The New Normal

Things I love about The New Normal (besides MY BABY, obviously…)

img_4010

-For the past 6+ months I have only set morning alarms to go to the airport (Baby saves me time AND has a practical function!). Relatedly, no need to keep phone in the bedroom.

-Not worried about my hair, make-up, outfit, etc. because all allotted prep time is used to get baby ready.

-Learning that I don’t hate “cooking”/puttering in the kitchen (making baby food with new food processor is fun and makes me feel crafty!).

-Also, am no longer afraid of cooking sweet potato and squash.

-Enjoying shows like The Great British Baking Show, Queer Eye, Wild Wild Country and Schitt’s Creek on Netflix while nursing.

-Have an excuse to regularly visit the local library (for storytime!).

-Have practical reason to create and sing random songs around the house (providing baby with language and stimulation, instead of just being weird).

-Easy conversations with other parents/strangers about the baby.  “Oh, I see you have a kid… me too!… blah blah blah etc.”

-Creating my own yoga sequences to fit my needs. (Teacher training coming in handy!)

-Savoring my commute by catching up with friends on the phone or listening to One Bad Mother.

-Strollers are a great way to carry all your crap around the farmers market.

img_4089

-Always have an excuse to leave, or stay home in the first place.

-Having enhanced appreciation and admiration for friends with kids, and relating to them on a new level.

Advertisements

Mom Jeans

img_3736

Yesterday in an ultimate act of self-love, I bought myself some Mom jeans. I had been wearing the same 2 pairs of maternity pants and one pair of cotton lounge pants any time I had to leave the house. When exercising I had been wearing select pairs of yoga pants that were big enough not to become completely see-through when stretched over my butt. The plan was NOT to buy any new clothes to flatter my post-partum body, because I would be back into my old clothes soon enough.  Plus, if I was stuck wearing the same pants over and over, that would give me extra incentive to work out.

The incentive is there.  Yes, I want to hit the yoga studio every day and sweat so much it runs down into my eyes.  It’s not going to happen with a baby.  I am doing yoga as often as I can (and usually a few times a week – yay!) but even with my space heater, I can’t create the same tapas that I used to feel in the studio.  I have tried doing my old Jackie Warner iron-pumping video, but there is little joy for me in that.  I just started visiting a workout studio, Studio Pink Fit, where I can bring Maia in the stroller and place her next to me while I do trampoline, Pilates, barre, and weight workouts, and so far, I have been 3 times.  It’s easily the best cardio I’ve had in over a year, but making it to class with baby at a time that fits our schedule involves so many logistics that I don’t think it’s likely that I’ll make it more than 1-2x a week.  Still, I know all of these habits and options are a great start.

I’ve realized that my pre-pregnancy body and level of fitness were a source of pride for me.  Prior to getting pregnant, I maintained my body by spending a lot of time enjoying healthy habits and activities that I loved.  In the past 7 months I have been nursing, working part-time, and putting my family first, and I think I have been fairly realistic about my expectations and compassionate toward myself.  But yesterday, after a ho-hum yoga practice in the basement, I tried on my old work pants (which I have hidden in the basement closet) and THEY DIDN’T EVEN MAKE IT HALFWAY UP MY THIGHS.

So that’s why, if you had been at Target yesterday around 5pm, you would have found Brian walking the aisles wearing Maia while I tried on a pile of jeans.  I had had it.  And I decided I wanted on pair of pants that I could wear to feel like a normal person – not sweats, not maternity pants, not yoga pants, not work pants.  Just me pants.  Why?  Because I honestly feel pretty ok about the shape I’m in.  And everyone keeps telling my how great I look and how tiny I am.  Yes, I used to be RIDICULOUSLY F&%$-ING TINY and RIDICULOUSLY F&%$-ING  fit, so I don’t think of myself as being tiny, cute or fit right now.  But it is time for a paradigm shift.

img_3734
From this angle you can totally tell how awesome my jeans are.

We all know the frequently trumpeted wisdom: “You are your own harshest critic.”  It is impossible for me to hear too often.  We judge ourselves more harshly than we would judge anyone else, and more harshly than anyone else judges us.  People keep telling me how great I look and you know what?  It’s time for me to start believing them.  Start listening to the yay-sayers.  And sorry to be gross, but I have to remind myself AGAIN that my body grew a baby and continues to create food for one.  So maybe it is carrying around a little extra insulation, and maybe my pelvis has just gotten wider, and maybe one day the time will come for me to throw away all those tiny pants.  But today, I built as much heat as I could in a 50 minute basement yoga practice and it brought me joy. Then I came upstairs and read to my baby and put her down for a nap.  And now I am sitting here wearing my jeans that fit extremely well and are extremely comfortable.  And I feel like me.  Not old-me, not new-me.  Now-me.

Working Moms: This Isn’t Easy

Surely that’s no surprise to you, and it’s not a surprise to me either.  I am only working part-time, and even I feel the pressure, the pulling.  On one end, my career, on the other, my baby.  I love them both, but there is no contest.  Baby wins every time.  Fortunately, it’s not such a clear-cut choice. I can do both, see!  I do fine.  My baby is healthy and happy.  I am maintaining a good reputation at work.

It is a wonderful thing that in our society, women can theoretically do whatever they want.  We can have a career and a family.  In practice, this is not easy for me or, likely, for anyone.  Every day the pulling happens.  I could just drop the career and stay with the baby, but realistically, I don’t think that would work for me.  Since it’s not necessary financially, going full time at work doesn’t feel like an option that I could live with either.  I am lucky.  I have the best of both worlds, in theory.  And I am very fortunate to have a partner who is equitably sharing in the parenting responsibilities.

I have co-workers who are young and hungry, and when I skip a course or a meeting, I feel sad.  My skills may not advance as quickly as theirs.  They don’t have babies, or they make different choices—I understand this.  I am comfortable with my choices.

I cannot be amazing all the time, although I want to be.  But I am doing my best with my commitments, my skills, abilities and capacities, and there are certain things that I am not willing to compromise.

I repeatedly tell myself all these things.

Our sweet baby brings us so much joy.  I wouldn’t change anything.  This is simply a lament.  With all that we take on, there are pieces we must let go.  Life is a balancing act, now more than ever.

 

 

 

Life in a Table: Pre and Post Baby

Some things have changed, and some endure.

  Pre-Baby/Pre-Pregnancy Me Post-Baby Me
An intense workout Hiking 10 miles on the AT Rollercoaster or taking a 90 minute yoga class followed by up to 2 hours of Asana Club Yoga-play. Walking for about an hour and a half (just over 3 miles total) at a doleful  pace in the woods, wearing baby.
A Picture of Me doing something bad-ass img_3344 img_3179
Cereal? Gave it up because I used to eat so much of it. I would just eat bowl after bowl after bowl.  I stopped keeping it in the house. I prefer Life cereal (or the generic version).  For a late night snack.  Or two.
Do you want a milkshake? Mmm, sounds good, but no thanks, it’s SO many calories and so much sugar, and I’ll feel disgusting afterward. YES PLEASE!  Since I’m here, we might as well make it a large.
How about some spaghetti for dinner? Eh, not my favorite. It’s mostly carbs with no fuel.  I’ll just make myself something else. YES, that sounds warm and delicious.
What do you want for breakfast? Oatmeal with skim milk, a banana, craisins, walnuts, and cinnamon. Oatmeal with 2% milk, a banana, craisins, walnuts, and cinnamon.
Lunch at work Sandwich with lunchmeat, whole grain bread, light mayonnaise, and a huge pile of spinach, Yogurt, maybe a kind bar. You mean 2nd Lunch? Sandwich with lunchmeat, whole grain bread, light mayonnaise, and a huge pile of spinach, Yogurt, maybe a kind bar, maybe trail mix, maybe an apple. ALL OF THE FOODS.
What kind of yogurt? Chobani Greek, 0% Fat (bought in bulk from Costco), Peach or Blueberry please! Oikos WHOLE MILK Greek, specifically Toasted Coconut and Vanilla flavor.  And at least 2 a day.
How about Ice cream? I try not to allow myself to have it, except on special occasions. I can basically live without. Are you not getting this?  YES, I want ALL THE ICE CREAM.
A Great Post-Workout Snack/Reward A “Muscle Max” or “Acai Energizer” smoothie from Robeks. A frozen custard waffle Cone at Abbott’s.
A Big Purchase My hiking backpack for the Tour du Mont Blanc in 2015. A hiking backpack for short hikes with baby next year.
A Great way to spend a Saturday Ashtanga in the morning with yoga pals, then farmer’s market and brunch, followed by a long nap on the couch.
OR

A long hardcore hike followed by a visit to a local brewery and dinner with my hubs, preferably at Market Station in Leesburg.

Sleeping as late as possible.  Watching Animal Docs and Rock the Park on NBC over breakfast for me and Maia.  Perhaps a long leisurely walk in the woods.  Perhaps farmer’s market or Lake Anne fun.  Perhaps (gasp!) dinner out at a fast-casual restaurant! Or even lunch out at Lake Anne Coffee House!
Sleep Schedule? Early to bed, early to rise…makes a woman healthy, wealthy (?) and wise (??). Dictated by Maia.  Usually LATE to bed (between 11pm and 1am) then a middle of night wake up to feed (between 3am and 5am) then up for the day as late as possible (between 9 and 11am).  (At least this was the schedule until this week… now we are working on sleeping THROUGH THE NIGHT (!!).
Work There are days and moments when I am glad I get paid to do it, but overall I love my job, patients, and co-workers. Sometimes I want to stay in bed, but once I am there, I am generally happy. There are days and moments when I am glad I get paid to do it, but overall I love my job, patients, and co-workers. Sometimes I don’t want to leave my family, but once I am there, I am generally happy.
Yoga 3-4x a week at the studio, 2-3 home practices a week.  Working on handstands, floating forward, and ashtanga primary series.

So thankful for my practice and yoga community.

Generally 1-2x a week at the studio.  Random yoga-esque stretching with baby.  Very modified for my “mommy thumb” and post-c-section.  Grateful for every moment of it.  So thankful for my practice and yoga community.
When I feel adventurous, I might try… A Rocket Yoga class, a silks class, trapezing. A Baby and Me Yoga class or swim class.
Planning a Trip to… Colorado or Europe or The Grand Tetons for a hiking adventure! Southern California for a wedding… with a baby… for an even bigger adventure!
My Husband Most supportive, caring, amazing husband in the world.  Can’t imagine life without him. Most supportive, caring, amazing husband in the world.  I would definitely lose my s#!& daily without him.
Favorite things to do in free time at home Blogging, napping, watching TV or playing a game with Brian. Sleeping.
Blog format Long, winding paragraphs, sometimes SO LONG WINDED that I divide it into 2 posts… This table, for ease of thought organization on less sleep than I would like.  Still so long winded, I probably should have divided it into 2 posts. ❤

 

Things I Love (Or at least like a lot)

While being at home with a baby on my boob most of the time, keeping myself upbeat involves finding the little things that make me happy and enjoying them as much as possible.  Here are a few:

To Watch: American Ninja Warrior

I just crawled out from under a rock (Its pretty amazing that I could do this while being at home with a baby for the last 9 weeks) and realized that OMG, I LOVE AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR!  Why on earth have I not been watching this for the past NINE Seasons??  I love it – All those bad-ass people, some wearing silly costumes, their fun custom T-shirts, the corny jokes the announcers make, the sweet/cheesy back stories, and, of course, the crazy obstacles and their super shocking strength.  Last night I saw I girl who is 5 feet tall do it!!  I love that ANW is something that motivated adults can train for and actually do as an adult without having done it for their whole lives.  I flatter myself to think that in my day, I probably wouldn’t have been too bad at it… if I trained… A LOT, of course.

To Listen to: One Bad Mother

https://i1.wp.com/is1.mzstatic.com/image/thumb/Music62/v4/8b/ca/6a/8bca6ac6-dfcd-88fd-fd38-a207f0ad2c85/source/1200x630bb.jpg            While waiting for one of my ultrasounds, I took a picture of a list of parenting podcasts in a magazine.  Of course, I checked out One Bad Mother first.  I have started listening at the beginning (2013) of their podcast when both their kids were little and I am about 10 episodes in– I LOVE it.  This is a show about celebrating your small successes as a parent, and letting go of your failures and mishaps.  They discuss alcohol, breastfeeding, birth stories, phone habits, etc, all in a non-judgey way (of course while joking about judging each other).  Listeners can call in with their parenting “genius moments” and “fails” each week.  Listening to this show is like talking to your irreverent potty-mouthed friend about parenting.  Great for late night breastfeeding sessions when I really don’t want to do anything that requires a lot of mental energy.  And Biz and Theresa are STILL making podcasts, so I guess it will last me a while…

To Eat: Oikos Whole Milk Greek Yogurt

img_3002

In the hospital, I took great pleasure in looking through the menu and choosing each food item for all my meals (when I was finally allowed to eat again). For my first meal I requested the “Coconut Greek Yogurt” listed.  My tray arrived with Oikos Toasted Coconut and Vanilla flavor greek yogurt and I was in HEAVEN.  While I realized that, yes, almost anything would taste amazing after not eating a proper meal in almost 48 hrs, why, I wondered, was this yogurt SO ridiculously delicious? I examined the package and saw that OH, It’s made with WHOLE milk.  None of this non-fat/low fat business.  I have previously been a Chobani loyalist, mostly because Brian gets the non-fat Chobani yogurts in bulk from Costco for a good value, and they are very consistently good.  However, this whole milk yogurt is on a completely new level of deliciousness with about the same number of calories, only 4.5 grams of fat, and is only a little bit more expensive.  And, hey, I’m breastfeeding, so I need fat, right?

To Poop On: Bum Genius 4.0s : Cloth Diapering System

img_2998

We received a stash of cloth diapers from Brian’s sister Ellen and our friend Page.  While there were a few other models mixed in, the majority of the diapers are the Bum Genius 4.0s.  These diapers are adjustable and with the variety of inserts we received, they fit our 10 lb baby just fine (online they claim to be adjustable to fit babies 7-35 lbs).  The first few times I changed these diapers, I marveled at how hard it was to tell that they were wet.  The liner, which is next to the baby’s skin, stays fairly dry, and the insert sucks up all the liquid.  Plus, they are fun colors and are super cute.  The only problem we’ve had (with a few of the more heavily used diapers) is that the Velcro has worn out and doesn’t attach well – but hopefully we will find someone crafty to pass these along to, and the Velcro could easily be replaced.  My feelings about these diapers might cool when we introduce solid foods and solid poops are introduced to the diapers, which we will have to rinse off and flush before washing.  For now, it’s not too bad to launder the diapers, but they do require 2 wash cycles and it does take time to put in the inserts after washing.  We’ll see how things go.  For now we are continuing to use disposable wipes because it sounds like it would be annoying to deal with a wash cloth and spray bottle at every diaper change. And, of course, we have disposable diapers on hand that we can use when we are washing the cloth.  I am not sure that I would buy these myself (they are NOT cheap) but I am glad to have them and use them since they were handed down to us.

I couldn’t find the exact kind anywhere, but these are bum genius with snaps (looks like they phased out the velco).

How about you? What simple things do YOU love???  Please share!!

 

Partner Yoga with your Newborn!

Having a hard time fitting your yoga practice into your new life as a parent?  Here are some postures you can do with your newborn to help you stretch out, strengthen, and relax.  Of course, if your post-partum physical condition does not allow you to take these postures comfortably and safely, please wait!  Be gentle and patient with yourself!

1) Mid-Meal Wake-Up Ragdoll

Does your baby fall asleep while eating?  After the first boob, she is totally conked out, but you have a situation on the other side… Place your baby on the floor and settle into a relaxing forward bend, keeping your knees loose. Rock side to side, shake your head yes and no.  Let your hair tickle your baby’s belly.  You can even do this with your “My Brest Friend” nursing pillow still attached to you!  When your baby wakes up again she’ll realize she still hungry!

Precaution:  You will want to discontinue this posture when your baby begins grasping and reaching for things… if you want to keep your hair.

img_2899

2) Samastitihi-Burps

Placing your baby up on your shoulder, stand with your feet shoulder-width/hip width apart.  Keep your knees loose and stack your joints.  Give your baby some gentle pats to get the burps out, while you press your shoulders down away from your ears and tuck your chin slightly.  Extend one arm if you can do it without dropping your baby… This is a great time to work on your posture, while you hold your baby upright to help her digest.

img_2884img_2882
3) Enrichment-Time Straddle

After eating, it’s time to play!  When your baby is in her “enrichment area” (I don’t know what these things are called… Play mat?  “Enrichment area” sounds a lot cooler), enjoy a wide seated straddle pose.  Ground your pelvis and draw your belly in.  Lean forward with a long spine (also taking care of your hair once your baby learns to reach and pull).  Take a few variations to stretch your trunk to the side, wring out your shoulders, etc.

4) Wait-for-the-Poops Crescent Lunge

You begin changing your baby’s diaper, and that’s when she starts pooping?  And it takes… a while… to get it all out.  Go ahead and cheer her on (“you can do it, baby!  I believe in you!”),  but don’t just stand there!  While employing caution so as not to allow your baby to roll off the changing table, and possibly using the changing table to brace yourself, enjoy a crescent lunge stretch.  Press into your back heel to stretch your calf muscles.  Maybe put your hands on both sides of your pelvis to ensure they are even, pointing forward toward your baby like headlights. Engage your core to tuck your pelvis under your shoulders, feeling a gentle stretch in the front of your hip while strengthening your opposite leg.  Ahhhhh!  Did you need that?  I did.

img_2880

5) Go-the-BLEEP-to-Sleep Crescent Lunge/Goddess Flow:

Moving with your breath, in a crescent lunge position with your baby on your shoulder or in your arms, exhale and bend the back knee.  Straighten it on the inhale and come back up.  You can also straighten the front leg to get a bit of a stretch in the hamstring.  Let your steady breath and steady rocking motion soothe you and your baby. For a variation, flow in and out of goddess pose, bending and straightening both knees with your breath, keeping your core engaged and squeezing your gluts.  After this routine, your baby, (and you), will be ready to rest!  Seal the deal with some lateral lunges.  Then, if all goes well, put your sleeping baby to bed, and enjoy your sivasana!

And, of course, don’t forget to enjoy the most important pose of all:  Happy Baby!!

img_2972

Breastfeeding is NOT Easy

img_2767

If my previous entry about giving birth was not divisive enough for you, you’ll like this post about the perhaps even more divisive mom-topic of breastfeeding. I have a few thoughts I want to share, because I now spend the largest chunk of my time involved in this very activity.  Of course, I AM NOT JUDGING ANYONE.  If you breastfed your babies, good for you.  If not, good for you.  Everyone has to make their own choice about this, and I strongly believe you should research your options and, above all, do what is right for you and your family.  We have decided to breastfeed, and I am going to write a little about my experience because I now spend anywhere from 6-9 hrs a day breastfeeding – it’s a pretty big part of my world right now.  I do have some thoughts on the matter and would also like to vent a little. I’m going to be talking a bit about my boobs, and it may be TMI, so if that’s not for you, get out now before it’s too late.

img_2711

Right now, breastfeeding is like a full time job with flex-time that is spread throughout the day and night, except that I don’t decide when I’m on the clock; that’s up to my 6 week old boss.  At this point, Maia spends about 10-20 minutes on each boob while we are breastfeeding.  With that and the burping, getting her to latch and changing her diaper at least once (sometimes before the feeding, between boobs, AND at the end of the feeding – because for some reason my baby does not seem to be able to focus on eating if her diaper is even a little bit wet) the feeding routine takes 45 mins to an hour.  She eats anywhere from 8 to 10 to 12 times a day depending on the day, an anywhere from 1-4.5 hrs between the start of one feeding and the start of the next (but usually 2-4 hrs between and about 8 feedings a day).

Here is a bit of advice based on my experience so far:

img_2782

Get your breast pump before you have your baby.  Call your insurance company and see if they cover it.  I was able to get a very easy to use electric breast pump shipped to me from this company and didn’t have to pay a cent.  I had thought, oh, I won’t need the pump right away because I will be on maternity leave feeding my baby.  Sure, if every feeding went PERFECTLY, I guess one might not need a breast pump right away.  But I needed the pump at the beginning to establish my milk supply before Maia started sucking well, and now I need it to pump about 1-2x a day to express milk so Brian can feed her bottles, and so we can accumulate a supply of breastmilk in our freezer (squirrelling it away for my impeding return to work like doomsday preppers).  I also use the pump if, at a feeding, Maia nurses for 20 mins or more on one boob and then only 2-3 min on the other boob, leaving me lopsided and sore.  Got to get that stuff outta there!

When you order your breast pump, also order this bra.  For the first week at home, I was simply holding the breast pump containers up to my boobs for the duration of pumping, which rendered me helpless, staring into space listening to the unpleasant whirr of the machine.  Luckily I have an amazing husband who would feed me, and push my hair out of my face (I remember telling him, “Don’t be gentle, just shove it all back behind my ear.”).  I also had breastmilk leaking out of the flanges and running down my belly, and I was wondering how I would ever do it at work without completely making a mess of myself.  Then my genius friend Emily told me about this bra, which now allows me to have both hands free while pumping.  Since I have a cordless pump, I can even change locations/walk around while pumping.  Game changer.  I honestly cannot believe that something like this does not come every breast pump, because, seriously, I don’t think anyone should have to pump without it.

Get professional help and ask for advice.  You might think breastfeeding is going to come naturally for you and your baby.  And, while I wish that for you, I didn’t have that experience.  My nipples were cracked and had scabs on them in the hospital because I was so desperate for my baby to eat.  Luckily, there were TONS of professionals available to help us.  We saw 2 lactation consultants at the hospital, and one at our pediatrician’s office.   We then took advantage of a free follow up appointment with the one we liked from the hospital, and have now had 2 follow ups with the one at our pediatrician’s office.  Nurses in the hospital are also happy to help you latch your baby or try different positions.  Get advice from multiple people, because you never know what is going to work for you.  Take the advice you like and forget the rest.  Breastfeeding is a skill that you need to learn; don’t expect it to come naturally.  Dedicate the time to learning it, just like you would if you were learning how to drive.  In my experience, after the first week at home (during which we did a laborious routine that included pumping after every feeding, and supplementing the feeding with pumped milk using a syringe and tube, breastfeeding was “well established.” Maia was consistently latching well, my nipples no longer looked like a war zone, and the lactation consultants were able to verify that she was taking in milk sufficiently by weighing her before, then after, a feeding.  We would not have gotten here on our own — lactation consultants saved us.

Get someone to help you around the clock with the early feedings.  Involve your partner, because you don’t want to be alone in this.  Eventually you will start to feel like you (the one with the boobs) are self-sufficient and you don’t need to wake him/her, but until then, it is crucial to have the extra set of hands and the moral support.

If possible, pump when it doesn’t make you hate your life.  I like to pump while I eat my breakfast if someone else is available to amuse Maia, or I take advantage of the time (and the hands-free pump bra) by doing a two handed activity like typing while pumping (if Maia is sleeping/otherwise occupied).  MAYBE I AM PUMPING RIGHT NOW!!

Optimize your logistics.  While it would be nice if new parents automatically acquired the skill of telekinesis, humans have not yet evolved to this level.  When I sit down to feed Maia, I have been using the side of the couch with a table on my left and a tray on my right, so I have places on EACH side of me to place my water bottle, snack, remotes, phone, kindle, etc.  I can reach them easily to keep myself entertained and nourished, so I don’t get jealous of my baby who is feeding her chubby little face.

-On a similar note, take the time to set yourself up with whatever you need/want BEFORE you latch your baby.  Babies are not patient while they are hungry.  I have noticed that Maia nurses better and nursing is more comfortable for me if I support the boob she is on with my hand, which means I have one hand available for other activities while she is latched.  I’ve learned to tolerate her crying for a moment or two while I make myself comfortable, because Maia doesn’t want an annoyed and frustrated mommy.

Pay attention to your body mechanics.  This topic deserves its own post… if I ever figure out how to make it work.  But generally, make sure you have back support, are not rounding your shoulders forward too far, and try to hold your wrist in neutral (still working on this – I have numbness in hands… problem). Consider using a stool under your feet, multiple pillows behind your back, and a nursing pillow (I prefer My Brest Friend).

img_2772

No matter what, feeding your baby is not likely to be easy, whether you are using formula or breastfeeding.  When you are getting exhausted with your method, remind yourself of WHY you made the choice you did.  AND remind yourself that the other option also has its disadvantages – If you are a mom who formula-fed, I’m sure you could write your own post like this about the woes of bottle-feeding.  When you are losing patience and can’t believe you are up at 3 in the morning, take a deep breath and just look at your sweet, innocent baby who completely depends on you to survive, and thank God, the Universe, or whoever/whatever you think is out there, for him or her.