Pregnancy #2 Log – Weeks 15 through 20

Week 15: I started off my second trimester a little sick after a fun-filled trip to DisneyWorld with our sweet first-born. Being sick and pregnant is not fun. I hope this is my last illness for the duration, because it will only get harder! I feel like my baby bump became real this week. My normal jeans felt too tight last week, so I finally just broke out my maternity jeans. They are still too big, but I wanted to be comfortable. I already feel huge after eating meals, but I know that this is just the very beginning. I still haven’t really gained weight, but I think it will be coming soon. I have been drinking bone broth and trying to avoid too much sugar. I don’t have a lot of cravings, but fried chicken still sounds good. The nausea is pretty much gone, but I am getting heartburn a lot more frequently… which I know will just get worse. Overall, being pregnant with twins is difficult — I feel out of breath nearly all the time — but I know that I am still in the easy part.

Week 16: This week started off with really bad headaches and a lingering cold. I got a little worried. But I started feeling much better throughout the week. We also had awesome weather in Brooklyn, which helped. My baby bump is definitely showing now. I can still wear many of my normal pants, but I can’t really suck in my stomach and hide it these days. My appetite seems to have picked up a bit, but I still get full easily and have heartburn off and on.

Week 17: I started gaining weight this week. Ugh. I know that I have to gain 1-2 pounds a week, but I am still pretty stressed about how huge I am going to get.

February 28th, 2017: I had my first anatomy ultrasound today… and one of the babies is a girl!! I am so excited and happy. I really thought I would have all boys, so this is a really fun surprise. Perfect.

Week 18: Heartburn, nasal congestion, and a frequent need to pee are daily symptoms. I get up to pee most during most nights and it is daunting to think that I won’t have a full, uninterrupted night of sleep for a long time. I overdid it a few days this week walking all over Brooklyn. It takes me longer to recover from tiring days. And I’ve had some uterine cramping this week, which is slightly worrisome. But overall, I know I am doing well and feeling relatively good. My belly is definitely big and bold. I am wearing mostly maternity pants at this point. I am pretty freaked out about how big I’m going to get… I have a long way to go…

Week 19: I had a check up ultrasound on Thursday, March 17th, 2017, and all looks good. They were mostly checking out my cervix, but I got to see the babies, too. Two strong heartbeats, all the organs, and two very distinct genders! The twins are moving into positions more parallel to my body and are side by side, boy on my left, girl on my right. I’m feeling extremely fortunate, but also always slightly nervous about them coming too early. And also always terrified about how big I’m going to get!

I’ve been feeling indistinct “activity” from the twins for a couple weeks, but this week it has become a little more recognizable. I can’t really pinpoint which baby is moving or what they are doing, but there are definitely two different sides of movement. It is crazy to see them wiggling about on the ultrasound, happy to each be doing their thing.

Week 20: It feels good to be at the half way point of this pregnancy… but it is daunting to think I have 4-5 months left to get bigger and bigger!! Two babies definitely take up more space than one! I’ve been able to feel the twins moving around a lot and am overall feeling pretty good… except for, you know, constant heart burn, shortness of breath, muscle craps, and nasal congestion. Honestly, I am feeling really fine and I know that I am extremely fortunate to be progressing through this pregnancy healthily, so I don’t have any serious complaints…. only non-serious ones. Ha. In the mornings, when the babies are all tucked in and inactive, I feel great. Pregnancy is no big deal! But by the end of the day, when I have food in my system (and therefore heartburn), I’m sore and exhausted from too much walking and too many stairs, and the babies are all stretched out and pushing on everything, it all feels a lot more difficult. I really can’t believe I am only half way through this! But I try to keep in mind that it is not every day that a person is pregnant with twins, and it is a grand adventure! So, I’ll just try to appreciate the experience. It must be hormonal, but I have been really in love with Kenneth and Travis and even Crusher these days. I am just feeling so grateful for our little family and excited to be doing this all with them.

Pregnancy #2 Log – the first trimester

Wow! So by now you already know that Travis and I are expecting twins this summer. A major surprise! I didn’t keep as detailed a log as I did during my first pregnancy, but I wanted to publish some of my thoughts as a record of how we got here…

In the beginning… I ran the NYC Marathon with my dad on November 6th — fun! — and for TMI, I also happened to be on my period that weekend. My last period for a while, it turns out. Travis and I had already planned to start trying to expand our family after I finished the marathon, we just really didn’t expect it to all happen so fast. We were pregnant two weeks later!

Weeks 3-4: I really wasn’t expecting it, but in the week before I was supposed to have my next period I experienced three things that hadn’t happened since I was pregnant with Ken: 1. I had bad heartburn, 2. I had cramping in my lower ab muscles, 3. Crusher started sleeping with me in bed right by my belly every night. I thought, “hmm, that is weird, but even if I WAS pregnant, there is no way I would already have symptoms. It is too early.” (It was technically only week 3 at this point.) But I took the pregnancy test on December 2nd (a day before my expected period) and it was positive! Very exciting, but pretty baffling that it happened in basically one try!

Sidenote: I was trying to get into a new OB/Gyn practice (Downtown Women) and had made an appointment in early November. But the appointment was cancelled by their office and rescheduled twice. By the time I was rescheduling it the final time, I was pregnant… and THEY DON”T TAKE NEW PREGNANT CLIENTS! So… I am once again at NYU Langone OB/Gyn, and I actually couldn’t be happier. I really like Dr. Fanti and Dr. Conroy and have had a really positive experience at all of my visits so far. I just wish the hospital and offices were a little closer to home…

Weeks 5-9: Because of the holidays, I wasn’t able to schedule my first doctor appointment until January 11th. I didn’t want to let anyone (other than Travis) know about the pregnancy until after it was checked out — I am a little bit cautious/superstitious about that kind of thing — but I slipped and told a few close mom friends in December (only because they knew that we were trying). I felt really fatigued and nauseous in December, but it hit me hardest while we were in Kansas City visiting family for Christmas. Weeks 7 & 8 were brutal. I was so tired and really nauseous all the time. This pregnancy felt a lot harder than Ken’s, but it is difficult to tell how much is just in your head. BUT, I am trying to trust myself more and remind myself that I am objectively NOT a wimpy person and if something feels really tough, it probably is. So, I really did have a feeling that this pregnancy was different, and I was actively worried that it might be twins. This is a photo of me partying on New Year’s Eve…

We hadn’t planned to tell our families about the pregnancy over the holidays, but it couldn’t exactly be avoided. Many people noticed that I wasn’t running or drinking coffee or alcohol, and then my sweet in-laws gifted us a summer vacation for Christmas… and we had to let them know that I might not be able to travel. Everyone was excited, but I think also a little overwhelmed since there was already so much excitement happening over the holidays. Oh, and our whole family got a terrible stomach bug at the end of our trip and were barfing and super sick the first week we were back in Brooklyn in January. Not good. I was worried about the pregnancy when I was barfing and barfing, but it seemed unaffected.

Weeks 10 – 13: I already said it, but this pregnancy has just been HARD. I am out of breath basically whenever I do any activity. I ran a few times early on in the pregnancy, but by week 10 it just didn’t feel worth it to waste my energy. I have to save it to carry Ken up all the stairs to our apartment! I regret that I have not exercised much during this pregnancy at all, but I am staying active and walking a lot, chasing Ken around, plus trying to do some random strength exercises here and there. In addition to breathlessness, I also have a lot of nasal congestion and tons of heartburn. Ugh.

On January 11th, 2017 (during week 10), I had my first ultrasound and doctor’s appointment. Travis didn’t come because he was watching Ken, but I wish he could have been there. As soon as the tech put in the internal ultrasound wand, she said, “IT’S TWINS!” It was a fun/shocking/happy moment that I hope I always remember. I think I said something like, “Thank goodness I’m not crazy!” I just had a feeling it was twins all along. But it was still a mind-blowing moment to have it confirmed. (I should note here that my mom and my paternal grandmother also had fraternal twins, so it was on my radar.)

The day after we found out that we were having twins, we left for Bermuda! We had planned the trip over six months prior so that Travis could run the Bermuda Triangle Challenge. I ran/walked the 10k with him. It went really well, but I didn’t feel like pushing my body too hard. The trip was a lot of fun and felt like a mini babymoon. And the next weekend (Week 11) I went to DC with my friend Jessica for the Women’s March. It was another successful trip and I was able to walk many miles without much fatigue.

I had a second ultrasound and a meeting with a high risk doctor on January 31st (during week 13). The babies both looked great — moving around like crazy! — and I also checked out all good. I started this pregnancy 2-3 lbs heavier than my previous pregnancy, which of course irked me, but I guess it isn’t too bad. I lost a few lbs in the first trimester, but basically stayed pretty steady and was still wearing all normal pants and clothes at this point. The doctor emphasized how much more of a metabolic load growing two humans is and stressed that I may have trouble eating enough calories each day. (Up to 700 extra calories a day!) I scoffed. Eating enough is never my problem! But… with all the heartburn, fullness, and fatigue, it may actually get more difficult…

We ended week 13 by signing a lease on a new rental house in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. When we learned we were having twins we just knew we had to leave our fourth-floor walk-up apartment. The small size could be doable, but it is just too hard to climb the stairs while pregnant, not to mention with three kids! Despite being farther from the city, the house should be very nice (with a garage, yard, and basement!) but there have been a few delays with our move-in date. We hope to be in it by the end of April.

Week 14: When we found out we were pregnant, Travis and I couldn’t resist booking a trip to Disney World with Kenneth! We wanted to really spoil him and celebrate him for his second birthday before his siblings arrive. We had a wonderful trip with him! It was so fun to spend four days straight as a family, just making sure he was having a blast. I was feeling a little better nausea-wise at this point, so the trip was actually pretty easy. BUT it also seemed to be the week when my belly started to pop out. I had brought all normal pants and shorts and they were feeling tight! By the last day, I had to resort to stretchy pants! (Seen below.)

So… we are on our way to becoming a family of five! (Six if you don’t forget Crusher.) We are really excited and a little terrified. But mostly I feel very grateful that everything has gone smoothly so far. I am constantly aware that pre-term labor or other complications are more likely with multiples, so I am trying to be mindful about taking it easy and listening to my body. I will keep you updated on my progress in future logs… stay tuned!

BIG BROTHER!

Kenneth has a super big announcement….

He is going to be a BIG BROTHER! ……times TWO!

I am pregnant with twins!! It just might be the biggest surprise of our life. And we just found out at the ultrasound yesterday that we are having a boy and a girl! The babies are due in early August.

We are really happy and excited… and overwhelmed. This weekend we are moving to a bigger house in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. It has all been a whirlwind, but Kenneth is taking it in stride. We know he is going to be a wonderful big brother.

post pregnancy body update – 25 weeks out

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What to say? I still go through a lot of ups and downs when it comes to my body. Some days I feel like I am getting back to normal and feeling pretty good… other days, I still feel destroyed, sore, fat, and tired.

On good days (like after going to an inspiring SoulCycle class) I feel invincible. Ready to tackle the challenge of a less-than-perfect, aging, post-baby body with a positive attitude and lots of determination. I am doing this! Go me! On bad days, I get really overwhelmed by all of the pain and discomfort and I miss my old self.

Two quotes keep bouncing around in my head:

“Old age ain’t no place for sissies.”

“Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient.”

Certainly, I am not in old age (and I know everyone older than 34 wants to shout: “You aint seen nothing yet!”) but knowing that it takes courage to live fully and happily as you age, gives me courage. Nothing and no one is perfect… but I can make the decision to be happy, grateful, and at peace with who I am and what my body can do. It is just going to keep getting more challenging, right? I like to believe I am more than strong enough to face the challenge! And the challenge will make me stronger. (I just have to keep that thought in the forefront of my mind, and let it drown out the fat, fat, fat, weak, weak, weak thoughts.)

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With all that being said… my update…

Weight Loss:

I think I’ve lost about five more pounds since my last body post. (So, 26 of the total 30 pregnancy pounds are gone.) Five pounds in the nine weeks since my last update is not exactly the weight loss pace I dream about, but I am getting really close to my pre-baby weight and I fit in most of my normal clothes at this point. (I actually weigh less than I did when Travis and I returned from Europe last May – that should get me pumped, right?! I still feel discouraged.)

Any weight loss is great (and needed) but I am feeling quite frustrated because Travis and I did 23 days of the no sugar, no grain, no dairy Whole30 program during June and it didn’t seem to do anything beneficial for me. It was quite intense to only eat fruit, veggies, meat, eggs, and nuts for more than three weeks and I thought for sure that I was going to lose quite a few pounds. Sadly, I only messed up my digestion and was in a bad mood for a month. Boo. I am back to eating normally and hope that I can continue to trim and tone up.

I’d love to lose 15 more pounds and be at my dream goal weight by October.

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Running:

Starting at the end of May, I began doing a few run/walk workouts. I started very slowly, walking for four minutes and running for one, then 3/1, then 3/2, and now I am doing 1/1 run/walk about two days a week. I did one good, long workout of 3.5 miles, but otherwise my progress is very slow going. My pelvic floor is definitely still not at 100% and it causes some discomfort. It takes me a day or two to recover from each run, with my back and hips still getting sore. But I am getting stronger. It is just taking a lot longer than I would like.

My goal is to run the Brooklyn Rock N Roll Half Marathon in October, and possibly, maybe, perhaps run the NYC Marathon in November… but we’ll see.

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Other fitness

In addition to 2-3 days of running and an occasional SoulCycle class, I am trying to fit in my physical therapy exercises and walking on most days. I have reduced my visits to Renew Physical Therapy to twice a month. I have also been a bit more relaxed about my PT exercises. I feel like they have certainly helped, but REST has also been a major healer. So, I am listening to my body and trying to give myself a break.

This is a topic for a whole other blog post, but caring for a baby 24/7 is HARD, you guys! ha. Am I the first person to ever come to this realization? Kenneth is always on my mind, and even when I am away from him, I always feel distracted and low-level worried. I don’t think I have actually gone into a deep sleep since long before he was born. I certainly haven’t slept for more than four hours straight. It is catching up with me. My immune system is not as strong as I always assumed it was. And I can’t recover as quickly as I used to. Not good. And I don’t feel like there is much of a solution. But I will try to get more sleep. I promise.

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Breastfeeding:

Oof. It had gotten so much better and easier, but just last week I was hit with clogged ducts and now mastitis. It is so painful. I spent most of last weekend sick in bed and in pain. Now I am on an antibiotic prescription, but this whole ordeal makes me reconsider continuing to breastfeed. It is not my favorite thing and after the pain of thrush and mastitis, I just don’t think I can face the possibility of another infection. I don’t know where to start with weaning, but the thought of less pain, smaller breasts, and convenient bottle feeding sounds really nice at this point…

And without further ado, my progress pics…

Which I feel are necessary even if totally embarrassing. You can always beat yourself up in front of the mirror, no matter your progress, but photos don’t (always) lie. And I think I do notice an improvement since my last set. Hooray! (Hint: new Top Speed Crops from Lululemon have been a big confidence booster.)

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Read my previous post-baby body posts: Update 1 | Update 2 | Update 3

post pregnancy body update – 16 weeks out

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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…

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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.

post pregnancy body update – 10 weeks out

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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!

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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

my post pregnancy body

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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?

postpartum and newborn favorites

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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?

Kenneth at one month…

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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.

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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!

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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…

Kenneth’s birth story

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!

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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!

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

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