The choice to return to work after having a baby is a very personal decision. I believe every mama has to figure out what will be best for their family. Unfortunately, society seems to shame mamas if they do return to work and also if they stay home. We often cannot win. I chose to return to work and though there are of course days I wish I could stay home with my kiddos, 6 years later, my husband and I both agree it was the best decision for our family. I might change my mind later on and want to stay home but right now it works for us.
As I have a few friends and clients returning to work in the upcoming months, I wanted to share a few tips that were either helpful to me or what I wish I had known when returning to work.
Returning to work after maternity leave can be very challenging and anxiety producing. Regardless if you are ready to head back to work and might look forward to your job, it is often not an easy transition. You might have anxiety about leaving your baby with someone else, feel guilty for returning to work, worries about pumping and milk production and wondering how you are going to balance it all; and those are just a few of the emotions you might experience!
Finding a nanny or daycare that you trust and feel comfortable with can help make the return to the working world a bit easier.
Here are a few tips to make the transition smoother:
Consider trying out your childcare before returning to work. If you are using an in-home daycare or a daycare facility, ask about a few trial days during the last few weeks of your maternity leave. This way you can practice your morning routine of getting ready and getting out the door. Try a half day or even just a few hours at first and then maybe one longer day. If you are using a nanny, have the nanny come for a few hours, then a half day and maybe one full day before you return to work. Use this time for any self-care you might need as it is likely you have not had much alone time since the arrival of your baby. Get a massage, grab lunch with a friend, take a yoga class. Enjoy some time to yourself. Having a trial run can hopefully ease some of the anxiety of those first few days.
Instead of returning to work and starting daycare on a Monday, see if it is possible to start on a Wednesday or Thursday This way, you and your baby can ease into the routine without jumping head on into 5 days.
Remember, the first day is most likely the hardest. It is normal to be sad to leave your baby but it is also normal to be excited to return to work. It often gets easier with time but remember the joy you will feel picking up your baby each day after work!
Tips for Pumping:
Pack your pumping bag the night before and make sure you have extra bottles, bags, cooler and ice packs if needed. Pumping at work can be stressful so the last thing you want to realize once you get all the way to work is that you forgot anything essential.
Make every attempt to pump at the same time you would normally feed. It is common for milk production to drop with the reduction of actual breastfeeding and with the stress of a change of routine. You might see an initial drop in production, sometimes, regular production returns, but your body might also adapt to producing less since the pump is less efficient than breastfeeding your baby. Try not to stress and do what works for you and your baby. (Legally, employers have to give you breaks as well as a space to pump. If you are not given breaks or a private space, talk to your HR representative.)
To help minimize the decrease in milk production, make sure you are still getting enough calories and staying hydrated to support your body in producing milk. Eating well at work can be challenging but take the extra time the night before or morning to pack a healthy lunch and snacks and carry a reusable water bottle to refill often.
Tips for Fitting in Exercise
It might take a few weeks or even a month to get into the routine of not only returning to work but now being a working mom. Things are quite different now as you have a baby to worry and think about. Don’t beat yourself up if you are not able to exercise as much as you would like initially. Give yourself some time to establish a routine.
Though you might feel like you literally have no more physical or mental energy for one more thing on your plate, finding time to exercise is so crucial for your wellbeing. A few ways to get in some exercise include: –Take periodic walks during the workday –Can any of your meetings be walking meetings or can you take a conference call while walking? –After you get home, a great way to spend time with your baby is to go on a walk or jog or take a class where the baby can attend. –Make a schedule with your significant other that allows you both to take some time for yourself and exercise while the other is with your baby. –If you are not finding much time to exercise during the week, make sure you are getting some exercise on the weekend.
Tips for Healthy Eating
Healthy eating can be a challenge while on maternity leave and navigating taking care of newborn but now you might feel that you have even less time to prepare meals. However, just like exercise, proper nutrition is crucial for you and your baby.
Find some easy grab and go breakfasts such as protein smoothies filled with fruits and veggies, hard boiled eggs or low sugar yogurt.
Spend a bit of time on the weekend planning and grocery shopping for healthy lunches and easy and fast dinners. Bagged salads, pre-cut veggies and other semi-prepared foods can really help with time and stress. Spending a little time getting organized on Sunday can really help throughout the week and help busy weeknights feel a little less stressful.
Again, returning to work is a personal decision that must work for you, your baby and your family. Regardless if you want to return to work or need to return to work, leaving your baby can be challenging but by following some of the tips mentioned above, hopefully your transition will be a bit easier.
I would love to hear any other tips that were helpful to you when returning to work that you would like to share with other mamas.
I cannot believe my baby girl is turning 1 tomorrow. The saying, the days are long but the years are fast is so true. Some days I feel like I was just pregnant, miserable in the heat, nervous to go through the birthing process again and super excited to meet the final member of our family. Other times it feels like it went by in the blink of any eye and cannot believe I have a baby that is saying a few words and almost walking.
This past year has been an incredible year but also one of the most challenging. Parenting is beautiful and awesome but also hard and exhausting. The work-life balance became even harder. I found it more challenging to be a good mother, daughter, wife, sister and friend. Yet, welcoming Madelynn into our world of course has been such a blessing!
Below are a few things that I have learned over the last year.
I will literally do anything to get sleep.
I read tons of pregnancy books and parenting books with Caleb. I was determined to have a good sleeper and create good sleep habits. I think we were either very successful with Caleb in this area or we just ended up being very lucky as he slept through the night pretty consistently starting at 4 months. We thought we were getting lucky with Madelynn too and were doing a good job with the sleep habits as she started sleeping through the night around the same age….BUT that did not last. She has consistently gone through sleep regressions and pretty much hates to sleep when she is sick (which you would think would be opposite), she is also not the best napper especially during the week at school. So though I tried to create good sleep habits with her too, this did not work as well. I am tired. Parenting one child is exhausting, for me, parenting 2 just brought it to a whole new level. If one is sleeping the other is awake NO FAIL. If one sleeps in, the other gets up super early and vice versa. I think they actually talk about it before bed and plan on who will sleep in and who will get up early, just to make sure they both are not doing it at the same time. 🙂
I will literally do anything to get Madelynn to sleep so we can get some sleep. I have rocked her to sleep, she has slept in our bed, I have slept in on her floor, I have even climbed into her crib to soothe her until she falls asleep. Though she is overall, a pretty good sleeper, I have a new respect for parents with chronically poor sleepers. I am just so tired that sometimes I would rather rock her to sleep for 5 min then deal with an hour of crying while trying to get her to self soothe. I know these are not the best habits to create but at 2 AM when I just want to sleep, I don’t care about following the ‘rules.’ I just want everyone to go back to bed. Which leads me to my 2nd lesson of the past year.
2. 2nd child ‘syndrome’ is so true.
I have of course heard that everyone tends to be more laid back with their second child but knowing my personality, I did not think I would be. Well, I was and am. I am usually a total rule follower. I like directions and policies and procedures. So as stated above, I am breaking the sleep habit rules! And probably many more. GASP! Having two little ones is honestly just survival mode most of the time. I am sure I did not do the prescribed amount of tummy time with Madelynn, half the time we forget to read her books before bed because we have another child to get to sleep, I know I did not do the suggested 3-day food introduction of solids with her like I did with Caleb and still she is happy and healthy. I did at least make her a baby book. I am a second child and my husband is a third child so I think we will all just be fine. 🙂
3. I do not remember anything from my first baby experience
Though my kids are only 29 months I literally felt like I remembered nothing. How many oz. of breast milk? How much food do we give her? When can she have water? My husband and I laugh that we felt like we were new parents again. This is probably just due to fact that we have 2 human beings to take care of now so we do not have as much mental space for all these details.
4. My marriage should come first but realistically always doesn’t.
This one is hard. The first line of one my favorite parenting books is “Your marriage comes first.” I whole-heartedly believe in this and that having a strong, respectful, kind marriage will help you raise strong, respectfully, kind children. I know my marriage should come first. I know my husband and I should spend more quality time together. But making your marriage first is hard. The biggest challenge is that the need is not as immediate. The baby crying and my toddler having a meltdown is a more immediate need than me being able to sit down with my husband over a glass of wine to talk about our day, jobs, etc. This is a work in progress and probably will be somewhat of an on-going battle until the kids are a bit older. We are working on it. We are taking a few short trips with and without the kids this year. We are trying to make date nights more of a priority. This has been a hard lesson this year.
5. I still question a lot of what I am doing as a parent
Parenting is the hardest job I have ever had. Do I think I am doing a good job? Most days, I would say yes, I am definitely trying. My kids are healthy, happy (most of the time 🙂 ) and I hope I am teaching them respect, kindness, healthy habits and much more. Having a second child maybe made me more confident in the logistics of parenting (certain safety things etc.) but having a second child did not make the doubt go away. I still doubt myself constantly and wonder if what we are doing is right. There is a lot of trial and error in parenting and not a lot of black and white which can be challenging for me. I am sure I will question my parenting in many stages of their lives. But just by questioning it means to me that I care so much about doing a good job and that I am probably doing a better job than I sometimes give myself credit for.
6. My body can do amazing things and I have a new found respect for it.
I have talked about this a lot over the past year in my blog about how much harder the recovery was the second time around. Recovering from my first pregnancy seems like a breeze compared to this past year. There are many reasons it was hard but I really had to take a step back and not put so much pressure on myself to get back in shape or lose all my baby weight in the same time frame I did with Caleb. After I came to the realization that it was not going to be as easy, I let go a bit and tried to practice gratitude of what my body has done in the past 40 months. I have grown 2 beautiful babies, fed 2 beautiful babies through most of their first year and now have an amazing family that I could not be more thankful for. I am thankful for my body for allowing me to do this. I know my body will never be quite the same and that is okay. I am actually probably more confident now, knowing what my body has given me and done than I ever was in my 20’s or when I was beating it up with endless hours of cardio and food journaling and calorie counting. So thank you body for giving the best gifts I could ask and hope for.
Pool pics almost one year apart.
Parenting is truly unconditional love. No matter how much attitude my toddler gives me some days, I will always love him with all my heart. Just when I might think my heart is going to burst with so much love for my first baby, my second baby comes and doubles the love. My love for my husband has grown as I have watched him become an amazing father for the second time. My love for my other mama friends has grown knowing what they do on a daily basis. My love for friends wanting to have children some day has grown as I know what they want to experience. My love for my father and sister has grown as I have watched them interact with both my children. I now know what my father went through raising children and watching the sibling interaction between Caleb and Madelynn develop reflects what my sister and I have which is an incredible special bond that I can only hope my children will have. In what seems to be a rather constantly tragic time in our society and a very challenging year for myself and my family, the love in my heart is trying to overcome all of these emotions and trying to let love win.
My loves in the pool.
Thank you to all my readers for being with me on this journey as I started this blog after my husband and I started our journey with baby #2, Madelynn. Now, onto the even crazier world of having 2 toddlers. #lordhelpme
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My husband, son and I were thrilled to welcome Madelynn Elizabeth Laurel Baker into the world on July 22nd at 5:20 AM.
After it taking 2 years to get my son into my belly, I had to kick him out at 41 weeks. 🙂 I really, really wanted to go into labor on my own with this baby. My doctor offered to induce me at 39 weeks and though it was tempting, waiting one more week or at the most two was not a big deal to me after waiting 10 months to meet our baby. Though it was very hot and I was getting uncomfortable, my husband and I knew this was our last baby and therefore I really wanted to experience going into labor.
My doctor believes that if you were late with your first baby then you are often late with your second baby and vice versa. Though I was hoping to have this baby before 41 weeks, we had a plan to induce me on July 29th if baby had not made an appearance. There is debate about allowing a woman to go past 41 weeks and if it is dangerous for the baby or if we should let nature tell us when to deliver. I have read some of the research and trusted my doctor and was fine with having an induction date of July 29th.
For the past week before Madelynn was delivered, I kind of thought things were progressing. I had some cramping at night, discharge and feeling a bit more pressure. However, at my weekly check-ups, I was still only 2 cm dilated and with Caleb I was 2 cm dilated for 2 weeks and 6 hours of labor so I was not holding my breath that this baby was coming anytime soon. My doctor went over signs of labor and when to come to the hospital since I had not experienced contractions or my water breaking previously. The Saturday before I delivered, I kind of thought my water broke as I literally could not stop going to bathroom after I woke up. I think I went 5 times in 15 min. If your water does break, most doctors want you to deliver within 24 hours to prevent infection. I did not know if I was just hoping it was my water breaking or if I was being silly. My best friend urged me to at least call the doctor to make sure. I talked to the doctor and we agreed that it was not my water breaking.
On Tuesday, July 21st, I went to train my clients as usual. Just as I was ending my session with my last client, I felt a trickle. I honestly, just though it was poor bladder control, went to the bathroom and decided to go to the 11 AM CrossFit class. Ironically, before the workout, everyone was joking about me going into labor and my water breaking on the floor. During warm-up and the strength portion, I continued to feel trickles and at this point, I could not really stop them. I decide to call the doctor’s office. The coach and class were waiting for me, I tell them to go ahead with the workout. I describe to the nurse what was going on and she says it sounded like my water breaking and that I should head on in to the hospital to at least be tested. I knew it was not necessarily an emergency and ask her if I can run home. She says don’t wait until that evening but I can go home and get organized. At this point, I pretty much know my water broke so I also know that I will be meeting my little baby in the next 24 hours. I call my husband at work and let him know I am going to get tested and will call him again later. I call my dad to let him know and I call my sister to give her a heads up too as she plans on being in the delivery room with me. She begs me to wait until 9 PM that night to have the baby as she has to teach a class and would never forgive herself if she misses the birth. I tell her I will try my best. At home, I take a shower and eat as I know as soon as I get to the hospital I will be put on a clear diet and I needed some fuel if I was going to be giving birth. 🙂 I am not rushed but I kind of walk around in a daze gathering things. At this point I am getting a little nervous.
I head to the hospital and sign some paperwork and am taken back to triage to get tested. They use a pH strip and it is confirmed that my water has broken! I get admitted and settle into my room where I will welcome my baby the next morning. The doctor comes to check me and I am already 4 cm but not really having any contractions. She wants me to walk about for 1 hour (in literally circles, since I could not leave the labor and delivery area) She is hoping this will start contractions, if not, I will start getting Pitocin at 4 PM. So I start walking, calling friends and talking and walking and walking until my hubby gets there. He then walks with me for awhile. After an hour, nothing has happened. They check baby and call the doctor who says I can keep walking and she will come up after her shift and if nothing has happened by then, I will start Pitocin now at 6 PM. I walk again, now with my dad for another hour. The doctor checks me at 6 PM and I am still only 4 cm . Bummer. I am started on Pitocin. For the next 10 hours my body tries to dilate. I do start contracting and they are sometimes only a few minutes apart sometimes fairly strong and sometimes not too painful. They keep upping my dose of Pitocin. I finally decide to get an epidural at 11 PM. This is not necessarily for pain at this point but hoping it will relax me enough to dilate further. I know this is not always the case but with Caleb, I dilated from 2 cm to 9 cm in 45 minutes after I got the epidural so at this point when I am already exhausted and hungry and on sort of a time clock of when the doctor wants the baby to be delivered due to chance of infection, I am willing to try it. No such luck on this baby. By the time the epidural takes effect, I am in quite a bit of pain and it does provide a lot of relief. However, still not dilating. This continues through the night. My husband tries to get some sleep but my sister and I cannot sleep and we stay up talking.
Finally at 5 AM I tell the nurses that the cramping feels more like pressure and I am ready to push. They tell me not to push as the on-call doctor just got called into another room to deliver a baby. WTF? I have been waiting for the last 17 hours to push and now you are telling me not to? The nurse comes in and tells me she has called my doctor to come in on her day off to deliver my baby. I become emotional when I hear this as I assumed my doctor would not be delivering my baby (she actually told me not to have the baby on the 22nd because she was off that day) but I really wanted her to and was thankful and grateful that she would do this for me. As soon as my doctor gets there I know that I will be meeting my baby and completing my family in the next 30 minutes or so as I knew it would not take 2 ½ hours to get this baby out like Caleb. Then they tell Adam it is time to scrub up. Watching my husband get ready to deliver our baby causes me to become emotional again. It was incredibly moving and beautiful. I wish I would have had a picture of this but maybe that would have taken away how special it really was.
When I am finally allowed to push, it takes about 20 min to deliver my beautiful baby. As it is very hectic in the delivery room, they wrap the baby so fast and put her on my chest. When she comes out, I see something hanging between her legs (which ends up being her umbilical cord :)) so I thought she was a boy. The doctor looks at Adam and says ‘did you see?’ He says no, they unwrap her again, Adam looks and tells me it was a girl! I did not believe it. I kept asking, ‘are you sure? are you sure? ‘Adam and the nurses try to convince me it is in fact a girl but I was just so convinced she was a boy for the past few months that I cannot believe it. At this point I am fairly hysterical. Finally, they open her legs and show me and I cannot believe I have a daughter.
I would of course been happy with a healthy baby boy but to be truthful I did want a girl. Though I thought it would be fun to have one of each there is a deeper meaning of why I wanted a girl.
I lost my mom to breast cancer when I was 18 years old. I never got to have a real adult relationship with her. Though we were close, I often feel that we never got to be real friends as I feel our relationship would have become more of a friendship as I entered adulthood. I look around at my friends and see how close they have become to their mothers and of course this makes me incredibly sad, jealous and lonely as I never did or will get to experience that with my mother. She was not at my college graduation, my wedding shower or wedding. She was not able to help plan or attend my baby shower or be present at the birth of my children. One of the hardest realities is that she never met my incredible husband nor will she ever be able to hold her two beautiful grandkids. I miss her and think of her every single day but since having kids and becoming a mother myself, the longing for her is often so strong that it takes my breath away. I actually have had a hard time celebrating Mother’s Day since I became a mom. Before I was a mother I did not have to celebrate it. Now, I feel that I have to celebrate it since I am a mom but honestly it is difficult because instead of feeling joy on this day, I often just feel a greater loss. So many people are celebrating with their mom and that is all I can think of, that I want to be celebrating with my mom. In 2 years, I will have lived half of my life without my mother. She was and is such a strong influence in my life that this is a hard concept for me to grasp.
Therefore, I feel an immense amount of gratitude that I now have a daughter. Not so I can dress her up in pink things and bows (though that is fun) but what I longed for and craved was an adult relationship with my daughter. I am so thrilled to be able to hopefully share in many of the things that I did not get to do or experience with my own mother. We decided to name my daughter Madelynn Elizabeth Laurel, the Lynn after my middle name, Elizabeth after my sister and Laurel after my mother. The three girls in my family. I am proud to name my daughter after the two most amazing and influential women in my life. I hope that I will always feel my mother’s presence especially as I raise her 2 beautiful grandchildren.
Welcome to the world, Madelynn Elizabeth Laurel Baker.
As my pregnancy is coming to an end, I started thinking about all the comments that have been made to me during the last 10 months. I am not sure why I did not seem to notice these as much with my first pregnancy. I am sure I received just as many comments but I honestly do not remember many. At least this time, I did not have any strangers try to touch my belly.
I think many people are drawn to pregnant people. I am not exactly sure why. Maybe because it is a physical condition that is usually obvious and I guess for many people it is an exciting and joyous time and people want to either connect to you or share in that excitement? It seems to be one of the only times that it is socially ‘acceptable’ to comment on someone’s physical condition.
I know most people really mean no harm but I am still blown away at what people have said to me. Most of the time I just kind of laugh and blow it off. My close friends and relatives who do not have kids are even more shocked at what people say and how often people comment. I started making mental notes of these comments because some of them were either so rude that they were funny and some were so awkward that I did not even know what to say.
I thought it would be amusing to share these and I would love to hear any other comments you received while pregnant. Again, I know no one is blatantly trying to be rude and probably do not consider how they come across and most of these really do make me laugh.
The Rude Comments
Telling someone I was pregnant: “Again? Already?” (Note to my readers: my children will be 29 months apart). I actually got this comment quite a bit.
“Didn’t you just get back from maternity leave” Yea, like 2 years ago.
A former co-worker who has a child very similar to Caleb’s age, noticing I was pregnant again: “What is wrong with you?” Indicating that I was having my children too close together.
Talking about if I am having a girl or boy: “Well, you really have gained weight everywhere.” Ummm, thanks.
Walking with Caleb and noticing I was pregnant: “You are doing it again?” Umm, looks like it lady who I don’t know.
The Awkward Comments
“So are you dilated?” WHAT? Are you really asking about my cervix in public or really at all?
An older lady after she had asked me a few questions, walked away and said, “Hope it turns out ok.” I had no response to that but thanks for those kind and reassuring words. 🙂
Talking to a neighbor about delivering any day now, another neighbor (a man) who was not even involved in the conversation or honestly in the proximity chimed in from 20 feet away and said, “No, you are not ready, your feet are not swollen enough.” WTF?
“You are still pregnant?” Well, gosh I hope so or something is seriously wrong with me and it’s not like I have been pregnant for 4 years….I am counting down the days too lady.
Hands Down the Best Comment I Ever Received
I was getting ready for a BBQ and had tried on about 5 different dresses as I was feeling big, swollen and really not all that cute. I finally decided on a dress that I thought looked halfway decent. Caleb walks into the bathroom as I am getting ready and says, “Mommy, two babies?” I looked at him confused as we have never talked about two babies and I really did not think my tummy was THAT big. He pointed to my stomach and said, “1 baby” and then pointed to my ass and said, “2 baby.” OMG. I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry. My 2 year old wins for best comment during my pregnancy.
There is only 1 baby in there Caleb!
To all those beautiful pregnant mamas out there…you are amazing, beautiful and remember you are growing and nourishing another soul. Be proud of that belly no matter what someone says! XOXO
When I was pregnant with my first child, I read A LOT of books. What to Expect While Your Expecting, Your Pregnancy Week by Week, Guide to Breastfeeding etc. I also attended a Birth Prep Class, a Breastfeeding Class and A Happiest Baby on the Block Class. This might seem like a lot of preparation to some but I had no idea want to expect and wanted to feel as prepared as possible. Though I know you can never fully prepare for becoming a parent, reading and attending these classes made me feel a little less anxious. I am Type A and like to follow rules and try to do everything ‘right’ and wanted things to be as perfect as possible. As we all know, things do not usually end up like that.
One thing a few of the pregnancy books and my birth class talked about was having a ‘birth plan.’ This should be right up my alley right? Organization, plans…I usually love this kind of stuff. Some books even suggested writing it down and giving it to your doctor and labor and delivery nurses. I understand that everyone has a preference when it comes to birth plans and I realize that it is my body and I should be in control of what goes on but it felt weird to me to write down what I wanted to happen when I had no idea what was going to happen. I had a few preferences that where important to me but I also did not want to go in to the hospital with the doctor who I had trusted with my care over the last 10 months and be so set in my ways that I would be inflexible in what was best for baby. What I think it ultimately came down to? If I made a plan and was not able to follow it or things did not go just as I imagined, I would be more disappointed than if I never had a plan in the first place.
The few things that were very important to me were (and I will do these again with the birth of BB2):
Letting the umbilical cord continue to pump blood and nutrients into my baby until it stopped. There is research on the benefits of not cutting the cord right away.
Having my baby skin to skin immediately after the birth for at least an hour afterwards. Again, much research showing a lot of health benefits of this including temperature regulation and strengthening the bond between baby and mother.
Not disposing of my placenta as I actually had mine encapsulated (you can find articles both supporting this and saying that there is no real benefit).
Only having my husband and sister in the room with me.
I also ideally did not want a C-section due to the fact it is major surgery and the recovery is longer. Would I have had a C-section if necessary? Of course, all I really wanted was to deliver a healthy baby and I was honestly willing to do anything to make that happen. I had complete trust in my doctor which for me was very important. Even if all of the things listed above did not happen, how could you be disappointed when you are holding your baby for the first time?
People also asked me if I was going to have a ‘natural’ child birth and honestly I had no idea. I had never given birth before so I had no idea what to expect. Would I like the least amount of drugs? Maybe? I guess? I was going to try but if I ended up needing an epidural then I would get one. All I wanted to do was hold a healthy baby! I feel that there is a stigma with natural birth vs. having an epidural and other methods. I feel that many women are shamed for either not deciding to have 100% natural birth no matter what it takes or who end up getting an epidural once in the process. How does anyone know what is best for your body besides you and the professionals assisting with the birth? Whose place is it to judge how you should bring your baby into this world?
So after 2 ½ years of trying to get Caleb in my womb….he did not want to come out. 🙂 At 41 weeks, I was induced. I was initially crying and so sad that I was not going to go into labor on my own. Then 30 minutes before we were supposed to arrive at the hospital to be induced, we were called to say we would have to wait as 5 ladies who were in actual labor had just come in. I was devastated again and started crying because now I had accepted the induction and I just wanted that baby out.:) Talk about emotional roller coaster…my poor hubby had no idea what I wanted at this point.
After I was finally induced, I spent the next 6 hours in ‘natural’ labor with no results. After 6 hours, the nurse told me I was still only 2 cm dilated, which I had been for 2 weeks. We were not getting anywhere. She did not want to give me Pitocin as that would just cause me to contract harder (which I was contracting, just not dilating). She suggested, but NEVER pressured an epidural since she thought it would relax me. We decided to go for it as at this point it was 2 am and with no food and sleep, I knew we could still have a long road ahead of us. I also got in the hot tub to help relax. After the epidural, I went from 2 cm to 9 cm in 45 min. It was time to party. After 2 ½ hours of pushing (which my Dr. told me she thought it would only be about 45 min of pushing). FYI, never give a Type A person a time limit as that is what I counted on…I watched that clock like I was doing a workout. After 45 min…I thought..where is my baby? You told me 45 min! Caleb’s head kept hitting my pelvis bone and could not get out. Towards the end of the 2 ½ hours, his heart rate started to drop due to the stress. My Dr. looked right at me and said ‘get this baby out with the next push.’ I was starting to panic a bit, looked right at her and got that baby out! She was close to using the forceps but luckily I was able to get him out. The most surreal experience I have ever had and regardless of the pain and stress, I am ready to do it again in 5 weeks! Did it go as I planned? I have no idea, because I did not plan anything. 🙂 It was amazing, awesome and I was not disappointed. I had a beautiful healthy baby boy who I had waited a long time to meet.
My client and I were talking about expectations and birth plans as she has had 4 C-sections and feels that so many moms feel guilty after having a C-section if they have to. Her friend was so freaked out to have a C-section because her baby was breech. But as my client beautifully stated, “The birth is the first time your baby meets you. The first time to lead by example when things don’t go as expected. It’s the baby that should be the focus, not regretting how the baby got here.” Love this. What a beautiful way to sum up that every birth is beautiful no matter how it happens. I respect everyone’s birth plan as it is their plan, not mine.
So what’s my plan for BB2? To have a healthy baby. Again, I have those few preferences but at the end of the day, what matters to me is completing my family.
Last week my best friend shared a blog post about a “1200 calorie myth.” This is supposedly where if a women wants to lose weight she needs to do cardio and limit her calories to 1200 per day. I commented on it, thanking her for posting and talking about how I do not think calorie counting works, but for years I tried to track my calories.
She responded that she is “not sure who has the time to freakin count EVERY meal-seriously how about everyone put in the time they’d spend figuring out how many ‘cals’ are in each meal and apply it towards working out and just enjoying life!!” I responded that I probably eat 1200 calories by lunchtime for which she replied that I needed that for my growing baby. The funny thing is I was referring to not being pregnant! This got me thinking about how much time I spent in the past trying to pretty much do the impossible….accurately count calories.
First of all, to determine the number of calories in a food, it must be done in a completely controlled environment. This setting is pretty much impossible to replicate to determine the exact number of calories in a food outside of a lab. They have even done studies where Registered Dieticians were asked to count the number of calories in a meal and they were all almost completely off by a significant amount. How big is the apple you are eating? Was the chicken breast 4 oz. or 6 oz.? People also grossly underestimate the number of calories they eat and overestimate the number of calories they burn. Think about it, it takes a lot of effort to burn off 300 calories but only takes a few min to consume that much.
I spent too much of my life trying to count calories and obsessing over food, but I honestly think I have made the most progress in this area since becoming a mother. As I have talked a little bit about before in my blogs, though I never have struggled with eating disorders I have definitely struggled and to be honest still struggle with body image issues (which I personally think a majority of women do in some way). I also personally feel extra pressure since I work in the fitness field. I want to be able to ‘walk the walk’ and be a good role model for my clients and participants in my classes. Even though I hope to help women become strong and confident and help them eat healthy and find joy in exercise, this does not mean I am exempt from worrying what my body looks like. And as many women can relate, many issues come up during pregnancy when you are expected to gain 25-35lbs. This can be very challenging for many women.
I would not say that gaining the 29lbs I did with Caleb was necessarily ‘hard’ mentally for me as I was so grateful to finally get pregnant and I knew I needed to gain weight for a healthy baby but I still worked out a lot. I knew it was good for mother and baby but it was also to keep my weight gain in control. I did not necessarily see myself as ‘cute’ when pregnant and still definitely was challenged with gaining weight in other areas such as my arms, face etc. Getting back to into shape after having him was challenging physically and mentally. My body had never been through something like that and I was not exactly thrilled with the way my stomach muscles were stretched out and how hard it was to get back into shape since I have always considered myself in shape.
However, what I noticed the most after having Caleb was my mindset shift. For one, I have never known a hunger like I did the first 6 weeks after giving birth. Not only was I exhausted (which does make you hungrier, but not necessarily in a good way since your stress hormones are out of whack), my body was healing and you actually need more calories when breastfeeding than you ever do pregnant. I had to feed that hunger and I had to learn to let go of my ego and fuel my body to properly take care of my new son. I had to let go of the idea of losing the weight fast since I did not want to compromise my breastmilk stores and know I needed to keep up my energy anyway I could.
Also, my life was just turned completely upside down. Gone were the days where I could plan every meal and workout every day and be completely on my own schedule. I was suddenly on the schedule of this tiny little human that I was figuring out how to take care of. Though I still tried to make healthy choices the majority of the time, I just honestly did not have the mental or physical energy or capacity to be so controlling over my food. One of the biggest changes I made naturally was to go down to 4 meals a day. For years, I had been eating 5 meals a day (3 main meals and 2 snacks) since that is what was ‘recommended’ to keep your metabolism revving. But honestly, by the time I got up, fed the baby, changed the baby, maybe tried to get in a short workout or walk, I was not eating breakfast until at least 9 am and then a few hours later I was ready for lunch vs. having a snack and then lunch after that. I actually still do this now…I basically have cut out that mid-morning snack unless I get up super early. I am just not as hungry as early anymore. (Coffee is and always will be a must though! 🙂 ) Though this may seem silly to some, it was kind of a big deal to me as I was so regimented that I would worry that if I did not have my morning snack, I would over indulge at lunch and then not be hungry for my afternoon snack which might mean I eat too much for dinner and so on. Wow. That was a lot of energy going into having a snack or not. I learned how to be flexible with my meals and really trying to listen to my body and eat when I am hungry, not necessarily when the clock tells me it is time. This is something I am really trying to teach to my clients. If you feel satisfied, good during your workouts and during the day and are seeing the results you want or maintaining where you want to be it really does not matter if you have 2 meals a day or 7 meals a day. Do what works for you. There is no magic formula for everyone.
Another big change is the overall amount of exercise I do. I looked at old exercise journals and saw that I would workout in the morning and then maybe do an hour Hot Yoga class at night. WTF? Who has time for that? Now, I strive for 45-60 min about 6 days a week, which I know is a lot to most people but that is significantly less than what I used to do. I also used to teach group exercise classes 4 times a week and would sometimes do workouts on top of that! I used to do SO much cardio and you know the funny thing?? I literally weigh the same amount (referring to my non-pregnant weight) when I do endless hours of cardio as I do when I keep my workouts short, intense and more strength based and I HAVE so much more time. There main reason for this was that the endless hours of cardio or working out in general was driving my hunger levels through the roof. I would workout more and then eat more. When I workout less with shorter, more intense workouts, my hunger is not nearly as high. The exception to this rule for me is when I am training for triathlons. I love doing a few short races every year. I know I will be doing more hours of cardio which will mean my hunger will go up, which is fine as it is for a specific reason. I do not do triathlons to lose weight or lean out. I do them because I enjoy them. I also know that I do not want to do any more long races as I personally feel that it puts my body out of whack.
Now, do not get me wrong, I still struggle with body issues. I still have moments when I look in the mirror and wish my arms were leaner and I was a little less body fat. Or wonder if my clients think I look fit enough. Or feel guilty if I over indulged etc. BUT I feel that I have come a long way since becoming a mother. Days I hear Caleb say ‘love you mommy’ or he does something silly, I could really care less about how much exercise I got in that day but trust me, it has taken me awhile to get here. I think I am learning to be kinder and more forgiving as being a mom is hard! I still work on these issues every day.
Now, I also still believe in taking care of yourself as a mom. I do not think that just because you are a mom means that 100% of your entire day should be focused on your kids and that you should totally give up exercising, eating well and taking care of yourself. I know it is cliché to say it but we all know we take care of others better when we take care of ourselves first. I think we should workout to feel strong, be our best and lose the baby weight for health purposes. I just realized that I could not be or want to be as controlling or obsessed about it. I want that mental energy going towards raising my children and other areas of my life.
I honestly think my next challenge will be ‘coming back’ after my second baby is born as now I will be handling 2 kids under the age of 3. I know I am going to put a lot of pressure on myself to get back into shape and lose the baby weight faster than maybe I should and it might not be the same as it was with Caleb. But I will try to remember how far I have come with my mindset and take it one day at a time.
2011 Pre-baby when I was doing A LOT of exercise but weighed the same as I do post-baby.