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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.

Family, Pregnancy

Favorite Baby Products :: Newborn (second time around)

June 12, 2017

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I wanted to take a minute (while it’s still fresh in my mind) to do a little post about my favorite baby products for newborns the second time around. Because let’s be honest, my list of must-have products is really scaled back the second time around and only includes the best of the best. No frills!

1. Milk Snob Nursing Cover/Car Seat Cover/Blanket/Etc. 
This cover is great! I LOVE multi-function baby products like this one. It functions as a nursing cover and a car seat cover (my main use for it) as well as a blanket and a grocery cart cover. It’s really cute, soft and washes well.

2. LeachCo Infant Lounger 
This was gifted to us for Ainsley and we have gotten SO much use out of it with both girls. They have both napped in it a lot during the early weeks (while supervised since it’s not technically a safe sleep surface) and I love that it’s super portable and can be moved from room to room.

3. Wubba Nub Pacifier 
Ainsley wasn’t a paci baby, but this little girl certainly is. We love the Wubba Nub because it stays in place when they are little and learning to keep the paci in their mouth. We have three around the house so we are never without one!

4. Halo Micro Fleece Swaddle
We have tried a lot of different swaddles and sleep products but it’s a little funny to me that the one we keep coming back to time and time again is the swaddle that our hospital gave us for free when Ainsley was born. It’s a “swaddle for dummies” since it has velcro and makes it super easy to get a nice, tight swaddle that stays in place.

5. LectroFan White Noise Machine
Our girls both sleep in their cribs, with the room dark and the sound machines running. We have two of these sound machines and I don’t think they can be beat for the price and functionality.

6. Ergo 360 Baby Carrier
All the praise hands for the Ergo 360. We didn’t end up using it nearly as much with Ainsley when she got older. I had envisioned using it a lot for hiking and walks and such, but we did use it a LOT in those early months when the evening fussies would strike and she would want to be held close and bounced but I still wanted to get dinner on the table or do something else. I sort of forgot about using it until last week, when Collins was really fussy, and bingo! She loves the carrier, and usually I can get her to fall asleep for a short cat nap during her fussy period while I’m cooking or playing in the yard with Ainsley toward the end of the day.

7. VTech Baby Monitor
I knew this time around that I didn’t want a fancy video monitor since we hardly used ours with Ainsley. Something about always seeing every little movement and grunt and wiggle just stressed me out. So this time around we went with a simple sound monitor, the same one we have for Ainsley. I rarely use it since all our bedrooms in the house are close together, but this monitor has lasted for a long time with Ainsley and done everything I need it to do!

8. Keekaroo Peanut Changer
This is a product I didn’t know I needed but now I can’t imagine doing without! This changing pad can be wiped down, sanitized and doesn’t need a cover. I mean, I can’t imagine having a regular changing pad with a cloth cover given how many times we wipe this thing down. It’s amazing!

Pregnancy

The Postpartum Body // Birth – 3 Weeks

June 1, 2017

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Hi friends! With Ainsley’s pregnancy, I really wanted to write about my postpartum fitness and health journey but the best laid plans never came to be and I didn’t document the process the way that I had hoped. My friend Robin’s blog was a tremendous encouragement to me when I was postpartum both with Ainsley and this time around. She took such a balanced, moderate approach to getting back in shape after baby and I was so encouraged by how kind and gentle she was to her body during that tender time after baby.

I’ve heard plenty of people say, “It takes 9 months to put it on, it takes 9 months to take it off.” Which is great in theory, but it’s also hard to understand what that looks like in practice when you look at your postpartum body for the first (or 15th) time and are a little shocked and maybe a tad dismayed at what you’re left to work with.

One thing I’m not going to do? Share any shirtless photos or bikini shots of my postpartum progress. I did take them, for my own benefit and progress tracking, but I don’t want anyone to get wrapped up in my journey or have this series serve as a form of comparison for anyone. It should be nothing but some honest reflections and encouragement, with a little perspective, too, given that I’ve gone through this once before. Perspective is a game changer!

PREGNANCY
During this pregnancy, my weight gain landed around 37 pounds. My pre-pregnancy weight is usually around 140 (I’m 5’10) and I topped out with this pregnancy at 177 pounds, for reference. This was a few pounds more than Ainsley, but pretty comparable to the first go-around. I gained a lot of weight during the first half of the pregnancy and then things leveled off a bit as the pregnancy went out. I had to repeat the mantra “trust your body” time and time again, believing that my body knew exactly what it was doing and would grow the way it needed to grow.

WEEKS 1-3
The first few weeks, I’ve made it a goal to focus on nourishing my body and treating it gently. Having a toddler, I haven’t been able to rest quite as much as I would have liked to speed the healing process (I did have some minor tearing during delivery) but that’s just the nature of the beast with a toddler and a baby. From the beginning, I felt really good postpartum from day 1. I’m not sure if it was not having an epidural or just being in better physical shape, or maybe a combination of the two? Feeling so good was a blessing and a curse since I think I may have pushed myself a little too fast during the first week or two.

My focus during these first three weeks has been to rest when possible, sleep when the kiddos sleep (they have been napping together in the afternoons), drinking plenty of water and eating a large amount of nourishing food to help my body recover and establish my milk supply. When you’re sleep deprived, most people tend to grab sugary, greasy foods and plenty of refined carbs for instant energy, but I’ve been avoiding those foods as much as possible and focusing on lots of oatmeal in the morning, nut and seed butters, vegetables, fruits, eggs, whole grains and legumes. I’m certainly not “dieting” during this time at all, just loading up on large servings of the good stuff.

I’m also snacking frequently (usually a morning and afternoon snack) and limiting my caffeine intake to a cup or two in the morning as to not mess up baby’s sleep schedule and nighttime sleep. Smoothies have been my best friend, and for the most part I’ve been avoiding all dairy since it doesn’t sit well with me and many newborns don’t do well with it, either. But that’s more of a personal choice!

I’ve found that my body tends to lose weight quickly at first, then stall a little bit. With Ainsley, my body hung on to an extra 5 to 10 pounds while breastfeeding, so we will see if that trend continues this time around. I did buy a decent amount of clothing to ease myself into the postpartum period – dresses that are nursing-friendly, flowy and a few pairs of pants and shorts in larger sizes so I can feel like I’m wearing normal clothes even if I don’t fit into all my pre-baby clothing. For me, getting showered and dressed in real clothes most days does wonders for my mental and emotional state during these early weeks!

As far as workouts or being active goes, my doctor told me that I could start exercising lightly as soon as I felt ready, perhaps around 3 or 4 weeks postpartum. And while I’m waiting for the six week check-up to officially get back into real workouts, after the two week mark I felt ready to start walking longer distances and getting out and about with the girls. The weather is beautiful right now, so long stroller walks to the park have been very common. I have a small amount of diastasis recti as well, so I’ve been doing exercises recommended by a physical therapist for healing the diastasis before resuming more active core exercises.

Real talk? The first week or two it was easy to feel really good in my post baby body. I birthed a human! I was momma to a beautiful baby girl! I was really good at giving myself lots of grace, but the last week or so I’ve found some unhealthy thoughts creeping into my head about my post-baby body. The squishy tummy that I look at multiple times per day when I feed Collins, the way my clothes fit differently than before, the fact that I’ve got some work to do before I’m back in fighting shape. I think that lack of sleep plays into this big time. I mean, is anyone at their best mentally when they are really tired? But I’ve been continuing to repeat affirming thoughts and words of grace over my body in its current state. I’ve got plenty of time to get back into fighting shape, so for now I’m enjoying the slow, easy walks and taking my former workout time and using it to nap, instead. 🙂

I’m planning on doing another update at the 3 month mark, but for now that’s all I’ve got! 🙂

Madison

Family, Pregnancy

Collins Elizabeth Jane Hofmeyer // A Birth Story

May 30, 2017

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This has been on my to-do list since the week we came home with Collins. I LOVE reading birth stories (something that I only started to like and appreciate after having my own baby) and more than anything, I really like having the birth stories of my girls written down and documented so I can go back and read them/remember what their births were really like since it’s so easy to forget! Having Ainsley’s birth story written down on the blog was such a gift as I prepared for Collins’s birth.

I started showing signs of progressing starting at my first check around 36 weeks. By 38 weeks I was 3 cm and 50% effaced and I pretty much stalled out at that point. At my 39 week appointment I was still the same and was having some occasional but irregular Braxton Hicks contractions that I hardly even noticed until I was monitored and told I was having them. Overall I felt great and was pretty comfortable, even hugely pregnant. My doctor gave me the option at my 38 week appointment to be induced close to my due date. Although I didn’t have any complications that made it medically necessary, I had a LOT of fear about going much past my due date, having heard some horror stories about babies going past 40 weeks. I know there are plenty of feelings and opinions about this, but knowing she was fully “cooked” and healthy, I just wanted to get her out safe and sound. I opted to have my membranes stripped at my 39 week appointment (a Monday) and put the induction on the calendar for that Friday (May 12) in case nothing had happened by that point.

I was pretty committed to trying everything I could to get labor going on its own. I walked miles upon miles, did countless workouts, squats and lunges (including CrossFit at 39 weeks) and even jogged a bit but still nothing. I had some fears associated with being induced and worried a lot about whether or not I was making the right decision, but in the end I decided it was best to trust my doctor’s advice. He felt that based on how far along I already was that the induction would be successful and uneventful.

Friday morning we said our goodbyes to Ainsley (I was super emotional) and my mom came to the house so Ainsley could stay in as much of a normal routine as possible. We checked into the hospital at 7 am and they monitored me for about an hour and administered my first round of antibiotics for Group B Strep. My doctor game around 8 and looked over the last hour’s worth of monitoring. I was having contractions about 7 to 8 minutes apart but they were painless and I could hardly tell I was having them. I was still at a 3 and 50% so no progress had been made since my last appointment.

My hopes going into this birth were to do it without an epidural, though I was very open to having one if need be, such as if labor stalled or I was too tense and needed the epidural to help me rest/relax/progress. We had hired a doula for the birth as well as an added source of support during labor and I’m very thankful that we did!

Our doctor suggested that since I already had an “irritable uterus” and was having contractions, that instead of starting Pitocin, we would start with a very small dose of Cytotec to get things moving on their own. The difference between the Cytotec and Pitocin was that the Cytotec didn’t require constant monitoring like Pitocin, allowing me greater freedom to labor by walking and moving around. I was given the freedom to walk, even outside since it was a beautiful day, and then come back every 30-40 minutes to be monitored before I was able to go back and walk some more. From 8 am until  noon we walked and lunged and watched episodes of Top Chef on my computer with very little excitement. I felt practically nothing and the contractions weren’t any more painful, so much so that the nurse even said that perhaps the Cytotec fell out or didn’t get inserted properly and wasn’t “taking.”

Our doctor came back in around noon and checked me again. At that point I was a 5 and 75% so progress had been made despite the lack of pain. He felt it was appropriate to break my water and told me that we could expect things to pick up quite rapidly after that point, and he was right! I started to have slightly more intense and noticeable contractions soon after that while walking the halls with Joe and our doula, Kari. She suggested doing “abdominal lift and tucks” during each contraction to work with what my body was doing and progress faster.

Around 1:20 we returned to the room for more monitoring and the contractions were much more intense, coming about 3 minutes apart. We went for another walk around the hospital but around 2:30 I was in so much discomfort during each contraction that I said I wanted to stay in the room after that point.

When we returned to the room to be monitored, Collins’s heart rate wasn’t giving them the variables that they wanted, meaning I was stuck laying in the bed longer than expected and laboring through contractions lying down was not my favorite. Between the intense pain and the fact that they weren’t seeing what they wanted to on the monitor, I started to get panicky, worrying that there was something wrong with Collins. Our nurse assured me she was probably sleeping, In my panic, I demanded that our nurse check my progress to help give me some source of encouragement. I was at 7 and 100% and Collins soon started moving, giving me the extra encouragement I needed to push through mentally.

Our nurse and doula suggested that I get in the tub to help me relax and move things along. I got in the tub around 2:40 and it was such a relief. Contractions were still SO painful (I begged for the epidural a couple times) but I was reassured that things would be moving super quickly and by the time the anestesiologist came it would probably be too late for an epidural anyway. Joe was wonderful, holding my hand and encouraging me, even when I shouted a couple curse words at him. While in the tub I felt a very strong urge to push and remember shouting, “I don’t want to have a baby in the bath tub!” Ha! So between contractions Joe helped me out of the tub, back into my gown and to the bed around 2:50. At that point I was fully dilated.

Our doctor was in another procedure that he was called out of because baby Collins wasn’t about to wait for anyone to make her arrival. It took about 3 full pushes for her to make her arrival at 3:03 pm! She had a full head of very dark hair and was perfect in every way. What parents don’t say that, right?

We are SO thankful that she is here, safe and healthy, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to be a family of four. The newborn stage, it’s undoubtedly exhausting and challenging in a way totally different than toddler challenging, but something about all four of us being together just feels “right” if that makes any sense.

Welcome to the world, Collins Elizabeth! We’re so thankful you’re here.

Family, Pregnancy

Baby Collins’ Animal-Themed Nursery

May 22, 2017

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Collins Elizabeth is here! Okay, while writing this post she actually isn’t here yet, but by the time I post she will be, and I am so excited to share her nursery with you all. I figured I should get this post put together before her arrival since I can’t imagine I’ll be back to blogging very quickly after she makes her arrival.

I’ve posted a list of resources at the bottom of this post if you are curious as to what items we purchased for her nursery and where they came from! With Ainsley’s nursery we had a very clear idea and direction before decorating. I spent so many hours pinning photos and creating inspiration boards, and with this nursery…. well, second baby problems because I did none of that. But! I’m so so happy with how it turned out. We sort of accidentally fell into an “baby animal” theme for the nursery, and paired with the grey and light pink color palette I think it feels both whimsical and sophisticated.

The room itself is on the smaller side compared to Ainsley’s room our our master bedroom – we have three bedrooms upstairs – so we didn’t have a lot of space for extra things or unnecessary furniture. The closet is also on the smaller side so any extra items (extra diapers, wipes, etc.) are all housed in Ainsley’s very large closet.

Source Guide 
Rocker // Room & Board
Bear Pillow // Target
Rug // Pottery Barn
Crib // AllModern.com
Mesh Liner // Breathable Baby
Crib Sheet // Land of Nod
Custom Name Sign // House of Belonging
Changing Table/Dresser // Thrifted
Changing Pad // Keekaroo Peanut Changer
Mirror // Target
Animal Prints // Homegoods