Peaceful Transition: My Plan for the First Forty Days Post-Partum

I’m now 27 weeks pregnant, which means it’s time to get serious about getting ready for baby and the post-partum transition. And while it’s likely that I won’t deliver until close to my due date (or even after!), I like to have everything mostly done by 37 weeks, just in case. Plus, in my experience, those last 3 weeks while you’re lugging around a fully formed human being are not a time you feel like busting through a to do list.

So for your benefit (especially if you’re a first-time mom!) as much as my own, here’s my official getting ready list, thoughtfully divided into categories. I’m preparing for a vaginal delivery in a birth center (which means no drugs and heading home 6-8 hours after birth), but most of this list should be applicable regardless of what type of birth you think you’re having or end up having.

Physical

Last time, I don’t think I spent enough time thinking about my own physical comfort after delivery. Not making that mistake again! Even though I had the best possible outcome on the sliding scale of delivery experiences (relatively short labor + vaginal delivery + no tearing), child birth is never going to be pretty.

Obviously, there’s bleeding. Last time I used disposable pads, which I hate. They feel and smell gross, and they contribute to landfills. I especially don’t like the idea of chemicals in such a delicate area after a traumatic event! So this time I’m going to stock up on Lunapads Performa Maxis. 5 should be enough since I can toss them in the wash with the cloth diapers every night. I’m also going to get a few more pairs of my fave Dear Kate undies as back up and to wear solo as the bleeding lightens up. After my first baby, I really wished I had some chux pads on hand to protect my bed for the first day or two. I’m planning to get a couple reusable chux pads; I can put one on my bed preemptively in case my water does break in the middle of the night (not likely), and they’ll come in handy down the road for potty training.

Other necessities:

I’m also planning to treat myself to a couple new sets of loungewear and maybe a pretty kimono robe. It’ll be nice to feel a tiny bit pulled together!


 

I also need to stock up on breastfeeding essentials. Years ago, I posted about a nursing basket I gave to a friend having a second baby. It’s by far the most popular post on my blog, and that’s probably because breastfeeding, especially with a newborn, is serious business. I already have the two items I’ll probably need the most: my Boppy and my 40 oz Hydro Flask. And I’m sure I’ll be referring back to my copy of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.

This time I have the benefit of knowing my own personal challenges in regards to nursing (I tend to get clogged ducts, among other issues), so I can prepare accordingly. I plan to start taking Lecithin after delivery to prevent plugged ducts, and drinking Mother’s Milk tea to help my milk come in (I didn’t have supply issues with my first, but drinking this before pumping made a big difference). A midwife mentioned that routinely using a warm compress might prevent plugged ducts, too, so the Lansinoh TheraPearl hot/cold packs will be nice to have.

Also on my list:



Mental

Post-partum hormones are bananas, and pregnancy hormones aren’t that great, either. With my oldest, I didn’t start feeling like myself again until a month or so after he weaned– at 12 months. So I potentially have another long road of feeling “off” ahead of me. Of course, the hardest period is the first few days and weeks after baby is born. I’m hoping that with a little effort on my part, I can make the transition easier on myself.

  • Having my placenta encapsulated. I did this with my oldest, and could definitely tell when I had to forgotten to take them. Potential placebo effect? Absolutely. But for $200 I don’t really care.
  • Making our bedroom super cozy and functional. In The First Forty Days, Heng Ou calls this “creating your nest.” I spent a lot of time snuggling my newborn in bed, and I absolutely plan to do that again. Knowing I’ll be spending so much time in bed makes me want to make sure our bedroom is a pleasant place to spend a good chunk of time. Since we had E, we’ve upgraded our bed to a super comfy Tuft & Needle mattress (it was our Christmas present to ourselves this year and we’re still giving ourselves pats on the back for it), and added a TV (I love watching TV in bed and I don’t care how bad it is for my sleep– which has been awful since I was a little kid, so I’m not really making it any worse). I still need to order and install blackout curtains (and get rid of the ugly window treatment that came with the house!) and new bedside lamps. I also want to add a bunch of plants (particularly some low-maintenance air plants) and an essential oil diffuser.  Function wise, Baby has a lovely vintage Jenny Lind cradle I scored from our birth center’s Facebook group. I’m planning to add a lambskin to make it extra cozy. And I’ll set up a diaper changing station on top of our dresser. I’m actually looking forward to holing up as much as possible the first six weeks!
  • Anticipating a hard time. Journaling has always been my anchor during rough times. With that in mind, I recently worked through Esme Wang’s gorgeous e-course, Rawness of Remembering. Much of it won’t be applicable until I’m actually in that rough time, but I’ve picked up a few good tips and rituals (being Catholic, I felt particularly drawn to her suggested practice of praying the examen, a Jesuit prayer, at the end of every day), and I like knowing I have the course material to return to at any time. Another great resource is her (free!) e-book, Productivity Journaling with Limitations. I recently purchased my first Hobonichi because I was so enamored with her morning ritual. I’m also going to make sure my nightstand is stocked with things I enjoy doing: plenty of reading material, an easy knitting project or maybe an embroidery project (I’m loving Sarah K. Benning’s patterns), a coloring book and colored pencils (I picked up a copy of Moods in Motion, a postpartum coloring book, at a maternal mental health conference a few months ago), and obviously, my notebooks.


Environmental

We have some big home projects to tackle before Baby arrives; we’re getting new carpet installed on our stairs and replacing the flooring throughout the second floor. Thankfully, the wheels are already in motion for this and we’re leaving the hard work to qualified professionals. Once that’s complete, we can work on getting Kiddo #1 set up in his new big boy bedroom and playroom. The nursery just needs a few small tweaks to get it ready for Kiddo #2, so I’m not too concerned about that (mostly setting up the crib again, patching some holes from a curtain installation gone awry, etc.). And I’m going to have the house cleaned from top to bottom (I think my days of trying to keep up with the housework myself are behind me, at least for now). I’ve also been decluttering and reorganizing as much as possible, which feels great and will make room for all the extra “stuff” a new family member will bring.

The other big task in this category is stocking the freezer and pantry. I think I did a pretty good job of this the first time around, and it was oddly satisfying, so I’m looking forward to tackling it again. This time, The First Forty Days will be an invaluable resource. I have a feeling I will be particularly depleted after this pregnancy (while I’ve done a decent job taking methyl folate, I haven’t been taking a multi-vitamin prenatal, although I really need to try again now that nausea seems to finally be in the past). I’m planning to make and freeze the following soups from the book:

  • Quinoa, Lentils & Greens
  • Creamy Kabocha & Red Lentil
  • Seasonal Greens

Plus the Oats & Chia Congee.

I’ve also been thinking about my favorite freezer-friendly meals that I can make in advance, like the turkey bolognese and turkey chili from Dinner: A Love Story. Perhaps I’ll do a follow-up post on what I actually end up making and freezing.

I think that covers it! Easy-peasy, right? Currently, my plan is to work on house prep and freezer/pantry stocking in August and September, then do an online shopping spree of anything we need (baby will need some clothes, and I’d like some new muslin blankets) in late September/ early October when I’m feeling truly miserable.

33 / a to-do list

Today I turn 33. It’s a confusing number because obviously, I’m 33; I’m a mom, but also, I don’t feel all that different than I did in college. Which was getting to be awhile ago. But I don’t believe in alternative facts, so it must be true. I’m 33.

I’ve always liked that my birthday falls more or less mid-year. It’s an excellent excuse to re-evaluate and set new goals. And so,

Things To Do at 33

  • Write snail mail
  • Write a list of 100 dreams
  • Write a book
  • Write blog posts
  • Continue writing in notebooks
  • Just write
  • Continue learning how to be a better daughter, friend, wife & mother
  • Fill a sketchbook
  • Drink more water
  • Stretch
  • Pray
  • Be gentle

Should keep me busy.

What I’m Teaching my Son in the Wake of Last Night’s Election

At 3, my son is too young to be cognizant of what happened yesterday. I’m glad. It means he hasn’t internalized the fear mongering and vitriol that dominated this election cycle. It means there’s still hope.

I went to bed with a heavy heart last night, truly believing that regardless of the outcome of the election, there would be no real winners. Ours is a broken nation, and there’s a lot of work to do.

Waking up to the sound of the baby monitor early this morning, I remembered: I am a mother. I am raising the next generation. I have never been an incredibly political person, but I can be part of this solution. If there’s one thing in this life I can control, it’s how I raise my son and what I’m teaching him.

So while I’m teaching him the alphabet and how to brush his teeth, and, I hope to God, some manners, I’m teaching him some other things, too.

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Read the rest over at Red Tricycle

 

BOB 2016 Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller Review

I recently upgraded our stroller and since E and I are both thoroughly obsessed with it, I thought I would share our BOB 2016 Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller review.

2016 BOB Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller

When E was about 4 months old, I hastily purchased a jogging stroller from a consignment store. The snap-and-go stroller wasn’t cutting it for walks around the neighborhood, but since that was all I saw myself doing with it, I didn’t put too much research into the purchase.

Less than a month later, I joined Stroller Strides. We ended up using that pre-owned stroller a lot, and I kinda regretted not buying something a little nicer from the beginning.

Fast forward 18 months. When I was attending instructor training in San Antonio, Farel (FIT4MOM’s Global Fitness Director) mentioned a new Stroller Strides BOB was on the horizon– and it had an adjustable handlebar. As a much-shorter-than-average person (I’m 5′), I was instantly sold. I’m not ashamed to say that I became a little bit obsessed with this stroller. I stalked amazon weekly, waiting for it to be released.

Finally, on September 14th: there it was. I quickly added it to my cart, then camped out by the front door. When it finally arrived, I took a selfie on the porch like a totally normal person:

2016 BOB Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller

Unboxing the BOB 2016 Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller

E and I made an unboxing video for your viewing pleasure:

BOB 2016 Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller Features & Specs

Per bobgear.com, the 2016 Stroller Strides edition has the following features:

  • Comes with a Stroller Strides fitness classes coupon (valid in US only) and a Stroller Strides Fitness Kit by BOB, including a handlebar console, Stroller Strides exercise manual and SPRI® fitness resistance bands.
  • This product comes with a coupon for a free week of Stroller Strides classes by Fit4Mom. Find classes near you at fit4mom.com.
  • Swiveling-locking front wheel swivels to maneuver tight turns with ease or locks forward for increased stability when jogging or on rough terrain.
  • Adjustable padded handlebar offers 9 positions to create the perfect fit for parents of all heights.
  • State-of-the-art adjustable suspension system offers 3 inches of travel and 2 stages of weight support for an ultra-smooth ride.
  • Easy 2-step fold for convenient transportation and storage
  • Travel system-ready when using the BOB Infant Car Seat Adapter (sold separately). Pair with a BOB B-Safe 35 Infant Car Seat by Britax or with other major brand car seats.
  • Air-filled tires on high-impact polymer wheels make for a smooth ride whether on-road or off-road.
  • One-hand recline adjustment lets you quickly lay the seat back with the simple squeeze of a button.
  • Fully upright seating position so your child can see the world on all your adventures.
  • Extra-large low boy cargo basket provides 15% more storage space so you can take everything you need when you’re on the go.
  • Ultra-padded seat with ventilation and a five-point harness keeps your child comfortable and secure.
  • Integrated pockets store snacks, drinks, and other necessities.
  • Extra-large UPF 50+ canopy shields your child from sun and weather.  Includes a large viewing window so you can keep a watchful eye.
  • Enhanced quick-release design makes it easy to securely attach both the front and back wheels.
  • Easy-remove wheels allow the stroller to become more compact for easy storage in tight spaces.
  • Adjustable front wheel tracking helps correct alignment with a simple twist of the knob.
  • Foot-activated parking brake secures stroller in the stopped position.
  • Wrist strap provides safety while running and includes a buckle to lock the stroller closed when folded.

Feature- and spec-wise, the BOB 2016 Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller is the same as the BOB 2016 Revolution Flex. The main difference is that the Stroller Strides edition features the FIT4MOM logo and is only available in blue. The Stroller Strides edition also includes a handlebar console, SPRI fitness bands, a Stroller Strides exercise manual, plus a coupon for a free week of Stroller Strides classes. The bands are a must-have if you want to work out on your own with your baby (I would also suggest a copy of Liza Druxman’s Lean Mommy to supplement the included exercise manual), and nice-to-have if you’re planning to join a Stroller Strides franchise, because bands do wear out, break, and otherwise get lost– you’ll need replacements eventually).

BOB 2016 Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller Review

A few weeks into owning the stroller and with several classes under our belt (both with me as an instructor and as a regular ol’ client), I can say with certainty that the BOB 2016 Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller is worth every single penny.

Comparing this stroller to my previous stroller, the tires are larger, so it’s much easier to run with. I love that I can adjust the handlebar to a height that’s comfortable for me. The 5-point harness is far more secure than our old stroller, too, which gives me peace of mind when I’m running with E in the stroller (accidents do happen, which is why it’s so important for kiddos to be properly buckled in during class).

The included handlebar console has a zippered compartment and a beverage holder. It is, unfortunately, too small for my 40 oz Hydro Flask, but a standard water bottle would fit just fine. I usually stick my phone in the beverage holder and use the zippered compartment for E’s many snacks (snacks are crucial for getting through a workout with a toddler).

2016 BOB Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller

The cargo basket is roomy enough to fit my mat, bands, Hydro Flask, and anything else we need for work out. There’s also a pocket on the back of the seat that’s perfect for storing anything you want to get to quickly, plus interior pockets for kiddos to stash toys and snacks.

2016 BOB Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller

I’m going to assume the padded seat is comfortable because, like I mentioned, E is obsessed with the new stroller. He insists on riding in it when we go check the mail, a journey he’s been walking for since he was 18 months old. The fact that an almost-3-year-old who’d rather be running and jumping is begging to get in a stroller and ride is pretty telling.

BOB Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller

The sun shade is extra-large and almost completely shades E when he’s sitting in the stroller. This is great from a sun-protection standpoint and also for stroller naps. The seat is super easy to recline, too.

All in all, this stroller did not disappoint and was worth the wait. I hope this BOB 2016 Stroller Strides Fitness Stroller review was helpful if you’re in the market for a jogging stroller. It’s  a must-have for moms looking to work out with their babies (check out the duallie model if you have 2 kiddos). Check out FIT4MOM to find Stroller Strides classes near you.


(This was not a paid review, obvi. I’m just completely smitten with my new stroller and Stroller Strides.)

On Achieving Iced Coffee Perfection

I love coffee. Kinda. It’s probably more accurate to say I like coffee-flavored milk. Which is where my Starbucks Gold Card comes in. Nothing I make at home tastes quite as good as what I can get for $5 at the drive-thru.

Until today.

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Over the weekend, I devoured Jenny Rosenstrach’s new book, How to Celebrate Everything. It’s every bit as good as Dinner: A Love Story and Dinner: The Playbook. When I came to her husband’s method for making iced coffee concentrate in a french press, I immediately added it to my food prep list for the week, even though I was a little skeptical. I’ve tried to make cold brew in the french press before and haven’t been wowed by the results. But if there’s any food writer I trust, it’s Jenny. She’s yet to steer me wrong.

Incidentally, also on my food prep list this week was PSL syrup after hearing Kelsey mention it on a recent Coffee + Crumbs podcast.

After I got E in bed for his post-lunch siesta, I filled a mason jar 3/4 full of ice, added the cold brew concentrate and milk in a 1:1 ratio, and topped it off with 2 Tbsp. of the PSL syrup and 2 Tbsp. of half and half.

Y’all. It was perfect. Plus, cheaper and probably healthier than my beloved Starbucks.

Iced coffee perfection achieved.

pumpkin spice iced coffee

 

The Week in Review

The last week of summer, and it was kind of a long one. We had our first (and probably not last) visit to Kiddie Acres, a vintage amusement park in North Austin that couldn’t be more perfect for the preschool crowd. There was also preschool open house, art class at Imagine That, a few Stroller Strides classes, and E’s first gymnastics class (definitely underestimated the parent participation portion of that…).

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Eating

turkey bolognese / BLT Salad this is literally my favorite thing right now; some of the measurements are missing but the non-obvious ones are 2 Tbsp vinegar and 2 Tbsp olive oil / lemon bars

Playing

E is loving the batch of cloud dough I made

Reading

She Poured Out Her Heart by Jean Thompson for book club; it was really slow to start. I’m about halfway and am now invested in the story, but still not sure how much I actually like it.

Making 

A knit snake, still, after having to rip it back due to my inability to read patterns

Writing

Nothing worth noting, though I have a bunch of drafts I’m looking forward to working on this week.

Watching

We watched The Big Short (streaming on Netflix) and I finally understand the 2008 housing crisis / I’m newly converted to bullet journaling and digging Lune de Papier on YouTube / and Claire Marshall never disappoints

Listening

The new Bon Iver singles / podcasts from Freelance Writers Den

The week ahead

So looking forward to having a full day tomorrow (yay 3 day weekends) to grocery shop and (hopefully) get the house back in order while we gear up for a week spent settling into a new fall routine. Our weekly routine was completely tossed up in the air last week, but the change of pace + new schedule is definitely welcome.

 

August Goals

August is here and it’s going to be a bananas month. E’s school is closed, which means no regular childcare, which means I get to figure out how to work from home with no dedicated work time during the week. A friend and I are splitting a babysitter one morning, and hopefully, my MIL will come hang out with E at least once. So I’m not completely freaking out. Plus, the light at the end of the tunnel is E going to school 3 days a week in the fall. I think he’s ready, and I know I’m ready to make a little more progress on work goals. And, no school means we were able to squeeze in swim lessons (E’s first!) and a couple of really fun playdates (a bakery tour!). We also have three (three!) birthday parties to attend over the next two weekends.

Basically, a lot going on. So I’m not making any big plans, just trying to hang on and keep my head above water.

august goals

Self-care

  • Evening routine + track it

Work

  • Editor list

Family

  • Edit, archive and print 2015 photos (Persnickety Prints is running a 50% off sale this week so that’s my motivation to get a couple of months done)

Just for Fun

  • Finish E’s knit snake
  • Studio Calico planner class

 

Best of July

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July by the numbers:

  • 5 Stroller Strides classes taught
  • 3 day trips (Salado, New Braunfels, Dripping Springs)
  • 2 dirty chais from Bribery Bakery
  • 1 rooster puppet purchased for a chicken-obsessed little boy
  • 0 progress made on any of my goals for the month

Best use of time: Known was pretty amazing. It was the push I needed at the right time. And I started a critique group with some of the other women taking the workshop and I’m super thrilled to be building a supportive and inspiring community with them.

Best Amazon purchase: I bought a Hydro Flask and it’s worth every penny. I wish I had bought one sooner. It’s much bigger than any water bottle I’ve ever had (I got the 40-ounce wide mouth in mint) and actually keeps my water cold. I added the straw lid a few days ago; I haven’t had the chance to test it out during a workout but so far I’m pleased.

Best post-workout snack: Perfect Cookies.

Best any other time snack: red bell pepper strips, baby carrots, and guacamole.

Best of the Internet:

A Snapshot of a 21st-Century Librarian I love reading articles about librarianship and libraries that go beyond the stereotypes

How to Parent like a German Cultural differences in parenting fascinate me. Also, if my husband was offered a job in Berlin, I’d move in a heartbeat

“Make sure your kids get the benefits of sports and music and camp and community service. Oh, and chores. But make sure you don’t overschedule them. Make sure they have ample time for homework, and make sure you help them with their homework, but don’t help them too much with their homework. And make sure they get to bed early. But make room for family time.” The Maddening Mixed Messages We Give Moms

Breast-Feeding the Microbiome Science-y explanations for why breast milk is basically liquid gold

“Riding has taught me that although I can’t always change my body, I can change what I do with it.” I maybe be biased because she’s my cousin, but Loryn is an exceptional human being. I love her post on how riding a motorcycle has changed her relationship with her body. It’s an important message for, well, everyone.

Jenny Lawson is publishing a coloring book and it sounds awesome

“It’s not that I’m no longer capable of having my own thoughts, it’s just that there isn’t much room for them anymore amongst the checklists that keep me focused and keep my head above water so our family can stay afloat.” The Real Reason Mothers Feel Like They’ve Lost Themselves

The Psychological Benefits of Writing Regularly

“I’m still not convinced we’ve drawn the line between our responsibilities and our desires, as parents and as people, in the right spot.” Baby on Board

On Writing, and Being Known

“You certainly have a way with words… when you take your time,” my 11th grade US History teacher said as he handed my paper on Hemingway back to me, a big red “A” scrawled on top.

Writing has always been my thing. It’s as natural to me as drawing air into my lungs. I discovered the transformative power of journaling at an early age, filling page after page of cheap spiral bound notebooks with both the mundane and the significant events of my life. I’ve written love letters, hundreds of LiveJournal entries, and one slightly ridiculous poem about sugar cubes. I’m often not sure how I feel about something until the words are flowing through my pen. Words are my super power.

unknownlandscape

unknown landscape, 4″ x 6″. Shot and printed sometime in college, probably 2005.

I’m quite certain my journal literally saved my life the year I was 20, the year my anxiety caught up with me and I was drowning in depression. My mental state was roughly equal to the surface tension of water. I couldn’t turn off the tears, I’d lay on my bed in a ball and imagined myself sinking into the mattress and then disappearing completely. I didn’t want to die, but I didn’t want to be here anymore. Practically every night I dreamt about something horrible and unspeakable happening to one of my five siblings. It was the most desperation I have ever felt in my entire life and I never want to go back to that place (my thoughts from that time still terrify me on a truly primal level). My journal then was an anchor made of paper, the thing that kept me rooted in place, the thing that allowed me to occasionally pull up for air from the darkest depths while my brain healed itself with therapy and medication. And time.

But gradually, I stopped writing as much. Life became full with graduate school, and full-time employment, and a man who knew how to love me even when I was having a full-blown panic attack in our bathroom. My brain wasn’t telling me as many lies, not going haywire over every perceived danger. I still kept up my journals, but I would go weeks between entries. There are many things that happened that I did not even give a cursory mention.

Although writing has been my gig since I left my library job at the end of 2012, I have not been taking my time. I’ve been writing, but not my own stories. Not the stories that matter, not the things that help me make sense of where and who I am and how I even got to this place.

I signed up for Known, a creative storytelling workshop with Coffee + Crumbs, because my creativity has been at all time low, because I’m starting to forget what it feels like to be anything other than a wife and mom. I love being those things; my husband and son are my everything. But I know there’s more depth to me than that.

Since the workshop started earlier this month, I’ve filled pages and pages of my journal with notes from the weekly lessons. And I’ve written, a tsunami of words. I’ve written about a loss I’ve never shared and the boy who had my heart when I was eighteen, and what it feels like now, to be 32.

I forgot what this felt like.

Of being exhausted not because my insomnia is back (again) but because I’d been writing after I put the baby to bed and couldn’t turn it off, memories of things that happened over a decade ago suddenly flooding back like it happened yesterday. Of feeling buoyant because I was putting my words out into the universe instead of letting them weigh down my heart and clog up my brain. Of the satisfaction that I’d made something today other than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, cut into tiny squares.

This is what it feels like to practice my craft. I pour another cup of coffee and I keep going, taking my time.

 

The stories of our own lives require active searching—learning to look through our memories in a new way. To find story in your life, you must engage imagination with memory; you must invent a line of continuity—not from nothing, but from the raw materials of your life. It’s like reading a pattern in DNA or figuring out the possible anagrams in a word. To find story in your life, you have to know what you’re looking for.

Tristine Rainer, Your Life as Story