Monthly Archives: December 2012

Revisiting 2012 Goals & Setting Goals for 2013

On January 1, 2012 I wrote this post recapping 2011 and setting goals for the new year. Then less than three weeks later I found out I was pregnant and everything changed. Needless to say, I didn’t achieve all of my goals this year, but that is completely fine. What I didn’t share in that post were a few other more personal goals of mine. Since last January I have had an electronic “sticky note” on my computer desktop that had some more goals for 2012.

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I am happy to report that I accomplished some very BIG goals of mine for the year- getting pregnant and having a beautiful baby boy, buying our own house, and learning to swim. WIN, WIN, WIN! As for those other goals for the year, here’s how I did:

  • Complete my first ultra-marathon in March. I wasn’t able to do this because I got pregnant. I am actually putting this one on hold for another year or two. I want to focus on the regular marathon distance before jumping into another ultra!
  • Run a marathon in LESS THAN 4 hours. I had big plans to run 3 marathons in 2012 to go for a PR, but dropped to the half distances when I found out I was expecting. This is still a big goal of mine that I plan to accomplish in 2013!
  • Be active in other ways than just running. I tried a lot of new things that were out of my comfort zone in 2012 (yoga, Zumba, swimming, spinning) and continued with my beloved Body Pump. I also did a lot of walking while I was pregnant. However, running remained my #1 love!
  • Save money and stick to our new revised budget. We did really well with this until the summer when we bought our house and had to make a lot of baby purchases. Now that we have the house and our baby we’ve been dipping into savings more often lately, which I don’t like at all! This will be one of the goals I carry over to 2013.
  • Be on time! Umm yeah. Not so much. I’ve actually been great at getting to work on time though, which is a big improvement. But going anywhere with a new baby takes TIME. I have learned to start getting ready to go way before you think you need to. Leaving myself a big cushion of time helps me not be as stressed and allows me to take care of surprises like diaper accidents, spit ups, and meltdowns.
  • Sleep more. Haha! I am pretty sure I will never meet this goal for the next 18 (or more?) years.

Okay, now it’s time to focus on the FUTURE! Here are my new goals for 2013.

  • Run (at least) 1 race every month of the year. Two of my friends set a goal to run a race every month of 2012, and I loved that idea so much that I decided to borrow it for 2013. So far I have races in mind for every month except May, August, October, and December. Anyone in the Northern VA/DC area or the Philadelphia area (where my dad lives) know of any good ones in these months?
  • PR in both the marathon and the half marathon. Wow, this one is ambitious, I know! But I do believe I can do it. I am not planning to run another marathon until November, and I’m going to work my butt off to PR at that one (my current PR is 4:00:04). I’m running a bunch of half marathons this year and I really want to beat my PR of 1:48:55.
  • Re-commit to strength training. I was doing Body Pump 1-3x a week from July 2011 – September 2012… up until 3 days before baby Kevin was born. I learned that consistent strength training does amazing things for my running. I had never felt stronger or run faster than when I was going to Body Pump consistently. Since having the baby I haven’t been back to Body Pump or done any strength training. I’ve lost all my muscle definition (except in my legs) and I feel so much weaker. I NEED to start again to strengthen my muscles and create that good foundation that is needed for training. I hope to make it to Body Pump once a week and do some type of at-home strength training on another day.
  • Be smart with money. This is a continuation of my 2012 goal, although now since we are homeowners with a new baby, our budget looks different. We are paying for home expenses that come up, daycare, baby medical stuff, and now (unfortunately) some formula too. I also finished grad school which means I have to pay my student loans again. So basically we have to be very careful with our money this year!
  • Floss every day.  This is a random one but it’s one I really want to do! I’ve gotten MUCH better about it but need to make it a part of my daily routine.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. Kevin tells me all the time that I need to let go of things that don’t matter and not stress about little things. I admit that I let things get the best of me a lot of the time. I worry way too much and let myself get frustrated and upset very easily, especially lately as I try to figure out how to balance being a new mother with a stressful job and other responsibilities. This causes me to miss out and not appreciate some of the things that happen around me. Then I feel guilty about that and beat myself up about it. It is a bad cycle. So one of my goals for the new year is not to sweat the small stuff and remember to tell myself at the end of each day, “Today I did the best I can and tomorrow is a brand new day.” (Thanks Jordan!)
  • Focus on family. This one kind of goes with the previous one. At the end of the day, nothing else matters besides my husband and my baby. Everything- running, work, money, stress, etc.- comes after that. I need to make sure I’m being the best mommy and wife I can be for my two favorite people in the entire world.

I love setting goals and having things to work towards. While I don’t believe you need to wait for the beginning of a new year to make changes, it is nice to think of the new year as the chance to start fresh. I am looking forward to the new challenges this year will bring!

I hope everyone has a great year! What goals have you set for yourself?

Christmas Traditions: His, Hers, Ours

Christmas has always been a big deal in my family. One of the things I am really excited about now that I have started my own little family is creating special holiday traditions. Growing up there were a lot of things we did for Christmas, and I am looking forward to blending those with Kevin’s family traditions, and also adding in some new ideas of our own.

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His

When I asked Kevin about his family traditions he couldn’t remember too many from his young childhood. Most of them have come about more recently. He has a much bigger family than I do, and so to cut down on costs the adults usually do Secret Santa with each other. We always buy for all the children in addition to that. It is a lot of fun! Another recent fun tradition is to have a family “war” with nerf guns. Over the years they have accumulated quite the collection of nerf toys and accessories and everyone gets really into it, hiding around the house and making alliances. Some other traditions that they have done for a long time include opening a gift on Christmas Eve and a huge Christmas dinner.

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Hers

Christmas was a big production growing up in my family. We always started by going as a family to pick out our tree, then spent the evening decorating it and the rest of the house together. On Christmas Eve my mom’s side of the family would come over to exchange gifts and have dinner. My parents were great at building anticipation for the big day, and would keep us barricaded in our room until we were allowed out on Christmas morning. He would stall for what seemed like hours, telling us he had to make sure everything was perfect and that the video camera wasn’t ready. Finally he would call for us and we’d come running (and jumping over the couch) to see full stockings, piles of gifts, and my grandparents who had been there since 5 a.m. most likely.

26 years old and I still jump over the couch on Christmas morning

26 years old and I still jump over the couch on Christmas morning

We would all take turns opening our gifts while listening to Christmas music. Then we would have breakfast- cinnamon buns, egg sandwiches, and once I was old enough- mimosas! My dad’s side of the family would come over later that morning to join us and continue the celebration. These traditions are what made Christmas my favorite holiday growing up!

Ours

Here are some of the traditions we are continuing within our own little family, and some new ones that we are starting.

Christmas Tree. This is our 4th Christmas together. Every year we have gone to pick out out Christmas tree and then decorated it together.  This is always the first thing we do to kick off the holidays, usually right after Thanksgiving. We have also taken a picture with it each year. I’m excited to keep taking these photos as we get older and our family grows!

Our family Christmas tree photos- 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.

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Bull Run Festival of Lights. The first Christmas that we were together, Kevin surprised me by taking me to the Bull Run Festival of Lights. It is an amazing 2 mile long holiday light show that you can drive through. We have gone every year since and this year we were able to bring baby Kevin with us. I can’t wait until he actually knows what is going on and can enjoy the lights with us!

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Tree Planting. Kevin had this idea and I LOVE it. We decided that every time we have a child we will plant a baby Christmas tree for them during the holidays. Our hope is that once it grows big enough we can use it for Christmas one year.

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Visiting Santa. This is an obvious choice! Every kid needs to visit Santa each year. This year we were happy to see that Baby Kevin didn’t mind Santa. We’ll see how he feels about him next year!

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Yearly Ornaments. This is a tradition we started last year after we got married in November. Each year we will buy each other a special ornament. I love this idea because we will end up having a great collection of ornaments that spans across every year of our marriage.

The Night Before Christmas. This was something Kevin wanted to start this year. We received The Night Before Christmas book from my best friend’s mom, and Kevin wants to read it to our kids every Christmas Eve. It was really sweet listening to him read it to Baby K 🙂

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Gifts. Obviously gifts are a big part of Christmas, but not the most important part in our eyes. One of my favorite things is giving to others during the holidays, and picking out special gifts that I think they will like. It’s easy to get caught up in the QUANTITY of gifts though (which leads to lots of $$$), when really it should be more about quality and thoughtfulness. We really want to teach our kids to appreciate what they receive and not accumulate too much clutter either. That’s why we plan to follow the want, need, wear, read gift philosophy with our children. We will give each of our children 4 special gifts each year plus a stocking filled with fun, random stuff. They will get something big that they want, something that they need, something to wear, and something to read. We didn’t really do it this year, but plan to implement this fully starting next Christmas. I love this idea!!!

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Baby’s first Christmas gifts

What are your holiday traditions? Do you do any of these, or do you have any others to share that we could adopt?

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas! I hope you all enjoy a wonderful day with the people you love. This Christmas is so special because it’s our first as a family of three. I truly have never been happier. I am so blessed and thankful for the life I have.

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Merry Christmas, from our family to yours.

Mom & Baby: 3 Months

This 3 month update is coming a little late. Baby Kevin turned 3 months last Wednesday (December 12th), but life has been so insanely busy that I’m just now finding time to blog. So many things happened this month! When I looked back at my last post partum update at 8 weeks I realized how different things are now, for both him and me. Here are all the details!

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Baby

Kevin is definitely NOT a tiny little newborn anymore. He spent the first 2 months of his life very fussy and temperamental due to his acid reflux. In the last month he has become super smiley, happy, and extremely vocal. His personality is emerging and he becomes more fun every day!

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I think the biggest improvement for Baby K this month is that his acid reflux is GONE. After taking him to the chiropractor a total of 3 times he no longer screams in pain, coughs, gasps, wheezes, etc. It is truly amazing. He spits up very little and only really if he overeats or I eat dairy (he’s still sensitive to it, unfortunately for me!). The best part is that his temperament has completely changed. Now that he is not in pain constantly he’s SO happy. When he is awake he’s smiling and babbling constantly.

His new thing he does with hands all the time.

His new thing he does with hands all the time.

During the last month he also started reacting to us, smiling when he sees us or when we put a toy in front of him.  The best part of my whole day is first thing in the morning. When he first wakes up and sees us he gives us the biggest smile, and then kicks his legs and talks to us. I love it so much. He also smiles at us when we come home from work. It makes my heart so happy!

Big smiles and lots of energy at 5 a.m.!

Big smiles and lots of energy at 5 a.m.!

He is extremely active and always moving his little legs and arms. He rolled over from front to back for the first time at 9 weeks and 2 days. Baby boy is strong! He can hold his head up like a champ and actually likes tummy time now.

After showing off his new trick- rolling from front to back!

After showing off his new trick- rolling from front to back!

He has also become interested in toys. He interacts with them now and will try to bat at them, hold them, or eat them!

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He has been drooling a TON and has his hands in his mouth constantly. I think this is the very early stages of teething. Sometimes he sticks his fingers so far in his mouth that he gags himself and spits up drool. He soaks through his shirts too! I know that these signs can last for months and months, so I’m not expecting any teeth to pop through soon. We’ll see though!

 

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He has been doing very well with our babysitter. She watches him in our home, which we LOVE. She has pretty much let him do his own thing and he’s fallen into his own routine. I wouldn’t call it a schedule because it does vary, but he always takes a cat nap in the morning right after we leave, followed by a bottle and then a long morning nap (2-3 hours). He wakes up, eats, plays, and then goes down for a long afternoon nap (1.5-2 hours). Then he eats again and plays, and by this time we are home from work. These longer naps during the day have helped him sleep better at night too. In month 3 he was waking up once a night to eat, maybe twice a night every once in a while. We put him down between 8 and 9 p.m. and he slept in 3-5 hour stretches. He’s still in the co-sleeper in our room, and I don’t know when we are going to move him out. I like having him close after not seeing him all day, plus it’s convenient for feeding him. However, I think in the new year we’re going to begin the transition to the crib 😦 I will miss him.

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I saved the part that makes me sad for last. At baby’s 2 month appointment he weighed 9 pounds 9 ounces and was 23 inches long. This put him in the 50th percentile for height and the 12th for weight. He was still on his curve but our pediatrician wanted there to be less of a gap between height and weight. She told me to work on getting him to gain more weight and was pushing me to supplement. She gave me until the 3 month mark to bring his weight up. Well, then I went back to work and my supply dropped due to pumping and the stress of work (more about my breastfeeding issues here). I knew he was gaining (he’s now in 0-3 month clothes and size 1 diapers) but I didn’t know if it was enough.

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We just had his 3 month appointment on Thursday with a new pediatrician. I wanted to switch because I didn’t like the way our old pediatrician made me feel. She was pushy and condescending and made me feel like I was a bad mother. Our new pediatrician is awesome. Very gentle, understanding, and open-minded. However, at the appointment Kevin weighed in at 10 pounds 6 ounces and 24.5 inches long. That put him in the 75th percentile for height (!!!) and only the 3rd-5th for weight. She said she doesn’t believe height and weight need to necessarily match up (my old ped. was adamant about this), but this gap was a little too large for her and he was beginning to fall off his curve. She told me she wanted me to start giving him an ounce of formula after each feeding to give him a little boost. She wants me to do it for a month to see if it helps, then we will think about starting some solids at 4 months. If he’s gaining, there’s a possibility I could switch back to breast milk with the solids giving him the extra boost he needs instead of formula. So I’m holding out hope that it’s temporary!

The faces he makes are hilarious!!

The faces he makes are hilarious!!

I cried about this a lot, and I am still upset every time I give him his 1 oz. bottle of formula. But I have been doing everything I can to increase my supply and it’s not enough. So as much as it kills me to have to do it, it’s what I need to do for him to get him to a healthier weight. I know that in the grand scheme of things it’s not that much, and that breastfeeding doesn’t have to be ‘all or nothing.’ I’m not going to stop doing everything I can to increase my supply and he’ll still be getting a lot of nutrients and immunities from me. It’s just hard to accept that I couldn’t provide what he needs. An added issue is that he’s sensitive to dairy so we are using the more expensive formula. I did not anticipate having to pay for this in addition to day care. But luckily, he isn’t using a ton so it’s not like we’ll go through it that quickly. So that’s where we are with his weight and feeding issues. I’m trying hard not to feel like a failure, but it has been very challenging for me.

This face makes everything better

This face makes everything better

Body

I lost another 2 pounds this month, bringing me to 132. I’m 2 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight now, but my body is pretty different. I have a little more roundness to my belly that I did before and my hips aren’t getting any smaller. I haven’t been eating well since we’ve been so busy and I haven’t really been running because of my knee injury, so I’m not sure how I lost another 2 pounds this month. I think it’s because I’ve been trying to increase my supply which leads to more calories burned. I can tell because I’ve been extra hungry. I’ve definitely killed a bag or two of tortilla chips this month, not going to lie.

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I am also surprised that I lost some more weight because my doctor adjusted my thyroid medicine again, bringing it down some. He increased it during pregnancy so I knew this would happen, and I figured my weight loss would slow down as a result. But it’s been the opposite. I feel like my thyroid and metabolism are working harder now.

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Other interesting body changes include my hair falling out A LOT. When I brush it and when I get out of the shower it comes out in clumps. Sadness 😦 Also, I have noticed myself breaking out more, like I used to before pregnancy. While I was pregnant (after the first trimester) my face was clearer than it’s ever been. But now it’s back, probably due to hormonal issues. Finally, the fenugreek I’ve been taking to increase my milk supply has me smelling like maple syrup. Yes, seriously. It’s so strange, but it is apparently a normal side effect. So in summary I am losing my hair, have acne, and smell like pancakes. Good thing my husband loves me so much!

My two favorite guys

My two favorite guys

I haven’t been running due to my knee injury, but after two full weeks of rest I plan to start again tomorrow. I’m excited and hoping my knee is back to normal! I  am missing it so much!

Mind

Oh boy, this was a very, very tough month for me mentally and emotionally. I had a lot of things to work through- going back to work and leaving baby with our sitter, stress at work which led to low supply, baby weight gain issues and feeling like a failure because I couldn’t keep up with his needs. I spent a lot of time crying over the last month. I think I can sum up month 3 with that one word: tears. I have been trying my best to make the most of the time we have together on weekends, before and after work.

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My focus for month 4 is acceptance. I have to accept that I need to work even though I’d rather stay home. I have to accept that being a teacher is NOT a 9-5 job, and I have to take work home every single night even though all I want to do is snuggle with my baby. I have to accept that my milk supply isn’t enough to meet baby’s needs anymore, even though I’ve tried everything to increase it.  It has been really hard. There are a lot of things I can’t control. One of my mommy friends told me that sometimes when it comes to your kids things are going to be out of your control, so maybe this is my first lesson in realizing that.

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With the holidays coming up, it’s been really special creating new memories and starting traditions as a family. It has made me feel so much better knowing that I am going to have a long winter break to spend with him. I’m also looking forward to seeing our families. I hope it gives me the boost I have been needing!

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WOW this was a long update! So much has happened in only a month. I am sure in another month there will be a lot more to share!

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Cute baby after bathtime

Previous Post Partum posts:

VA Runner Blue & Gray 5K

Yesterday I ran the Blue & Gray 5K, which was organized by our favorite local running store, VA Runner. This was the first post partum 5K that I planned to run (I walked two 5Ks before I was cleared to run). Originally, I was planning to really race it and give it my all. I was excited to try to get a PR, since I ran such a great race at the Turkey Trot 10K a few weeks before. But since I fell and hurt my knee, I knew that now was not the time to try for a PR. Instead I decided to run with the stroller and my friend Danielle, and have fun!

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We met my two friends Amanda (left) and Danielle (middle) before the race started. These two ladies have been on the blog before and they are two of my favorite race buddies. Danielle has recently gotten into running and was trying to get a PR, so I offered to pace her since she doesn’t have a Garmin (yet!). Running with other people and helping them meet their goals is one of my favorite things, so I was excited. Plus, I was at a race with both of my boys- what could be better?

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We all gathered by the store to wait for the start. They also had a half marathon that apparently is very popular, because more people ran the half than the 5K! The half started first, and the 5K started 15 minutes later. Luckily, it was a nice morning and temps were in the 50s. It didn’t feel like December at all!

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Soon it was time to start, so Kevin headed toward the front while Danielle and I went all the way to the back with the stroller. Baby Kevin was ready to race and so were we!

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Danielle told me that her previous PR was 32 minutes and some seconds (she couldn’t remember exactly), so we decided to shoot for a 10:30/mile pace. She was nervous because she hadn’t been running as much lately, and she finished her last few races in the 34-36 minute range. I knew she had it in her though, and I planned to push her to get that PR!

We started running and Danielle looked great and strong. The first mile was hilly, but we ran it in 10:04. It was challenging maneuvering the stroller around people, and I hit a curb once. Oops! But baby was fine- he slept the entire time I was running. At one point we went down a huge hill, and then when we saw Kevin pass us going the opposite direction we realized we had to run up it on the way back. That made Danielle nervous, but I told her not to worry about what is to come and just focus on the mile she was running at that moment. She pulled out a 10:14 split for mile 2, and that included a quick walk break at a water stop. I told her she was definitely on track to meet her goal if she ran the last mile in 12 minutes or less.

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After mile 2 she started saying she wanted to walk when we got to the hill. I told her to try to run up as much as she could before stopping to walk. She made it halfway up the huge hill before walking, which was great! We walked almost to the top and once she had control of her breathing she started to run again. I told her she had less than a half mile to go- something she had run many times before. We entered the parking lot where the store is located and hit 3 miles shortly after that. Our third mile split was 10:47, and I knew we had about a minute to get her to the finish line at 32 minutes. I asked her if she had anything left in her to pick up the pace because she had a minute to run .1 miles. She started sprinting to the finish line!

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She finished in 32:18, and I was a few seconds behind at 32:22. I was so proud of Danielle and how hard she pushed herself! Afterwards when we looked up her previous PR we found out that she had missed it by 2 seconds! She was still so proud though- and that’s just more motivation to beat it next time 🙂

We quickly found Amanda (who finished second in her age group!) and Kevin who finished in 25:58. Baby Kevin was awake at this point and very happy to see him again.

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We hung out for a little bit and watched more runners finish, then we decided to go next door to Cracker Barrel for breakfast. It has been a LONG time since I’ve eaten there, and it was sooooo yummy!

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I LOVE running races with my friends and family. It is one of my favorite ways to spend the weekend, and I have made so many great memories this way. I think the best part is just sharing in each other’s accomplishments and celebrating together. The three of us ladies have a few more races that we’re planning to do, including Danielle’s first half marathon this spring! We signed up for the inaugural Nike Women’s Half Marathon in DC and I am crossing my fingers that we both get picked from the lottery this week. If not, I am trying to convince her to do the Rock & Roll USA Half in March. She is totally bitten by the racing bug, so I think I can persuade her 🙂

My next 5K is on New Years Eve- and if my knee is feeling better I WILL be racing that one. I want that PR before 2013!

A Decision.

I am a big believer that everything happens for a reason, and that the universe or God or whatever you believe in sends signs to guide you in the direction you are supposed to go. For the last few weeks I have had a lot of these ‘signs’ come my way, which has led me to make a decision about my running and training. I am no longer going to run the Myrtle Beach Marathon in February. Here is why:

My fall and the knee pain that just won’t go away.  One month ago on November 9th I fell while running in the dark after work. At first I thought the worst of it was having bloody and bruised knees, but I soon realized something more was going on. Every time I have tried to run since then my knee would either hurt a lot during the run, or start hurting shortly after the run was over. I have never had a real running injury before, just the typical aches and pains that come with marathon training that go away quickly. This was not one of those pains. It felt deeper and more real than that, and even caused me to limp at times when it got really bad. I think my fall and my knee injury were my first two big signs that I needed to put my marathon training on hold temporarily.

Breastfeeding issues. The fall happened on my second day back to work after maternity leave. Shortly after returning to work and beginning to pump half of the day, I realized I was having supply issues and was having a hard time keeping up with my son’s demands while I was at work. That combined with the stress of teaching and limited time to pump has really left my supply lacking and our pediatrician worried about baby’s weight gain. I blogged about this in much more detail yesterday. I also started wondering if running was contributing to this problem at all, since research has shown that hard exercise may cause a decreased supply in some women. There is really no way to be 100% sure if it is or not, but I decided it wasn’t worth taking the chance anymore. I know that I could physically do the distance once my knee heals. I know that I have the support that I need from my husband to train and get the mileage in. Those are not the issues. While I am doing everything I can and trying so hard to increase and maintain my supply, I don’t need something working against that and setting me back. Even though I can’t be sure that marathon training is affecting my supply, I just don’t think it’s worth taking the chance right now. At the end of the day, my son comes first.

I feel confident in this decision. I have my whole life to run marathons. I was really excited to do one in February since I took all of 2012 off from them while pregnant, but I know that extending my break for a little while is not the end of the world. Instead I am going to take it easy for a bit to heal my knee, focus on my son, and run a few shorter races (including the Myrtle Beach half) this spring instead, which will be much easier and less intense for me. My new plan is to wait until next fall to run a full marathon. This way I’ll have more time to train over the summer when I am off, and Kevin will be almost 10 months old and eating more solid foods, so he won’t be solely relying on breast milk for his nutrition anymore.

If motherhood has taught me anything so far, it’s that I need to learn to be 100% flexible. I make plans, things will inevitably change, and I adapt to that. It’s been a great lesson for me so far. It’s crazy how different I am in some ways now that I’m a mother. A year ago dropping out of a marathon would devastate me. Now, it’s not really that big of a deal because my priorities have changed so much. Yes, I love running, but it’s not going anywhere! I’m not quitting! I’m just saying “see ya later” to marathons for another 6 months or so.

Thanks to all my friends and readers for all of your support! Your comments make me so happy! Thank you for being interested and following along in my journey.

Breastfeeding Challenges

While I was pregnant I learned a lot about breastfeeding. Through reading, talking to moms with experience, and taking a breastfeeding class I knew that it most likely wouldn’t be easy. Even though I knew this before I even had my baby, I still wasn’t fully prepared for how challenging it would be at times. Although breastfeeding is a very natural process, it really takes commitment, a great support system, and a lot of effort to make it work successfully. Here are some of the issues I have faced in my first 12 weeks of motherhood. Brace yourself, this is a long one!

Breastfeeding at 1 day old

Breastfeeding at 1 day old

Acid Reflux. One of our first big challenges was dealing with Kevin’s acid reflux while breastfeeding. He would pull away crying while eating, arch his back, and spit up a lot afterwards. He also would cough, gasp, and wheeze constantly afterwards (due to the acid coming back up). I suspected that he had reflux and my suspicion was confirmed at the doctor. I wrote a lot about this in my weekly postpartum updates, but basically I tried everything to help him with this. It affected his breastfeeding because the pediatrician recommended feeding him small amounts more frequently and pumping afterwards. This meant sometimes he was still hungry when I stopped feeding him, which broke my heart. I also block nursed, only nursing from one side for 2-3 feedings in a row (while pumping the other) then switching sides. Eventually we put him on Zantac, which didn’t end up working so we took him off of it. What finally worked was taking him to my chiropractor, where he was very gently adjusted. We have gone 3 times and his reflux is GONE and our breastfeeding has gotten much better. He is able to eat for longer periods of time without stopping to cry and doesn’t spit up nearly as much. He is SO much happier and is putting on more weight since he’s keeping his food down and eating larger amounts at a time.

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Pumping at Work.  This has been my most recent challenge and one of the toughest. I knew I would need a good, efficient pump when I went back to work at 8 weeks postpartum, so I invested in the Medela Pump In Style Advanced. I am away from the baby from about 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., which is a total of 9 hours. I am a teacher so I am limited to when I can pump because it has to be when I’m not with kids (obviously). I am able to pump before the students arrive around 8:30, at lunchtime around 12:30, and after school around 3:45. My colleagues have gotten used to seeing me carrying my black tote bag around everywhere, and they know not to come into my classroom when I have my sign up on the door (although this took a little trial and error- thank goodness I’m not very modest anymore!) One of the most recent challenges has been someone at school who has been less than supportive. I can’t say much about the situation on this public blog, but this person basically has no compassion for my desire to breastfeed and doesn’t seem to understand why it is so important to me. It makes me sad 😦

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Undersupply. Going back to work and pumping half of the day has led me to yet another big challenge- dealing with undersupply. I have never been able to pump very much at a time, usually 3 oz. max from both breasts. It is so hard for me to read blogs of other moms who can pump 6-8 ounces at a time. I don’t understand why I can’t do that too and it makes me sad. I think that he is much better at getting the milk out of me than the pump is. But now with the stress of work and all of the issues there, my supply has gotten worse. I know that stress and a lack of rest decrease supply, and that is a big reason why I am experiencing this. Teaching is NOT a 9-5 job. I take home a ton of work every night and on the weekends. There is so much that I am responsible for that I HAVE to do. On top of that, my left boob has never produced as much as my right from day 1. It actually produces only about a third of what my right one does with each pumping session. I have been working really hard on this and talking to a lactation consultant for help. I talked to her last Friday, and she gave me a ton of tips. I have been drinking Mothers Milk tea 3x a day, taking fenugreek capsules (4 capsules 3x a day), doing a lot of skin-to-skin with the baby, using compression and massage, power pumping in the evenings, weekend, and even the middle of the night since he’s sleeping longer now, trying to reduce stress and relax as much as possible (my husband has been AMAZING at taking care of cooking, cleaning, and other household things), letting him cluster feed as much as he wants in the evenings, and supplementing with my own freezer stash if he is hungry and I have nothing left for him, while pumping at the same time to stimulate my milk production. Whew. It’s been a full-time job, but it is working. In only a week of doing all this I have been pumping about 4 ounces more daily. I used to be able to pump 9 ounces max, and now I’m pumping 12-13. He also doesn’t cry when he’s finished both breasts and seems more satisfied, even when there is a short time between feedings. Good progress!!!

Lunch break in the car!

Lunch break in the car!

Weight Gain Worries. We got off to a rough start with baby Kevin’s weight due to jaundice which had him sleeping constantly and not wanting to eat. Then his reflux didn’t help matters either since we had to feed him small amounts and he was spitting up a lot. Now that we have resolved that issue he has been hungrier and able to eat more. However, it’s tough to keep up with his needs since I have an undersupply problem and I’m not able pump much for him to eat the next day. I would feed him right before I left for work and as soon as I got home, and he was eating three 3 oz. bottles every 2-3 hours while I was gone. This was okay at first, but lately that hasn’t been enough, and his babysitter has told me that he’s still hungry after he finishes his bottles. There was definitely pressure from my pediatrician at his 2 month appointment to supplement but she gave me another month to try to get him to gain more weight. The problem is that he was in the 50th percentile for height but only the 12th for weight and she said that height & weight percentiles should match up. He was born at 7 pounds 2 ounces, but dropped down to 6 pounds 7 ounces when he had jaundice, and we’ve been working our way up from there ever since. This has made me feel like such a failure because I am the sole person providing his nutrition and it’s not enough. It is really hard on me emotionally. We constantly hear comments like “he’s so small,” and “I can’t believe he’s that old, he doesn’t look big enough,” which really upset me. I know people aren’t saying these things to hurt me, but it does hurt because I am trying so hard. The good news is that since I talked with the lactation consultant last Friday and been working on increasing my supply, he has already gained 7 ounces! He now weighs 10 pounds 3.5 ounces (we bought a baby scale to monitor his weight). Still little and barely on his curve, but it’s good progress. We’ll see if it’s enough for the pediatrician at his appointment soon.

Feeding him in public is a breeze nowadays!

Feeding him in public is a breeze nowadays!

Leaking. I have always had an issue with leaking and I constantly have to wear nursing pads or else I will leak through my clothes. I wonder how long this will last? I hate buying those disposable pads but the reusable ones are not absorbent enough for me.

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Running. Running while breastfeeding has been another learning experience for me. I have found that I need to feed him, pump, or do both of those things before I go out to run, or else it is really uncomfortable for me. When I would run for more than an hour it used to get really uncomfortable toward the end, but it’s not that bad anymore- probably since my supply has dropped. Since I have been dealing with this issue I have been wondering if my running could have anything to do with my supply issues. I learned before I had my baby that there is conflicting research on whether or not running or hard exercise causes a decrease in supply. I asked my lactation consultant last week, and she said the research is conflicting, but it has been shown to cause supply issues for some women. I was really hoping I would not be one of them, but I am starting to think that I am. I have noticed a drop in supply especially after my long runs. This makes sense because the lactation consultant recommended not exercising to exhaustion because it’s hard on the body and the milk supply. This makes me so sad and because of this I’m re-evaluating my race plans. I love running and training for marathons but my baby comes first- end of story. I’ll explain more about this soon in another post.

Pumping before an early morning run

Pumping before an early morning run

Nutrition / Hydration. Getting enough food and water to support my breastfeeding has been difficult some days, especially since I’m back to work now.  I have been working really hard on making sure I eat and drink enough, since that can also affect supply. I carry a 32 oz. water bottle wherever I go and try to drink at least 3 of them a day, more when I run. I also make sure to bring a lot of snacks to work and eat whenever I am hungry.

Breastfeeding in Target. I’m good at multitasking 🙂

Dairy Sensitivity. The last challenge I am dealing with is not being able to eat dairy. The doctor hasn’t confirmed that he is allergic to it or has dairy intolerance, but I have noticed that his reflux gets a lot worse whenever I eat any type of dairy. He spits up a lot and the coughing/gasping comes back. This has led me to believe that he is sensitive to it, and the pediatrician agreed that those are signs that he is. I am also lactose intolerant, but I’m usually fine if I take a Lactaid pill. Unfortunately, that’s not going to work for him so in the meantime I am avoiding it. He could grow out of it though, so the pediatrician recommended trying to eat a little dairy once a month to see what effect it has.

Milk drunk. I love this face!

Milk drunk. I love this face!

I have come a long way in my breastfeeding journey and learned a lot so far. I’m far less modest about doing it and talking about it these days and open to asking for help when I need it. The best resources I have found for breastfeeding help have been Kelly Mom, La Leche League meetings, my lactation consultant, and other moms with experience. Even with all of these challenges I truly love breastfeeding and the special bond it’s helped me create with my baby. It is so worth all the time and effort it has taken me to figure things out. We are far from finished with our breastfeeding journey, as I am going to try to continue until baby is at least a year old. We will see what other challenges arise! I hope this post helps some other new moms who are dealing with breastfeeding issues, or that the ‘been there, done that’ moms can relate to what I’m going through. It’s hard work but it is so worth it!