Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Dealing with Baby Weight...

Bear with me while I rant about my weight...Or, skip to the bottom of the page for some humor.

I have been keeping track of my postpartum progress including the physical, mental/emotional aspects, and I seem to be improving everywhere except for the weight loss category. I am five months postpartum and something has got to give! My pregnancy weight gain was only 20 pounds, and while that isn't much, I haven't lost a single pound of it. About 1-week after giving birth I had lost half the weight and felt great. I was even doing yoga and taking walks around the neighborhood. Five weeks after giving birth though, I had gained all the pregnancy weight back. I am completely baffled by it! Why on earth am I still the same weight as I was at 9-months pregnant?! I guess I'll blame it on hormones, stress, less sleep...etc?

People like to say, "don't be so hard on yourself, you just had a baby", or "the weight will come off, just give it time", or "it took 9-months to put the weight on so it will take 9-months for it to come off". While I appreciate people being positive and supportive, those comments don't help. Instead, why don't you tell me about a great workout program, or a diet pill that works, maybe give me some healthy recipes to try, heck- why don't you just cook me a healthy meal? Unfortunately, those things are not happening, so it is in my hands to deal with this.

I am tired of not fitting into any of my clothes, I am tired of aches and pains most likely caused by extra weight that my body is not used to, and I am tired of feeling bad about my body. Before I got pregnant I loved my body, even the flaws. In fact, I really didn't care that much about how I looked. I felt good, and my clothes fit, so I was happy with my body. End of story. Now though, I am having body image feelings that I haven't had before! These are feelings that I can't turn off. I know that I grew a whole human and then pushed her out, but somehow in my head that doesn't justify the body that I currently have. It isn't so much the lumps and bumps that bother me, but the size that I am. It is a size I have never been and I don't like it! And my breasts...don't even get me started. I fear I may never see perky breasts again!

So now that I have gotten all my whining out of the way, here's what I am going to do about it. I am going to lose the weight! Maybe it will take me all of the 9-months, maybe it won't. I am tired of sitting on the sidelines "being a mom" and waiting for my body to go back to normal. This blog post is a motivation for me to get to work on losing the baby weight. It is my hope that by you reading it I will be held accountable to lose the weight.

Now for some humor...

A few days ago I went to the gym (go me!) and I jogged(!!) for the first time since having a baby and gaining 20 pounds. Let me tell you, I am not a runner. I struggle to run. I dislike running. However, I was invited to a "run 100 miles this year" group, so I joined and I started. Yikes, it was interesting... Let me just say, my breasts are currently NOT built for running...neither is my butt. I never could have dreamed that I would be one of those women jogging with bouncing boobs practically hitting me in the face. (Is that even possible?) Talk about uncomfortable. I may look into duck taping my bra before the next running attempt. But it wasn't just my boobs, it was my butt too!! Never, NEVER, have I felt my butt cheeks flop around while jogging! It was a strange sensation. At first, I thought it was my t-shirt hitting the backs of my legs. After a few shirt adjustments I quickly realized it was not a wardrobe malfunction, it was MY BUTT CHEEKS flopping around! Can you imagine the horror? No really? Never have I imagined such a sensation! I almost stopped right then and there, just got off the treadmill and walked away pretending like it never happened. -But I didn't! I ran the mile, and then walked a second mile after that.

So all of this to say: I had a baby, my body isn't the same, but I'm going to do something about it. If it takes flopping butt cheeks and bouncing boobs to get there, then so be it.

Monday, January 11, 2016

A Breastfeeding Story

This is a story that I have tried to sit down and write numerous times. Each time it is too painful to get anything down, so I have successfully pushed it aside until now. It is a story about pain in my heart, guilt, and shame. I wasn't even going to write this story, but I feel that I should so that it can be a support to others who have had/are having the same issues.

Before giving birth...no, before even getting pregnant, I knew I would breastfeed. To me, breastfeeding was the most natural, beautiful thing that a mother and her new baby could do together. I dreamt about it and couldn't wait until I was able to breastfeed my own baby someday. When I got pregnant I was sick and uncomfortable and unsure about giving birth, but more than anything I was excited about breastfeeding. I was sure that breastfeeding was where I would find joy in this whole process of having a baby.

After giving birth they placed Hazel on my bare chest. I asked the nurse if I should try to breastfeed and she said "no, wait until the baby finds your breast and she will nurse on her own time". An hour passed and Hazel had not found her way to my breast. They took her to clean her, weigh her, get her vitals etc., then she came back to me and I put her to my breast. Nothing happened. All of the beauty and magic that I believed would surround Hazel and me during our first time breastfeeding was not there. With each try to get her to latch, then each fail, my heart broke.

Over the next few days in the hospital I continued to try to breastfeed Hazel. I had a variety of lactation specialists come in and help me. They said I had flat nipples, so I was given a nipple shield. That helped, but Hazel's latch wasn't very good and my milk wasn't coming in as quickly as I thought it would.

We took our new baby home and promptly had an appointment with the pediatrician. Hazel had lost about a pound since being born (down to 5 pounds!) and needed to gain weight. My milk still had not come in. I was given instructions to drink dark beer, take fenugreek, drink mother's milk tea, use brewers yeast in cooking etc. I tried it all...still, my milk didn't come in. Hazel was not gaining weight and screamed day and night, probably due to hunger.

Breastfeeding was becoming frustrating. Where was the magic, the feel-good-feelings, the bonding? None of that was happening. I was taken over with sadness and stress by the whole situation. We were at the pediatrician every other day weighing Hazel and trying to get her to feed properly so that my milk would come in. She was diagnosed with a tongue AND lip tie. We had the tongue-tie corrected and that helped with her latch, but she still was not nursing well. She would cry at my breast, then I would cry. My days were filled with trying to breastfeeding, then pumping about a 1/2 ounce, repeat...all-day-long.

After a month of very little weight gain for Hazel, my milk STILL not fully in, an emotionally drained me, and a very cranky baby, we resorted to formula. When I began to supplement breastfeeding with formula, Hazel started to gain weight. She didn't stop crying, but she was gaining weight. I had overwhelming feelings of guilt giving her formula, but at the same time relief because she was gaining weight. All the while I was still trying to increase my supply in the hopes that Hazel would exclusively breastfeed.

At month-two Hazel's weight was still very low. She was gaining, but not enough. So the pediatrician and I went back to the drawing board. I took Hazel to the hospital for lab work, it came back fine. The pediatrician suspected a milk allergy so I cut out all dairy from my diet and we changed her formula to a hypoallergenic brand. Finally, finally Hazel's weight gain picked up and she started crying less. Over the next month Hazel had packed on a few pounds and wasn't crying at all anymore. It truly felt like a miracle!

Through this whole process though, what little milk supply I had tanked. I started with very little supply which has slowly gone down to just a few drops. Hazel is 95% fed on hypoallergenic formula. She uses my breast mostly as comfort once a day, sometimes none. I am happy that she is fed, growing, and content now, but I still feel pangs of guilt and sadness that it is not my body feeding her. We have not been able to have the breastfeeding relationship that I so desperately hoped for. The only way I am getting through this is by telling myself that she is getting fed and that is what's important.

So here I am, five months after giving birth, mourning something that I never really had. I had hoped breastfeeding would be the joy that I was seeking in this whole process of having a baby, but it has been the opposite. I have never felt so hopeless, stressed, and sad about anything else in my life as I have felt about breastfeeding. And that, is my breastfeeding story. It may be the biggest heartbreak of my life thus far.

Monday, January 4, 2016

5-month Postpartum Truths


Wow, I haven't written a post like this since I was 6-weeks postpartum! I guess I haven't had time. I also haven't had the head-space to organize my thoughts. I have so many postpartum thoughts these days and this post hardly brushes the surface. Shew-whee, where to begin...

5 months ago I gave birth. I have since forgotten the pain, but there is still trauma. I have to admit though, I am more traumatized by being pregnant than giving birth. The birth came and went in 30 meager hours, done. Pregnancy however, seemed like it lasted half of my life! Thank.goodness.that.is.over!! Despite not being pregnant anymore, I am still horrified by the experience. That just goes to show how sick and uncomfortable I was. I am not a fan of surrendering my body to nine months of uncontrollable reactions and growth.

On to somewhat more pleasant things. Hazel, is a doll. No literally she looks like a doll. It's a good thing she is cute, because she definitely tried our patience those first three months. It is one thing to have a new baby and adjust to a different way of life. It's another story altogether to have a baby with colic...or whatever it is that makes them so cranky all the time. Hazel cried nonstop for the first three months. I often found myself crying along with her because I didn't know what else to do. We were/are regulars at the pediatrician's office, everyone knows us by name now because we were there (no-kidding) every other day for the first month, then twice a week after that. Only at month-three did we finally start tapering the visits to every other week. Most of Hazel's problems had to do with "colic", low weight gain, and breastfeeding, but I'll write another post about that later.

With Andy out of town for work most weeks and Hazel's nonstop crying, I was worn pretty ragged those first few months. I survived on showers at 2am, 1-minute breaks sitting on the back porch with the sun in my face, long cries into my coffee, granola bars, and netflix. I tell you, single/solo parenting is HARD. I don't wish it on anyone. If you know a single mom, or one whose husband works long hours (or out of town), help a mama out! I don't mean ask if she wants help, just show up and help. (I'm not gonna lie, I could have used a lot more help...I was just too proud to ask for it.)

So now that we are past the I-have-no-idea-what-I'm-doing-and-my-baby-won't-stop-crying phase, things finally feel good. Hazel is a completely different baby than she was those first few months. She laughs and smiles and we like each other. We are starting to get into some sort of routine and my anxiety about getting out of the house is almost all gone. Life is still challenging and I am often frustrated with my loss of independence (especially when Andy is not around to give me a break), but all in all I feel better about being a mom. It is crazy how much a little human can change your life. I love my child, but I truly don't understand how people can do this over and over again with multiple children. Mad respect to them! One-and-done will be my story. :)

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Motherhood is Humbling


Yep, motherhood is humbling. Never before have I contradicted myself so much or been proven wrong time and time again. I went into this parenthood-gig with perfect ideals, saying I will 'never' do this or that...and then it came down to survival and I did just that thing I said I wouldn't do. I am learning, slowly but surely. There is usually a consistent feeling of guilt, especially when mentioning these things to other parents, but I am trying to get past that. We need to not guilt each other as parents, but support and lift each other up. So here are some of the things that have humbled me, these are my truths and realities:

-I use formula. *gasp!* Something that I always thought was the devil. When boobs aren't working though, and baby isn't thriving or gaining weight, you do what you need to do.

-I have (and use) cloth diapers, but I really prefer the disposables. Cloth diapers seem like such a great idea. They really do save money at the end of the day and are a much cleaner option for the environment, but they are such a HASSLE. I do laundry every two days, they don't wick the moisture away from her as good as the disposables, they are more prone to leaking, I have to change them more often...and the list goes on. Each time I use a cloth diaper I quietly and guiltily tell myself this will be the last time.

-Even though I am not working I put my baby in daycare. *Another gasp!* "But you have the privilege of staying at home and spending the whole day with your beautiful child!" Yes, it may be a fantastic privilege that I don't have to go back to work, but mama needs a break. Especially when papa is out of town all week. Yes, I felt guilty at first, but then I started getting things done and taking care of myself and the guilt faded away. I love my child, but I can't spend every waking hour of my life with her or I will go crazy. (side note: she's only in daycare two days a week)

-I have always loathed those super colorful, eyesore floor gyms that babies can lay under. (see picture at top of page) Yeah...we have one of those now and she loves it.

-Before having a baby I swore we would only have natural wooden toys. Nope- we definitely have plastic toys covered in all the colors of the rainbow now.

-I like a good schedule and planned to put Hazel on a schedule right out of the womb, that didn't happen. She's almost 5 months old and we still don't have any type of schedule. Each day is different and that is fine.

-I promised myself that I wouldn't litter facebook and instagram with baby photos, but some days she is just so damn cute that I can't help myself!

-I always figured we would co-sleep. Andy and I even bought a bigger bed so that she could sleep in it with us. She sleeps in the crib though. I just can't sleep with her in bed. I tried and tried, but something in me would not turn off when she was in the bed. Now that she sleeps in the crib my body is able to shut off and I can sleep soundly! (Not a single bit of guilt there!)

-Before having a baby my dog was my baby. Now, I can't stand him! He smells, he barks, he annoys the crap out of me. I feel incredibly guilty that I don't love him anymore, but that's the reality of it. I am not openly trying to find another home for him, but I'm not going to deny that if someone wanted him I would totally give him away.

These are my truths. I have some guilt, but I also feel relief in areas. I am humbled everyday and life with a baby is definitely not what I expected it to be, but that's ok.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The real look of motherhood

My friend Mike just wrote about FOMO (fear of missing out) and how in our social media driven world we only post about the cool parts of our lives. His point was how we post the best parts of our lives to feel cooler than other people posting about the awesome things that they are doing. It is a vicious cycle. You are guilty of it, your hairdresser is guilty of it, and I am definitely guilty of it.

As a new mother I want to showcase how cute my baby is and what a perfect life we live. My daughter has a head full of hair and is pretty much adorable. I probably take upwards of 20 pictures of her a day. (I know!!) Then I scrutinize over which photo is the best to post. ...All the while struggling to breastfeed and dealing with a colicky baby who screams all day. But you don't see that part. You see the cute baby picture, or the "happy" mom on an adventure with her new baby picture.

Another thing I have been partaking in as a new mother is the posting of my baby's monthly milestones. This includes her weight, development progress, likes, and dislikes. I just finished posting my baby's 2-month stats and got to thinking that maybe I should do a milestones post for myself as a new mother, to measure how far I've come. Not a pretty post, but a real look at the beginning progress of motherhood. All of the attention is on the baby's progress, but what about poor mom? She is growing, learning, and progressing too.

So here is my non-FOMO post of REAL motherhood month by month. 
(My hope is to do all 12 months of my first year being a mom.)

 Month-1 Outtakes:

 Month-2 Outtakes:

 Month-3 Outtakes:

Month-4 Outtakes:

 Month-5 Outtakes: 


Month-6 Outtakes: 

Friday, September 4, 2015

6-week Postpartum Truths

Photo by Robin Skievaski Photography
Well here I am, 6-weeks after giving birth to our little Hazel. I have had a lot of half written posts in my head, but they have never made it to the computer. This was partially because taking care of a newborn has consumed all of my time, and partially because I had so much to say that I didn't know how to properly organize it. I still don't know how to organize it, but the time has come to try.

I've read a lot of baby blogs, thus a lot of birth stories. I always figured I would follow suit and post my birth story after it happened. Before giving birth, I was really excited to go into labor, experience giving birth, and then tell everyone my magical story. Then it happened. And let me tell you, there was NOTHING magical about it. In fact, it was the most traumatizing event that I have ever experienced. So traumatizing that I don't want to tell my birth story. You might be wondering, wow something serious must have happened. The truth is that nothing serious happened, it was a very average birth. I was just a huge wimp, I lost control, I freaked out, in the end I was extremely traumatized, end of story.

I don't understand how everyone can say that pregnancy is magical, giving birth is magical, newborns are magical...yata yata. Maybe it truly is magical for some people, but not for me. I would be more inclined to use the adjectives uncomfortable, painful, isolating. Before getting pregnant, I was under the illusion that everything involved with having a baby would be beautiful. I was so wrong. I hate to be a downer, but I have not enjoyed any of the process of getting pregnant and having a baby. (Except for feeling her kicks when she was inside me, and feeling like a mother goddess for a total of about one week when I was pregnant.) Overall, it has been hard and isolating.

Maybe I wasn't ready for a baby, maybe I don't do as well with change as I thought I did. Whatever it is, I have struggled. Yes, I wanted to experience pregnancy, I wanted to feel my body grow with life inside it, and then use my incredible body to push that new life out into the world. I did it, I experienced it, and now my life has changed forever. I now have to deal with the challenges of someone else needing me 24 hours a day, loss of independence, loss of body perkiness, loss of social life...I gave all of those up and I am struggling. Yes, I gained a beautiful and healthy daughter, but I have yet to truly appreciate her. So far, she is like a needy pet. She eats, sleeps, poops, and cries. That is my life now. I am trying hard to find joy in the little things, but some days this life change is just all too overwhelming. Thus the journey to motherhood begins!

(Don't get me wrong, this is not postpartum depression, I am just processing the whirlwind that this is. My spirits are upbeat, I am just dealing with change and trying to speak my truth. :)

My Pregnancy Milestones

I have kept track of each little thing that has happened in my pregnancy. I don't want to forget these moments because they were so important and/or special when they happened. I think it will be fun to be able to look back on these milestones in the future.

4-weeks:  Found out I was pregnant

7-weeks:  Officially had morning sickness, officially means I am a pregnant lady. (small victory?)

10-weeks:  First doctors appointment.

12-weeks: Heard the heart beat for the first time. (magical!!)

15-weeks: Felt the first movement. (a flutter and then a tiny kick movement)
15-weeks: Morning sickness has mostly stopped.

16-weeks: It's a GIRL! (had genetic blood testing done, baby is great, sex is female)

18-weeks:  Officially look like I have a small belly...or just fat. (awkward stage)

20-weeks (5 months): Belly popped, I think. (I look pregnant in tight clothes!)

22-weeks: First ultrasound, little girl was lounging with her legs crossed. (So cute!) Her heart, spine, brain, and other organs all looked good. Her growth might be behind by 2-3-weeks though.

23-weeks: Andy and I took a babymoon vacation to Isla Mujeres Mexico. Experienced my first braxton-hicks contractions (in my lower back) on the plane ride back from vacation.

24-weeks: Second ultrasound. Little girl's growth is steady, but she is still measuring small. Saw her sucking on her fingers during the ultrasound. (wow!)

27-weeks: Have a DEFINITE round belly now. I look pregnant in everything I wear. Also wearing maternity clothes full-time now.

30-weeks: Officially have back pain. Also getting no sleep due to discomfort and peeing all the time.
30-weeks: Getting regular braxton-hix contractions now.

32-weeks: Diagnosed with gestational diabetes. (not a happy milestone, but a big enough one to make note of.)

36-weeks: Last ultrasound, she is head-down and ready to go. I am having regular contractions now, especially when I take long walks.

37-weeks: Diagnosed with melanoma on my left eyelid.

38-weeks, 5-days: Induced because of the melanoma, 30 hours of labor, 15 minutes of pushing, gave birth to Hazel who was 6 pounds, 3 ounces, and 18 inches long, with a full head of dark hair.