Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Bumpdate - 2 weeks post delivery

It finally happened. At 9 days after our due date, our little girl finally joined us.I have debated on sharing our "birth story", and while I won't now, I haven't fully decided if I will yet. It was exciting, though!

Knish joined us at 9 lbs 11 oz (at least a pound larger than the OB was estimating while I was in labor) and 21.5 inches long (this is about what Hubs and I were expecting - lots of long babes in our families). Complete with a full head of hair (that shocked us both!). She is beautiful, and we are learning about each other.

I sit and write as Hubs is taking the evening shift on a particularly rough day. She and I have both cried our fair share today. We are both clean, fed, and napped, so we're quite sure what all the angst is about. But until today, she was making this whole thing a big easy on me. She latches easily and nurses efficiently. She's an excellent napper. And (at least until today) she wasn't a big yeller - she would patiently fuss until she was fed. Nighttime is a struggle (as with any newborn) - and we bounce between nights where she's up every 1.5 hr to 4 hrs.

I thought I'd share some of my favorite things over the last two weeks that have helped me. And surprisingly enough, none of them is coffee (after 9 months off the juice, it really disrupts my nap time!).

(1) Maternity Leggings
I have not packed these babies up yet. For those who have never had kids, you may be surprised to learn that most women do not leave the hospital being able to fit into their pre-pregnancy clothes (this was a big shock to me). And while I am only 11 lbs away from my pre-pregnancy weight, I have not ventured into any of my pre-pregnancy clothing. For starters - I have all these great, comfy maternity clothes I can still fit. I have two pair of the Target black maternity leggings and I love them. Every day, I hop into those, a nursing cami, and a sweater. I'm dressed for the day! If I need to leave the apartment, I just through on some boots (which thankfully fit again), and I look "put together" (I was actually told that. What? Weird.

(2) Lansinoh Lanolin and Nipple Pads

I love this stuff. Someone on my mommy board mentioned that you can start putting the Lanolin on nightly about 3-4 weeks before your due date, which will help with the suppleness of your skin and help prevent cracking/bleeding as your wee one and you learn breastfeeding. Well I did that and I have to say that I have not had any bleeding, and I only had one sore that healed quickly. This stuff is amazing. I don't quite make it on every day anymore, but I try to before bed most nights. 
This brand of pads is great. They stick on and last the better part of a day. I haven't tried many other brands, but I like these better than the Medela ones that came with my pump. 

(3) Dermoplast

Without going into too much detail, I think we can all safely agree that pushing a watermelon out of one's vajay is not a delicate process. Yadda yadda yadda, sore. Yadda yadda - numb it up with this. I read about it first on Pinterest, and was pleased to see it in my recovery room at the hospital. My lovely nurse even threw in an extra can (seriously - ask for everything!). I didn't need two cans (only needed it for about a week), but I'm going to hang onto this for general first aid purposes.

(4) Lactation Cookies

By putting the word "lactation" in front of cookie, it magically becomes a health food. True story. Okay, but seriously. Breastfeeding burns an insane amount of calories (300-500 calories per day), and it's hard enough to eat the normal calorie limit with a bouncing newborn, let alone enough to keep up your milk supply. Enter cookies. What makes these special are these three ingredients: (i) oatmeal (fiber!), (ii) Brewer's Yeast (milk production), and (iii) Flax (healthy omegas). I made this recipe that I found on Pinterest, which also includes coconut oil (cure all!) and chocolate (...hurray!). I made a batch and froze the whole thing in pre-formed scoops. Every couple of days I throw a few directly from the freezer into the oven. I found that I didn't even need to adjust the baking time. While the additions can make these a sort of supplement, I can say that in my experience, I have actually felt my milk let down after binging eating a few. They taste great, and their easy to eat one handed while I try to soothe Knish with the other hand. I have even modified a normal cookie bar recipe by adding brewer's yeast and flax seeds to it. It did add a bit of an earthy flavor, but Hubs didn't notice a difference (his milk did not come in after eating them - safe for the whole family!). 

A few final thoughts... 
I have not wanted to pound back a beer nearly as much as I thought.
I am less interested in caffeine now than in my 9th month (probably because I know I can nap). 
Having a supportive and patient partner has made all the difference in this experience. He doesn't feel that just because he's out of the house at work all day, his "fair share" is done, just like he knows I don't "sit around" all day while she naps. Parenthood is hard - whether you're doing if for a few hours per day, or full time. I wish more partners could share in the empathy - but I am so thankful that Hubs sees his time at work as "missing out" on parenthood, rather than any part of "sharing" duties. Tonight, after knowing I had a rough day being yelled at by my tiny boss, he couldn't wait to get changed and take over. They've had some great cuddle time, and I've been able to eat with two hands and get some thoughts out.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Bumpdate - 37 Weeks

There we have it. Three weeks left. I feel so torn between "OMG That went so fast!" and "Finally! This took ages!" Somewhere between flying time and crawling. Timey wimey, and all that.

My ever calm hubs is finally starting to feel the pressure - his nesting has kicked in. Just tonight, as I finished my ice cream, I heard him wander into the nursery and start playing with some of the toys. I went in to ask what he was doing, he just looked around and said "I'm ready to come in here and to see her!" Bless. He has stayed so calm with my crazies for this whole journey, and now he's cracking in the final weeks. It is just the sweetest thing to see him unravel.

I am working in the office for another 9 days. I'm ready to work from home so I can stay in my pajamas and bake freezer meals. I have had some luck with freezing a few smaller meals instead of halving the recipe to feed us, which is what I normally do. I was able to freeze a chicken pot pie (recipe made two), and some zucchini gratin. I'd like to prep some breakfasts and lactation cookies, too.

At this point, I have sworn up and down so much that she's going to be late, that I'm starting to think she might show up early just to show me that I know nothing. But both hubs and I were late (by 2 and 3 weeks), and the timing of these things is actually hereditary (yes, I found a scientific journal on it), so there's actually a good chance that she could be late. I wouldn't mind at this point - I'm still feeling good and I have things to do still!

We also have one mini babymoon planned before she comes. Our plans for this summer were cancelled when the fires took over the Chelan Valley. It will be a short one night away (if she doesn't come, first), and it means so much to both of us.

The great Pinterest hunt has begun to find the very best lists: (1) Diaper bag checklist, (2) Hospital bag checklist, and (3) Postpartum kit. I think I have a good balance of "just in case", but not quite to the "OMG Hoarder" status. If successful, I'll share my lists here! Did you have any not-so-obvious favorites for these bags?

Monday, September 14, 2015

Pregnancy ProTips

Hi all! I am now firmly in my third trimester (just over 6 weeks left!) and I thought I could share the oh-so-popular “here’s what I’ve learned” pregnancy post. Maybe not completely unique, but every pregnancy runs a little differently, so the content is a little different. Anyway! Here’s a bit about what I’ve learned.

1.     Morning Sickness!
a.     What Worked: Although my nausea was fairly mild, I found that seabands really helped take the edge off. For all my Crohn’s pains, nausea is the one thing that I struggle to just work through and the seabands took the edge off enough. I also particularly enjoyed sour candy through this phase. Any of the preggo pops are actually sour – and since I couldn’t find them fast enough and wasn’t patient enough for Amazon, I had a lot of Shockerz.
b.     It also helped to be completely flexible with meals. Meal Planning wasn’t so hard, but the execution was rough for about a month there. Every day was a gamble – would this taste like dirt? There was one particular occasion when, after frustrated that I wasn’t eating enough, Hubs went to get our local standby, Taco Time. I tried a bite of everything, and it all tasted like dirt. It didn’t make me sick, but I was just uninterested. He had so much patience with me during this phase, which is great because I couldn’t control it and getting frustrated at me only would have made me cry. I did manage to drink a lot of Jamba Juice during the first tri. Sometimes twice a day.
c.     Note to men: be patient. You mammacita isn’t doing this on purpose, and tiny humans/hormones are jerks. While you probably don’t need to run out in desperation, Hubs’ patience and flexibility were so important to me.
d.     What Didn’t Work: Ginger. Morning Sickness Teas. I have nothing against ginger (I actually normally enjoy ginger ale or candied ginger), but it just did not help. And any of the special teas tasted like the earth to me. I couldn’t drink them enough to know if they helped at all.
2.     Fatigue
a.     I should get a medal for my napping expertise in the first trimester. I had a 2-3 week spurt where I could sleep for 10 hrs, struggle through work, nap for another 2-3 hrs, wake up to (maybe) dinner and talk to Hubs, then go immediately back to bed. On one particular weekend, I napped twice each day.
b.     What worked: Giving in to the naps. And have a patient, confused husband who is willing to do enough laundry to make sure you don’t have to resort to turning undies inside-out.
c.     What didn’t work: Caffeine. While I tried as hard as I could to stay under 200 mg (I averaged close to 100 mg per day), even fully leaded coffee could not shake this. So I do not advise that you do – it will not do much, if anything, and both you and the baby will feel better if you just go nap.
3.     Books
a.     This is a touchy subject because everyone has their favorites. And I have to admit that I have purposely avoided doing a lot of reading on this topic so I can (try to) avoid being over-saturated with information. I will start by saying that What to Expect did not speak my love language. It was a little alarmist and overall did not share a bulk of new information. It tries to speak to every pregnancy, which includes a lot of scary stuff. While this is important, it is certainly not the norm.
b.     Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn. The leading doula team in the Seattle area authors the book. We took Penny’s class that goes with the book, but the book on its own offers wonderful, balanced information. My favorite take-away was the way that it empowers the partner, not just the mother, to participate in the birthing process. I found it to be balanced between natural and traditional methods (hospital and home births).
c.     Bringing Up Bebe. I really liked this book, but I can see how it can be polarizing. Who doesn’t want quiet, patient, well-behaved children? Obviously the effectiveness is yet-to-be-proven in our own home, but I liked the authors voice (even as she struggles). The author is an American, married to an Englishman, and they live in Paris. She is struck by the way that her child differs in behavior from the French children surrounding her. While I don’t agree with every method, I enjoyed reading it, and I might have a few take-aways for our own child.
d.     Belly Laughs. I did not care for this. I read it in one night, and I basically felt like it could have been a series of blog posts instead of a book. I didn’t find it particularly relatable or even funny.
e.     Mommy IQ. I read this because I used to be Obsessed with the Pregnant in Heels show on Bravo. Have you seen it? It may have been my most favorite reality show ever. So I read the book. But after I read the other books, I did not find a single piece of unique information. And I didn’t think it was comprehensive enough to replace any of the other books I’ve read, including PCN.
f.      On my reading list:
                                               i.     TheWomanly Art of Breastfeeding (recommended by our lactation consultant in class)
                                             ii.     TheHappiest Baby on the Block
                                            iii.     BabyWise
                                            iv.     SleepingThrough the Night
4.     Stretch Marks
a.     These happen. You cannot avoid them. Unless you have excellent genes. In which case, congratulations. Don’t brag too much. I did try a few belly balms, and as my marks started to appear, I found that using the balms helped reduce some the itching and pain associated with the new stretch marks.
b.     Mama Bee Belly Butter. I used this first and liked it the most. It is thick and has subtle scent. I didn’t find that it absorbed very quickly, so I used it mostly in the evening so it could soak in overnight.
c.     Lovely Jubblies. I received this as a gift and used it when my first jar of Belly Butter ran out. I think I lost some ground with this. I will try it again when the baby is out to see if it helps tighten up (when I’m not growing any more!). The scent was stronger, and it felt a little greasier.
d.     Palmer’s Skin Therapy Oil. I love this stuff! It absorbs quickly (I was really surprised by this) and it has a really subtle scent. I use it twice per day. Once in the morning as soon as I get out of the shower and I follow it with normal body lotion; and once in the evening before my Belly Butter. I still got new stretch marks, but in general I’m more comfortable since using it. So that’s a win!
Those are my favorite things I’ve learned so far! What was your favorite pregnancy tip or book you can share with me?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Stitch Fix Reveal - Maternity Style

When I first found out I was pregnant, I thought of all the places I wanted to try to look for maternity outfits. To be honest, I was actually excited to dress my new bump. Of course I cannot hide my love of shopping, but this was a whole new style challenge I was excited to venture into. As I thought about my favorites, Stitch Fix came to mind. When I last splurged on a fix, maternity wasn't an option. 
As it happened, within a few weeks of learning of this pregnancy, Stitch Fix also announced their new maternity fixes. Of course I couldn't resist. I have received two through this pregnancy - the first was a successful mix of maternity and non-maternity fashion, but the sizing was off so I only kept two pieces: maternity leggings and an edgy necklace. When I wanted to try it again, I made some notes about wanting more of a romantic feel to my pieces, and they knocked it out of the park! I kept the whole box - which I have never done!

Are you interested in your own fix - maternity or not? Check it out here: Stitch Fix

Note: While this is a referral link, all opinions below are my own and I was not compensated by Stitch Fix.

Tart Shania Ikat Maxi Dress
This dress actually isn't maternity, but it's billowy and is awesome now. Also great to know that this will transition nicely into my permanent wardrobe rotation. The pattern is navy and white, so not too harsh. Amazingly enough, it is also very long. As part of Team Flamingo, my legs and I struggle to find long length maxis. All sorts of winning.

Papermoon Toland Kimono

The back on this won me over. I've worn it with and without the belt, and have found it to be suitable over leggings, jeans, or LBDs. This will also stick around outside Maternity Time.

Full Moon Dacey Lace Overlay Maternity Knit Top

Again - the lace and the detailed back sucked me in. The buttons on the back (gold!) got me, and I love the lace for work. While it is stretchy, it is slim enough that this may work outside Maternity Time, but will certainly be comfy with sweaters over the holidays.

Pale Sky Solana Pleated Maternity Blouse

I love the funky floral/herringbone mash up. Flowy and stretchy. This is will probably stay in the maternity bucket - this style top has always been in my "I want it to succeed but I never feel great in it" pile pre-maternity. It's a little different now with the bump, but I generally need more shape to my tops.

And finally...
Bay to Baubles Liberty Triangle and Tassel Earrings
An easy yes. Coral and gold? Just duh. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

This Pregnancy Body

I want to start by saying that I feel good. I'm comfortable in my baby-growing skin, I like what I see in the mirror, and I am only critical of the stretch marks that I cannot control despite my twice-daily applications of belly balm. I still accept them (begrudgingly). 

But I have to admit something. And I cannot be the only one. Because despite the way I see myself and the way my wonderfully stretchy maternity clothes fit, I was shocked by The Number on the scale that I saw today at the doctor's office.

The scale is something new to me. Only in the recent two years did I even own one. But I will admit that I fell into the same trap pre-pregnancy as so many women and I was worried about the number. Mostly because of planning the pregnancy, I did not want to start this baby-growing journey with a number to lose. Well, I did. And I stopped looking at the scale so much that I'm not even certain what my official pre-baby weight is. I have a 10 lb range that I think I was at. But that means that the number I've gained fits into a 20-30 lb range. As I round the corner from second to third trimester, I know that 20 lbs is fine (5-10 lb per trimester). But I struggle with the idea of being 50% over where I "should" be.

Everyone has a number on the scale that they never want to see - pregnant or not. And as I edge closer to that number, I am faced with the reality that I will pass it. It's going to happen in the next three months (probably in the next month) and I need to accept that. I am eating healthy foods - snacking outside meals with almost exclusively on fruits and veggies. Yes, I go through bursts where I eat a lot. Yes, I put down two full-sized breakfast entrees on Saturday. No, I barely ate anything else all day. Balance. And I regret nothing - NOTHING.

But I am struggling to separate my expectations around the scale from my current health. The only problem here is in my head. As much as I have enjoyed almost every other aspect of this pregnancy (including how I look), I am surprised by how much I am struggling with The Number. My health continues to do well, and the doctor isn't concerned about The Number. So why am I?

And then I remembered that today I wore a non-maternity dress, so as much as I am struggling with The Number, it is not being reflected in my body, and my brain can STFU.

Dress from Nordstroms, cardigan and necklace from Stitch Fix.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Circle of Life

I had imagined by big blog announcement a little differently. Not that I am a professional, or even novice, blogger by any stretch. But I did imagine that I’d share my pregnancy with a cute post on bread baking or something and tie it together. Because that’s what you do. Instead, just as I passed the mark at which I felt comfortable sharing, but world was turned upside-down. In the span of just 4 weeks, we lost my mom to cancer.

I was left to balance the incredible joy of my first pregnancy with the insurmountable grief of losing such a powerful part of my life. I could not find words to share the joy. It’s taken me over 7 weeks to find the words for the sadness.

I consider myself lucky in that before this spring, I have never experienced what could be described as “profound grief”. I have lost 2 great grandparents and 3 grandparents in my lifetime. However, the grief I felt was different, and it certainly was not all-consuming. When Bub passed away less than 2 years ago, we knew her cancer was terminal, but that it would give us time to work in a few “lasts” and give us time to say goodbye. Of course I was devastated when she finally passed. But there was the year of knowing it was coming to work through the stages of grief in time. And when we were sad, we could still call her and share about our day and tell her we loved her. We had a year.

Up until 3 days before Mom passed, we thought we had a year. Her passing was a shock, in addition to the grief. It feels so unfair. She had her mom until she was 53. She shared her children growing up and had the support. I feel robbed of so many decades of time. I feel like she was robbed of the one thing left on her bucket list – meeting her first grandbaby. And I absolutely feel like my dad was robbed of at least 20 years of retirement shenanigans. I tried to process the injustice of it.

But life is not about fairness. We are not entitled to the breaths we take. And we were not “robbed” of anything. If nothing is promised, or given, how can it be taken away? Despite this initial bitterness, I am left with no anger.


I cried before she passed. I did not cry when she got the diagnosis. I did not cry a week later after the surgery when it was much worse than they thought. I did not cry when I spent a week with her recovering in the ICU. But I cried the next week when the scan showed the surgery was fruitless. That even with the most aggressive treatment options available, she would never be cured. But we were promised the meeting with the grandbaby. And I cried two days later when her body started shutting down as the cancer consumed her at breakneck speeds. I cried at the lost year we were just promised. At the loss for the baby. At the shock of it.

I cried briefly at the hospital between phone calls when we notified close family and friends. The words floated out of my mouth, but I cannot believe I said them. And I cried at the funeral – at the moose ears, when our Cantor chanted A Woman of Valor, and at the grave-side Mourner’s Kaddish. But I didn’t cry between. And I didn’t cry again. Maybe I was too tired; but grief is not measured in the number of tears. The grief will come.

It will come at small moments and at big moments. It will come when I am suddenly lonely in the middle of a crowded room. It will come on holidays and on any random day. I know it will continue to come.

Shiva (the week of mourning following a family death) has come and gone. The grief did not change. Only the exhaustion. Shloshim (the month of mourning for a parent or spouse) has come and gone. The grief continues.

It changes, yes. But there’s no switch where you suddenly notice it is better. The waves of grief crash on until one day you notice the tide is low and you can get up again. But the tide comes in.

And there is joy that mixes in. We feel our baby girl move. My belly gets bigger every day. We pick out nursery d├ęcor and strollers and baby names. But the grief continues.

As I said before, I still struggle daily to embrace the joy and love with growing this soul, but also to fully grieve my mom without bottled it up for later. I have grief for my mom – she will miss so much. We had such plans (doesn’t everyone?). I have grief for my daughter – she will never know the love from this woman. To her, it will always be someone that I talk about, but that she can only connect to a face in a frame. As she gets older, she will roll her eyes at my repetitive “She would have loved you so” and say that she knows. But she will never know. And I have grief for the hole in my life from losing my mother and best friend.

And yet… I am thankful. We had no anger for each other. No bitterness or grudges. We knew and felt love from each other. She had a life full of personal and professional accomplishments. And if it had to happen, if this was so sealed in the Book of Life, then I am a little relieved that it was quick. And I am certain that our pain in grief exceeds her suffering.

I have the warmth and love of friends to surround me. It does help. But it does not fix what happened. I appreciate the help and the offers of help. And I can lean on so many people for so many teams; I have a village to carry me through this. But I need to walk through the grief myself; the village cannot carry me over the waves. They cannot stop the waves that will wash over me. Yet I do not want people to stop offering help; just to understand that refusing help is not an affront to their friendship, generosity, or trust.

I do not think my grief is special. This would hurt in unfathomable ways whether I was pregnant or not. But I am sad that the timing means that I may never be able to separate this pregnancy, the experience of so many firsts, from the profound loss of Mom.

As the weeks wear on, the tide is slowly going out. So far, this month has been better than last month. But I cannot say if today was better than yesterday; just like waves on a shore wash in and out, so does the grief.

But on the pregnancy side, we are doing well. The shock and travel have not hurt me or the baby. She continues to grow right on track, and at our girls getaway this weekend, she was wiggly for everyone. Time moves slowly and quickly, all at the same time, but our excitement grows. She is due October 28th – less than 4 months away.

How will the tide look then?

Thursday, February 5, 2015

#Reverb15 – January

Upgoals | What are you so NOT doing this year? What’s on your “I just can’t care about that” list?

I’m a little late, but I really have been thinking about this goal for a while. I would really like to care less about what I can’t control. I’d like to think less of what people think about me. And I’d like to care less about whether or not I’m scoring a high enough grade in aspects of life that aren’t actually graded (so… all of it).

As a type A control freak (who… me? I know. Shocking), I tend to care a lot about a lot. I would love to be able to lay aside all my cares, and actually do. And coming from a family of engineers, I’m super good at planning and caring. Doing is hard. Doing is the struggle. Letting go of the plans and the “could-bes” and “worst case” and “what-ifs” are something that I may never be able to do. But I’m trying.

Last night was my third yoga class in a week, and my second as part of an eight week introduction series I signed up for. I’ve loved the idea of yoga – especially regarding the wellness and awareness it can bring people in all areas of life. But it is a practice. And last night, they were speaking about how you can never really be an A student in yoga until you let yourself be a C student first. 
Me: “LOLZ.” 
But it’s true. And as we transitioned into our eleventy billionth downward dog of the night, my shoulders screamed, and my hamstrings pulled in the wrong direction, and my whole body started shaking. So I took a knee and took a breath in child’s pose. And that was okay! And then I went right back into downward dog, but just that single breath on the ground allowed me to finish stronger.

And I’m trying to bring that into my life more. So when my desk life is screaming, and my chores are pulling me in the wrong direction, and my relationships are shaking, I can try to take a knee. Take a breath – just one breath – and do more, stronger. And I just can’t care that other people don’t need to take a knee or a breath. But more likely is that I’m too focused on my own screaming shoulders to notice that they took a break before I did, and we all finished together.