Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Workin' On My Fitness

First of all, can someone please tell me why I never invested in maternity workout clothes!? (Oh that's right, because I didn't work out during my last pregnancy). Hahaha! Seriously though, I was getting agitated through every workout trying to keep my pants up and my shirts from hiking up over my belly (super cute look, by the way). I finally found some full panel workout pants and a maternity racerback top, and I felt like I could have walked 10 miles on the treadmill with a smile on my face. Genius. Let's not talk about the fact that since I only own the one pair I haven't been washing them very much. Hardly ever.

Moving on. I want to talk bit (you know, an entire post's worth) about fitness during pregnancy. It took me a long time to lose the 'baby weight' and get back in shape after Ben was born. You can read about that journey here. This time around, I knew how important it was for me to focus on healthier food choices and daily activity. Aside from simply surviving that first trimester, I've done pretty well and I'm fairly happy with the few pounds I've gained so far. I still stand by my mantra that it isn't necessarily about the weight, but rather about the health and overall feeling of fitness. But HELLO, let's do a quick comparison of my pregnancies thus far so I can make you a believer of exercise too.

When I was TWO MONTHS pregnant with Ben, I weighed MORE THAN I DO NOW!!!! And I'm almost six months pregnant right now. Did you hear that? Crazy. I know this info because the first go around I went to a doctor's clinic that tracked all of my vitals online so I can joyously go and see what my blood pressure and weight was on any specific date. Lovely. Anyway...when I got pregnant with Ben I weighed more than I do obviously working hard to exercise and get in better shape before getting pregnant this go around had a huge impact. My belly is still bigger, because my uterus already knows what's up, but my overall body and health is much improved. I've only gained ten pounds this pregnancy, which for me is a huge huge huge deal. While looking at my old chart I was shocked to see that when I was 5 months pregnant with Ben I already weighed what my total goal weight is for this entire pregnancy. Let's take a little side by side look and compare my first pregnancy vs. my second pregnancy at similar gestation.
Being physically active throughout pregnancy is so important. Here are two photo examples of lovely ladies who exercised regularly and had great labor and deliveries, and postpartum periods. Mal (who taught fitness classes up until her due date) and Lena (who had a home birth). This isn't to say we ALL should look/feel this way before or after giving birth. Female bodies are all created differently and we should never feel ashamed of the skin we live in. We all know I didn't look super lovely after Ben was born (click here for a shot of my 3 month postpartum belly), and I'm not ashamed of that whatsoever, and those stretch marks will never ever make me feel badly. However, I do wish I would have put a bigger emphasis on fitness during my first pregnancy, it might have made a big difference in how our labor and delivery turned out. I'm really focused on doing everything in my power to have a positive birth outcome this time, and I'm so focused on achieving my vbac that it makes clear cut sense to have the physical stamina to endure a natural labor.

Along with regular exercise, I've cleaned up my diet quite a bit in the past year. Admittedly, I didn't eat most fabulously during the first trimester. I was all about the carbs. The only thing that kept that pesky nausea at bay was bread, cereal, and...bread. Past those first few weeks I got back into my regular habits. We eat a lot of eggs, nuts, vegetables, and lean meats. It's definitely made a difference in the amount of weight I've gained in this pregnancy versus with Ben (I'm also not teaching 60+hours a week and eating all the break room goodies!) In this pregnancy I also started to notice how awful I would feel (rapid heart rate/palpitations/gut aches/headaches) when I ate much of anything processed, anything with sugar, or foods that transferred into sugar. I've cut down to mostly protein, fats, and fruits/veggies low on the glycemic index. It's helped tremendously! Even though I KNOW the facts about food, I'm always amazed at how much food=life and how simple changes in our diet can make a world of difference for our overall wellness.
The biggest ways I've been staying on top of my health, wellness, and fitness this time around are fairly straight forward. I recognize the mistakes I made last time. This time, I was mostly healthy going into my pregnancy. I had already changed my eating habits (but that doesn't mean I don't indulge from time to time, obviously). I weigh myself every other day or so, because for ME, that's how I stay on top of where I'm at and where I'm going. I work out about 5 times a week, and I stay on track of my diet. All of this isn't to say I feel perfect. I'm not exactly where I visualized myself to be in this pregnancy and it's taken some mental work to get over that block. I wanted to weigh less before getting pregnant (but I also wasn't willing to let that number on a scale decide when we would grow our family). I'm not fond of beating myself up over past decisions. All I can do is focus on where I am in this moment, and go from there. I hope this helps give you a glimpse of what I'm focused on right now and what I'm striving for.

Here's a 'typical' day of food and exercise (also, Ben eats what I eat but I usually add more fats to his meals like butter, or toast, or extra cheese slices, etc):

Breakfast: 3-4 scrambled eggs with half an avocado/mineral salt, and berries. 20 ounces of water with Vitamin D supplement, Vit.C, prenatal, probiotic, DHA/Omega 3.

Mid-Morning Snack: Tea, banana, green smoothie, shake, or muffin made with coconut flour/chia.

Lunch: Salad of fresh spinach, seeds, cucumber, green onion, avocado, black beans, hard-boiled egg or chicken, tomatoes with drizzle of avocado oil. A few cheese slices and an apple. Prenatal vitamin. Or if we have leftovers from dinner I eat those.

Afternoon Snack: Glass of milk, pistachios, hummus and carrots.

Dinner: Chicken kabobs, salmon patties, tuna melts, farm raised beef...with broccoli/asparagus/salad/steamed carrots/brussel sprouts...and quinoa/rice, etc. Prenatal vitamin and Vit.C. (Basically dinner is usually a pretty boring combination of protein and vegetables).

Evening Snack: I only eat an evening snack a few nights a week, and it's usually a small rice cake with peanut butter, or a mandarin orange, maybe a handful of cinnamon almonds. Nothing big.

Total water consumption per day is around 80 to 100 ounces.

Exercise: I wish I could change my ways, but night time seems to be my prime zone for working out. Ideally I would get up when my husband wakes up early for work and get it in, but I really like sleeping until my son gets up. Nap time seems to be a lull where I just need to either rest or do stuff I can't get accomplished when Ben is awake. So, usually, but not always, I workout in the evening when my husband puts Ben to bed.

30-45 minutes of cardio on the treadmill (usually equates to 2-3.5 miles)
Leg press (working a lot on lower body strength)
Chest press, bicep curls
Push-ups alternated with pelvic rocks, leg kicks
Kegels on the exercise ball alternated with squats and lunges
Back stretches, deep breathing, self-mediatting on positivity

**I am currently doing two weeks of the 21 Day Fix workouts in combination with the treadmill. I obviously modify a lot of the moves, or do kegels on my ball if there is hard ab work going on (too much core work puts strain on my ligaments and causes my scar tissue/nerves to bother me big time). Beside, what isn't motivating about working out with a bunch of gorgeous, ab laden women? (She said with sarcasm). Ha!
Writing this all down makes me feel kind of exhausted. Ha! But really I am feeling so so good. My exercise has been kind of hit or miss in terms of getting into a good groove and routine, but for the past three weeks I've been steady and strong. I can't believe I am going to be in my third trimester in less than 3 weeks. The time is zipping by! Phew. Thanks for reading along, I think this might be one of those posts that is more for me to look back at in the future (if you made it this far, high fives!)

What are or were your pregnancy health, wellness, and fitness goals? What are some of the things you did that contributed to your success?
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Sunday, October 12, 2014


Finally (finally) got around to linking up with the lovely Hannah for the Currently link-up. Here's what's up with the laugh clan lately.
| Thinking | 
I can't stop thinking (as a funny, auto correct just made that 'thinking' a 'tinkling', which also would have been appropriate. I seriously can't stop tinkling all the time). Hahahaha...okay but I really do drink nearly 100 oz of water a day. Anyway, moving on from my bathroom habits. I can't stop THINKING about how much I love and adore my midwife. I feel so blessed that she exists and treats me with so much care and respect. It's such a drastically different experience than with my Ben and I couldn't be more overjoyed, and at peace looking forward to our labor and birth of baby girl.

| Making | 
I've been cooking and baking a lot of really fun things lately. Check out my fall favorites post from earlier this week for some yummy ideas. Other than that, I've been making the opposite of money. As in, I'm planning a new nursery for baby and the funds at this point are definitely going out, not in. I did guest teach 6th grade this week and definitely brought in enough to cover 1/38th of the new dresser. :-P

We also made our pumpkins this weekend. Ben thought it was great fun! We gave him an orange dry erase marker to scribble on his pumpkin while we carved, and coincidently, we now have orange marker on our dining room table.
| Wearing | 
A smile, and a 24 week baby bump. Okay, but not to be too cliche, I'm mostly wearing maternity jeans (basically denim sweatpants), and the same maternity shirts day in and day out. It's perfect. Although I DID just happen to order some maternity workout pants that I'm excited to try out tonight (and feature in an upcoming fitness post)!
| Anticipating |
This is the time of year full of delightful things! Next week we get to see my Dad, celebrate our anniversary, and we might go camping if it's not raining. At the end of the month we are headed to North Carolina to see family. In November of course there is weekend trips to see friends, I hit the third trimester, and Thanksgiving being hosted by us in our new home! I can't think past November.

| Thankful For |
Women. There are amazing, strong, giving, kind, supportive women everywhere if you seek them out. I reached out asking for breast milk donations for a friend tonight, and within moments had someone willing to give 600 ounces to a new baby in need. This community of mothers, of women...brings me to tears sometimes.

As always, I continue to be thankful and blessed by this magical piece of earth we call home. Oh Northwest, I love you so.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Fall Favorites

This year, I am so jazzed about fall! It's just that dreamy month before it gets wet and soggy here in the Northwest, when the sky is blue and the trees are orange. The mornings dewey, the afternoons crisp, and the sunsets extraordinary.
I'm probably busy doing the same things the rest of you are doing...pumpkin everything, soups, books, fires, walks in the leaves, and afternoons at the pumpkin patch.
It's just truly such a wonderful time of year! In the spirit of the season, here are some very favorite fall recipes from the archives here at Hand and the Heart and my other favorite blogs around the internet! Enjoy!

| Apple Cider Doughnut Holes |
These were a fun treat to make at home, and super delicious. And terrible for your health. But oh so good.

| Banana Pumpkin Bread |
I love banana bread! Add some cinnamon and pumpkin and voila-autum in a loaf.

This one is from my grandma, and it's delicious. What better way to use up all those fall apples?

You read that right. Pie...IN a cupcake. My friend Lena is baker extraordinare (did I just make that word up? Spell check thinks I did).

I only wish the Pioneer Woman and I were friends in real life. In the meantime, I'll delightfully consume her soup. It's amazing. Our toddler had two huge bowls. I'm in love.

I'm sure I've shared this here before. It's my all time favorite. Favorite! My SIL made it a few years ago at Thanksgiving and I've been a fan ever since. I use pine nuts instead of chestnuts, and it's basically the best thing ever. 

My friend Whitney posted these last year and they are still one of my faves. Can you just imagine the smell wafting through your house right now? 

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Monday, October 6, 2014

How I Healed

Healing from a traumatic birth experience can be a long and painful journey, and it can often take a long time to feel free. Free to accept the past, free to help others, free to be a new you. Before I get into this piece, I would like to remind all of us that 'traumatic' is by definition for the woman who has been through the experience to define only. There are women who have had traumatic vaginal births, and women who have had peaceful cesareans. We are not to judge or assume what someone else's experience has been for them.
There are very serious and emotional reasons why a section can be awful and anguishing, not to mention the ways in which a woman heals physically from a major cesarean surgery. The nerve pain, infection, fear of laughing or sneezing or crying, the inability to pick up your newborn baby without help, the reorganization of your innards and constipation which ultimately leads to poop the size of baseballs. Overshare? I could go on. The physical recovery contributes in many ways to the difficulty of dealing with the big emotion feelings, too.

I got an email the other night from a woman I don't know, thanking me for sharing my cesarean story, and asking me for help...and it brought me to hot tears. Not only because it isn't the first of it's kind, but because this kind of pain even exists for women. It should not be this way, for any of us. A traumatic birth experience isn't about the loss of how we hoped to bring our babies into the world, although that's a huge part of it. It's about how we are treated. HOW we are treated-as humans, as women, as mothers. Are our wishes respected? Are we cared for? Does the doctor understand this is a major and transformational life event for us? Birth matters.

I think back to those moments leading up to when the cesarean was pushed on us. What a difference it would have made for my husband and I if the doctor we had never met before had touched me. Looked me in the eye. Understood what a difficult and different than we expected experience this was going to be for us. Walked us through it and asked us questions. It should have been family centered, with my husband by my side the entire time. I shouldn't have been alone, writhing through the agony of contractions on my back with an epidural that didn't take, then numb to the lips from a spinal and terrified I couldn't breathe. Alone. My son should have been brought to my chest and we shouldn't have been apart. The surgery and loss of birth still would have been painful, no doubt, but oh what a huge change that would have made for me if I were treated differently.
I've talked a lot in the past couple of years about the pain of our birth experience with Ben. No word short of devastating could describe those days, for a very long long time. I've talked about the birth with my rose colored glasses, I've talked about the experience with real and unfiltered emotion and grief. I'm talked about the months I was left in a fog, struggling with depression and loneliness. I've shared how we overcame the serious breastfeeding hurdles. I've asked other women to graciously share their stories. I've talked about why I share. (Go ahead, I'll wait while you read through all of those links to catch up). :)
I don't personally know the woman who sent me that email the other night, but on another intimate level I felt like I did, because she was me. I looked up at my husband, angry and sad and anxious with needing to find the right words to send back to her. How could I support her, love her, hug her, tell her it would be okay? He asked me if I had ever shared how I healed, and I haven't. Because maybe I didn't realize that, for the most part, I have.

I will always be sad that I didn't feel safe in my labor. I will always feel heartbroken that I missed so many early moments of my son's life, that will forever be lost to a sea of fog, sleep, and drugs. I will always be disheartened that unnecessary cesareans are all too common and that far too many women are suffering. I will never shake that desperate longing to be the first to hold my wet newborn, outcrying for his mama, offering him my breast to soothe his heart. But my son will never care that he took his first breaths through that scar on my stomach. He will care that I've loved him unequivocally. I would suffer through that horrible hospital experience a thousand times if it meant it's the only way I got to have him here with me. And that, is the perspective that pulled me through. There are parents who have suffered immeasurable losses, ones that I cannot even fathom. And I get my son. That one moment when my stomach was ripped open will always define me, but I get to be my son's mother for the rest of his life, and all of those moments are worth it.

If you are where I was, please know it will get better. Please know there are thousands of us out here who 'get it' and know exactly how you are feeling without you needing to say a single word. I know the feeling of having your birth ripped away from you. The scary moments. The memories lost. The inability to forgive yourself for choices made. The 'what if's, the misdirected anger, the pain.
Let me tell you, walking around your grief is a sure way of knowing you will meet it again head on at another point down the road. Confronting it head on-the anger, the sadness, the resentment, is the only way to grow and move forward. You simply cannot avoid facing yourself or your past your entire life. If you avoid pain and truthful emotions you will implode. Sometimes we have to face the unbearable, ugly, painful realities of our lives because real transformation requires real honesty.

So write about it! Share it. Find a woman who has been there, for no one else knows your heart like she does. Join a support group. I feel so blessed to have found a cesarean group that meets once a month, because it's really where the curtain started lifting for me. Mostly, remember it's okay to be sad. It's okay to always carry that with you, but at some point, let it go. For the sake of that beautiful, bright-eyed child sitting in front of you, loving you with all their heart...let it go. Release it to the world.

Also remember your spouse, or birth partner. The experience has probably left a huge impact on them. My husband was so focused on me for a long time that he didn't realize he went through trauma as well-watching his wife suffer, feeling out of control, feeling responsible. It's important to heal together, to talk about it together and hear one another's perspective. I've only seen my husband cry four times in our marriage-once when I was being prepped for the cesarean, and the other when we mourned the loss of our birth together, weeks later. Remember that as parents, you are a team, and you can help one another through the tough times.

I'm looking forward with peace and calm in my heart toward our next birth experience as we plan for a vbac with our daughter. There was no circumstance under which I would accept a repeat cesarean as a substitute for a supported labor with a midwife. I also knew I wouldn't be able to carry another life inside me and carry out this natural process until I put the pieces of Ben's birth in the box where they belonged. Healing is good for yourself, your spouse, your child, and any future births you have ahead of you.

I know there are probably a few readers who have trouble reading these posts, either they are too emotional, too heavy, or they aren't something you can really relate to. But for the rest of you, please know I won't stop talking about it, I won't stop being here for you.
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"For all of you strong, beautiful, amazing Mothers who selflessly gave birth on an operating table ... recovering for only two nights in a noisy, uncomfortable hospital room after undergoing MAJOR abdominal surgery, then discharged and sent home to take care of your newborn 24/7 while your body was going through a long, painful healing process along with the emotional challenges post-op and adaptation to parenthood ... I stand in sacred respect and deeply honor you. And to the many partners who stood beside your beloved during her cesarean - I know it took great courage and strength to take that first step into the operating room, where you were surrounded by very bright lights, masked and uniformed strangers, beeping machines, surgical instruments, bloody gauze pads, unfamiliar noises and her body strapped to the operating table as she was feeling nauseated, scared and with tears in her eyes - I want to acknowledge you too. Your presence alone was one of the greatest gifts you could give her.” -Patti Ramos

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Art of Taking Pregnant Selfies at 22 Weeks

I wasn't quite sure when I would get around to posting my first 'real' baby bump-date, but it looks like I will hit publish around 22 weeks. I think. It's funny, when I was pregnant with Ben, I could tell you the exact week and day in terms of how far along I was. Now, I have to go look at the calendar, or think back to a monumental date and count from there. I know, I's kind of tricky because I look about 67 weeks pregnant in these photos. Did you miss the big announcement? Head back here and read up.
I've been feeling really great, although I can definitely tell my body is struggling a bit more with this pregnancy. Even though my health is better than it was a couple of years ago, I'm also 30 years old. Let's remind ourselves that biologically, the prime time for baby makin' is somewhere around the ripe age of 16. Ha! Not to say we should all be poppin' out babes in high school, but still, I'm past my prime. My body agrees. My hips ache a little more, my sciatic nerve troubles me daily, my lower back protests when I've done too much. So emotionally and mentally I feel great, but physically it has been a tad more wearing. Keeping up with exercise (which for the moment only includes walking), good food choices, and chiropractic care really helps. Traveling to France, and coming home were both ROUGH. I was stuck in the jet lag time suck for days and felt dizzy, woozy, and exhausted. Traveling while pregnant was harder than I thought it would be, for sure.

Speaking of traveling, I ate a lot of French pastries while in Paris. I thought all the walking and miles of bike riding would even out the scale, but all the scale did was go up. Three pounds to be exact. Yes, I ate three pounds worth of pastries, cheese, and pasta on our trip. Sorry, thighs. In any event, I'm trying not to be overly concerned with 'weight gain' this time around, but it was definitely time to get back to drinking my spinach pond scum breakfast smoothies and snacking on carrots and pistachios for snacks. It's hard not to compare pregnant body types, weight gains, etc, but that just isn't healthy for anyone. I'm also coming to the conclusion that I'm just one of those pregnant women who gets big in the belly. Also, I'm 5'10 and I would say larger than the average female frame. I'm just not tiny. A French woman asked me if I would be going into labor soon (insert cry here), but luckily I thought better of hitting her over the head with my baguette. So needless to say, I've accepted that I might grow big babies, and I'm okay with that. Now to endure all the endless comments for the next 3.5 to 4 months about whether or not I'm growing twins. Le sigh.

So let's talk about food. Because food is my love language (see above paragraph about the 3 pounds of pastry weight). My husband and I cut out drinking cow's milk a couple of years ago, and I was totally okay with that. Until that little pee stick showed two lines of positivity. Now, I am drinking ALL the whole cow's milk. Gallons of it. It's disgusting, but I can't stop. The body wants, what the body wants, right? This go around I also haven't been overly concerned with all the 'rules' we have about food and pregnancy here in the great United States. This means I've definitely eaten deli meats, an abundance of local seafood, a swab or two of raw cookie dough, drank unpasteurized juices, raw milk, and wine. In moderation, of course. From trusted sources, of course. No one freak out. Oh, and some coffee here and there. I also rode my horse. Oh, and a few bicycles. Pretty much many of the things you aren't 'supposed' to do. But hey, as far as we know, baby is healthy, mama is healthy, and we are all happy. Pastries and rule breaking aside, a typical day includes a lot of eggs, avocados, spinach smoothies, cheese, apples, carrots, nuts, quinoa/rice, broccoli, home raised beef or chicken, seafood, etc. You get the idea. I don't always eat chocolate eclairs and croissants. :)
Baby girl is a mover, and a shaker (and a roller, and a bumper, and...). I felt her move for the first time around 16-17 weeks, and my husband felt her move from the outside for the first time just a couple of weeks ago! It's such an insane difference from my pregnancy with Ben...I don't think I started to really feel intense movements until he was closer to 23 weeks gestation. I love lying on my back in the middle of the night and feeling her consistent movement, tight against my abdomen. A joyful reminder of the life growing inside.

We knew our girl name before we even conceived (which is a relief because we were coming to blows over a boy name). It's really special and full of meaning. We love it so much! If we are 'real life' pals I will happily share her name with you, but for the sake of online media, I will be referring to her as Baby E.

There's not much else to share at the moment. I'm sure I'll be checking back in again in a couple of weeks! In the meantime, please enjoy my self-narrated talk about the art of taking pregnant selfies in your bathroom. During my first pregnancy, I planned all sorts of cute (and regular) weekly bump-dates. Look at me here at 23 weeks with Ben! I'm outside! There are flowers! A cute dress and cardigan! This time, dirty bathroom mirror selfies. Maybe I'll get the ball rolling and have my husband take some better ones as we go along. I'm only marginally embarrassed by the toothpaste splatter. Anyway, focus on the bump.
Ooops. Banana peel in the shot. Definitely make sure when taking a pregnant selfie you don't have any garbage in the photo as well. 
It's 6:30 in the morning. Maybe not the best time to take selfies. Head tilt? No.
Definitely try out the cheesy face at least once. 
Or maybe just go for the "Mutant baby in my belly" face.
I doubt anyone is noticing the horizontal stripes accentuating the belly at this point. Just my face. My weird face.
Then it maybe just starts to get really weird. Also take note again that 6:30 a.m. is not prime time for photo taking (heyo baggy eyes).
The mouth open face usually looks good. She said with sarcasm.
Well, crap. If all else fails, just go for the Zoolander look.
I don't even know. If it gets to this point you should probably just give up and ask your husband to take all your photos for you from this point forward.
OR, just revert back to the open mouth face. 
I think I might just need to start creating an album of pregnant selfie outtakes. Most of these will be included. :) Also, send your bump photo tips my way please!

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