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Family, Pregnancy

Mind and Body After Baby (the second time around) // 3 Months

August 22, 2017

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I’m back today to talk about mind and body after baby #2 at the three month mark! Collins is actually closer to four months than three months at this point, but that’s close enough, right? The last post I did about the postpartum recovery period was 3-6 weeks, and a LOT has changed since then.
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Mind Update ::

Let me say first that now, looking back, I can see that I was trying really hard to pull myself together during the first two months after Collins was born. Almost daily I felt as if I was floundering, stumbling, pushing through the haze day-in and day-out. I’m sure that from the outside looking in it seemed as if I had things fairly pulled together, but it was more of a struggle than I anticipated.

I remember going on multiple runs during the first few months after Collins was born, feet hitting the pavement and sun beating down on me, thinking “I’m running to hold on to my sanity and mental health.” And while that may sound dramatic, those first few months I really did feel as if I was walking on eggshells, afraid that I was perilously close to postpartum depression.

During those first two months, I thought about my postpartum experience with Ainsley and remembered feeling nearly the exact same. Emotional, easily stressed, edgy, prone to crying over the smallest things. I think part of that is normal, and some of it was probably a bit more extreme than what others experience. I waffled back and forth, back and forth about weaning and did some ridiculous pumping semi-weaned thing for a couple weeks while I tried to get up the courage to just switch entirely to formula. For some reason I felt weirdly emotional about the idea of weaning. And then I remember that with Ainsley, within a week of weaning, I started to feel like myself again. The clouds and fog lifted and everything about motherhood seemed more manageable. I was able to delight in my daughter more than ever before and wasn’t nearly as edgy.

So, with the encouragement of my amazing husband, I made the full switch to formula. And the same thing happened. I felt like myself again, life became more manageable, and I was able to delight in and enjoy Collins more than before. And while this is certainly NOT meant to be a debate about breast vs. formula, for me it was a wonderful decision and gave me a lot of freedom and mental clarity.
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Body/Fitness Update ::

As you probably already know if you’ve read my previous posts about my recovery, I’ve been exercising since about 3 weeks postpartum, returning to more vigorous exercise around 5/6 weeks. At this point, I’ve resumed all my regular workouts and activities and have been really surprised and how much my fitness level was able to be maintained while pregnant and how quickly my endurance returned to normal. This has nothing to do with weight, pant size, etc. I’m just talking fitness level and general ability. All that to say, working out during your pregnancy does make a huge difference in your recovery after!

As far as weight goes, I really have no idea how much I weigh right now. We don’t have a scale and I haven’t been to the doctor since my 6-week postpartum check-up, so I’m clueless until the next time I go to the doctor. I’ve been lifting more/heavier weight so I’m feeling like I have more muscle than I did before I got pregnant. I can tell you that while many of my favorite pre-baby clothing items fit again, my high-waisted jeans and a few pairs of shorts definitely do NOT fit right quite yet, so I’m giving myself grace and time to get back to where I want to be in that regard.

I have been running 3 or 4 miles on the weekend and doing workouts on Beachbody on Demand 4 to 5 of the other days of the week. Right now I’m working my way through my second round of the new program Shift Shop, which is a combination of cardio and strength training videos, and it’s been great for keeping me motivated and engaged. Since the weather is really nice here, we’ve also been taking the big double stroller on long walks as a little bit of “bonus exercise.”

Just the other day, I told Joe how STRONG I feel right now in my body. Am I in the best shape I’ve ever been? Not quite! Am I the skinniest? Heck no! But I feel fit, strong and able and that’s the biggest blessing I could ask for as a busy mom of two little girls.

So that’s that! My update on my postpartum experience the second time around at the 3-month mark. I’m hoping to do another update closer to 6 months, then again and 9 months and 1 year!

Madison

Family, Pregnancy

Thoughtful {Unique} Baby Gifts

August 2, 2017

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Let’s talk baby gifts, shall we? I want to be a better gift giver, and slowly but surely I’m learning how to be thanks to my mom friends who are great gift-givers themselves. A few of my close friends come to mind, the ones who always have the most unique, pretty and fun gift ideas. Not necessarily extravagant, per se, just spot-on and thoughtful. After having a second baby, and having a ton of friends and family having babies, gift giving has been on my mind. Here are a few of my favorite gifts for babies and new-moms. Not necessarily must-have products but gifts mom will be happy to receive.

1. Comfy Clothes or Gift Card
This is my #1 gift for a new mom. Because chances are she isn’t about to spend money on clothes when her body is in such a time of transition, but a few new items of clothing do wonders for the self-esteem when you’re in such a strange time with your body and living in sweat pants and t-shirts and workout gear. Gift cards to Old Navy have been a go-to for me because you can get a lot of bang for your buck, as well as cute mom-focused t-shirts from The Be Brand, my new favorite mom-gear shop online.

2. Solly Baby Swaddles
I’ve been given these and gifted these quite a few times in the last couple months. I LOVE how soft and stretchy they are – so much better than the muslin swaddles that everyone gifts. They work as burp cloths, swaddles, blankets, sun shades, etc. They are so super soft and stretchy and something I wouldn’t have splurged on for myself but SO appreciate being gifted.

3. A Box of Bows Subscription 
We LOVE A Little Lady Shop hair bows in our house for the girls and they have a cute little “Box of Bows” monthly subscription that you can gift. How fun, right? I love gifting the bow subscription to new girl mommas, especially if its their first girl!

4. Unique Art
I realize that art is really personal, but I think that gifting a print from a place like Minted is so super sweet and thoughtful if you know what baby’s room looks like and mom’s personal style.

5. Baby Play Mat 
I love this Polar Bear Baby Play Mat from Land of Nod. I was gifted something similar from Pottery Barn when Ainsley was born. It was totally something I would never have purchased on my own but I love that it’s designed for baby yet looks cute in your home. Win-win, right?

6. The Gift of Time
When you have a new baby, everyone says “If you need anything, let me know!” But that is so open-ended and most people I know are hesitant to reach out and actually take you up on the offer. I would suggest being more specific, gifting a card along with some time slots that work for you to stop by and help. Saying “I have Tuesday mornings from 9-11:30 available and would love to gift two mornings of my time to you to help out around the house.” or “I would love to take your toddler off your hands for three mornings in the next couple months as a gift to you. Monday or Wednesday mornings work for me!” is the kind of specificity that most moms need to take you up on your offer.

7. The Gift of a Clean Home
When Collins was born, my Beautycounter team gifted me a clean house! Okay, they pre-paid the gal who cleans our house for 9 cleaning sessions. What a luxury! A dirty house stresses me out to no end, so having a clean house during a time of transition and chaos was the most wonderful gift I could have been given.

8. Food Gift Cards
People tend to bring meals during the first two or three weeks after baby is born, but really, I found that I needed the meals and help more as baby girl got older and fussier. The first two weeks were total bliss. Collins slept all the time, she was very easygoing and chill, and life was good. And then the third week rolled around and she woke up, got fussier and gassier, and was generally just a bit more difficult for a few weeks. I felt totally overwhelmed and those that brought meals a little later were much appreciated! That said, gift cards would have been equally welcome!

Family, Pregnancy

Postpartum Vitamin & Supplement Routine

August 1, 2017

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Hi, friends! We are back from family vacation and I’m busy digging into a new week and a new month. It seems almost weekly that I get questions from readers and friends about my favorite supplements and vitamins, and while I’m certainly not an expert, I have done my research and found products that work well for me and my body. The postpartum period is a time when nutrition is extremely important. The postpartum body has gone through a LOT and nourishing it and fueling it appropriately is key to having a good recovery. Plus, our bodies are going through so much change (including lack of sleep) so any extra edge or boost I can get is welcome.

So, all that said, here is what has been working well for me at nearly 3 months postpartum*

1. Garden of Life My Kind Organics Once Daily Prenatal
I love the once-daily format of this prenatal. In the past I’ve taken prenatal vitamins that require you to take multiple pills each day, but I just couldn’t remember to do so consistently. I love Garden of Life products because their vitamins are all made from whole food sources and this prenatal contains folate, not folic acid, a very important deciding factor for me.

2. Bio Cleanse 
I’ve been using the Bio Cleanse since Collins was born after a friend recommended it to me. It’s a supplement made up primarily of magnesium and vitamin C with the goal of helping promote regularity and reduce gas/bloating. I took magnesium throughout my pregnancy to help with cramping and pregnancy insomnia. And since pregnancy has a way of doing a number on your stomach, any extra assistance in keeping things moving is good in my book.

3. ProBio 5 
Again, I’ve been taking ProBio 5 for over a year as I’ve tried to focus on repairing my gut health in an effort not to get sick quite as often as I have in the past. There are lots of great probiotics on the market, but this has been the one that I’ve stuck with.

4. Iron Supplement (HemeVite Plus)
I’m a vegetarian and tend to always be on the lower end of normal as far as iron is concerned. In fact, during my pregnancy with Ainsley I had the worst headaches until I started increasing my iron intake! I know iron can bother some people’s stomachs, but I’ve had zero issues with this brand. I take one pill per day

5. Water, water, water
I’m working on being more intentional about my water intake. Whenever I feel tired or worn down, I just chug a couple large glasses of water. 😉 And since I drink a lot of coffee, too, I try to balance out my coffee in take with water to stay hydrated and energized.

6. OmegaBrite Fish Oil
This was recommended to me by a doctor as one of the higher quality fish oils. In fact, some of the major studies done on mental health and fish oil used this particular brand. Since our family doesn’t eat a lot of fish because it’s hard to come by in small town Iowa, I’ve tried my best to be more diligent about taking a fish oil supplement.

*affiliate links included
**I’m not a doctor or medical professional. All advice is my personal opinions and you should consult your doctor before taking any supplements.

Family, Pregnancy

Breastfeeding, Bottle Feeding and Supplementing :: The Second Time Around

July 6, 2017

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A few weeks ago on Instagram I promised that I would write this post. And yet here I am, two weeks later, still kicking the can down the road and avoiding writing about the topic of breastfeeding, bottle feeding, supplementing. Not because I’m afraid to write about the topic, but because it’s a complicated subject – one that I feel different about daily. Chances are, if you’re a mom, you understand what I’m talking about. Because in the long run, it’s something that doesn’t really matter that much, and yet it matters so much when you’re in the thick of the newborn and baby days.

Let’s back up a little bit first. While I was preparing for Collins to arrive I debating not breastfeeding at all. Not a flippant comment here and there, but rather a very real conversation with Joe about not even giving it a shot. Having had a less than ideal breastfeeding (err pumping) journey with Ainsley, I was traumatized by the experience and not at all keen for a repeat. Exclusive pumping is not for the faint of heart!

I was never one of those people who dreamed about breastfeeding my child. And having formula fed Ainsley after four months of pumping, it made me realize that formula was, in fact, quite a wonderful thing. Nutritionally inferior to breastmilk? Yes, there’s no debating that. But a fantastic second option. Yet time and time again with both pregnancies I was met with plenty of unsolicited “Breast is Best” messaging. I still remember getting a call from a survey taker from the Minnesota state government after Ainsley was born and giving them an earful about how I didn’t want to have breastfeeding pushed on me any more than it already had been.

So this time around I promised myself: no guilt, no struggling to breastfeed, no exclusive pumping around the clock to keep up my supply. Joe and I decided that my goal would be two weeks of breastfeeding to give Collins the colostrum and early milk and then if it wasn’t working I would switch over to formula. My two week goal came and went, and I continued to breastfeed. I’m fairly certain that few moms would classify breastfeeding as “easy” but it was workable, a few issues with over-supply aside.

A lot of the stories about breastfeeding and switching over to formula that you find on the internet usually revolve around times when a mom has no other choice – baby isn’t gaining weight, mom doesn’t have enough supply, latching isn’t working, etc. But what about when it is working? With Ainsley, I had very little guilt about not breastfeeding because her lip gap caused major latch issues that I don’t think we could have overcome. It was my out, my valid excuse for switching to bottles. And then eventually, dropping the exclusive pumping routine and switching to formula. But with Collins? What was my reasoning? What would I tell others who asked?

At the end of the day I don’t really have a major reason. But here’s what I do know: Breastfeeding was not, for me, a blissful bonding experience with my baby. Having bottle fed Ainsley for a year, I knew enough to realize that I enjoyed bottle feeding my baby more than I did breastfeeding her. I could kiss her head and look into her eyes without the stress of whether or not she would pull away or unlatch or get upset. I knew enough to know that because I’m a fairly modest person, breastfeeding in public places was giving me serious anxiety and staying home with a toddler or being home for every feeding just wasn’t an option. I knew enough to know that formula, while nutritionally inferior, would give me the ability to be the most present wife and mom I could be.

So where does that leave me right now? I don’t really know. I’m still pumping three times a day right now, producing enough milk to cover about 3/4 of Collins’s feedings for the day, but I contemplate quitting nearly every single day and switching over to formula entirely. Pumping a few times a day seems like such a small price to pay for providing my daughter with the benefits of breastmilk, yet I long to be completely in one camp or another rather than one foot in and one foot out.

For now, I’m in the murky middle. I’m sure that eventually I’ll fall into the exclusively formula fed camp, but for now I’m just taking it day by day. Realizing it’s okay to be conflicted, unsure, neither here nor there.

Madison  

Pregnancy

The Postpartum Body // Weeks 3-6

June 22, 2017

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I can’t believe that little Collins is already 6 weeks old! It’s been the fastest and slowest six weeks of my life, balancing the craziness that is having a newborn and a toddler. I’ve told everyone who asks that the hardest part is that the exhaustion of a toddler and the exhaustion of a newborn are at odds with one another. A toddler goes all-out, all day long BUT our toddler also takes a two hour nap every day and sleeps 12 hours at night, so it’s easy to go, go, go as a mom of a toddler and still get recharged each night. A newborn, on the other hand, is an entirely different kind of exhausting. They sleep a LOT but they are also needier around the clock and require night feedings and the whole “rest when the baby rests” is pretty much a joke when you have a two-year-old to manage and entertain, too.

So, now that we have all that out of the way, I’m ready to talk about my postpartum journey and where I’m at six weeks in.

SLEEP
I put this one first, because it’s a big one for me and sleep has a huge impact on your health, weight loss, ability to exercise, etc. Collins has been a pretty good sleeper for the most part and has adapted well to a schedule that we’ve put in place. Sure, we have days and nights that aren’t super great, but I’m not complaining. She hit a very fussy period around 3 weeks and now seems to be getting less and less fussy as her digestive system matures and her tummy issues have subsided substantially.

As it stands today, she is going to bed each night around 8:30 and waking once or twice each night to eat. Sometimes at 1:30 and then again at 4. Other times she is waking just once, around 2 or 2:30. I’ve been trying to find a balance between going to bed when she does at 8:30 so I can get a nice long stretch of sleep and also wanting to spend some quality time with Joe. It’s hard for me to decide what is more important to my mental and emotional health on any given day. I try to take a nap during the day when the girls both nap in the afternoon, but sometimes it’s hard to fall asleep in the early afternoon when I don’t feel as tired as I do in the morning or later in the evening.

EXERCISE
During my last post, I said that I was waiting until 6 weeks to really start to exercise seriously. However, after about the 3 week mark I started to feel really good physically and most of my bleeding had subsided, so I’ve been working out harder and more consistently for the last two weeks. My first couple runs were hard, but as my abdominal muscles have gotten stronger, I’ve noticed that working out and running has been much easier. I’ve been doing exercises to repair my mild diastasis and gone on a lot of long walks with the double stroller and have been either running or doing a workout on Beachbody on Demand 5 to 6 days of the week. It might seem like a lot, but working out has given me a huge boost of energy and mental clarity on the days I’ve needed it most.

WEIGHT LOSS
We don’t own a scale and haven’t in years because I try not to focus on weight as a marker for health and fitness. I usually rely on how my clothes fit rather than how much I weigh. I did step on a scale last week and was about 6 pounds above my typical pre-pregnancy weight, assuming that scale was right. I’ll have a better idea when I go to my 6-week postpartum check-up early next week!

That said, I can fit into a lot of my clothes but they don’t all fit like they did before baby, which is to be expected at this stage in the game. Do I wish that my clothes fit already? Sure! But I’m trying to have a realistic and healthy mindset about my progress and taking it a day at a time. Nine months on, nine months off, right? Okay, I hope it doesn’t take nine months, but even if it does, that’s okay. 😉

OVERALL
Overall, I’ve been really thankful for how well my body has been recovering. While I was pregnant, there were plenty of times that I questioned whether or not working out would make any difference postpartum. The answer has been a resounding YES. If you’re currently pregnant, I can say without a doubt that working out was worth it, even if it was hard to find the motivation some days.