Twin FAQs

Q: Are you having identical or fraternal twins?

This was one of our first questions too, and it is surprisingly difficult to answer. Since we only discovered there were two babies at 20 weeks, apparently we will never be totally sure unless we have a DNA test done on the babies after they are born.

What we do know is that the babies each have their own amniotic sac and what appears to be one fused placenta. This means they are likely fraternal (dizygotic), or formed from two fertilized eggs. This is the most common kind of twin pregnancy. We are happy with this news because it generally lessens the risks associated with being pregnant with multiples.

Identical twins (monozygotic), who form from one fertilized egg that splits, generally grow in one sac and share a placenta. This can lead to risks such as Twin to Twin Transfusion. But identical twins can sometimes have their own sacs and placentas if they separate in the very early days of conception.

Clear as mud? Suffice it to say, we think they are probably fraternal, but we are not totally sure!

Q: Do twins run in your family?

Twins are all throughout Mark’s family tree. Mark’s siblings are twins, his mother is one of two sets of twins in her family, and his cousins are twins. In my family, twins are a less frequent: I have second cousins who are twins, but that’s about it.

Fraternal twins can run in families, and identical twins don’t.

This is because fraternal twins come from “hyper-ovulation,” or the release of more than one egg in a cycle, which is a trait that can only be passed down from the mother’s family. So even though the twin gene runs strong in Mark’s family, it has no link to our pregnancy!

Hyper-ovulation can also be caused by advancing maternal age, and I am 34 years old. It can also just be a random occurrence!

Put simply, we won the baby lottery, because the chances of having twins are 1 in 67. How lucky are we?

 

The biggest shock of my life

The night before my first ultrasound for this pregnancy, I was sitting in my rocking chair in the dark, just after putting Silas to bed. It was Mother’s Day, and I was reflecting on the new life growing in my belly. I was about halfway through the pregnancy at 19.5 weeks and had been feeling flutters for about a week and a half. I put my hand on my belly, which had really “popped” in the previous week, and felt so much movement. It was everywhere, from high up on my belly to my pelvic bone. How could this be? The baby was so small. Either this baby can move fast or… could it be? Twins? The thought was terrifying to me, and I quickly put it out of my mind.

The following morning, as we headed out the door for the ultrasound, I mentioned to Mark how I had the strangest feeling there could be twins. “No way,” he said, and we both laughed, as we buckled Silas in his car seat. Because that would be crazy.

Silas and Mark waited outside while the ultrasound tech took measurements of our little baby. We were so excited to find out the sex, and she suggested letting them wait outside before the big reveal. Time ticked by in the dark, quiet room and she moved the wand around my little bulging belly (to me at that point, it looked lopsided, which I thought was kind of funny). I felt very relaxed and let the tech do her thing. At one point she said, “I don’t want you to worry, I am just taking a while to get all the measurements.” I wasn’t worried at all. In fact, I was glad she was taking her time, because I know these ultrasounds are so important to finding any defects as early as possible. My mother’s instinct told me everything was fine.

Finally, she peeked at me over her glasses. “I have something to tell you,” she said, with a little smirk.

I gasped and looked at her eyes. “You do?” And I knew exactly what she was going to say.

“There are two.”

I threw my head back on the pillow and put my hand over my eyes. “Oh my God, oh my God.” I was crying. I could not believe it. She reassured me that everything looked great. But there were definitely two. “Congratulations,” she said. She turned the screen so I could look.

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My mind started racing and all I could think about was: How am I going to do this? Having one newborn is challenging enough – but two?

And, to make life that much more interesting, I had only accepted a new job offer – pregnancy and all – the previous week. Now, I would be going into a new role pregnant with twins. And, returning to work next year as a mother to three young kids. Three children! Something I never once in a million years imagined. HOW AM I GOING TO DO THIS?

These fears raced through my mind. It was combined with amazement and joy, for sure. But the fear was gripping.

The tech went to go get Mark and Silas. I was lying on the bed with tears streaming down my face, and I was smiling. But I must have looked scared.

“Everything is OK I said,” I said, sniffling. “But there are two babies!”

Silas was studying me carefully and stuck close to Mark. He knew mom was a little off her rocker.

I was ready for Mark to turn white and pass out on the ground. But he smiled, looked at the tech for confirmation that I wasn’t joking, and touched my arm. “That’s wonderful news.”

He was so genuine, and it was just what I needed to hear.

It truly was wonderful news. It’s a miracle! And most certainly the biggest shock and surprise we have ever received.

The tech then asked if we wanted to find out the sex. We did, and she showed us. Two boys! We were going to be the parents of three little boys. That made it seem even more real.

Yes, we suddenly had a million things to figure out: Is our house big enough? Do we need a new car? How will this affect my new job? What does this mean for the pregnancy and childbirth? And how in the world do you breastfeed and care for two newborns?

But just a few years after deciding to have children, we suddenly found ourselves a soon-to-be family of five.

Life is crazy, and amazing, and so full of surprises.

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20 weeks pregnant with twins – May 17, 2017

Opening doors for women in a world of ‘subtle’ sexism

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Saint John lawyer Nathalie Godbout was pregnant with her eldest child, now 10, when she was the incoming chairwoman of the Saint John Board of Trade — the third woman to hold the post in an organization that turns 150 this year.

I can remember back then, the most popular question was ‘How are you going to do this?’” says Godbout who, at the time, was also a new partner with Lawson Creamer.

How does anybody do it? There are two parents in our household, not just one,” says Godbout, who recently opened her own boutique firm with colleague Cathy Fawcett in a stunning historic building on Hazen Street that pre-dates the Great Fire of 1877.

They’re looking at you with some curiosity, but also with this profound concern — as if what you’re about to do is impossible.

Godbout, now 47, not only “did it” with her first baby -= going back to work three weeks after she was born — but again three years later with her second child, nursing each for a full year while managing her busy practice, and while her husband, Jim Lawlor, cared for their daughters. Her career has flourished as she built a reputation as a discreet and capable malpractice defence lawyer. She received the prestigious Queen’s Counsel, or Q.C. designation and a YMCA Women of Distinction Award last year.

And, on May 12, she is set to receive the Muriel Corkery-Ryan Q.C. Award, which recognizes an exceptional person who has taken risks, fostered change and ultimately opened doors for female lawyers. The award, presented by the Canadian Bar Association’s New Brunswick branch, will be presented at a conference on embracing change and overcoming obstacles at the Hilton Hotel.

For Godbout, the path has not always been smooth, and while she says she has it easier than female lawyers did 50 years ago, she has experienced a subtle form of sexism faced by many professional women today.

For example, while meeting with colleagues, a bid to attract new clients may be met with skepticism by her peers, while the man sitting next to her would get full support for another pitch.

It’s subtle. You can’t put your finger on it,” she says, seated at a long table in what feels more like a dining room than a law office. “They don’t say it. It’s resistance, it’s skepticism. It’s almost as if you’re being indulged when your track record and book of business would invite none of that.

Even as more female lawyers enter the profession, they are more likely to leave it within their first 10 years for many reasons, Godbout says.

To make your way, you have to be exceptional. It has to be harder for them to do without you, than without you.

For women — and not only lawyers — who choose to have children, it may be more difficult to get a job, keep your job, or it’s seen as a burden on an employer, she says.

It’s born of a time that we are not supposed to be living in anymore,” Godbout says. “Those old norms still exist, whether or not people want to admit it — I’m convinced of it — so I think sometimes the only way to change it is to reinvent it.

That’s what led in part to the birth of her firm, which opened its doors last December. It’s a place where lawyers and staff find a balance that results in what they say is great client service and a lifestyle that meets their needs as professionals as well as their families at home.

After years of mentoring and meeting with young female lawyers — often in places well “off the grid” — where Godbout would offer her advice, she now aims to model how a modern practice led by two women in the Maritimes can look and feel.

Cathy and I will tell you some of the best law briefs we’ve written, we started after 9 p.m.,” she says. “As lawyers, you’re just as productive if not more so than any of our peers. The work was getting done and didn’t have to be done in a traditional way. That fluidity and flexibility is a huge piece of what we do here.

And the “proof is in the pudding,” Godbout says. A comparison of hours and productivity against other firms demonstrates they are measuring up “in spades.

This new generation of lawyers is looking for that flexibility, trust and accountability.

Godbout, the third of four children growing up in Grand Falls, remembers being the kid who was sent in to negotiate a deal with the adults, what she now practises as “interest-based negotiations.

loved it – I thrived in that environment,” says Godbout, who moved as a teen with her family to Saint John, and attended St. Thomas University for an arts degree before pursuing law at the University of New Brunswick. “Everybody would be happy with the final decision, whatever it was. That’s always been my personality.

Godbout articled at Stewart McKelvey in Saint John before joining Gilbert McGloan Gillis for 12 years, six of those as partner. When she “parachuted” into Lawson Creamer as a partner, she was six months pregnant, she says. The team was “tremendously supportive” over her decade at the firm.

The move to open Godbout Fawcett was the dream she never knew she had, she says, resulting in a design that “feels better” than a traditional law firm.

Along with her advocacy for female lawyers, Godbout has also become a voice for those facing domestic violence after overhearing abuse in a hotel and writing a poignant editorial in the Telegraph-Journal last year. The story, addressed to the “Woman in Room 805,” went viral, leading to a flood of messages from women who have reached out to her to say, after reading her piece, they had the courage to get out. To this day, she is still haunted by what she heard and hopes the woman in the room is OK.

An entire demographic now knows there is someone who can hear them on the other side of the door, and doesn’t know what to do, and is profoundly worried about them – I think a lot of them have felt for a very long time that nobody cared,” she says.

That seems to be the mantle I’m wearing now because so many of these individuals are saying to me: ‘You saved my life. I got out.’ It allowed them to see there are people to help if they committed to leaving. I’m very grateful.

As appeared in the Telegraph-Journal May 12, 2017.

100 Women Who Care started with two

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Kelly Patterson and Debbie Rathwell started the Saint John chapter of 100 Women Who Care. Photo by April Cunningham

They met through figure skating and both parted ways in their teens when their families moved to different parts of Canada, but Debbie Rathwell and Kelly Patterson would cross paths again.

It wasn’t until years later, when they had both returned to Greater Saint John, built their respective careers and were looking for something more.

Rathwell, who runs her own corporate event planning business, Red, was at a tourism conference in Fredericton in 2013 when, at the tail end of a presentation about LinkedIn, a Halifax businesswoman dropped an idea that got Rathwell’s adrenaline rushing.

“She had just started the first chapter of 100 Women Who Care in Halifax, which was the first chapter in Atlantic Canada,” says Rathwell in an interview alongside Patterson in Java Moose in Rothesay.

“She started telling this story. To me it was captivating and it went straight to my heart and to my all my senses that said, ‘This is the most sensible, efficient way to give back.’ And it just resonated with me. I thought, I’ve got to do this. I’ve got to take this back to my community.”

On the drive back to Saint John, Rathwell knew she wanted to set up Saint John’s own chapter of 100 Women Who Care — an organization that collects donations of $100 from each member for a selected charity four times a year — but she didn’t want to do it alone. That’s when she thought of Patterson.

The women had always been friends but their lives had “taken different turns,” Rathwell says, and she knew it was time to reconnect and do something big.

“I always admired Kelly and she always was a great mentor, so I reached out to her,” she says.  “The rest is history. Kelly said yes and off we went.”

Now the Saint John chapter of 100 Women Who Care is approaching its fourth anniversary, having raised more than $388,000 over 16 meetings. There are nearly 240 members and “nobody shirks their responsibility.”

That means showing up with a chequebook at the Hatheway Pavilion at Lily Lake on a quarterly basis, ready and willing to give.

Each member, who is expected to contribute for at least one year, nominates a charity and each meeting, three charities are randomly selected to present. After the charity gives a five-minute talk “from the heart” without the use of audio/visual aids, members vote on their non-profit group of choice. The charity with the most votes receives all of the donations — allowing members to make one big, meaningful contribution.

Leading up to its first meeting in 2013, the group had 50 registrations within the first 48 hours, and 120 people showed up to the inaugural gathering.

“It was just magic,” Rathwell says. “The fire had been lit under all these women in Greater Saint John.”

At the last meeting in February, officials with the cash-strapped Cherry Brook Zoo took home a giant cheque for $21,500. Other previous recipients include the Sophia Recovery Centre, Sistema NB Saint John Centre, Outflow Ministries’ Men’s Shelter and The ONE Change Inc.

“Often, when you give, you send your money somewhere but you don’t know 100 per cent where it goes,” Rathwell says.

“With 100 Women Who Care, you’re part of the entire process: listening to the story or pitch, voting and writing the cheque. Everyone in that audience was part of that. So you feel really connected to the donation and the whole cause.”

It’s also relatively effortless, she adds. The meetings are usually less than an hour, and unlike many fundraisers, there are not tickets to sell or silent auction items to collect.

At the next meeting in June, zoo officials will be expected to report back on how the donation has made a difference, which “completes the circle,” Patterson adds. All money raised is expected to stay local.

“Sometimes when you make a small donation to a charity, it can feel like a drop in the bucket,” she says. “These groups literally walk out with a fist full of cheques — it’s the coolest thing to see. It’s enough money to get a project off the ground and you can do something right out of the gate, rather than having to wait for it to trickle in $50 at a time.”

The immediate impact of the donation works for donors as well, and while some members drop off over time, there isn’t a meeting without new recruits.

“All you need to do is read the news to see how much need there is,” Patterson says. “Saint John is going through a really rough patch.” The stories can pull on the heartstrings, but it may not always be obvious how to give, and busy people may not always get around to it. For those who are able to commit to the $100 donation, four times a year, 100 Women Who Care just makes sense.

As the organization has developed over the years, Patterson and Rathwell have been able to lend their support to other groups in the Maritimes trying to get off the ground, including 100 Men Who Care Saint John, which is no longer in operation.

“At its root, we’re both in sales,” says Patterson, who is a stock broker and partner with Buckley Patterson Shaw Securities. Dealing with the public and not being afraid to ask for help is probably key to the group’s success and relative longevity, she says.

“We’re also genuinely caring and respecting people,” says Rathwell, “whether it’s in the business world or in our personal world. Kelly and I both have a high respect and regard for other people — men or women — and we care.”

And it’s contagious. When the Pavilion at Lily Lake, a non-profit, notified the group they would have to increase the cost of the rental space, Patterson and Rathwell put the issue to the membership. They asked if the cost should come out of the recipient donations or whether extra donations should be collected each meeting.

Instead, so many individuals and businesses stepped up to pay the entire cost of each meeting room rental, they had to put all the names in a hat.

“The next several years are covered,” Patterson says with a smile.

“So many people are proud to say they’re apart of this,” Rathwell says. “From the beginning, we hit the ground running — and we’re not stopping anytime soon.”

As appeared in the Telegraph-Journal March 27, 2017.

Self-made entrepreneur bringing vibrancy to uptown

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Keith Brideau, founder of Historica Developments, expects his company to grow “exponentially.” Photo by April Cunningham

As appeared in the Telegraph-Journal, March 6, 2017

Life wasn’t always easy growing up in Saint John’s north end, but for uptown property developer Keith Brideau, it was where he honed a competitive spirit and the drive to succeed.

I always felt like I could do better if I worked harder,” he says in his bustling Princess Street office, pausing to sign a cheque and direct a worker to the renovated Bustin’s apartments where new tenants are moving in. “I just didn’t want to be an average person.

Brideau’s father, who was in construction and his mother, a former Crosby’s molasses factory worker, always did their best to provide for their children – once selling the family car to buy Christmas presents. It was that sacrifice and generosity that made him feel “obligated” to do well.

That drive started from a young age, says Brideau, 36, who co-founded Historica Developments with a silent investor from Alberta almost 10 years ago, a company that has grown “exponentially” in recent years, helping to reshape the city’s uptown core.

Growing up on the Boulevard and later the old north end, Brideau played sports, including baseball, karate, badminton, and spent a lot of time in community centres.”

My parents were really good at keeping me off the streets.

Brideau soon realized he had the same desire to keep up with kids in the classroom and he started to excel academically, named student of the year in Grade 6.

I always paid attention to people who did well,” he says, although he often had to look beyond his immediate family for mentors. While his family worked hard and had “street smarts,” neither one of his parents finished high school.

The first family member on either side of his family to attend university, Brideau attended the University of New Brunswick, graduating with an electrical engineering degree as well as a technology, management and entrepreneurship diploma in 2003. He was soon hired by Deloitte in risk management and information technology consulting – a role that would allow him to travel across Atlantic Canada.

Meanwhile, Brideau knew he didn’t want to pay someone else’s mortgage, so he made his first leap into real estate. He and his former girlfriend bought a run-down townhouse on Highmeadow Drive for $54,000. They put a few thousand dollars into the property and flipped it for a $10,000 profit.

I enjoyed the process of taking an old townhouse that needed some work, and investing some money, some sweat equity, and turning it around and making it into a place you could feel proud of,” he says. “It got me hooked on real estate.

All while still working and travelling for Deloitte, Brideau immersed himself in the world of real estate, learning about inspections, markets and construction. He also learned to leverage the bank’s money to make a bigger profit. From the Highmeadow Drive house, Brideau next bought a duplex, followed by a three-unit and a six-unit complex with friends. His hunger for development continued.

At one point, Deloitte assigned Brideau to work for a bank in Toronto. He was set up to live in a downtown condominium, complete with a rooftop patio with a view of the CN Tower.

Guys with TV shows and CEOs of big companies who would pull up to the front door in Ferraris, then there’s me from Saint John’s north end,” he says.

What I realized is there was an amazing quality of life we just didn’t have in New Brunswick – I had never seen anything like it.

Brideau knew Saint John was poised for growth, and that there was potential to build a more high-end urban lifestyle. But with limited financial resources, he wasn’t sure how he could tackle it on his own.

One day, Brideau met a man in his Toronto condo’s rooftop hot tub. They struck up a conversation about their backgrounds, and the man said he helped build sports complexes and arenas. Brideau was in awe, and asked him how.

I partnered with people who had more money than I did,” said the man, who turned out to be Gary Green, a former Washington Capitals coach. For Brideau, it was like a light bulb went off.

It wasn’t long before he left the job at Deloitte in 2007 to start his own venture with his brother and a friend.

That first attempt, Home Improvers, did renovations, garages, windows and siding. It also flipped one house with limited success, he says.

You don’t really know what you’re getting yourself into from a business perspective until you jump in the deep end – sink or swim,” Brideau says.

At that time, he started looking for investors to grow bigger. While Brideau had always looked to Kijiji and other for-sale-by-owner sites for the best real estate deals, he started thinking it would also be his key to finding a potential investor.

He got his girlfriend to help him post an ad across the country: “Attention major investors: I’m going to tell you now what you wish you would have heard five years from now had I not told you today.” He laid out the city’s potential for major growth with an energy boom on the horizon, and his own experience in flipping properties.

Brideau’s phone started ringing almost immediately.

I had so many people calling me I had to keep a spreadsheet of all the conversations,” he says.

One woman in particular from Alberta had done her homework. She asked for references and a couple weeks later, came with her husband for a tour of Saint John. Brideau convinced them to invest.

We became business partners and set up a model where they would invest a bunch of money and I would earn my ownership,” he says. Historica Development was born.

They started with 55 Canterbury St., the old Aberdeen Hotel, merging hotel rooms to create 15 apartments, with lower level offices and restaurants. From there, they moved to a number of other heritage buildings in the uptown area.

For the former Bustin’s furniture building that spans from Germain to Canterbury along Grannan Lane, they brought on more investors, including partners from Saint John and Alberta. The building is now home to restaurants, a comedy club, a gallery and a pub with new apartments on the upper floors.

We’re growing the business now exponentially and in order to grow at that point, you need to bring on more partners.

The company is about to complete the Bustin’s portfolio in the next month or two, then plans to close on more properties. Brideau’s goal is to do three times as much work in the next 10 years as he has completed over the past decade, and he hasn’t ruled out moving beyond Saint John.

He says the uptown investments “make sense” for the Historica partners because they represent low-risk potential. The real estate is cheap, Brideau does the bulk of the work in an environment he understands, and they end up with assets that pay for themselves. Saint John doesn’t have the peaks and valleys of other cities, and the difficulties with renovated historic buildings tend to keep the competition away.

It takes someone like me who has the experience from the ground up to be able to turn these buildings around and bring them to life,” says Brideau, who works alongside his wife Margot Brideau. They have two daughters.

It also takes mental strength, he says, adding some projects feel like a “nightmare” in the thick of it.

But you know what they say, if you’re going to go through hell, you’ve got to keep going. I keep a thick skin because the problems turning these old buildings around and having them meet today’s code – all that difficulty creates opportunity.

© April Cunningham

The Farm Family Grows

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Connie Clark reading her new children’s book to her great-nieces, Joy and Claire Cunningham, in the same kitchen she grew up in.

It’s next to impossible for my aunt, Connie Clark, to have a conversation with her 85-year-old mother without reminiscing about farm life on Ontario’s Bruce Peninsula.  

Whether it was dragging eight kids out to a dirt field to pick stones before spring planting, another cow breaking a fence, the smell of freshly baked bread wafting through their country kitchen, or the little hands that carried splashing pails of sap through the bush during maple syrup season, the memories are nearly endless, Clark says.

“I don’t know how I did it with all eight of you kids,” her mother, Hester Cunningham, always says.

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Hester Cunningham

One day, after a long chat with her mom, Clark, an early childhood educator in Lions Head, Ont., started writing down some of those memories.

“It was a dark Saturday morning, the hydro was off, and I was still in my housecoat,” says Clark, a mother of three and grandmother of six. “I just started putting together some rhymes. Within about 20 minutes, I had written a little ditty.”

That ditty is now in the form of her first children’s book: The Farm Family Grows, with illustrations by artist Stuart Burgess.

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Printed locally by the Tobermory Press, the self-published book came off the presses just in time for Cunningham’s 85th birthday in December. Clark was also able to present the book as a gift to her seven siblings, their children and grandchildren — a family that has now grown to include 96 people.

“I was just so thrilled,” she says. “I wanted to give the book to my family before it was released publicly because it was about them, for them.”

The book turned out to be one of the most special Christmas gifts ever, bringing tears to the eyes of her siblings and joy to the faces of her many young great-nieces and nephews.

“I wanted to make it fun and light, but it still moves me when I read it to the children, because every page I turn to I feel like I could tell them a story.”

The counting book starts out with a pair in love, Hester and Tom Cunningham, who died in 2008. The rhythmic story follows the growth of their family from one to eight children, and the farming adventures they experience along the way.  

“They raised pigs and cows, and tapped maple trees. Along came Jimmy, to make a family of three,” the story reads.

Clark says one of many fond memories includes being a little girl, gathering sap out in the bush.

“I remember Dad — he was such a quiet, gentle man — he’d wink at you and get you to taste the sap. My feet were freezing and my hands were in wool mittens, it was cold but the sun was out and it was exciting,” Clark says. “I’d step into the snow and fall to my waist. I remember the smell of the old snowmobile, and as spring got closer, the ruts from the tractor driving through the mud.”

Clark says she always feels so blessed to have been raised in a rural setting, learning and growing while spending so much time outdoors. She hopes to pass on the same values to her own children and grandchildren.

Now she has the chance to share those fond memories with the next generation of kindergarten children in the classroom — the same cohort who gave her story a test run long before it went to print.

“I took it to school and used it as a counting activity,” she says. “I would read the story and pull out little Fisher-Price people every time I read the next verse and the farm family grew. The children were really involved — they loved it.”

Clark says after reading countless children’s books as part of her job, she always had ambitions of writing one herself. After getting the stamp of approval from her class, she eventually approached Burgess, who agreed to illustrate the book.

She later spoke to staff at the Tobermory Press, who helped her take the next step in making her dream a reality.

The book is now available at McKenzie’s Pharmacy in Wiarton and Peninsula Pharmacy in Lions Head. Copies are also available for order by contacting Clark at wcclark@amtelecom.net.

Not only is the story a personal one, but Clark believes it reflects an important part of rural Canada and its history — one that is slowly fading.

“I am very proud of my heritage,” she says. “We all can’t be farmers anymore and no one can make a living off a few hundred acres like my father did. It’s the true Canadian lifestyle we’re losing.”

Penned in 2012, Clark laughs the tale is already out of date.

“One by one, they expanded more and more. Now the family of 10 has reached 84!” the last page reads. Clark says that number has now reached 96 — all people who have roots in rural Ontario farm life.

“To anyone else, it’s a children’s book,” she says. “But to us, it’s a big piece of our lives.”

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The Cunningham family farm in Adamsville, Ont, where Hester and Tom raised their eight children, and where son Ron Cunningham (my dad) continues to farm with his sons today.

Trying to avoid the winter blahs

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It’s been a very long time since I have taken a moment for a little self-reflection. While this blog evolved over time to share my running journey — especially last year’s marathon — I have also used it more recently to share some of my writing and stories about others. But for those wondering what the heck April has been up to (is she even still running?), here it is.

Yes! Still running, just not as much, and for the first time in a long time, without any immediate goals. It’s actually quite liberating!

Instead of focusing on mileage or training plans, I have been trying to mix up my exercise with more cross training, yoga and strength training. Trying to become a less injury-prone runner for when I sign up for that next big race. While I didn’t suffer any injuries during the previous two half-marathons, my IT band was under duress during the marathon, and I certainly don’t want to go through that again.

I don’t think I ever shared my New Year’s goals on this blog, but they were to do yoga once a week, do strength 1-2x a week and read one book a month. So far I am more or less on track. Even if I don’t get to yoga or a strength class, YouTube to the rescue.

Our membership at the Saint John Y has certainly helped. It’s also been a blessing to keep Silas occupied (in child-minding) while I exercise after work. So far we have only attempted to do that one day a week, but it’s been awesome to get back into spinning!! I also try to go to Group Power (like Body Pump at Goodlife) on Saturday mornings, and on Sunday, Silas and I go to the early years open swim. It’s a beautiful facility and so perfect for this point in our lives.

"The Y? Can we go to the Y?" #startthemyoung #ymca #swimming #toddlerlife

A post shared by April Cunningham (@aprilacunningham) on

As far as running, my goal has been to aim for three runs a week. At first I was hoping for two short and one long, but realistically, they’ve all been short, “easy” runs. On the treadmill. I feel as though that, combined with the other stuff we’re doing is pretty reasonable. This week Silas and I even got out for a stroller run. Holy, it was tough! I’ve been used to #netflixandtreadmill!

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At this point my biggest challenge has been to stay motivated to eat healthily. Craving carbs and sugar, hard. Even fast food (ugh, I know). I always joke that I hope all my running and exercise cancel out my bad eating habits, but I know that only goes so far.

So as the mountains of snow slowly melt outside, I hope to stock my fridge with healthy snacks and get inspired with fresh, family-friendly recipes to carry us into the spring. No more blizzards, please.

Happy trails, everyone. Run on!