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The first six weeks of life with a baby have been eventful, to say the least, and those weeks have thrown my eating for a loop! I had grand visions of eating a huge meal after delivery, but surprisingly I found myself barely able to eat for a day after delivery and, in fact, my appetite was dampened for a good part of the first week postpartum. Pair that with the fact that I got a horrible case of stomach flu when Ainsley was 4 weeks old that took away my appetite for a week and a half and my eating has been sporadic at best since she arrived.

I started to get a little worried about maintaining my milk supply after getting hit hard with the flu. The dehydration took a big toll on my body and I realized there was no way I was getting enough nutrients in my system to make up for the calories lost during breastfeeding. So when my sister-in-law, Amber, posted this healthy recipe for Protein Balls on her Instagram page, I thought it would be a great recipe to tweak in hopes of boosting lactation. I mean I love Lactation Cookies but I was looking for something a little healthier for frequent consumption. An added bonus? These bites are super quick to whip up and much faster than baking a batch of cookies.

I’ve kept a double batch of these babies in our freezer for snacks throughout the week when I only have one hand and a couple minutes to spare, which happens more often than I would have ever imagined pre-baby!

Protein Lactation Bites
Author: 
Recipe type: Snack
Serves: 10
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter
  • ½ cup chocolate protein powder
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 Tablespoon brewer's yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon ground flax
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Combine all the above ingredients together in a food processor and process until mixture starts to come together. Roll into balls. Store in the refrigerator or covered in a plastic container.

 

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Before I had a baby, I promised myself that I wasn’t going to talk about how hard motherhood is. I had heard so many other women tell me that motherhood was the most difficult/wonderful thing they had ever done, but quite honestly I was discouraged by those stories because they made me dread, rather than anticipate, what was to come for our little family. But now that I’ve been doing this motherhood thing for about six long and incredibly short weeks I can safely say that motherhood is every bit as hard as others told me it would be but for reasons I never anticipated.

You see, I knew that taking care of a baby was going to be challenging. I had babysat for years and had enough experience around babies that I wasn’t totally naive about how consuming childcare can be. But it’s not the baby care that’s so challenging. No, it’s the fact that caring for a little one and giving yourself to your infant exposes you and every single one of your selfish desires and there is no place to hide. Being a momma and loving our little girl has brought me face to face with just how selfish I really am, even though I never thought of myself as an overly selfish person to begin with.

Over the past number of weeks I heard that little voice in my head saying, “What about ME?” about a thousand times. When Ainsley is awake from her nap 30 minutes ahead of schedule and is crying for her bottle just as I’m getting out of the shower, dripping wet. Or when I’m starving and sit down to finally eat dinner, but Little Miss wants to be bounced and swayed and cuddled. Or when I’m laying in bed, desperate for a couple of consecutive hours of sleep but the paci fell out of her mouth and she needs to be soothed back to sleep for the tenth time that night.

When I write these things down, they seem incredibly trite. I mean, what’s the big deal on missing out of a little sleep, being a little hungry, or not having the time to blow dry your hair or put on a little makeup? But I think I seriously underestimated how much I cherished those basic things in life: sleep, food, exercise, a hot shower.

At church yesterday, Easter Sunday, I was feeling like the ugliest version of myself. I had on a pretty dress and my hair was curled and our family looked photo-ready. (See evidence above) But inside, my heart was anything but pretty. Ainsley had spent the better part of the night crying inconsolably and being incredibly fussy, leading us to believe that she had an ear infection. After a middle of the night call to the pediatrician, they suggested we go downtown to the children’s ER since all things related to your kiddo are bound to happen on a Sunday, aren’t they?! We trekked to the ER at 4 am, sleepy and weary and a little worried only to find out that Ainsley was just fine and most likely just going through a developmental leap leading to increased fussiness.

On the way home I felt relieved but more than a little agitated. I was grumbling to myself about how tired I was, how little sleep I had gotten, how much we were going to have to pay for our trip to the ER, etc. My pre-baby self was throwing a fit inside about not getting what I wanted. In short, I was acting a lot like Ainsley. Totally acceptable when you’re a 6 week old baby, a lot uglier when you’re a 27-year-old momma of a newborn.

So when I sat down at church and sang those songs about the sacrifice our Savior made for us two thousand years ago, the ultimate sacrifice, it put my little tantrum into perspective. I thought about how diligently we, and many others, prayed for this sweet little baby of ours and how I’ve spent the better part of the last couple of weeks complaining about the very blessing I wanted so desperately.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been so thankful for Ainsley and for our new life as a family of three, but it hasn’t been without significant growing pains. The very real and very difficult process of dying to yourself and your desires often gets lost in the sea of stories about how blissful new motherhood is. And it is blissful, most certainly, when your little one sleeps on your chest all curled up or starts to show signs of their very first smile. But it’s also difficult, and that’s okay, too.

So, if you’re a new momma, or about to become one, I want to let you know that it’s okay to struggle a bit, to miss your old life, and to struggle with your selfish desires. As my own mom affirmed to me yesterday, the transformation into motherhood is a process and something that takes a little time. Expecting that transformation to occur completely the minute you have your baby is holding yourself to an unrealistic standard. So let’s all vow to give ourselves a little grace in the process, shall we? I know that I, for one, have never needed more grace than I do now that I’m a mom!

Madison

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I can’t believe that our little baby is 1 month old today! The last month seems to have been the longest, shortest, best, hardest month of our lives; motherhood is such a study in contrasts, isn’t it? I’m tempted to say that I want to go back and do it all over again, this last month, but that wouldn’t be true. Although the last month has been wonderful, adjusting to life with a new little person is a huge learning curve and I’m thankful that we have a month under our belts! The more we learn about her, the more we are able to enjoy her!

So, let’s talk about this little lady, shall we? (Side note: I’m not looking for a debate on parenting styles, since I know the topic is very polarizing. I’m simply sharing what works for us.)

Likes and Dislikes: She loves bath time more than anything! We give her a bath every night before bed time and I swear she would stay in there forever if we let her. She also loves eating, sleeping, cuddling with mom and dad and having people sing to her. Every time someone breaks into song she falls into a trance. It’s so cute! She dislikes having her diaper/clothes changed, being cold and having to wait for food. Don’t we all?!

Daytime Schedule: During the day, Ainsley is on a 3 hour eat-play-sleep cycle. She wakes up at 6:30 every morning and eats every three hours until she goes to bed around 9:30/9:45. In the last week her “play/awake” time has been getting a bit longer as she has been more alert, which is so much fun. It’s great to see her little personality more and more. Little lady loves to nap and takes most of her naps in her crib, although I’ll take all the naps she wants to take on my chest, too, since I know those days are limited and her cuddles are just so sweet!

Eating: She eats like a champ! We had some issues with breastfeeding from the start, so about a week in we switched to bottle feeding breast milk while I exclusively pump. It made all the difference in the world! She is eating 4 to 5 ounces every three hours during the day with the occasional 6 ounce bottle thrown in there when she is really hungry.

Sleep: As I mentioned above Ainsley is pretty predictable in terms of schedule. She sleeps 2 to 2 1/2 hour stretches during her daytime naps. Around 6:30 she has her dinner bottle and then we keep her awake as long as possible with a little cat nap thrown in before her last bottle of the evening, around 9 or 9:30, depending on how long we can hold her off.

She has been waking up once around 1:30 for another feeding and then sleeping again until 6 or 6:30 when we begin the day again! Lately she has been waking up around 4 or 4:30, which we are trying to drop, since she only eats about an ounce before she dozes off again, making me think she isn’t actually that hungry. If we can get her to consistently only wake once a night, I will be one happy (and well-rested) momma!

Puppy Update: A lot of people have wondered how Nutmeg and Pippa are doing with the transition, and honestly they are doing really well! Nutmeg is the perfect dog, of course, and has transitioned so well to having another little creature in the house to share the attention with. Pippa is having a slightly harder time since she was the one who always needed to be in my lap and now that lap is occupied with a baby! But both dogs are very interested and curious about Ainsley rather than threatened or aggressive, which is an answered prayer. Our biggest challenge is keeping Pippa from licking Ainsley’s mouth all the time!

Family Transition: I think I could write an entire post on the transition that takes place when you go from being a couple to a family of three with a little human that seems to be guiding and directing your days. I don’t think I was quite ready for how challenging that aspect of parenthood would be! Especially since I’m home all day with Ainsley right now, I crave time with Joe more than anything and the time we have together when he comes home from work feels so short. It seems most of our night is spent trying to cram as much as possible into a short few hours, and once Ainsley goes to bed we are ready to fall asleep because we are so darn exhausted! Right now there seems to be very little time for just the two of us, but I’m anticipating that it will get better as Ainsley gets a little older and starts going to bed earlier, sleeping longer, etc.

I had a minor breakdown last weekend because I wasn’t doing a great job at voicing what I needed from Joe in terms of support in this whole parenting gig. Sometimes I have the tendency to not voice anything that’s bothering me until I reach the meltdown stage. Not healthy, for sure! What came out of the meltdown and ensuing conversation was that I needed a couple days a week where I got an hour or so to myself after Joe gets home from work. So we settled on three days a week being gym days for Joe after work and two days a week being “me” days, whatever that means. Sometimes that is a walk outside when the weather is nice, a trip out to run errands by myself, going to the gym to sit in the sauna, etc. Craving out even a little time sans-baby has been so good for my mental health!

Mommy Body Update: I think I’m going to do an entire series on postpartum body image and transition, so I’ll keep this short. I’m feeling really good now that I’m a month out from labor and delivery! I think I’ve healed really well for the most part and I’m feeling more like myself every day. I’m trying to be patient with my body and give myself plenty of time to get back to really feeling and looking like my old self, which is challenging, but I keep reminding myself that it took me 9 months to grow this baby, so if it takes 9 months to get back in pre-baby shape, that’s totally fine! I’ve been getting out and being more and more active – lots of long walks and a few light jogs as well. It’s felt great to sweat a little bit and get my body moving every day!

Resources: For those of you who are curious, we are using Babywise and Moms on Call as our resources for scheduling and general baby/newborn care. They are very similar in approach, but I found the Moms on Call a bit easier to understand and digest while I was pregnant. Now that I actually have a baby, Babywise makes a lot more sense than it did before.

Madison

View More: http://ginazeidler.pass.us/ainsleynewbornPhoto by Gina Zeidler  http://ginazeidler.com/  http://ginazeidler.com/blog

I’m so very sorry that posting has been so sporadic lately. I really should have just anticipated that I was going to need a full month of blog maternity leave to adjust to life with a newborn and life as a family of three. Of course, I though I was going to get so much more done than I’ve actually accomplished, despite what I had heard from veteran mommas who have much more wisdom about this parenthood thing that I have.

Although I don’t claim to be an expert, in fact I’m very far from it, I do have the benefit of perspective being in the thick of the new momma days and have a few things I thought I would jot down for all you out there who are thinking about pregnancy or are currently expecting your first baby.

1. Read all the books you feel comfortable reading, but don’t feel bad when you don’t remember anything you read in the first few days at home. I felt SO prepared before Ainsley arrived, having read parenting and sleep books galore, but when you’re awake in the middle of the night with a newborn that has their days and nights mixed up, it seems so much more real than the theoretical scenarios you read about. It’s okay, there will be time to go back and read later, and the books will all make more sense when you have a few weeks under your belt, anyway.

2. There really is no time like the present, so do your best to be in the moment rather than living for the next. Joe and I are constantly battling this only three weeks in! I find myself thinking about when Ainsley is a bit older and sleeps longer stretches, but then Joe gently reminds me that we should cherish this stage and not wish for the next because when she is a little older she won’t sleep on our chests with her little frog legs curled under her body and baby cuddles will be harder to come by. Keep reminding yourself that no stage lasts forever, even if it feels like forever at the time.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! The nurses in our hospital preached the importance of not sending your baby off to the newborn nursery because of the value of bonding with your baby by rooming in with them. Thankfully some of my veteran mom friends told me differently! Take advantage of the help while you have it, sleep as much as you can so you go home well-rested and ready for the first wonderful-difficult days at home. And when your mom volunteers to care for your baby in the middle of the night while you go back to bed, take her up on that offer, too. You’re not a “bad mom” for letting others love on and care for your baby. You’re human.

4. Be an advocate for your baby, but check the worrying (and Dr. Google) at the door. I heard that once your baby was in the world the worry wouldn’t subside, it would only increase, and boy is that true! I’ve found myself worried over baby sniffles, poop color and tummy fussiness more than I ever thought possible. Since you are your baby’s momma and probably see and know more about them than anyone else, it’s your job to advocate for them when you notice something seems off, but know when to draw the line. Steer clear of Google and call your pediatrician when you really need a question answered. (I’m preaching to myself with this one!)

5. It doesn’t matter how (or what) you feed your baby nearly as much as people will lead you to believe. Breastfeeding, bottle feeding breast milk, formula feeding or a combination of both – the choices are numerous and the opinions are plentiful and passionate. I always thought I would breastfeed, only to find out that for a number of reasons (that’s another post for another time) the best solution for us was to bottle feed breast milk and exclusively pump. For the first few days after making that decision I agonized about the choice and felt guilty sharing that choice with others. But I soon came to the realization that even the best laid plans don’t always work out the way you want them to and that’s more than okay.

6. The first few days and weeks at home are tough. I know everyone will be asking you about how things are going and how your baby is sleeping and how you’re feeling. You might feel pressure to have it all together and say that things are just wonderful and you love being a mom, and that might be true. But if you’re feeling exhausted and mourning a bit of your old life with your husband and crying in the parking lot of Target 4 days postpartum, that’s okay, too. It’s possible to love your new life AND mourn your old life.

7. Find a support group of other new moms to walk with you on this road. I have a handful of momma friends who have newborns around the same age as Ainsley and have also joined a new momma/first-time mom class that meets at our local parenting center for six weeks. It’s SO helpful to connect with other women who are burning the midnight oil with feedings and baby fussiness and just knowing that there are others in your exact same stage of life helps tremendously. Because sometimes in the middle of the night when you’re up with a fussy baby it can feel incredibly lonely and you could probably use the reminder that it’s not just you navigating these unfamiliar waters.

8. Don’t try on your pre-pregnancy jeans 2 weeks postpartum. Just don’t. Give yourself and your body a little more time.

9. And speaking of bodies, remember that although you’re probably eager to get back into shape and start looking like your old self as soon as possible, your primary responsibility right now is to feed and nourish your baby and to take care of yourself. So focus on filling your body with nourishing foods, plenty of water and as much good stuff as possible. The weight will come off in time, or so I’m told.

10. Take a little time to yourself every single day. Nap while your baby naps, read a magazine for 20 minutes, let your hubby bond with your little one when he gets home from work so you can take a walk outside or a soak in the tub. Shower, wash your hair and put on makeup. Whatever makes you feel like your old self is SO important for your mental well-being, so do whatever it takes to make time for something like that daily.

Madison

Heritage Reserve Naval Oranges

A number of weeks ago, before Ainsley arrived, the sweet people over at Heritage Reserve Naval Oranges offered to send me a case of their oranges for review. Joe loves oranges, so he was as excited as could be, but I was a little hesitant. You see, I’m not really a fan of oranges. There, I said it! It’s not that I mind them, but I rarely sit down and eat an orange for a snack because I always find the flesh a little tough and unappealing. Clementines on the other hand? I could eat five or six at a time!

Despite my hesitation I agreed to sample the oranges, and they couldn’t have arrived at a better time. They showed up at our doorstep a few days before Ainsley was born while we were battling horrible colds and we were eager for the extra dose of vitamin C. Honestly, I didn’t expect to be as blown away by these oranges as I was, but they are truly amazing. Since the team sent us a box of 72 oranges, we gave them away to everyone who visited us in the weeks following Ainsley’s arrival and everyone who tried them had the same reaction.

The flavor of these oranges is incredible and the flesh is soft and tender, almost like a giant clementine. I think it may have something to do with the age and quality of the trees? The trees they are grown on are anywhere between 50 and 112 years old. Dare I say these oranges were my version of citrus fruit heaven? They’re only available from February through April, and for you Twin Cities residents, word on the street is that they’re available at Cub Foods right now, so look out for them when you’re at the grocery store!

Orange Berry Smoothie (1) | Espresso and Cream

We’ve been working our way through our giant supply, finding ways to incorporate the oranges into meals and snacks. Joe has even taken to making smoothies with them in our Vitamix! I thought I would share with you our favorite combination as of late. Since Ainsley arrived, smoothies like this one have been a staple in my diet because I’m able to get a bunch of nutrition into a single meal.

Berry-Orange Smoothie with Heritage Reserve Oranges
Author: 
Recipe type: Smoothie
Serves: 1
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup milk or non-dairy milk of choice
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 1 cup frozen mixed berries (I like the antioxidant blend from Target)
  • 1 Heritage Reserve Naval Orange, peeled
  • 3 to 4 ice cubes
Instructions
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend on medium high speed until smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes to really break up the flesh from the oranges. Serve immediately.

 

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