Kenneth at 4 months…

May 14th 2015 08:54:09 am

Time is going more and more quickly and I’m starting to panic about not keeping a diligent record of all the cute things Ken has been doing. Turns out that blogging takes a lot of time, computer time that I don’t really have these days…

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Last week Kenneth turned fourth months old, and he just keeps getting more and more fun. He is more like a little person and less like a hungry little crying creature. He has likes and dislikes, and he loves interacting with his mom and dad.

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Things I don’t want to forget:

  • At his four month doctor check up he weighed 16 lbs and was 27 inches tall. His height is off the charts (greater than the 98th percentile), but his weight is a little low (75th percentile). The doctor suggested we start him on a little solid food to supplement. I am very grateful that breast feeding has gotten less painful and I am proud of myself for breastfeeding him exclusively for these last four months, but I welcome any relief in the feeding department.
  • He is so cheery (and wiggly) when he wakes up in the morning. All smiles and giggles.
  • When Travis and I read and sing to him in our bed while getting him ready for sleep, he reaches his arms out to either side to make sure he is touching us both.
  • The way he strokes my hand while he is eating.
  • How excited he gets when I lean in to give him kisses on his face. He looks at me with such adoration. It is such a sweet feeling.
  • He is working on rolling, but hasn’t quite made the back-to-front roll totally by himself yet. He rolls side to side often to grab toys and he is able to wiggle himself all over the floor by throwing his legs in the air repeatedly.
  • He loves trying to sit and stand with assistance ALL THE TIME… which can get tiring for mom and dad.
  • He visited the Brooklyn Museum for the first time this month, and got his very own passport!
  • He had his tongue tie treated with a laser on April 17th. He recovered quickly and seems to enjoy his new tongue mobility.
  • He went to his first baseball game on May 8th at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees were playing the Orioles, and he slept through most of it despite the noise.

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Travis and I were and are so thrilled to be parents and we couldn’t have hoped for a better baby… But for a while it was was hard to admit that the pain and difficulty of the first few months was worth it. Motherhood is the most difficult challenge I’ve ever embarked on. But at the same time, Ken is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Maybe that sounds like something that parents HAVE to say, but it is actually exactly how I feel. My love for him just keeps growing. To me, he is perfect and precious. He is so amazing that it borders on magical. It boggles my mind to think of what a unique person he is — someone we never could have predicted before meeting him. It may sound cliche, but his smiles and little advancements really are immensely rewarding. Parenthood just keeps getting better and better.

A few more cute pics:

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Want more cute pics? I have almost 3,500 photos of Ken in his Flickr album.

Also, check out Ken at one month, Ken at two months, and Kenneth at three months.

3 Comments » Categories: Baby, Family, Kenneth

post pregnancy body update – 16 weeks out

May 1st 2015 12:14:52 pm

kenandme

In some ways there is a lot to report, but in others, I feel like a body update might be premature…

The good news is that breast feeding has gotten SO MUCH BETTER! We had Kenneth’s tongue and lip tie treated two weeks ago. That, in combination with a prescription medication to treat thrush, has resolved the breast feeding pain. Thank goodness. Amazingly, I am already starting to forget how much pain I was in. (“It wasn’t so bad.” ha!) Sticking with breast feeding for a year feels much more doable now. Plus, not having to deal with pain constantly has really made me more relaxed and more able to focus on other things, like falling even more in love with my sweet baby… and also my physical therapy and exercise.

Physical therapy is going quite well. My hips are getting stronger and I feel more comfortable while walking and doing daily activity. I am still going to a PT appointment in the city at Renew once a week where the therapist does some external and internal massage, assesses my progress and strength, and adjusts my daily exercise routine. I have been pretty diligent about sticking to my daily exercises. My only complaint is that my hip pain seems to have migrated into my lower back. But… it is probably mostly from using the baby carrier too much. Last Thursday I carried Ken around Manhattan in it for seven hours! That was a mistake. I know I push myself too hard, but that is basically the story of my life.

I am still not running. My doctor told me that I do NOT need to avoid high impact activity or running, but my physical therapist has recommended that I continue to hold off until I get a little stronger. My hope is to start the process of trying to run at the end of May. I have started to get my hopes up about training for the NYC Marathon this fall… but I still don’t know if it would be smart. We’ll see…

park

My exercise routine these days mostly consists of my PT exercises (core, pelvic floor, and hips) and lots of walking. (Walking to the park often, as seen above, now that the weather is so much better.) I have also added in a few strength training video workouts (with lots of squats!) and on Tuesday I went to a SoulCycle class, which was great. I am hoping to continue taking a cycling class once or twice a week. I also want to get back to Baby & Me Yoga with Ken!

As for food, I have given up calorie counting. When I was dealing with so much pain, tracking every baby feeding, all my PT exercises, and all of the food I was eating got to be way too much to handle. In an uncharacteristically logical move of self acceptance, I decided that calorie counting was one thing I needed to drop. I am still trying to eat more healthy, whole foods and less sugary treats.

Because I am a crazy person who expects immediate, impressive results, I am not thrilled with my weight loss progress. I gained 30 lbs during pregnancy. So far, I’ve lost about 21 lbs. Over the last six weeks since my last update, I’ve lost about 5 lbs. I know that any loss is definitely better than nothing, but I am impatient and daunted by the fact that I still have so much to lose. I know that comparison is completely unproductive and immature, but it is still hard to ignore all the success stories online of women dropping their baby weight in record time. Ugh. I’d love to lose 15+ more lbs, but I will try my best to be patient about it. I may start up calorie counting again at some point, but for now I am trying to be more relaxed and see where it takes me.

These mirror pics are embarrassing and difficult to post (maybe I shouldn’t have shared them! gah! my mirror is filthy!) but hopefully they will be a way (other than weight) to track my progress. I also took my hip, waist, and bust measurements, but I am not brave enough to share them. My goal is to lose 2-3 inches in each area.

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These body posts feel quite self-centered and a little obsessive. But it also feels good to attempt to stay on course and be proactive about getting fit and healthy. It is helpful to write out my thoughts and track my progress. Body image issues have been one of my biggest, life-long, mental challenges and one of the things that scared me most about pregnancy… which I know may be quite vain and ridiculous, but it is the truth. I feel like I am making progress in accepting myself and valuing my body for its health and what it can accomplish… but I still struggle. (I want to do MORE! Get MORE accomplished! Lose MORE weight!) My hope is to stay motivated to continue to shape the body I want, while staying relaxed and patient with my progress. I’ll keep you updated!

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Catch up on my progress with my first post pregnancy body post and my 10 week body update.

2 Comments » Categories: Exercise, Health, Pregnancy

kenneth at three months…

Apr 9th 2015 08:05:51 pm

ken3months

Yesterday was Kenneth’s three month birthday! Wow. He is a growing boy! Ken and I are close and inseparable friends these days. He and I have been going on a lot more adventures this month, heading into Manhattan at least once a week and running errands all around Brooklyn. He is a fun baby who loves to interact, babble, and trade smiles. We spend a lot of time adoringly staring into each others eyes and grinning.

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Facts about Kenneth at three months…

  • I’m not exactly sure what his measurements are because we don’t go back to the doctor until next month, but he definitely weighs more than 14 pounds and is over 25 inches long. He is wearing some of his 6-month clothes already!
  • We are blessed in that he is a great sleeper at night. He sleeps in an initial eight-hour chunk, wakes for a feeding around 4 am, and then sleeps another three hours. We all feel pretty well rested.
  • He loves the mornings and is a cheerful little early bird.
  • He lights up when you smile or talk to him. He has been trying out all sorts of new sounds and loves conversing back and forth.
  • He is getting much stronger at tummy time, and even enjoys it. He is also working on arching his back and swinging his legs in preparation for rolling over. He loves trying to “stand” with assistance from mom or dad.
  • He loves his toy mirrors and holds intricate conversations with the baby he sees in them.
  • He still hasn’t quite figured out his thumb, but he loves sucking on his hands and fingers. He also loves clasping his hands together and admiring his feat of dexterity.
  • Sometimes his hair looks brown, sometimes red, but it seems to be growing in light blonde at the roots.
  • He has seen the Empire State Building, the Flatiron Building, and last weekend he went on his first big train trip to Philadelphia. He did great riding in his stroller all over town and he loved the art museum and the Liberty Bell.

kennyc

Mama Update:

I want to show no weakness and tell you that everything is going well… and it certainly is in the sense that Ken is an awesome and healthy baby… BUT I am in pain. Unrelenting, endless pain and discomfort. All of the new baby things you worry about before the baby is born — sleepless nights, poop explosions, spit-up, their constant need for attention — all of those things are minuscule inconveniences when compared to being in pain all of the time. I feel like if I could just feel comfortable in my body again, I could really kick butt at this mom thing. This is how you’ll know things are serious: I really don’t even care about losing weight or ever running again, I just want to feel less pain. It sounds dramatic and I wish it wasn’t the truth, but it is.

Breastfeeding is still very painful. We are working on getting Ken’s severe tongue tie treated, which may end up being the solution, but the process has been frustrating. The pediatricians have been dismissive of tongue tie in general, but I finally insisted on a referral to a specialist. The specialist saw him and agreed that he should be treated, but now we are stuck in limbo waiting for insurance to approve the procedure. Which is ridiculous, because the “procedure” will literally take 30 seconds. But at this point I am worried that there may be more problems going on in addition to the tongue tie… my breasts are always tender and in pain, during and in between feedings. After reading what seems like every breastfeeding resource on the planet, I’ve started every possible homeopathic treatment for breast infections while I wait to see my doctor in two weeks.

Competing with breastfeeding for first place in the pain and discomfort category is my entire hip and pelvic region. Walking while wearing Ken in the baby carrier is hard on my body, which isn’t good because it is a necessity if I want to leave the house. The good news is that physical therapy does seem to be helping. It is slow going and I still need to avoid high impact activity, but I think I will eventually make some progress. And my therapist, Justine, at Renew is so professional, kind, and helpful. I am grateful to have access to the therapy… and that they let me bring Ken to my sessions.

Minus the pain, everything is going so well. Travis and Ken are wonderful. (Crusher is a bit of a stinker these days, but he is wonderful, too.) I just keep trying to stay strong and get through this tough time. I try to remind myself that in a year I will have gotten through all of this and I probably won’t even remember why it was so tough. And I can honestly say from the heart that it is worth it.

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Want more cute pics? I have almost 3,000 photos of Ken in his Flickr album.

Also, check out Ken at one month & Ken at two months.

1 Comment » Categories: Baby, Family, Kenneth

post pregnancy body update – 10 weeks out

Mar 19th 2015 06:21:10 pm

runfeet

So… this is a little hard to talk about, but I have been so honest on this blog up until this point. I don’t want to stop now and give the impression that everything is just going smoothly and easily…

You already know that I am working to lose weight and get fit after baby, and just last week I posted that things were going well… I got the Ok from my doctor to start exercising at six weeks postpartum and I was very excited to get started. I specifically asked my doctor about running and training for a half marathon in May. She said to go for it. I was thrilled to get back to working out! I did strength videos, walked, and tried to run three times. I felt like I was easing myself back into activity gently… but I guess I was wrong. Since starting back to exercise, I’ve experienced some major hip and pelvic weakness. It is preventing me from being as active as I want, but most of all it has scared me into taking a few steps back in this entire fitness process.

Gosh, I thought I was so enlightened and informed going into my pregnancy. I was aware of pelvic floor concerns and thought I was being proactive about strengthening my core and hips. I went to yoga. I did my kegels. I did squats. I sat on my exercise ball. I went to a pelvic floor workshop, for goodness sake! I guess I just assumed I was fit and that my body would stay strong for me, but thinking you are strong is not the same as being strong in the right ways.

I am not a talented runner or athlete, but I always assumed that willpower was my biggest weakness. If I could just force myself to do more, to run longer, to push through discomfort, I would get better. Get skinnier. Running distance races was so fun, but I now think I ran too many prior to pregnancy. And I was so determined to stay active during pregnancy that I didn’t listen to my body. I think I ran too much and too late into my pregnancy. I pushed through discomfort — a smashed bladder, sore pelvic floor, modified gait. I wanted so much to be the modern, fit, pregnant lady! And when I tried running over the last few weeks, my gait was entirely wrong and I was in pain. I shouldn’t have pushed it.

The lesson I’ve learned through this experience is an easy thing to say, but a bit harder to really follow: You MUST listen to your body.

I always assumed I had a low tolerance for pain, and that I was a slow runner because I didn’t push myself hard enough. But after getting through labor and a vaginal childbirth drug free, I am revising my opinion of myself. I am strong and my body can do amazing things. Perhaps I actually have too high of a tolerance for discomfort…

Now, I am probably beating myself up too much over how much I’ve run recently and throughout my life. Distance running is hard on everyone’s pelvic floor, but it may or may not have contributed to the weakness I am experiencing now. (If you are a runner, I don’t mean to scare you. You may be able to handle running before, during, and after pregnancy without trouble.) Most likely, my current weakness is due in larger part to my birth experience. Ken was born in a compound presentation position with his hand up by his head. And I pushed for two hours and fifteen minutes. Those two factors put a lot of strain on my pelvic structures.

So… not much I can do about that now… where do I go from here?

  • I am taking a break from all high impact exercise (running, aerobics, etc) for at least another month.
  • I went to visit Renew Physical Therapy yesterday. My PT has put me on a daily program to help strengthen my entire hip, pelvis, and core region. I plan to be diligent with my PT exercises and go in for a visit once a week. It isn’t cheap, though! And it is only partially covered by insurance.
  • I’ve started this 12-week, online Mutu System. It is a postpartum exercise program that focuses on core strength.
  • I am walking outside every day.
  • I hope to fit in some swimming, cycling, and yoga as often as possible.
  • I am eating healthy, whole foods and keeping my daily calorie count under 2000.

Sadly, I can’t say that I have noticed much positive change in the last few weeks… I know it is still early, but I’ve only lost about 2 pounds since my initial post and I am not feeling much better about myself. Boo. It is hard not to mourn the loss of your old body. It sucks that it is going to take so much work (and money) to try to feel strong and confident again. But I am committed to doing the work. Because this is the scary part: If I can’t sufficiently strengthen my core and pelvic floor, I may never be able to run again. The prognosis will probably not be that dire. But I MUST get stronger before I attempt any long distance training and/or IF I want to tackle a second pregnancy and birth.

If I was only dealing with the vanity aspects of my postpartum body — extra weight, stretch marks, sagging, etc — that would be hard enough. But those things pale in comparison to a body that is not working correctly. It is scary to have health issues. And it feels unfair to have worked so hard to stay as healthy as possible, only to be punished for having a baby with a body that can’t do the things you want to do. But, life is unfair. Plus, I was also rewarded with a perfect, healthy baby boy. I’d take on any health challenge to ensure his continued health and happiness. So, I’ll do the work and hope for the best. And I’ll report back on my progress!

kenfeet

If you want to learn more about strengthening your core before, during, and after pregnancy, this website has a lot of good info: Maternal Goddess

1 Comment » Categories: Exercise, Health, Pregnancy

Kenneth at two months…

Mar 10th 2015 03:22:44 pm

month2ken

On Sunday, Kenneth turned two months old. He seems so big and so old now! It has been fun to watch him awaken to the world and start interacting with us a bit more. What else has he been up to? Practicing his smiles, discovering toys, requesting kisses, and of course, sleeping quite a bit.

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Facts about Kenneth at two months:

  • At his two-month doctor appointment last week he weighed 12 lbs 10 ozs and was 24.25 inches long! Very tall (99th percentile!) and a bit skinny, but the doctor was pleased with his weight gain.
  • He has been sleeping longer at night, which is amazing. On Sunday night he slept for eight full hours straight! That was a big deal, but on most nights he gets in at least one 4-6 hour chunk. Not bad at all on his parents. We are feeling good!
  • He has started smiling a lot more and even initiates smile conversations. He giggles a bit, but we can’t wait for more!
  • He is not a big fan of sleeping in his crib and isn’t really on a strict nap schedule. But he does like looking at his play mirror in his crib.
  • He likes blowing drool bubbles. Bibs have become a necessity.
  • He loves getting kisses on his face and even “asks” for them by putting his mouth up in the air. Very cute.
  • He still likes being swaddled at night and loves riding in his baby carriers during the day.
  • He seems to have noticed Crusher and sometimes watches him walk around. Crusher has attempted to “play” with Ken by barking at him and teasing him, but Ken doesn’t seem to understand the game.
  • All four of us have really started to get to know one another and become a more cohesive family. It is a fun time!

month2kenandcrusher

Mama Update:

You guys, things are getting SO MUCH BETTER. (I had real coffee for the first time today, which may be positively affecting my mood.)

Breastfeeding can still be uncomfortable and demanding, but Ken seems to be eating less frequently and my boobs are feeling much better. Feeding him feels more natural now, even if it is still time consuming. I am proud of myself for making it for more than eight weeks of exclusively breastfeeding. I plan to try to make it a year, but whatever happens, I am happy that I have stuck it out as long as I have.

Over the last two weeks I have started working out again. It feels great. I am out of shape and running is still nearly impossible with my wonky hips, but I really like my video workouts and can already notice strength improvements. And I have lost two pounds! Thank goodness for progress!

The weather is finally better this week and I have actually been getting stuff done. Ken and I have met up with a few friends for food, we’ve gone to mom & baby yoga, and we’ve even gone to the grocery store AND fixed dinner on the same day! I didn’t know if that last thing would ever be possible again. I feel confident taking Ken out and even feeding him in public.

Sunday was a down day after attempting to run and then attempting to buy new workout clothes. Neither attempt was very successful and I started feeling sorry for myself again… but I am having many more good days than down days lately and I feel like I am coming into my own in this new mommy life. Hooray!

And that is all I can post for now because Ken just started crying for his afternoon snack…

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8 Comments » Categories: Baby, Family, Kenneth

my post pregnancy body

Mar 6th 2015 11:17:27 am

postpregnancybody2

So… I had a baby. It has been eight weeks since Kenneth’s birth and I have started to try to “get my body back” in earnest now. I thought I should write an initial “before” post so that I (and you) can track my (hopeful) progress.

I feel like I was prepared for a change in my body and was ready to accept the downsides of growing a human inside my abdomen along with the awesome miracle of it. In my rational, positive brain I know that even though my body is not where I would like it to be, it isn’t so bad, and with hard work and patience I can definitely lose weight and get to a place where I feel good about myself again. BUT, in my tired, illogical, overwhelmed brain I am freaking out. I hate the way I look! My clothes don’t fit! Everything jiggles! Stretch marks! How will I ever lose all this weight?! Sometimes I feel utterly destroyed and really sad that I will never have my old self back.

The weight facts: I gained 30 lbs during my pregnancy. I was proud to have stayed within the 25-35 lb weight gain recommendation and I believe I ate extremely healthy. (Despite craving donuts constantly, I really only had like 4 of them all pregnancy. I swear!) Not a terrible weight gain, but after all of the fertility issues over the previous year and our trip to Europe, I started the pregnancy at a higher weight than I would have liked. I lost 14 lbs after the delivery and within the first week. I have NOT lost anything else since then! And at six weeks postpartum, despite exclusive breast feeding and constant hunger, I was on the precipice of starting to GAIN weight. Breast feeding has not meant easy weight loss for me.

I need to lose about 16 lbs to get to my pre-pregnancy weight. And I’d like to lose another 10-15 lbs to get to my dream weight. This seems daunting.

The exercise facts: I exercised throughout my pregnancy. I ran up until about 28 weeks. I went to pre-natal yoga 1-2 times a week, I did pilates, swimming, and I walked a lot. The last few weeks of pregnancy were tough, but I made sure to walk Crusher at least once a day. I think I did a good job staying active. Post-pregnancy is a different story. Leaving the hospital they tell you not to start exercising until you get your doctor’s ok at six weeks postpartum. I followed the rules because I didn’t want to hinder my body’s healing process or cause any additional problems for my pelvic floor. I was also worn out and focused on caring for my baby 24/7. So… I spent about six weeks sitting on the couch. In addition to just having a baby, I am downright out of shape. But, now I’ve gotten my doctor’s permission to start being active again! woohoo!

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The plan:

  • Workout Videos – Currently I am trying out this Moms Into Fitness 30-Day Postnatal Slimdown Challenge. It is free on YouTube and seems really smart about easing back into abdominal work.
  • Running & Walking – I know that I need to be patient and that recovery from pregnancy and birth is ongoing… but when it comes to running, I am so frustrated and disappointed. My hips are really messed up. They are weak, and loose, and wonky. After running a mile, I can barely walk. So… I am going to try my best to ease in slowly. In the meantime, I am trying to walk Crusher every day with Ken in the baby carrier.
  • Postnatal Baby & Me Yoga – I am trying to attend this class with Kenneth at Bend & Bloom once a week. It isn’t a strenuous workout, but it feels good to move and see other new moms. Plus, it is good to expose Ken to new things and baby friends!
  • Calorie Counting – Most lactation resources recommend avoiding extreme dieting while breastfeeding. They tell you to “eat to hunger and appetite,” which is what I have basically been doing since Ken was born, but if I truly ate to my appetite?? I’d be eating a dozen donuts a day washed down with eight cups of coffee and a chocolate bar. So… I need to watch what I eat. I am aiming for less than 2000 calories a day, with extra calorie allowances added depending on my activity level each day. Nothing drastic. I’m using the Lose It app to record my food and exercise. Travis and I have a goal of eating four dinner salads a week… so far, success!

Looks are not important. Especially at this point in my life, no matter what I do, a super-model body is not in my future. If you think about all of the people in your life that you care about, what impact do their looks have on your love? Probably zero. So, I know that being a mom is my top, best priority and Ken will love me no matter my jean size or how many miles I can run… BUT I’d love to wear my old clothes again. And, I want to stay healthy and feel fit. So, I am going to work hard to get back in shape and stay within a healthy weight range. I’ll keep you posted on my progress!

This cute face will help keep me motivated…

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Have you had success losing the “baby weight” recently? What are your tips?

1 Comment » Categories: Exercise, Health, Pregnancy

34 while 34

Feb 28th 2015 09:29:26 am

dayofbirth

This photo of baby me and my sweet parents was scanned from a Polaroid taken 34 years ago on the day of my birth.

2015 is a very exciting year! My wonderful baby boy was born on January 8th, and we have been entirely focused on caring for him ever since. Therefore, my 34th birthday passed by without too much fanfare. Travis made me french toast for breakfast, got me a delicious ice cream cake from Ample Hills, and he and Kenneth gave me a few fancy gifts. We spent the evening at home snuggled on the couch. Nice!

Due to very limited computer time these days, I am squeezing this list in at the very end of my birthday month…

What now seems like a very long time ago, I made a list of 30 things that I wanted to accomplish before turning 30. I didn’t get all of the items completed, so I converted it to a 30 WHILE 30 list, then a 31 while 31 list, etc. I carry the list over each year, crossing off the things I finish and adding new items to fill out the list to match my birthday number — this year, 34!

34 things to do while 34:

Eat at the Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare.
Go to Canada. I’ve never been!
Visit Dollywood. Yes, I’m serious. I love Dolly Parton.
Go kayaking in the Hudson. (Or paddleboarding!)
Get super-comfortable using our DSLR camera.
Visit the Museum of the City of New York.
Visit the New York Transit Museum.
Eat the Moules Frites at Balthazar.
Create a new craft tutorial for Swap-bot.
Redesign the Swap-bot homepage.
Set up an online Swap-bot merch store.
Lose 15 30 pounds. (Isn’t this on everyone’s list?)
Make marinara sauce from scratch.
Visit the Bronx Zoo.
Make Crusher a super-cute Halloween costume.
Buy a brownstone! (A fantasy, but a girl can dream…)
Do all of my mending.
Make cupcakes with some sort of filling.
Reduce my internal negativity.
Call my brothers and sisters-in-law every week (or at least more frequently).
Read a novel. (Maybe this one?) Still not done! I’m not counting Game of Thrones or all the nonfiction birth and baby books I’ve been reading.
Promote peace.
Get a unicorn face painting!
Be noticeably sweeter to my husband.
Run a full marathon in 4:30.
Run a sub-2-hour half marathon. (This may be impossible.)
Run a trail marathon.
Make a quilt.
Try to live in the moment.
Travel outside of the country with Kenneth.
Attend the opening of the Basquiat exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum in April.
Complete a triathlon.
Complete my 10th full marathon. Hopefully, the 2015 NYC Marathon in November.
Teach Kenneth some baby sign language.

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Completed items:
This list could get really long!

Embark on a grand adventure! Done! Kenneth is here!!
Travel to Europe! A month traveling throughout Europe with my true love in April was the trip of a lifetime.
Bake a loaf of bread from scratch. I used this sourdough recipe and it was fantastic!
Stop biting my nails. For good. I believe I have accomplished this by keeping my nails polished.
Become an adult. Tough times make tough people… and I think I’m getting stronger.
Eat less candy. I’ve been having a good amount of success eating whole, real food, and a lot of it!
Start taking a weekly yoga class. Changing this to: Cross train once a week. No problem. I now cross train more than I run: swimming, spinning, yoga.
Experience Mardi Gras in New Orleans! Had a great time with my brother Seth.
Learn to tell a really funny, family-friendly joke. Why did the fish get kicked out of school? ………because he was caught with sea WEED!
Figure out how to style my hair in loose waves/curls. I think this counts.
Visit The Cloisters. Went with mom & dad in June.
Run the San Diego Marathon. For the second time. Done!
Attend a taping of the Wendy Williams Show. Done and it was awesome.
Take an overnight trip with my husband that is not at a relative’s house.
Take my donation pile to the thrift store. Housing Works got a big pile!
Buy a really beautiful and practical dress. Thank you Rebecca Taylor!
Go to dinner at Al Di La.
Run the NYC marathon!
Watch every episode of Tosh.0.
Make blueberry pancakes.
Get the Florence + The Machine album on vinyl.
Watch Meet Me in St. Louis again.
Drive upstate to see the autumn foliage.
Visit all five boroughs in NYC (should happen during the marathon).
Get a new laptop. Love my Air!
Reduce the amount of time I spend on Facebook. Done, except for today.
Vote! Always.
Buy awesome, new, flattering jeans. These from J.Crew.
Force Travis to watch Star Trek: Generations with me. He loved it.

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You can check out my past lists here:

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What is on your list? What should I add to mine?

2 Comments » Categories: Birthday, Projects

postpartum and newborn favorites

Feb 25th 2015 10:09:16 am

postpartumfaves

Kenneth is more than six weeks old at this point (wow!) which means the immediate postpartum period is over. I had worked extremely hard to prepare myself for parenthood, but being prepared doesn’t really decrease the amount of work it takes to sustain a newborn! Finding time for anything other than breastfeeding and baby rocking is tough… but I am getting into a groove and really starting to enjoy Ken’s emerging personality.

In addition to the obvious necessities (diapers, wipes, crib, baby clothes, etc) these items all helped the postpartum period go more smoothly:

  1. Eat Sleep app – While still in the hospital, the nurses tell you to log each feeding and diaper change. Keeping track helps you to determine if your baby is getting enough to eat and helps you to start learning his routines and demands. The nurses suggested a paper log, but an iPhone app is much more handy! I don’t know for sure if Eat Sleep is the very best one, but it is super easy to use and allows you to track feedings, diaper changes, and sleep. I don’t track Ken’s sleep, but it is great to have a record of when he last ate and got his diaper changed.
  2. iPhone6 – Speaking of iPhones, I don’t know how women survived the postpartum period prior to their existence!! Travis and I had splurged on the new iPhone6s with extra storage space before Kenneth’s birth because we figured we’d need the extra space to store tons of photos… but my phone has meant much more to me than just cute photos. It is amazing to have access to friends (via Facebook), family (via text), entertainment (via YouTube), distractions (via blog posts and Pinterest), and knowledge and support (via internet searches) all in the palm of my hand while breastfeeding or soothing my little symbiont.
  3. Miracle Blanket – Kenneth seems to like being swaddled at night. It prevents him from waving his arms uncontrollably and hitting himself in the face. We have used traditional swaddle blankets, but this Miracle Blanket is the best we’ve tried. It stays wrapped up nice and tight all night long. I can even breastfeed him while he is still wrapped up!
  4. Lansinoh Disposable Nursing Pads – Breastfeeding is demanding, but it has gotten much better over the last few weeks. I wear these pads in my bra at all times to absorb leaks and to protect my sensitive nipples. I like that they come individually wrapped so you can pack them in a bag easily.
  5. Lansinoh HPA Lanolin – I put this medical grade lanolin on my nursing pads to help soothe my worn out nipples. It is safe for breastfeeding and doesn’t need to be cleaned off before feeding.
  6. Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breastpump – Breastfeeding is basically my full-time job at this point. I feed Ken every 1-4 hours (we are still working out our schedule) and if I want/need to be away from him for longer than that, I have to pump a bottle in advance. I actually have only done that a handful of times and I don’t use the pump very often, but it was nice to have on hand in the first few days after his birth to relieve engorgement and help establish my supply while Ken and I were first figuring out the whole nursing concept. (You should be able to get this pump for free via your health insurance when you are at 36 weeks.)
  7. ErgoBaby Carrier – A baby carrier is a necessity! Ken loves traveling in one and it helps him go to sleep. It also keeps him warm while outside in this frigid winter weather! We have used a Moby wrap, a BabyBjorn, and the ErgoBaby. All three work great, but the ErgoBaby is the most versatile and comfortable.
  8. Baby Nail Clippers – Baby nails are SO sharp! And they grow fast! I clip Ken’s nails while he dozes off after eating.
  9. An awesome husband/partner – A lot of the baby care falls on my shoulders, especially now that Travis is back at work, but I wouldn’t have survived these last six weeks without his support. Ken loves being held by his dad and Travis has spent many late nights walking him around the apartment to get him to sleep. He sings and reads to Ken at night, and brings me water when we are breastfeeding. Travis has also been doing all of the grocery shopping and much of the cooking. Plus, he brings me chocolate on particularly tough days! Two adults vs. one baby seems like the perfect ratio!

I recommend having all of these items on hand prior to baby’s arrival, if possible.

Have you recently brought home a newborn bundle? What do you recommend for the first few weeks?

No Comments » Categories: Baby, Pregnancy

Kenneth at one month…

Feb 9th 2015 03:29:56 pm

onemonthKenblog

Little Ken is one month old! We are extremely fortunate and grateful that he is healthy and sweet and progressing perfectly. It is amazing that he is a miniature human made of equal parts Travis and me. He is not quite what I expected, but instead a unique individual with a distinct personality starting to emerge. He is a lot of fun. He looks like Travis, my brothers, my dad, my father-in-law, and myself all at once. The last month has flown by and dragged on. I hope Kenneth has enjoyed getting to know us as much as we’ve loved meeting him.

kenonemonthgrid

Facts about Kenneth at one month:

  • He weighed 9 lbs 10.5 oz at his four week doctor appointment. Two pounds more than at birth!
  • He sleeps in 3-4 hour chunks at night… which isn’t too bad on his mom.
  • He is a champion eater and has been meeting all of his dirty diaper quotas.
  • It took a few weeks, but he has been making eye contact, making lots of cute noises, and even cracking a few adorable smiles.
  • He loves riding in his baby carriers and being swaddled at night.
  • He makes endless funny faces, especially when I give him kisses on his face.
  • He has had lots of visitors and he has been on trips to Shake Shack, Ample Hills, Calexico, and Prospect Park.
  • He is the best baby in the world!

onemonthphotoshoot

Postpartum Update:

I was ready for a lot of the things that come with bringing home a new baby — sleepless nights, getting little accomplished except baby care, dealing with a flabby, out-of-shape, recovering body, emotional highs and lows — but you add it all together and this new life can feel TOUGH sometimes. Thankfully, Travis has been a huge help. He has done the grocery shopping and much of the cooking. And despite being back at work full time now, he stays up with the baby when I desperately need to sleep. We are adults and I know we will get through this early baby time just as billions of other parents have. Hopefully, we will even remember it fondly. I try to keep things in perspective and remember that everything is actually going very smoothly…

BUT I need to vent about one major challenge… breast feeding. Ugh. Overall, Ken and I have had a lot of success and I am going to stick with it, but I am sad to admit that I don’t really like it. I had high hopes in the first week, but then the pain set in. It was excruciating for about a week. There was blood and blisters and a lot of tears. It felt terrible to dread feeding him. But as all of the lactation resources predicted, things have gotten better. (These nipple pads and this lanolin help.) I no longer dread it, but it is still uncomfortable, time-consuming, and utterly (udderly?) draining. I have a low level dehydration headache at all times despite my best hydration efforts. Also, my boobs are unmanageably huge and sore and stretched to the max. I know Ken is getting plenty to eat (he makes lots of dirty diapers and is gaining weight) but his feeding schedule is still unpredictable, and he can be quite demanding! Oh, and my weight is absolutely NOT “falling off” as everyone said it would if I breast fed…

It has only been a month and I know things will continue to get easier, but even compared to my fertility struggles, the pregnancy, and childbirth, I consider breast feeding during this postpartum period to be my least favorite and most difficult challenge. Of course, maybe my feelings will change once I get through it…

8 Comments » Categories: Baby, Family, Kenneth, Pregnancy

Kenneth’s birth story

Jan 29th 2015 09:12:08 pm

It has been three weeks since Kenneth arrived on January 8th. I have been thinking a lot about his birth and have wanted to write it all down before I forget all of the details. I know that I am already revising the experience in my mind and underestimating the pain and intensity of the day…. but hopefully, I can get as close to the reality as possible. I will try to be somewhat discreet about the medical stuff, but proceed with caution if you don’t want to read the details of labor and birth!

kenbirth1

THE SHORT VERSION:

My labor and Kenneth’s birth was fast, intense, mind-blowing, painful, overwhelming and amazing. It was my dream birth situation, but it was not what I was expecting and it caught me off guard. Ken was born nine days before his due date at NYU Langone hospital in Manhattan. I was in “real” labor for just six hours and we barely made it to the hospital in time! The labor and vaginal delivery were totally natural and medication-free. They were also scary and all-consuming. Travis was the perfect husband, dad, and birth companion, and Ken and I both made it through the experience totally healthy and happy. January 8th was a very good day!

THE SUPER LONG VERSION…

The Day Before:

On January 7th, I had what turned out to be my final prenatal doctor appointment. The doctor checked my cervix and said I was about one centimeter dilated, but not efaced very far. She didn’t think it meant much and told me that if I hadn’t gone into labor by the next week’s appointment, she would strip my membranes then. She also discussed what would happen if I went past my due date.

So… I wasn’t feeling very optimistic about BabyJ arriving early. I was a little bummed to think that I still had a long time to wait, so despite the very cold weather, Travis took me out on a date to Stone Park Cafe to cheer me up. We shared a really delicious meal (not too big or rich, which turned out to be a very good thing) and had a great night together.

datenight

Labor:

After going to bed around midnight, I woke up with some minor cramping at about 3:00 am. Being woken up by contractions is a definite sign of labor, but I really didn’t think much of it. The cramps didn’t hurt much and they were really sporadic. I had maybe four or five of them between 3 and 4 am, and then I sort of fell asleep on the couch until Travis woke up at 7. I told him I was having some light contractions, but that they had pretty much dissipated and that it was probably just Braxton Hicks or practice labor. I think we ate breakfast. I told him to go to work.

I thought that even if it was early labor, I had hours and hours until the real deal. In our Prepared Childbirth class our instructor really reinforced the fact that first baby labor can last a REALLY long time, on average 18-22 hours. We spent a LOT of time in class discussing all of the things a woman can do while in early labor — get her nails done, make cookies, go out to eat, watch movies, etc. I figured that I was NOT even in early labor yet, since there wasn’t much pain, and once I was, I would still have tons of time.

I did some computer work, took Crusher for a walk, vacuumed, texted with some friends, and started thinking about what I wanted to get done before going to the hospital IF I really was in labor. My list included going to get a pedicure, cleaning the bathroom, baking cookies, and showering. I actually texted Travis and asked if he thought I should try to make an appointment to get my hair highlighted, too. ha! But I was feeling a little worn out and decided to nap before tackling my list…

This will be too much info for most, but another sign of labor that I sort of ignored? I had three bowel movements during the course of the morning, which is three times what is normal for me. Clearing your system out can be a sign of early labor, which I knew, but didn’t think much about at the time.

At about 12:30 I woke up from my nap to a really painful contraction. I tried to get up during it, but couldn’t walk until it passed. I think it was actually when my water broke. There was some liquid, but not much, so I wasn’t sure. I also might have lost my mucus plug then. All of a sudden, I got worried. It was real pain. I actually thought, “this whole labor thing isn’t going to be easy.” I started texting Travis even though he was in a meeting…

texts

The contractions started at about three minutes apart before 1 pm, but quickly sped up. I tried using my app, but I couldn’t really time them. I was still thinking that once Travis got home maybe he could time them while I watched a movie (I was thinking Aliens)… but the contractions just kept coming faster and were getting more intense. I got through a shower, but had to stop to lean against the wall for each contraction. The pain was intense. It is hard to be objective about it, but it was definitely white-knuckle, stop-what-you-are-doing, focus-on-getting-through-it pain. Sitting on the toilet or being on all fours on the bed helped.

Our hospital bag was already packed, but I managed to round up a few extra things in between contractions (including snacks — thank goodness!). Then, I called my mom at 2:30 pm. She says I didn’t sound like I was in pain, but I was. I thought I sounded terrible. I was on all fours in bed with wet hair and I finally admitted to her (and myself) that I thought the baby was coming that day. She said that if I thought he was coming, he was!

Travis got home shortly after that at about 2:45. I think my water sort of broke again then. More liquid came out, anyway. At some point I called my doctor’s office. I talked to a nurse and told her my water had broken and that the contractions were a minute a part. She clarified that they weren’t actually AN HOUR a part and when I said no, she told us to come in to the hospital asap.

Getting to the Hospital:

Travis stayed calm, took Crusher out, and rounded up all of our things while I worked on drying my hair. (It was very cold that day and I didn’t want to go out with wet hair.) We called an Uber car at around 3:20 and I quickly made it down the stairs from our apartment in between contractions.

The car ride was one of the most difficult things I have ever withstood. It was a bumpy ride and the contractions seemed to be coming less than 30 seconds apart. There weren’t really any breaks, just waves of pain. I think I might have held Travis’ hand, but I also remember worrying about hurting him. I was grasping the car door with white knuckles and just trying my best not to make too much noise. The driver was really nervous and asked us whether we needed an ambulance instead. I was definitely getting worried and was in focused survival mode, but I still didn’t really know how deep into labor I was. I certainly didn’t want to show up to the hospital in an ambulance and then be told that I was barely even dilated!! Despite the intensity of the contractions, I was still afraid that I might show up and they would tell me I had hours and hours of labor left…

A natural, medication and intervention-free delivery was my goal, but during the car ride I decided to ask for an epidural if my labor was not very far progressed. I felt weak for mentally giving up on my plan, but I couldn’t have handled hours more of those extreme contractions.

It turns out that I should have been a little more worried about not making it to the hospital in time…

hospitalcarride

Delivery:

We made it to the hospital at around 4 pm. I thought I could make it up to the Mother and Baby unit on foot, but as soon as I walked into the hospital, I doubled over a trash can to get through a contraction. A woman in the lobby scolded Travis and told him to get me a wheel chair. I was so focused on getting through the pain that I didn’t totally know what was happening, but somehow I got in the wheel chair and they got me into an elevator and up to the check in desk. Travis checked me in — i think — and they took me to triage.

I had been dreading triage because it is in a more public area and you have to stay there while they monitor the baby and your contractions for 20 minutes. I was thinking of this when we arrived, but really, I wasn’t thinking of much but getting through the pain. I don’t even know if my vision was working. I don’t know how my clothes were removed. I do sort of remember the nurses putting the monitors on me, and me saying that I couldn’t lay on my back for 20 minutes. I asked if I could be on all fours instead. The resident doctor (I think) did an internal exam and… OMG guys… I was fully dilated!!

In retrospect, I think I was in transition while we were arriving at the hospital. My body was doing what I described as “convulsing” but I think it was actually pushing. They quickly transported me to a delivery room.

labor

The doctor excitedly said, “You are going to have a baby today!” There was no time for an epidural, and I am glad that I didn’t have to make a decision about getting one. I think the nurses and doctors thought I would have the baby within a few minutes, and maybe I would have, but once I transferred to the delivery room at 4:25 things seemed to slow down. (How did I get in the new bed? I don’t know.)

I was scared. Much more scared than I thought I would be. I needed a mental break. I hadn’t anticipated the labor progressing so quickly and I felt like I had to catch my breath. I had more time in between each contraction during the pushing stage, like 2-3 minutes, to rest. Maybe my own anxiety slowed things down. I know that it decreased the efficiency of my pushing. I had thought I was going to be really good at pushing — empowered and strong — but I felt weak and scared. I felt bad for wanting a way out. If I had been given a way out, I would have taken it, which is humbling. I even thought about asking for a c-section, but I don’t think I said it out loud. Travis tried to remind me that I would be meeting our baby soon, but even that didn’t feel like sufficient motivation. I didn’t really care. I just wanted the pain to stop. But I kept going.

The nurses and Doctor Erin Conroy (who I loved — she was wearing a NYRR race t-shirt under her scrubs) coached me through pushing during each contraction. The last book I had read was Hypnobirthing, which describes labor as “breathing your baby out” and advises against coached, forced pushing. So I was confused about whether I needed to follow the pushing instructions. I felt a little annoyed at the doctors and nurses for telling me what to do. I wanted to do things my way… but thank goodness I listened to them instead. I pushed for two and half hours, which isn’t a short time period, but it would have been way longer if I had been left up to my own devices. I think I would have just held the baby in indefinitely. I really hadn’t anticipated being so scared of the actual birth.

I was half sitting up in the hospital bed and pushed while pulling on a bar over the bed, on handles by the side of the bed, and even while pulling on a sheet held by the doctor. Eventually a nurse and Travis started holding my legs while I pushed and they set up a mirror for me to watch my progress. I was fine with having the mirror, but it definitely was not an attractive sight!

The two+ hours passed quickly with what seemed like little progress. The doctor was a little concerned about Ken being in distress during contractions and they encouraged me to keep working hard. I think I asked the doctor how long it would take. They wanted me to hold my breath while pushing and do two or three per contraction. Many of my pushes were ineffective. They only seemed to work when I could push in conjunction with my body’s natural pushing action. The doctor suggested Pitocin to get things moving faster, which I didn’t want. I was a little frustrated but tried to muster up my courage and determination to just GET THE BABY OUT!

Ken is here:

Finally, at 6:41 pm, Ken’s head was crowning and he was born quickly after that! They had moved the mirror, but I looked down and could mostly see him being born. Following his head, he had his little hand up under his chin. “He’s waving at you!” the doctor said and she helped pull him the rest of the way out. It all happened so quickly that I couldn’t tell you the exact details. They quickly put him up on my chest. I was very happy and relieved and in love with our new little baby.

delivery

I got to hold Ken for a bit. I did not cry, which is a little strange. I was just so happy and overwhelmed. Ken cried a bit, but not loudly. Travis cut the cord at some point. Time passed quickly. The nurses rubbed Ken clean — he had a lot of vernix on his body. The nurses called him “cheesy” — yum. He also had a lot of mucus in his nose, mouth, and lungs, so a nurse had to take him for a bit to suction it out, but she did it right by my bed. He also got foot printed and “tagged” with all his hospital bands.

ken

Unfortunately, I did have a second degree perineum tear, but I couldn’t tell you when it happened. It didn’t hurt as far as I could tell. Maybe my anxiety (and all those Kegels I had been doing) prevented me from relaxing my pelvic floor during the birth, but who knows. While Ken was cleaned up, I had to get a few stitches. That was NOT fun. I wanted a break from all the discomfort, but I was also really happy and excited, so I got through it. Another pre-birth fear that I really didn’t need to worry about? Pooping during labor. I do not think I did, but I really couldn’t tell you, and no one in the room would have cared at all either way. I was so focused on getting through the pain and getting out the baby, that I was not worried about much of anything else. I also didn’t care that I had an IV in my hand or the fetal monitor around my waist — two things that I had anticipated not wanting. Everything happened so quickly and I was very happy with the help that the hospital staff gave me during labor and the birth.

After Ken was suctioned and cleaned, he was put on my bare chest. I am so glad Travis took photos because the time went so quickly. I just enjoyed holding him. Travis and I ate some of the snacks we had brought, and Ken nursed a bit while we waited for his eye ointment and Vitamin K shot. I think this is also when they gave me the Pitocin drip, but I am not sure. I had been suspicious of the hospital for requiring Pitocin after every delivery, but in the end, I did not care at all and I had no side effects from it. If anything, I was just insanely happy, excited, and at peace.

hospital

Hospital Stay:

Staying at the hospital was not something I was looking forward to, but despite my anxiety, I was very happy with my stay and care at NYU Langone hospital. The nurses were all fantastic. I saw two lactation consultants, two pediatricians, and took a breast feeding class and baby care class all within my 40 hours at the hospital. The nurses helped me breastfeed and taught me how to use a breast pump.

I ended up with a private room, but only because the other bed in the room was broken. Despite the privacy, we decided Travis should go home to sleep at night and to take care of Crusher. The hospital food actually wasn’t bad, but Travis also brought me Doughnut Plant donuts the day after the delivery. Our friends, Joel and Amanda, came to visit on Friday evening.

It must have been the hormones, but I just felt thrilled and at peace in the hospital. I felt like I had accomplished something big and I was just so pleased that Kenneth had arrived.

kenhospital

Bringing Ken home:

On Saturday morning we got discharged really quickly. We were out of our room by about 10 am. They require that you sit whenever you carry your baby in the hospital, so I got to take another wheel chair ride down to the hospital exit. You can tell by my goofy smile, I was just deliriously happy and excited.

kenleavinghospital

Travis had borrowed Joel’s car and had already installed our car seat. He went to go get the car while I waited in the lobby. (Side note: as far as we can tell, you do NOT officially need a car seat to leave the hospital in NYC. No one checked us or asked us how we were getting home. Of course, you SHOULD use a car seat.)

kencarseat

There wasn’t much traffic on our way home. Travis says he wasn’t very nervous while driving. I sat in back with Ken and told him all about his home borough of Brooklyn.

Crusher was very excited to meet his new brother when we got home. He went a little crazy and both wanted to get close to Ken, but also was a little nervous. He has since warmed up to him, but he doesn’t like his crying.

The four of us have spent the last three weeks getting used to the very literal blood, sweat, and tears of caring for a brand new baby. We are having fun together and slowly finding our rhythm. My recovery has gone well, but between that and breast feeding, there has been a lot of pain and discomfort. But things are getting better. I had felt so proud and pleased to have gotten through the pregnancy and birth, but bringing home a newborn is a fresh new challenge that may be the hardest yet.

kenathome

Childbirth vs Marathoning:

I was very interested to learn how the experience of labor and birth compared to running a marathon. Prepping for childbirth was not my main motivation for running marathons, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t one of my reasons.

I AM very glad to have had nine marathons under my belt before giving birth because it gave me a lot of self confidence and knowledge that I could endure pain and hard physical work. BUT, childbirth was MUCH more difficult than running a marathon.

I was lucky in that my labor was super-short, but even so, it was six hours of intense pain. Some marathons are six hours long, but you aren’t in pain that full time. Labor pain is like the last hour of the marathon, but for a much longer period of time.

Other differences: In a marathon you can adjust your pace or even stop if needed. You don’t have much control over labor. And you don’t know how long it is going to be. During my marathons, I’ve definitely thought, “I’m never doing one of these again.” But I’ve never thought about quitting. Labor was much scarier. I am sad to say that I think I would have quit if I had been given the opportunity. It is definitely hard to remember and compare pain, but I do know that I was thinking I would much rather be running a marathon than trying to push out a baby. But of course, a sweet, little baby is a much better prize than a medal!

kenathome2
Don’t worry. I don’t actually sleep with the baby like this. We were just lounging.

————

You can see LOTS more photos of Kenneth in his Flickr album.

12 Comments » Categories: Baby, Family, Kenneth, love, Pregnancy

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Hello.

I'm Rachel. I run websites and run marathons. I live in Brooklyn and write about art, crafts, design, food, fitness, fashion, my daily life, and New York City.

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