Monthly Archives: January 2013

Hormonal

I’ve been kind of surprised how out of shape pregnancy + the first few postpartum months made me. I thought for sure working out at a high intensity until the day before I gave birth would have prevented this. True, I didn’t regularly run after June, so I knew that would be the toughest to get back to after the baby.

But I didn’t expect to be So Slow and So Out of Shape.

 

I’m placing a lot of the blame on breastfeeding hormones. I just don’t feel like myself. I don’t look like myself. I don’t weigh like myself. I have fat in places I never store fat (tummy, boobs, arms, face). Normally, I could gain 100 pounds and it would all go to my butt and hips and I’d probably still have a flat stomach (I’d look like some freakish fertility statue from a cave, I’m sure). I think it’s whatever hormonal cocktail mix that’s happening right now.

 

At least the hormones are postponing the inevitable baby hair loss fun time period.

With that said, I’ve been reading some other blogs whose authors are, also, exclusively nursing and they are as fast as ever. So who knows? Maybe I’m just plain old out of shape.

Black bears are the new moose for baby boy apparel. Look it up.

 

But I know I have always been super-sensitive to hormones. They affect me pretty strongly. I have  a feeling I will feel more like myself when I wean. Whenever the heck that will be. I’m just trying to regain as much fitness as I can in the meantime.

Of course, not sleeping well at night and not having the opportunity to work out as consistently as I should don’t help.

The past week I managed a treadmill run (three miles in the 9s which was actually pretty hard, boo), a weights + trampoline cardio class (not great for my pelvic floor, but I’m doing an article on the class so I had to do it), a great Spin class, and I’ve moved onto the advanced pelvic floor workouts from Tasha Mulligan. Which are definitely more challenging but I think that’s the next level of recovery for me.

I’m planning on going to my favorite conditioning class at the gym tonight. I’ve missed this one a lot. It kicks my butt. Heavy squatting, lunging, weights…My dad has generously offered to stay with the baby a couple times a week to give me a break from my 12-hour holding Henry full-time job. I’m going to bring Anna, since Grandpa hasn’t mastered the multitasking of feeding Henry and playing endless iterations of the “pretend you don’t know I’m Ariel the mermaid” game.

At least he likes my singing. He's the only person on the planet who does.

That game sucks, by the way. It’s as bad as the “Mommy, pretend you’re the teacher, and you don’t know I’m Rapunzel and I have long hair but then you see my costume and you’re surprised” game. Only because the game requires the player to do this 5,679 times. It’s like being directed in a movie by a perfectionist enfant terrible director.

 

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Validation

It’s funny how sometimes all we want or need is to be heard.

I’ve felt pretty alone with my day to day struggles, with my “difficult baby,” when all my friends seem to have easy babies. Babies who nap, who just hang out, who will play on play mats and eat nicely.

I understand that they think I’m exaggerating when I say that “I can’t put Henry down,” or that “he doesn’t nap.” They think I mean he doesn’t nap A LOT or ENOUGH for my liking, or he prefers to be held. No. I meant what I said.

A good day he will take one or two half hour naps.

A bad day he will sleep ten minutes from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m.

They must think I’m some kind of incompetent mom, that he must be overtired and I just can’t get him DOWN for a nap. Nope. He doesn’t as much as yawn or rub his eyes. As long as I’m holding him, he’s happy as a clambaby.

But if I set him down to get dressed? Well. That’s the hardest part of my life right now. I’m always on edge, always a minute away from his fussing.

I can’t blame anyone who doesn’t believe me or understand. How could they? I can barely believe it myself and I’m living it, day in and day out, long day after longer night. I can’t plop him in the car or stroller or go anywhere either. He cries in both.

I carry him around for twelve hours straight. I fight with him to get him to eat. I douse him with medicine. I walk the house. I pace the floors. If I sit, he complains. If I try to do something that involves putting him down, he and I suffer his screaming.

I didn’t want pity, or sympathy. I think I wanted something like an acknowledgement of my existence. Yes, my children are my life and of course, it’s not about me. I agree that’s how it should be, has to be right now. But I just wanted someone, somewhere to say, it must be hard to do what you’re doing now. You’re doing a great job.

I wanted a voice to express just one concern about me. As a person. Not just as a mom.

I wanted to be, as a human. If that makes sense.

I got that, twice, this week, from two people I’m close to. And for some reason, it feels like a weight has been lifted from me, as I carry around my other weight, my love, my 15 pound daily weight.

I feel like I can go forward again.

I can do this. In fact, I’ve been doing it all along.

 

 

 

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Re-Reflux Rebound

I’m on a reflux rollercoaster and it’s not a fun one. Its a redux of a redo of a rebound of three years ago when we went through this with my daughter.

It sucks.

It’s hard to explain to anyone who hasn’t been there with a reflux baby, but it basically kinda, sorta, ruins your days and life. Poor Henry is just not happy. He’s suffering pretty much all the time.

So far the meds haven’t seemed to kick in/work well enough.

He spends most of the day hungry, grizzly because he’s hungry, yet he won’t eat.

He screams when I try to feed him, until finally, he gets hungry enough, or tired enough, and eats. Maybe a little, and then pulls away screaming.

He mostly just eats in his sleep. He’s also unhappy most of the time he’s awake, and doesn’t nap well because he’s either hungry or he spits up, it hurts him, and he wakes up crying. I have to carry him all day.

A rare moment of chilling

I had a really nice three day birthday weekend and was spoiled. Dinner out, meeting friends, a group run, a new triathlon-specific spin class, getting to my old favorite Monday strength class, a dairy free cake, cute presents…it was sorely needed and already sorely missed.

Heart

I even got a haircut.

And new pillows

And flowers. And birthday pancakes.

But now it’s back to the arching baby grind. Trying to figure out why the medicines aren’t working.

Trying to feed him. And soothe him as he cries.

It freaking sucks.

 

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Random Weekly Roundup

Workouts:

Monday – rest

Tuesday – home weights and pelvic rehab DVD, lunges and squats WITH BABY ATTACHED

This put him to sleep

 

Wednesday – planned to go for a run when husband came home; received tragic text that he was an hour later than normal. Wednesday Fail.

Thursday – babysitter! Spin express class, gym weights.

Friday – rest

Saturday – planned 8 a.m. run

Sunday – planned special triathlon-specific new Spin class at the gym (yay!)

Baby:

Pediatrician was way cool about prescribing me the reflux meds I wanted (Zegerid, which allows you to give the baby medicine any time, and not somehow wait two hours for an empty stomach) but insurance doesn’t want to cover it. In the meantime I got my Buffer Babies kit and I’m going to town with the OTC Prilosec.

I’m seriously tempted to give my three and a half month old solid food. I never thought I’d say that, but this baby is OBSESSED with our food. He stares at it like he’s trying to decipher the meaning of life in my bowl of pasta. He grabs at my plate every time I eat near him.

Fixated

I’m probably going to wait until he’s four months, but I am considering trying some foods a bit earlier. If when to offer food is so individual and based on the baby (some babies aren’t ready until much older) then there are always going to be those babies who are on the earlier end of the spectrum. I think I have one of those.

Me:

First post-baby night out with husband planned this weekend for my birthday…planning on trying a new Asian Fusion restaurant (dairy free options!) and maybe even a movie.

I need a haircut in a major way.

This is the sad car face of never knowing what type of haircut to get.

I’m thinking long layers and long side swept bangs. Since real bangs are cute but horribly annoying and incompatible with working out and sweating a lot.

 I’m bad at haircut planning. I ask friends for help like a junior high schooler making sure she’s planning the right outfit for the dance and Instant Messaging ten friends shots of herself in different clothes.

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32,1

In a few days I will be 32.

It’s not a huge milestone birthday, but it’s another year. Another reminder that the older we get, the faster time goes.

[Except when you need to muddle through the first year of a new baby. Then time is eon-like. It's dinosauric; it's redwood rings.]

Have I done enough by now? Have I accomplished what I’ve hoped looks like a good enough run for 32? No,not really. How could I? There’s always so much more to do/see/be.

Life: where will you go?

I am happy that I’m 32 and all the children I will ever have are already here on Earth. They’re healthy and beautiful and all at least three months old.

This year…what do I want to do this year? It’s not a year for grand fitness goals, but rather just the goal of emerging out the other end back in some reasonable shape, with a settled-enough family life.

Top of my mind for career goals is my dream of having something creative published. I’ve had journalism pieces published, and even some short essays. But I want a printed byline for a creative nonfiction work. I’m not picky about where.

This past year, I found an amazing writing group. We are part of an environmental nonprofit and meet in a drafty castle-like estate on the grounds of an education center/nature preserve. It’s been an exercise in daydreaming. There’s no practical reason I’ve scrambled to get babysitters and come home late on the first Monday of every month so I can go to a room and push myself to dream big.

Bigger.

I haven’t yet gone to a meeting since the baby was born. I tried to last night, only to find that I couldn’t pump enough for a bottle during the day and then when I tried to defrost a freezer bag, I found they had all gone bad. They smelled soapy. I apparently have a lipase problem with storing my milk. The babysitter came and I sent her home with some money to say sorry for her coming for no reason.

I stayed home.

Maybe next month I will make it, again. I’m writing. I may even submit a proposal to an academic press for a creative anthology on mothering. I wish I had more time to finesse the excerpt, or a brain not addled by fatigue, but I don’t and so it’s a long shot.

But I have nothing to lose, right?

I’m 32.

National Geographic has added us to their mailing list for the catalog of guided world trips. It’s like a lifetime of the ultimate in travel fantasies in glossy book form. (I should probably call to remove myself with a polite “We are not close to rich enough for this, thank you very much.”)

I started playing a game with Anna the other day. Close your eyes and open to a random page, I said. That’s where we will go.

Sailing to Greece, Croatia, Albania. Tanzanian safaris. Whale watching in Alaska. Penguin cruises in Antarctica. Photography how-tos in Vietnam.

She couldn’t get enough. This one will be for you and Henry, when he’s a grown-up, she’d shriek, and open to a new page. This one is mine! This one is for Daddy on his birthday! This one is for Mommy and Anna, girls’ trip!

The game got old pretty quick (preschoolers have that exhausting knack for repetition). We tried to distract her into another game. She just kept playing and playing…my turn, your turn, Russia by trans-Siberian rail.

One more, one more, Mommy. I couldn’t rightly say no.

Where will we go?

 

 

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Running & Refluxing

I ran five miles!

I completely don’t care that I’m slow.

My calf didn’t hurt!

Until the next morning.

But so far, so not so bad: my calf is a little sore but nothing crazy like the strain that put me out of commission for two weeks that happened after my first three miles.

I needed to run out some anger, some sadness, some trapped in a cageness.

That was Saturday. Sunday I did my spin class of one again. I wish my gym would offer a class later than 8 a.m. on Sundays. I know most people like to get their workouts out of the way on the weekends, but you’d think they’d have one measly little class at, say, 11 or 4 p.m. I’d even offer to teach it. Maybe. I’m too tired to commit to “performing” in front of a group, which is what teaching a fitness class partly means.

Friday my husband took a half day which meant I got the unexpected chance to go to a class at the gym, so I took an awesome strength class that had us doing 75 pushups by the end. I feel some of my strength returning!

What else? I’m still tired, hanging onto fifteen pounds of extra weight, and my baby is still suffering from reflux pain.

I’m trying out different ways of giving him his PPI meds, since timing around an empty stomach is close to impossible with a nursing on demand, non-napping baby. Tried Zegerid with Mylanta…he puked it all up. Poor babe.

I’m hoping the pediatrician can help some more on Wednesday. Or not, since they aren’t that great with reflux. In the meantime the meds we are managing to get down there are working and he’s eating (and napping!) better already.

 

 

 

 

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Workouts and Blowouts

Alternate blog title, am I right or am I right?

It’s amazing the gross things you talk about, sing about, accept as routine as parents of little babies. When we change Henry’s diaper, Anna comes running over.

“I want to see his poop!”

Don’t we all, kid, don’t we all.

I walk around calling my poor babies whatever comes to mind. Henry is Henny, Little Henny, Boobie Bear, Big Spitter (this is to the tune of Big Pimpin’, obviously) and who knows what other Mommyese high-pitched utterances that just fall off my tongue.

He's rightly ashamed of me.

Everyone talks about how different kids are, even siblings, but who knew my two children could be polar opposite poopers? My daughter had, I think, one blowout in her life. Henry? Can’t keep it in his pants.

He has at least one daily blowout. He gets to change outfits like Beyonce on World Tour.

He’s also three months old and being officially administered reflux meds.

Only my kid can rock double chins this cutely. Just saying.

But this time Mommy’s taking the drug-dosing into her own hands and is doctoring over the counter Prevacid to give to him to avoid the hassle and inevitable fighting with docs that goes along with the fun of a refluxing baby. I think I slipped into third-person there because I realize I sound like a lunatic.

But don’t worry, this is not as insane as it sounds. I’ll go into the whole deal in another post. But good news is, I think the medication is working already. And by working I mean he isn’t screaming every time he eats and crying all day.

I'm like an intravenous drug user, getting all my "stuff" ready.

So besides walking around with a fussy baby who pukes on every surface (cleaning spitup takes up a lot of my time, actually, I think something like 47% of my waking hours to be scientific about it) I’ve been trying to work out more.

After my triumphant first three mile run last week my calves were incredibly sore. I chalked it up to being fat and um, out of shape. But they were still sore  five days later, especially my right calf. I tried to run anyway, since I had a babysitter visiting to meet and great the Sweets, and I had to stop a half-mile into the run. Every step was pretty painful and it felt like my calf was seized up into a painful rock hard lump.

I was dressed all fancy, too.

So I replaced running with even more Spin classes, and even pretended I was in my own personal Spin class when I couldn’t make the last Sunday morning class (9 a.m. Boo, gym.)

I still got sweaty. I'm good at that.

No running since. I’m going to wait until my calf doesn’t feel sore on the stairs and then tack on a good few extra days on top of that. I don’t want any more lingering injuries, jeez. Hear that, body? Stop falling apart.

In other highly exciting yet highly uncharacteristic news, I’m getting a house cleaner for a day. I’m a cleanliness stickler who lives with the misery of not being able to have my home as spotless as I’d like (my dog is more of a problem here than two kids, by the way). My husband’s family is visiting this weekend and I freaked out at the prospect of cleaning my house top to bottom with that fussing baby I carry around all day in my arms. I priced out some “deep cleaning” offers…we shall see if the cleaning is decent, and if it’s truly “deep” and worth the cost which was surprisingly reasonable. It all feels weirdly sinful and like shamefully luxurious to hire someone to clean my house. The only other time I’ve done it was right after Anna was born and I was, again, totally overwhelmed with a non-sleeping, non-happy-to-be-a-baby baby. Two women spent the two hours vacuuming and mopping. That’s it. That’s all they got to. My house isn’t even that big. I do that shit in like three minutes (I get sweaty). So I swore never again will I be tempted to get a house cleaner.

I’ll let you know how it goes. After my butler drops me off and my stylist blows my hair out.

This is the original kid who drove me batty as a sub-six-monther:

She turned out to be the best child ever. Hear that, Henry? You better do the same.

We're fans of the Yankees around here. And sheep.

Isn’t it funny how when it comes to dressing a preschool-aged girl, the frumpier the better? Like, the more weird patterns, tights, knits, and mumus you can cram on her thirty-pound frame, the cuter she looks? If the outfit looks like you closed your eyes and grabbed ten things form the old lady rack at the thrift store, it will be an adorable ensemble for a two, three or four-year-old girl? Or a grown female hipster, I guess. Not me, I’m ten pounds and eight gray hairs past the cuteness limit for that.

I love dressing this kid.

But she only loves dressing like this lady:

"I'm in love with Belle, Mommy!"

"Oh, I know...princess train conductor child o' mine."

 

 

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Ballet Body

So while we all check our Fisher Price Rock and Plays for fungus growth (awesome) and go to the playground, I’m blog-cheating and posting something I wrote for somewhere else.

 

From Long Island Pulse Magazine, December 2012 via my professional blog:

The closest I’ve come to a ballet barre since I was eight years old has been escorting my three-year-old daughter to dance classes. But the recent explosion of barre workout classes piqued my interest. Could the fundamentals of dance really help tone muscles, build core strength and improve posture—as devotees of the cutting-edge classes claim?

At Exhale Spa in Bridgehampton the pilates fusion movement is not just a passing fad. Owners Lis Halfpapp and Fred DeVito have seen fitness trends come and go for the twenty years they’ve taught their own brand of pilates, yoga and dance-inspired classes.

“I’ve been watching the bodies change over the years,” Lis explained after a recent Saturday morning class at the plush, second-story studio on Main Street. “When yoga got popular, everyone was long and lean. Now that indoor cycling is big, I see students who aren’t as flexible and are bulkier.” The class was attended by twenty lean female Hamptonites who ranged in age from young twenties to late middle age, but Lis assured me that they’ve made an effort to become more gender neutral. “Lots of men come in who really need the flexibility, the core strength and the balance between upper and lower body. We’ve added more strength work.”

Married couple Lis and Fred have largely stuck with their tried-and-true method for building what they call “long, lean, dancer muscles” in their well-heeled clientele. Core Fusion Barre is the signature class at the exercise and spa combo space, incorporating Lis’ background as a dancer and Fred’s as a gymnast. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I showed up at 10:30am for my third-ever pilates class, but I had a growing suspicion that beneath the genteel exterior there might be pain.

I was right. Using mainly a barre, a mat, a small exercise ball, stretching straps and two or three-pound weights, I got a full-body workout that started to feel like a very pleasant torture session. We did a series of movements at the barre with soothing instructions on form from Lis after a brief upper body workout with weights. Fred and another assistant moved around the room making subtle adjustments that made the poses even harder. “I can tell who does Core Fusion when I see you walking around town,” joked Lis. “It’s all about being properly aligned and having an internal body awareness.”

The studio lacks mirrors in order to help encourage that awareness, forcing students to learn how the correct movement feels. Lis and Fred adopted this core principle from the Lotte Berk method—the pioneering ballet-inspired workout that was all the rage in 1980s New York and Beverly Hills—which they taught for years before striking out on their own.

Many of the second-generation barre workout classes are now getting makeovers of their own, with new twists on the trend popping up across Long Island. At The Pilates Absession in Rockville Centre, owner Karen Riccio created a pilates-barre hybrid with her Ballet Barre Booty Camp class, a faster-paced, boot camp-style workout. “All our classes are kick-butt,” explained Karen. “Combining the principles of pilates with the barre and with a full-body workout has a fresh appeal.”

The same pilates basics apply: Long sets of seemingly easy bodyweight exercises that become extremely challenging after many repetitions. We focused on our core muscles and posture throughout the hour-long workout, which maintained a quick, fun pace. The small class size allowed for individual attention, and the instructor’s obvious concern for how the students were feeling seemed part of the personal, cozy vibe of the airy, spotless, second-floor studio. “We call our space semi-private,” Karen said. “A lot of our customers want that intimate feel and don’t want to join a regular gym.”

The studio also offers cardiolates classes, which incorporate a more aerobic element. The class I took started with upper body work using those light weights again, and we did squats and lunges before moving to the barre, which was the hardest part of the class. As someone who enjoys a tough session with free weights, the three-pound dumbbells didn’t quite feel like enough of a strength workout, but the leg and core components were more than enough to make me sore the next day.

Good news for those who are interested in barre workouts but aren’t particularly flexible: I’m not that limber and can’t get close to a full split, but I was able to get into all the positions.

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The Daily

Daily life is very slow around here. Not too much happens, although it’s sort of exhausting at the same time. I used to (pre-two kids) have long to-do lists and set appointments. It was a little bit of this and a little bit of that (work on some Work work stuff, maybe draft an article or make some phone calls, get in a trip to the gym, go to a fun activity, play date or friend’s house with my daughter) but it was relatively structured in that I knew what I wanted to do in a day, and I did it.

No more.

Now, I have a kind of A list of things to get done, and then AA+ goals. A list contains the must. Everyone gets dressed, everyone gets fed, my teeth get brushed and flossed. Depending on my mood, a mandatory leaving of the house for at least some of us is a A goal. Sometimes it gets bumped to the AA+ list…may happen if the stars align. My mild, no big deal workouts are also on the A list. A DVD workout or a walk.

AA+ also contains extras…a phone call, a freelance item, cleaning something special in the house. I try to keep my expectations pretty meager, since I never know how much sleep I will have the night before (none) or how fussy the baby will be (NO PUT DOWN Level 10).

It’s amazing how quickly I’ve adjusted to this retraction, this narrowing in of my daily horizons. It was pretty depressing at first, but I’m getting used to it. Days no longer have a structure or a calendar feel, but more of an ebb and flow. A rhythm. A tendency. Henry tends to nap around certain times. Anna will shed her clothes and don one of two favorite princess dresses around dusk. She will ask me to tie a long ribbon onto her ponytail and pretend it’s Rapunzel’s flowing blond locks. I tend to get out the door in a typical time frame. Everything is subject to change and rescheduling.

I’m okay with it. For now. I am looking forward to some meatier days, some more filled and fulfilling weeks. I can feel them coming. The winter light has already shifted. The sun is cold, but it’s shining just a smidge longer and has the tiniest sheen of spring on it. The shortest day of the year has come and gone.

I just arranged for a long term babysitter. She will come by once or twice a week so I can get to some of my old favorite classes at the gym. This is my Get Through Winter plan. Three months, stretching some extra babysitting money as far as it can go. Three hours a week. For some precious serious working out.

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Baby On Strike

So I have a pint-sized revolutionary on my hands.

Baby Che Guevera over here is on a “nursing strike.” I’m not really sure what his demands are (more baby weekends off? Playing mat conditions are unacceptable?)

He's ready to road trip. Just like Mommy. Perhaps to round up a peoples' babies' army of anarchist non-eaters?

He’s been increasingly refusing to nurse over the last week. He gets hungry but then when I try to feed him he gets furious! Sometimes he gets over it and eats, although not as much as normal, and other times, he fights and fights the power, and refuses.

It’s pretty stressful, especially since I can’t figure out the reason. He nurses fine at night when he’s sleeping/sleepy and in fact is making up much of his calories by nursing. all. night.long. Awesome strategy there, bud.

He doesn’t seem to be sick otherwise. He is resisting certain horizontal positions more and one side more than the other…maybe his ear is bothering him? He seems happy otherwise and will just miss a feeding and then hang out. But then he also seems a little grumpy at other times, probably because he’s hungry. (A hunger strike will do that to you.)

So besides protesting worldwide injustice and workers’ rights, what could Henry be up in arms about? He’s a little young for teething, hasn’t had lots of bottles recently, and doesn’t seem particularly in pain when he’s not eating.

Is this some kind of three month old weirdness phase? He’s also waking up so much more at night.

He's plotting world domination with Anna's Melissa and Doug world puzzle map in this shot, by the way.

 

I went to a breastfeeding support group that’s nearby this morning for some assistance, which was a total waste of hours of wrangling children and snowsuits since the LC had absolutely nothing helpful to say. I shouldn’t be able to do your job better than you from three minutes of Googling. Although maybe the trip did serve a purpose: as soon as you complain/brag about something your baby does/doesn’t do publically…they do the opposite and make you a liar.

Oh well. I guess I’ll just keep up the battle of the boob and head to the doctor if this continues another day or so. Ugh, when am I going to have a simple, easy time with my babies?

The answer to that is obviously never, ever, ever, are you kidding me, lady, ever ever.

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