20 Things Moms Are Thankful For (In No Particular Order)

  1. Wet Wipes
  2. The inventor of no-spill sippy cups
  3. Grandparents
  4. Rasins and Cheerios
  5. The nurse line 
  6. Smart phones
  7. Giggles, oh the glorious giggles
  8. Restaurants and coffee shops with drive-throughs
  9. Naps
  10. The poison control hotline
  11. Diaper changing tables in public places
  12. How babies and toddlers don't hold grudges (Aka: Their remarkably short-term memories for our parenting errors.)
  13. The free cookie and stickers at Target
  14. Dads 
  15. Google
  16. Hugs and kisses from tiny hands and faces
  17. Solidarity from mom-friends
  18. The joy
  19. Shipments delivered to the door
  20. Bedtimes

Finding Peace With Pregnancy Weight Gain

When I was about 37 weeks pregnant with my first baby, I was helping my husband shop for clothes and I caught my reflection in one of those three sided dressing room mirrors at a department store - I stopped and did a double tak,e and absolutely gasped at what I saw. Of course I have mirrors at home, and I swear I do look in them, but apparently the combination of florescent lights and seeing halfway around each side of my belly made me look like a completely different woman. And I have to be honest, the rest of the day, I was completely depressed. I know that I didn't look any different than I had that morning when I looked in the mirror in my own home, but I felt completely different. Unhappy. Large. Sad. Depressed. Scared that I'd never return to normal. Confused as to how I got like this without noticing. Terrified of what I told myself other people probably thought about me.

In truth, I wanted to eat away my feelings - I was pregnant and I'm a woman - hellllllo. And I probably did; I actually can't remember. But I do remember going to bed that night feeling pretty terrible about myself.

It's no secret that pregnancy and weight gain go hand in hand. And as I shared yesterday - it's often one of the hardest parts for women. Particularly because there are near weekly weigh-ins at the doctor's office, weight-gain charts tracking every pound up or down, articles and books detailing complications if too much weight is gained, and of course, the media glorifying celebrities that are "all baby," and are back to their pre-baby wardrobe two weeks after their baby arrives.

And we're always told we need to be okay with weight gain, because it's for the baby, yet at the same time, we can't gain too much weight, because - the baby. Duh. It's such a fine balance and it can feel like you're walking on eggshells, not just with your doctor and their stupid weight chart, but also with your heart and emotions. So here are are some things I've learned over the course of two pregnancies to find peace with my changing body and in particular - the weight gain.
  • Don't weigh yourself. It's so hard, I know. I think we do it out of equal parts curiosity and thinking if we just know how much we've gained, we can hold ourselves accountable for the future. But really all it serves to (usually) do is bum us out and make us frustrated. Most weeks you'll gain weight, some you may even lose weight, but those highs and lows aren't worth it, because you can't stop the train, even with your best efforts - you are going to gain weight. I've heard about some midwives that don't even weigh their patients throughout the entire pregnancy - and I think that's awesome! My midwife does, but for the most part, I choose to look away and not look at the number each week. I figure she'll tell me if something's wrong and I've found that even on my "good weeks" I still tend to gain about the same as what I would consider my "bad weeks" which means my body is doing what it needs to do to care for this baby. 
  • Eat when you're hungry and make the best choices you can. For me, my self-control nearly goes out the window the moment I get pregnant. I really struggle to not give into cravings (aka: All the carbs ever in existence.) and while I don't believe pregnancy is an excuse to eat anything and everything, I also don't think you should totally deprive yourself. I mean, you are pregnant - you deserve some treats! Eat when you're hungry and make the best choices you can at the time. You know what food is good for you and what isn't, try as much as possible to make right choices. But sometimes, you just need your sweets or junk food and that's okay - remember my 80/20 rule? Anything is okay in moderation. When I'm pregnant, it's honestly more like 60/40, but I still try for 80/20 - some days I make it sometimes I don't, and I'm okay with that!
  • Buy clothing that fits. Nothing will make you feel more terrible than feeling like a stuffed sausage in your jeans and t-shirts. As hard as it can be, purchase clothing in a large enough size that is not only flattering on you, but makes you feel comfortable! Like me finally giving in and buying underwear the next size up - I couldn't believe how much more comfortable I was, and I wasn't constantly thinking about how I felt like I was nearly exploding out of my clothes because I was so large, in fact, I actually felt skinnier! Heck, I even ended up needing to purchase a second pair of larger maternity jeans because I was nearly suffocating in the first ones I bought by 27 weeks. I know it can be hard to spend a lot of money on maternity clothing, because it's worn for such a short period of time, but this tip, more than all my other tips is the one that seems to help me feel the most comfortable and not think about my changing weight so much. 
  • Remember that it's temporary. Your big butt won't last forever. And likely, people don't even notice it next to your even bigger belly. Remember that pregnancy is nine months out of a lifetime. Just like you're changing a lot during these months, you'll change a lot after baby too. While a pregnancy can feel like such a long time, it's really just a blip in the radar. 
  • Don't compare yourself to others, trust your body to do what's best. Comparison always has and always will be a thief. There is no standard for how you should grow, or how much to gain and when. Every pregnancy is different and it's not fair to yourself or anyone else to compare your body with someone else's. Trust that your body is doing what's best for baby and growing how it should. Sometimes I find myself getting envious of friends who crave vegetables (Sorry, will never understand that one.) or who manage to workout until the week before delivery, but I've learned that it's not worth wondering why all I crave is everything-bad-ever-created-in-the-food-universe, or the fact that I have absolutely zero motivation to workout when pregnant. I can be happy for my friends and their unique pregnancy journey and then I have to set it aside - knowing that my struggles will be different from theirs and that's okay. They probably struggle with other things that I don't - we all have our own hard, it's not worth comparing.
  • Find gratitude in being pregnant. For many women, it's such a struggle to even get or stay pregnant. At times when I'm really feeling down on myself, I try to remember how thankful I am to be able to grow and nurture a healthy baby inside of me. Even though I don't like how I look or how I feel, I know that this baby will be completely worth it, even if I keep all 30+ pounds after each baby as a souvenir - if I really think about it, those kiddos would honestly be worth every single pound. Giving up your body for nine months to create a life is one of the first sacrifices you'll make for your child, but as all mothers know, those sacrifices we make are totally and completely worth it to get to have them for a lifetime. 
While I'll likely never be one of those women that really enjoys pregnancy, I do believe it's so important to recognize the amazing work your body is doing in growing a human life. I don't like the weight gain at all, but even more so, I don't like stressing about it and having it constantly be on my mind. While yes, negative feelings to pop up more than I wish, I know how to combat them and have learned that my body is going to change and grow in the way it needs to, no matter what I do and it's so much easier to ride the wave than to fight it every step of the way.

Remember, your weight gain doesn't define your pregnancy, nor does it define you. You are way more than a number on a scale - don't let it get the best of you and take away all the good things that are happening. I mean, you're doing the most miraculous thing on earth - creating a new human life. Gaining 20 pounds or 70 pounds isn't going to change how incredibly amazing that is, so let the number lose its grip on your heart, and don't let it hold any power over you. By finding peace in the midst of your body changing and growing and I guarantee you'll enjoy your pregnancy so much more.

Like this post? Then you might just like these pregnancy posts as well. 

Alright, Let's Talk About It - When You're Pregnant, You Gain A Lot of Weight And It's Just Not Fun

Weight. It's a pretty uncomfortable subject for any woman, right? It seems it doesn't matter if you're underweight, overweight or somewhere-in-between, no woman likes to talk about how much they weigh, let alone provide actual "numbers."

But when you're pregnant, it's supposed to be the one time you're actually allowed to gain weight and not feel bad about it. Yet, I don't know one pregnant person for whom it isn't a struggle to watch the scale go up each week at their prenatal appointments - even if they're right on track according to the charts.

A quick search on Google and Pinterest for "pregnancy weight gain," and a whole slew of articles come up on, "how to avoid excessive weight gain in pregnancy," "tips to a fit pregnancy," "the healthy pregnancy diet," and even, "how to lose weight while pregnant." ---> What the what?

I'll be honest - I'm right there with every other sane woman on the planet - I hate the weight gain. I tend to gain a lot at the beginning of the pregnancy - because I'm totally eating my hormonal feelings, duh. So much so, that I gained 20 lbs. by my 20 week appointment with not one, but both pregnancies. (For the record, most women gain 5-10 lbs. in this same time period; I like to consider myself an overachiever, thankyouverymuch.) In both pregnancies, I've been told that my "weight is creeping up there a little faster than they'd like to see," And with my first, I was even told that I "needed to diet between my 20 and 24 week appointments," - she didn't want to see me gain any weight at all, in fact, she wanted me to lose some. And my husband was in the room at the time - um, have you no decency doctor - can I a little discretion? To prove to her I had a sliver of self-control in my body, I actually didn't gain any weight between appointments (and this was the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I might add) - but I put on 10 lbs. between my next two appointments, just to show that doctor who's boss.
All in all, I put on 37 lbs. with my first and am on track to hit that or beat it (Told you I'm an overachiever.) with my next. Oh man, I can't really believe how fast that number flew out of my fingers to admit it to the www. I'm trusting you all won't judge - right?

So here's the deal, with my first, I was all obsessed with my weight gain. I started out the pregnancy by weighing myself almost every day, popping in my current weight to the Baby Center tracker telling me if I was above or below average - always above, of course. I thought a lot about what I ate - A LOT. I'd be craving something and wouldn't give in for a long, long time, then suddenly I'd lose all self control and go all beast-mode on a pizza or something. I read the "healthy pregnancy diet" articles, wanting to give my baby all the right nutrition to develop his brain, organs and beautifully shaped fingernails, and worked really hard to choose all the right fruits and vegetables to give him the best chance he had. I remember having (a few - very few) friends who had told me pre-pregnancy, "You're not really eating for two, you get 300 extra calories a day - but that's like a yogurt, two apples and a granola bar - it's so much extra food, it's almost hard for me to find time to eat more!"

Yeah, or just down a Snickers ...

But sentences like that rang in my ears and I longed for the self-control like it sounded like some of my friends had. Yet as hard as I tried to "do good," I found myself continually losing control in front of the fridge and even on a good week, I continued to see the number on the scale creep up faster than I'd ever want it to. The day I gave in and bought new underwear a size up was probably the lowest of lows. It didn't help that I bought a boring Fruit of the Loom six pack because - as I told myself - I was NOT going to need these after baby. I didn't realize at the time that most women in fact do have to purchase new underwear, because there's no such a thing as "all belly!"

I think the deepest fear all of us women have when we're pregnant is not to just to get comments about how "large and whale-like and ready-to-pop-we-are-when-only-30-weeks-pregnant," from outsiders, but it's the fear of not knowing if we'll lose all that extra weight after baby.

And honestly, we can't know.

I happened to lose it all with my first, but even with that history, I still feel the old familiar feelings of being scared of my post-partum body and wonder at whether or not I'll lose it with baby number two. There are no guarantees that one pregnancy will be like the next.  I'll always remember my mom telling me, "I lost all the weight with your brothers, Laura - it was you that stuck around." Ouch. Sorry about that mom.

But along the way of these two pregnancies, I've started to find peace with the weight gain. Don't get me wrong, I still don't like it one bit, but I've definitely changed the way I think about it and I no longer obsess over it like I used to. Being pregnant means you gain weight, it's just a fact. And it's a fact that for most women, it's also not any fun. But it can be okay. It can not be a constant source of frustration and negative feelings. So tomorrow (since this is already such a novel in and of itself) I'm going to share my tips for finding peace with pregnancy weight gain. It's nothing that will blow your mind, but they are important things to remember - things I forgot during my first pregnancy - but have been game changers in this second one.

So until then, stay off the scale, think happy thoughts, and find a bit of time to eat that extra yogurt, two bananas, an avocado and a Lara bar to help nourish baby's body. Or if you don't have time, just pound a slice of pizza with like, some veggies on it or something. I'm sure you can find room in your schedule for that.

Eli - 20 Month Update

Naps: One nap a day, around 1 p.m. for two to three and a half hours.
Feeding: Two percent milk (16-20 oz./day), water all day, and table foods three times a day with a snack after nap.
Clothing: 24 month and some 2T
Bedtime: 7:30 - 8 p.m. Sleeps 10-13 hours each night.

Eli is pretty much back to eating anything and everything. Except when we're eating with a lot of other people around - it's really hard for him to stay focused and not only does he just want to try out what everyone else is eating, he's just too plain distracted to eat. Over Thanksgiving with family he had a real issued with this, and basically lived on clementines, yogurt and chips/crackers. But of course, as soon as we get back home, Eli's back to eating bigger portions than me of shepard's pie (Particularly a fan of the peas - WHAT?), Chinese chicken and broccoli and even kale and white bean soup. There are some meals where he still really wants to eat off of mom and dad's plate, even though it's exactly the same, so we're working on him "eating what we put on Eli's plate." In addition, sometimes he won't want a snack I offer him, and I used to usually offer him something else, (Particularly when I felt like he hadn't been eating enough.) but this month I've been working on sticking to my guns and saying, "This is what momma has for you, so you can eat it or not." Then setting it on the counter/high chair/whatever. It's uncanny how as soon as he realizes I've moved on, he snags whatever it was and gobbles it down. 

Sleeping has been awesome this month! At the beginning of the month, I noticed two new teeth poking through, so I think that had a lot to do with last month's difficult spell. In addition, we're finally off the neb (YAY!) and it's not only freed up so much time in our day, it's helped him sleep so much better without a cold to fight. He's been taking way longer naps too, up to three and a half hours sometimes, which I am totally soaking up. I really think it's because we've been so busy and I've had him out and about at a lot of playdates, or with family for Thanksgiving stuff, so he's just been exhausted. When we're home we still do crib time for about a half hour in the morning, but I've noticed he hasn't been liking it as much. He usually starts to fuss and throw toys about 15 minutes into it. Maybe because I'm not consistent with it? Not sure. 
This month, Eli has started speaking with two words in a row. He's been doing the classics like, "thank you," "love you," etc. for a while now, but let's be honest, those are basically just one word in his world. He's also really into phrases like, "Ready, set, go!" but again, those are essentially just one word to him. But this month, he woke up one morning and pointed out the window and shouted, "Blue truck!" Normally, it's "Truck!" "Blue!" so I was shocked to hear him string the words together in the right order. But since then, he's been putting two words together pretty often. Things like, Momma's fork!" instead of "Fork! Momma's!" or "Idie (Eli) go!" instead of "Go!" "Idie!" You get the idea. I've also noticed he's picking up on more and more concepts. Things like when I'm peeling a clementine, I'll tell him, "Momma's peeling it." and then when I peel a banana he shouts, "Peel!" Or other things like "stir," or "wash," - he's applying the word to more than just what I *think* I've taught him. Not that he's always right mind you, but often he is! It's crazy to see how fast his mind is developing and how smart toddlers are!

For the record, colors are still pretty much complete guesses. His latest favorite is "Lellow" which is why he got the color correct when he was talking about how much he loved my "sample" that I left at a prenatal appointment (If you missed it, check this.) He can count to four, but again, he'll usually get one and two right, then mix three and four - you can tell he's guessing just so he can get the high five from me. And his ABC's - oh man, I love listening to him - he just sings "Ah, Oh, Ah, Eh, Eh, Ah, Oh!" He gets the approximate tune, but just kinda sings noises. I DIE listening to him!

Discipline has been a bit easier this month. I feel like last month something was just a little off and this month, he's sorta back to his happy-go-lucky self. Plus, I'm also probably more comfortable since I've got a little practice under my belt, so it's not as scary when I need to do it anymore. Eli has even sent himself to time out a few times on his own. Usually, I'm just threatening it, telling him if he doesn't obey, he'll go to time out, and then he says, "Idie cry. Time out." And he walks himself over to his spot. The first few times I was all, "Oh, honey, come out here, it's okay. You don't have to go!" But now I let him and eventually he comes back and tells me "Time out. All done." and he's happier. It's sorta insane. Yet sorta awesome.

While he's cooking right along in the verbal department, he's still pretty tentative in anything needing hand-eye coordination. Mike and I keep telling each other we have to work on helping him learn to throw a ball with at least a little effort. He has started climbing a bit this month and it's hilarious to watch him try to climb something that's like 8" off the ground. Tons of heavy breathing, falling and then a huge smile once he conquers it. He's started climbing on edge of his crib (the bottom slat, on the outside) and then clings to the rails with everything he's got for as long as he can while shouting "WATCH!" I used to get scared (WHY?), but I keep reminding myself a small fall onto a padded rug is good for him. He still takes forever to go over thresholds, up and down stairs, etc. But I'm proud to see him becoming more brave and want to do more things on his own without our constant help and assistance. 
Books are back in a big way this month. While he's always liked reading, this month he asks to read all. day. long. He'll read the same book over and over and over again and often will refuse my offer of several other books in lieu of reading the one book that I'm completely sick of. He also is loving music more and more and will ask me to play it randomly during the day. I often listen to the Nickel Creek pandora station and this kid loves bluegrass! I have so many videos of him getting into the music, he'll close his eyes, clap and tap his foot and shake his head - like in a "I'm feeling the grooooove," sorta way. Mike and I seriously cry we're laughing so hard at how incredibly into it he gets! Still loves anything that has to do with machines, airplanes, trains, buses, etc. and all things animal related. We took him to the Milwaukee Zoo over Thanksgiving and he about lost it when he wasn't allowed to "play" with the gorillas. Since then, he's been extra into monkeys, and will randomly ask, "Zoo?" Thinking a season pass to the MN Zoo next year might be in order!

Dislikes are the same as other months. Not getting his way, having to stop playing to do something boring like a diaper change and being in the carseat forever. The usual.

Momma/Daddy Update:
Gah, we love being parents! I know I say that every month, but honestly it's the truth and I feel like I can't not say it. We're both continuing to try to soak up these last few days/weeks with him as our one and only, and often say, "Do you think baby girl will be as awesome/fun/funny/adorable?" While there's not doubt in either of our minds if we'll "have enough love," it's more, "How can she possibly be as cool as him? He's the coolest!" 

Preparing for Birth The Second Time Around - The Game Plan

Everything about this second pregnancy has been so different from my first. I can't believe how excited I am to meet this baby girl, so much more than I ever was with Eli. I feel like I'm just in limbo right now, excitedly waiting for an entirely new life to start, but also trying to soak up these last few days and weeks of just having one. I've been getting a lot of questions lately asking if I'm feeling ready for this birth, if I've completely "worked through my feelings," a la the traumatic birth post and what my "game plan is" for labor and delivery.

And that's such a loaded question, it's really hard to answer.
Per the pic above - isn't it crazy how lopsided your belly starts to get as baby gets bigger and there's hardly any room for them? I just want to poke her and say, "Look sharp baby girl, we're taking a pic and I need my belly to be symmetrical!" One can wish ...

For a while, I was thinking that I'd just go straight for the epidural. That I'd walk into that hospital, hand them my birth plan and all it would say in huge, bold, capital letters was, "EPIDURAL ASAP." There's part of me that thinks if I get the epidural right away, they'll have time to fix it if it doesn't work again. That by preemptively easing the pain of the contractions, I can avoid flashbacks and just watch Hulu and nap and play Sudko while I meet baby girl.

But there's another part of me that wants to prove to myself that I can do it again. That I can birth a child naturally and not have it be such a negative experience. To at least try to go natural as far as possible - knowing I could get an epidural if it becomes too much. But the thing is, I'm scared that if I choose an epidural later in labor, it might not work like last time, so I'll be stuck again. Then like last time, I'll have to lie there, with all the cords and needles and everything in me, still feeling all the pain and not able to move around or labor how I'd like to. So then I don't want to get one at all, ever, ever again because I just hate epidurals.

(Please hear me, I have nothing against epidurals - I just had a bad experience when mine didn't take so my feelings about them are so mixed, convoluted and confusing that I likely don't even make sense when talking about them.)

But I knew if I even wanted to try to go natural, I'd need to actually deal more with my emotions and prepare for birth in a way that would give me the best shot I could at making it to the finish.

So I decided to get a doula for this birth. Part of me was scared to get one, simply because I was nervous that getting one was sending a major signal in favor of a natural birth and that I'd feel pressure to go natural all the way - just because I was paying her to help me do so. But at the same time, I knew I likely wouldn't have the wherewithal to even attempt to do it on my own if I didn't get one.

We've met a couple of times lately, and it's been really healing. Not only because she seems smart and confident and has all these little techniques and tools for "comfort measures" during birth, but also because she, Mike and I have talked backwards and forwards about my first birth, and she's been really helpful in helping me understand some of the reasons why things unfolded like they did and how to (hopefully) avoid the same things happening this time.

When she asked me what my wish was for this birth, I told her it was to not want to die in childbirth and actually like my baby when she arrived. Eventually we changed that to having "birth be a more positive experience," and while at first I hesitated to even put the word "positive" next to "birth," I've had time to think about it and I think that's exactly what I'm hoping for.

Not to go natural. Not to have an epidural that works. Not to have a short labor.  Not to stall out for hours on end. Not to have baby in optimal position, rather than sunny side up. Not to avoid back labor. Those hopes are too specific. For me, I just hope it will be a more positive experience - however it looks. Maybe it will be longer than Eli's birth. Maybe I'll nearly have a home birth. Maybe I'll go natural, maybe I won't. I don't really care, and my doula and midwife don't either. I just hope to come away from it with a few less flashbacks than I had last time.

And so I suppose, I'm as ready as I'll ever be. I feel like I'm on this ledge, just waiting to tip over the edge. Not really sure when or how I'll fall, but just ready to get going. Like studying for a test, there's just this point where you know it or you don't and you simply can't study any more - you just need to take the test. That's where I'm at. I don't really know what I know or what I don't. Just that I'll love the end result. I'm nervous for the process to get to that end result, yes. But I'm also strangely excited to just have another crack at the process.

It's a weird feeling. But it's so much better than how I felt at the beginning of this pregnancy. And really, I've come a long, long way. And so we'll see. The game plan is that there really is no game plan. Just a momma wanting to meet her baby - however it looks. And that is game plan enough for me.

psst. The winner of the Dana Decal's giveaway is Rachel Rohde. Rachel, check your email for a note from me to claim your prize!

Life Lately

  • I've finally finished up my Christmas gift to Eli and birthday gift to baby girl last week. I made them new blankets using this tutorial. Eli is obsessed with minky fabric, (He seriously thinks it's a stuffed animal - he found a brown bolt of it at JoAnn the other day and kept stroking it and calling it "bear.") so I really wanted to make them each some soft, snuggly minky blankets. If you can sew in a straight line, you can make these blankets. Heck, even if you can't - you can still make these blankets. I sew in a wobbly line at best, and they still turned out okay (as long as you don't look close). 

  • Eli got these slippers as an early Christmas gift from my parents and they're amazing for little toddler feet. No only do they keep him warm on our wood floors, but they keep him from wiping out from slippery socks every 10 seconds.

  • I'm curious, what constitutes a mom-cut? How short does it have to be? Or how drastic a change? I'm contemplating chopping six or seven inches off my hair, but the thing is, if I didn't have kids, everyone would say, "Oh it's so chic and adorable!" And I could do it without a second thought. But since I do, I think it'd be all, "Oh, she gave in and got the 'mom-cut.'" Right now, my hair is pretty long - two pregnancies will do that to you - and truth-be told, I am just plain sick of it. How long it takes to dry. How it gets caught under everything. How Eli likes to grab huge chunks of it in each hand and whip it around like reigns on a horse's bridle. Seriously, tell me, what makes a mom-cut?

  • Drove out to the 'burbs to Wal-Mart the other day to make another batch of my homemade laundry detergent. It's only the second batch I've had to make since Eli's joined the family - and he's over a year and a half old. I stinkin' love that stuff. All you need is that and a bottle of Tide spot-shot for big stains and you're set in the laundry department. 

  • I saw a chiropractor for the first time ever last week. There's a theory floating around with my midwife and doula that my pelvis is outta alignment, which is why I likely stalled out in transition for about seven hours in Eli's birth, and why he was born sunnyside up, and didn't flip in the womb during labor like most babies do. I don't know what I think, all I know is I'll try anything to have a "more positive" labor than last time. But can I just say - ouch! - that chiropractor appt. hurt. It wasn't that bad in the moment, but I was really sore the couple of days following. The doctor warned me I might be, but goodness sakes. I always heard people loooove the chiropractor, but I'm struggling to get on the bandwagon. I'm supposed to go see the chrio twice a week until the baby is born and I just keep telling myself, the soreness is a cake-walk compared to labor - it'll be worth it if this one goes better. Anyone else have this kind of experience? Or am I just a wimp?

  • Have you entered the giveaway to Dana Decals yet? Only one day left! Do it here!