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. ūüôā

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

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

Fashion, Pregnancy

the comprehensive guide to maternity fashion

April 26, 2017

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I had the best intentions of sharing more maternity fashion posts this pregnancy, but that just didn’t happen. Truth be told, while I feel great this pregnancy, I feel anything but glamorous and stepping in front of the camera regularly to take photos of my outfits was just. not. happening. Ha!

That said, I have made an effort to try and dress normally and in a way that was put-together most of this pregnancy. And I have a lot of thoughts about clothes the second time around.

In short, maternity clothes stink. It’s hard to find good options that are comfortable and flattering throughout all stages of pregnancy. The clothes that do fit and wear well are almost always insanely expensive, and even when you do splurge on good quality, it’s not always a guarantee that your clothes will retain their shape and be worth the money you invested. Plus, aside from maternity-specific stores, finding brands that actually stock maternity clothes in their stores is practically impossible. I’ve purchased and returned so many clothes this pregnancy it’s comical.

So, after a nearly full-term pregnancy, what has made the cut, what brands have I loved, and what items have been worn time and time again? Let’s dive in!

My Most-Loved Items 
These are the pieces that I’ve found myself reaching for time and time again, the best of the best, if you will. It’s hard to know ahead of time what those items will be, but after 37+ weeks, it’s become clear that these are the winners.¬†

  1. Hatch Collection Bateau Top $158
    I know that some of you are going to say I’m crazy for recommending a top that costs this much, but it’s been a lifesaver. I’ve worn it time and time again, and have enjoyed the way it fit in the first trimester as much as the third. It’s designed to be able to be worn post-pregnancy, too, so I’m hopeful I’ll continue to get use out of it! It was the only Hatch piece I ended up keeping and I wish I would have purchased more.
  2. GAP Maternity Jeans $52
    I don’t have a specific link to the jeans I’m wearing since I bought them for Ainsley’s pregnancy, but the look similar to these jeans. They are comfortable, they hold their shape (!!!) and have worked well throughout pregnancy.
  3. GAP Rib-Knit Mockneck Dress $43
    I’ll go as far as to say this dress is a must-have item! I LOVE wearing it and feel like it’s very flattering throughout many stages of pregnancy.
  4. Liz Lange for Target Tee Dress $24
    I have the long-sleeved version of this dress, but I linked to the short sleeve version since summer is coming. I avoided all body-conscious dresses last pregnancy, but have really enjoyed this dress with the second go around.
  5. TK

Favorite Stores for Maternity Clothes

  1. Hatch Collection 
    Expensive clothing but from the one piece I kept and the others that I tried on, they are worth the clothes are worth the price! The only thing I really didn’t like were their jeans.
  2. Old Navy Maternity
    These pieces don’t fall into the “quality” category, but I do have a number of items from Old Navy that have worn fairly well during this pregnancy.
  3. Gap Maternity
    I’ve really loved almost everything I purchased from Gap this pregnancy. In fact, most of the items I’ve worn regularly have been Gap Maternity, so I guess that says something. Great for basics, including jeans, t-shirts and casual dresses.
  4. Pink Blush Maternity 
    This is a hit-or-miss recommendation. Some of their clothes have been really cute and fit well, others have been a total disaster. The dress I’m wearing in the photo above has been a favorite of mine as well as their robes (for labor/delivery/postpartum) and some of their tops. Proceed with caution and expect to return about as much as you buy.
  5. Stitch Fix Maternity 
    I got a couple maternity fixes, once during Ainsley’s pregnancy and once during this pregnancy. The two pair of leggings that I LIVED in with both pregnancies were both from maternity-focused fixes. I know Stitch Fix can be hit or miss, but I really appreciated that they had some different brands than what I would have found in stores or online.

Places/Items I DON’T Recommend

  1. H&M Maternity
    I didn’t have any success, despite trying a lot of items from their maternity collection. Everything ran super small and shrank in the wash. I would recommend just shopping their regular items and sizing up, which I did with some success in the sweater department.
  2. AG Maternity Jeans
    I’m so sad about this. I spent a ridiculous amount on a pair of AG maternity skinny jeans, and while they are certainly the most comfortable things on the face of the earth when you first put them on, they are a total nightmare as you wear them. I’ve never owned a pair of jeans that have bagged out this bad. I can’t wear them for more than a couple hours without needing to wash/dry them again.
  3. ASOS Maternity
    Maybe it was just me, or the fact that my style and preferences have changed since my last pregnancy, but I didn’t find ASOS Maternity to be a good fit this time. The clothes were all ill-fitting and the few items I kept ended up shrinking terribly even after following the wash/care instructions.

Madison

Family

the years are short, of that I’m painfully aware

April 14, 2017

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Anyone who has prepared for parenthood has heard the adage: “The days are long, but the years are short!”¬†When I was in the trenches of life with a newborn the days did, indeed, feel long. And while I knew that the years would fly by, I don’t think I really believed it. These days, I find myself feeling every ounce of the shortness of life with little children. My baby, I swear she was just a baby. How can she possibly be two? Having conversations with me and running around the house like a maniac, developing her very own personality and preferences.

As I wait for our second little girl to arrive, I find myself painfully, achingly aware of how short the years are, how quickly the days fly by and how quickly these little babies turn into toddlers, kindergarteners, high schoolers, college students. Be still my heart. I don’t know if I can handle it.

I’m aware that sometimes I can come off extremely unsentimental to those who know me well, but it’s not really that at all. If anything, I’m so sentimental that I can’t handle the big feelings that threaten to overtake me on a daily basis. I look at those little fingers, those tiny toes that have curled up like that since she was itty bitty, the way she giggles and curls up next to me on the couch while watching “Monkey George” and calls milk “mookie!” You guys, I can’t handle it. I’ve always been a believe that the best is yet to come, but lately I’ve been searching for a way to freeze time. Because these days, while exhausting, challenging, physically demanding, are so very sweet.

I look at those two faces in the photo above and I melt. Our family isn’t perfect, we aren’t perfect or ideal parents. Heck, sometimes we aren’t even good parents! But they’re my people, my crew, and getting to do life with them every day is the biggest blessing I could have asked for.

Madison