Motherhood does not define me…

I’ve been trying to write this blog post for some time and it’s hard to find the right words to justify the title and not have it come across the wrong way.

Motherhood doesn’t define me…because I want to be so much more than just a mother.

I love my son but I also love myself and I don’t want to lose my identity to motherhood. It is certainly a huge part of me but I also have 30 years of being just Julie before I became “mamama”. Part of the challenge of becoming a new mother is finding that balance. Motherhood can be all consuming, seriously. These adorable little creatures creep into your bed, interrupt your sleep, steal your food, climb all over you, request “up please” with their cute little puppy eyes and arms out stretched. As my nephew says I’m a “work mom” and his mom is “home mom”. I love being a working mother, yes, it absolutely has it’s challenges but I have worked hard to get to this point in my career. I also have hobbies that I cannot do with a toddler, I like run/coffee dates with friends that aren’t spent chasing a wiggly toddler distracting me from real adult conversation. I am extremely lucky to have a pretty good working mom balance. Michael is super supportive and knows how important it is for me to get that weekend long run in or morning workout class. He lets me book scuba trips that fall outside of our very tight budget. He knows when I make a request to have some “me time” that it’s important. As I blogged about previously, I struggled a bit post partum with anxiety and once I had a chance to focus again on myself, things improved dramatically.

I don’t want it to sounds like I am only happy apart from James but just to say that keeping some pre-baby elements of my life around makes me feel more complete and enjoy the time I do have with James that much more.

My dad recently retired and he made a comment that he didn’t think that his legacy was over yet. It just made me think….what is my legacy? What do I want to leave behind? Having at least one adorable child and raising him into an upstanding citizen is definitely part of my legacy. I have a career, hobbies and passions and I have to decide what I want to focus my time on. We incorporate James into as many aspects of our life as possible but having time to focus on my own self is critical too. If I am going to spend time away from my son….I want it to be for something I truly enjoy – running, scuba diving, work, maintaining those special friendships, travel – to name a few.

Motherhood is an all consuming job for the first year. It’s soaks up of all your energy and makes your brain mush with the lack of sleep as you adjust to the new routine. Your whole world is flipped upside down. For me, after being pregnant for 9 months and breast feeding for 11 months, my hormones regulated and I felt like the fog lifted and I got a little piece of myself back and I wanted to explore it. It sounds really weird but I really enjoyed having my body and mind back to myself. On the flip side, I had a perfect pregnancy up until ~36 weeks and I loved the excitement of growing a human being and I loved [certain aspects of] breast feeding. The connection with my child was emotional and intoxicating (don’t take that word out of context) but it was challenging. I definitely want to do it again but I need to fully recover physically and emotionally before embarking on that journey again.

So, what is the best balance of motherhood, my career, my hobbies, my legacy….I don’t honestly know the answer.  Every week and month that goes by is all part of the learning curve.  Finding that delicate balance – if I spend time away from my child what am I doing and is it meaningful. Is it meaningful to society, for my job, my myself, my son and for my husband – obviously not everything is going to check all of those boxes but that’s part of the balancing act.

Cherry Blossom 10 miler 2017

This is how I hope every race goes but few actually do. I was super pumped going into this which I think really helped my mental game. My weekday training had been pretty hit or miss but I got in a bunch of solid long runs leading up to it and with the added bonus of some stroller resistance training, I was feeling fairly confident. The weather predictions were perfect (low-mid 40s and overcast) and although the sun decided to peak through (and I wished I had brought a visor), the wind held off and I was very comfortable and happy with my clothing choices (capris and a tank).

On Saturday, Rose and I did a easy 35 min run around the neighborhood which was perfect to shake out our legs and give us a little race day confidence. We then proceeded to wander DC all afternoon and rack up almost 22K steps which was less than ideal but was fun to get out in the city. I crushed a pepperoni stromboli and crossed my fingers I didn’t regret that decision in the morning.

Race day morning as a mommy is a wee bit more hectic than pre-baby life. 4:30 alarm, get self ready then wake the little one up, feed him a quick bottle, throw on some clothes and diaper and out the door. My coworker was very kind and offered to watch James so we dropped him off before trekking into DC. After parking, and walking a mile, we got to the start with about 30 minutes to spare which given the crowds was not quite enough time. Since I was a few corrals back, I didn’t stress it, we hit the porta potties, shed the extra layers, dropped bag at gear check and tried to find our fellow run buddies.

My unwritten race goals – I told a few people but wasn’t taking this race too seriously.

Goal A: 10 min/mile and no walk breaks.

Goal B: 10:15min/mile.

Goal C: 10:30min/mile and just cross the finish line.

I really thought I was going to land solidly in the B goal range and I certainly didn’t think I could run 10 miles without a single stop – all training runs had a few stretching breaks and were solidly 10:30 pace. But something in me really wanted to push and see what happened. I opted purposefully to run solo which was kind of selfish of me considering I wouldn’t have gotten any of my long runs in without my awesome run buddies. However, at the same time I wanted to RACE and didn’t want to have to worry about sticking with a buddy in a SUPER crowded race. I struggle with the race mentality and run the majority of my races for fun but I wanted to approach this one differently and didn’t want anyone distracting me. THANKFULLY, this strategy worked out well for me and didn’t backfire in a “i’m all alone and this is hard and I wish I had someone to run with” way.

Photo stolen from Caitlin

My race “strategy” was to start out comfortably fast, try and keep up with the 10 minute mile pacer and see how I feel at the half way point and then assess how to approach the 2nd half. The stars seriously aligned on Sunday and I felt GREAT through mile 3. I kept glancing at my watch and was keeping a solid sub-10 pace but it didn’t feel overly hard so I decided just to keep at it. By mile 5 I knew I was having a great race and decided just to go for it.

Mile 1 – 10:11 | Mile 2 – 10:00 | Mile 3 – 9:45 | Mile 4 – 9:34 | Mile 5 – 9:31

Photo stolen from Kristen

The back half of the course was still surprisingly crowded so there was a LOT of weaving and curb hopping. In part this helped me with my racing because I was constantly working on navigating and passing people which was a good distraction. We rounded the tidal basin heading onto Haines Point and I was on a mission. Miles 7 and 8 are a little slower b/c the course narrows and everyone seems to slow down at this point to admire the pretty cherry blossom trees. I was tempted to pull out my phone to get a picture but didn’t want to stop and/or risk dropping my phone. Historically, Haines Point is my nemesis, it goes on for 3 miles and can crush your soul with high winds but I tried to just focus on keeping pace and finishing strong. Not going to lie, the last 1.5 miles were a bit challenging and the final mile includes a pesky little hill back up to the finish line. However, I am super happy with my last mile being my fastest mile.

Mile 6 – 9:34 | Mile 7 – 9:37 | Mile 8 – 9:42 | Mile 9 – 9:33 | Mile 10 – 9:23

GPS watch stats: Final time 1:37:46 for 9:39 avg over 10.11 miles. Officially a 1:37:44 for a solid 7+ minute PR.

Now, I am itching to run a fast half and redeem myself from my last one (NAF 2016) which was BRUTAL. TBD…

Remembering the future

I heard this quote the other day and it stuck with me. In part, the timing, a couple days after hearing about the unexpected loss of a friend. Remembering the future, a weird play on words that I keep going back to.

With this news, it prompted a visit to a place that captured my heart in a bizarre way 8 years ago. A city and it’s people that shaped who I am today. I often compare my life now to my life 5 years ago, 10 years ago, 15 years ago and I can very clearly break it up into different phases. I find myself in a struggle to balance my present phase “motherhood” with past phases such as “wild and free mid-20’s” or “working professional in the big city” to name a few. Part of me craves elements of my past and wanting to relive those – be it a trip to DC to walk our old neighborhood or a cold IPA and fish taco with friends in San Diego. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE motherhood, it is part of me and I know my life wouldn’t be complete without it. These early years with a little kid (and hopefully more) will be a phase just like all my other ones that I will look back on and try to relive. The interesting part is when I go back to relive those past phases, things have changed and people have changed but that is the beauty in all of it. I can’t go back to being 24 and jumping on a dive boat on a whim but I can still get on a dive boat with the same people and create new memories. Relationships also change and there are very few that stand the test of time and it isn’t without a lot of dedication. I don’t know what the future holds for me but I am reminded to appreciate the present, learn from the past and make time for the people that matter.

This might make zero sense to whoever reads it but writing is an outlet for me. I feel like the first year or motherhood fog is lifting and i’m thinking more clearly and with that comes sharing random bits on my little teeny tiny corner or the internet.

My Breastfeeding Journey

I am 10 months into breastfeeding James and not going to lie, it was significantly harder than I ever expected but I still don’t regret my decision one bit. It is truly a labor of love and a whole other element you have to factor into day-to-day life in addition to keeping a tiny human alive. I can see if you are a full time stay-at-home mom and don’t let your child out of your sight for 12 months (like I know a lot of women do) then it might be a little easier – I say little because it’s hard either way!

Before I had James I didn’t really know “how” to breastfeed, I mean, I took a class and all but they don’t really go over ALL of the logistics. They teach how to get proper latch, how to hold the baby and about a million facts/benefits that make you afraid to quit. I was wholly under prepared but that’s part of the learning curve with motherhood.

It was a LONG road to get James and I where we are now with nursing. After James and I were reunited in the recovery room after delivery, I tried to nurse hin for the first time and lets just say there was a lot of crying from both of us. He refused to latch on.  I then wasn’t “allowed” to nurse him for the first few months. He was so tiny that he wasted too much energy trying to latch and the doctors/nurses wanted him on a fortified diet. So I pumped and pumped and pumped and pumped and thought about quitting and pumped and pumped – and that is just an example of one day/night. 7-8x/day for the first few months, every time he ate, I pumped, it was exhausting and painful. SO MANY BOTTLE DISHES. Huge thanks to my mom who got up with me at odd hours to ease the burden and streamline the process for the first couple (ok, like 6) weeks.

I mentioned in a previous post about my post partum anxiety and breast feeding/pumping was definitely a contributing factor. I didn’t have supply issues but I think the hormones/exhaustion added to my anxiety. In the NICU I was allowed to try to nurse for a few minutes after every other bottle feeding. We then worked up to trying nursing for 5-10 minutes before bottle feeding. Once we got home, we had good weeks and bad weeks trying to incorporate our nursing attempts into our routine. I used a nipple shield as an aid and that worked really well but weaning him off of it was tough. Somewhere along the line, I don’t even know when, things “clicked”. I could nurse him for an entire feeding without the nipple shield. I had a better sense of my supply/demand (hard to coordinate while pumping). Then I got brave enough to try nursing in public once I knew he could reliably latch and feed without getting distracted.

I built up a huge freezer stash and then promptly shipped most of it off to my sister’s close friend who had pneumonia and was on antibiotics and couldn’t nurse (and her kiddo was refusing formula). I was happy to do it and would do it again in a heart beat. I built up my stash a bit more but then took some “mommy time” and was happy to have some milk to cover while I was gone for a couple days. James can flip between breast milk and formula without much issue so it’s a nice (expensive) back up for when my supply ebbs and flows.

I know so many women who have struggled with breast feeding so I wanted to share “our journey”. We are in a great place now but it has taken a lot of work. I don’t regret deciding to breast feed but I also have no judgement for women who can’t or who give it up. I have pumped on a boat in the middle of the ocean, in a moving car a couple times, parking lots, at every hour of the day and night, and even fallen asleep pumping (brother-in-law had to wake me up). When you forget to put breast pads in and you wake up in a puddle of milk. Bringing a cooler just about EVERYWHERE you go. Traveling with a little 5# pump anytime you are out of the house for more than a couple hours.

Feeding my baby while walking through Dinosaur World, sweating my ass off but feeling super bad ass. 

I have decided to try and reach the magical 1 year mark of breast feeding. Which means I will try to pump and dump while we are in Greece next month (James will turn 11mo while we are gone). I am down to pumping 1-3x a day (depending on how much I nurse) so I am going to try for 2x/day while on vacation. I realize there is a good chance James won’t be interested in nursing when I get back (but I kind of think he’ll pick it back up just fine – he’s a boob>bottle man). There is the issue of electricity conversion so I might be stuck with hand pumping (ugh) in order to not kill my Medela pump. Wish me luck!

2017 – let’s do this!

It’s January (and my Christmas tree is still up) so therefore I can still declare my new years resolutions…fair?!?

2016 in review

  • I gave birth to James Thomas in March and mommy-hood is AMAZING but exhausting.
  • We bought our first house and it’s single family, unattached and we LOVE IT
  • I went diving 2x….slowly making a return
  • Celebrated 6 years of marriage and our babymoon at Duck Beach

New years resolutions –

I have one big one and it’s a daily challenge but so far 3 weeks in i’m doing pretty well – “Live a simpler life”. Michael is an aggressive saver which I am terrible at but I want to support him. We have a lot of new expenses with daycare, new home mortgage, student loans, etc….there isn’t a lot of room for a lot of extras. I also want to be less material, I sometimes feel buried in “stuff” and although I’m a sucker for cute workout clothes, new gadgets, decorations, toys, etc….I’d much rather save some pennies and go on a cool trip. Experiences over material objects. Obviously, I’m not going to deprive James of the occasional new toy or cute outfit but I want to be less impulsive. I am a pro at online shopping, I love to get packages, I used to have my CC memorized but i’m trying to be good. We have some grand plans and eventually want another kid (or two) and want to be smart with our future. So, buy less, enjoy what we have and spend our money on memories and not material objects.

Return to blogging – ok, so 2016….wow, what a year! I put blogging on a back burner (5 posts in a year is officially considered a hiatus) to try and soak up as much as possible. Frankly, at the end of the day, after work, dinner prep, dishes, pumping, laundry – if I was lucky a workout – I just wanted to check out (and/or check instagram) and either sleep or zone in front of a 30 minute TV show. I’m slowly getting back on top of things and returning to blogging is high on the list cause I miss it! So, I changed up the layout a little, refreshed some pages and have some posts lined up.

Regain a fitness/healthy eating routine – it’s a constant battle for me and so I want to set my intentions to be more mindful, make less excuses and be the best me possible.

So, there you have it – 2017 – let’s do this!

Celebrating 6 months of mommyhood

Wow, I have a 6 month old!

I might be one of the few people who thinks that:

“Damn, it really has felt like 6 months”…as opposed to, where did the time go? and “I absolutely love seeing James grow up and learn new skills”…as opposed to, I wish he would stay this tiny forever.

Sure, there are times where weeks/months fly by but I really do love seeing him develop. I get a little nostalgic when I put away the tiny baby clothes and pull out bigger ones but seeing him learn new skills on the regular is just so fun! Starting at just 4lbs 4oz, every pound gained is a victory in our books so growth (of the fat belly, wrist roll and hair variety) is celebrated.


img_0012I dream (in few hour increments) of the days that I will be able to sleep through the night again and actually think clearly without an IV drip of black coffee. That being said, even though it’s painful, there is something I love about nursing my baby in his pitch black nursery at 3am. Considering he’s been pretty ho hum about food his entire life, if he wants to wake up and eat in the middle of the night, i’m not going to deny him that…well at least for a few more months and then i’m cutting him off 😉



I am slowly incorporating “me time” back into my life with the help of my amazingly supportive husband who gets excited for “boy time” if I go away for a run/coffee date or a long weekend. Scuba diving was one of the biggest things that I wanted to bring back into my life, I missed it so much. I had one ~48hr baby-free-cation trek to the coast for 1 (supposed to be 2) days of diving. Next week, I am going away for ~4 days to attend Oiselle Bird Camp in Boone, NC. 3ish days of running, yoga, hiking, girl talk, eating, coffee, etc and I am SOOO excited. I never really did camp as a kid with the exception of girl scout overnights so this will be fun. I am going to miss my boys terribly but I know it’ll be good for Michael to get some one-on-one time and for me to get some “me time”.


Finding my smile…again :)

Only a handful of people know this but I experienced (suffered sounds like a terrible word) post partum anxiety – a pesky little brother of PPD. I was not depressed and was actually incredibly happy but I was an emotional basket case, anxious all the time, crying for no reason, just hormones out the wazoo after James was born.


I felt a little bit like a walking cliché.  In 2015 we moved back “home”, got pregnant (not easily but still) then in 2016 we had a baby and bought house….one big happy perfect family! So, in an effort of full disclosure I am truly SO, SO happy and I’m kind of in awe that everything is falling into place. I absolutely love my little family, our beautiful house and the life we live. However I will admit that it has not been easy. I am thankful for an amazing supportive husband, a family that will do just about anything to help us out and a wonderful community that has kept me sane.

Admitting to myself that my hormones were all out of whack and calling my Obgyn was one of the hardest things i’ve ever done. Realizing that you have anything in the PPD spectrum is hard, they label you as having a “mental health disorder” and although it is nothing to be ashamed of it and it quite common, it feels super shitty.  James is a great baby but since he started small, he came with a bit more stress than the usual amount of newborn stress. Add in the pressures of house hunting and starting back to work and all the logistics of keeping a small human alive (pumping, bottle feeding (read: force feeding), endless dishes, dr appointments, etc), it all took a toll. I finally went to my doctor and talk to her about postpartum ‘whatever you want to call it’. I don’t want to call it depression because I was/am truly happy and I love my baby and I love my life. I’m calling it postpartum anxiety and it felt out-of-control. I could feel my blood pressure rising at the littlest thing (a very strange feeling), I would cry at the drop of a hat and I was just uncomfortable in my own body. I didn’t feel like I had control of my emotions and I felt like hormones were flooding my body. I made the decision that I needed to take something to help control my anxiety. I have never had any trouble with anxiety before and I knew it had to be associated with post partum hormones and big life changes. Since I strive to be fairly transparent and authentic I didn’t want all my pictures of my beautiful baby to cloud everyone’s perception of my beautiful life. Nobody’s perfect and I certainly am not. I say this because going and talking to my doctor was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Admitting that you are somewhat mentally unstable is not easy to do as an adult. I was reassured that everything was completely normal and that this is actually a lot more common. Similar to miscarriage and infertility nobody likes to talk about it – it’s taboo. Nobody wants to advertise “this my adorable perfect family….oh with a side of Prozac”. The hormones associated with breast-feeding and raising a child and loving something so unconditionally totally caught off guard. You feel powerful and powerless at the same time. It took me a while to be able to talk about it (seriously, this post has been in my drafts for like 3 months) but I’m happy to share my story if you can help others out. Because damn, raising a child is one the most exciting, terrifying and humbling experiences of my entire life (thus far).

*I am happy to report that after ~3 months of “treatment” I am feeling much better and feel like my old self again 🙂 🙂 🙂


I miss blogging….

When I started this little blog back March of 2012, I thought it would be a little phase but here I am 4.5 years later and although I don’t post often, I still love my little space on the internet.

So much has happened since a little tiny human entered our world *almost* 6 months ago. He completely flipped our world upside down and has brought so much happiness and joy into our lives. We are completely smitten and Michael and I often fight over who gets to snuggle him :0). I wanted to blog about navigating first time motherhood but I didn’t want to take away any time with my little one and frankly, after he was asleep, sitting down at the computer was the LAST thing I wanted to or needed to do. Throw in house hunting, a big move, unpacking, full time job, dishes, bottles, pumping, keeping a tiny human alive and a house in order and well blogging got put on a back burner (or more likely stuffed on that top shelf in the cabinet that you have to get a stool to reach and dust off). Now that our house is mostly unpacked and we have a routine (or whatever semblance of a routine one can have with a child) down I feel like I am coming back to reality a bit.

I am now back to running 3x/week, getting almost an uninterrupted night of sleep (down to 1x/night feeding), working full time, scuba diving and starting to feel like my old self again and part of that is expressing myself through writing so I am super happy to be back. Thanks for your patience and get ready for baby photo OVERLOAD!


Happy Mother’s Day


I stood in the aisle looking at Mother’s Day cards and realized that there was no Hallmark card suitable to honor/celebrate/thank my mother on May 8th. 


My mom has filled numerous shoes over the past few weeks – mom, grandmom, friend, lunch buddy, shopping companion, personal driver, dish washer, chef, maid, babysitter, therapist. As I officially became a mom, she was right there with me. The job never ends…even as a fully functioning, married, and (mostly) self-capable woman, there are times when I just need my “mommy”.  After a very stressful day in the NICU I had a moment where I just broke down and needed my mom to sit with me while I cried. It has truly been a blessing to have a mother who can literally move in and help us out because as it turns out, keeping a tiny human alive, a house in some semblance of order and food on the table (err couch) takes a village! 
IMG_9394 (1)

I am so glad I was able to give my mother another grandson. She is a natural and she just lights up when she holds James – even at 4am when we are both half mostly asleep. I will always look back at these first few weeks that we got to spend together as a unique time in all of our lives. Grandmothers are super special and I know both of my parents treasure this special time in their lives where they get to spoil rotten their 4 grandkids. They might be retired from their full time jobs but their second career as kick-ass grandparents certainly keeps them busy and fulfilled.

So thank you, from the bottom of my heart for everything you’ve done over the last 8 weeks and most importantly, for teaching me how to be a mother by being the best example possible. XOXO