Becoming Parents

Becoming Parents

We had moved to St. Louis from Chicago. We bought a house. We had somewhat of a savings account. Our millionth friend announced their pregnancy on Facebook. But we didn’t feel like there was this overwhelming missing piece in our lives. We loved spending time together and had built a life around a pretty selfish existence. Nice dinners, lots of wine and sleeping in on the weekends were fairly normal for us.  After deciding to get our first child (a furry, four-legged sweetheart of a dog named Maisy), we felt like we had some idea of what responsibility felt like and started to think about the future – how many kids we wanted to have, how old we wanted to be when we have them, how much money we wanted in the bank account, etc. We naively set out to plan all of our next steps.

I had no idea if it would be easy for me to pregnant. Alex and I met in college and had spent our entire relationship trying to NOT get pregnant so trying to seemed foreign to me. I had heard so many stories about the trials and tribulations of deciding to start a family and I knew chances were, it may take a few months. We were visiting friends who had a 6 month old at the time and she was just the sweetest. We spent the weekend with them doing all the things that we typically would have done had they been without their babe, only this time they had a little one, and we thought, hey, maybe we could do this. From that point on we decided that we would stop preventing it. The next month…I was pregnant. I am so so so thankful that I didn’t have to deal with any fertility issues but quite literally was shocked and felt slightly unprepared to dive head first in this new stage of life. However, I was weirdly calm about it all.

I say that we were naive about starting a family because there is nothing that prepares you for what’s to come. I joined no less than 6 Facebook groups, I asked hundreds of questions to all my friends who have babies, I read the titles/inside 3 pages of popular baby books (never actually finished a whole one) and inundated myself with so much information I thought for sure I was going to be overly prepared for the arrival of my sweet babe. I wasn’t…at all. The overwhelming feeling of love and happiness and exhaustion (omg the exhaustion) and anxiety is nothing you can prepare for. My point is, regardless of the thousands of opinions and education materials and mom sites, you really just have to figure it out on your own…and you do. There is so much hatred in the world we live in….so much judgment. What we really need are strong, supportive conversations that empower us as parents to make decisions ourselves and talk about the realness of being responsible for the growth and happiness of another human being. And that is really what this blog is about. Parent life. What we like. What we don’t like. What works for us. What doesn’t work for us. What works for other people and what doesn’t. Supportive information to help inform survival of this crazy world we live in. And chunky baby smiles. Lots and lots of chunky baby smiles.

 

Interval Work Out Updated – Hard

Interval Work Out Updated – Hard

I’m not the best gauge on a hard vs. easy workout but the interval workout I posted two weeks ago for “Workout Wednesday” is fairly difficult for me to complete (i.e. I’m feeling it after). I had a few requests for one that is harder…and making me feel like an ass for thinking it was fairly difficult…but nonetheless, here it is. The workout I did when I was in college and haven’t really been able to do since then. For you fit people – let me know if this is, in your opinion, a difficult work out. Or if I am kidding myself and should change the workout from last week to easy, this one to intermediate and marathon running at a 6:30 pace hard…I’m just saying people. Some of you have to be average.

30 minute interval workout – hard

0:00 – 20:00 at 0.0 incline

0:00 – 2:00 – 5.0

2:00 – 4:00 – 5.5

4:00 – 5:00 – 6.0

5:00 – 7:00 – 5.5

7:00 – 8:00 – 6.7

8:00 – 10:00 – 5.5

10:00 – 11:00 – 7.0

11:00 – 13:00 – 6.0

13:00 – 14:00 – 7.5

14:00 – 16:00 – 6.0

16:00 – 17:00 – 8.0

17:00 – 19:00 – 6.0

19:00 – 20:00 – 8.5

20:00 – 22:00 – 6.0

22:00 – 24:00 – 6.0 4.0 incline

24:00 – 25:00 – 6.0 0.5 incline

25:00 – 27:00 – 6.0 6.0 incline

27:00 – 28:00 – 6.0 0.5 incline

28:00 – 30:00 – 6.0 0.0 incline

My Decision to Return to my “Day Job” After Having William

My Decision to Return to my “Day Job” After Having William

I always knew that I would most likely return to work after having kids. When I was working at a big media agency in Chicago, I was surrounded by these amazing women who became my mentors as they were professionals I looked up to and aspired to be. They were extremely motivating and always pushed me to be better and try harder. They were moms. In fact, they were first and foremost moms, and often described themselves that way. So I really owe it to them for making me believe I could have the best of both worlds.

That was the emotional side of my decision to go back to work. The practical one being that my husband and I both make very similar incomes and we definitely couldn’t maintain our lifestyle if we were down one income. Nice dinners, wine clubs, $6.99 to get more lives in candy crush (I’m sadly not kidding), vacations just the two of us, cute clothes for William, etc. would all go out the window and I think that would have been really hard for me. It would be a big adjustment and additional stress on how we could afford to do all that we wanted. However, we both said that if I ultimately decided that I wanted to stay home with William, we would figure out a way to make it work. No one knows how becoming on a mom will change you, so I definitely wanted to keep an open mind.

I took a full 12 weeks to stay at home and I really cherished that time with William as a newborn. I felt like I was able to give him everything he needed when no one else could. I got in all the snuggles and took a thousand photos. But I also struggled with feeling very alone. In the middle of winter, getting out of the house with a 1 month old was a challenge and I found myself digging deeper and deeper into an unrealistic existence. I rarely drove with William in the car, and when I did, I went down the street. I felt like I couldn’t shower without being able to see him, let alone allow him to sleep in his own crib without me nearby. I didn’t interact or see many people, so when I did, I felt awkward and unsure of myself. I was so obsessed with his breathing and eating and sleeping and movements that it completely consumed me. Alex would take William for an hour or so in the mornings before he left for work and I tell people that for 1 hour, I had the best sleep of my life. It is the only time I can remember not feeling like I had to be “on”.

I quickly realized how much I missed working in an office surrounded by adults. Not just to get away from the anxiety of a newborn, but I missed the positive reinforcement, the challenges and industry excitement. I realized that I thrive in a team environment and I need that daily interaction to be the best that I can be so I can be the best for my baby. After going back to work, I actually realize that it makes me a better mom. When I was at home with William, I felt like I was constantly chasing his next nap or figuring out where I could set him down for 10 minutes so I could clean up a bedroom or make a quick meal. When I pick him up now after work, I really feel like it’s me and William time. We go on walks, we play with toys, read books, antagonize Maisy, dance to music etc. I’m fully present. I don’t feel like I need to have the TV on, be on my phone or computer…and I feel like I can give him my undivided attention.

I have close family and friends whose life calling is to be a mom and they truly thrive staying home with their baby. In a way, I am jealous of their natural instinct and ability to be always present for their children. I love William with all my heart, but I honestly think if I was at home with him every single day, we would both go insane and I can’t put that on my child 🙂 Maybe one day things will change, but for now, I’m focusing on balancing the life I have with work and the decision to have a baby who also needs me. The two worlds often collide and I have to thank the support I receive from the professionals in my life for making it happen for me. I know many are not so lucky and I feel good knowing that others have my back. And Alex. He and I split parenting responsibilities 50/50 and he is always there to jump in with whatever is needed. Not one of our jobs is more important than the other and William always comes first. We consistently say that we have no idea how single parents do it because we would truly be lost without the other. 

Work Out Wednesday – My All Time Favorite Treadmill Workout

Work Out Wednesday – My All Time Favorite Treadmill Workout

The biggest challenge I have with working out is convenience. If it is below 40 degrees or I have to spend more than 5 minutes getting to a gym, there is a very good chance that it won’t happen. I am trying to open my mind to group classes and different forms of working out but for the most part, I stick to the traditional treadmill for the majority of my work out sessions. I can typically get in a couple of mindless shows that keep my attention and make me forget that I’m running. It works well for me and I can adjust what I do and the time I spend based on my schedule. It’s hard for me to commit to a scheduled class that lasts an hour knowing that each day is going to be different than the one before.

The best thing I ever did was purchase a treadmill. I now have zero excuses for not making it upstairs and getting in a quick 20 minutes if that is all I have time for. I’ve found creative ways to getting in a workout by doing it over my lunch (I’m lucky I live down the street from my office) or eating dinner early enough so I can workout around 8:30 or 9 after William goes to sleep. My biggest goal is to get my workout in early enough so I’m set for the rest of the day and don’t have to worry about it. One of my new year’s resolutions is to give myself my morning but man oh man it is tough for this night owl. I’m NOT a morning person.

This is my favorite work out I have been doing some version of for at least 10 years. I have found that intervals seem to have the biggest impact on my strength and overall endurance. This is what I am currently doing but it took me about eight weeks to get here without walking at the 20 minute mark. In another four weeks I will try to increase my speeds or go longer depending on how strong I feel.

Let me know if you guys try it out and how you like it!

Treadmill Interval Workout – Intermediate? You guys will have to tell me as I’m terrible at gauging how easy or hard a workout is – this may be easier than I think!  (first 20 minutes are at a 0 incline)

0 – 4:00 – 5.0 pace

4:00 – 5:00 – 5.5 pace

5:00 – 7:00 – 5.0 pace

7:00 – 8:00 – 5.7 pace

8:00 – 10:00 – 5.0 pace

10:00 – 11:00 – 6.0 pace

11:00 – 13:00 – 5.0 pace

13:00 – 14:00 – 6.5 pace

14:00 – 16:00 – 5.0 pace

16:00 – 17:00 – 7.0 pace

17:00 – 19:00 – 5.0 pace

19:00 – 20:00 – 7.5 pace

20:00 – 22:00 – 5.0 pace

22:00 – 24:00 – 5.5 pace 4.0 incline

24:00 – 25:00 – 5.5 pace 0.5 incline

25:00 – 27:00 – 5.5 pace 6.0 incline

27:00 – 28:00 – 5.5 pace 0.5 incline

28.00 – 30:00 – 5.0 pace 0 incline

I will often walk for 5-10 minutes at 3.5 to cool down if I have the time.

Fed is Best and the Struggle to Breast Feed

Fed is Best and the Struggle to Breast Feed

If there was one thing I was unprepared for after having William, it was breast feeding. It was the one thing I didn’t research and the one thing I didn’t feel like I needed help with. I just assumed once you deliver, your baby feeds from you from instinct. The majority of women in my life up to that point had exclusively breast fed and their biggest challenge was getting their babies to take a bottle. I had no idea that the opposite was more likely the case.

William was born a very average 7 lbs 10 ounces. He nursed like a champ after we went back to recover from my c-section. He had zero problems latching and really got the hang of it right away. However, I never felt the overwhelming feeling that my milk was coming in. In fact, I kept asking what that should feel like and how do I know that he is getting enough to eat. The nurses kept telling me, “oh you will know”.

We were in the hospital for 5 days since I had a c-section and poor William ended up having pretty bad jaundice. Because of that, I was SURE I would notice my milk coming in before I left, but I still wasn’t feeling engorged or like I could tell that William was getting what he needed. I heard him swallowing and he still nursed like a champ but it just didn’t feel like anything was there.

On the third day leading into the fourth, the nurse brought William back from the nursery and had mentioned that they gave him formula because he had lost a full pound from birth. They didn’t use a bottle, but a syringe that wouldn’t cause nipple confusion. When the lactation consultant came in that day, she showed us how to use the syringe in conjunction with nursing so he gets what he needs but doesn’t lose the desire to still feed from me. This. Was. The. Worst. Alex had to help me with every single feeding, the syringe would fall out, William wouldn’t get the suck right, we were all exhausted and I just wanted my milk to be enough for him.

We had to go in for weight checks after leaving the hospital because he had lost so much weight. Overnight into our first weight check, I nursed for the first time without the syringe and felt like he may be getting enough. When we went in for the appointment, the doctor essentially said, “it’s time to introduce a bottle”. William was back up to his birth weight but Alex and I were both so exhausted and it didn’t appear that my milk was doing enough. So we started supplementing with a little bit of formula via bottle and I continued to pump/do everything I could to increase my supply. I drank gallons of water, had a beer, pumped after feeding him, took vitamins and still was only getting 1 ounce via my pump which stressed me out even more because I felt like I wasn’t getting enough for him.

After lots of tears, stress and exhaustion, we finally decided to feed William formula the majority of the time. I was lucky because he would go back and forth from the bottle to me very easily but I just didn’t produce enough to feed him and essentially supplemented with breast milk. I read a lot about these poor moms dying to breast feed their babies and were essentially starving them out of a desire to give them what they weren’t producing. During this time, I looked at sweet William – happy and content and FED. So, I realized very quickly that I was fine with him just being a fed, chunky baby. Fedisbest.org became my favorite site and I really felt OK knowing that my child wasn’t going to bed hungry. At 3 months, he was exclusively formula fed and I didn’t have to do a thing for my milk to dry up. Never felt engorged, never felt pain. I absolutely will try to nurse our next baby as I do feel strongly about the nutrients they receive from our breast milk. But if it doesn’t work, I will 100% be OK as long as my child is fed and healthy and for the most part, happy.

Among my research on how to increase my milk supply and why my milk hadn’t come in, I came across so many moms shaming others for not nursing. They didn’t have these mom’s full stories or understanding as to why they came to that decision. I have plenty of friends who just decided that nursing wasn’t for them, and that’s OK. You would think that as moms, knowing how stressful this role is, we would all be compassionate and kind to one another. I don’t understand the drastic judgement and the extreme opinions when everyone is just trying to do what is best for them and their children. I don’t know any moms who claim to not care about what they do for their child. So instead of shaming or judging, I encourage all of us to support and learn from each other. We are all trying to do the best we can and I truly think there is so much to learn from all the moms who decide to parent in different ways.

Body Image After Baby

Body Image After Baby

Body Image. Any woman has probably struggled with a distorted view on body image. For me, I have what I would consider an opposite body image issue…if that even kind of makes sense. Basically, when I look in the mirror before I walk out the door, I typically think I look gooood. Like I have all the confidence in the world. And then I walk by a reflection of myself or see a candid photo taken and I’m like W. T. F. What happened between my house and the bar?! How did I just gain 20 lbs? Why does it look like I’m wearing NO makeup when I was questioning if I had on too much when I left? Maybe this is more common than I think but I typically hear stories of people who look in the mirror and see an obese human when in actuality, they are perfect in many women’s eyes. Regardless, everyone has an image in their mind of who they should be and how they should look.

I gained about 40 lbs when I was pregnant with William. HOWEVER,  I was about 30 lbs overweight when I got pregnant so I have really struggled to get back to what I would consider, “pre baby healthy”. And that’s my goal these days. To get healthy. Feel like I have all the energy in the world so I can run after my babe and not feel exhausted when I have to be the one to take care of him for the day. To make sure I’m around for him for many years to come.

I swear it took me about 8 months to feel like I could run for longer than 20 minutes on the treadmill. I used to run cross country in high school (granted that was a million years ago) and 20 minutes on a treadmill feeling like I was dying made me feel horrible. So instead of getting discouraged I slowly started getting back on track, finding different workouts that I wanted to do vs. feeling like it was the hardest thing in the world to decide to run or lift weights or just MOVE. Whether it’s spending 50 minutes on a treadmill or walking outside for 50 minutes with William, I’ve started to compile my favorite workouts that anyone who can walk can do. Because I’ve been there and I’ve felt terrible and I can finally feel my body turning a corner. I will start to compile my workout schedule, how I stay on track and what “cheating” means to me. Stay tuned 🙂