Browsing Tag



Protein Lactation Bites

April 8, 2015

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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
Recipe type: Snack
Serves: 10
  • 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
  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.



Ainsley 1 Month Update

March 25, 2015

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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.


Pregnancy, Uncategorized

Hey, first time momma. This post is for you.

March 18, 2015

View More: by Gina Zeidler

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.


Pregnancy, Uncategorized

Ainsley’s Birth Story

March 5, 2015

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I should start by saying that I went into labor with very few expectations or ideas of how I wanted things to do. I didn’t write a birth plan, was undecided on how I felt about pain medication and was sure that I would have a very long labor since my mom had a very long labor with me. In short, my expectations of labor were low and I fully expected it to be miserable and long, and I was a little bit terrified of the whole concept in the weeks leading up to Ainsley’s birth.

On Tuesday, February 24th, I went in for my weekly doctor’s appointment with my OB to check on progress. I was just over 39 weeks pregnant and was showing great progress (3 cm and 80% effaced) so my doctor suggested stripping my membranes in hopes of moving things along. The procedure was short and slightly uncomfortable but not painful; she said we would know within 48 hours if it had any impact on inducing labor. At this point I was getting very uncomfortable being pregnant, as I’m sure is very normal for anyone that far along. Ainsley had been hanging out really low my entire pregnancy, and I was feeling that extra weight as the days ticked by.

That afternoon after work Joe suggested we go to the gym and get a good, hard workout in to move things along. I don’t know why I put lifting on the back burner for much of my pregnancy, but getting a good, hard (by pregnancy standards – I didn’t do any heavy lifting or anything that I thought would be unsafe) workout felt amazing. We did lots of squats, lunges and leg press, which I have to imagine helped things out. By the time we got home I had started to notice what I thought were minor contractions; they were short and spaced 8 to 10 minutes apart or more so I didn’t think much of them and we continued on with our plans for the night, making dinner and getting ready for one of my girlfriends to come over for a bit.

By the time my friend Kristin arrived around 8 the contractions were consistent and strong enough to prompt Joe and I to download a contraction timer on his phone to record what I was experiencing. They weren’t overly painful but they were coming 5 to 6 minutes apart and lasting for about 30 seconds. At this point I started to think that this might be the real deal, but I was so afraid of going to the hospital in the middle of the night only to be sent home with false labor that I wanted to hold off as long as possible.

At 9:15 Joe and I were watching a recorded episode of Downton Abbey and the contractions were starting to last much longer, around a minute in length. They were still bearable but left me feeling like a trip to the hospital was inevitable. Since I was convinced, as I mentioned, that my labor was going to be 36 hours long, I became increasingly worried about Joe getting a good night of sleep. (What?!) I didn’t want him sleep-deprived for 48 hours so I suggested he go to the guest bedroom and sleep while I labored at home for as long as I could. I told him my goal was to make it until 3:15 before going to the hospital so he could get a solid 6 hours of sleep. Looking back, I think I might be the nicest in-labor wife ever? Or maybe just a little delusional.

I attempted to sleep on the couch in between contractions to preserve as much energy as possible, but after about 2 hours it proved to be quite impossible to sleep. My contractions were now anywhere between 50 seconds and 1 minute and 20 seconds in length and coming about 4 to 5 minutes apart. I’ll admit that I was totally unprepared for just how painful and consuming contractions would be and was quickly becoming eager to get to the hospital for an epidural, no longer undecided about wanting pain medication. I walked around the house, leaned over the couch, rolled from side to side, willing to try anything to get through each contraction and make it to my 3:15 goal.

When 3:15 finally arrived my contractions were still lasting around a minute or more and coming 3 minutes apart. I woke Joe up and informed him that we needed to get ready and go to the hospital NOW because the pain was quickly becoming unbearable. Somehow, during all of this, I was still worried that this was false labor. I remember being on my hands and knees in pain during a contraction and saying to Joe, “If this is false labor, I don’t even want to know what real labor is like!” Along with, “Give me ALL the pain medicine!” It should also be noted that I had some pretty grand ideas about showering and blow-drying my hair when labor began so I could look cute, put-together and fresh, but of course I spent so much time thinking that it was false labor that by the time I knew it was real labor the idea of getting in the shower and doing my hair was an impossible task.

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We arrived at the hospital around 3:45 and when they checked my cervix I was dilated to a 6 and 100% effaced. I was so thankful that I had progressed that much and wouldn’t be sent home but would instead be admitted to have our baby! All attempts at walking from the assessment room to our labor and delivery room were quite difficult and I found myself on my hands and knees between each contraction.

When I got into the hospital bed I immediately ordered the epidural, totally decided at this point that I needed something to help get me through the hours to come. We were informed by the nurses on duty that the anesthesiologist who was on call that morning was the most-requested doctor in the hospital for giving epidurals, and boy can I see why! I don’t have any other experiences to compare it to, but I think I had a pretty great experience. My epidural was amazing; I could feel my feed and move my legs slightly, but I didn’t feel a single contraction. Joe brought his own pillow and blanket (thank you to the person who suggested doing so!) and we both drifted off into sleep for a solid two hours from 6 to 8 am.

The greatest gift of the entire labor and delivery process was the fact that my doctor was assigned to my hospital that day to handle labor and delivery needs and had no other patients in active labor. As you can imagine, we’ve grown quite fond of our doctor since she has been down this crazy road with us over the last 2 years and having her deliver our baby felt so special. She was around so much more than I expected, checking on us frequently, talking with us for extended periods of time and putting me at total ease. She was even around for over an hour of the time we spent pushing, chatting with us between each contraction. Around 10 am she checked me and I was fully dilated and Ainsley had dropped even lower, around a +2 station. We were officially ready to push!

Although Ainsley was low and ready to come into the world, I felt like it took me a bit of time to get the hang of pushing. Once again, my epidural blew me away because I was still able to feel the urge to push but didn’t feel any of the pain associated with each contraction. Joe was such a huge support, holding on to one of my legs while our amazing nurse held on to the other. Some people have asked how Joe did during labor, and quite honestly he was a total champ. Having grown up on the farm, he’s helped with plenty of animal births, and although I don’t like the idea of human birth being compared to birthing a baby calf, there really are a lot of similarities! Thankfully the ins and outs of labor didn’t phase him one bit; in fact at one point Joe was holding both my legs and counting for me while I pushed when the nurse was busy hanging another bag of IV fluids and our doctor was out of the room.

I pushed for 2 hours total; about an hour in I secretly started to wonder if we were making any progress and if Ainsley would ever arrive, but the encouragement of our nurse, Joe and our doctor helped keep me focused and prevented me from becoming discouraged. It was, without a doubt, a physically exhausting process pushing for that long. I was so thankful that we had the opportunity to nap earlier that morning and that I was relatively well-rested and had conserved energy for this part of the delivery process. About 20 minutes before Ainsley was born my doctor suggested doing an episiotomy. She said that it would help prevent a tear that looked like it would be much worse and would get Ainsley here a little quicker. At that point, 1 hour and 40 minutes of pushing in, I was in compete support of her suggestion. Anything to move the process along was good in my book!

About 20 minutes later our little peanut came into the world, crying the most beautiful, loud and forceful cry I could have hoped for. The first thing I noticed was her full head of dark hair and how beautiful her little body was. I still have that image of the first time I saw her burned on my mind; it’s something I hope I never forget. All through this pregnancy I have battled fear and doubt and worried about her health and well-being. Seeing our healthy little girl laying on my chest, so perfect and healthy and wide-eyed left me completely in awe of our creator and the miracle of life and of His provision for our little family of three.

We kept Ainsley on my chest for about 30 minutes after she was born. Joe cut the cord and I marveled at that 2-vessel cord that had caused us so much fear and concern throughout the pregnancy, monitoring her every few weeks and checking on her growth and development. After about 30 minutes I was ready to have her cleaned off, she was weighed and measured and promptly returned to us to cuddle. We marveled at her in the way that only new parents can marvel at their baby, looking at her face for signs of Joe’s features and my own. I was so thankful they waited to put the antibiotic ointment in her eyes because the first hour she was awake, wide-eyed and checking out the world, was so special.

And that’s it! Her birth was so uneventful and beautiful that I found myself nostalgic for labor yesterday as we celebrated her 1-week birthday. That’s certainly not something I ever thought I would say, but the process was so pleasant, beautiful and miraculous that I can’t help but want to do it all over again!

Welcome to the world, Ainsley Moriah! We’re so thankful God chose us to be your parents.



Pregnancy and Body Image

February 23, 2015

photo (69)I’ve spent a lot of time over the years writing about body image on this site. It’s been such a blessing to hear stories from so many other women who have struggled with body confidence and self-acceptance and are now loving and embracing their bodies and all that they can do. Although I’ve made huge strides over the years in loving and appreciating my own body, I have to admit that I was very, very worried about my body and the way it would change and transition while pregnant. Having finally found a happy place with eating and exercising, I felt more at peace in my own skin prior to getting pregnant this time around than I had ever felt before. And that led to a lot of fears and questions.

How would my body adjust to being pregnant? Would I swell up like a balloon? Would my body change in ways that I would never be able to recover from? Were the days of feeling fit and pretty over for good?

Of course, I didn’t feel like I could really express these fears and concerns because we had prayed so diligently for our little miracle baby. I was truly thrilled to be pregnant and didn’t want anyone to get the wrong idea by me complaining or expressing concerns about my body. How silly to worry about my body image when God gave me this amazing, miraculous life growing inside me!

But the truth is, those fears are normal and valid. It doesn’t diminish the excitement of your pregnancy and baby and it certainly doesn’t make you a bad momma, either. There are a few things that I’ve learned about body image along this pregnancy journey that I wanted to share in case there are others out there who are pregnant, newly pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant sometime soon.

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The photo above? That’s me right after finding out we were pregnant with Baby H. Someone should have slapped me for ever having a “fat day” because at 39 weeks pregnant, I would kill to look like that again! Which brings me to my first point…

1. Pregnancy will make you appreciate your pre-pregnancy body in ways you never thought possible. 
I’ve looked back at the photos on my phone from my pre-pregnancy days and been ashamed at the thoughts that I remember having about my body at the time the photos were taken. I remember thinking that I looked chubby or out of shape, picking apart my thighs or stomach. But the truth is, pregnancy has given me an entirely new appreciation for my pre-pregnancy body. Was it perfect? Absolutely not! But my body was fit, healthy and I think I looked pretty darn good. So if you’re not currently pregnant, appreciate your pre-pregnancy body. It’s more beautiful than you can imagine!

2. There are great things about your pregnant body, too! 
I’m sure everyone is quick to tell you about the horrible things that come with pregnancy, like the swollen feet, achy back and stretch marks, but the changes that your body undergoes are just plain miraculous. The more I read about pregnancy, the more amazed I was by my body’s ability to grown and change to accommodate a new little life.

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3. Don’t listen to discouraging stories!
You know what drives me crazy? When people are quick to tell you that you’ll never “get your body back” after baby or that it’s all downhill from here on out. I’m not going into the post-pregnancy period thinking it’s going to be easy, but I’m also not setting myself up to fail by believing that I’ll never feel or look like myself again. I’m fully expecting my body to be changed after baby, but I’m also expecting that with a serious dose of hard work I’ll be able to feel like myself in due time.

If you’re looking for a serious dose of encouragement, read my friend Robin’s amazing story of body after baby. We need more of those amazing stories!

4. It’s not all doom and gloom. In fact, your body may surprise you!
Everyone experiences pregnancy differently. Just because your sister-in-law’s feet grew two sizes or your best friend had horrible stretch marks that never went away doesn’t mean anything for your own experience. Personally I was terrified of stretch marks and gaining 65 pounds, but my body blew me away with how it handled pregnancy. I’ve gained a reasonable amount of weight, my wedding rings are still on and I’m still wearing my favorite pairs of shoes. After two miscarriages I went into this pregnancy with a lot of fear and distrust of my body, but this experience has helped rebuild the trust I have in my body and renewed my appreciation.

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5. Give yourself some grace, but not a free pass.
Hollywood totally glamorizes the crazy pregnancy cravings and eating entire pints of ice cream in one sitting while you’re growing a baby. While I certainly haven’t restricted my food intake while pregnant, I’ve also tried to be reasonable about the indulgences along the way. Knowing that my body only needed about 300 extra calories in the second trimester and 500 extra calories in the third trimester put my eating into perspective. I became more interested in making my calories count in the form of nutrient-dense foods rather than wasting my calories in the form of empty nutritional sources.

That said, there were plenty of times when I indulged in dessert or an extra slice of pizza and did so without any regret. There is no sense in beating yourself up along the way! There should be a few fun perks during pregnancy, right?!

6. Stay as active as possible for your mental sanity.
I had grand visions of running through my entire pregnancy and maintaining a fairly intense workout routine. However, I experienced horrible groin pain from about 17 weeks on, making exercise, especially running, difficult. I quickly adjusted my expectations for workouts while pregnant. Running was off the table but I found that pregnancy DVDs, long walks and hand and body weight exercises were enough to keep me feeling good physically and mentally. Plus, I have to imagine that staying active while pregnant will help when I’m trying to get back in shape after baby.

7. Invest in a pregnancy wardrobe. 
This may be a debatable suggestion, but I would strongly suggest investing in some great pieces of clothing during your pregnancy. Doing so really helped me feel like myself even as my body was changing and helped me maintain a sense of personal style. Although pregnancy is “only 9 months” as many will tell you, that’s a long 9 months to wear clothing that doesn’t make you feel good about your body. There are plenty of reasonably-priced options for maternity wear. My favorites? Gap Maternity and ASOS Maternity!

Other mommas out there, what would you add to this list? 

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