Sunday, April 23, 2017

Ways We Exhaust Our Kiddos!

 We didn't plan this weekend out in advance and were left kind of scrambling to put together some fun things for the kiddos. Saturday it was raining so we needed to find something good indoors. Luckily, we're not too far from Giggleberry and it was a perfect thing to do.
 There is a water table there; Chase couldn't care about anything else. He played at a few other places but running from side to side fishing for ducks and rearranging things was what truly made him happy. Abby, on the other hand, wasn't tall enough for that and thus wandered to a lot of other things. She crawled through the tunnel, rode a carousel horse, and played on the firetruck.

Then today, we met up with friends and visited A Day at Delaware Valley University. There were bounce houses to climb in, animals to see, and a bubble entertainer. All of this was great for Chase! It wasn't quite as good for Abby. Any time we took her out of the stroller, she kind of ran off. I let her a bunch. We got out to see the animals. She LOVED staring at the sheep.
 She also loved seeing the chicks and donkey. I'm so glad I was able to do that with just her because I was able to focus on letting her take it all in.

Isn't that such a joy - seeing how your kids take in the world? It's truly one of my favorite parts of parenthood. Chase is a tentative explorer, preferring to have me by his side. He's getting more adventurous though, which I love. Abby is more of a spitfire. You tell her no? She heads right in! She loves to touch, explore, and discover. It's rewarding to see but also sometimes a little nerve racking, as we have to watch closely to ensure she stays safe.
Both kids were thoroughly exhausted when we left there and slept in the car for about 45 minutes. Plus, we had an early bedtime for both!!
I call it a successful, kid-centric weekend!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Putting Myself First

Post second baby, the weight did not leave me like it did post first baby. Which is kind of funny because I nursed longer with the second kiddo. Anyway, I've never been the healthiest Stacy I can be and with the extra weight and the ever narrowing gap between my age and the age my dad died of a heart attack, it was time to make some changes. 

I knew I needed to find a way to increase my activity, both for health and energy. I've been working out pretty regularly for the last month and a half. I'm currently aiming for 5-6 times per week. I get up earlier than everyone in the house so I can hammer it out before the kids need me or I'm faced with a thousand other distractions. Although I don't always enjoy rolling out of bed, I definitely enjoy getting up and moving. I subscribed to Beachbody On Demand and have been doing some mixed martial arts, yoga, barre and other things. I'm really loving that 6-7 am time because I get to focus on just me. I feel like, when you have little kids, focusing on yourself is something that doesn't happen very often. 

I also love that post workout high. I ran for a short while (apparently running and scoliosis don't mix) and loved that high. Now I get it with punching and kicking!
Post workout sweaty selfie with a lovely iphone haziness
 I've also been using a FitBit again. I love tracking my heart rate and I like the reminder to get up and walk. Extra bonus is, if I do enough, the husband's wellness plan will give us money.
Since I've been working out it looks like my scale has gone down a few pounds. My big hairy audacious goal would be to lose about 50 pounds. But honestly, the most important thing for me is to get my heart as healthy as I can and to have more energy for keeping up with the kiddos.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

A Gift for Me

When we had our second baby we didn't get quite as many meals and other little bit of help as we did with the first. I think this is pretty typical honestly. You already experienced the parenting learning curve from the first and probably prepared more this time. However, I'm a HUGE believer in meals being so helpful. Plus, cooking and helping people are two of my favorite things.

A friend just had her second boy and I was able to work with our little group of friends to cover a few meals after they returned home. Tonight I delivered chicken tacos to them for dinner. Our chicken taco recipe is the easiest. It's just:
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 a package of taco seasoning 
Cook in the crockpot for 2-6 hours.

I doubled the recipe and we had tacos tonight too! Little do my friends know that bringing them dinner was a total gift for me too. Not only did I get to see that sweet baby but I got to help take one thing off their plate.
I also included some chocolate chip cookies and these little homemade friends for their two boys. Because homemade love is just awesome.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Looking Back on the Breastfeeding Experience

Now that we're past the breastfeeding/formula stage, I can look back on it all through a different lens. It was a true struggle for me both times to admit defeat. Because that's what it felt like. The first time, with my son, I didn't know a lot about breastfeeding and figured it would just work. Shocker to anyone who has gone through it - it's not that easy! And I was trying. The latch wasn't great. The production sucked. And I was so exhausted. Exhausted from lack of sleep but truly bone tired from trying. It made me cry. A lot.

The second time, with my daughter, I did the pre work. I visited with a lactation consultant (LC) in advance. I set up a follow up appointment for after her birth. I used a nipple shield. I met with the LCs in the hospital. I took advice. I used different positions. I breastfed then pumped. And man, was I EXHAUSTED. That's serious work. And it was again just too much for me emotionally.

A year later, I can look back on it all and be proud of myself for trying and proud of myself for quitting. Because quitting was what I needed for me. And that's okay. Thankfully we live in a society where formula is available. My kiddos were fed. And a healthy mother - physically AND mentally - is best for baby. I worried I'd miss out on that physical connection with my children. But I was still feeding them and comforting them. When they are hurt, I'm the one they want. When it's bedtime I'm holding them, reading to them, and helping them to transition to sleep. I'm so glad I was able to recognize that quitting was what I needed. And that I was surrounded by people - my mom, my husband, my doctors - who told me that when I needed to hear it. I sincerely hope all women who need to hear that get that. Because your health is important. Taking care of yourself allows you to care for your kiddos.

This post is in collaboration with The Honest Company. Learn more about their formula here

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Challenge of Food

My kids have gotten a bit picky when eating lately. They were such great eaters - going for pretty much everything - but suddenly we're a little unwilling to eat banana, grapes, or oranges. What's changed? No idea. But that's just kiddos being kiddos I think.

From the very beginning, we've subscribed to baby led weaning. We might not have called it that right away but that's what we did. My son - the eldest kiddo - was done with formula right at a year. He loved food so much and took to milk right away. It was kind of magically how he transitioned from bottles to sippy cups and from formula to milk. Okay, seriously magic.
The youngest is slowly getting there. She drinks a lot of water - more so than milk - so I'm hesitant to make the transition. She will tool around the house with that sippy cup on water all day, dribbling water down her as she goes. She also loves food, although not everything lately. She'd eat an avocado a day if I let her (who has that kind of money??). She loves hot dogs. She likes broccoli. She will eat all of her strawberries and then her brother's! But we're still working on moving off formula completely. And honestly I'm okay with that because I'm trusting her to get to the right place when her body is ready.

I also don't really fix a separate meal for them. They eat what we eat although it may be supplemented with something else. When we do chicken tacos, they eat tomato, tortilla, avocado, chicken, and olives. Last night when we had Swedish meatballs and asparagus; they did noodles, asparagus, avocado, and tomatoes. I'm not willing to fix a whole separate dinner. That's just not how I mom.
Speaking on momming (when you create a word, you determine if it has an additional m right?) I will say I've always felt good about the decisions we've made for them with food. They eat mostly nutritious food. It's a balanced diet with a few sweets thrown in. We let them explore and develop their palate. Personally, I'm trying to model healthy eating and exercise for them.

And I've never regretted using formula with them. I hang out with some crunchy mommas. But they also have always subscribed to fed is best. And choosing the formula route was what I needed for good mental health. Between latch challenges and production (oh production!! Don't get me started!), it was so taxing to me emotionally. I really hope all mommas focus on making that choice - the one that is right for their body, mind, and life.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Beauty School Dropout: Otherwise Known as Quitting Breastfeeding

I had a moment this week where I felt a little like Frenchie from Grease. You know the Beauty School Dropout number? Yeah, that was exactly what I was feeling. After struggling with breastfeeding following Abby's delivery, I decided to drop out. I simply wasn't producing enough for her. The multi step process of breastfeeding, supplementing and pumping was too much for me emotionally. Yes, it boosted my production a little bit but not enough to feed her fully and it left me miserable, which isn't particularly good for any momma.

And so I met with my lactation consultant to slowly begin the process of weaning. Thankfully, we immediately cut pumping. That lifted a huge weight off of me. I got an hour to two hours of my life back each day. And after marathon nursing sessions (suck - sleep - suck - suck - sleep for 10 minutes - suck) we are now at the point where we can cut back the length a bit. Just those two steps alone might keep me nursing. Time will tell.

There is so much pressure to nurse, both from the medical community and from regular people. And honestly, the medical community is probably better and more understanding than the regular Joe. Yes, I believe in the benefits I'm passing on to my child by breastfeeding. But I also believe I need to be healthy, including emotionally, to ensure my child is thriving. Breastfeeding, for me, isn't helping me thrive emotionally. The sleep deprivation coupled with the need to eat constantly (and sneak said food so Chase doesn't insist on eating everything too) plus the postpartum hormones is truly doing a number on me. I reached out to my doctor this week for help. After Chase, they put me on a low dose Zoloft and that made a huge difference. I may need to do something similar again. I know that the decisions I make - whether to breastfeed and whether I seek out an antidepressant - will be determined based on making me the healthiest mother I can be so I can best benefit my kids. Yes, people will judge. My attitude must be "let them" as my top priorities are my kids and my health. I just hope when I don my imaginary pink ladies jacket, I can truly keep that attitude in the forefront of my brain.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Stockpiling Fun + Nesting

The last week or so I've been trying to fit a lot in.  We went to the playground, very close to our house, a couple of times. We walked the dog around the block. We've read a billion books, Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed currently leading the pack. I finished a sewing project for the girl's room. I ordered fabric to make a few things for the girl later on (ha - I think that might happen!). I made a pie. I placed an online order for a boatload of groceries to get us through the girl's first week or so of life. Chase and I got haircuts. I bought a birthday gift for my sister in law so we're prepared and not scrambling right after the girl arrives. Of course, I forgot the card but hopefully my husband can get that!

But we've also watched too much TV. My body is saying slow down as my back and hips hurt a bit more. I can't sit on the floor as long. Sometimes Curious George is the only method that allows me to listen to what my body needs. Tylenol and the heating pad are being used more regularly.
We're one week out from meeting my little girl. I can't wait to see if she resembles her brother, to discover her personality, and to introduce her to the family. And, of course, to welcome a new type of chaos and tiredness into my life!
Strawberry pie for my big two year old - it was a hit!
It's all so exciting and yet a bit overwhelming. I am so grateful for an amazing partner in my husband and a generous mom, who is coming to town for two weeks to help with Chase and the new girl. Plus, amazing inlaws who I know will help as we adjust to our new normal. Believe me, I'm counting those blessings!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Idea of Raising a Girl

Happy International Women's Day! As the date for my delivery of our daughter gets closer, I'm thinking more and more about the world we're bringing her into. The various hopes and dreams I have for her. I hope she feels she can accomplish anything. I hope she feels that different career paths are open to her. I hope she knows she is strong and smart as well as beautiful. I hope she always has access to the very best educational opportunities. I hope she's challenged. Don't get me wrong - I wish the same for my boy. But we treat boys so differently, both in gender roles and in opportunities provided. I think it's more challenging to raise a girl to feel strong, able, appreciated, smart, and valued. I sure hope my husband and I have the skills to teach and promote these. I want her to realize her power, to understand that feminism is important, and that girls can do anything.
Source unknown
I want to allow her to determine who she is, without society putting too many gender specifics on her (yet I'm still buying pink clothes.... I love 'em.). I want her to be confident. I hope she feels a sense of safety. I hope I can be a role model for her in body acceptance, leadership, confidence, and strength. Oh, the many challenges I see!! I hope this day, each year, allows me to reflect on the job I'm doing and how I can do better the following year. And I hope your International Women's Day allow you to reflect on what's important to you as a woman or advocate for women you love.

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Mom Judgement

I've been struggling lately with the mom judgement. Do you know what I'm talking about? The moms who think their way is the best way of doing things and thus your way is lesser.  For example, everyone should breastfeed. Well, let's start by saying that doesn't work for everyone. Some people beat themselves up with how hard it is, to the point where it impacts their mental health. Some people hate the experience. Some people, like me with my first kid, never have their milk come in. Everyone is different and we're blessed to live in a time where we have the ability to feed a child through formula if needed. Now, I'll agree that a lot of the research says breast milk is valuable for babies development. Newer research says we've overstated that. I don't really know which to believe. But I do know we should honor each mother and her individual way for feeding her child.

Secondly, let's talk about carrying your baby. I have pretty advanced scoliosis. The last two months or so of pregnancy is constant back pain for me. And not like the back pain people with straight backs have. For example, when I was running doctors said I hit the ground at three times the pressure of someone with a straight back. (Thus the reason I don't run anymore!) Pre-delivery, I'm beholden to Tylenol and a heating pad for helping me get through each day. I don't talk about that much because I've seen the looks from moms when I've said how much Tylenol I take in a day. Post delivery, I rely heavily on my stroller so I don't have a kiddo strapped to me creating more back pain. Some mamas who wear the baby just don't get that. To which I really just want to say "enjoy your straight back."

Even the choice of delivery is something that moms seem to judge each other on. Completely natural versus vaginal with epidural versus c section. With my son, a c section was not my ideal. After many, many hours of labor pains and two hours of pushing, his little crooked head wasn't going to make it's way. I trusted my doctor's advice. This time, we're doing a scheduled c section. This is again on medical advice. Because the boy was a failure to progress, the advice was it was best to assume the girl would be the same. It's interesting to me how people react to scheduled c section. Yes, major surgery is not my ideal still. But I've talked it over with numerous doctors in my practice as well as my husband and it seems the best course of action considering last time.

I really wish moms could be more respectful of other moms choices. We all parent differently. As long as your kid is growing, developing, and generally happy (or you are working with a medical team on issues in those areas) let's raise each other up. It's a sisterhood people! We *should* be helping each other to feel acceptance and support. Because mom-ing is hard enough without the judgement. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

2 Years Old and Almost Baby Time

This past weekend, we celebrated my son's second birthday. It was a few weeks early but between being 8 months pregnant and five members of my husband's family being out of town the next two weekends, it was ideal to have it early. We did a little bit of a Thomas and Friends theme, as he is currently obsessed. And I outsourced almost everything: cake, pizza, etc. I think the only thing I did was make a salad!
The boy had a great time! I think he was a little overwhelmed with presents.  There weren't a ton but it was one after another with no really play time. Young kids don't get that! (I actually hid one of the gifts that wasn't unpackaged right then so we can bring it out when the baby comes!)
I'm so glad we did it early and were able to have all of the family there! 

We're also less than three weeks away from welcoming our girl. We're having a scheduled c section since my boy was a failure to progress during labor and ended up being a c. I'm getting anxious, probably in part because I have a doctors appointment every time I turn around! This week alone I have two neonatal stress tests (one of which caused a trip to the hospital since baby girl was too tired to give them what they wanted. She's fine.), an OB appointment, and an ultrasound. Three appointments a week for the next three weeks too. But she seems healthy and content in there for now, so that's good. I probably should have everything in the hospital bag but it's still only 75% packed..... might be a project for tonight! We also haven't transitioned the nursery because we just moved the boy into his new room and big boy bed. This weekend might inspire a little nesting in that regard as I'm itching to get everything done.