my hospital bag!

Amanda checked me once we arrived in triage. She noted that I was already four to five centimeters dilated, 90% effaced, at 0 station, had bloody show and a bulging bag of waters, and that I could be admitted as soon as I received my first of two doses of antibiotics for Group B Strep intravenously! She hoped that I’d be able to wait another four hours for my second dose before I gave birth—if not, our son would be required to stay in the hospital for an additional 24 hours for monitoring. My contractions felt as if they were occurring one on top of the other by then. I was comforted by both Ray’s and Caprice’s presence, as they took turns allowing me to squeeze their hand through each long contraction. I inhaled and exhaled deeply with each contraction, and counted slowly in my head, both techniques that I had practiced and knew worked well for me during mock contractions in Prenatal Yoga classes.

A nurse asked me to sign a lengthy document in five places, and, after two signatures, another contraction had started. Caprice noted during my postpartum visit that she truly believed that my marathon training had served me well in being able to cope with active labor—as if I was mustering every last ounce of effort I had left in me, I popped up from the bed at the peak of the contraction, and signed in two more places, before I plopped back down! I felt the strong urge to vomit, Caprice asked for a container for me, and I vomited directly into the container. Why did I want an unmedicated birth again? I had forgotten how hard childbirth was!

Once I finally received the antibiotics, another nurse named Gemma asked me to sit in a wheelchair so that I could be wheeled into the Birth Center. Just the idea of sitting made me writhe in pain, but I complied. I closed my eyes, and was able to breathe deeply and ignore any physical discomfort. I learned that I could focus on my breath to numb physical pain during marathons. This particular birth experience reminded me especially of my last marathon, the 2016 New York City Marathon, which I had completed three weeks prior at 36 weeks pregnant. Due to less training than usual over the course of the year and, I assumed, pregnancy hormones, my last marathon was especially uncomfortable during the second half, and downright painful during parts of the last 10K. Still, I able to manage the pain during that race, and do the same during childbirth.

I stood up as soon as I was wheeled into my room at the Birth Center with a strong urge to push. “Why don’t you sit down,” Gemma asked, pointing at one of the chairs in the room. “I don’t want to sit down!” I exclaimed. I was befuddled by her suggestion. Who on Earth wants to sit down when they’re about to give birth?! I took a step toward the bed, pushed with a contraction, and my water gushed beneath me! “Oh no! What if the baby falls on the floor?! No one will be here to catch him!” I was truly fearful that my son would arrive then and there! “I’m here!” Amanda exclaimed, running into the room. “I need you to wait. Can you wait until the nurse gets here? Can you get on the bed?” she asked me. I didn’t think I could do it, but, somehow, I was able to pull myself up onto the bed on my own.

I positioned myself on hands and knees, Ray set up a birth ball in front of me while Caprice pressed firmly against my hips and lower back during contractions. The pressure helped to alleviate some of the lower back pain that I felt. Ray then swapped the birth ball for a wedge for more stability, while I was still on hands and knees. I pushed five times, and the top of my son’s head was visible! However, my thighs were sore, and I didn’t feel as if I was getting enough traction in this position. Amanda suggested that I try side lying. I shifted onto my left side, while Gemma pushed against the sole of my right foot. I pushed three more times, the last time digging deep, as I could feel him crowning and his shoulders coming through the birth canal! After 15 minutes of pushing total, I could feel him release from me, and hear his cries!

Amanda hollered. It was the most amniotic fluid that had splattered on her ever, and the closest that amniotic fluid has ever made it her mouth. Caprice later called it a “fountain of fluid”!

Ray helped Amanda catch our son, while Amanda somersaulted his body to unwrap his umbilical cord from his neck, and Amanda proceeded to place him on my chest. Welcome to the world! It’s so nice to finally meet you! I’ll never forget that moment, the moment he finally entered the world, the rush of endorphins, and the moment I lay my eyes on the human being that had been growing and moving in my belly for nearly 10 months. After all the worries over the course of many months, he had arrived. And he was perfect.

Ray cut his umbilical cord, and noted that the pair of scissors he used this time were much sharper and easier to cut with than those he used for Keira’s cord. I allowed our son to do the Breast Crawl to find his own way to my breast—he did just this, and latched firmly onto my right breast.

“You know she ran a marathon at 36 weeks pregnant?” Caprice mentioned to Amanda as Amanda delivered my placenta. “I think I remember hearing about that,” Amanda replied. As much as I believed that training for and running a marathon while nine months pregnant and practicing yoga throughout my pregnancy helped me in my positive birth experience, giving birth naturally was still the hardest thing I had ever done (albeit twice!) in my life. But I wouldn’t have wanted to change a thing.

Quinn River was born on Monday, November 28, 2016 at 6:43pm at 39 weeks pregnant, weighing 7 pounds 1 ounce and measuring 20 inches long.

Total Labor: 11 hours 13 minutes
Active Labor: 2 hours 57 minutes
Pushing: 15 minutes

Thank you, Caprice, for your knowledge and support during my pregnancy, birth and postpartum, my parents, Julie and Francis, for taking care of Keira while we were at the hospital, Amanda and the LoMa Midwives for such a positive experience during my pregnancy and birth, and Ray for your infinite love and support!

Quinn River, 11/28/16

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We’re pregnant…again!

Week 5 | +2 lbs

Shhh. If you know my husband Ray or myself personally, please do not share this news with anyone. We will when we’re ready. But you can celebrate quietly with us in the meantime!

After placing this blog on hiatus for over a year and a half, I’m finally back, which only means one thing–we’re pregnant again! As with my first pregnancy, this one was not a surprise either, and far from it, in fact. Whereas we conceived our daughter Keira in less than two months, we had been trying for half a year when I finally received a positive pregnancy test 10 days ago!


Positive Test, 3/29/16

Aside from the amount of time that it took to conceive this time around, there are already a number of differences between this pregnancy and my last:

  1. I know way more than I ever thought I would about my Body Basil Temperature (BBT), cervical mucus and luteal phase. After the first few months of trying the good ol’ fashion way, as I had during my first pregnancy, I started charting religiously to determine my ovulation date every month. What does charting entail? I logged my BBT every morning as soon as I woke up, noted my cervical mucus, and understood whether that meant I was fertile at that time or not, and knew that if I had a short luteal phase during any particular month that my chances of getting pregnant were lower.


    Positive Chart, 3/29/16

  2. Whereas I distinctly recall how uncomfortably tender and sore my breasts were early on in my first pregnancy, I have not had any soreness at all this time around. I wonder if this is due to the fact that I breast fed Keira until she was 15.5 months old? I ultimately weaned her because my OB/GYN confirmed that I was not ovulating due to high prolactin levels.  In fact, I did not ovulate until our third month of trying to conceive this time around, less than a month after I weaned Keira.
  3. The feelings of exhaustion are 10 times worse this time around. I am delirious midday, nearly fall asleep immediately after work, and pass out immediately after dinner. There’s no surprise why–we now have a toddler at home! Not only can I not rest after work, and take naps on weekends, but I now have to run after an active 20-month-old. My mother-in-law claims that Keira is the most active of all her grandchildren, and I can certainly imagine this, especially as there was a recent New York Times article that stated that exercise during pregnancy leads to exercise-loving offspring.
  4. I not nearly as fit now as I was before my first pregnancy. Although I did run three marathons last year while breastfeeding Keira, I still have not yet ridden my road bike, and only rode my commuter bike once, since before Keira was born. Additionally, at the suggestion of my OB/GYN before implantation takes place, I had cut down my weekly mileage by more than half while trying to conceive this time, and didn’t run a marathon this season. I’m excited to start running a bit more, albeit much more slowly, again now.


    First race with Baby Bean, NYRR’s Scotland Run 10K, 4/3/16

  5. I’m starting to show already?! I didn’t have anyone offer me a seat on the Subway or make any comments until I was 4.5 months pregnant during my last pregnancy? A man I’ve only met twice in my life blatantly asked me if I was pregnant yesterday! The idea that I may be showing didn’t even cross my mind, but now I’m nervous, and extremely annoyed that that man too. Now, I’ll have to figure out ways to hide my belly for the next eight weeks, despite the fact that I am in a yoga studio daily, and run home to work, so wearing bulky clothes doesn’t really make sense.

Despite the differences between this pregnancy and my last, I’m just as excited as I was with my first!


First ultrasound, 4/4/16

Week 4 (3/28-4/3) training: 23 miles 

Monday: 4 miles; yoga
Tuesday: 4.21 miles; yoga
Wednesday: 3.67 miles
Thursday: 4.9 miles
Friday: Rest
Saturday: NYRR’s Scotland Run 10K
Sunday: Rest

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First moments: A snapshot of Keira’s life.

Keira is 15 days old today. It still amazes me that I was running with her in my womb just over two weeks ago. Her arrival has completely changed Ray and my lives in the most wonderful way. I’m am grateful that she is healthy and strong, first and foremost. I’m also grateful that she has been been a really “easy” baby, as of now at least–she sleeps most of the time, complains only when she’s hungry or needs her diaper changed, and is a joy to talk to and play with for those few hours when she is awake.

With the amount of time and energy I dedicated to reading about labor and delivery to attain my ideal birth experience (and you can read my birth story here), it’s comical that I never considered doing research on how to actually take care of a newborn baby!  And I know I’m not the only mother who’s overlooked this important aspect of having a baby either. I’ve captured a few of Keira’s first moments since she arrived below as well as a few links to topics Ray and I have already Googled to make sure that some of these moments were nothing to be alarmed about!

Day 3. Keira finally arrived home with us! She also lifted her head off Ray’s chest while they were making skin-to-skin contact.

Skin-to-skin contact, 7/21/2014

Skin-to-skin contact, 7/21/14

Day 4. First visit to the pediatrician, and first walk outside, 0.6 miles roundtrip. Keira weighed 6 lbs. 14.5 oz., having lost 4.5 oz. since birth, and had developed a bit of jaundice, which develops in 60% of newborns 2-3 days after birth, and is especially common for Asian babies. Keira’s doctor informed me that more frequent breastfeeding, specifically feeding Keira at least every two hours, as well as daily phototherapy would treat the jaundice.  Random fun fact: We were the only non-Hasidic Jewish family at the pediatrician.  Apparently, the pediatrician rarely has non-Jewish families at her practice, and seemed bewildered at how we found her!

Day 5. First bath, a sponge bath! She didn’t cry or get startled, and seemed to enjoy the bath!

Keira's first bath, 7/23/2014

Keira’s first bath, 7/23/14

Day 6. Follow up visit to the pediatrician.  Keira surpassed her birth weight already, weighing in at 7 lbs. 4.5 oz, though newborns are expected to reach their birth weight 10 to 14 days after birth.  Her jaundice also diminished! Keira’s doctor told us we were doing a great job, and that I should continue to do whatever I was doing with respect to the feedings. Her remark was exactly what caused my confusion and exhaustion, unfortunately, as I took it literally–I continued to set my alarm every two hours to nurse Keira, as I had been doing since her birth.

Content after breastfeeding and above her birth weight, 7/24/14

Content after breastfeeding and above her birth weight, 7/24/14

Day 7. Ray and I panicked for a moment when Keira’s umbilical cord fell off, as we didn’t expect it to so soon. After some Googling, we realized it was perfectly okay, as long as there weren’t any signs of infection.

Day 10. First tummy time! Keira has strong neck and back muscles, and was able to start moving around on her tummy quickly and without cries.

Day 11.  First smiles! Granted, these are reflex smiles, I read, but it was exciting to witness them, nonetheless.

Day 12. First feedings based on hunger, not on my alarm! I received a phone call from a lactation consultant at the hospital where I had delivered Keira who informed me that, since Keira had reached her birth weight and was moving her bowels regularly, I should be feeding her based on demand, not on a schedule! She noted that the rule of thumb for newborns is that they nurse at least eight to 12 times per day.  I was confused, as this information was completely different from what Keira’s pediatrician had shared with me.  Thankfully, I found KellyMom, which offers evidence-based breastfeeding and parenting insight, and an amazing La Leche League Facebook group, both of which confirmed the lactation consultant’s advice.

Day 13. First visit with her only cousin on my side of the family, Sophia, who drove up to New York City from Northern Virginia with my sister Catherine and her husband Mark.

Keira and cousin Sophia, 2014-08-01

Keira and cousin Sophia, 8/1/14

Day 14. First day outside, aside from our short walks! We visited Brooklyn Bridge Park and Jane’s Carousel, and dined at Olea with my parents, sisters, brother-in-law, cousins, and niece. Aside from waking once to nurse and have her diaper changed, Keira slept the entire time.

Keira's first day out, 8/2/14

Keira’s first day out, 8/2/14

In addition to sharing a few first moments, I also wanted to provide links to insight online resources for moms that have helped me so far:

  • KellyMom. Truly offers everything you’ll need to know regarding breastfeeding, and plenty of other non-breastfeeding related information too!
  • La Leche League. Look up your local LLL for meetings with other moms that are breastfeeding or check Facebook for their online groups, if you don’t feel comfortable bring your newborn to meetings, and I don’t yet.
  • The Alpha Parent.  Look up the insightful timelines this blog provides to get a better sense of what to expect from your baby during different stages of life.
  • What to Expect the First Year.  Not an online resource, but I’d recommend buying this book for all their “how tos”–from changing diapers to bathing to feedings!


The story of Keira Sage’s birth: A natural, unmedicated, first-time mother’s story.

Disclaimer: I believe that it is every mother’s right to choose what is best for her labor and delivery.  I also realize that every individual circumstance is uniquely different. Here is my story.

I woke up last Saturday, July 19th at 3:20am from an intense stomach cramp. I had suffered from what were likely Braxton Hicks contractions all Thursday night after a 4-mile run home from work that afternoon, and assumed that this cramp was the same. I closed my eyes again, and fell back to sleep, but was awoken by another cramp ten minutes later.  Again, I shut my eyes, and awoke ten minutes later.  The pattern persisted, and, two hours later, my husband Ray, who had gotten up to go on a 5-hour long ride, remarked that I should call my doctor’s 24-hour number. One of the doctors in the practice picked up the call, responding that he believed that I was in early labor, and that I could possibly have our daughter the next day.  Little did he know that she would arrive that same day. I told Ray that he could go on his planned ride, as I assumed it would be a long labor, given it was my first, but I canceled all my plans for the day so that I could labor at home comfortably.

Leading up to this day, I had planned to approach it as I would an endurance event, except that I would not be allowed to eat once I was admitted to the hospital whereas I always fuel during my races. I knew that I should eat food that was easy to digest but high in calories, and, at 9:30am, I crawled out of bed, and walked across the street to pick up an iced coffee and toasted whole wheat bagel with walnut and raisin cream cheese. The line was long at the popular bagelry, as usual, and I had to help support my body weight during contractions by leaning against the glass counter.  I, then, visited the natural market next door to pick up cookies for the nursing staff, as I was told by my birth doula Caprice that they’d appreciate the gesture.  I had wanted to run a few more errands in the neighborhood, but the contractions already made it uncomfortable to walk a block let alone a few, and I headed home instead, where Ray greeted me, having cut his ride short.

I spent most of the earlier part of the day listening to reggae, bouncing on my birth ball,  and sending last minute emails to the staff and teachers at my yoga studio, knowing that I could possibly be unable to do so soon. The contractions were seven minutes apart by 3:30pm, and I thought it’d be relaxing to labor in water. I texted Caprice, who recommended that I get into the shower instead of the bathtub, since I had been experiencing some bleeding, and suggested that I shower before reaching 5-1-1, or when the contractions are five minutes apart and lasting one minute each for one hour, as I could risk dilating completely and not make it to the hospital.  I lit a scented candle, and reggae continued to play on my phone.  Ray hopped into the shower with me to help bathe me. The hot water massaging my skin and Ray’s help were both immensely soothing, and helped to diminish the intensity of the contractions significantly.

The contractions became more frequent–roughly five to six minutes apart–and lasted 90 seconds per contraction shortly after the shower.  Between contractions, I was comfortable side lying on the floor, resting my head on Ray’s lap, and fell asleep out of sheer exhaustion, but the contractions were so intense that they’d shake me from my slumber, and force me to freeze in pain.  I dry heaved after two of these contractions. I tried to kneel on the floor and rest my head on the couch, squat over two yoga blocks, and also get back on my birth ball, but these laboring postures were extremely uncomfortable at this point. I felt better standing and swaying with Ray while he made big circles with his palm over my lower back for a while, but I was so beat that, at 5:30pm, headed to bed to lie on my side with my body pillow.

At 6:30pm, the contractions were four minutes apart and the heavy bleeding I had when I peed compelled Ray to call Caprice and my mother so that they could make their way to our apartment to prepare to leave for the hospital.  My back pains were so severe at this point that they left me writhing in pain in bed.  Ray heated a rice bag, and applied it to my lower back. Ahhh. Sweet relief. The heat was by far the best antidote I had for the pains as of yet! Caprice arrived at 7:30pm when my contractions continued to build in intensity, and lasted 90 to 120 seconds, which meant I only had 2 to 2.5 minutes between each contraction.  Caprice sat on the bed, pressed her hot water bag against my lower back, and caressed my upper back. Her voice and mere presence were immediately soothing and comforting.  I felt less tense with her by my side.  My mother finally entered my bedroom at 8:30pm, and shouted: “Hey Steph! Look what Aunt Abby got you!”  In the middle of a contraction, I blurted out, “Mom, I’m not looking right now!”

I insisted that we start making our way to my parents’ car downstairs for the dreaded half hour-long ride to the hospital. Caprice allowed me to drape my weight over her, wrapping my arms around her shoulders, and pressing my forehead against hers, as she walked backwards to lead me out of the apartment.  My mother and Ray continued to gather my hospital bag, electric candles, snacks, and anything else I had requested for the hospital.  I felt as if my contractions were on top of one  another. I had one as we exited our apartment, and another followed in the elevator on our way downstairs.  I scooted into the back of the car with Caprice, as Ray drove the car safely, and my mother sat next him.  The fierce contractions combined with the rough ride and the back labor pains were agonizing. I asked for a plastic bag, and then immediately vomited any fluids or foods I had had that day into the bag, in my hair and onto Caprice’s lap. My mother noted, “I remember when I was in labor. I wanted to cut off the lower half of my body from the upper half.”  I asserted, “Mom, please don’t speak right now!”

I got out of the car, had another contraction in front of the hospital, and then Ray and I were escorted into triage. A young resident entered to check how far along I was, and broke my waters accidentally in the process. She then turned to a nurse, and told her that I was 3 to 4 centimeters dilated. “3 to 4 centimeters only?! I’m still in early labor?!!”  I started to cry hysterically, and thought that I’d have to get an epidural to manage the pain, as I could not imagine enduring much more.  A doctor entered with the resident, checked me again, and stated frankly, “Uh. She’s eight centimeters.”  They let us know that they were in the process of preparing a delivery room for me.  The contractions were excruciating–they were the worst pains I’d ever felt in my entire life.  “Honeyyy!!!!” I screamed multiple times.  “I don’t know if I can do this! I think I’m going to die!”  I later found out we were in triage for a full hour and a half before they finally moved me into a delivery room a few doors down.

The nurse in the delivery room told me that I had to have an external fetal monitor and IV, and asked if I wanted an epidural.  Ray was well aware of my birth preferences, and replied, “I thought you had wireless fetal monitoring. She doesn’t want an IV. No epidural.”  The nurse put a hep lock into my hand instead of an IV.  The tape was flimsy, and the hep lock fell out of my hand three times before she finally gave up. My doctor and Caprice arrived shortly after we did, and Ray stepped out of the room. My doctor checked my cervix, and exclaimed, “She’s 10 centimeters dilated with an anterior lip. Almost.”  I asked if I could labor standing, but my doctor immediately said, “No. You’re ready to deliver. Where’s her husband? Can you call him?” Caprice rang him, and he rushed in with a mouth full of pizza.

My doctor had me wrap my arms around my thighs, and I propped my feet up on a squatting bar that was attached to my bed, while Ray and Caprice helped me hold up my legs and supported me on either side. “Take a deep breath in, hold your breath, and push for 10 seconds. Direct your pushes where my fingers are,” she guided, as she gave me a perineal massage to help minimize tearing.  I pushed three times consecutively with each contraction, screaming each time. After 12 minutes of pushing, Ray exclaimed, “Do you want to know a surprise?” “No! What’s the surprise?!” I cried.  “Do you remember when you said you wanted a baby with no hair like in your family, and I said I wanted one with hair like in my family? She has hair!” “What?!!” I exclaimed.  My doctor asked me if I wanted to feel her head, and I reached down to feel the top of my daughter’s head while she was still inside me!

Realizing just how close I was to finally meeting her, I made sure to push extra hard. After two more rounds of pushes with the next two contractions, my doctor lifted her out of me, pausing momentarily to check that her umbilical cord wasn’t wrapped around her neck, and rotating her to relieve her shoulders on her way out. I had pushed for 15 minutes total.  Though she was my first, this was certainly a PR that would be hard to break.

Ray and Caprice later told me that she looked like she was surfing a wave of amniotic fluid as she entered the world.

My doctor immediately placed her on my belly, as her umbilical cord was too short for her to reach my chest. I was in complete shock. She came from inside of me?! Ray cut her cord, and I was grateful to have skin-to-skin contact with her for two full hours.  I learned in the film “Breastmilk” that, during the Breast Crawl, every newborn, when placed on their mother’s abdomen soon after birth, has the ability to find their mother’s breast on their own to breastfeed.  I allowed her do just this, and she latched on when she reached my right breast.

“Did you end up running that marathon during your pregnancy,” my doctor asked shortly after birth. “Yes I did. At 29 weeks,” I replied. “So which was harder: the marathon or giving birth? ” she asked. I laughed aloud, and responded, “Giving birth was harder than my 50-mile ultra and the Ironman combined! It’s probably harder than a 100-miler and the Ironman combined.”

Giving birth to my daughter naturally was, indeed, the most painful, formidable experience ever, but it was also, by far, the most amazing experience of my life. My eyes still well up with tears when I think about the moment I laid my eyes on her, full of life, covered in amniotic fluid on my belly just after birth.  I’m still in awe that Ray and I created her, our perfect being.  I’m astounded that she came from my womb, and I birthed her.

Keira Sage was born on Saturday, July 19, 2014 at 11:43pm at 38 weeks 6 days pregnant, weighing 7  pounds 4 ounces and measuring 20.5 inches long.

My sincerest gratitude to (Sage) Caprice for being there before and during the pregnancy as my doula, prenatal yoga teacher and friend, my mom Julie for driving our car to my apartment so that we had a proper ride to the hospital, my amazing doctors who were patient and attentive with me at each doctor’s visit, and provided the very best experience in the delivery room, and, last but not least, my husband Ray for always being so supportive of me as my partner and best friend.  I have so much love for you.

Keira Sage, 7/19/14

Keira Sage, 7/19/14

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She’s coming…soon!

Week 38 | +30 lbs

Last Thursday seemed as if it would end as just another ordinary day. I had a  pleasant day at work, as usual, hosted dinner at Ippudo, my favorite ramen restaurant in New York City, for some of my family visiting from out of town, and then led them to try tasty Japanese desserts at Chikalicious Dessert Club nearby.  My husband and I finally entered our apartment at 11:00pm, and I immediately headed to the bathroom to pee, of course.  I looked down at the toilet, and noticed some blood. Our ordinary day changed in that instant.

We still didn’t have a nursery prepared, we hadn’t packed a hospital bag, and I still had emails to send to staff and teachers at my yoga studio reminding them that I could give birth soon!  Most of our nursery items had only arrived at our door that day, and were waiting for us at our door when we had arrived moments ago.  My husband began frantically opening all the boxes, and setting them where he thought they belonged. I started tossing items together in a hospital bag, grabbing some of the items he had just un-boxed.  We then both spent hours taking care of work, just in case we’d be busy the following day!

Nursery items still in boxes just as we arrived at our apartment, 7/10/14

Nursery items still in boxes just as we arrived at our apartment, 7/10/14

The following morning, my husband and I packed our hospital bag, picked up my breast pump at Target that was provided by my health insurance, and headed over to my doctor’s office to get examined.  We were told that I had experienced bloody show and was 2 centimeters dilated! Also, our daughter weighed in at approximately 7.5 lbs! It was my first cervical exam of the pregnancy, and quite an exciting one at that!

That weekend, my husband completed a 116-mile long ride and 18-mile long run for his upcoming Ironman, Ironman Mont Tremblant, while I decided to cut my planned training schedule, opting to take a rest day on Saturday, forgoing the 4-mile race I had registered for–I did, however, take Prenatal Yoga and then go on an easy 4-mile run home from my studio on Sunday.  My husband and I dedicated the remaining hours of the weekend to vigorously cleaning and organizing our apartment! I completed our nursery and cleaned our pantry and fridge, while my husband finally organized our storage closets, after months of my asking him to do so!



The frantic activity around our apartment has quieted since last weekend, and I’ve resumed my regular exercise regime. However, my husband and I are aware that I could go into labor at any given moment now. She’s coming…soon!

Yesterday's 4-mile run before I spent the night struggling with Braxton Hicks contractions, 7/17/14

Yesterday’s 4-mile run over the Williamsburg Bridge before I spent the night struggling with Braxton Hicks contractions, 7/17/14

Week 36 (6/29-7/5) training: 10.25 miles 

Sunday: Rest
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: Spin
Thursday: Rest
Friday: 4 miles
Saturday: 6.25 miles

Week 37 (7/6-7/12) training: 4.75 miles 

Sunday: 4.75 miles
Monday: Spin
Tuesday: Yoga
Wednesday: Spin
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Rest

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Happy 3-year wedding anniversary to us!

Week 36 | +31 lbs

While the majority of Americans are spending the day either at the beach or at barbecues, celebrating Independence Day with their family and friends, July 4th is significant to my husband and me for a very different reason–we got married on this very day 3 years ago! This particular anniversary is an especially special one for us, as it’s the last before our daughter arrives.

What did we do on our 3-year wedding anniversary? Naturally, we started the beautiful morning with a run together, as the skies were overcast and before the rain came down! We headed off for an easy run along the trail that surrounds Fort Greene Park near our home. Once we arrived at the park, we ran a few loops at our own respective paces–he literally ran laps around me.

3-year wedding anniversary run, 7/4/14

Wedding anniversary run, 7/4/14

We enjoyed lunch and watched the World Cup at Putnam’s Pub & Cooker, a neighborhood restaurant known for their local, organic ingredients and tasty fare, before heading home to FINALLY open the gifts that were delivered for our baby shower, and start preparing our baby room.  We had had a roommate staying in what would become the baby room finally move out earlier this week after ten months, so you can only imagine how intense the urge to nest grew and how terrible the anxiety I had that I’d deliver early was! I continued to organize our gifts, and take inventory of what we had and still needed, and my husband drove to Connecticut to pick up the crib, changing table and other hand-me-downs we’ll receive from his sister.  I’m uber excited that we’ll be able to finally set up our baby room! You’ll see our “before” photos below–I can’t wait until we have an “after” photo!

Baby room and gear before, 7/4/14

Baby room and gear before, 7/4/14

Month 9 Belly Photo, 7/4/14

Month 9 Belly Photo, 7/4/14

Week 35 (6/22-6/28) training: 18.1 miles 

Sunday: Rest
Monday: Spin
Tuesday: Yoga
Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: 5 miles
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 13.1 miles

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How to deal with pre-baby anxiety!

35 Weeks | +27 lbs

I thought it was bad enough that I’ve been waking up two to three times each night to pee this entire pregnancy, but, starting this week, I’ve been finding it challenging to fall and stay asleep too with pre-baby anxiety looming over my head!  The massive kicks and movement, in general, at night certainly doesn’t help my inability to sleep either.  Two nights ago, I went to bed at 10:30pm, my usual bedtime, and had planned to go for a 5-mile run before work at 6:00am. However, I found myself wide awake an hour later, was unable to fall back asleep for another two hours, and awoke every hour until 6:00am! I ultimately opted out of that early morning run, cranky and feeling defeated for the rest of the day. Tomorrow marks exactly one month before my expected due date–July 27th (already?)!

The only way I think I’ll be able to get some rest for the remainder of this pregnancy is to jot down (or type) my issues, and how best to overcome them:

Issue #1: I don’t have a nursery set up yet, or anything for our baby at our apartment for that matter. My husband and I thought it was a brilliant idea to take on a roommate to save funds for our daughter last year, but, out of respect for our roommate, all of our baby-related items are neatly stacked so as not to clutter our apartment.  Additionally, our roommate is currently living in our future nursery, which means we can’t set anything up until he moves out.  As each day passes and my urge to nest grows stronger, I become more fearful of running out of time! Solution: Our roommate’s agreement ends this coming Monday, so we’ll be able to set up the nursery in only four days, thankfully.

Issue #2: I own my own small business, a yoga studio in New York City, for which I need to find coverage when I’m on “maternity leave.”  “Maternity leave” is in parentheses because I’ll actually be working from home for six weeks, so it’s not truly maternity leave.  However, I’m not as worried about working from home as I am about the fact that I usually work at the front desk at the studio on Mondays through Thursdays, and will need to find staff members to cover my hours.  Unfortunately, I’m currently short staffed, and my employees are unable to cover all my hours, as many of them work multiple jobs. Solution: I’ve been taking my time to interview potential employees over the last two weeks, and have, thankfully, met a few great applicants, two of whom I hired today! I’ll be training them both this Monday, and they’ll start working at the studio in July. A flexible schedule was a major factor in the hiring process.

Issue #3: I’m carpooling with my husband and two friends tomorrow to the Toughman Tupper Lake Tinman Triathlon, which is 5 hours up north. Will they stop for me when I need to pee (every hour)? What if I overheat while cheering during the race? What if I go into labor while we’re upstate? These were a few of the fears I stressed over earlier this week, to name a few!  Solution: We checked with our friends, and they promised to stop for me every hour, and I check with my doctor, who confirmed I was okay to go on the trip.  Instead of cheering for the entire race on the sidelines, I decided to run the half marathon portion of the half Ironman! Irregardless of what may potentially happen, I’ll be with my husband at least, which would be better than being at home by myself!

I should, hopefully, be able to overcome the bulk of my pre-baby anxiety over the next week, as I return from this weekend’s trip upstate, train my new employees and set up our nursery. More importantly, I have to remember to “let go.” Our daughter will arrive when she’s ready. And when she does, I’ll have my husband by my side, and we’ll be there for her.

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Week 33 (6/8-6/14) training: 26.7 miles 

Sunday: 10.5 miles
Monday: Spin
Tuesday: Yoga
Wednesday: 5 miles
Thursday: 5 miles
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 6.2 miles

Week 34 (6/15-6/21) training: 14.5 miles 

Sunday: 5 miles
Monday: Spin
Tuesday: Yoga
Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: Rest
Friday: 4.5 miles
Saturday: 5 miles