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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

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  

Food & Recipes

Freezer Meals for New Moms :: Meatballs

February 13, 2017

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I feel like I have a dozen friends or family members due with babies in the next six months. I’m not even joking when I say a dozen – it’s babies and more babies. I suppose it’s probably just the phase of life we are in right now, but I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about freezer meals both for my own postpartum phase as well as meals to bring to friends who are anticipating a new little one.

My genuine hope is to do a very robust freezer meal series on this page in the coming weeks and months. Fingers crossed that I stick with the plan and get all the freezer meals made that I hope I can get done. First up: Meatballs!

Although I’m a vegetarian, I really love the process of making meatballs. And while I don’t have an old family-favorite recipe from an Italian grandmother to pass along to you today, this recipe for meatballs is straightforward, super easy to make in bulk and delivers delicious results from the freezer.

Ideas for using the meatballs include:
-Served on a toasted hoagie bun with marinara and shredded cheese
-Served over whole wheat pasta with marinara
-Served with marinara over spaghetti squash for a lower-carb choice
-Served plain with a side of steamer veggies (because let’s be honest, that’s what my husband would do!)

I decided to make things easier by cooking the meatballs, freezing them flat on a sheet pan and then transferring the frozen meatballs to a freezer bag for storage. Then, since they are already cooked, all you need to do is pop them in the oven until they are hot or thaw them and then add to a skilled fillet with marinara and cook on the stovetop until heated through. Super simple!

Freezer Meatballs
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 64 meatballs
 
Ingredients
  • 4 lbs. lean (at least 80%) ground beef
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 8 slices white sandwich bread
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 4 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Line four baking sheets with aluminum foil for easy clean up and set aside. For even easier baking, use disposable aluminum baking pans.
  2. Place the ground beef in a very large mixing bowl. In a second smaller bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Stir together (best to just mix really well with your hands) until bread is completely broken up and a soft, liquid-y mixture forms. Add the mixture to the ground beef and work together with your hands until very evenly combined.
  3. Shape beef mixture into 2-inch sized meatballs (mixture should make about 64 meatballs) and place on baking sheets, about 16 meatballs per baking sheet.
  4. Bake 15 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through and no pink remains. Remove from oven and cool meatballs on baking sheets until they are room temperature.
  5. Place cooled meatballs on baking sheets in the freezer and freeze for 4 hours or until frozen solid. Place frozen meatballs in a plastic zip-top freezer bag and store up to six months.
  6. To reheat, place meatballs on baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 350°F or until heated through. Or, thaw in the refrigerator and place in hot marinara on the stovetop; cook until heated through.

 

Family, Pregnancy

On Trusting My Body

February 1, 2017

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{Hatch Collection Bateau Top} // {GAP Demi Pannel Maternity Skinny Jeans}

Today I went to my doctor’s appointment. I’m 25 weeks pregnant, meaning I’ve got about 15 more weeks to go, and every time I have to step on the scale I cringe just a little bit. I would be lying if I said, given some of my past issues with body image, that it’s easy for me to see my body growing and changing rapidly. Actually, this time around might be playing more games with my mind than Ainsley’s pregnancy.

It’s a luxury, isn’t it? To be able to worry about things like gaining weight. During Ainsley’s pregnancy it was a luxury that I didn’t really afford myself because I was focused on other things, like whether or not my baby was healthy and growing appropriately. Like I said, a luxury to even think or worry about these things but something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately as we go further and further into this pregnancy.

While I was fretting about my pregnancy weight gain after my appointment today, something registered in my mind.

Trust your body. 

Anyone who has experienced pregnancy loss or infertility can attest to the fact that trusting your body doesn’t come easily. In the midst of my losses I didn’t feel I could trust my body at all. It had failed me in doing the thing I wanted so badly for it to do. But throughout Ainsley’s pregnancy, and baby girl #2’s pregnancy, I’ve felt a renewed sense of trust in what my body can do.

I’ve seen my body expand and grow, gaining 35 pounds, enduring 16 hours of labor and 2 hours of pushing to give us our beautiful Ainsley. That same body lost those 35 pounds and then some. It’s pushed a stroller for miles and bounced a fussy newborn for hours in the middle of the night. It’s run races and endured countless workouts. When I’ve called on my body to be there for me it has been there and then some.

So today when I was tempted to worry about what my body was doing and how much weight I’ve gained, I made the decision to trust my body and believe it will do what’s needed to grow and carry this baby. And then when that baby is here, it will feed, cuddle, and nurture that baby, too.

So fellow pregnant mommas, join me in giving your body the grace and appreciation it deserves, even on the hard days. Because the hard days will come. We’re only human, right? But how we choose to respond to those hard days is what really matters.

Madison

Fashion, Pregnancy

Maternity Capsule Wardrobe

January 27, 2017

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During Ainsley’s pregnancy I sincerely wish someone had sat me down and told me this piece of advice: When it comes to shopping for maternity clothes, buy high quality, classic pieces that you love and that make you feel great. Invest in a capsule wardrobe now and you won’t regret it.

You see, I got trapped into the idea that pregnancy is only nine months. Why spend money on clothes you will only wear for a short period of time, right? Wrong. If you hate what you wear during those nine months, if your clothes aren’t cut well and don’t make you feel and look good, it will feel like nine years. Truth.

If you plan to have more than one kiddo, I promise you won’t regret it. I didn’t do this and I sincerely wish I would have. I’m convinced that while some of the items listed below are pretty expensive, I would have actually spent less in the long term by really curating a capsule wardrobe for pregnancy. Since we hope to have one or two more kiddos down the line, I’m thinking of doing this for the remainder of this pregnancy in hopes that I’ll get plenty of use out of my clothes down the road.

When selecting the items listed below I picked quite a few pieces that were designed to be worn during and after pregnancy, hence the large number of Hatch pieces that I’ve suggested. I have a few friends who own clothing from them and they have said that their Hatch items have gotten wear long after baby has arrived, which I love!

I also avoided most tops with any obvious rouching on the sides, as that just screams “maternity!” and you will never wear those items after you have baby, even if you do have a bump after delivery.

Oh, and on the subject of seasonality, I tried to keep that in mind as well. By selecting slightly lighter weight dresses and tops you should be able to get wear out of them in any season. Pair your tops with an open cardigan or utility jacket in the winter and wear them alone in the warmer months. Chances are if you’re pregnant during the winter you will run a little warmer, anyway. The same holds true for dresses! You will, of course, need to invest in some seasonal items – a maternity winter coat, perhaps, or an extra maxi dress or swimsuit, but I tried to just cover the basics here.

TOPS 

1. Classic Striped Top :: Hatch The Bateau Striped Top 
2. Basic White Dress Shirt :: Hatch The Classic White
3. Chambray Shirt or Tunic :: Old Navy Maternity Chambray Pullover 
4. Tunic-Length Top (either sweater weight for winter or lighter weight for summer)
2. Well-Cut Basic Top :: Hatch The Everyday Top

JACKETS & CARDIGANS
1. Basic Layering Cardigan :: Liz Lange Maternity Open Layering Cardigan
2. Military/Cargo Jacket :: Gap Maternity Utility Jacket 

DRESSES
1. Dressy Day-To-Night Style :: Hatch The Tulip Dress 
2. Casual Everyday Style Dress :: Hatch The Shirt Dress or The Afternoon Dress

JEANS 
1. Skinny Jeans You Absolutely Love :: AG Stella Maternity Skinny Jeans

BASICS
1. Basic Layering Tanks in Black, White and Grey :: Liz Lange Maternity Tanks
2. Basic Maternity Leggings in Black and/or Grey :: Gap Maternity Pure Body Low Rise Leggings
3. Basic Layering T’s and Shirts :: Liz Lange Maternity V-Neck Tee or Long Sleeve Shirt