Archive for 2013

Traveling solo with an infant, plugged ducts, and a January Paleo Challenge

Monday, December 30, 2013

The past few weeks have been a complete whirlwind for me.  I can't believe that Christmas has come and gone and we are in the final few hours of 2013.

During the week before Christmas, I embarked on a journey to visit my family with my 8 month old son.  My husband couldn't get the time off work, so I had to travel alone.  On the way to visit my family, I wasn't really alone because two of my sisters traveled with me.  It was nice to have a few extra hands to help me carry stuff.  I was even able to carry everything on.  They helped keep B entertained when our flight was delayed.

On the way back, it was a completely different story.  I was alone in every sense of the word (well, except for having B with me) and on several occasions wanted to either scream at the top of my lungs how everyone sucks at life, or sit down and start crying in the middle of the terminal.  I have listed out a few lessons learned from the trip.  It might help someone out in the future.

1.  Check most of your luggage if you are flying solo with a baby.  I found this out the hard way even though I actually ended up checking my suitcase on the way back.  I still had a backpack, a diaper bag, blankets, a B.O.B. stroller, and a front pack (not to mention my jacket and B's jacket/hat).  No one would help me put up or take down my luggage from the overhead bins and even though they could see that I was struggling to hold the baby and reach overhead, people rolled their eyes and sighed loudly when I was holding up traffic from exiting the plane.

2.  Don't expect your baby to breastfeed on take-off/landing.  I tried to time things perfectly, but B was not interested in eating during the times that I wanted him to eat.  He wanted to squirm and look around.  I gave him his pacifier and that seemed to do the trick.  He never got too upset so I don't think he was ever really in pain from the pressure changes.

3.  Upgrade to business class, if you can.  The seats are wider and only 2 across (on my plane, anyways).  I actually sat in the first row, which was nice to have the extra space in front, but bad that I had to store everything above me.  I also got to check 2 bags for free, got free booze (didn't get to imbibe, unfortunately), and unlimited "snacks".  You also get on the plane first and off the plane first.  That is key.

4.  Bring a stroller & a front pack.  The B.O.B. is kind of bulky, but they will check it at the gate for free and you can use it to haul some of your stuff around if you keep baby in the front pack.

5.  Don't bring a bulky jacket.  Besides being a pain in the ass to get through security, you will roast your tail off on the plane when you are trying to restrain a baby when they are wiggling or when you are holding back your aggression towards a society of selfish people who watch you fall over while trying to handle a baby, a backpack, a diaper bag, blankets and a stroller.

6.  Get to the airport early.  You never know what sort of issues (ahem blowouts) you might need to deal with that could prevent you from making your flight.

7.  Bring a copy of baby's birth certificate!  They did not ask me for this on my departing flight, but they did for my return and they almost would not let me on the plane with the baby.  Luckily, it was Christmas Eve and the lady stressed how nice she was being by letting me go since I was returning home.  Phew.

8.  Beg for a gate pass for your spouse, mom, or other family member.  Another Christmas bonus that they "graciously" allowed us was a gate pass for my mom so that she could help me get through security.  I am not sure how I would have done it otherwise.  Seriously.  They say that they don't like to give these out and I guess I understand, but seriously, a mom with a baby, alone.  It is just mean to deny that.

9.  Fly in the morning.  The atmosphere is normally more stable = less turbulence.  If you are lucky, baby will sleep on the flight.  Plus, no one likes to be around a baby during the witching hour.  


One thing that my trip blessed me with was 2 instances of a plugged duct.  This is the same one that was plugged a few weeks back, on the top right breast.  I got one the day that I got to my Mom's and the day after I got back (stress much?).  Then it decided to plug up again, last night.  

I was able to get rid of it the first few times by sterilizing a needle and pricking my nipple.  Yes, that sounds disturbing, but after G.oogling the heck out of my situation I came to find out that there was a small white "bleb" or "milk blister" on my nipple that was causing the milk to back-up.  After taking a long hot shower and pricking my nipple ever-so-slightly, I was able to get the clog out.

Last night, neither the hot shower nor the needle worked.  I squeeze my boob so hard I am sure that I have bruises.  I cried.  I woke the baby up and attempted to feed him to unclog it.  NOTHING worked.  I was ready to jump out the window.  I ended up taking 2 ibuprofen, slathering my nipple in lanolin cream, taping a band-aid over it, and going to bed, resigning myself to the fact that I would wake up with mastitis.

The baby woke up at midnight and I decided to try feeding him again, only this time, I tried something else that sounded ridiculous when I had seen in on G.oogle, but I was desperate.  I laid my half asleep baby on my bed with his head pointing towards the head of the bed.  I leaned over him with my head facing the foot of the bed and let him eat that way.  His chin was pointing right at the clogged area.  Low and behold the plug was out after 5 minutes of sucking.  Sweet relief.  Thank you baby.

This morning I fed him again the same way at around 4:30 AM before getting ready for work.  After the feeding I slathered my nipple in lanolin and taped on another band-aid.  I am praying that this stops happening.  I really want to make it to 12 months breastfeeding.  3 1/2 more months to go!


Part of the CrossFit experience is following a paleo diet.  Right now, I am following a paleoish diet.  For the most part I don't eat much in the way of grain, except for my daily bowl of Barbara's Oatmeal Squares.  I don't eat any dairy and I don't eat any soy.  I stay away from most sugars, but eat honey, maple syrup, and agave from time to time.  I eat dried fruit at least once a day.

January at my "box" is the Paleo Challenge.  This is basically where you follow a fairly strict paleo diet for a full month and document everything.  There are actually cash prizes for the people who lose the most body fat/weight.  One thing I disagree with though is that they are allowing whey protein and not allowing dried fruit/honey.

Vegetables (no potatoes)
Nuts and seeds
Olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil
Sweet potatoes ok ONLY in a post-workout meal
Whey protein supplement drinks

Dairy (cheese, yogurt, milk, cream)
Wheat (flours, breads, etc.)
Processed foods
Grains (rice, couscous, millet, quinoa, etc.)
Legumes (beans [green beans ok], lentils)
Peanuts and peanut butter
Quest Bars, Perfect Foods Bars
Dried fruit
Fruit juices
Sugar and artificial sweeteners
Sauces, dressings (BBQ sauce, etc. b/c they contain sugar - ok if they don't - check labels!)
Maple syrup
Coconut sugar, date sugar

You are supposed to take pictures for the front, back, and sides of your body, get your weight and body fat measured, and keep a journal of what you eat every day, the exercise you do, how much you sleep, and how you feel.  So you guessed it, I am going to try to use this blog to be my journal.  You can all watch me torture myself in the coming month.  Hopefully it makes me healthier and doesn't make me lose my milk supply and start getting slower at running.

Happy New Year everyone!!

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In better shape after baby?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The last time I seriously ran, since starting again post-baby, was in the winter of 2010.  The year of 2010 had been "my year"; the best year of running in my life.  I had gotten my 5k time down below 21 minutes (fastest being 20:51) and had gotten several first place age group finishes in local races.  I was running 35-40 miles a week and I felt great.  I was doing lots of structured runs, intervals, progressions, tempos, long runs.  It was great.  Life was good.  I don't think I had an ounce of body fat (ok, maybe an ounce).  

At the beginning of 2011, I started dialing back my training to around 30 miles a week and started getting "healthy" in preparation for pregnancy.  At that time, I had no idea how hard it was going to be for me to actually have a baby.  When I got pregnant so easily the first time, I had visions of jogging until 40 weeks and then getting into race shape the following summer.  We all know that those plans went to shit.  No one plans for a miscarriage.

Instead of continuing running, I cut way back after my first miscarriage and stopped racing.  I thought maybe my high intensity workouts had somehow caused my miscarriages.  Well apparently cutting back more, didn't help and I had another miscarriage.  Even though my doctor said the running wasn't what was causing my miscarriages, I still continued scaling back until I was barely running at all.  Ummm yeah then I had another miscarriage, at which time I was urged by various individuals (psychologists, acupuncturists, family members, & friends) to STOP running at all.  So I listened to them, thinking that they must be right.  I gained about 10 lbs and lost all of my cardiovascular shape and any muscular definition that I had left after scaling back so much.  Friends, I was miserable.  Mentally.  Physically.

Running has been a huge part of my life.  I started running when my parents moved me out of state junior year.  I joined the cross-country team to make friends and partially because my mom forced me to do at least 1 sport.  Since I wasn't very coordinated, I decided running would be my best bet.  I took to it pretty easily, although I could have tried a whole heck of a lot harder and been a lot better (in hindsight).  I liked running so much that I did track that spring.  Senior year of high school, I was the captain of both the cross-country and track teams.  Finally, something I was decent at that I liked!

During college I didn't run as much as I should because I was either partying or hungover (freshman year) or working (sophomore-senior year).  I ran to run off stress and to try to shed the several pounds that I gained from drinking so much freshman year.

After college, I started running more for exercise and to stay in shape.  At first I ran mostly outside because I couldn't afford a gym membership.  Then once my (now) husband and I got established and could afford the gym, I ran at the gym in addition to cross-training.  

In 2006, when my Dad passed away unexpectedly, I ran to stay sane.  I was sad, angry, and  confused.  Somehow, running helped me understand everything.  I would be pissed at the world, strap on my sneakers, and figure everything out while pounding the pavement.

I ran so much after my Dad died, that I decided that I could run a marathon.  I ran one marathon and then another from 2007-2008  I was logging a ton of miles.  I started getting burned out.  It was around this time that I started getting hurt.  Shin splints turned into a stress fracture.  I got runner's knee and then patella tendinitis.  I went to physical therapy.  I was told I had flat feet and got orthotics.  Then I got piriformis syndrome.  I was a mess.  My body was tired and broken down.  I took a break before starting back up after getting married.

In mid-2008 I started actually training again.  I started attending various running programs with a well known local coach.  He was awesome.  I made some really great friends and got better at running.  I changed my shoes and stopped always wearing seriously structured shoes and wore lighter weight shoes for shorter and faster runs.  By 2010, I was in awesome shape and, as mentioned, had my best year.

2011 through mid-2013 happened.  The good, the bad, and the incredibly ugly.  The body that I was left with in April was the epitome of out-of-shape.  Running was so hard.  At first running even for a minute left me completely exhausted and feeling defeated.  My body felt foreign and loose, like my organs (and boobs) were bouncing around.  Totally gross.  I started gradually increasing the length of my intervals until I was running a mile without stopping.  Then I started gradually adding incremental amounts of distance until I was running 3 miles at about a 10 minute per mile pace.  Depressing, yes, but better than not being able to run at all.

Once I got back to about 3 miles, I did something I shouldn't have and I started running with the baby in the B.O.B.  He was under the recommended age, but had good head/neck control.  I bolstered him with rolled up towels and ran only on smooth surfaces.  Running with that jogging stroller made my challenging 3 mile runs even more challenging.

Once I got comfortable with 3 mile distances I decided to do the next logical thing, train and run for a half-marathon.  Ha ha.  I'm obviously kidding.  Who does that, right?  Jumps from 3 miles, 4 months post baby to a half?  This girl, that's who.  I slowly worked my way back up to 10-12 mile runs with 2-3 other shorter & faster runs mid-week and ran that half-marathon in 1:46 (8:05 pace).

It was then that the race bug bit me, again, and I decided to start running some shorter races and work on my speed.  Between the half-marathon and now, I have run two other races, a 5 mile and a 5k.  I have shocked myself in those races.  The 5 mile I finished in 35:38 (7:08 pace), this was not far off from my 5 mile PR of 35:37 (ha one sec, but who's counting right?).  I finished my 5k in 20:59 (6:49 pace), which is not far from my PR of 20:51.

So what am I doing that has caused me to get so fast, so quickly?  Pretty much by doing everything that you aren't supposed to do.

-Running 3-5 miles at a time,4 days a week at the most, equaling less than 20 miles a week.
-Running most runs at an 8:30-9 min pace.
-Running mostly on the treadmill at zero incline.
-Not sleeping more than 4 hours at a time, consecutively, each night.
-Doing CrossFit 2-3 days a week.
-Being lucky to get in the proper amount of calories because I am always running around like a chicken with its head cut off.

While I was running in my last 5k race, I started to feel pain around 2.5 miles.  My legs felt heavy and my chest ached from breathing the cold air so rapidly.  I thought to myself, "This is nothing".  Compared to all of the crap I went through to get a sticky pregnancy.  All the crap that I went through during pregnancy, labor and delivery.  All the crap that I went through immediately following the birth of B.  Now that was real pain.  Running fast, pushing myself up and down hills and across a finish line...pssssh.  That is nothing compared to what I have put my body through over the past 2 years.

So to anyone who is thinking that they will never get back to where they were before they had a might not necessarily be true.  In fact, you might be able to come back and be better and stronger with less training (intensity/volume).  Mental toughness is half the battle and friends, many or you have been through the ringer.  Our bodies may not look exactly the same.  They may not feel the same.  We may have scars and changes that we don't necessarily love, but we have fought through, persevered and we have won.  Now we can whoop everyone's butts out on the race course.

Anyone else find that they are in better shape, post-infertility/loss/baby?

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Drinking the (CrossFit) kool-aid

Friday, November 22, 2013

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you'll know that I've talked about CrossFit several times and usually not in a positive light.  Back when I first found out I was pregnant, my husband told me about this Groupon he had bought to do the Foundation level class at a local Crossfit facility.  I thought nothing of it.  He'll go to these two weeks of class and then go back to his regular routine at the gym because, well, we can't afford a $150 a month gym membership for one person.

Imagine my surprise when he told me that he was joining that "box" (that is what they call a gym in the Crossfit world).  I was deep in my hormone induced pregnancy haze when I realized that my picture of who did CrossFit, huge muscle-headed guys, was actually incorrect and over half of the members were young, cute girls.  Yeah, I wasn't too happy about that, especially because I was so out of shape and knew there was no possibility of me getting back into shape for many months.

So yeah, my husband joined the "box" and started doing competitions, and to my subconscious dismay, started placing in them.  He soon became the most in-shape version of himself that I (and probably he) have ever known and I became (almost) the most jealous version of myself that I have ever known.  He started getting very serious about NEVER missing workouts, not drinking alcohol, and he started eating a fairly strict paleo diet.  No more potatoes, rice, flour, or sugar in our house.  I am a baker.  I am a healthy baker, but a baker just the same.  Screw paleo.

Even more upsetting and annoying to me was that fact that all he wanted to talk about was CrossFit.  He listened to pod-casts about it and talked to his CrossFit friends about it.  "Oh I crushed that WOD in under 5 minutes!" or "I RXed that clean and jerk, did you?".  Then he would try to talk to me about it and I had no idea how challenging doing 100 burpees in 5 minutes was.  I didn't really care either, I was worried about birthing a healthy baby.

Once I had the baby, things just seemed to keep getting worse with regards to CrossFit.  I was tired, frumpy, out of shape, dealing with crazy post-pregnancy hormones, and stressed out over a baby that spit up after every feeding. Meanwhile, my husband was going to CrossFit 5 plus days a week, was in super-duper good shape, and was hanging out with people who eat-breathe-sleep CrossFit.  Recipe for disaster, my friends.

My husband and I ended up training for an running a half-marathon in the month of October.  It helped us connect and helped me get back into shape.  I impressed myself with my time (1:46), which made me eager to start training for more races and to bring my times down even more.  I bought a treadmill and stuck it in my basement.  That way I'd get to see my baby every day after work and then I could run once he hit the hay.  PERFECT.

I thought this would be my new workout routine until my husband suggested that I complete the entry level class at the new CrossFit gym that his friend opened.  He even said that he would foot the crazy $180 bill.  I will have to admit that I really didn't want to do it, but he did go out of his comfort zone to run a half marathon with me and I did totally kick his ass.  Lifting weights is NOT my thing though and, due to my diastasis recti (that has improved tremendously), there are still quite a few types of ab workouts that I can't do.  Plus, CrossFit just doesn't interest me in the slightest.  If I have time, I'd rather run.  Plain and simple.

I sucked it up and agreed to sign up and do the two week class to secretly prove to him that it wasn't my thing.  The first class was awkward.  I didn't know anyone (other than my husband's friend), but it seemed like everyone else there knew someone else.  Most of the girls looked like they were in better shape than me with the exception of one older lady who looked like she hadn't gotten off the couch in several years (she ended up quitting after the first night).  Of course I compared myself to everyone and got upset at myself at the end of the night because I was one of the last people to finish the baseline workout of 500 meter row, 40 squats, 30 sit-ups (I did a plank variation), 20 push-ups, and 10 pull-ups (assisted with a green rubber band).  Even the older out of shape looking lady did better than me, allegedly.  I was embarrassed to write my time on the huge white board.  

Not getting into all of the details of the classes, I will sum it up by saying that I ended up going to all six of the classes and finishing the program.  I am now "allowed" to go to regular classes, which kind of scares me.  Do I even want to?  The jury is still out.  There are some good and bad things that I noticed when doing the entry class.  I'll start with the good and then get to the not so good...

The Good

1.  The people in my class seemed normal and not "cult-like".  They wore Lulu Lemon and Nike (like me), not all Reebok with bight colors and knee socks, like most CrossFitters wear.  Maybe that is because they just haven't been doing it long enough?  A few of the girls also had young kids so we had stuff to talk about besides working out.  Mommies are mommies, first (I hope).

2.  The workouts were challenging and I feel like I could get into overall better shape by doing classes a few times a week.

3.  The coach was good.  He was motivating and understanding.  He seems like he knows his stuff.  He was willing to work with me and help me scale my workouts due to my ab exercise restrictions.

4.  I don't mind paleo anymore, 80% of the time.  We pretty much eat a paleo diet now with the exception of me eating oatmeal cereal for breakfast (breastfeeding) and the occasional non-GMO verified corn chip.  I still don't eat any soy or dairy.  I think this is good enough.

5.  The "box" is nice and new.  It is really close to my house.

6.  Now I can understand what my husband it talking about when he says he says he did an AMRAP of wall-balls for 9 minutes.  I know how much that would totally suck now.  We can have a conversation about the day's WOD and I don't glaze over completely because I may (or may not) have done the same thing.

The Not So Good

1.  You have to workout on a schedule and they would like you to go 3 days in a row and then rest one day.  Sometimes I can't go to a 5 PM class or a 7 PM class and there is a high probability that I can't go to a class every day (especially since my husband already goes 10 times a week).  I have a baby and his schedule isn't the same from day-to-day.  Sometimes I need to workout at 5:30 PM or 6:45 PM.  Can't do that with CrossFit.

2.  People cheat.  This is something that shouldn't bother me, but does.  When they give you a workout (like the baseline one above) they ask you do time yourself and then write the time down on the board.  No one is counting your reps or making sure that you have proper form and, while I didn't watch people working out because I was too busy trying not to die, I would be quite surprised if the older lady actually did beat me.  My husband tried to tell me that I should measure myself against myself...kind of hard for a competitive, type-A person like me.  People write down times that are less than they actually were or don't do all the exercises correctly or the right amount.  Annoying.

3.  Weightlifting is not my thing.  Lots of the workouts have a strength component that works on Olympic types of lifts.  I have zero interest in this and I don't want to become a female body builder.  Enough said.

4.  CrossFit is all about abs and core and my ab situation sucks.  I will probably never be able to do real sit-ups again like I could before I had B.  Even though my diastasis has closed to 2 fingers, doing sit-us, toes-to-bar, and v-ups is going to cause it to open right back up.  I used to kill sit-ups and I liked doing them.  Now I can't do them and have to scale every workout that contains them.  People look at me like I am cheating or something.  If I am going to do something I want to do it all the way.  No half-assing for me.

5.  I am realizing just how out of shape I still am, and folks, it ain't pretty.  This obviously doesn't have to do directly with CrossFit, but I feel like I need to wear a shirt that says I had a baby 7 months ago and I used to be in good shape.  I hate being the worst.  I am used to being one of the more in-shape people in a group.              

So am I going to drink the kool-aid and officially join CrossFit?  I'm not sure yet.  I just don't know that it is going to work for me time-wise or fitness goal-wise.  I am first and foremost a mommy and secondly a runner.  I don't want to cut out running workout for CrossFit ones.  I do want to get in better shape and look and feel better about myself than I do now.  I guess time will tell on this one.  More to come...    

Also here is a pic of the ab situation I speak of, regularly.  I am down below my pre-pregnancy weight, but still have this to contend with.  My arch-nemesis.

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When are you quitting?

Monday, November 18, 2013

I get asked this at least a few times a week by different people.  The comments and questions around my continued breastfeeding go something like this...

"How long are you going to continue breastfeeding?"

"You are still pumping three times a day?"

"He has 6 teeth?!  Aren't you afraid he is going to bite you?"

"He'll sleep longer if you give him formula."

"You should NEVER get into the habit of nursing a baby to bed!"

It seems rather crazy to me that the fact that I am breastfeeding my baby at 7 months isn't very common even though both the AAP recommends breastfeeding until a baby is 1 year of age or more and the WHO recommends breastfeeding until 2 years of age or beyond.

I feel there is quite a bit of breastfeeding support for mothers when they first have a child.  There are lactation consultants at the hospital, support groups during the day while you are on maternity leave, and a plethora of information on the web.  There is very little information and support out there for mothers who continue to breastfeed past 6 months.  Well, this is what I have found to be true.

For example, when I started feeding B solids a little after 6 months, I found very little information with regards to how I should go about doing that while breastfeeding.

Should I cut back on the number of breastfeeding sessions?  

How many times a day should he be eating solid food?  

Should I mix breast milk in with the food?  

Do I have to give my baby water, too?

Should I nurse right before I feed him solids or give him some time to digest before showing more food in his face?  

Should I pump at night if he sleeps so that I can maintain my supply?  

When and how do I wean my baby?

Once I wean my baby do I have to give them cow's milk as a replacement? 

Yeah, not a lot of info out there and what I have found is sometimes conflicting.  I think the issue is that by 6 months many moms have quit breastfeeding so there isn't the need for all the information that there is when baby is first born.  The information that I got from my doctor doesn't totally jive with what I believe in either.  She has told us to start him with cereal, which we decided not to do.  Also, she has told us to give him water and I don't really know how much he needs that, either.  I thought breast milk was good enough.  I feel like doctors aren't that that supportive of breastfeeding, which is surprising that I am not feeling that way from my doctor when she said she breastfed both of her kids until they were 2 when I originally interviewed her.

Recently, I have noticed that B's breastfeeding habits have been changing, and not for the better.  He has always been an "in and out" kind of baby.  He eats to eat and that is it.  2-3 minutes on a side MAX.  Lately it is a struggle to get him to eat for more than 2 minutes on one side before he decides to start looking around or tries to squirm out of my arms.  I have started pumping less at work.  He has even been eating less out of a bottle when I am at work.  He went from eating 4-5 ounces every 3 hours to now eating 3 ounces every 3.5-4 hours.  This all seemed to correspond to the fact that we had started giving him 2 solid meals a day; fruits in the morning and veggies at night.  He seems to have less and less of an interest in eating except for in the middle of the night or right before bed when he is tired.

Of course I googled this, wanting to know if it was normal 7 month old behavior, and the results that I came up with weren't exactly what I was wanting to hear.  Most of the articles I found dealt with infant self-weaning.  A few of the articles were centered around teething, which seemed a little easier for me to take.  I found myself getting worked up over the fact that I am still breastfeeding at 7 months, enjoying the experience and wanting to continue, and not at all prepared or supported for where I am now or for the future.  Honestly, I am doing what I think I should be doing, not knowing if it is the right thing to do or not.

So as I paw my way through the dimly lit forest that is breastfeeding past 6 months, alone.  I can only hope that I am still doing the right thing.  I really wish that there was more support guidance out there for mothers who breastfeed longer.  I could really, really, use it right now.

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I bought a treadmill

Monday, November 11, 2013

I decided that the only way that I am really going to have time to regularly get in a workout is to buy a treadmill, so that is what I did.  After hearing many jokes about how I could spend much less money and buy a laundry rack, I decided to prove them all wrong and take the plunge.  I shelled out $1500 (more like $2200 once you figure in the warranty, tax, and delivery/set-up) and had my husband frame me out a small room in our dungeon of a basement that I am calling my "work out room".  Laugh if you want, but I have already ran on it 2 out of the three days that I have had it and I LOVE it for a few reasons:


1.  I can run whenever I want.  This could mean 4:30 AM when I get up or 7 PM after the baby goes to bed.  It could also mean 2 PM on a Sunday while baby and daddy are watching football.  I can run when it is raining or snowing.  I can run when it is -10 degrees or when it is 90.

2.  I can suspend my gym membership.  I can cut my monthly gym membership down from $90 to $45 a month until I decide that I want to start it up again.  I have been paying for that membership for many months and have only been able to go a handful of times.  I usually only go when it is to inclement to run outside and now I can do that in my house!

3.  I can train for races with less pressure.  After completing my first half marathon in many years a few weeks back (at an 8:05 pace!!), I have caught the racing bug again.  I am so far from where I once was, placing in my age group, but I can conceivably work my way back to where I was if I can run more days a week than I don't run.

4.  I can run with the baby in my site.  He loves his Exersaucer.  I can bring him down with me and hope that he likes watching mommy run like a mouse in a wheel.  Crossing my fingers on this one.

5.  I can continue trying to achieve my goal of looking like I did before the whole pregnancy debacle.  This includes all of the time I spend trying to get pregnant and miscarrying.  I am talking 2010 shape.

After doing a TON of research and finding the Treadmill Doctor, I decided on the SoleF80.  It isn't as technologically advanced as some of the other ones that I was looking at like the NordicTrack models, but it is a solid machine that can hold up to a beating.  I don't really need all of the fancy stuff.  I have my iPad to blast tunes and I plan on getting a small flat screen TV.  The F80 does have a fan and a heart rate monitor.  So far, I really like it.

In other news...

B slept 7-8 hours for a few nights in a row and then last night was down to 4 hours again.  Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.  Good thing I didn't throw out my under eye concealer.

I baked an awesome batch of paleo pumpkin doughnuts last night.  Check out the recipe, here.  They are AMAZING, no gluten or sugar necessary!

My husband and I finally had sex.  TMI maybe, but this has been an issue causing me huge anxiety with regards to pain in the past few months.  Only took 6 months!  I think I have gotten past the pain though.  Take that scar tissue!!

I keep forgetting to take my birth control.  Let's hope that the breastfeeding is working as my backup (gulp), because we all know how that works.  You had so much trouble the first time and then baby #2 comes as a surprise...

Speaking of breastfeeding, my co-worker is back from maternity leave.  She can't seem to figure out that you need to pump on a schedule and the lactation dungeon has no Outlook calendar for scheduling.  Lucky me had to pump in the bathroom last week for the first time ever because she was in the room for an hour and I was in pain.  Terribly annoying and gross.  I hope I never have to do that again.

Also made paleo chocolate chip cookies again!

And that's a wrap.  Hope you all have a fabulous week!

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Just when I am ready to turn to Ferber

Thursday, October 31, 2013 little one throws me a curve ball.  Two out of the last 3 nights he has slept for 7 hours straight, no crying it out necessary.  Now to some of you this may not seem like a big deal, but to my husband and I, this is the definition of bliss.  Seven whole hours.  I didn't need quite as much concealer today.  What did I do differently?  Basically, what everyone tells me not to do...  

Last week, out of pure and utter desperation, I bought "Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems", by Dr. Richard Ferber.  A friend of mine, who had similar sleep issues with her children, recommended the book to me and told me that it took 3 nights to get her kids to sleep through the night.  B had been sleeping 2-3 hour stretches at night and I was paying the price during the day.  I was tired, groggy, agitated, foggy, and starting to get depressed.  Every time I would hear a friend tell me how their baby slept 10 hours a night (straight) I would quite literally, start to cry.  What is wrong with my baby?  Why won't he sleep?  How can he function all day without sleep?  Will it be like this forever?  What am I doing wrong???

Back to the book, I started reading it on the train and before bed.  I gathered some interesting information that I had never thought of before.  All babies have multiple waking during the night.  The problem comes in when the baby cannot self-soothe back to sleep.  Thus, B's issue.  He wakes up and gets so upset that he can't fall back to sleep.  The book recommends the let the baby fuss 5 minutes, go and check on them (without any skin contact) and then leave.  Wait 7 minutes and then do the same.  You just keep making the check-ins farther and farther between until your baby falls asleep on his/her own.  Also, you are not supposed to give them a pacifier (or at least not replace it if it falls out) and you are not supposed to nurse them before bed or during the night.  It isn't straight CIO, but a modified form of it.  How hard could that be, right?  We decided to give it a try.  Desperation speaks...loudly.

Oh man.  I know that being sleep deprived sucks, but listening to your baby cry and seeing the baby tears is awful.  I think I'd almost rather gouge my eyeballs out than listen to that awful cry.  They say that CIO is worse for the parents than it is for the child, but I don't know, B was really upset.  The first night that we tried it totally sucked and most likely backfired because he slept worse than his normal 2-3 hours at a time.  Seeing me check in on him made him even more upset.  He had started to develop a cold and was teething so I decided that night wasn't the night to start "Ferberizing".  By the time I picked him up snot and tears were streaming down his face.  Bad mommy.  :-(

Well the next night his cold got worse and his sleep got worse, too.  He cried and wouldn't let up.  Upon giving in and picking him up, I noticed that his top left tooth had cut through his red little gums.  Poor baby.  I felt like a jerk for making him cry for so long.  I am sure he was crying because he was in pain, not because he was being a difficult baby.  Bad mommy.  :-(

I decided to table the "Ferberizing" for the time being and try a few different things that I am more comfortable with for the time being.  First of all, I started completing his whole night time routine in his room, rather than my room.  After his bath, I now read to him in his room, nurse him in his room, and then rock him to sleep to the soothing noise of the  sound machine (I can just imagine the eye rolls).  If he gets up at night, I let him fuss for a few minutes (twice he has fallen back to sleep), then I go get him.  I offer him snuggles first, if that doesn't work then a pacifier, and if that doesn't work then a boob. I realized that I actually like this routine because I work all day and this is the most quality time that I get with him.  I want to soak it up.  He won't be a baby forever.  He won't let me snuggle him forever.  He won't be nursing forever.  You get where I am going with this?

The past few nights our routine has gone as described above and I can tell you that my stress level has been much lower.  Oh and two out of the three nights the little man has slept 7 hours straight.  Last night he didn't even sleep in our bed at all.  He has cut nursing at night down to one time or less.  Maybe this is a fluke that will last just a few days or maybe he still needs a little more of his mommy at night.  I don't think that is the worst thing in the world.  ;-)

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My childbirth baggage

Monday, October 21, 2013

I haven't really thought about my horrific birthing experience in quite some time, but this month's PAIL Bloggers theme brought to light that I have a ton of unresolved issues around this subject.  In this post, I am going to focus mostly on the issues and complications that I had during B's birth and how they continue to haunt me.  Here goes...

I have written in great detail about my birth experience, which you can read about below if you are interested.  I'll also give some of the highlights if you'd rather not go back 6 months:

Suffice it to say that I basically had (almost) the worst birthing experience that I could have imagined and the birth plan, that I had so carefully drafted, may as well have been shredded on the spot.  I was scheduled to be induced at 40 weeks, 4 days due to a raging case of PUPPPs and borderline gestational diabetes.  I was forced given Cytotec to ripen my cervix, which had been stuck at 2cm for weeks.  I was in a Pitocin induced labor for almost 40 hours.  I had my water broken by the doctor with a coat hanger because it wouldn't break on its own.  I was given an epidural about 28 hours into labor, but that stopped working by the time that I had to push.  I finally got to 10 cm and then pushed for almost 3 hours.  The baby got stuck in my pelvis.  I had to have an unplanned, emergency(ish) c-section.  During my c-section the doctors could not get my uterus to contract so I lost a ton of blood during the surgery and kept passing out due to low blood pressure (my husband later told me it looked like a murder scene with blood squirting and spilling onto the floor).  I really thought I was going to die.  The doctors kept telling me to look to my baby and focus on my baby, but I was more concerned with my own well-being.  I had to have a blood transfusion (actually, 2 of them) because my hematocrit levels were so low.  I blew up like a water balloon from all of the drugs.  My PUPPPs got so bad after I delivered that they sent doctors over from other hospitals to try to help me, but nothing did end up helping me.  I had almost no interest in my child in the hours that followed his birth because I was so drugged up and so exhausted.  Breastfeeding also went terribly and he ended up losing 10% of his birth-weight and I had to supplement with formula, which was something I said that I would NEVER do.

I am now 6 months out from that horrifically wonderful day.  It is horrific because of what I had to go through, but wonderful because I have him to show for it.  The other day I was looking back at pictures of B from when he was just a few days old.  He has grown so much from then until now (born 9lb, 2 oz and 21.5in and at 6 months he is 19.1lbs, 28in!) and looking back at his pictures made me so sad.  I barely even remember the first few days that I spent with him.  I was so miserable the first few weeks that I feel like I didn't get to enjoy him.  I don't even remember what his baby smell was like.  I was so worried about whether we was getting enough calories from my milk and having enough wet/poopy diapers, that I didn't get to savor the time that we had together.  I was so exhausted and drained from the labor, surgery, and recovering from my rash that I couldn't focus my attention on my baby.  I am still angry about that.  I haven't been able to let it go.

When I hear mommies talking about how their perfect vaginal birth went exactly according to plan, I feel like a failure.  My body (once again) failed me in this instance.  I wanted to have an uncomplicated birth.  I didn't want major surgery.  Why did he get so big when I was so strict with my diet?  Why didn't they induce me sooner so that he may have had a chance to fit through my (apparently) narrow pelvis?  Why didn't my body do what it was supposed to, when it was supposed to?  If I had lived in more primitive times, B and I would have most certainly both died.  I wanted to decide how many kids I would want and when I would want them and not have to let my doctor make that decision.  Now, I am pretty much going to be forced into another c-section, if I can get pregnant again, but only after I have waited the recommended 18 months.

I have talked to a few people about my unresolved issues surrounding the birth of B.  Even the mommies that have had unplanned/emergency c-sections don't seem harbor the kind of anger and sadness that I have surrounding my childbirth experience.  I don't get the sense that they feel cheated, like me.  Usually I get the, "well look at the result!", and well, they would be right, I guess.  I have yet to come across anyone else who really feels the way that I do.  Maybe no one else feels like I do.  I should just be happy that I have a beautiful and healthy son.  I know that I need to move on, but I can't.  I'm still so sad.  I cry about it when no one is around.  I still mourn it like a loss.  I feel like, once again, I was denied another womanly right and had to have medical intervention.

My childbirth baggage has definitely clouded the outlook for subsequent births.  I am not sure that I could ever go through that kind of experience again.  My husband and I were talking about this other day... The process of getting pregnant, staying pregnant, being pregnant, and childbirth did not go well for me and at this point, neither of us can see it happening again.  I want to have a sibling for B, but I am terribly afraid of everything that surrounds that idea.  I am wondering if time will heal the wounds that I have sustained or if they will continue to taint my future.    

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Gone, but never forgotten

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Last year on October 15, I had enough time on my hands to go out to the store to purchase 3 candles, which I lit in honor of my three babies that never made it into my arms.  This year, I didn't have time to get anything new, but thankfully, those candles that I bought for last year are still sitting on a self in my dining room.  We lit them around 7 PM, right after putting B down for the night (he must have known mommy needed to do something because he fell asleep so fast).  Those candles have been lit and put in the center of the table during all of the holidays that we celebrate in our home.  It gives me comfort for some reason, knowing that my three babies are with me, in spirit.

I think that I have mentioned this is a prior post, but I feel like I think about my lost babies less and less now that I have B.  He keeps me busy all the time and brings us so much joy and happiness.  Maybe this is just the normal progression of things when you are dealing with a loss.  After all, I lost my Dad more than seven years back and while I do think about him on certain occasions (like the holidays and his birth/death dates) , I feel like it isn't as often as it used to be.  This is also sad.

I am thankful to Robyn Bear for setting aside a day to remember those babies who were conceived, but never made it into this world.  Since the generally recognized statistic is 1 in 4 women having a miscarriage sometime in their life, there are so many babies that deserve at least a moment of remembrance.  So many women still don't feel comfortable with being open about their feeling regarding the loss of unborn or stillborn babies.  I think this is due to the fact that there are a lot of people out there who don't think that dealing with the loss of someone you didn't actually get to meet isn't the same as losing someone who was living on the earth for even a short period of time.  Anyone who has suffered a miscarriage or given birth to a stillborn baby knows that isn't true at all.  From the moment you see the pink line on the pregnancy test, that baby is a part of your life and you start the mother/child bonding process.  I am not sure if I have ever seen a love as strong as that of love that a mother has for her child, born alive or sleeping.  The grief that ensues after losing a baby cuts deep and often the grief is kept inside because it isn't (generally) socially accepted.

Yesterday, I noticed quite a few people putting up FB messages regarding Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness.  It is sad to know that so many have been touched by it, but it is nice to see people opening up about it and sharing their grief with others.  The more we are open about this and talk about it, the better we will feel.

I am lucky to have found some incredibly amazing ladies to share my grief with in that of a group of girls from BBC back in 2011 that helped me deal with my losses, a group of girls on FF in 2012 who helped me get through my pregnancy with B, and so many lovely ladies through the creation of this blog that have stuck with me through thick and thin.  I never would have managed without the support group that I have had.

I want to say thank you again to everyone who has helped me through some of the darkest times in my life and has understood that I lost my babies and didn't just suffer three "missed abortions".  Thank you for continually keeping me in your thoughts and cheering me on in the good times and the bad times.  I am eternally grateful to you all.  To those of you that were honoring your missed babies last night, I am thinking of you all, too.  They may be gone from this earth, but they will never ever be forgotten.  XOXO    

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(In)fertility in the news

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Last night some type of miracle occurred and B decided to go to sleep right at bedtime instead of his usual fussing and thrashing routine.  Mommy had to work on the holiday yesterday so Daddy Daycare must have done something special to really tire out my active little tot.  Since B went down so early, I had time to eat dinner, drink a fabulous IPA, and relax on the couch with my iPad and one of my favorite apps, Zite.

I am not sure if you have ever heard of Zite, but it is an app that lets you enter the topics that you are most interested in and it delivers articles from around the web to you in an easy to read format.  My favorite topics range from "Celebrity Gossip" to "Running" to "Baking".  I also have three regularly visited topics in "Pregnancy", "Breastfeeding", and "Infertility".

Inevitably there are stories in each of the above mentioned categories that are shocking (Egh!  Kim Kardashian hasn't yet lost all of the baby weight!), but many times I come across really good articles that I would love to discuss in a blog post, but I either forget or I don't have time.  Last night I came across an interesting one within the "Infertility" topic regarding BPA and increased miscarriage risk.

The articles that I read didn't go into the detail that I wanted so I ended up linking back to the ASRM website for a press release with more information on the topic.  This press release actually had three studies mentioned that were all interesting that the newspaper articles had not even mentioned.  In a nutshell, here is what the studies showed:

1.  The first study, by Texas A&M Rural School of Public Health and the NY State Department of Health, tested the BPA/phthalate levels of 501 couples that were TTC.  It was found that the men that had higher phthlate levels had about a 20% decrease in fertility.  It was also noted that higher BPA concentrations in the females did NOT appear to decrease fertility, but in some cases higher BPA levels were associated with a shorter time to pregnancy.

2.  Another study from Stanford University, the University of California San Francisco and the University of Missouri, followed 114 newly pregnant women (4-5 weeks) and took their blood, which was tested following a birth or a miscarriage.  They found that women who had miscarriages had higher average levels of BPA in their blood. 

3.  A third Chinese study showed that women with PCOS that had higher BPA levels in their follicular fluid, may have an abnormal accumulation of androgen hormones.

Even though the FDA has only banned BPA from certain baby products (including bottles), their website recommends that all people avoid eating or drinking out of recyclable containers that are marked with a 3 or 7 (even though not all BPA containing bottles are marked).  They also recommend not putting boiling liquids into BPA containers or using them if they are scratched.  They don't really mention avoiding cans lined with BPA, which is difficult to do if you want to consume anything in a can.  When I think back to all of the scratched Tupperware containers that we microwaved and ate out of when I was younger...aye aye aye.

To me, it isn't shocking that they are finding out that so many of the chemicals that we manufacture are actually doing way more harm than they are good.  It seems like the cycle is that we come up with some great product that withstands high heat or that seals watertight and then 15-20 years later we find that it causes cancer or other issues.  Asbestos, (partially) hydrogenated oils, mercury...  I have a friend who 15 years older than me who used to break open thermometers to play with the mercury.  If they only knew then what what we know now, right?

I guess the moral of the story is that you never really know what effects the products that you use every day might have on you later in life or on your (unborn) child.  Do I think that BPA had any hand in causing my miscarriages?  I guess I could never really be certain since I did not have my levels checked.  I for one drink way too much water out of plastic bottles because the water at our house tastes like crap and I am sure has all sorts of nastiness in it.  Pick your poison, I guess.

I think the only thing that we can do is to try to live as close to the earth as possible, which seems to be getting harder and harder to do.  Eating fresh local foods that are in season and being cognizant of the chemicals that are contained within the products that we use regularly could only help us.  Check out the NRDC website for more comprehensive information on the topic, but prepare to be scared.

Do you avoid BPA and other chemicals that have been linked to causing issues in humans?  How do you do it?  I am always curious to hear things that I could be doing differently to help keep my family safe.  

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"My baby is better than your baby"

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Before you get excited and defensive, the title of this post doesn't have anything to do with how I feel about my baby compared to yours, which is why it is in quotes.  Both of our babies are super fabulous, cute, and awesome.  Now that we have cleared that up, I'll start in on the post and the reason for the title.

During my years TTC and through the many miscarriages that I endured, the BBC (B.aby C.enter) website has helped me navigate some tough times.  When I was TTC, I used it to understand more about how to get pregnant.  When I had my first miscarriage, I found a great support group that I am still a part of this day (and have even met some of the ladies in it!).  When I was having issues keeping babies, I was referred to FF (F.ertility F.riend) to track my cycles, which took me to a whole different level of TTC knowledge.  When I finally became pregnant with B, I never joined but constantly read the posts from the April 2013 Birth Club.  When I thought my pregnancy was going wacky, I would no sooner than jump to the Birth Club page and find someone with a wackier pregnancy than mine.  It made me feel so much better.  All in all, BBC has provided me a knowledge, support, and entertainment for the past 2 1/2 years and for that I am extremely grateful (even though I am not a fan of their owners, Johnson & Johnson...barf).

Now that I have B, BBC has become my late night breastfeeding entertainment.  What else am I going to do at 2 in the morning other than read about how someone else's baby ate bananas for the first time and then had a green diaper which was evidenced in the post with a lovely picture?  Yes, this might make me a total loser for reading this crap, but it keeps me awake when I need to be and often provides me with a chuckle or something to chat with my husband about over dinner.

Yesterday, while perusing the halls of the April Birth Club, I happened to notice that there was a whole post dedicated to April babies and their accomplishments.  Yes, in case you didn't know it, babies in the age range of 6 months (plus or minus 2 weeks) should have already completed a long list of things on their "to-do" list.  This accomplishments list sparked my interest so I started casually scrolling through it.  The first thoughts that came to my mind were, "Holy $#!t, my baby is so far behind the other April babies" and then it was "Holy $#!t, my baby is huge compared to these peanuts".  Some of the things that the April mommies boast that there babies can do are as follows (in no particular order):

  • "pulls himself up to a stand"
  • "tries to walk"
  • "started crawling at 5 months"
  • "started saying mama and dada"
  • "likes to drink water from a cup"
  • "mimics sounds and words" 

I could keep going, but I'll stop.  the thread seemed like a total contest of my baby is more advanced than your baby.  With each post, it seemed like people were trying to out do one another.  I guess it is possible that these people have super advanced babies, but really, trying to walk?! Then I thought about the things that baby B is doing right now (at 5 3/4 months), which I had thought were great, and started to get worried that he is behind:

  • "sitting almost completely unassisted" (will fall over if he is tired, so we sit him in the Boppy just in case)
  • "has rolled in both directions, but doesn't do it frequently"
  • "screams at a high pitch and babbles nonsense"
  • "reaches for his toes"
  • "reaches for toys, grabs them, then throws them at the floor as hard as he can"
  • "jumps in the jumper" (he loves that thing)
  • "smiles and laughs"
  • "has 2 bottom teeth" (the only thing I think he is "advanced" with)
  • "stands when completely supported"

I have always been the kind of person that strives to be the best at everything.  If I am not the best, I will work as hard as I can to try to be the best.  I knew that when I had a child, I would subconsciously feel like my child would be the best at everything, too.  I told myself that I would have to work on not forcing my child to be the best at everything (yes, I have non-verbal conversations with myself) because then they will end up resenting me.  I know I shouldn't be comparing my almost 6 month old to others (and definitely not nameless/faceless others on BBC), but seeing the list of all of these crazy things that some babies are doing already and seeing what my baby can do makes me seriously stressed and question if there is something wrong with him.  He isn't even close to crawling or saying mama/dada.

I know that I am going to come across this type of situation in "real life" more and more.  The more new mommies I meet and friends that B makes, the more I am going to want to compare those babies with mine.  When he gets older I am going to want to compare his reading skills with my friend's kids.  What about his soccer skills with the neighbor boy's skills?   I just can't do that, for my sanity and his.  We won't make it.  He'll hate me and I'll be miserable.  

I guess what is all boils down to is how do I know that he is flourishing and doesn't have any issues or delays that I should be worried about?  I know we have regular check-ups at the pediatrician, but those are spaced out every few months and will be happening less and less as he gets older.  Since he is not yet in daycare and won't be until he is over a year old, how do I know if we have a problem?  Should I just relax and not even think about it?

If you are reading this and thinking that I am nuts, you have right to think so.  Most likely I am (but if you are only just realizing that now then I would be extremely surprised :-).  I wonder how many other new (or even not so new) mommies have similar concerns to mine and how you dealt with them.  Did any of you have kids trying to walk at ~6 months?  Is that for real?

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Baby sleep debate

Thursday, October 3, 2013

As I write this, I am going on about 5 1/2 months of less than 5 hours of a sleep at a time, so I apologize in advance for grammar/spelling errors and the fact that this post might be all over the place.  The lack of sleep is starting to affect my quality of life.  I forget things, I get agitated easily, I do stupid/careless things, I mess up at work and I am tired and hungry all the time.  The other day I scheduled a meeting (booked the conference room) and forgot to actually invite people to it.  I was sitting in the room by myself when I realized that I didn't invite anyone.  Face.  Palm.

My 5 1/2 month old son, who is the size of a 1 year old (for real), has decided that sleeping is not very high up on his list of his priorities.  He doesn't sleep at night and he doesn't do anything more than take small 20-30 minute cat naps throughout the day.  Lately, his pattern has been as follows:

6:30 PM - Bath
6:50 PM - Book
7:10 PM - Nurse, side lying
7:15 PM to 7:45 PM - Either lay with him in our bed until he falls asleep then transport to his crib or pick up put down in his crib.  He kicks and thrashes until he finally passes out.
8 PM to 11 PM - Sleep, B
9:30 PM - I go to sleep
11 PM - B wakes up to nurse, side lying
11:15 PM to 1 AM - Sleep, B (my husband puts him back in his crib)
1 AM - Attempt giving B pacifier in his crib, fails
1:15 AM - Nurse, side lying until we both fall asleep in our bed
1:20 AM to 3 AM - Sleep, B
3 AM - B wakes up, give him pacifier
4:40 AM - I wake up to get ready for work, B sleeps with Dad
5:40 AM - Wake B up to nurse before I leave

Things that I know I am doing wrong:

1.  Co-sleeping.  My husband and I swore up and down that we would not co-sleep.  That was until I found out about how real the effects of sleep deprivation are on a person.  We didn't want to co-sleep because we didn't want to be that couple that can't have sex because the kid is in bed with us.  I didn't really even take into consideration the risk of suffocation/SIDs, which I was reminded of the other day that I am a shitty parent for letting B sleep in our bed.  The only real reason that we started co-sleeping was because when I nurse the baby at night, in bed, we both fall asleep.  I am working/commuting daily from 6:30 AM until 4:30 PM.  I need some sleep.  The only way I get any at all is if I nurse while lying down.  I feel like we need to take a "vacation" from work to train him to sleep.

2.  Letting him lay with me to fall asleep.  After nursing him before bed, I lay with him on most occasions and hold down his arms because he bats them up and down like a wild animal.  Pinning them down does help him fall asleep faster, but I know the we need to let him learn to comfort himself.

The other night I put him down in his crib at bedtime, turned on his B.aby E.instein Fishy Music Box and attempted to let him put himself to sleep as I watched on the baby monitor.  Little B decided to flip onto his stomach and proceed to pivot so much that both of his legs became stuck in the crib slats.  By the time I came upstairs to rescue him, he was so flipped out that he was flailing and banging his head on his mattress while crying to the point that he could barely catch his breath.  So yeah, that was an epic failure.  I had to rock him for 20 minutes so that he could calm down enough to fall asleep again.

The past two nights he has been sick.  He developed a stuffy nose, watery eyes, sneezing and twice he has vomited (they told me I would know the difference from spitting up and vomiting and I didn't really believe them, but now I do).  He hasn't has a fever, though.  The poor babe has trouble eating or sucking on his pacifier because he can't breathe out of his nose.  We gave up on any type of sleep conditioning (training seems to be too controversial of a word these days) until he is better.  The past two nights, I have gotten a combined 7 hours of broken sleep.  Not good my friends, not good.

I have asked advice from several friends and family members and their responses for what I should do range from total CIO (cry it out) to attending to baby's every cry so that they keep trust in you (how they know that baby trust is associated with letting them cry to sleep is beyond me).  Usually people who are adamantly against CIO are very passionate about it, but the opposite is also true.  My mom is very passionately for CIO and claims that it worked for all of us and that none of us had serious attachment issues.  She is right.  We all slept through the night at early ages and were breastfed (I always get "give him cereal in his bottle and he'll sleep longer"...ummm no thanks).  We were also made to CIO at early ages.  My mom said it took 2-3 nights before we were able to "self-soothe".  She mentioned that it wasn't easy to listen to us cry and that she cried, too, but it was worth it.

Findings from a Temple University study that came out late last year, suggest that leaving babies to CIO is not harmful to them and helps them learn how to sleep on their own.  This NY Daily News article sums up the study.  Honestly, I am not sure how much actual scientific research they are using here to make that claim because, even after researching, I can't find the actual published study results.  I think that this method most definitely makes it better for the parents quality of life and many times a happy mommy/daddy equals a happy baby.  I am not sure that they went into disproving that it can cause psychological issues later in life, I think they just set to prove out that letting babies cry it out helps them to sleep better.

I belong to a FB group of mothers who miscarried babies that were due in April 2012.  Members of the group have left because their views on the topic caused major verbal arguments.  A few of them said it bothered them so much to hear about others abandoning their babies at night that it made them cry.  Drama, much?

An article in Psychology Today, Dangers of “Crying It Out”,  backs up the claim that children are generally damaged when being left to CIO. In summation, the article states that babies that are left to cry are more likely to have higher levels of stress and anxiety, lower self-confidence and less trust of others and the world around them.  The article even claims that the caregivers can become desensitized.  Read the comments after the article if you want to see fireworks.

I don't really feel passionate about any type of sleep conditioning.  You should parent your child as you see fit.  Everyone is going to have different views on exactly what should be done.  I don't know why people have to get so up in arms about how other people get their kids to sleep at night.  I personally don't want to give my baby cereal or formula to help them sleep at night.  If you want to, that's fine.  I hope it works out well for you.  I won't judge you, so you don't judge me, please!    

I don't think I will every be able to completely let B cry it out unless I get completely desperate.  I have been researching hybrid types of sleep conditioning, which I hope might be able to work for us.  Stay tuned, hopefully I can come up with the magic bullet.  Until then, I am going to continuing walking around in a sleepy, foggy haze.

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The long run

Monday, September 23, 2013

This past weekend, my husband and I packed up the baby and dog and headed off to the beach for a mini-vacation.  The car was so packed that you could not see out the back window.  The poor dog, who has been banished to the way back since the baby came along, had barely any room with the baby bath constantly sliding into his tiny space.  It was an experience, that's for sure.  Something that only practice could perfect.

It was our first family trip and it was nothing like I expected.  I figured that we'd be relaxing on the beach or hiking in a park, but we really didn't have much time to do that.  Neither of us realized how much time our baby normal routine would take us in a different location.  Basically, it was the same stuff we do at home with less supplies at hand.

All things aside, we did have a really nice time hanging out as a family.  The dog was in his element at the beach and was probably a little confused that he was getting some attention once again.  Hi favorite things in life are the beach, tennis balls, and carrots.  He got to experience all three of those things in mass quantities this past weekend.  A little slice of "doggy heaven" for our poor neglected son dog.  

On Friday morning, my husband, the baby, the dog and I set out for a 4 mile jog.  The weather was pristine and the path was smooth and accommodating.  We did the run at a 9 minute per mile pace, which felt slow, but the dog was really laboring.  I had to keep bribing him with the promise of carrots for the last mile.

On Saturday morning we left the dog at home so that we could accomplish something together that we have never done before.  We were going to run 12 miles with the baby in the jogger.  My husband decided to sign up for a half marathon with me later this fall, so in order to do that we need to make sure 12 miles is something that we could accomplish.  I had done 10 the previous weekend so I knew I could do it, but my husband was a little less confident.

We packed up the B.O.B. with emergency supplies: diapers, wipes, changing pad, extra clothes for B, disposable diaper bags, coconut water (for us) and power jelly beans (for us) and then headed off.

My husband and I switched off pushing the stroller every 2 miles.  The route was pretty flat and very scenic.  My husband and I chatted while we ran.  It was so nice to be doing this with him.  It can get quite lonely running by yourself for so long.  It was a nice way to connect with him without any other distractions.

Here are our split times, courtesy of MapMyRun MVP:

Mile 1- 8:53
Mile 2- 8:45
Mile 3- 8:51
Mile 4- 8:39
Mile 5- 8:43
Mile 6- 8:48
Mile 7- 8:57
Mile 8- 8:54
Mile 9- 8:37
Mile 10- 9:00
Mile 11- 8:50
Mile 12- 9:18
extra .19 miles- 8:57

Overall pace average was 8:54 minutes per mile (faster than our 4 miler!).

My husband started to fade at mile 10.  I think our mile 9 might have done him in.  I was really proud of him, though.  It was his longest run ever and he really hasn't been running a whole lot lately.  I give some credit to CrossFit here.  Had it not been for CrossFit, he never in a million years would have signed up for a half marathon and run 12 miles to train for it.  

I felt strong the entire time.  I could have gone faster and/or gone longer.  It was a really great feeling.  I actually felt proud of my body for a change.  In the past 5 months, I have gone from 167 lbs down to 120ish.  I have started running again and gone from being out of breath in less than a mile (at a snails pace) to being able to run 12 miles at a pace that is faster than most average runners can sustain AND have the handicap of a jogging stroller.  I have gone from super flabby to toned, once again.  I'm slowly getting back there.  It is just taking a lot longer than I had imagined it in my silly little head.

Speaking of jogging stroller, our little future marathoner did great for the 1 hour and 48 minutes that were were on the road.  He was up and babbling for the first 1/2 and then took a nice nap for the second half.  We didn't even use any of our emergency supplies that we brought!

I think this trip and the run were great for more reasons that one.  Even though B didn't sleep and much of our time went to his normal care-taking, we all had a really nice time.  I appreciate my husband more for deciding to run with me.  I appreciate my baby for letting us run with him.  Despite its shortcomings, I appreciate my mind and body.  They are way stronger than I give them credit for.    

Ahhhh beautiful!

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My own worst enemy

Monday, September 16, 2013

This past weekend, my husband and I decided to try the whole going out to dinner thing again.  We bathed the little guy early, I nursed him right before we left, and we drove 40 minutes to our destination.  To our delight, he was passed out when we made our entrance into the busy restaurant.  We were both worried that baby B might ruin our our dinner out like he did last time.  The good news is that he didn't ruin our night.  The bad news is that I did.

The beginning of dinner was ok.  We were both starving so we ordered quite a bit of food.  So much that it actually made the waitress ask us if we were sure we wanted so much.  I had not eaten very much all day and neither had my husband.  Over micro-brewed beers, my husband and I talked about, what else, the baby.  We talked about the baby until we ran out of new things to talk about regarding the baby.  Then we just kind of sat there looking around.  We always had stuff to talk about.  Ugh.  All I could think about was that were were those people that I saw in a restaurant that sat there and didn't talk.  I always felt bad for those people.  We had gotten into a fight earlier in the week about working out, schedules, and who does more for the baby.  We had agreed to talk about it when we go on our little family trip next weekend.  I couldn't stand the silence though and HAD to bring it up.

What happened next was truly awful.  First, I brought up how CrossFit is ruining my life (dramatic much?).  My argument was that it has become the sole focus in my husband's life and comes before the baby and me.  I talked about how the rigid class schedule makes for a very hectic Monday and Wednesday for me because I am left taking care of the baby and making dinner alone.  I brought up how I feel like that is all he ever wants to talk about or watch.  I mentioned how I feel like if I don't join CrossFit that it is going to drive us farther and farther apart because I feel left out of the "club".  I whined about how a CrossFitter that just had a baby via c-section 3 weeks ago, after preeclampysia already looked better than I did now, almost 5 months later.  You think I would have felt that I had piled on enough shit there, but I just kept on going.

I ripped my poor husband apart for nearly 25 minutes on the guise of being angry about CrossFit, when in fact it had nothing to do with CrossFit at all.  It was just the easiest subject to get at and my husband was a sitting duck.  My husband would try to talk and I'd cut him off with a smart @$$ comment about CrossFit.  It got to the point where my husband was asking me if I was trying to get him to divorce me, but I couldn't stop myself from dredging up every minute thing that had bothered me about our relationship for the past 5 months.  In my head, I knew I should stop, but my mouth just kept on going.  It got so bad that the waitress was afraid to come over to our table.  She kind of threw the check on the table and sprinted off.  We weren't shouting, but we were so deep in conversation and both on the verge of tears.

The few words that I let my husband counter with hurt, but they were mostly true.  He asked me if I understood that I hadn't put him first in years.  Since we started trying for a baby, basically.  He was right.  The baby race had been my first priority for some time.  He told me that I used to have such a positive outlook on life and now pretty much saw the glass half empty.  He highlighted that I am never happy and always jealous of others.  He brought up how he had gone from being a generally unhealthy person, to now a very healthy person.  Then he said this, that really affected me, "We have the perfect family and so many people would love to be in our shoes.  We have a nice house, nice cars, good jobs, good health, and beautiful baby boy".  He was so right.  I knew it.  What the hell was wrong with me?

My husband paid the check and we were getting ready to leave when an older lady tapped me on the shoulder.  I was paranoid that she was going to say something about our conversation, when all she wanted to do was congratulate us on how beautiful and perfect our sleeping baby was.  I thanked her and almost burst into tears.  My husband and I couldn't get out of there fast enough after that.

The car ride home was quiet until my husband asked me where we should go from here.  I didn't know what to say.  He told me he would quit CrossFit if it would turn things around for me and make me happier and he didn't say it in a sarcastic manner.  He was serious.  It was at this point that I finally burst into tears.

I told him that I didn't want him to quit CrossFit and, as much as I knock it, I know how much he loves it and how good he is at it.  He places in regional competitions.  How could I tell him to give that up?  Between sobs I finally spit out what the problem really was.  It wasn't CrossFit at all.  It was me.  My self-esteem has taken a nose dive in the past few years.  I went from a super healthy, in-shape, perfect makeup, perfect hair, happy-in-my-own-life marathoner to an unhappy, out of shape, unkempt, jealous, mother.  I never have time to do my hair or makeup anymore.  I don't even have time to iron, my clothes before work.  Every second of my day is filled with some type of activity.  I never have any time to spend on myself.  My baby is growing and thriving and I am falling apart.  In the back of my head, I am worried that my husband will leave me for a young CrossFitter that is more attractive, is in better shape, and would talk about WODs, burpees, and wall balls until the cows come home.  I make up these scenarios of my husband leaving me because I don't feel good enough anymore.  

There, I said it.  This is so hard for me to admit, but I think that I naively thought that having a baby, alone, would make me happy and make my life complete and it didn't.  In fact, it has made me pretty much the worst version of myself and have never felt so unattractive or unlovable.  Please don't get me wrong, I love being a mother and I love my son to death.  I would die for him without so much as a second thought.  I let myself go for so long because my sole focus was on baby, baby, baby.  Now that he is here, I am left with the ruins of that process and it isn't pretty.  My body and mind have both taken a beating.  It took me 2 years to do this to myself, so how do I expect that it will take less than 5 months to undo the damage and be my 2010 self?

To wrap up this long drawn out story, I will say that I really do have the best husband ever.  As soon as I started crying and explained what was really wrong he also started crying.  He said that earlier in his life, he had made the decision to never get married.  Then he met me, he said, and decided that if there was anyone in the world that he could be with the rest of his life, it was me.  He felt so bad that I thought he could ever leave me for anyone else.  No.  Matter.  What.  Period.  He held my hand as he said it and squeezed it tight.  He said he felt bad that I felt so bad and he wanted me to feel good about myself.  He wanted me to be happy again.  Just hearing him say that  made me feel a little better.

I don't think that my body will ever be the same.  All of the 10 mile runs (yes, I ran 10 miles by myself this past weekend at an 8:44 pace **pats back**) aren't going to make my body what it was before I had the baby.  I really need to accept that.  I don't think that my relationship between my husband and I will ever be the same again.  It will never be just us.  It doesn't mean that it can't be great.  It just has to be different.

I know what I need to do.  I need to be kinder to myself.  I need to recognize that I am not perfect and will always be a work-in-progress.  I need to be happy and thankful for what I have and not continue to focus on what others have and be constantly jealous.  I need to remember that marriage is for better or worse.  I've got lots to work on and am beginning to realize that the only person who is really critical of me is me.

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I'm (not) sorry that breastfeeding my baby makes you feel uncomfortable

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Can I please vent for a minute?  As if breastfeeding exclusively and pumping three times a day at work aren't exhausting enough (not to mention all that comes along with it like cleaning bottles, pump parts, etc.), explaining to people where I am for 1 1/2 hours each day while I am at work is getting really old.  The responses I get when I tell people where I have been or where I am going have ranged from general acknowledgement to downright embarrassment.  Now, I am not embarrassed, mind you, they are.

About a week ago I was explaining to a sympathetic coworker (who by-the-way, does not have kids and never will) about the troubles that I was having with my Medela Freestyle pump.  It seemed like there was a battery or motor issue and I was worried that it might crap out on me while I was at work.  Now, given the fact that I spend so much of my day using that machine, I was quite distressed.  She and I were deep in discussion when another coworker, who happened to be a man, walked in and asked us what we were talking about.  I unabashedly told him that my almost $500 breast pump was having issues.  He froze, turned beet red, promptly stated that he didn't want to discuss "women's issues", and walked away.  Umm ok.

This past Monday, I had just finished up a pumping session and was waiting for the elevator to go back to my floor.  The "quiet room" is not on the same floor that I work on.  While I was waiting, I saw another coworker, who also happened to be a man.

"What brings you down to this floor?" he asked.

"Feeding my baby" I stated, pointing to my unmistakable black Medela bag.

It took a second to register with him, but then he said "Oh", as he stammered, turned red, and then with record speed, changed the subject to asking if I was getting much sleep.

These are just two instances where I have left men at my office feeling uncomfortable.  I also get stares as I walk into and out of the "quiet room".  People stare at me while I transfer milk to and from the cooler pack that I keep in the fridge in the kitchen since we do not have one in the "quiet room".

One day last week, when I was doing a milk transfer, a guy (yes, I work with 90% men) asked me if I was going to be enjoying an afternoon snack.  I wanted to burst out laughing and ask him if he was serious.  Aye.

It isn't just men that proliferate the nonsense surrounding breastfeeding.  I have a friend who is breastfeeding who was shocked when I told her that I didn't like using a cover.  She isn't the most modest person either, but she couldn't understand how I could whip out a breast in public to feed baby B.

It just drives me crazy that breastfeeding is still so taboo in American culture.  THERE IS NOTHING SEXUAL ABOUT BREASTFEEDING.  Seriously, I was talking to a friend the other day and we were commenting on how breastfeeding takes all of the "sexy" out of that part of the body.  I don't even want my husband anywhere near my boobs.  Hands off!!  Breastfeeding is all business.  Baby business.  My baby is hungry and needs to eat.  My breasts are where the milk is stored.  I could keep going, but I think you all get it.

I don't understand why it makes people feel so uncomfortable when I mention that I am breastfeeding my baby.  Maybe someone can explain it to me?  Until then, I am going to continue feeding my baby whenever and wherever he is hungry and proudly explaining to people where I am for 1 1/2 hours out of my day.

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The fun never ends around here

Monday, September 9, 2013

Last night, as my husband, sister and I were enjoying some incredibly awesome paleo apple crisp made with freshly picked Cortland apples (I'll share that recipe later), we heard a disturbing sound outside.  My sister's dog started barking loudly.  My dog soon started barking as well.  They were out for their nightly backyard jaunt, which includes a bathroom break and is normally quite uneventful.

My sister went outside on the deck to see what the commotion was.  My heart sank when we heard her gasp.  Both dogs had been sprayed by a skunk that was hiding under the deck.  They were both in distress trying to shake the stinging oil.

Well hello there, idiot dogs!

The three of us froze.  We had no idea what to do.  It was close to 10 PM and no pet stores or veterinary offices were open.  I called the vet's answering service and they referred me to an all night clinic.  The girl who took my call was incredibly nice and helpful and mentioned that her dog had been sprayed at least 3 times.  She told me to first sprinkle both dogs with baking soda and let it sit for at least 10 minutes before brushing them.  She said that this helps to neutralize the odor and helps the oily substance from being absorbed.  Next she told me to mix up hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and dish soap and wash the dogs with that several times.  She mentioned that if either god started vomiting that we should bring them in to be evaluated.  I profusely thanked her, hung up the phone, and shook my head at my sister and husband.  We had a long night ahead of us.

My husband went outside with a flashlight and corralled both dogs onto the deck.  He proceeded to sprinkle them both with the 1/2 box of baking soda that we had left.  Both dogs were so confused at why we could not let them in the house.  The deck was a mess with baking soda everywhere.  The smell that wafted into the house with the breeze was repulsive.  There was no way that we were going to be able to wash them right away.  It was chilly outside and we didn't have enough peroxide or baking soda to make the mixture.  I also had to go and take care of the baby, who conveniently started crying right when the skunk situation went down (for once, I was actually happy to hear him crying at 10 PM).

My sister went out after 30 minutes and brushed both dogs.  My husband cleared out the small shed at the back of the house and put the dogs in there for the night.  Poor things.

This morning I had to go to work.  I missed several days last week due to food poisoning and was afraid to miss any more for fear of getting fired.  My husband drew the short straw and had to stay home with the stinkies.  He decided that he is going to see if any grooming joint will take them.  It is just too messy to try to do it on our own.  TBD whether he has any luck or not.  Oh my gosh, I hope he does.

Now to completely change the subject to the paleo apple crisp...  We got this recipe off of another blog.  It was awesome!  Enjoy!

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Overcoming diastasis recti (part 1)

Friday, September 6, 2013

In the weeks that followed my c-section, I frantically searched the web for anything that could help me with my bloated looking "mommy tummy".  Sure it was only a few weeks post the birth of my son, but I was not at all used to having a saggy belly and I was not content to just wait and see what happened.  I took matters into my own hands and I am so glad that I did.

Those early internet searches yielded me things like the Tupler Technique and Complete Motions.  I am not going to discount sites like these because they may in fact help women overcome issues with diastasis recti.  The problem that I found with them was that they charge you an arm and a leg to do so.  I was not willing to spend a bunch of money on some DVDs that I would most likely never use, so I continued searching for a different answer.

Instead of shelling out a ton of money, I sought out the help of a physical therapist (which my health insurance covered) many weeks ago and it was one of the best decisions that I made.  My physical therapist was amazing.  When I first started seeing her my abdominal separation was about 4 fingers or more apart.  This was considered by my OB to be a serious separation that could only be fixed with surgery.  My PT convinced me that I could make great strides towards a recovery, without surgery.  I was more than willing to give it a try.

I met with her only a few times, but in those meetings she gave me exercises and encouragement that I so desperately needed.  She encouraged me to share the exercises that she gave to me with my friends, so this is what I am going to do, friends.  No large amounts of money required.  I am going to break it up into a few different posts, the first being recovery exercises by land, the second being recovery by water, and the third being prevention (which I WISH I would have known when I was pregnant).  Enjoy!

What is diastasis recti?

I had never heard of this before or during my pregnancy.  It was only after, when I Googled my symptoms that I discovered it.  Basically what happens is, as the baby grows inside your uterus, it pushes on the abdominal muscles.  If your abdominal muscles are not especially strong, the pressure from the growing baby will push them apart, causing a separation.  The separation looks much worse after pregnancy and looks like an unsightly bulge, which in my opinion, makes one look like they are still several months pregnant.  

The Mayo Clinic website describes the conditions that make diastasis recti more likely during pregnancy:

  • If you are over 35 years old
  • If you are pregnant with multiples
  • If you are pregnant with a larger baby (the case for me!)
  • If you are on your 2nd, 3rd, etc. pregnancy
  • If you engage in intense abdominal exercises after the first trimester

In real life, this is what diastasis recti looks like (me about 6 weeks postpartum)...


How do I know if I have it?

Lay down on your back with your knees up to the ceiling.  Pull your chin to your knees (keeping your spine on the floor) like you are doing a crunch.  Place your fingers just below your belly button and feel your ab muscles squeeze your fingers.  If there is more than 2 fingers in the space between your abs, then you most likely have diastasis recti.

What NOT to do when you have diastasis recti!

1.  Crunches.  No, no, no!  Luckily I found this out before I tried doing them.  They will make the condition worse!

2.  Twisting abdominal motions.  These will also make the condition worse.

3.  Get up out of bed the conventional way.  I was taught the roll method of getting up which should also be used during pregnancy.  While laying down, roll to your side to that your legs are hanging of the bed at the knees.  Using your arms for support and while bracing your abdominal muscles, push yourself up and put your feet on the floor.  You'll thank me later, I swear!

Diastasis recti recovery by land (part 1)

First things first, I am not a doctor or physical therapist myself and I am not claiming to be either of those.  I am simply letting you all know what I did and what seemed to work for me.  I hope that this also works for you and would love to hear from you if you try it and experience some success, like me.

The first thing I think that you should do before you try out any exercises is to purchase and use an abdominal binder.  I know this is controversial, but I really think that it helped me for so many reasons.  Post c-section, coughing, sneezing, laughing, etc., hurts.  Having the binder on gave me some support and made those (sometimes uncontrollable) actions hurt less.  They also helped with my self-esteem.  There is nothing like looking 6 months pregnant when you aren't pregnant anymore.

I purchased a few different binders, which I'll review very quickly.

The Babies R Us Post Partum Support - This was the first one that I used starting from a few days after I gave birth.  It was not very comfortable, but it served its purpose, I suppose.  It was also quite cheap.  I wore it only during the day in the first few weeks because it was so tight.  It made me feel much more confident about going out in public with anything other than a sweatshirt on.  It started to fall apart after a few weeks, though, and began to bunch and look rather lumpy under my clothes.

The Medela Postpartum Support - I purchased this support to wear at night because it looked much more comfortable.  It was.  It wasn't as tight or bulky/bunchy.  The problem with this one was that when I started to shrink in the stomach area, the support, which was a size small, became too big and useless.

The Fit Splint -  This support was the most expensive that I bought, but undoubtedly the best.  I bought it to wear in my early days of running.  It made my stomach feel secure and stopped the annoying jiggle during jogging.  The only bad thing about it was that it was neoprene and while this made it fairly invisible under clothing, it also made it terribly hot.  It also chaffed my stomach the first time I wore it.  My PT encouraged me to wear this while engaging in some of my exercises.

On to the exercises...

Once I got the OK from my OB to start any exercises (a little over 6 weeks postpartum), I started with my PT.  The first few exercises she gave me sound really easy, but they were really hard for me at first.  My old, in-shape, self mentally thought I could do them, but physically it was a whole lot tougher.  It was so frustrating.  Here are the first few exercises that I completed:

1. Find neutral pelvis position.  To do this, lay on your back, place your hands on your stomach, and pull your naval to the floor (tilt your pelvis upward).  Find the position where your hands are parallel to the floor.  This is the position that I did many of the below mentioned exercises.

2.  Kegels.  Hate these.  Absolutely despise them.  I was told to do them during pregnancy to help strengthen my pelvic floor muscles and help prevent incontinence.  Did I do them?  No.  Should I have done them?  Probably.  If you are not familiar with Kegels, contract your pelvic floor muscles, hold for a second or two, and then relax them.  These are the same muscles that start and stop the flow of urine.  Do these lying down at first, 5-10 Kegels, 5-10 times a day.  Even once a day will help.  I am not sure I ever found the time or patience for that many.  Once you get good at them, try them sitting, then standing, and then walking.  You'll be a Kegel maniac in no time.  Your husband might thank you as well.  ;-)

3.  Pelvic clock.  Laying down on your back with your knees up, imagine your stomach as a clock.  In the neutral pelvis position, tilt your pelvis from 12 to 6 and then back.  Do this several times.  Next, try the same thing, but going from 3 to 9 and then back.  Do this several times.  Now try the whole clock going clockwise a few times and then switch to counter clockwise, in a smooth motion.

4.  The elevator.  This is a tough one to understand and a tough one to do, at least for me.  Laying on your back, with knees up, and with a neutral pelvis, engage the pelvic floor muscles in three distinct sections: pubic bone, belly button, rib cage.  Hold at each "floor" for 10 seconds.  Once at the top "floor" go back down, while holding in the same fashion.  Do 5-10 of these at least once a day.  The more the better!

5.  Diaphragmatic breathing.  This is a nice and relaxing one.  In the same position (on back, knees up, neutral pelvis), put your hands on your stomach and keeping your chest still, inhale deeply with your belly, hold for 2 counts, and then exhale, sinking your belly button to the floor on the exhale for a 3 counts.  Do a few of these and gradually increase the counts when you feel comfortable doing so.  to make this even harder, try bringing your belly button closer to the floor on the exhales.  

6.  Lumbar stabilization exercises.  In the same position (on back, knees up, neutral pelvis) try the following for two minutes total (trying to be as continuous as possible!!):

  • Dropping knees out and then pulling them back in while keeping core as stable as possible.
  • Sliding heels out and in while keeping core as stable as possible.
  • Marching one foot up, then down, on both sides, while keeping core as stable as possible.

I did only these above 6 exercises for several weeks before moving on to anything more complicated or abdominally engaging.  Just with these exercises, I was able to get from a more than four finger separation to a tight 3 finger.

Here is a picture of me a few weeks after completing the above exercises.  I still had a ways to go, but I was already starting to notice a difference.

Still not where I wanted to be...but getting there!

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