No Sleep Til’ Brooklyn

For all you newbs out there, ‘sleeping through the night’ is defined as 5 hours or more of uninterrupted sleep. Hey, that may not be your definition of night, but please tell me where the fuck to sign up. No joke. I cannot remember the last time I slept at least 5 hours straight. Okay. I’m lying. There were three or four nights in the last 10 months that I’ve slept 5 hours straight. I think. Maybe. I’ve lost all judgement and reason and memory, so that’s a guess.

The hardest part about having a baby is the lack of consistent sleep. Ever since month 4 of Charlotte’s life sleeping has been a real problem. A problem for me. Not her. I’m sure she’s fine with it. She calls, I come. If you think about it, not such a bad situation to be in if you’re her. I wish someone would come running to my side if I started yelling or crying.

Some ladies in my mommy group suggested picking up a copy of the No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley. Upon first suggestion, I figured the book was hokey and offered no real solution. All the mommies that had read it, swore by it. I was getting desperate although I kept putting off getting the book. I checked it out on audio and attempted to listen to it through the work day. Fail. I stalled. And then the lending period ended. Fail. I stalled some more. Why? Pretty stupid for a person so desperate, right? I finally snagged a used copy on Amazon and as soon as I got it began page 1 immediately.

The author talks about her own experiences with her children on having troubles getting them to sleep through the night. Through her own trial and error and several interviews with other moms she came up with solutions that improve the sleeping habits and lives of you and your babies. Routine is paramount. I realized I had no bedtime routine when it came to putting my sweet girl down for the night. I sketched out a pre-bedtime routine followed by a bedtime routine and put the wheels into motion. After dinner, we bathed, followed by some quiet play time in her room, then read a few books, then rocked and nursed to sleep.

Next, I started logging all Charlotte’s naps and night sleeps, how many times she woke up, what time, how, what I did to get her back to sleep, what time did she go back to sleep, where did she sleep. Can you imagine in a nighttime haze trying to write all of this down, all the while making sure in daylight hours it would be readable? I did that for several nights and I could see a glimmer of hope based on the insight I was given night after that.

But then. We went out of town. And it all pretty much all fell apart.

Here I am a month later and just starting to get back on track with her sleeping. I look like hell most days. The bags under my eyes don’t lie. Thank you baby Jesus for concealer. I’m tired. Remarkably, I do a pretty awesome job at functioning throughout the work day and my house is fairly in clean and orderly fashion. When I’m not doing, I just want to be doing nothing.

In ten years I won’t remember any of this. The sleepless nights, the struggle of getting out of bed when you hear her cry (just as you were rifting off to la la land) because all you want to do is just cover your head with a pillow. This is a small struggle within the great picture and adventure that is raising a little baby into adolescence and beyond. I just hope I don’t crash and burn along the way.

 

Move it, Groove it

Insert inspirational quote here.

Leave it to anyone but me to have a good idea these days. I’m so freshly tapped of creativity, imagination, motivation, and drive.

I. Just. Can’t. Much like Stella, I’m trying to get my groove back.

Enter, Carly. She suggested we try yoga, together. What would normally be a near impossible task living 300 miles apart, has been brought together by technology. We’re embarking on a series of series of things yogi brought to us by Gaia. Their website is fantastic. They have a variety of series, videos on everything from yoga to meditation. Your first month is just 99 cents and then a nominal monthly fee thereafter. We plan on doing several series together, which is great news to me, because Carly makes up what I lack in motivation, and accountability.

We’ve begun (yesterday) with Fundamentals of Yoga. It’s a 14-day series (one episode per day) of connecting to yoga basics. Before getting started, Carly was subjected to a short series of questions to gauge her prior experience with yoga and what she hopes to get out of this first series.

  1. What’s your yoga background? I’ve experimented with yoga over decades, all styles and all types in all kinds of locations.
  2. What has prevented you from trying it in the past? I’m hesitant to visit mainstream yoga studios and classes offered at gyms and rec centres because, for me, yoga is a deeply spiritual practice and it’s very hard for me to find a teacher who really honours that aspect of it. This means more to me than just reading a Sanskrit quote at the end of the practice. For me, it’s about protecting the space and filling it with a complete mind and body experience, not just a workout.
  3. What are your expectations for being reintroduced to yoga? I’m interested in trying yoga at home because I need to get acquainted with yoga after a bit of a break. I’ve been focusing on my meditation practice a lot lately and I’d like to mesh the two. Being alone also gives me the opportunity to create my own experience without the distractions of a classroom. I’m also really excited that I can practice with a friend who is hundreds of miles away.
  4. What do you hope to gain from this 14-day fundamentals series? I think this 14-day fundamentals series will be a good way for me to revisit my yoga history and reconnect with my practice. I also hope that it will be a “start from the start” approach and help me understand a little more about body mechanics.
  5. What is the single most important thing that yoga can bring to you? The most important thing for me is to get back into the practice of yoga and remember how much I enjoy it.

We’ll gauge our development over the next two weeks and periodically report our experience.

I’m delving into the fundamentals series as a beginning into a deeper relationship with yoga in order to expand my fitness by pushing my body to new limits.

 

My boobs are #amazing.

Soothe. Comfort. Nourish. These are just a few words that describe what breastfeeding can accomplish.

I only had a few pre-conceived notions about breastfeeding prior to physically breastfeeding my child. First, I thought, why wouldn’t any new mother do this? I mean, come on. It’s FREE! These days I’m all about simplification. Mixing powder with water sounded like a real fucking hassle. I mean, any idiot can measure, mix, and feed, but with the breast there is no mixing required! It’s always with you, and you’re constantly making more. Don’t forget, breastfeeding covers are a must. I’m not modest by any means, but for everyone involved, you’ll be glad you have one handy.

Fast forward to Day 1. In the hospital. My sweet baby has arrived and now it’s time to feed her. Wait. Time out. What the fuck did I sign up for? Technically, I hadn’t signed up for anything. The first few times of getting Charlotte to latch and eat were excruciating and frustrating. There wasn’t any actual milk yet, that could take a few days to come in. In the interim, we were learning about each other and she was getting as much colostrum as she could. That would sustain her until the milk wagon arrived. Let’s be clear here. Even though I knew all of that coming into this process, having a baby is a real mind fuck. You’re aware of who the President is and where you went to elementary school, but your emotions are all over the place, post-delivery feels like an out of body experience.

Latching was a real struggle. She’d cry. She’d wiggle. My nipples hurt like hell. The lactation specialist dropped by, showed me a few pointers, which worked. Until she left and I had to attempt it on my own. I was frustrated. And even though I knew what Charlotte was eating was just fine, I began feeling guilty that I was starving my baby. But I kept trying. Looking back, none of the nurses suggested I switch to formula. They just kept encouraging me to keep trying. Which, I’m grateful for. We need more nurses like that.  Charlotte and I kept on keeping on.

What makes you want to give up? A lot of things. Lack of sleep, raw, bleeding nipples. Being attached at the hip to your baby 24/7, which all seems great in the beginning, but then you realize you just need time to decompress. There’s no time. Oh and public shame. Let’s face it, as a society in general, we have a long way to go to accept breastfeeding IN PUBLIC. Men (and women) who have a difficult time stomaching seeing a woman breastfeed in public really need to get the fuck over it. Don’t like it? Don’t look. Quit sexualizing the process. You’re disgusting. And don’t tell me to ‘cover up’. Do I ask you to put a blanket over your head when you eat? No? Okay then. This is not a personal attack on your civil liberties. I’m not infringing on your rights, don’t infringe on mine.

What makes you want to keep going on? All of those things. You can’t replace the bonding that breastfeeding provides. How connected you are to your baby and how they grow to depend on you to satisfy their every need. It also didn’t sit well with me about putting chemicals into my baby from day 1. I get it, some people have to do it. But you also know what? There wasn’t always formula. Pretty amazing huh? Somehow as a people, we’ve managed to survive thousands of years without powdery milk substitute. Breastfeeding provides all of the nutrients they need (save for your lack of Vitamin D in the sunless parts of the world). It helps stave off illness, and any antibodies they need come right through the milk.They get a taste of the different foods you eat and are less likely to be picky eaters.

Some women do have to feed their baby formula. They physically cannot produce milk, or enough milk to sustain their child. But a lot of women don’t try, or give up, lack support, are tired, or get discouraged for some of the reasons I mentioned. It’s hard. It really is sometimes. But anything worth doing, isn’t easy. And when I have those moments of wanting to give up because I am tired of wearing breastfeeding friendly clothes or this, that and the other, I just remember WHY I do this. For Charlotte.

I’m doing my version of giving her the best start possible.

 

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Charlotte at two weeks. That face!

 

 

 

w(h)ine with your cake

I just celebrated a 30-something birthday. I’m not at liberty to say, but let’s just say I’m closer to 40 than I ever imagined. What? Well. No. I didn’t think I was going to live long enough to see this birthday, I just never thought about turning this age. Moving on.

My birthday this year was nothing like I could have imagined. I had several ideas of ‘how’ to do my birthday this year which changed as often as I change my underwear. (You decide.)  I never thought I’d say this, but I’m finding myself leaving things more to chance than enjoying making actual plans. But a plan did fall into my lap when my friends from the North (no! not the elves!) met us for a few nights in a Washington coastal town.

The day we arrived was the big day. It was rare weather for the coast. Full sun, barely a cloud in the sky, 70 degrees. This would be Charlotte’s first time on the beach (awake) so I lathered her baby skin in chemical free sunscreen and adorned her with her sun hat. We took the girls down to the beach to play in the sand. It was breezy on the walk to our resting spot, and my sweet baby girl delightfully screamed in my ear the entire way. Why? Because her hat brim would flop down and cover her face. She was not pleased.

I was hot. I was sweaty. I was going deaf. This may be how I spent my 29th birthday, but definitely not under the same circumstances. Once we settled on our blanket, I had to apologize to my husband for being a cranky bitch just the minutes earlier. It’s hard to find the peaceful joy in apply sunscreen to two kids carside, in the beating sun, while the third (baby) climbs all over the front seat and then screams like a banshee while refusing to be sunscreened.

But then we were sitting on the beach, on our blanket, while I nursed. I had to apologize to my husband for being bitchy because, I was. The day then turned a corner. The big girls were getting sandy, and we were enjoying some peace.

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We soon met our friends, chatted, had some “let’s catch up” drinks and then headed to dinner. Meals out with a baby can be somewhat of a challenge, depending on said baby’s mood. This baby is approaching 8 months, she doesn’t want to be still, she wants to MOVE and have the knife and fork and smash her hand in your plate of food. This dinner was no exception. She wanted to be with me. She wanted to climb on me. She wanted to pull my hair. She wanted to put her fingers in my nose and mouth. Not the relaxing birthday dinner I had been thinking it’d be.

You have to realize, as I have, that baby comes first. Your birthdays are no longer really…yours. They’re shared with your baby. A mother’s instinct to take care of her baby and make sure she’s always happy will trump whatever else is happening around you. This isn’t the whole story of my 30-something birthday. And it doesn’t need to be. It’s a depiction of how life is different with a baby in tow.

I wouldn’t change it for the world.

As long as there is wine.

run, run as fast as you can

Running.

No. Thank you.

I have a wall full of bibs and medals in my house from races past that would indicate otherwise. This year I’ve fallen out of love with running. Running and I broke up. Or maybe we’re just on a break. Every time I think about going on a run, I’m reminded how terrible that seems. I shudder. One foot in front of the other, huffing and puffing (because let’s be honest, I’m definitely a novice). The thought of it deflates my spirit. Maybe it’s the change in hormones after giving birth, maybe I’ve found new perspective and clarity. Running is no longer a part of my day-to-day, or quite possibly my subconscious has decided it doesn’t need running.

Prior to giving birth to my sweet babe, I had a half-marathon in my sights during 2016. I knew the soonest I could pound the pavement was 6 weeks postpartum. Given that, I presumed a late Spring/early Summer half-marathon was totally doable and my husband and I surmised that if I worked hard, I could probably even PR! Oh I was THRILLED about this plan!

Late January rolled around and I was cleared for duty! I found the Twilight Half-Marathon and decided it would be my chance to reach my goal. February came and I had roughly 16 solid weeks to get started on my training plan! I was pumped! Then March arrived. And while I still hadn’t start my training, I still had plenty of time to put forth the necessary effort. But then April rolled around and I still hadn’t started, that’s about when I knew I had mentally thrown in the towel. All before I had even started.Part of me felt like a failure. Especially when people would ask about ‘the half-marathon you had mentioned running in July’. “Nah, I decided not to do it”, I’d say. Truth table. I now find running…boring. I’d prefer a long walk. It requires less exertion.

Also. Boobs.

I always found strapping on a sports bra to support my busty frame a giant inconvenience. The hardest part of running is getting out the door? No.The harder part is strapping your boobs down so they don’t smack you in the face. It makes me feel like I’m carrying an extra 10lbs in the front and I overcompensate for their presence, thus compromising my overall form.

Lastly. More boobs.

My driver for getting back out on the streets was to help aid in the pregnancy weight gain. I didn’t want to be plagued with the weight for the long term and running would be a great way to shed those 37 extra pounds I gained during pregnancy.

BREASTFEEDING FOR THE MOTHER FREAKIN’ WIN.

I didn’t need running as much as I thought I would to lose the baby weight. It just fell right off within a few months and then some. Brag. Some 20lbs more. Brag. I haven’t been this weight since I met my husband. Brag. Okay, okay.

Many factors went into my separation with running. Becoming a mom has a lot to do with it I presume. My perspective has changed. Priorities shifted. The relationship may not ultimately end in divorce, but for now, I’ve set my sights on walking and only walking, (although I can barely even commit to THAT on a consistent basis.)

 

and a boo makes odd

Change happened. Change that altered my perspective and outlook. The type of change that I theorized about in my mind of how things will be in the ‘new world’, how things will function in the ‘new world’, but in actuality it’s nothing for which I could truly prepare.

My ‘new world’ is a lot of sleep-compromised nights, stressing about “what the fuck am I doing?”, stresses on my relationships, aimless focus in my job, constantly thinking “am I making enough milk?”, and anticipating when the next poop-splosion is going to rear. Will I or will I not need to throw away this onesie?

It can all be a bit overwhelming when all if those thoughts hit at once, or even throughout the same day. And then my baby cries, uncontrollably, for what seems like FOREVER. For a split second I feel like leaving and never coming back. When I’m pushed to the brink of what I can handle mentally in one day, I feel like throwing in the towel. But that split second passes and I remember this is ALL worth it. This is just the now, not the always.

During this first seven months as a new mom, I have a distinct advantage over other ‘new’ moms. My husband. He’s been a dad for 7 years and has the patience of …something with a lot of patience! He’s been two rounds with ‘baby-isms’ and has a great way of keeping me calm (although he’d say I’m very stubborn) and providing guidance when I start to freak out about something. He supports my baby decisions and occasionally will interject if he feels strongly about something.

I also belong to a ‘mom’ group on Facebook. Typically this wouldn’t be my cup of tea or something I’d turn to for guidance. This group is comprised of like-minded mothers with varying experience (read: one to multiple babes) who are considered ‘crunchy’. The first thing that came to my mind when I read the word ‘crunchy’ was free-spirited, living on a commune, hippy. Most of the ladies in the group are not, in fact, hippies. We believe in gentle parenting, natural products, and alternatives to mainstream norms. I had some general assumptions about parenting and taking care of a new life, but I have gleaned so much information from this group. I’ve drawn on others experiences to fuel research and form opinions and approaches of my own. I’m extremely grateful to have been included in this group and access to a potpourri of knowledge.

Sleep. Or lack thereof. People ask me, “how much are you sleeping?” Honestly? I have no idea. I sleep, that much I know. I cannot equate it to numbers. I stopped counting the number of times I stir awake, (although my Fit Bit has been keeping track). Some days I feel more tired. Other days a little less. There have been days I feel pretty damn good only to have someone say to me, “you look so tired”. Shit. Here I was thinking I was on top of it all. A non-parent recently asked me, “how do you do it?” My response, “you just adapt”. As with anything new and trying, you adapt. This is my new normal. Waking up at any moment and jumping out of bed on a dime. I’ve adapted.

Change. So much has indeed changed. What began as an exciting moment that I could only envision, has turned into a reality that is paying rewarding dividends, day in, day out.

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