[#fitfam]

For the last 12 years or so, running has been my escape. When the day is rough or the week has made me want to scream, usually going on a quick run around the neighborhood will reset my mind.

My first “run” was down my parent’s street and back, probably a half mile altogether. Overtime, I’d increase the distance until eventually, years later, I’d run my first half marathon. My time was VERY modest, but it was a personal victory that showed me my body was capable of much more than I realized.

The last half of that sentence can also be said about pregnancy.

I remember when the doctor came in to let me know that, after 36 hours of labor, Harper wasn’t coming out naturally any time soon. She suggested a c-section, and my response was so chill that she gave me a sympathetic “oh girl, you have no idea what’s about to happen to you” pat on the shoulder as she wheeled me to the operating room. 30 minutes later, we had a healthy baby girl and I still hadn’t thought twice about the fact that they’d just sliced straight through all of my stomach muscles.

The reality of major surgery started to set in after my first run post-baby. Everything, and I mean everything, hurt. I’d essentially been reset all the way back to zero. The years I’d spent working towards being able to run long distance felt like it was for nothing.

Then, November of last year (2016), Jason accidentally lost 20 pounds. It’s accidental because one morning while we were getting ready for work, I looked over at him and said, “Did you lose weight?” He gave me a puzzled look and said, “Well, my shorts feel a little loose. Let me weigh myself.” Followed by, “Oh yea, looks like I lost 20 pounds.” *Cue me rolling my eyes so hard they fell out of my head.*

This was a really weird and exciting time in the Kleist household. We felt motivated. We decided to stop complaining about the things we didn’t like about ourselves, and do something about it.

In January, Jason committed to MyFitRX which is a really intense 60 day weight loss journey that combines taking supplements with a strict diet/daily workouts. Meal plans and workout schedules took over our life as we tried to manage that, plus our very active toddler. Did we get in a few fights? Yes, we absolutely did. Did Jason lose 30 more pounds? You bet he did! (That’s 50 total pounds in four months in case you’re bad at math).

Something else cool happened along the way though, we (both) started running.

In the eight years we’ve been together, I’d seen Jason run a handful of times. He’d resolved that it just wasn’t for him, so he tried to find workouts that he enjoyed. For awhile it was road biking, then racquetball, then an elliptical for a few days, but nothing really stuck.

After a month of daily workouts on the new diet, Jason told me he was going to go on a run to “switch things up.” Who was this much skinnier bearded man standing before me who said he was heading out for a run?

He ended up crushing a 5K that day, and I guess you can say the rest is history.

On Sunday, Jason will run his first 5k race and I’ll run my 3rd half marathon. We’ll cross the finish line at different times, but I can’t believe we’ll both cross the same finish line!

[Faith]

A week ago, I woke up on a Friday morning not knowing that the day would quickly turn into one of the worst days of my life.

Watching your baby go through firsts can be so life-giving. But there are other firsts that are heart-breaking and scary. Harper had a first this past week that we pray is also her last. All signs pointed to the flu. She was sick; she couldn’t keep anything down; she was weak and sleepy. But there were other things that weren’t lining up, she wasn’t running a fever; she had episodes of extreme pain, followed by complete lethargy. After 12 hours of this, we took her to the ER. They sent us home with anti-nausea meds and told us to wait it out. We met with her pediatrician the following morning, and she told us the same thing, it’s just the flu – wait it out.

Something didn’t feel right, but it’s hard to distinguish between parental paranoia and parental instinct.

In the afternoon, Harper had bloody stool and that’s when we knew it wasn’t the flu. We rushed to the ER again, and this time, we were met with answers. The doctor thought it was something called intussusception – a condition where the intestine telescopes in on itself. It’s serious and must be corrected quickly.

They ordered ultrasounds which confirmed the condition, and they decided to try an enema procedure to see if they could correct it without surgery. That didn’t work.

The only word that rang through my head this whole time was “helpless.” My baby girl was hurting; hurting so badly, and all I wanted to do was take the pain away. I would have done anything to trade places with her. But I couldn’t; there was truly nothing I could do.

The rest of the night gets blurry. Harper and I were transported via ambulance to Oakland where we met Jason. Immediately upon arrival, we were told the surgeon was on his way to meet us. This was the first we’d heard that sweet Harper was going to surgery. Within minutes, we met with the surgeon, were wheeled down to the operating room, and signed papers for the operation. Around 2am on a Sunday morning, Jason and I gave our full trust to someone else to save our daughter’s life.

It’s hard to write this because I’m processing it all still. As unreal as it sounds, I don’t think I realized the severity of what we were going through at the time. That’s probably for the best; I’m not sure I would have been able to handle it had I realized. Our baby girl had life-saving surgery that morning.

Nothing prepares you for parenthood. Nothing prepares you for the love you’ll have for a little human who can’t say words yet and only weighs 17lbs. Nothing prepares you for watching that tiny human be in pain, while being powerless to stop it.

Through it all though, we had hope. Yes, we felt helpless. Yes, we were terrified. Yes, we weren’t sure what was going to happen, but we did have hope that everything would be okay. As a matter of fact, I felt peace knowing that, eventually, everything would be okay.

We experienced the power of prayer and community during those five days. We were bombarded with texts and messages and phone calls. Our community was willing to do anything for us during that time. Without community, I’m not sure that Jason and I would have been able to have hope, or experience any peace.

God’s watching our little family. It’s more evident to me than ever before that He is our Provider and Redeemer. I know that His timing was perfect. He gave Jason and I the discernment and wisdom to know what to do. He made sure we met the right doctors and surgeons who could diagnose and operate on our girl. He gave us peace and hope, when those two things weren’t natural to feel.

This experience was not good, but my faith is stronger because of it. My family’s faith will be stronger because of it.

A Village

The day has been busy. From the moment our little family woke up, we’ve been playing and feeding and entertaining. When one trick stops working, we quickly move on to something else to make sure no one gets bored. We have appointments and meetings and diaper changes. Shoot, when was the last time we took the dog outside? The dishes have piled… someone has to do those. There are schedules and nap times and grocery shopping. Cooking, cleaning and dog walking. Your attention is here, now it’s there, and you’re just trying to keep the wheels turning. Just trying to make sure everyone is happy.

It’s fun. There’s always something going on. You never have the chance to say you’re bored because before you know it, the sun is setting and it’s time to wind the family down.

I’d never given much thought to me time. In premarital counseling they’d say “once you’re married, your time isn’t really your own anymore.” That’s not entirely true. It’s pretty easy to have me time when you’re married. If I want to go to the gym while I’m married, I’ll just let my husband know that I’m heading to the gym. The real deal comes with baby. Suddenly, I have to spend half my day planning for a quick trip to the gym, or a quick trip alone to go anywhere.

Before baby, I took me time for granted. If I wanted to go shopping, or hiking, or have coffee with a friend, the impact that decision would have on another person was minimal. Now, if I want to do anything without my baby, it has to directly impact someone else.

I wanted a clean house for Valentine’s Day a couple weeks ago. Jason does so much for our little family by way of cooking and cleaning, and I knew it would be nice for him to have a three-day weekend free of worrying about our messy little home. In theory, this seemed easy. Harper would hang out on her play mat with her mountain of toys while I mopped and vacuumed and scrubbed the counters. This works if you have a baby who is content by herself for more than 30 seconds. Unfortunately, my baby has abandonment issues and wants to be attached to me at all times. After having her strapped in the Ergo to my sweaty body for 40 minutes while I tried to carry laundry up and down the stairs, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do this alone.

Que Mimi.

My answer for everything these days is “Call Mimi.” Okay, it may not always be Mimi, maybe it’s an auntie or a friend from my Life Group, or just anyone who is over the age of 15, maybe. My baby shower invites said “It takes a village,” and I don’t think I understood how real life that statement becomes once you have a kid. That’s the problem with me time; in order to have that time, you have to shift your responsibilities onto someone else for a little while. If I want to get simple house chores done (without it taking five hours to complete), the reality is, I’ll probably have to drop my baby off at my mom’s house for an hour.

This concept is tough for someone who likes to do things on her own. I’ve never been big on asking for help. The idea of burdening someone so I can do something is hard for me. Mimi would say that watching Harper is never a burden but, I still feel like maybe it is. This is something I’m slowly learning to reconcile within myself, but it’s a process and slow is the key word.

Asking for help is okay; that’s why we have our village.

Me time is important when you’re a mom. It’s replenishing and rejuvenating. Actually, it makes me a better mom. I come back from two hours away and I’m more equipped to deal with the whining and the need to be attached to me at all times. It’s not always easy to get away, and sometimes I just have to be okay with feeling like I’m burdening someone for an hour or two, because I know that I’ll be better and stronger because of it.

In motherhood, you spend most of your day just figuring it out. Sometimes you’ll screw up, other times you’ll laugh and say “how did that work out?” Some days you’ll feel like a complete failure, and others you’ll consider making yourself a trophy to recognize your accomplishments. The reality is, you’ll just be happy you survived another day, no matter how you got there. If I’ve learned anything in my short seven months of motherhood, it’s that you can’t really do it wrong and you definitely can’t do it alone. As long as you and your partner and your baby are okay at the end of the day, you’re doing it right – even if you had to ‘burden’ a few people in the process.

Thank you to my village. You don’t know how appreciated you are.

Taking Your Baby to Disneyland

Does a trip to Disneyland with a baby sound like a nightmare? I get it.

We took our 6 month old to Disneyland and lived to tell the tale. Here are a few tips and tricks if you’re considering taking your baby (under 1 year) to Disneyland.

[Travel Day]

I’m convinced the way you start your trip will determine how well the rest of your trip goes. Keep your baby on his/her schedule. We had everything packed and ready to go so when Harper’s belly was full and she was ready for her morning nap, we loaded her up in the car and hit the road.

The schedule is key. Babies love predictability, so if you’re able to keep your baby on schedule throughout the trip, you should be able to have a happy baby and happy trip.

[Hotel]

  • Location location location – Before baby, J and I would stay in a hotel a mile or so away from the park. The walk or shuttles never bothered us. With baby though, we decided to stay at the Fairfield Marriott directly across the street. WORTH IT. The hotel was slightly more expensive than some (but not by much) and being this close to the park was a game changer. It took no more than 10 minutes to walk in either direction, which was life saving when Harper was tired or over it. This also eliminated the need for shuttle rides from the hotel or tram rides from the parking structure – which actually relieves a lot of stress.
  • Make the hotel feel like home – We brought a Pack n Play from home, which is something that Harper is used to and, you guessed it, we kept her on schedule. We did her whole feeding + bath time + bedtime routine as normal, so as far as she was concerned, nothing had changed.

[From the hotel/car to the park]

  • Disneyland tickets – Babies are free until they’re three. Take advantage of this while you can – your Disney trips will only get more expensive! You can purchase your tickets online and print them before you leave so it eliminates a line for the day.
  • Stroller – Should you rent or bring your own?
    • We were able to drive so we brought our own. However, I can imagine we may have considered not bringing one if we had to fly. Stroller rentals cost $15/day for one, or $25/day for two. Both options have their pros and cons. The stroller rentals work for babies who don’t require their carseat still. But if baby isn’t forward facing yet, you’ll need to bring your own stroller. Just know that if you plan to take a tram or shuttle with a stroller, it will need to be folded to bring onto the vehicle.
    • Stroller parking – there are designated stroller parking spots in most lands. Make sure to park your stroller there, otherwise it may get moved by a cast member. Tip: We adorned our stroller with a bright yellow luggage tag so it was easier to find in the sea of strollers.
  • Bring an alternative carrier – A day in the stroller can be taxing on baby. Bring an alternative carrier like a wrap or Ergo since baby may want to be held throughout the day. And, let’s be honest, after a day of walking, the last thing you want is to be holding your baby freely while navigating through those Disney crowds.
  • Diaper bag – This is something I put little to no thought into before the trip. We brought a smaller diaper bag (backpack) but didn’t even end up using that. Instead, we just used a small cinch sack tote (similar to the one in the link) and stocked it up with an extra change of clothes, diapers/wipes, hat, etc. We found that we simply didn’t need THAT much while we were inside the park and this helped lighten our load a ton.

[Tips while inside the park]

  • First-timer perks – Make sure to grab a pin for your first-timer! A cast member will write your child’s name and the date on it, which is a nice little keepsake for them to have later in life. Pins can be found at City Hall on Main Street in Disneyland or at Guest Services in Disney California Adventure. Mickey ear hats cost about $16 total with name embroidery. This is another great thing for your baby’s first trip and a nice keepsake for later. Hats + embroidery can be purchased in both parks.
  • Baby Centers – There are Baby Centers in each park. Disneyland’s is at the end of Main Street on the right across from the corndog stand. Disney California Adventure’s is back in between Paradise Pier and Cars Land (on the left of the Ghirardelli shop). The Baby Centers provide a quieter space for families to relax, semi-private areas to breastfeed and stations for diaper changes (there are also tiny potties available for kiddos who are potty trained, highchairs and a TV so your little ones can wind down a bit). They have an on-site shop offering formula, baby food, juice, diapers, wipes, sunscreen, over-the-counter medications and pacifiers for purchase. Insider tip: they stock first-timer pins there as well, so skip the lines at City Hall and grab one there! The centers are open as long as the parks are open.
  • AP holder? – New to this year’s AP (Annual Passholder) perks is the PhotoPass option. Want a professional photo inside the park? Just ask any cast member holding a camera, hand them your AP, and the photos will be uploaded to your account immediately – for free! This is an amazing perk for AP’s this year and we used it with every character meet and random photo within the parks.
  • Disneyland app – Make sure to download the official Disneyland mobile app. You can find wait times, character meet-ups, menus and more. You can also filter to find rides that are baby-friendly. Here’s a quick list:
    • Babyfriendly rides in Disneyland:
      • Anything in Fantasyland (except for Matterhorn)
      • Pirates of the Caribbean
      • Haunted Mansion
      • The Disneyland Railroad
      • Buzz’s Astro Blasters
      • Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage
      • The Monorail
    • Baby-friendly rides in Disney’s California Adventure:
      • Monsters, Inc. Mike and Sulley to the Rescue!
      • The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure
      • Flick’s Fun Faire
      • Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train
  • Rider Swap Passes – If it’s just you, your partner and baby, rider swap passes will allow you to enjoy the ‘big-kid’ rides. Just ask a cast member and they’ll assist you with the process.
  • Emergency toy/pacifier/blanket – Always have these easily accessible, but especially while on rides like Pirates. There is a chance baby may be happy when the ride starts, but become not-so-happy halfway through. Distractions and soothers may help keep other passengers from resenting you for bringing your baby on a ride.

[Oh no! The weather forecast says a rainstorm – should we skip the park that day?]

  • We had no idea a huge storm was going to hit on our first day in the parks. Luckily, we had purchased a stroller poncho before our trip. What’s a stroller poncho? Exactly what it sounds like – a poncho, for your stroller. It absolutely saved us and made being in Disney in the rain with a baby totally doable. We also utilized the longer rides (like Pirates), stores, dine-in restaurants and Baby Centers to get a break from the storm. Overall, Harper stayed dry and warm with her stroller poncho and blankets, and we were able to enjoy both parks sans big crowds because the rain had scared them away!

Hope this helps you with your first trip to the Disneyland Resort with a baby! Do you have your own tips and tricks that weren’t mentioned here? Let us know in the comments!