Pregnancy Weight Gain + Postpartum Plans

Happy Tuesday, friends!

Today I want to talk about pregnancy weight gain and my postpartum plans (or lack thereof?).

At 36 weeks, I’ve already gained over 30 pounds, which is more than many healthy, average-weight women gain total. At the end of pregnancy, I will weigh more than my husband.

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It would be easy to become alarmed at that fact, but I’m 100% ok with it. My doctor tells me each visit that my weight gain and vitals are great, which is reassuring.

Maybe it’s due to having an easy pregnancy, no skin issues, and a majority of my weight gain in my belly and breasts, but I can honestly say I’ve never felt more confident physically than I have these last several months.

It could also be due in part to the compliments and attention I receive, but I doubt that is the case. I look in the mirror and, though it was discouraging in those first few weeks when I was pudgy and full of “food baby” instead of actual baby, I am amazed at the changes my body has gone through.

Do I have more cellulite? Absolutely. Has that dreaded armpit fat vanished? Definitely not (it’s more abundant). But in addition to those changes, my body has become stronger. By working out (sometimes!), my arms, legs, shoulders, etc. have more strength. The muscle tone may not be evident due to baby weight, but I can feel it.

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Though it’s difficult to roll over, get up from the floor, or simply walk up the stairs, I think it’s awesome that my little body can safely carry around approximately 27% more weight than it previously did!

I know actual labor and delivery, breastfeeding, and dealing with wacked out hormones will cause even more physical changes—some of them not so pretty—but I hope I can maintain this same confidence after Baby M is born.

Since I plan on breastfeeding, I think much of the weight will drop quickly. Nevertheless, I know that I’m in no hurry to return to my pre-pregnancy weight. In fact, after looking at earlier photos and pondering the numbers, I think it would benefit me to keep around 5 pounds (maybe even 10?).

The competitor in me wants to tell people, “Yes, it only took me X months to reach my pre-pregnancy weight,” but I know that kind of attitude is unhealthy. Not only is the mentality dangerous, but the actual weight may not be right for me, especially since there will be new demands on my body.

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Do I want to fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes? Yes (some of them are practically new!). Do I want to tone up my body? Of course. But I don’t think I’m going to do any kind of measuring or weighing. Tracking numbers week-to-week or month-to-month just sounds exhausting.

For some people, tracking may be exactly what they need to do, but for myself, I fear it would lead to critical and obsessed thoughts, as if I was on some kind of timeline. The only goal I’ve set for myself is to run the Azalea Trail Run 10K in March, which would be about 5 ½ months after delivery and completely doable.

It’s entirely possible my postpartum goals may change once I’m at that point, but until then, I’m not going to worry. I’ll eat right, stay active, and try to maintain a healthy lifestyle while ensuring Baby M is healthy and happy. That’s all I really can do.

Pregnancy: Week 35

Hi, there! Just like that, we’re at 35 (and ½) weeks. Last night we had our final childbirth education class; this one was on breastfeeding and newborn care. As much as I’d have liked to meet other couples at the hospital classes, I’m glad things worked out the way they did. The instructor is really nice, and I’m sure we’ll keep in contact in the next few weeks and after Baby M is born.

On Tuesday, I promised a story about my near-panic attack in the benefits office, so here it is.

Several months ago, I emailed our benefits administrator to find out the standard maternity leave process. She did a great job of explaining the protocol and clearing up any misunderstandings I had from the handbook.

Well, flash forward to last week, when I learned that she and her assistant were gone. They’d been replaced by 2 new women, so I figured I’d better talk to one of them sooner rather than later.

Perhaps I was unclear when telling her what I knew already (something about how I worded “FMLA leave” and “being paid”), but she nonchalantly stated my leave would be unpaid.

My jaw dropped and my heart started racing!

I argued that, no, 6 weeks of my leave is 100% paid and that I needed a # to file my claim (maternity leave at my company is covered under short-term disability).

She just kind of thought out loud, confused, saying she wasn’t sure. Luckily, as I grew more and more panicked (and angry), she vowed to resolve this and told me not to leave. Luckily, she figured it all out and gave me the forms I need.

I know that it’s not her fault for being inadequately trained, but the way she said all of this was incredibly frustrating. I apologized for reacting how I did and we kind of laughed before I left, especially after she mentioned that she could understand how I would feel panicked. I told her I was fine being the guinea pig if it meant that the next person wouldn’t have to go through the shock and horror I did. All is well now, and calling to initiate my claim was the easiest thing ever.

With that out of the way, let’s see how Baby M and I are progressing this week!

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What’s Baby M up to this week?

  • Baby M is over 18 inches long and weighs around 5 ¼ pounds (about the size of a honeydew melon)
  • Due to his size, he isn’t likely to be doing somersaults anymore, but the number of times he kicks should remain about the same.
  • His kidneys are fully developed now, and his liver can process some waste products.
  • Most of his basic physical development is now complete — he’ll spend the next few weeks putting on weight.

How am I feeling this week?

Weight Gained: 

According to the gym’s scale, 30 pounds

Workouts: 

Walking as much as I can (but staying out of direct sunlight) and my Tuesday night barre class.

Symptoms: 

  • peeing often—duh?
  • a tiny bit of pelvic pressure, but nothing major, and lower back pain
  • a tiny bit of sciatic pain (I think?)
  • heartburn
  • stuffy nose
  • fewer leg cramps (which is nice!)
  • some minor foot swelling last Friday evening (that went away quickly after I elevated my feet in the recliner)

Food Aversions:

None, really

Food Cravings:

I’m neither excited about nor averse to food. I eat whatever is available. I still enjoy cold things, though, and fruit, sweets, etc.

Sleep:

Mostly good. I still fight to get comfortable and am getting up once a night to use the bathroom, but I usually go back to sleep quickly.

Stretch Marks?

Still haven’t noticed any

Wedding rings—on or off?

On, but a little bit snug

Belly button—in or out?

Flat (and so weird looking!)

Signs of labor?

Nope—thank goodness!

Happy or moody?

Happy, although I’m slightly paranoid and incredibly aggravated at people’s comments about my belly!

Maternity Clothes?

Should I remove this question? Yes, I’m still wearing them; no, I don’t plan to buy anymore.

Baby Purchases:

Nothing—our shower is this week so I’m super excited!

Looking forward to:

  • our baby shower
  • our good friends’ baby’s 1st birthday party next weekend
  • my doctor visit next Thursday (not that I enjoy going to the doctor, but I’m anxious to know how I’m progressing, especially since every John and Sally I talk to is an expert on my body now)

Miss anything?

  • The lack of paranoia every time somebody comments about how I look!
  • Being comfortable and having energy—the usual that comes around this time in everybody’s pregnancy, I imagine
  • SUSHI AND BEER AND WINE!!!

Best/Worst Moments:

Oh, so many!

Let me first say that I do realize that most people are being kind, friendly, and curious when they make a comment or ask a question about my pregnancy/bump. Likewise, I realize that pregnant women will always elicit reactions/commentary simply by virtue of being pregnant; we’re curious people, and we’re fascinated by new life. It’s actually kind of awesome when you think about it.

On the other hand, though, I’m feeling really paranoid due to the several comments I’ve received this week concerning the appearance of my bump, the replies of “are you sure you’ll make it that long?” or “I think he might come early” or “be careful, he’s coming.”

I was on the verge of tears a couple of times because of these comments. I know they meant no harm, but what makes them experts on my body? Why do they insinuate that DELIVERING 5 WEEKS EARLY would be a perfectly normal and good thing?

I *think* I feel a few changes that come in the last month of pregnancy such as: my belly does feel a bit lower (especially when sitting) but not extremely so; I feel minimal pelvic pressure, but nothing like “oh my god, he’s going to fall out!;” my bowel movements (TMI—sorry) are a little slower/less frequent; my heartburn isn’t quite as bad/frequent as the last month or so; and I’m sure there are a few more.

On the other hand, though, I can’t tell if half of these “symptoms” are in my head because of the comments I’ve received or if they’re real. I do know that I haven’t shown any warning signs like loss of amniotic fluid, a color change or increase in discharge, or contractions. I still feel fairly comfortable (as much as one can after gaining 30 pounds and being 35 ½ weeks pregnant), and I really, really, really want Baby M to continue baking till he’s full-term (39 or 40 weeks).

I realize that a pregnancy can be going perfectly and then change suddenly, but I honestly just want to see my doctor and have her reassure me that all is fine or confirm whether I should be more careful/expect to go early.

Anyway, I guess that’s it for this week. Here’s hoping things continue to go well and that Baby M bakes as long as he needs to.

Questions for moms & moms-to-be:

  • How did you deal with the “suddenly-a-medical-expert” type of commentary?
  • I’m venturing into TMI territory again, but what are your thoughts on perineal massage? Did you do it and did it help at all?
  • What are your thoughts on paid maternity (and/or paternity) leave?

Cranberry & Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites

Usually I’m a careful person, but ever since my childhood years, I’ve thrown caution to the wind when it involves raw cookie dough or cake batter. Yes, I know that raw eggs can contain salmonella and should be avoided, but there’s something wrong with baking a cake or a batch of cookies without sampling the dough/batter beforehand.

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Now that I’m pregnant, though, I take special care to avoid raw or undercooked foods. Thankfully, that doesn’t mean I have to give up my beloved cookie dough! We’ve all seen countless vegan or egg-free raw cookie dough recipes over the years, and I’m sharing another one today.

These can be gluten free (if you use certified GF oats), and depending on the liquid sweetener and type of chocolate chips you use, they can also be vegan. They’re also pretty healthy.

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Cranberry & Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites

yields 16 small balls

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cups rolled oats
  • ½ cup almond meal
  • ¼ cup ground flax
  • ¼ cup liquid sweetener (agave, maple syrup, honey, etc.)
  • 2 Tbsp smooth almond butter (or nut/seed butter of choice)
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp fine-grain sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp dried cranberries
  • 2 Tbsp mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions 

  1. In a high-speed blender (I used the Magic Bullet), blend the oats until finely ground. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the ground oats, almond meal, flax, and salt.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the sweetener, nut butter, oil, and vanilla; microwave for about 20-30 seconds until easily stirred together (and any solid oil is melted).
  4. Pour the liquid mixture over the dry mixture, stirring until a dough forms (you may need to use your hands to ensure everything is well-mixed). Fold in the chocolate chips and dried cranberries.
  5. Roll the dough into small balls (I go for 1-inch); place the finished balls (in a single layer) onto a plate or into a freezer-safe container.
  6. Freeze for about 10 minutes until firm; bites can then be stored in the freezer in a freezer bag or in the refrigerator.

[adapted from Angela Liddon's Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites, page 235 of The Oh She Glows Cookbook]

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I know I make a lot of these, but these are great to keep at work for a healthy snack or bit of energy. They can easily be packed in lunches and are good at holding me over in the afternoons before dinner.

Summer Highlights + Looking Forward to Fall

I’m beyond glad that today is Tuesday. Yesterday was one of those Mondays I just did not want to get out of bed—and then it all went downhill once I got to work. I’ll save the story for Friday’s pregnancy update, but let’s just say our new benefits administrator nearly sent me into pre-term labor and/or cardiac arrest by being oblivious about our maternity/short-term disability leave. All I can say is I’m glad I spoke to the previous administrator back in May and have thoroughly read our employee handbook!

Moving on to something more positive, would you believe me if I told you I have an actual food-related, recipe post to share with you later this week? It’s another snack, but it’s relatively healthy, easy to make, and quite portable.

Until then, I’m jumping back into the September Blogging Challenge.

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#5: Top 5 Highlights from Summer

Our “baby-moon” to Memphis

Our last real vacation was early 2013 (Clearwater and Disney World/Universal Studios), so getting away for a week in July was just what we needed! We lucked out with the weather (it was hot, but not unbearably so) and enjoyed getting to know downtown, visiting the zoo, and seeing Mark’s parents on the way there and back.

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Discovering barre

As much as I love(d) Bikram, I’ve come to accept that I might not be able to return as quickly as I like postpartum. It’s expensive, and while the benefits are worth it, that $100 will probably be better spent on diapers! I am, however, glad that I joined the fitness center at the hospital and my love for barre. Although it’s not quite the same, barre class does leave me with that sense of accomplishment and relaxation that hot yoga did.

Finishing Baby M’s nursery

Although we technically still need a book shelf for the corner, the nursery is pretty much complete. It was a lot of work, but I think we did a great job. Finishing fairly early means we can focus on other baby-related things in these last few weeks.

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Breaking down walls

Not literally—I’m talking about mental walls. Stepping outside of my comfort zone, taking charge of certain things I’d normally just accept, and opening up to people. I’ve talked about it before, but I just feel like I’ve grown a lot (and not just in the abdomen!) this summer. It feels good.

Accomplishing things at work

Not that busting my butt for most of the summer was enjoyable, but I do feel proud and accomplished for powering through a busy time. Thankfully my health has been good and my pregnancy has been easy, otherwise the never-ending paperwork, occasional late evenings, and back-and-forth between offices would have been killer.

#6: 6 Things About Fall I’m Looking Forward To…

Baby M’s arrival

I have no idea how I’m going to take care of a human being (!!!) but I’m so ready to meet the little guy who keeps poking me in the side and burrowing into my bladder.

Cool Weather + Colorful Foliage

This is a given, but I’m especially looking forward to cool weather so that I can get outside with Baby M for some exercise, fresh air, and time outside of the house! After surviving a summer pregnancy, I feel like this will be the best way to lose some baby weight and get back into shape!

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Baking

While I may not have a lot of time for baking with a newborn, fall-inspired baked goods are my favorite. Like every blogger, I’m obsessed with pumpkin, and warming spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves make a home smell like heaven.

The clothes

While it may be closer to winter before I fit into my skinny jeans, I’m so looking forward to fall fashions: sweaters, boots, scarves, etc. Airy, lightweight maternity dresses have been a lifesaver this summer, but I miss regular clothes, especially cool-weather ones.

Football season

With a new baby we won’t be making any trips to the Dome this year, but we can still watch football on TV.

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Seasonal beer

I sound so pathetic since my life seems to revolve around food and beverage, but I cannot wait for that first sip of pumpkin beer! I’ll still have to wait a while to figure out Baby M’s feeding schedule before I enjoy more than a sip or two, but I’m dreaming about all the delicious seasonal brews I see in stores right now.

Questions for you

  • What was the highlight of your summer?
  • What are you looking forward to most about fall?

Pregnancy: Week 34

With the holiday, this week flew by (not complaining!). Here we are at my 34 week update already. This week has been pretty good, and we’ve already begun some preparation (I purchased and ordered some things I need for my hospital bag, for example), and Thursday we took our tour of the maternity floor and had our first birthing class. I love the newly-renovated labor and postpartum rooms, and I really like the teacher. She’s very bubbly and a little hard to keep up with, but luckily what we went over echoed and further explained things I’ve read about recently.

Now, let’s have a look at Baby M’s development and what’s going on with me this week.

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What’s Baby M up to this week?

  • Baby M weighs between 4 ¾ and 5 pounds (about the size of a cantaloupe!) and is measuring almost 18 inches long.
  • His skin is smoother and his fat layers—which he’ll need to regulate his body temperature once he’s born—are filling him out, making him rounder (and cuter, obviously).
  • His central nervous system and lungs are maturing—well enough, in fact, that if he’s born early between 34 and 37 weeks, he’ll likely do fine after a short stay in the neonatal nursery (but let’s not get any ideas here, ok?!)

How am I feeling this week?

Weight Gained: 

According to the scale at my doctor’s appointment, I’ve gained 29 pounds.

Workouts: 

Few and far between, but like last week, I’m still walking/moving a lot and Tuesday night’s barre class was a really good one (Go figure all 3 pregnant women were on the same side of the room so we were dubbed the “pregnant triangle.” Stay away from us if you’re not ready for a kid.) ;-)

Symptoms: 

  • heartburn (this is pretty much daily, though it’s still a minor discomfort)
  • frequent bathroom trips
  • leg cramps (I’ll be glad when these go away!)
  • occasional pain/soreness in my butt/hip (probably nerve pressure from Baby M)
  • feeling really full (I think Baby M has turned head-down, because I feel much more pressure near my ribs. It also feels like he’s running out of room!)

Food Aversions:

None.

Food Cravings:

None of my cravings are strong, but I’m still enjoying fresh fruit, overnight oats, pizza and carby things, salads, etc.

Sleep:

Hit or miss. Some nights I sleep like a rock, others I toss and turn, trying to get comfortable. I will say that sleeping in for most of Labor Day weekend felt amazing.

Stretch Marks?

Still none—and still applying my coconut oil and lotions every morning (and some nights, when I remember)

Wedding rings—on or off?

Still on, though I have noticed some finger swelling in the heat

Belly button—in or out?

Still kind of flat

Signs of labor?

No! And let’s keep it that way for a few more weeks, shall we?

Happy or moody?

Mostly happy, although I had my moments this past weekend

Maternity Clothes?

Nothing new—refusing it! My pants are getting tight, but so long as nobody complains, I’m still wearing them. I do have 3 cooler weather tops I stupidly bought shortly after we found out I was pregnant, and I’m hoping to wear them these next few weeks. It’s too late to take them back (plus I removed the tags).

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Here’s a fun comparison (same outfit!) from 24 and 34 weeks. What a difference 10 weeks makes!

Baby Purchases:

None, but we did get a lot of fantastic gifts this past weekend like much-needed bath stuff, some swaddling blankets, a baby monitor, other necessities (hello, diapers!), and plenty of adorable clothes!

Looking forward to:

This may sound weird, but I’m looking forward to washing baby clothes/blankets/towels/etc. and cooking up a bunch of freezer meals (and lactation cookies!) this weekend. Plus we finish out our birthing class Sunday, with breastfeeding/newborn on Monday night. Being prepared feels great! I’m also looking forward to the shower that Mark’s coworkers are giving during lunch today—and of course our big church/family shower next weekend.

Miss anything?

The usual: normal clothes, having all of my energy, beer/wine, sushi, being more active, etc.

Best/Odd/Memorable Moments:

I’m sure this will change in the next couple of weeks, but I’m still really enjoying being pregnant. Is it weird that whenever people ask my due date and then say, “oh, I bet you’re so ready to get him out!” that I honestly reply, “No, not really—it hasn’t been too bad.” Of course I’m ready to meet our little guy, but honestly, the reality of RAISING and BEING RESPONSIBLE for a tiny human being’s life is much more frightening than the weeks leading up to labor/delivery. Despite my slowness, heavy breathing, and inability to sleep comfortably, I still feel pretty good!

I absolutely cringed Wednesday, however, when some creepy stranger looked me up and down and blurted out, “baby, I know you’s about to pop.” Ew. Just Ew (for so many reasons, including the use of the word “baby” and the bad grammar). I quickly walked away from that mess!

Oh, and funny story. Lately, I’ve been thinking about how everything seems to be falling into place perfectly (finding the right doctor, having scheduling conflicts only to end up with a better option for classes, etc.) and when the nurse was scheduling my next several appointments, she mentioned she’d stop at that point since my doctor is going to be out of town a few days in October. Yeah, just as I thought, she’s going on vacation October 4-12, returning the day before my due date! I’m not even upset about it (she hasn’t had a real vacation in 3 years!), but it’s just too funny. Of course that would be our dumb luck. I have this feeling that Baby M is going to arrive on time or a few days late, so maybe she’ll be back in time. And if not, the teacher tonight talked very highly of the office’s other doctors (whom I hope to meet closer to my due date), especially one in particular who’s really good about allowing the mother to experience labor how she pleases. So, if worse comes to worse, maybe he will be the doctor on call.

Anyway, I hope everybody has a great weekend! I can’t believe how quickly things are progressing (you’d think I’d believe it by now since I say the same thing each week); it seems like February (when I took the pregnancy test) was just a few days ago on one hand, but lightyears ago on the other.

Questions for moms & moms-to-be:

  • Did your OB-GYN deliver your baby or was it the doctor on call?
  • At what point in your pregnancy were you just ready for it to be over?
  • We still haven’t picked out a pediatrician (though we have a good list from my OB-GYN)—what advice can you give for how to choose the best fit for our child (questions to ask, criteria to look for, etc)?

Thinking Out Loud + Thankful Thursday

Happy Thursday, friends!

What is it about a short week that makes me anticipate the weekend even more than usual? Whatever it is, I’m excited to have a short Thursday (well, I’m working just half a day, but I have a busy schedule after: lunch with Mark, tour of the maternity ward, 34 week doctor’s appointment, and our first session of our private birthing class!).

But enough about my schedule. Today, I thought I’d combine Day 4: Thankful Thursday of the September Blogging Challenge with some Thinking Out Loud. (Click on the links if you’re wondering what I’m talking about!)

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Today I’m thankful for..

1) A healthy pregnancy

So far, things have been easy. Apart from occasional queasiness or dizziness in the beginning and some intense fatigue during the first trimester, I’ve honestly felt great these last 34 weeks. I feel confident in my appearance, I have the energy to work and take care of myself, and I’m just trying to live in the moment while preparing myself to become a mother.

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2) Supportive parents and in-laws

Although only my parents live in town, it’s reassuring to know my in-laws are just a few hours away. Mark and I are incredibly lucky to have the best role models who will be the most loving grandparents to our little one. (They’re already spoiling him!)

3) Amazing friends

I may not call or hang out with many of them often, but just this past weekend at our baby shower, I was reminded that we have some of the most awesome friends we could ask for. I appreciate their generous gifts, and I’m excited for all of them to one-day meet Baby M and be a part of his life.

4) Living by the water

I’m so sad we haven’t actually been to the beach all summer (unless you count that April or May trip to Perdido?), but one of my favorite parts of my work day continues to be my lunchtime walks in the park. Watching the ships chug along and the pelicans dive into the bay just calms me and reminds me to breathe a little.

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5) A job that’s willing to work with me regarding maternity leave

Sure, they’re legally required to give me up to 12 weeks off, but so far, I’ve experienced no real pressure about my choosing to take off a full 12 weeks. While I’ve worked extremely hard the past couple of months to issue some of our big purchase orders, my boss and coworkers have always made sure I wasn’t overwhelmed. I just hope my transition away and my return in late December/early January go just as well.

6) Financial stability

I’m not going to lie: raising a child is going to be difficult for us financially, but I’m grateful that Mark and I both have decent jobs with affordable health insurance. Will we be able to dine out, buy new clothes at a whim, etc. like we used to? No, and we’re going to need to come up with a reliable budget. But I do know that we are far better off than many and will make it work. Our priorities will undoubtedly shift, and we may learn to do without some non-essentials (cable?), but we’ll do it. And we’ll give Baby M an amazing life.

7) My dog, Iggy

I’m so comforted by our dog’s unconditional love for us—and his soft, pink belly, adorable floppy ears, and sweet puppy kisses. If I can love a dog as much as I do, then the love I’ll have for Baby M is going to be almost unbearable.

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There are many other things I’m thankful for, but I think 7 is a good number to stop at. I’ll be back tomorrow with my 34 week “bump date.”

Question for you:

What’s something you’re thankful for today?

September Blogging Challenge: Goals & Accomplishments

I don’t think it’s a big secret that I’m in a bit of a blogging slump. Ok, more like a blogging abyss. To counteract that and diversify my content—and hopefully learn how to type a blog post that’s less than 500 words (I’m wordy, ok?!)—I’m going to participate in Gracie’s September Blogging Challenge.

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Since we’re already a few days into September, I’m going to combine some of the days. As a matter of fact, I’m probably going to do that quite frequently, because with all I have to do in the next few weeks, there’s no way I can post daily. Anyway, if you’re a blogger reading this, I urge you to join in. It’ll be fun. :-)

#1: Goals for September

  • Continue taking good care of myself (and Baby M) for the remainder of my pregnancy
  • Complete baby preparation, such as…
    • purchase and install the car seat (!!!)
    • wash newborn clothing and bedding, towels, blankets, etc.
    • prepare several freezer meals for when Baby M arrives
    • finish reading the pregnancy/childbirth/baby books I’ve begun (and largely neglected)
    • complete other essentials like ordering my breast pump, packing the hospital bag, researching daycares, completing our birthing class, etc.
    • deep clean the house
    • tie up any loose ends at work (my last scheduled day is Oct 3rd)
  • go on a date (or few) with Mark to enjoy our last full month as “a couple” before we become “a family”
  • Schedule some blog posts for those first couple of weeks postpartum (which I’m sure will be a whirlwind of CRAZY!)
  • Similarly, come up with a long-term plan/schedule for the blog (I probably won’t be posting often, but I do want to continue this blog since I hope to one-day go self-hosted and generate some income by growing my blog into more of a brand or business)
  • Complete the 2 freelance articles I need to submit before I’m “accepted” to that content site I joined, oh, I don’t know, almost a year ago!

#2: Something I’m proud of accomplishing recently

I explain more in this post, but I’m proud of the way I’ve grown this year and the end of last year. I’m proud that, despite the initial anxiety, I’ve handled my pregnancy so well (feel free to disagree if I’ve bitten your head off!) and tried to enjoy the whole experience. Sure, I’ve had my bad days, but overall, I’m learning to live in the moment and be grateful for the things I normally take for granted. I’m proud that I’ve taken my words (“this is my year and I want to experience new things”) and done my best at living them rather than merely saying or thinking them.

I don’t want to cram too much in, so that seems like a good stopping point. Have a great evening, blog world!

Questions for you:

  • What are some of your goals for September?
  • Is there something you’re proud of accomplishing recently?

What I Ate (& Read) Wednesday 09.03.14

I know I said I’d be back Sunday or Monday with a post, but I decided to pack the computer away (for the most part) and enjoy some much needed relaxation instead.

But since it’s Wednesday, I thought I’d combine today’s post with my usual Weekly Links and share a What I Ate—and Read—Wednesday.

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Below are yesterday’s meals…

Breakfast

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overnight oats with banana, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, cinnamon and almond milk

Morning Snack

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some fresh fruit (this craving is still going strong!)

Lunch

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leftover gumbo from our baby shower (the best in town!)

Afternoon Snack

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a stick of Sargento sharp cheddar

Dinner

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a carb-filled brinner (consisting of scrambled eggs, cheesy potatoes, and an English muffin) that will probably be followed by a piece of leftover baby shower cake

And now moving on to the reads…

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Recipes

Oatmeal-Dark Chocolate Chip & Coconut Cookies via Brown-Eyed Baker

Dark chocolate and coconut—two of my favorite things. I need cookies in my life, now!

Croque Monsieur with French Onion Relish via Butter and Brioche

Oh, man, do I ever love a Croque Monsieur! I imagine the prosciutto (and sweet onion relish!) takes this ultimate comfort food to the most magical of levels.

Banana Streusel Muffins via How Sweet Eats

These look fabulous. I’m now kicking myself for letting my last 3 bananas get too ripe (aka, completely black!) this past week.

Toffee Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookie Bars via Oh She Glows

Oh, these look awesome…and totally worth turning on the oven and having a hot house during the summer!

Fried Green Tomatoes with Goat Cheese Grits via Wicked Spatula

I’m starving right now, but even if I’d just eaten, this dish would look amazing. This Southern girl loves her grits and fried foods, y’all.

Food & Nutrition

Cutting Back On Carbs, Not Fat, May Lead To More Weight Loss via NPR

I’m glad to see healthy fats finally being praised instead of demonized. We all need fat to live and live well, but too many refined carbohydrates are just bad for us (even though I ate a lot of them last weekend and have zero regrets!).

Breakfast Downgraded from ‘Most Important Meal of the Day’ to ‘Meal’ via The Atlantic

Eating 3 meals a day (or 4 or 6—whatever provides adequate fuel for your activity load) is the important thing, I guess. While breakfast will remain my favorite meal of the day (and I get mighty hangry without it), I guess I’ll go a little easy on my non-breakfast-eating husband after reading this. ;-)

Body Image & Mental Health

Tuning Out Food Noise via Choosing Raw

Though I’ve never suffered from a diagnosed eating disorder, I still can relate to this post just by virtue of being a woman who’s incredibly competitive and quick to point out my own flaws. It’s important for folks in recovery to do more than simply gain weight as advised by their doctor, since it’s the underlying obsession, fear, criticism, etc. that perpetuates the real illness, and even the simplest of (well-meaning) self-congratulatory images or statistics from somebody else can trigger that sense of competition. So, if you’ve recently lost a few pounds, seen increased muscle tone, or are embarking upon a new diet or fitness regimen, be mindful of how (and to whom) you share your success/endeavors.

Fighting Anxiety and Depression at Work via Huffington Post

I couldn’t agree more with this. (Side note: my husband teaches a training course through the mental health agency where he works that helps provide employers with the tools and knowledge they need to recognize the signs of mental illness, particularly depression, among their employees. Something like this should be in practice in every city/region.)

Fitness

Get Moving Cardio Core Circuit via Run Pretty

I love that this workout requires no equipment and that no sit-ups/crunches are involved. I might be a little too unsteady (read: plump in the tummy!) to do this workout now during pregnancy, but I think it would have been great for 1st and some of 2nd trimester. I’m definitely bookmarking it for postpartum.

18 Convincing Reasons To Give Yoga Another Try via Huffington Post

This is why I can’t wait to get back into yoga after postpartum recovery.

The Latest and Greatest Fitness Moves via Cotter Crunch

Some of these look intense! Although I’m doing what feels best for my body and taking it easy during pregnancy, I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t miss doing some of the more complicated and difficult stuff, too. Definitely saving this for later.

Pregnancy & Parenting

Pregnancy Weight: The Great Debate via Balancing B

This is a wonderful and well-written post. I think we all can agree that gaining tons of weight (and eating massive amounts of junk food while remaining completely sedentary) is unhealthy for both the mother and the baby (it can lead to serious health complications), but the recommended 25-35 pounds is exactly that: a recommendation. We all were at different weights and activity levels pre-pregnancy, and our bodies all have different needs throughout pregnancy. Each of us gains and loses weight differently! As long as we feel healthy and are doing our best to provide our bodies/babies with necessary nutrients, hydration, and activity, then we’re doing just fine. There’s no room for shaming during and after pregnancy—especially from other moms!

The Pressure To Have a Perfect Birth via Huffington Post

Hmm, this article came at a good time for me. Although I have envisioned “the perfect birth,” I keep reminding myself that anything could happen. I’m trying to be as relaxed as possible, though I am doing everything in my power to educate myself, prepare for the best (and worst) outcomes, and remain healthy in these next 5-6 weeks to avoid compromising my opportunity for a natural birth (I do not want to go into labor with extra stress or illness or fear, because I truly believe that the “mind-body connection” is a big part of a successful labor). A healthy baby (and mom) is the ultimate goal, of course, but that doesn’t mean that a woman’s feelings regarding her labor aren’t valid or important. In the end, though, we do what we can.

Pregnancy: Week 33

How is this the last weekend of August? This year is flying by. And, like I always ask, how has yet another week of pregnancy passed? At times, I’ve felt kind of narcissistic typing and sharing these updates each week, but honestly, if I didn’t do them, I wouldn’t know how far along I was. 33 weeks already! The last several weeks have truly been a blur, and typing up these posts really does keep me on track. Plus, I know that months after Baby M is born and I am (roughly) back to my pre-pregnancy body and learning the ropes of being a mother to an infant, I’ll be glad that I kept track of this journey.

This weekend is going to be full of things to do—including our first baby shower!—so let’s get right to the update.

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What’s Baby M up to this week?

  • Baby M weighs a little more than 4 pounds and measures just past the 17-inch mark. He’s about the size of a pineapple! (Oooh, pineapple…haven’t had any of that in a while.)
  • His skeleton is hardening and he’s losing that wrinkled, alien look.
  • The bones in his skull aren’t fused together yet, which will make it easier for him to fit through the birth canal; they won’t entirely fuse until early adulthood, so they can grow as his brain and other tissues expand during infancy/childhood.

How am I feeling this week?

Weight Gained:

I didn’t have time to weigh myself this week at the gym, but if I’m on the same track as before, then I’m probably at 27-28 pounds.

Workouts:

Should I just remove this from my list? I’m still trying to move around (I need to break out the pedometer to see how much I really do walk) but scheduled workouts just aren’t happening. I’m still going to barre (it’s my favorite!) and I’m trying to incorporate more yoga/stretching/pilates—even if it’s just for 15-20 minutes—into my evenings (Wednesday night I did a lower body barre workout). I want to try to get back into the swimming pool these last few weeks—even if I just float around and kick my legs a bit.

Symptoms:

Much of the same: shorter/heavier breathing, lower back pain (not daily though), a bit of pelvic pressure and random shooting pain in pelvis (I’ve read this “crotch lightning” is completely normal—and probably just the baby hitting a nerve), occasional heartburn, and peeing every 3.7 minutes (or so it seems). I’ve not yet noticed any swelling, which is nice.

Food Aversions:

Nothing really. Sometimes I find myself not in the mood for real food,  but I still end up eating whatever it is we cook.

Food Cravings:

Mexican (I’m so glad Mark suggested I pick up Moe’s Tuesday night!), sweets, and fruit. I’m still loving my chocolate and plain almond milk, which is odd, because I’ve never been a straight-up milk drinker. Ice cream, froyo, and snowballs are awesome right now (basically anything cold).

Sleep:

Ok for the most part. I wake up often feeling really uncomfortable (sore shoulder and hips and full bladder), but usually I fall back to sleep pretty quickly. Sunday night I had some wickedly vivid dreams involving vampires (thanks to watching the True Blood finale), so I felt drowsy Monday morning.

Stretch Marks?

Still nothing (that I can see)

Wedding rings—on or off?

On and fitting well unless I’m warm; I’ve begun taking them off when I go to bed.

Belly button—in or out?

Mostly flat, but depending on Baby M’s position, it may stick out a little on the top.

Happy or moody?

Happy this week. I’m feeling good and blessed. My dad made it through his surgery just fine on Tuesday (although he’s still in a lot of pain), and it’s just been a nice week. No drama, no stress, nothing to complain or freak out about.

Maternity Clothes?

Of course, though I haven’t bought any more. I refuse to buy new things—which is why I’m going to practice a major fashion faux pas and wear my white skinny pants throughout September and well after Labor Day (it’s the South, where it’s perpetually summertime, and I only have 3 bottoms I can wear to work—sue me).

Baby Purchases:

Nothing this week (our first shower is this Saturday and the other one is in a few weeks), unless you count the nightgowns and granny panties I got in preparation for “D-Day.”

Looking forward to:

  • Our shower!
  • The long weekend—gosh I need an extra day off!
  • Hopefully some cooler weather in the near(ish) future?…
  • Our birthing class (I’m so relieved we’ve worked that out! When the only class at our hospital was scheduled to finish just 1 week before my due date, we freaked out a little. There was no way to work us into another class, but the coordinator gave us the contact info for the former coordinator who’s actually a doula and does private Lamaze (& breastfeeding/newborn) classes. She’s more expensive, but honestly, the classes she offers are more in line with what I want anyway. We’re meeting for our first one next Thursday!)

Miss anything?

Sleeping on my back/stomach, sushi (every time somebody posts a blog or instagram picture of their sushi, I cry a little inside), and my former energy/mobility/etc.

Best/Most Memorable Moments:

Well, a not-so-great moment was when I was visiting my dad in pre-op and the surgeon came in and told me, “you look like you’re about to burst.” I wanted to punch him, but I thought better of it since he had to slice into my dad shortly after. 33 weeks does not = about to burst!

The best moment this week, for sure, was getting our edited images back from the photographer (Emily Bass Photography)! Although a few of the pictures toward the end aren’t my favorites (you can tell I was sweaty and my hair just looks stringy and gross!), they turned out fantastic. Here are a few of my favorites.

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There are a bunch more that I love, but I don’t want to make this post a giant photo dump!

I need to start tidying up the house for this weekend, so I’ll probably see you again Sunday (or maybe Monday) for some #WeeklyLinks. Hope everybody has a safe and wonderful Labor Day weekend!

Questions for moms & moms-to-be:

  • I know I need to have my hospital bag packed around 35 or 36 weeks, but what should I really focus on doing during this next week or two?
  • If you took any (instead of winging it), did you find your childbirth, newborn, and breastfeeding classes to be helpful and effective? What should I do to get the most out of them?

100% Pure Australian Tea Tree Oil Review

If you know me well, then you know I try to avoid chemical and pharmaceutical remedies and medications whenever possible. I prefer going the natural route, whether it’s by drinking apple cider vinegar and honey to ward off a sore throat or cold, rinsing my mouth with coconut oil, or cleaning my kitchen sink with lemon juice.

So when a representative at Apothecary Extracts contacted me to gauge my interest in sampling and reviewing their 100% Pure Australian Tea Tree Oil, I jumped at the opportunity.

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Tea Tree Oil is very pungent (be careful not to spill half a bottle on your bathroom floor like I once did!) but it can be used to replace many household products like cleansers, insect repellant, and skin treatments—just to name a few.

Already, I’ve added a few drops of tea tree oil to my bottle of witch hazel, which I use as a skin toner each morning after showering. While some of my good skin days can be attributed to pregnancy, I have noticed that my skin is much softer and less oily. I’ve even stopped wearing foundation and powder for the most part, opting to go au naturel.

I’ve had also experience with tea tree oil as a yoga mat cleanser and topical treatment for an embarrassing plantar wart outbreak on my heel (I’m telling you, when nothing else would work, a combination of probiotics taken daily with my multivitamin, soaking in apple cider vinegar, and swipe of tea tree oil before bed made them vanish!).

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I’m excited to try my 100% Pure Australian Tea Tree Oil in even more ways, now that I’ve seen its antiseptic and antibacterial properties at work!

I’m anxious to take advantage of the outdoor table we recently purchased, and since many commercial bug sprays contain DEET, which can be especially harmful during pregnancy, I’m curious to see how well tea tree oil works as a mosquito repellant. A few weeks ago, we noticed a single flea on Iggy. After I decided to sprinkle a few drops of tea tree oil onto his bedding, I haven’t seen a flea since. Seems to me it would work for humans, too!

Check out the guide below for more facts about tea tree oil.

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100% Pure Australian Tea Tree Oil is not available in stores, but it can be purchased on Amazon. The large 4-oz bottle will last a very long time, and the myriad uses for this oil make it worth the cost.

**I received a free bottle of 100% Pure Australian Tea Tree Oil to review on my blog. I was not compensated for this blog post, and all opinions are my own.**