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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

why I'm embracing maternity pants post-partum

I had my baby 4 months ago, and I went shopping for maternity pants this weekend. 
Yup, it's true, and I'm not ashamed in any way.

I don't fit into my pre-pregnancy pants yet. Not by a long shot. They are way too tight to wear normally and comfortably.

I have had some health issues in the months after my c-section so I've just started walking lately as far as exercise goes, no where near the running 7 days a week I was doing pre-pregnancy.
I also have a fibroid, which enlarges my uterus to the size of a 5-month pregnancy at least.
So, yeah, I'm not back into those pants I used to wear. Instead I'm rocking some maternity pants.
And here's the thing, I'm realizing this is A-OK.

And quite honestly, no "excuses" or reasoning is necessary.
I had a baby. I gained weight from having that baby. Then I took care of that baby and healed my body post-c-section major surgery. And I'm not in my pre-baby-took-over-my-body pants. So be it. It's OK.

The first two months I gave myself a pass, wearing maternity felt totally fine because the bigger belly was still kinda there. And with a c-section incision, it was easier to wear elastic waists versus zippers on jeans. And who the heck had time with a newborn around to find my pre-pregnancy pants anyway.

Then the third month came along, nearing the end of maternity leave, and I was wearing mostly black stretch pants every day but trying to wear "normal" outfits on weekends and preparing to return to work and wear regular professional attire every day. I felt pressure to get into some type of pants, not my pre-pregnancy ones per se but I tried a few on wondering if I could squeeze into them. No go. So before I went back to work I tossed out all the really obvious maternity pants like with the huge belly wrap thing that drove me nuts even when pregnant. But I kept the tiny low rise type panel maternity pants, just two pairs, I told myself, it was cool, until I adjusted.

Well then a few weeks into working I realized I had nothing to wear. So I went out and bought two pairs of professional maternity pants with the tiny elastic waist band, not really maternity right? It was like the pants I'd wear at the start of pregnancy, when you are wishing the belly will grow just so you can wear some cute new maternity pants. That was cool for a few weeks until I realized I was so uncomfortable, needing to wash the pants over and over, and just again uncomfortable.

So this weekend I went shopping with my mom. I found some bigger shirts that make me feel better with all the nursing changes that have occurred on the top half. They aren't my typical size medium, but who cares?! And I stumbled into the maternity pants aisle. And I bought two pairs, again with that low panel thing around the belly.

And guess what?! They fit awesome on my legs and my waist feels snug and comfy, instead of pinched and ridiculous. And nobody can tell. I could care less if they could tell at this point. I don't wear maternity clothes daily. I have some standbys from pre-pregnancy I fit in. But hey, whatever works.

I'm in transition. I'm morphing from pre-pregnancy body to post-pregnancy body. And I've been stretched and altered. It was for a fantastic reason. 

I didn't just eat chips and chocolate all day (OK I did eat chocolate most days...). I didn't just ignore being healthy. I ate veggies and fruits, and I was physically active for most of those days. But I have bigger things to worry about right now than fitting into some mold I'm "supposed" to get back to.

I had three kids in this old body. I carried them, grew with them, delivered them via major surgeries. And I have some health issues as a result, but more importantly I have a stronger than strong body that I'm proud of. It's not the size, shape or weight I'd like. But I'm embracing it right now.

I've felt SO down the last few weeks, not having energy or time to workout how I wish I could and how I've done before. Not fitting into anything. Feeling like I'm in this awkward in between body stage. It's temporary, but not temporary enough it feels like.

Until I realized recently, IT'S OK. 
I'm OK.
The body is OK. 
I just need to embrace where I'm at right now and make small changes every day to get back to feeling comfortable in my skin.

Part of that feeling comfortable part is walking more during my day and drinking more water, but also part of it includes buying maternity pants that look awesome and fit nicely.

And I'm OK with this.

To all the moms who are trying to diet and exercise within hours or weeks of delivering a watermelon size child... give yourself a break. Be patient with the process. I know for sure you know how to be patient, even if you aren't feeling it right now. Because you delivered that baby. You grew that baby first, and it took SO long to grow and morph and change. You were patient with that process because it's all you had, you had to be patient and wait it out. You knew it was temporary.

So treat your post-pregnancy body the same. Be patient with it. Do your best to be healthy and make good choices. But know that it won't all happen overnight, and it's not supposed to. You've heard it said before and now need to believe it: it took 9 months to put on that weight and change your body to have a baby, it's going to take at least 9 months to take it off. 

So find things that make you feel more comfortable in this transition time. My good friend sent me a longer necklace that makes me feel pretty and more comfortable with the larger chest area. My sister reminds me to wear cute scarves, which I wasn't really into pre-nursing body, but they work great now. My sister also told me to wear longer tunic shirts or dresses with certain pants. There are lots of cool things at Old Navy right now, she suggested.

Work with what you have. Go shopping for some temporary clothes. I know you don't want to spend time / money on things when it's short term. But here's the thing, when you squeeze into clothes that barely fit or hang on to the idea of being in them "soon," you put pressure on yourself that's unnecessary. It's OK however long this process takes. So go to a great consignment store and get cheap items for this transition. Feel good about yourself, or at least try to. Your body just did this HUGE thing having a baby. And it doesn't matter if it's been days, weeks or like 7 months since you had that baby, you "just" had a baby and it's all good to be in this transition phase for a while.

I'm all for exercising, finding your balance of healthy and relaxing, and eating right. I'm all for that. In fact, I feel my BEST when I'm running 7 days a week. So I get it. BUT... when you go through a pregnancy, delivery and then newborn phase and caring for an infant under a year old... your life changes drastically. Other things like how many ounces you're pumping and the baby's shot reactions and researching teething supports become WAY more important than balancing your carbs and veggie intake. Be OK with this for a while.

You're beautiful and strong.
Start acting like you feel that way at least part of the time.
And on the bad days... do something healthy to make yourself feel better: dance party in the living room or while doing dishes, workout video, walk up and down your stairs a few times, crunches with baby on your legs, Vitamin Water, dark chocolate, whatever works!

It's not easy. I get it. I'm right there with you.
But we are worth feeling better about ourselves and the huge jobs our bodies just did having babies. 
So rock those maternity pants or yoga pants or whatever you're wearing. It's ALL OK. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

a batman party!

My silly boy wanted a Batman party this past year turning 7! It was super fun looking for all things Batman. Thank you, Amazon Prime! He's getting older and has tons of friends, so we didn't do too much besides some treat bags and a few decoration plates. We had his party at a trampoline place, so didn't need to do too much there either as far as decorations go. We had a blast!

Matching Batman shirts- of course!

Costumes were optional :) I LOVE that my baby still dresses up in costumes. He's the coolest. Having themed parties like this are sometimes hard to do since I can't Pinterest tons of Batman ideas beyond the cape and costumes, but they are still fun.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

returning to work after maternity leave: tips to survive

I've been back to work for one month now after the birth of my third child and after 14 weeks off for maternity leave. To say it's been challenging is an understatement. Three kids means we're always busy, our weekends are not just for relaxing. We are playing catch up all weekend from running around to dance and basketball, doctors appointments, and just from being tired working all day. It's a bit chaotic. And the process of actually leaving maternity leave behind... that's the hardest part, leaving your baby for the first time. The whole thing is really some type of adjustment for mothers.

Each time I've done this it's been slightly different. It's one thing to leave one baby behind, sad but not as chaotic as it is now with leaving three children behind. So, for whichever stage you are in with leaving the baby to head back to work, know that it's going to be slightly different for you and your experience is only yours. Some of these ideas may not work for you, but I hope at least you find you aren't alone in the struggle.

Most importantly, let me fast forward to the end of this first month of returning to work after maternity leave: YOU CAN DO IT. It DOES get better. I swear. You don't feel that way on day or week one. But it does. Every single day gets better than the last. It's still hard now, a month later. I still don't want to leave the baby on Monday mornings when I go back for another work week. I'm still super tired! I don't exactly have my routine down 100%, BUT it's so much better at week four than week one. I promise you can do it.

Here are some ideas to help you with PREPARING to return to work after maternity leave:
  • Prepare baby ahead of time. This means weeks, even a month or six weeks before returning to work, you start preparing your baby for that transition. DON'T wait. I know way too many moms who wait until a few days before the big first day of daycare to prepare baby. That's way too late, going to cause stress for you and issues for your baby adjusting. Preparing ahead of time, by at least a month, will make things MUCH easier on you in the long run, and of course on your baby. So this means making sure your baby is able to transition to daycare or a sitter's care. If they don't use a swing for naps (which many daycare providers are not permitted by the state) then stop putting baby in the swing for nap at home every time. If they aren't going to hold baby every nap time, then you should give up at least one nap during the day where you aren't holding baby, so he can adjust to laying flat in his crib. Bottles are a big thing. Make sure you prepare baby WAY in advance with bottles. Personally, we use bottles week one home from the hospital and never had nursing confusion, but if you wait to use bottles that is fine, just don't wait until the week before your baby goes to daycare. It's too late. I've heard of way too many moms so upset as they go back to work and their baby is not eating all day long. That is going to make returning to work and adjusting to a new daycare much harder. 
  • Visit the daycare or have the caregiver come over for a few hours. Visit at least twice - for you and your baby's sake. It gives you a chance to warm up to one another. It helps ease some of your worries. It helps baby realize it's ok to go with this new person. Visit the first time where you stay there and talk, hold baby, then have them hold baby in front of you, etc. It's helpful if you've written down what your typical feeding and sleeping routine is with baby before that, so keep track on your phone for about a week to make sure you know what baby is doing so it's easy for caregiver to replicate that, which means a happy baby. A second time drop baby off. It helps to drop baby off for an hour or two first, before having to leave baby for an entire day. Put the babysitter's phone number in your phone, tell your partner to do the same and any emergency backup people, so that if they ever call you recognize the number to answer.
  • Pack the baby's bag. Get out an extra diaper bag to leave at daycare. It makes it much easier on you not having that extra bag to carry daily. Put in at least 4 onesies, 2-4 shirts and pants, a couple of pairs of socks, lots of bibs, a sleep sack, extra bottle and pacifier to keep on hand just in case, diaper rash cream, extra wipes and diapers, etc. Having this done ahead of time is easy to check off the list and a good transition for mom to prepare for leaving baby.
  • Prepare mom ahead of time. Get out the pump. Make sure you have enough bottles to take with you and a storage cooler and ice pack for pumping at work. Imagine leaving your house and what time you estimate you'd need to leave to get to work on time, even try a dry run driving it especially if you commute. Try on work clothes or go purchase maternity pants that are comfy for you to wear in the beginning. Having a few outfits that are go-tos during this busy month are helpful, including some scarves or necklaces for moms breastfeeding as it helps you feel more put together and comfortable. I ordered new nursing bras, things like that you won't be thinking of but are important, so try doing these things ahead of time. Vision going back to work and what you'd need. I had to pack my work bag even, tossing out old papers, getting out my calendar, etc. Buy special snacks that you enjoy at work. All of these little things you can do will help you feel better when it's time to head out the door.
  • Prepare your house. This is good for anyone returning back to work, but mostly for those with multiple kids. This time around I had to make sure we all were ready for mom to not be home every day. This meant making freezer meals, because there's no way I had energy or time to make meals on weeknights. All I wanted to do was snuggle the baby and talk with the big kids. I made a goal of two freezer meals a week, we ate simple meals and leftovers the other nights the first month. I got out my big kids' clothes for the week every Sunday, including pajamas. That way each morning that was one more thing off the list, easy to do, no stress. I went on a big grocery and Target run before maternity leave ended so we had plenty of snacks, things for me to pack for lunch at work, extra bottles of the kids vitamins and my multivitamin, things that would be annoying and extra work to have to go pick up during already busy weeks returning to work. I bought paper plates and cups, plastic utensils for when I returned to work. I am typically not a fan of all that waste, but things need to be simple and easy when you go back to work, so short term it's good to have on hand.
  • Pack mom's work bags. You will need a large water bottle, especially if pumping, so treat yourself to a new cool one that you'll actually fill up. Get your favorite snacks, and I drank a lot of Vitamin Water in the beginning to keep my nursing supply up through the stress of returning to work. Update your calendar. Go through your work email so you're familiar with what's happening there. Figure out your pump routine - cooler bag, ice packs, extra bottles and caps that stay in the pump just in case, etc. So many bags! Get a new lunch bag if that makes you happy. Anything little like that will make this hard transition easier. Make sure you have pics of your baby if you intend to nurse at work. I'm sure your phone is full of pics, but just make sure you have good ones to look at :) You could even get a frame and print one out for your desk at this time of preparation. I was given a second pump to use, and it's been life changing at work being able to leave it there instead of transporting it back and forth daily. So if you can get a second one, do it!
  • Talk about it: it's OK however you feel. Process out loud with friends, your husband or partner, coworkers, etc. Talk about what you need, what's bothering you, what is stressful or sad about this right now. Don't keep it in. It's going to burst out... and you don't want that happening at work someday, so just talk through it. Know that it's OK to feel relieved to return to work- being in regular clothes, having a routine again, seeing friends at work, eating a hot lunch, etc. And it's OK to be totally devastated, sad, depressed even, worrying, anxious, etc. However you're feeling, embrace it. Know that it'll pass. It will get better. You and baby will adjust. 
Here are a few ideas of things to do while you are BACK TO WORK:
  • Call the babysitter. It's your child. You have every right to check in as much as you need or want during those first few days and weeks. Sitters are good if they expect you to call. Make a call mid-day to see how they are doing. It's OK to do this! 
  • Plan lunch dates. Don't just stare at your phone wondering how baby is doing or sit in your office solo eating lunch sappy crying. Get out, connect with your former friends and colleagues who make you laugh. Surround yourself with people, it may make the day go by faster. Schedule these out, reach out to people for the first few weeks. 
  • Drink more. Pack Vitamin Water for the first few weeks to help you with nursing supply if you are pumping. Get a larger water bottle to keep on hand. Remind yourself to drink more. It's harder to do when at work with being so busy. 
  • Remind yourself it takes time. Getting into a routine, how, when etc. to pump in your work day, how to get there on time in the morning, when to leave in the afternoon to pick up kids, etc., as well as remembering how you did all the work stuff before mom brain hit - it all takes time adjusting. Be patient with yourself. 
  • Pack extra snacks. You may be interested in dieting or losing weight and returning to your former pre-baby work day snacking or lunch of just salads... sounds great, but you are postpartum, which means despite how you may feel fine physically your body probably is still healing on the inside, you're tired and in need of food energy, as well as if you are nursing/pumping you'll need EXTRA calories. So don't diet! Pack healthy snacks, and lots of them! This also helps you avoid the donuts at work sometimes!
  • Your supply WILL be fine. If you are nursing/pumping you should expect a dip decrease in your supply the first few weeks to a month. It's very normal. You are not physically connected to baby one-on-one nursing which raises supply when you do that. You are tired, not sleeping well, running around all day physically and mentally exhausted. You probably aren't eating and drinking like you need to or were at home. You are stressed, trying to balance everything. You aren't resting during the day like napping with baby on maternity leave. It's a huge change to your system. So... be patient and do little things to raise your supply daily like eating almonds, adding flax seed to cereal, drinking way more water including Gatorade or something like that to increase supply, make lactation cookies, etc. Don't panic or stress about the decrease in supply, or that messes your supply up even more. It will adjust. 
  • When at work, be at work. Do your very best to focus and really be present when at work. This has always been what worked for me to get me through my days returning to work after maternity leave. I do as much as I can, as fast as I can within reason of being productive and successful, in order to make the days go by fast. Remind yourself also that you were gone for 3 months or so, that's a lot of time of things you missed at work that people cannot possibly catch you up on. So it's OK to ask questions, seek ideas and help in the beginning. Coworkers will expect that. 
  • Let it go when you're home. At least the first few weeks, let the laundry pile up, ignore the dishes, ask for more help from your husband, and just BE with baby when you get home. Snuggle, cry, fall asleep early on the couch, etc. Just be. You'll get through it!
  • Use weekends to catch up on household chores and rest. Take naps, you need to recharge somehow from the busy weeks! Take hot showers or baths. Watch TV. Catch up on your rest! But also find a little time to organize the house to make it easier for you to get out the door on weekday mornings. You can't do it all. Just prioritize. 
You will get there!!!!! 
Returning to work after maternity leave is one of the hardest things you'll have to do, emotionally, mentally and physically. Have patience with your up and down mood swings, and ask for patience from your partner also! You will get back into the swing of things eventually, it's a short-term difficult phase. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Dear 7 year old Owen,

Dear 7 year old Owen,
I cannot believe you are this big! 7 is such a big number now. You are two years past the Big Five. Cannot believe it. You are growing at the speed of light it feels like, well it's felt that way for seven years now really.

Your birthday was so special that it was a SNOW DAY! How awesome?! We made chocolate chip pancakes and Dad stayed home with us. It was the best morning ever. You dressed up in Batman clothes, and then we piled all up in the big truck- in a blizzard! It was crazy! We went up the road to the swimming pool at the hotel and had the best time together. A great way to spend a birthday, my boy!

You are curious and into everything, still. You are fast and fumble sometimes. You LOVE basketball, Ninja Turtles, Batman (your theme for your party this year) and everything to do with snow and outside and trucks.

You love being outside- it's your favorite thing. Snow, cold, rain, mud puddles, digging in dirt, monster trucks, and basketball. You looooove swimming and the ocean, beach sand digging, and paddling around under water. I LOVE this about you. You have always chosen outside over TV any day. It's awesome to see you so active.

You've lost so many teeth this year. It's nuts! We love seeing you get so excited about losing teeth. You even pulled one out  yourself- after the first couple fell out at after care at school eating an apple, then at the lake while tubing, and then at Bagel Basket eating a bagel - which you swore off until all lose teeth are OUT! Hilarious.

I love that toothy grin you have.

You're taller than all your friends at school, as usual. You are getting up to my neck now. Soon I'll look up at you to tell you to do your homework.

You have learned to read, really pushed through reading, we are SO proud of all you are learning at school in Ms. McPherson's class. You LOVE school. I hope this never changes. You love seeing your friends and rush Dad in the mornings to take you to school early. You can't wait to get there to build a Lego set or race around playing Dodgeball or something fun in the gym.

We had your party at the trampoline place. You are a busy boy jumping around like crazy. That was fun! I love your energy. It never quits. Sometimes we're tired from the energy, and mostly we are in awe of all you can do. You are smart, funny and tell jokes to us al the time. You LOVE your baby brother, you are so good to him. He's lucky to have you. You get happy to see him every day. You are working on being kinder to your sister :) She looks up to you, you know. Remember what a big deal and honor that is to have a little sister. Sometimes you surprise me and give her the sweetest acts of kindness. Let's do more of that, Mr.

May your next year be filled with laughter, digging in the dirt, getting messy, learning more math (you LOVE math facts), and making more friends. May you always know that we love you more than anything in the world, and that we are so lucky you chose us to be your parents, to make us parents first. We learn everything from you and we love you so much for teaching us along the way.

We love you, Pal.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Mom of the Month - Irish Taylor Nason

Congrats to our January (belated!) Mom of the Month Irish Taylor Nason! She has the most handsome boys and some straight forward truths about being a busy mother. Thanks, Irish!

Images shared from Irish Taylor Nason

1. Describe your children in 3-5 words. How did you choose their names? 
my boys are brave, strong, funny!!
Cameron Brady Nason was chosen after a month of suggestions back and forth between my husband and I....I called him one day and said "I've got it...." he said "that's the one!"
Landon Joseph Nason was chosen from me loving the name Landon and the middle name's after his handsome dad!!

2. How old are your children? How did you tell people you were expecting a baby?

my boys are 7 and 12. I was excited to tell everyone...each and every friend was called or told in person!

3. How would you describe your pregnancies? How was delivery, birth and labor for you? 

other than feeling like I was never going to not be pregnant again my pregnancies were text book perfect! Of course I always make jokes that if not for being induced I'd still be pregnant to this day! 😂😂

4. Describe yourself as a mom in 3-5 words. 

describe who I am as a mom, I'd say, loving, no bullshit, protective!

5. What type of mom do you hope your children think you were someday when they're old enough to tell you? 

I just hope they always felt loved

6. What things have you done as a mom that you're most proud of?
never sheltered or sugar coated anything for them. They are going to be great adults because I treat them like they are. I've always given them responsibility...

7. What have been the most difficult parts to being a mom? 

The most difficult part of being a mother is worrying about them all the time. Every mom worries.

8. What is your favorite baby/child product(s) that makes your mom job easier? 

what makes my life easier would have to be their bedroom!! Haha!! well I'm out of the baby stage but I'd have to say the swing!

9. What advice about being a mom would you give to a brand new mother? 

never feel like your failing. Your doing the best you can and as long as you show them love and discipline they will be ok. There is no handbook, no right or wrong way.

10. What is a typical day like for you? 

a typical day is breakfast school work get the kids off the bus clean and make dinner! Pretty easy stuff!

11. What 5 things would you like to do with your kids someday, if anything were possible and money no object? 


12. What are five things or moments that make you fall in love with your kids?
when they hug me, out of nowhere😊

13. Tell us a time where you felt like you failed at parenting... but then realized you truly had not failed, things worked out fine. 

bed time. Always a fight until they are at least 5!!

14. What makes you a strong mom? 

admitting when I am wrong, apologies!!

15. Anything else you want to add?

Love your kids. Even when they are bad they just need a hug.