Author: Joanne

I judge other parents – and so do you

Judge Judge Judge

We moms, we judge all the time. We judge others (even when we don’t mean to). We judge ourselves.

All of that judgment equates to a whole lot of guilt.

I will be the first to admit that I question and judge other’s parenting choices. Vaccinations and putting the car seat in the wrong place in a shopping cart at Target top my list of judginess.

Before this conversation strays into a vaccination debate or whether or not to breastfeed, I will say this, WE PARENTS ARE ALL GUILTY. If you have a stance on any of these subjects you are guilty. GUILTY GUILTY GUILTY. Of course, as I stand here on my soapbox, I will say that I keep these judgments mostly internal. So, I shall use my blog in the passive aggressive way that I always do. But this brings me to another point: go ahead and have your opinions. We all have them. We have the right to them. But can you just keep them to yourselves? It’s hard enough being a mom without someone shoving reports, studies and other bullshit in my face.

I read a post this morning on the Scary Mommy blog which is one of my favorite blogs on the entire planet. It was titled, “Why Developmental Milestones are Bullshit.” I was so happy that someone finally told me to stop worrying and start living.

I haven’t been the most verbal in publicly discussing my 15 month old daughter Mackenzie’s slow development. Those close friends, family and colleagues that I have spoken with about my worries all echo the sentiments of the above blog post. Stop worrying. Trust your pediatrician.

But you see, that is hard. I am one of many new mommies out of my 300+ Facebook friends who had babies over the last year or two not to mention the private Facebook Group I am a part of who all had December 2013 babies. I see them posting videos and pictures of their babies already walking and talking. I see them being toddlers. Suddenly, I am afraid to post things about my baby. Afraid to admit that my daughter doesn’t seem to be like the rest of them. Afraid that all of my mom friends will suddenly stand in judgment. Judging whether I did something wrong. It’s as if I can see in their faces with that look of pity or suddenly get a slew of PMs saying “You should really get that checked out.”

While I do agree that developmental milestones are a little bit of BS, I also do believe that they stand as markers for pediatricians to determine if there is a larger problem at play.

Mackenzie hasn’t “technically” missed any milestones. She is still well within the range of when her expected first steps should be (she has up to 18 months before they will considered her truly delayed). We have had a number of red flags with her though. She has a football shaped eye which is causing extreme nearsightedness in her left eye and she will wear glasses for the rest of her life (and yes, getting a 1 year old to wear glasses is as hard as you might imagine it to be). Around 6 months we discovered mass in her belly – it turned out to be a lipoma; however we are slowly learning it could be the result of a bigger problem. She had mild hip displaysia as an infant which thankfully resolved itself. She also has one leg longer than the other. We don’t know if any of these issues are contributing to her slow to develop major motor skills like pulling up and walking. We have now been referred to a neurologist and likely a geneticist. There have been million letter named syndromes that I can barely pronounce thrown at us – most with scary repercussions such as a heightened risk of cancer. All we really want to hear is “She is fine.” If it costs me thousands of dollars to hear those words, then so be it.

My husband thinks our little girl is just a little diva – that she is going to determine when she wants to do these things. Not when the “developmental milestone” markers are telling her to do them. Despite some of the bigger things, such as walking, she is a champion eater and sleeper. Her language is developing just fine and we’ve heard her verbalizing mama, dada and even Jack Jack (which is often confused with dada). She also uses her sign language to tell us “more”, “food” and “milk”. Her “delays” should definitely not be confused with stupidity.

All of this to worry about and I’m worried about what others will think? My daughter is flipping gorgeous and funny. She is an absolute joy to be around. I should be sharing all of her beauty with the world.

Those who stand in judgment can suck it.

Look at how beautiful she is!

She’s ridiculously happy most of the time

She falls asleep sitting up. 

She’s going to be a champion texter someday. Also… those CURLS! 

She adores her brother. 

Works on her computing skills daily. 

She is insanely curious about everything we are doing. 

Accepting the Inevitable

I have had a busy and not so great start to 2015.

I was feeling as if I was finally getting on top of everything on my must-do list:

  • I signed up for the MN Running Series and was ready to start training. 
  • Got my kids back to being healthy after a rocky December.
  • Chopped my email down to under 3,000 in my Inbox (believe me… even that was a stretch). 
  • Writing this blog. 

Then I got hit with the flu the beginning of January. Honestly folks, it is no joke. I didn’t physically leave my bed for 4 days. When you are a full-time working mom – it is detrimental to life as you know it. My husband quarantined me nearly the entire time which was lovely for about 2 hours and then all I wanted to do was to hug and kiss my babies. I was too sick to work – so saying I was “working from home” wasn’t an option. It hurt to move. I couldn’t breathe. I mean, honestly, after getting the flu, I can understand why people die from it. I am thankful for Tamiflu which got me back to the land of the living, but I was then plagued shortly after with my 2nd sinus infection of the season which subsequently NEVER went away. After a month of misery, I crawled back to the doctor and begged for something, ANYthing that would ease my aching sinuses. I now seem to be on the tail end of this illness season of horror. I might have even become one of those freaks that applies hand sanitizer to avoid getting hit with any of this nastiness again.

Of course, now that I am on the path back to wellness, my oldest decides that this should happen:

Yes, he broke his arm on the playground at school. The worst part isn’t even the pain of it for him- it is the fact that he broke his DOMINANT arm. I totally feel his pain with that struggle. If I didn’t have access to use my right hand as normal, I would flounder as well. To be 6 and struggling? My heart just breaks for him. We are doing our best to help him, but also need him to learn how to make the best of it. I told him his left hand/arm were going to have superhero powers once his cast comes off in 6 weeks.

Thankfully, my sassy 14 month old has been on a healthy streak. She even decided to start sleeping through the night again (thank god). Her other developmental concerns (particularly as it relates to standing and walking) are being tabled for a month while we bask in the glow of having a healthy, happy baby. Did I mention she is ridiculously adorable? Being the ultimate daddy’s girl, every once in awhile, she cuddles with me so I had to capture the moment. And to answer your question… yes, it drives me crazy that my baby wants nothing to do with her mama most of the time.

As for my wellness quest, I’ve succumbed to the Medifast life again. Only this time, I am back to weekly weigh ins at the center. I am not discounting anything I accomplished over the last year by any means. I lost 50 pounds without anybody asking or telling me to step on the scale, but I have been stuck at the same plateau for nearly 5 months now. I have half a closet of clothes that I can’t fit into since before I got preggers with Mackenzie and I want my wardrobe back. The program is definitely harder when you don’t have as much to lose. It’s also harder when life happens. Between weekly Monday team meeting scones, happy hours and travel for work not to mention a busy, active family it will be a challenge for me to lose 20 pounds in 10 weeks. However, as I learned the first time I successfully completed the program, 10 weeks is a small blip in time to have to make a few sacrifices. The first couple weeks of the program were a difficult transition for me – I only lost 4 pounds which is nothing to sneeze at, but I honestly thought I’d see better results from the start. I’m still on track, but it’s time to settle in. 16 pounds to go. No more excuses.

It’s also time to start training. My first race, the Hot Dash 5k is less than a month away and I haven’t ran in… a really long time. My running partner and I decided to do this first race in an effort to light a fire under our asses to start training again. It’s amazing how having to be away from it (illness… winter…) has absolutely killed my motivation. Pretty sure this first race will be a rude awakening to the work I have ahead of me to get back into race shape.

With all of this said, I have accepted the inevitable:

  • My entire family will get sick or injured every winter and it’s time I learn how to cope.
  • I never, ever want to do another weight lost program again once I am able to button my old pants. 
  • Starting over with running training sucks. 
Here’s to looking ahead to spring and a happier, healthier family! 

2014: A Crazy Good Year

2014 has been crazy.

Crazy good.
Crazy busy.
Just… Crazy.

Since my last post, on my birthday back in May, life became utter chaos. I had only been back at work for a month and a half following my maternity leave and there was no rest for the weary. Between travel, a new baby, a demanding 6 year old and my running training, there was very little time left for my little blog. In the list of things that had to be cut to make more time in a demanding life, my blog had to be one of them. Oh, how I have missed it! Writing, sharing, chatting about my healthy life victories and epic mom fails is something that I enjoyed.

Let me catch you up on what you may have missed…

Kids: 
My son, Jack, turned SIX in September. SIX!! He started first grade (which is a whole other controversy to be discussed at a later date). It started out a little shaky – new school, new teacher, new friends to make and all. Thankfully he has things figured out and is doing beautifully – no question we made the right choice in sending him forward instead of holding him behind. He continues to be ridiculously smart which forces us to stay on our toes and sassy to the point where I wonder if he suddenly went from 5 to 12 years old. He ADORES his little sister and is a great big brother to her. We also discovered through his having a sibling that his heart truly belongs to his mama – this boy is a mama’s boy and this mama is not complaining!

Then there is my sweet Mackenzie. Can you even believe she turned 1 a few weeks ago? I still continue to stare at her in awe that she is even here in this world. She is seriously the easiest baby ever (or perhaps it is from our years of practice with Jack that she SEEMS so easy). From the moment we brought her in to her first day of daycare, she has been known as the “Smiling Baby.” This year has not been without drama with her – she has issues with one of her eyes and will be wearing glasses for a lifetime because of it. We discovered a mass in her belly over the summer – thankfully, it turned out to be nothing but a lipoma but a trip to Children’s Hospital for testing is not something I really want to do again anytime soon. She has also been slow to hit developmental milestones. While in part, we think this may be the way she is – she does things in her time. Her way. (Not sure what this means for the teenage years…). She doesn’t crawl, but she gets from point A to point B one way or another. Her pediatrician isn’t concerned just yet. We are patiently waiting for her to take her first steps and praying we do not have to see yet another specialist. She’s a champion eater. Girlfriend loves her food. All of it. Whatever we put in front of her so far she devours. Hmmmm…. like mother like daughter?

These kids are my everything. Despite my busy schedule, I rearrange everything to ensure they come first.

Health
For the most part, my 2014 health journey has been good. As you know if you have been reading my blog for any amount of time, I am incredibly hard on myself. I have managed to lose 50 of the 70 (holy crap) pounds gained during my pregnancy.

This year was also a pinnacle year for running. For those that have had a baby, you know that bouncing back is not easy. I had a high-risk pregnancy which meant no heavy duty exercise for 9 long months in addition to postpartum complications. Getting back in the game was not easy and not fun. It hurt. I struggled. I CONQUERED.
April – Get in Gear 5k: This was my first post-baby race. I had a sprained ankle. I was slow. But I did it.

July 17- Esprit de She 5k: I completed this 3 minutes faster than the Get in Gear, but it was not without struggle. It was HOT. The course was challenging. But I did it.

August 2 – Race for the Kids 5k: 2 minutes faster than the Esprit de She – I felt great about this race. The race was sponsored by my company so I was surrounded by many colleagues and cheerleaders. My husband also participated in the Inline Half Marathon so it was amazing to have him at the finish line.

My partner in life. I loved having him racing with me!

August 30 – Women Rock 10k: This was my next big challenge. I committed to it and halfway through my training wanted to kick myself in the ass for making this choice. How on earth was I going to run 6 miles when I could barely survive 3? I pushed through it  – running in the rain, the heat… I trained hard and gave myself a goal of completing it in under 1:20:00. I finished at 1:15:00.

October 25 – Monster Dash 10 Mile: Inspired and motivated by my superhero finish at the 10k, I convinced myself to take on the extra 4 miles and do the Monster Dash 10 mile. With the help of my running buddy and weeks of training, I actually did it. My goal was to finish in  2 hours or under, which was a bit aggressive for where I was at training-wise, and I finished at EXACTLY 2 hours. I PR’d both my 5k and 10k times and admittedly fell apart in mile 9. I discovered exactly which body parts need additional help in my future training and learned what runner’s toe is (not sure what runner’s toe is? Google it.).

My running buddy, Kathy. I could not have completed 10 miles without her. 

My sweet boy was at the finish line to cheer me through to the last, painful step!

I ran a 10 miler less than a year after having my baby. Surreal. I may not have lost all the baby weight, but I blew away my running goals for the year. Surprised that I didn’t lose all the weight running those distances? I hit a plateau and because I was so focused on my run training, I wasn’t able to cross-train to bust through it. Kind of an excuse, but, not really. I was focused on healthy eating and held my weight very steady.

Then the holidays arrived… and I jumped ship…

Work
Probably the biggest opportunity of my professional life was presented to me this year. I was given the opportunity to head up the launch of my company’s field social media program. It was no easy feat – with hours of demanding work and many challenges I had to be 110% dedicated to the project. I am insanely proud of what I was able to accomplish in 2014 – fitting a full 12 months of work into a modified year because of maternity leave was not easy.

I am so thankful for an amazing team and for the opportunity to travel and meet so many awesome new people along the way.

In Summary…
2014 was GREAT. Despite having to work more and harder professionally than I ever have in my adult life and the struggle for work/life balance, I have zero complaints.

My family is complete. I have a job that I love. I ran faster and further than I thought I ever could.

I am so, so blessed.

This is 38

So, this is 38.

In my sleep deprived state of living, I barely even realized that my birthday was upon me. I made no real plans (nor did I really want to). It’s possible even my husband forgot. My wants this year were simple: to have a family dinner together OUTSIDE of the house and for some flipping sleep.

As I sat rocking my daughter back to sleep last night, sobbing from pure exhaustion, it dawned on me the REAL reason why having a kid after 35 is frowned upon. I’m too fucking old for this! Once upon a time, even as recent as the last couple of years, I could pull the late nights. Now? They are off the table. Lucky for my daughter, she is ridiculously adorable and instead of crying for hours? She laughs, smiles and baby talks for hours on end in the middle of the night.

The last year was such a trip. I mean, seriously. I am continually amazed how quickly life can change.

I’ve talked a lot about how things are different this time with baby number 2. Probably one of the biggest differences is that I never looked back on how it was “before” baby. You know… the ability to get up and leave the house without a second thought. A trip to Target that used to be a chore is now an escape. Being able to stay up late and sleep in the next day. All of those things (and many others) go away when you have kids. Priorities change.

I have spent the better part of the last year apologizing for pretty much everything. My inability to go out places because I was sick and pregnant. My lack of desire to WANT to do anything because of being sick and pregnant. I’m not apologizing anymore. I am CHOOSING to be selfish. I am CHOOSING my family above all other things. Not because I have to. Because I WANT to. It’s all about them!

It may seem as though I would need to escape from my home, as if I need a break from it all. Making plans for a night on the town? It’s actually kind of stressful. I need to make sure my husband doesn’t have plans. I need to make sure there is nothing going on the next day because god knows at my age, I’ll need recovery time. I need to get over the guilt of leaving my children and leaving my husband alone with the children. For now, it’s all just… too much. It’s easier just to say no. So, again, I won’t apologize for asking people to come to me at this juncture in my life. I won’t apologize for putting myself and my family before anyone else.

I spent a lot of years bending over backwards for a lot of people in my life because I felt as though that is what I had to do to keep them close. What I have learned is that the this door should swing both ways. I have a new baby and it may be a little selfish, but I expect people to come to me right now.

At 38, I’m too old and too tired to deal with BS.

At 38, I know exactly who I am and have no regrets.

At 38, I have the best gifts of all in my children and I cannot wait to get to them at the end of the day.

At 38, I don’t need bars, booze and clubs. I don’t need to party and get drunk.

At 38, I long for the companionship of those who “get” what it’s like to be a full-time working mom.

At 38, I WILL get my pre-pregnancy body back.

At 38, I will run my first 10K and maybe even my first 10 mile and not be afraid to ask for help in doing it.

My first race of 2014, the Get In Gear, is under my belt. I was slow. I was injured. But I did it. I love my Sole Sisters who cheered me on the whole way!

At 38, I will be fearless. 

Resolve to Know More About Infertility- A Success Story

I feel like such a sham.

Here I am. Two gorgeous babies. Writing about infertility.

I mean… who am I to tell anyone to resolve to know more about infertility?

I am a success story. 

However, I am the success story that every infertile hates. I am the one who was told after losing a tube and an ovary to endometriosis and a remaining ovary with a large endometrial cyst on it that I would not be having any more babies. That I should count my blessings that I even got one child out of this deal given how messed up my innards were. I was crushed by this diagnosis. After agonizing over and coming to the decision that we wanted to do IVF and then being told we couldn’t? This was the end of the road? I was devastated. I began thanking God that my son was in this world. I had him. I was a mom. I was good. I posted this post for National Infertility Awareness Week a year ago: My Story: National Infertility Awareness Week- Join the Movement!

3 weeks later. I posted this:

A Miracle Announcement

I will never ever forget that day. A moment I thought I would never see again. A positive pregnancy test. The thrill. The fear. A barrage of mixed emotions that cannot be described with words. Even worse?

This was an oopsie.

You see, when you’re told you’re done having kids there is no birth control. There is no calendar checking. No ovulation tests. No checking of your CM (however… when you’ve gone through a combined 6+ years of infertility this one just becomes second nature whether it means anything or not). You just… love. Who would have ever thought there was a reason to have sex besides procreation? You infertiles will understand what I’m talking about here.

Us infertiles, we both despise and envy those who have unplanned pregnancies. We can’t even fathom what it would be like to take a test and go, “Oh shit! I’m pregnant!” Infertility consumes us. We test endlessly. We see doctors who see all of us. You learn not to have any shame over how many people have seen your goods.

I never, EVER expected to have an oopsie pregnancy in my lifetime after dealing with so many years of infertility. Having an oopsie after being told it was impossible? I immediately felt like a traitor to my infertile people.

I wish I could tell you the reasons why I got pregnant. I wish I could say it was some kind of pill I took or something I ate. I wish I could say it was from IUI or IVF. I honestly wish there was a reason. I know there is no magic potion. Let’s face it, getting pregnant is luck- even for those who don’t have a known infertility issue.

I feel as though I no longer have the right to write about infertility.

However, I do want to write about my experience because if I am able to give even ONE person who suffers from infertility some faith and some hope, then I have done some good. Even though I ended up being one of “those” people with the oopsie BFP, I have been there. I have been childless with a desire beyond words to be a mom. I have had secondary infertility. I have had crushing, awful test results.

So yeah, I get it. I really do.

There are ways to help. There are ways to GET help. There are so many out there who understand and so many more who NEED to understand this sad disease. For more information on how you can help and resolve to know more about infertility, visit www.resolve.org.

My loves. My cup runneth over:

My Mommy Network

There are a few important things that have gotten me through motherhood: the love of a good man, a supportive family and caffeine.

However, there is another important thing I have done since I became pregnant with my son 6 years ago: build my mommy network.

I became a part of an online community way back in my early TTC and infertile days. Starting with my clomid buddy group where we clamored together to scrutinize for that oh so precious faint line on our pregnancy tests, to my 2008 due date group and all the way to my December 2013 due date group. These groups have been my lifeline for support and information. Over the last few years I have also grown my Twitter mom network and have amassed a group of really fantastic moms to network with about the victories and woes of motherhood.

I honestly do not know where I would be without this network of fabulous women.

They are my sounding board. My source of information. I really (REALLY) look to my mom network both via Twitter and Facebook to be inspired both as a person and a mom. I am SO GRATEFUL to all these mommies for their advice, feedback, support and most importantly their friendship. It’s so easy to fall into the rut of comparing yourselves and your BABIES  to other babies (seriously… WTF. Why do we do this?). Fortunately, despite the crippling desire to constantly size up, I don’t have to encounter this much in my (troll-free) online communities. While we are a positive crew of ladies, I know the mommies in my network will not always agree with me. I make it no secret that I formula feed and vehemently support vaccinations. I am a working mom and send my kid to a daycare center (you cannot imagine how many people find this abhorrent). My son slept in a carseat for the first 4 months, so yeah, who am I to judge? I do not know any moms who are perfect or who don’t have any struggles. If there are moms who think they are perfect? Well good for them.

That brings me to the one thing all of us moms do agree on: we do what we gotta do. I don’t force my views on anyone. I refuse to engage in mommy wars that our wonderful passive-aggressive social world festers up. You raise your kids your way, and I’ll raise my kids my way. Will I share my trials and victories? Absolutely. Do I care if someone is going to judge me over it? Nope. I know there are a million ways to get to the same place and I will always open my eyes and ears to new ideas (I mean… how else would I have discovered the Merlin Magic Sleepsuit??). But I will never tell another mom who is simply trying to survive and do what she feels is right for her and her kids, “You are wrong.”

I’m thankful that at 2am I can always find another mama out there who is up with their little one to chat with. I love seeing pictures of their kids and babies. I find joy in seeing how big they are getting and all the milestones they have tackled. In my 2008 group- our 5 yr olds have started to losing their teeth! My 2013 group have babies rolling over, smiling and laughing. I love to see all of it. I NEED to see all of it. It reminds me that I am not alone in this.

I see other moms who are as exhausted as I am. Who are struggling to lose the last 20 pounds. Who are struggling to lose the first 20 pounds. Moms who agonize over whether or not to give their babies formula. Struggle whether or not to do any kind of sleep training. Or no sleep training. Moms who broken heartedly go back to work leaving their babies in the hands of strangers. Moms who can’t stand the idea of leaving their babies with strangers and become SAHMs. The list could go on and on…

All I can do is share my experience and hope that maybe it will help. Perhaps my advice is offensive? That is never my intention. Don’t agree with my opinion? I don’t expect you to. I am blessed to be a part of communities that are pretty much drama free. They are collaborative and supportive. These women make me laugh as well as keep me motivated. I may never meet any of them in real life, but I am more grateful to my mama communities than they will ever know.

We are in this mom thing together!

Same love. Different Experiences.

It’s amazing to me how different it is this time around.

I suffered a pretty good bout of PPD with Jackson. For the first year of his life, I was not myself. While I don’t have excuses, there are a lot of reasons why I had PPD. Sure, a baby is a huge life change not to mention you know hormones, but we also moved homes while I was in the hospital with him. We left the home that marked the beginning of our married life and I went home to a brand new house with a baby in tow. It was as if someone had stolen my entire life and replaced it with this new one. Jackson was jaundiced and had to sleep on the bili bed 24/7 (which he hated). He was collicky. He wouldn’t breastfeed no matter how much counseling or help I received. He went into failure to thrive territory and I was forced into formula feeding. I was spewed on for formula feeding. I was a disaster! When the time came to bring him to daycare, I was more than ready. I felt like the most clueless first time parent ever, so I was actually RELIEVED to go back to work. WTH?? What mother feels that way?? I look back on my experience with my sweet boy and all I feel is horror and regret. Once he got out of the baby phase, started talking (and SLEEPING), I started to enjoy him as well as motherhood. I constantly feel like I am making up for that lost time and never miss an opportunity to tell him how much I love and adore him. I always, ALWAYS feel sad that I didn’t enjoy him more as a baby.

It was one of the reasons I wanted another baby so badly. I wanted another chance.

My other chance, by the grace of God, is here and I am not wasting a single moment with her. My maternity leave was full of snuggles and baby talk. I didn’t worry (and frankly didn’t care) if I got anything “done” around the house. I had 12 weeks to make the best of our time together and I can honestly say I did just that. As a matter of fact, I enjoyed her so much and was so attached that the thought of going back to work seemed to physically break my heart. I’m glad that my husband does the daycare drop off with her because, in these first few weeks back, I don’t know if I could have handed my precious baby over to anyone else. I miss her every single day. All day. I cannot get to daycare fast enough to hold her and give her kisses. I feel like she has changed so much and that I am somehow missing it. It seems as if she is one person when I leave her and then when I pick her up and she’s out of nowhere babbling and smiling. She rolling over. She’s no longer a newborn but an infant. Why is this going so fast? Dear Time: slow down! She is my last baby!

I’ve dabbled with the idea of staying home in the past. Mostly because I was unhappy and unfulfilled in my prior job and not necessarily because I had this deep desire to be a SAHM. For the first time ever, I really THOUGHT about it. After getting that first daycare bill, I REALLY thought about it. I imagined what it would be like to be with her every day. To hold her whenever I want. To teach her baby signs. To watch her grow and be the first person to see all of her new milestones and “firsts”. To go on jogs with her in the park. I imagined my son being able to be home with us all summer before starting 1st grade this fall (which is a total WTF moment in and of itself. 1st grade? What?).

However… despite the serious gouging we received after the first bi-weekly daycare withdrawal (which by the way we pay more for daycare than we do our mortgage), we still need my money and my ridiculously amazing health benefits. Despite the deep hole in my heart from missing my baby every day, I know she’s in good hands. And crazy enough? I actually really love my job. For the first time ever, I get to manage a program that I am passionate and excited about. The opportunity in front of me to expand my career right now is huge and if I bail even for a short time, I will miss that boat and I have worked so very hard. I shouldn’t feel guilty for wanting that, right? Because, I do.

Most days I don’t get to see my baby girl before I leave in the morning, but my husband with time permitting, will send me pictures of her to oogle over during my bus ride. Fortunately, I do get to see my baby boy- if I were to leave without saying goodbye to him? He would have the worst day and would NOT let me live it down.

One of the sweet pictures I received in the morning
I was fortunate enough to be home in the morning when he lost his first tooth this week! 

I love both my kids so, so hard. It is a mental struggle to leave them every day, but I feel like continuing to be a working mom, they get the best mom out of me. While it was harder than ever to make the decision this time around, I am confident that I made the right choice.

He still cuddles with me. Please tell me that doesn’t change??? 

But sometimes he would rather cuddle with his sister and I swear my heart explodes with love. 

Getting My Groove Back

Now that my maternity leave has officially ended, it is time.

Time to stop making excuses.

TIME TO GET MY GROOVE BACK!

No lie, coming back to work has not been easy. First and foremost, I miss my little girl more than I ever thought possible. In two weeks I already feel like I have missed so much and a measly 3 hours with her at night just doesn’t feel like enough. I remember being sad with Jack, but this time feels very raw. Is it because I’m a seasoned mom and actually ENJOY my baby this time around (PPD free)? Is it because she is my last baby? I guess as I get back into being quite busy at work, I have less time to be sad, but still. I miss her sweet face every day.

I miss her sweet, smiling face every day! (Just over 3 months here)

I tell him every day when I pick him up, “I missed you all day!” And I mean it. 
I love that he adores his sister. Seeing them together is everything.

Starting back up at work again is more than just a challenge of the heart though. It is also a challenge to my checkbook. Let’s just say that the cost of daycare is my entire paycheck minus about maybe $100. So yes, I am working to send my kids to daycare. We thought we would get some relief after Jack starts summer camp? No dice. That is even MORE expensive than his Kindergarten program with all their field trips, activities and such. So, for the first time in years… we have to really start watching our pennies. I don’t mean that to be a humble brag- we are just good with our money management and always had money saved up for little luxuries here and there. We are more than grateful that we have never really had to be paycheck to paycheck (not to say that we won’t ever be in that place… we aren’t completely naive). The checkbook drainage was just a bit shocking. What does this mean? A few things are going to have to give. One of them being, I have to say goodbye to Medifast. At $300+ bucks a month, it has to go. I’m nervous about what that will mean for my weight loss nutrition. Medifast WORKS for me (I’ve lost 30 of the 50 lbs I gained in pregnancy in 3 months) but the last 20… Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. I fear trying to do this on my own.

I know the last time I posted I had started the Ripped in 30 program again. Yeah. That. Ha. It lasted about a week. My efforts are not completely lost though. With the help of my now recalled Fitbit Force, I was able to watch my activity levels in conjunction with my food intake. Despite my lack of movement, I have managed to lose 10 pounds in a month. That’s not so bad! I do have Medifast to thank for that but I credit most of it to my rash inducing activity tracker. I have reported/participated in the Fitbit recall and am waiting for my refund check. Once I get it, I’ll be in the market for a new tracker. As much as I want to remain Apple geeky and wait for their smartwatch announcement, I kind of want one now. I have my eye on the Basis– it’s spendy, but techie cool.

The Fitbit Rash. As if this isn’t bad enough, this thing actually got worse. Blistered. Peeling. GROSS. It’s no joke, if you own a Fitbit Force, please be careful. 

I have two (cheaper) fitness/nutrition options that I am looking into: DailyBurn has a nutrition program called Ignite that I feel would mimic Medifast nicely. The first 21 days on Ignite are “cleanse” of sorts (aka, eating clean) which is exactly what Medifast does throughout. In order not to quickly gain back after Medifast it is important to wean out of it (which is why completing the program is SO IMPORTANT!). The other is working through a Beachbody Coach and joining her 21 Day Fix Challenge Group. This coach is someone I “know” from an online mommy group that I joined when I was preggo with Jackson 6 years ago (!!!). She has really inspired me not only with her own weight loss story, but her postpartum fitness as well. I really appreciate her passion and they way she cheers on her participants. It would be easy to be intimidated by her because she is GORgeous, but if you read her blog and her posts, you would know that she gets it, is ridiculously passionate and she really keeps it real. She WANTS to help people. However… as much as I adore her, I am a little overwhelmed by the Beachbody thing. I feel like you need to keep buying workout programs (and they aren’t cheap) not to mention the whole Shakeology push (which if I’m going to do this, I may as well stay on Medifast). PLEASE correct me if I’m wrong- I know many out there who follow Beachbody, have coaches, ARE coaches so maybe you can give me your pitch before the month ends?

Importantly- I haven’t stopped running! I am currently training for two 5k’s in April and have my sights set on a 10k by the end of August! Here’s my selfie marking my first official outdoor run of 2014. Come on Spring. GET HERE NOW!

Most importantly, I need to find a way to get back my motivation. Between the exhaustion of being a new mom, going back to work and getting the freaking norovirus which shut me down this week, I am having a tough time. A year ago I was fit, healthy and motivated- I need to find that girl again. I need to find balance between being a mom, my career and taking care of my body and the hardest part? Not feeling guilty.

So, yes. It is TIME for this girl (with the totally new chopped hair)-

to GET HER GROOVE BACK.

Starting Over: Diet & Exercise

One of the things I said I would never do when I lost all the weight 2 years ago and made goal was that I would never want to go through that again.

Alas… here I am. Square one. Starting Over.

However, it isn’t because I fell off the wagon. I gained weight for the BEST reason ever. I had a baby. Not just any baby, but a miracle baby. One that was never supposed to exist. So, was it worth the extra 50 pounds? A million times yes. I could have been better about my pregnancy weight gain, but honestly, it was the least of my worries.

Now that my princess is here, it is time to get serious about my health again. I am extremely motivated and ready to take it on and get back to the “me” I was a year ago.

1. Diet
After doing some additional research on various programs, I decided to go back to Medifast. It’s a program that I know and understand, plus, I know from 2 years ago that it works. Surprisingly, it doesn’t feel as difficult this time around, and I’m not sure if they made changes, but the food tastes different and better too. So far, I have lost 9 pounds in 5 weeks. Not quite the rapid loss I saw the first time I did this, but the weight is coming off. Despite the slowness being a frustration, I’m sure it is better that it is slow anyway and I’m okay with that.

2. Monitoring
I decided that it was time to take a closer look at my activity level. While maternity leave may not be the best time to get a lot of activity, I am looking at it a bit like a baseline. I chose to buy the Fitbit Force as I like that it has a display directly on the device to see my progress. I also really like the Fitbit website and app- the dashboard gives me a great overview of my day and I like that I can personalize my goals. So if you have a Fitbit, look me up!!!

3. Exercise
Of course, no weight loss program is complete without an exercise plan. Without question, I will resume my running. I have also started using a program called DailyBurn and I LOVE IT. DailyBurn provides workouts via website streaming- it’s like having a Group Fitness class right in your house. There are a number of different programs from Yoga to an Insanity-like program called Inferno. Since I will be getting my cardio via running (currently on my treadmill) so I have been using DailyBurn for toning. In addition, I have chosen to do the Jillian Michael’s Ripped in 30 before heading back to the office in a month. So here it is, my starting photo (may also serve as my “before” picture):

I can honestly say that that worst part about all of this is just getting started. Taking the first step truly IS the hardest. Medifast isn’t easy by any means, but certainly doable. The exercise? The sheer and utter soreness that I am experiencing is a reminder that I do NOT want to start over again.

The part that I’m most sad about is the running. I worked and trained so hard for 2 years and I am literally starting from day 1. My endurance is terrible. I am slow. It hurts. I won’t let it stop me though! My first race of 2014 will be the Earth Day 5k followed a week later by the Get in Gear 5k. I am also planning to run the Esprit de She, Electric Run and the pinnacle of my racing this year will be the Women Rock 10K.

The one good thing about starting over is that you get a fresh slate to right the wrongs and habits from before. Sure, there are different challenges that present themselves, but I feel good and positive that the changes I make now will be for a lifetime.

This WILL be the last time I have to lose weight.

Introducing Mackenzie Marie: The Birth Story

What a wild ride bringing this little girl into the world has been. And yes, even though she is already 7 weeks old, I give you…

Mackenzie Marie’s Birth Story

At 33 weeks I was placed on bed rest because of my rising blood pressure and at risk for pre-eclampsia. One week later, the blood pressure was better, but I was suddenly fingertip dilated, -2 station and thin membranes. Things started to begin and frankly, way too early for anyone’s taste. I continued my bed rest, and my labor continued to progress yet I made it up to 36 weeks where bed rest was listed and it was decided that if I give birth, I give birth. At this point, I had progressed to being dilated to 3 and I was having fairly regular contractions around 15 minutes apart. On December 6, I decided that I had to be done at work. There was a big fear between my husband and I that my water would break while I was downtown and that would not have been a good situation. By Monday, I was still contracting hard, but they were not getting closer together. My husband and I wanted to enjoy some of these quiet days together so we went out to lunch and saw a movie (Hunger Games. AWESOME). By Tuesday, my contractions completely stopped and I was starting to get frustrated with my discomfort and my sudden lack of progress.

On Wednesday, December 11, we went in for my regular checkup. I had an ultrasound and found that Mackenzie had moved back up and her head was now stuck on my left hip/pelvic bone instead of being in the correct position to vacate. At the NST, she was pretty hyper and I was contracting like crazy. We then went in to get checked by my OB. She did a cervical check (which felt like she was seriously trying to reach up and poke my heart for as uncomfortable as this was). She then mentioned my membranes were extremely thin, gave a singular vicious poke accompanied by my yelp of pain and my water broke in an epic rush. We were off to labor & delivery!

The only labor picture… Obviously before the real business went down 

I labored well for about the first 2 hours but wasn’t progressing. I knew I would be getting pitocin so I didn’t want to wait for that to get my epidural. Seriously, pitocin contractions are beast. I got my epidural and settled in for the long haul of flipping from my right to left side, naps and just waiting for my little princess to make her way down. However, my blood pressure tanked and I started to get sick. They quickly perked me up with some ephedrine and I was doing much better. Mackenzie on the other hand was going in the wrong direction- literally back up instead of down. While laying on my left side, she was not handling the contractions well and her heart started to decelerate. Stuck in my hip, I was forced to continue laboring on my right side which meant that the epidural was starting to wear off on the left. I was starting to feel things. Instead of rushing me into a c-section, they decided to give me the pitocin to see if she would move and present herself. Thankfully, she moved and we were able to get me on my left side but to no ado, my epidural was no longer doing its job. Ouch. Finally, around 10:10p that night (10.5 hours after my water broke), I was fully dilated and ready to have my baby! Just 20 minutes of pushing with my sunny side up baby girl and we met our sweet princess, Mackenzie Marie, who weighed in at 8 lbs 3 oz and 20.5 inches long. She was perfect in every way.

Mackenzie’s first photo

My postpartum time in the hospital was good. Mackenzie was a very easy baby while there, pretty much sleeping all the time. I kept thinking there was something wrong with her because she was so quiet and so chill. Alas, both of us were healthy. I was ready to go home. We were discharged on Friday the 13th around 11:30 in the morning and we went to pick up her big brother Jackson so we could start our new lives together as a family of 4.

Jackson meeting his baby sister for the first time. He absolutely adores her.
Grandma & Grandpa meeting their 1st granddaughter. 
Mackenzie’s 1st “professional” photo
I’m ready to go home mommy! 

Happy to be feeling good, I was excited to be having such a decent postpartum experience; however, by Sunday, I wasn’t feeling well. I had developed a massive headache and backache (not to mention my massively engorged lady lumps). I had a home visit from a nurse scheduled and it turned out my blood pressure was incredibly high. By Wednesday of that week, my husband and I started to worry a bit about my health. We were worried about my having postpartum Pre-e, so my husband sent me off to bed early that night; and, like a saint, dealt with the sleep deprivation involved with a little lady waking up to eat every 3 or so hours. The next morning, I was not well. My head was pounding and I had developed a large, baseball sized lump in my right armpit. I went to see my doctor to have my lump as well as my blood pressure checked. My blood pressure was through the roof and I was sent to a surgical consultant to have my lump drained- this thing was a mix of an abscess, clogged milk duct and swollen gland. Awesome. However, that wasn’t the main concern. My blood pressure was crazy high (170/110) as well as were my liver enzymes and I was immediately admitted to the hospital with postpartum pre-eclampsia. This was devastating to me! Not only was I unprepared to be sent to the hospital, but all I wanted was to be at home cuddling with my baby girl. I begged for prescription meds in lieu of the hospital stay, but to no avail, I was admitted. I spent 24 horrendous hours hooked up to antibiotics for my mastitis and magnesium sulfate for the BP/Pre-e. I had blood drawn every 6 hours to check my liver and my arms appeared beaten and bruised from this regular assault to them. I was released after about 48 hours, but felt awful coming off of these meds. I was given blood pressure meds to take at least until my 6 week postpartum checkup. I can say without a shadow of a doubt, that it was a terrible experience. No new mom wants to be taken away from her baby. I don’t think I have ever cried so much in my life.

Mackenzie has continued to thrive and we didn’t miss a beat getting back to our daily routine of cuddling and napping.

Baby feet. Nom Nom Nom. 

I didn’t think it was possible to love anything as much given my heart was already overflowing for my son, but Mackenzie is just a dream. She fits into our family just perfectly as if she was meant to be here. Jackson absolutely adores his little sister and can’t go to bed or leave for school without giving her a hug and kiss. He’s had his moments with bad behavior, but overall has been a wonderful help.

Daddy’s Little Girl 

Our family is wonderfully complete.