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The big 'U' and the power of two

Ultrasounds. Scientifically speaking, they’re a procedure in which sound waves are passed into the human body to produce a reflection signature, which can reveal details about the inner structure. In pregnancy, they’re handy for revealing major physical abnormalities in the fetus or potential complications for the mother. On a personal level, it’s really just a chance for the doting parents to catch a glimpse of their new baby.

So while the big ultrasound, which typically happens around 20 weeks gestation, is mostly about the baby, it’s also about you — the woman. Or, the other you — the dad. Seeing that little baby squirming around makes the pregnancy more “real,” especially for the other half who’s not smuggling a honeydew melon everywhere they go. It’s also about reassurance. Regardless of how much running or physical activity my body yearns for, the first priority is absolutely always my baby. For me the ultrasound reaffirmed what I already knew: My active lifestyle is helping, not hindering, the progress of my pregnancy and that of my child. My level of amniotic fluid was perfectly normal, my cervix closed tightly and the baby “extremely active,” according to the sonographer conducting the procedure.

So, like any proud parent, I sent those grainy, black and white images out to friends and family. Then, I went for a run.

I’m easy to spot when out for a jog. No, it’s not always the belly. It’s the circus-like production — a.k.a. the family outing. This includes, but is not limited to the following: Dog, leash, bright red toddler-toting jogger, snacks, beverages, rain shield, random toy or book, cell phone and, of course, me. I often hear from friends or neighbors the next day.

“I saw you running the other day,” they’ll say. “Wow, what a production.”

Yes, yes it is.

It has to be in order to keep everyone (mainly the toddler) happy and satisfied on any run lasting longer than 30 minutes.

But just yesterday I was struck with a horrifying revelation. My circus is doubling. The chaos now caused by one will soon be created by two. That light jogger, which glides silently down the pavement like a Prius, will more closely resemble a Hummer. Seriously. Switching to a two-seat jogger, the only solution to sanely running with two children, seems like upgrading from a compact to an extended-cab semi truck. But, I’ve convinced my husband that we need one. He travels for work, and I refuse to be stuck in the house all day without a means of escape. Sure, I could tote the baby and walk with the toddler, but like I’ve said before: I’m a runner and it keeps me sane.

It gets more complicated with two, my mother told me when I first spoke of having another child. But after talking to friends, who are also currently pregnant with their second child, I’ve come to realize, it gets complicated as soon as you find out you’re pregnant again.

Susan Jabal, a friend and neighbor who works at the Juneau Family Health and Birth Center, shared her own challenges with finding the time to stay active in pregnancy, while also chasing after and caring for a toddler.

“I feel like the thing affecting me most this time around is the added challenge of already having a toddler,” she said. “(I have) less time to rest, exercise and eat well. In general, less chance to take really good care of myself.”

It’s true. Those things often get put on the back burner when a youngster is pulling at your pant leg.

But Jabal has managed to carve out slices of “me” time, regardless. She walks the dogs regularly or heads out for hikes on the trails near her home.

In fact, it’s the little things that can end up making a big difference. For instance, a walk around my neighborhood is roughly a mile. At a very leisurely pace, it takes between 15 to 20 minutes. If one mile was walked five times a week for the duration of a pregnancy (assuming it lasts the average 40 weeks), that woman will have covered 200 miles. Not too shabby, I’d say!

So, like Jabal, I’m going to keep tallying the miles.

This week’s trail of choice is the Salmon Creek Trail, which is a wide trail that begins behind the hospital and follows Salmon Creek up the valley. It’s a trail that begins with a bang; a steep incline that lasts about 10 minutes. It’s a good way to get the heart pumping as a warm-up, before the trail flattens into a gently rolling swath of rarely used road with views of the creek below, old growth forests and a flooded creek bed filled with artistic snags. This time of year, I usually turn around once I reach the upper, decommissioned powerhouse. Here, the trail veers left into the trees to climb toward the dam and Salmon Creek Reservoir. But in the summer, I head up the single track trail which is a steady climb studded with roots, rocks and a bit of boardwalk. During a dry spell the slime isn’t typically a problem and the views from the top are quite spectacular. The dam itself was an engineering marvel of its time. When it was built in 1914, it became the world’s first constant-angle arch variable radius dam and was constructed by the Alaska-Gastineau Mining Company to generate power for the Sheep Creek Mines. Certainly, the mines are gone, but the dam continues to be fully functional, supplying Juneau with drinking water and roughly 10 percent of its electrical needs. But this portion of the trail is one that I’d avoid after a few hard rains. A steep set of stairs perched precariously on the last climb to the reservoir are not for the faint of heart — nor for those in trimester two or three of pregnancy. The trail head can be accessed by travelling northbound on Egan and taking the first right after the end of the concrete wall and before the hospital turnoff. The parking area and trail head is located behind a set of Alaska Electric Light and Power buildings.

•••

  • Week-by-week
  • This week’s mileage: 25.45 miles.
  • Runs: 6.
  • Pregnancy stage: 20 weeks.
  • Trail of choice: Salmon Creek Trail (Length: 3.5 miles round trip to the end of the road).


Remember, everyone is different. Make sure to check with your doctor or midwife before beginning an exercise program.

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