Friday 31 May 2013

Newborn Photography

Some moments need never be forgotten. Those first few days after Audrey joined our family were sweet, peaceful, and full of snuggles and love. Every time I look at these pictures I am reminded to slow down, pick up my babes and give them the love they crave and deserve. My family, my children, are my focus right now - and will be for quite some time to come. Being a mother is not a sometimes deal; from the moment you know your baby will soon be in your arms, your responsibilities increase, and your desire to be better is cemented. I strive everyday to become more, to learn and grow emotionally, physically, spiritually so that I can imbue that wisdom on the sweet souls in my care. 
Thank you to Elizabeth Cranmer of Lizzy Anne Photography for capturing this special time for us. I love all the images - so much so that narrowing it down to the above photos was no easy task.

Tuesday 28 May 2013

Mind and Body: One Month

I can't believe Audrey is a month old today! It's been a whirlwind of a month, yet at the same time it feels like she's been in the mix forever - confusing I know. Here's the next installment of our little progress reports [if you missed the first installent, Mind and Body One Week After Baby, check it out here, and if you missed Audrey's Birth Story it can be found here.] 

This how we spent Audrey's one month 'birthday'

Audrey's favorite activity at the park

Audrey and I ready to go shopping


Audrey is an eating machine! She loves to nurse, and does so frequently - day or night. We're working on getting the night time routine sorted out, and so far she'll sleep about four hours her first stretch, then it becomes a feeding frenzy. Last night for example, Audrey awoke at 2:15am, and nursed off and on until 4:45am...where upon Eli woke up and was miserable for a while before heading back to bed. Eli then can crashing into bed with me at 6, and Audrey woke up at 6:15 to eat again...night time is not my favorite time right now haha.
Audrey is very alert, looks around and makes eye contact easily. She tracks my voice and movements, and smiles at me as we talk. While she doesn't enjoy bath time or diaper changes, Audrey LOVES to be snuggled and so I enjoy baby snuggles as often as I can get them! Having two busy boys underfoot means that this sweet baby is also very patient, and often takes a break from nursing when Eli is needing help RIGHT NOW, as she is currently the more patient of the two of them. Audrey is a very calm and even tempered little angel, and I simply adore her!
This first month has brought a world of new experiences  and 'firsts' for Audrey, including 'first cold'. Being the lucky little sister of two doting older brothers, Audrey is in contact with germs on a daily basis. Darius and Eli have both had colds, the 24 flu, and random coughs in the past month, so Audrey has fared pretty well with only contracting congestion. Shes doing a really good job at clearing the mucous herself, and it hasn't held her back much at all. Night times are a bit rougher with her congestion as she needs to be propped a certain way to be able to breath...which means I usually end up with her in bed with me, with her propped against my body, and me stiff as a board by morning. Despite being a little under the weather,Audrey weights in at 10lbs 12oz which is a nice little gain over her 7lbs 1oz birth weight. 


My body continues to heal and return to its active self. I ran my first 5 km this past week, have been hefting weights, and continue to do stretching and yoga. The standard advice is to not to return to full activity until after six weeks postpartum, however I needed to have the mental lift that being active gives me. I listen to my body and only push as far as my body is able to comfortably. Returning to exercise has been a fabulous help for me to push through the day after my extremely short nights. 
My Mom was here for the first two weeks after Audrey arrived, which allowed me to sleep, eat, and snuggle Audrey all day long. It was heaven! After she left, getting back into the swing of maintaining a household, running after two busy boys, and caring for a newborn has been a challenge for me. Some days I end the day with a smile on my face, feeling like a million dollars! Other days I cry myself to sleep because I am overwhelmed and exhausted. It's been a bit of a roller coaster of emotions but my Handsome Hubby has been a great strength and help to me along the way. If he weren't such a hands on Dad things would be down right crazy around here haha! The reason blog posts have been rather sporadic/non-existent as of late, is simply because when I have a moment to sit down I fall asleep - which is probably the best use of my time right now haha!
I have been dealing with major 'mommy guilt' over the past month in connection to Darius and Elias. They've lost a lot of the one on one time that we enjoyed prior to Audrey's arrival. Darius has expressed his feeling about this, and is obviously working through our new normal. Eli is having a bit of a tougher time, and has taken to waking up extra early as a result. 
I also feel guilty for how much has slipped through my fingers in the past month as far as maintaining our home and feeding my family. I prepared really well, or so I thought, but it still is hard to get healthy meals on the table when my kiddos are hungry. We've eaten out more than I care to admit, and there have been more treats than is healthy for anyone - let alone kids that aren't used to having treats so often. All of our belly's are suffering from sugar overload, and it definitely contributes to the lower mental state I've been exhibiting.
Heading out of the house on my own with three kids is such a daunting thought that it actually hasn't happened yet, other than going to the beach. Darius is really great at listening, and Audrey is pretty low maintenance, but Eli is a busy body with limited communication abilities and a stubborn streak a mile long. I had Eli and Audrey with me in a store on Saturday, and I ended up with Eli in the baby stroller, Audrey in my arms, and leaving the store as quickly as my one arm could maneuver the stroller through the isles. It's a whole new workout haha! 
All in all, I wouldn't give up this challenge for anything in the world - it's been a fabulously overwhelming [and wonderful] month.

Friday 17 May 2013

Postnatal Yoga

We've passed the two week postpartum mark, and so I've been slowly incorporating gentle exercise back into my day. By gentle I don't mean a slow jog - although, I can't wait to hit the treadmill again! - I mean stretching, yoga, and walking. Through it all, it's important to listen to your body and stop or modify the routine as needed. And you need to have clearance from your practitioner before you embark on any exercise routine. 

Today, I found a wonderful yoga routine which relieved the 'nursing shoulders' I've been battling in the past few days. For all those whom have nursed, you most likely know what I'm talking about, but for those whom haven't, nursing shoulders develop from the less than stellar posture one uses when nursing a baby [which can be alleviated by propping the baby up with a pillow, or holding the baby up higher yourself...neither of which I do consistently... especially when nursing in the night.] This yoga routine is not billed as a postpartum routine, however it definitely does the job quite nicely. Enjoy!

Monday 13 May 2013

The Mommy Mark

Darius is a precocious, inquisitive five year old. Having him along for the ride through pregnancy, delivery, and the newborn stage this time around has been an adventure all in itself. He questions everything that goes on, wants to know how and why everything works, and makes me think good and hard about the miracle of life through it all. One thing that has captured his attention from day one of pregnancy is,"but how does baby eat when she's in your tummy?" We discussed his question and I explained what an umbilical cord is and how it takes food from Mama and puts it straight into baby's tummy. I told him that after a baby is born and can eat with it's mouth, the umbilical cord falls off and the mark left behind is called a belly button; Darius raised his shirt to look at his own belly button. Darius thinks this is awesome - and for good reason! We each have a reminder, a very real part of us, of the miracle of life and the gift from our Mother's as they sustained us in the womb. Belly button is synonymous with "Mommy Mark" in our house now, as this is the very real physical connection we all had with our Moms. 
As we cuddle in bed in the morning the boys will examine their belly buttons, check out Daddy's belly button, and stare at their sisters healing belly button. And through it all I feel incredibly blessed. Blessed that my body allowed me to be apart of the miracle of life. Blessed that these three wonderful little souls could survive on the less than stellar umbilical cords my body makes [all three of my kiddos had single vessel cords.] And blessed beyond measure to be Mother.  

Happy [belated] Mother's Day

Friday 10 May 2013

Mother's Day Gift Guide [for the fitness minded Mama}

Mother's Day gifts are funny. While I appreciate that there is a full day set apart to celebrate all the Mamas out there, I think that the spontaneous gifts of appreciation and love that are given through out the year are more meaningful. That being said, when it comes to Mother's Day, it would be a bummer to have no lovin' coming my I guess I'm still trying to find a balance between what I find meaningful, and what society has created as expectations. To make things simple for all those Hubby's and Kiddos whom are looking to spoil their Mama's on Sunday, I've been searching for the perfect [in my eyes] gifts to receive  There are many Mother's Day gift guides out there, but when I was looking through some of them over the past week, I noticed a specific trend of focusing on chocolates [don't get me wrong, I love chocolates] and other edible gifts, and not much in the way of long lasting gifts. I'm the kinda girl that has asked for a step for Christmas [my Hottie Husband didn't believe me when I asked for it...multiple times...and got me something else. Needless to say, he made me a step for the following Christmas when I asked for it again haha!] so maybe this gift guide won't suit you perfectly; But if it does, feel free to forward it to your kiddos or Husband to get them thinking about gifts YOU would like, instead of gifts THEY would enjoy borrowing, or helping to devour.

Gifts That Take Some Mullah

A Pedicure [as a fit gal, your feet take a beating!]

Personal Training Session[s]

Enjoy Freely Gifts

Time away to hike with a girlfriend 

family walk along the river or through a city park

home spa night

Last but not least, these two will always be winners in my books

Family Photo Session
my favorite photographers in the Calgary area are PMG Image, Eden Lang Pictures, and Lizzy Anne Photography. Or, you can get the amateur shutterbug in the family to snap one for you, like I did for my sister in law's family above.

Hot Mama Photoshoot
[this pic is actually of my sister who isn't a Mama, but she's just so pretty I had to share it as inspiration for others to go get dolled up and let a photographer capture your beauty!]

No matter what you give your Mama, make sure the kiddos fill out a Mother's Day questionnaire.  These things are priceless - and are a great milestone marker for Mama to save and reflect on. My Hottie Husband and I still laugh whenever we read one Darius filled out for Father's Day two years ago!

Tuesday 7 May 2013

Mind and Body One Week After Baby

I can not believe it's been a full week since Audrey joined our crazy household! She has added so much life, love, and tenderness to our daily routine, and we truly feel blessed to have a little girl in the mix. 
Here is how both Audrey and I are doing, one week after our official 'meet and greet:'

First Audrey: She is a sleeping, eating, and pooping champ! Eli very clearly enunciates 'puke' now as he watches his sister puke ALL.DAY.LONG. She eats so incredibly much that she simply explodes from both ends on a regular basis. Too graphic? While she doesn't seem to mind, it sure has made an impression on Eli ha! Audrey wakes once or twice a night to eat, has two long stretches of being awake in the day, one in the morning and one in the evening, and then sleeps the rest of the time. During the day she wakes to eat every three to four hours between her two alert times. When Audrey is alert she is ALERT! She will stay awake for over an hour, looking around, making faces, and cuddling. She has been able to pick her head up since she was born, and makes full use of this skill during her awake time. The boys love to hold her when she's awake, as she will just stare up at them and make funny faces. 
Audrey's umbilical cord fell off Sunday morning, leaving a bloody, oozy mess. With both boys it took two weeks or more for the cord to fall off, so seeing the umbilical site before it is fully healed is a new sight for me. Needless to say it worried me, but after waking my mom, texting my Hottie Husband whose out of town, and calling my midwife, it turns out this is normal, and we just need to wait and watch to see how it heals up. 

Audrey is a happy, sweet, and patient little babe. We've heard her cry only a handful of times, and each time for good reason - she really doesn't like being cold. As she snores peacefully next to me in her bassinet, I can't help but feel incredibly blessed to have another sweet little angel to care for and love. 

How I'm Healing Up: Because labor and delivery was so incredibly fast, I sometimes forget that my body still did all the same steps as it did with the boys, and needs the same rest afterwards to recover. Friday I was feeling fantastic when I woke up, and so I jumped back into normal routine. But, by the end of the day I was exhausted, felt heavy, and just needed to sleep or I was going to burst into tears. Saturday [which was exactly one week postpartum] Audrey and I were on our own, so we slept - A LOT. When we weren't sleeping, we were resting and snuggling. I went up and down the stairs four times total on Saturday, and made it outside for a extremely short walk around the block. Water continues to be an integral part of my daily routine, as Audrey nurses very efficiently already and leaves me feeling dehydrated. My milk came in on day two [last Sunday night] and I never got fully engorged as Audrey has kept up with supply since day one - which is completely shocking to me. She is by far my best eater, and my boys were no slouches in this department! 
I'm closing in on my pre-pregnancy weight already, which is a little too fast. While it's wonderful to have the option to wear something other than stretchy pants, I worry about my body being able to keep up the milk supply Audrey needs if I continue to lose weight at this rate. 
Emotionally, I'm on a bit of a roller coaster. I know my hormones are reeling, so I've been cutting myself slack. I cry, often for very little reason, and then it stops just as suddenly as it started. I'm much more easily offended, but am able to talk reason into myself afterwards so there's no lasting resentment. I'm looking forward to my hormones settling back down, but in the mean time here's what I've been doing to help keep a genuine smile on my face: 

sitting in the sun

eating [and drinking] lots of fresh veggies
and drinking copious amounts of water


getting dressed everyday

 Having my sweet boys running around smiling and laughing is a huge pick me up, just as snuggling my sweet girl is too. I've been consciously focusing on the good - because when it comes down to it, I know the choices I make are main contributors to how I feel. I can not wait to be cleared for exercise, as exercise has always been very emotionally therapeutic for me; I can't help but be happy when I have endorphin's flooding my body!

All in all, week one with three kiddos has been enormously rewarding. I love my sweet children, and can think of no better way to spend my day than teaching, caring for, and loving these tender little spirits. Everyday is a gift - and I intend to relish in it!

Friday 3 May 2013

Postpartum Healing

After having a baby a mothers body has A LOT of healing and recovering to do. Way back when, Mama's and their babes were kept in hospital for a week following delivery, where food was brought to bedside, diaper changes were handled mostly by the nurses, and both Mama and babe slept, and slept, and slept. The rest helped in the healing process, allowing the pelvic floor to have a much needed break from pressure, and gave both Mama and babe time to bond, nurse, and be just the two of them. Fast forward to today's societal pace of 1 minute rice, 10 minute power lunches, 12 minute workouts, and drive thru dinners, and you have a whole other ball game. While faster is better in some cases [I have to say I do enjoy a good HITT training session!] when it comes to recovering from birth, time matters. 

I am now four days postpartum, and every single one of these days has been spent in bed. I get up for washroom breaks, and have wandered down the hall a couple of times, but for the most part I lay or sit in bed with my babe in my arms, or at my side in her bassinet. We read, write, entertain visitors, eat and drink plenty of water. And sleep. Lots of sleep! My Mama flew home from France to come and help out with the boys [she arrived just a few days before baby girl arrived, so we lucked out on timing!] and my Handsome Husband took a couple of days off work to help the boys through the adjustment period of having another person added to our family. Being supported through this time so I can truly heal, rest, and connect with this tiny human I've been diligently growing for the past nine months, is a blessing. Not only is this a blessing now, but resting now will pay off down the road.  There has been a steep rise in pelvic floor surgeries as the time mothers rest and recover postpartum has decreased. The more pressure a Mama feels to be up and running right after giving birth, the more likely she will be to experience incontinence down the road. Beautiful. Not to mention the affect that it can have on enjoying a healthy sex life later on. Yep, peeing your pants and a lackluster sex life are definitely reason enough to lay low for a while. My midwives recommend five days of bed rest, followed by a slow increase in mobility for the remainder of the first two weeks postpartum - IF there were no tears sustained during birth. Kegels should be resumed within that time to aid in the healing of the birth canal, as well as massaging the stomach to aid the uterus in returning to its rightful place, tucked within the pelvis. 

Taking it slow for six weeks is a challenge, believe me, but in the grand scheme of things it is only six weeks - and will make the rest of life much more enjoyable and comfortable. So, lay back, relax, and accept the help that is offered to you. And if none is offered, ASK FOR IT. No Mama should be feeling the need to hop back on the proverbial hamster wheel, simply because that's what everyone else does, or that's what she thinks is expected of her. Lay back, relax, and snuggle that baby!

Wednesday 1 May 2013

Birth Story

Friday night I went to bed, tossing and turning trying to find a way to sleep with a pinched nerve in my shoulder. When you're at the end of a pregnancy you're already a tad bit uncomfortable, but throw in something like a pinched nerve and it's enough to drive you crazy. When my Handsome Husband came to bed at 1am, I switched to the couch where I could sleep sitting up with my arm propped on pillows, which brought much needed rest and relief. And then 3:30 rolled around and my eyes pinged open. I have been having false labor off and on for the past three weeks, so I tried to just relax as the contraction that had woken me ended. My goal was to just get back to sleep so I could be half way useful in the morning at the very least. But then another one hit. And another. I went to the bedroom, grabbed my phone and opened my gym timer. Setting it in interval mode so I could time the duration of each contraction, as well as the length in between them, I alternating between reclining in my spot on the couch, and rocking on all fours to ease through the waves. After an hour of timing and finding an average length of 7 minutes apart and 1 minute long, I called my midwife Savanna to check in at 4:45am. Savanna arrived at my home at 5:45am, watched me through a couple of contractions, then checked me at 6am. She found that I was already at 6cm dilation [which was very welcome news as I was still unsure if this was real or false labor up to that point] and that the contractions were regular, but not yet too intense. We started running the tub, and Savanna called Toby [the support midwife, as there are always two at each birth, whether in hospital or at home] to come over. Toby arrived at 6:15, meanwhile the contractions had started to pick up between Savanna's call and Toby's arrival. Through each contraction I knelt in front of an exercise ball, leaned my body forward and rocked. 
As I breathed, I would tell myself that this was my body hugging my baby and bringing her to my arms. Relaxing my shoulders, neck and jaw, I really focused on letting my body work and not resisting it. My Hottie Husband would massage my lower back with a hard ball [similar to a tennis ball in size, but used for pressure point release] or my midwife would massage my lower back in a really wonderful she-done-this-before sort of way. As I rocked on the ball, talking myself through one of the waves, I suddenly felt the urge to throw up all the water I had been drinking since I had awoken at 3:30am. I lunged for the bucket during the contraction, and had it right at my side when my body relaxed completely and began to empty my stomach. Glamorous I know ha! At that point I looked up and asked if I could get in the tub, and I got the green light. Just as I reached the tub however, another wave began and I had the unmistakable urge to push. When I told the midwives this Savanna calmly said,"okay just breath. Lets get you in the tub as soon as this is one is done; just breath through this one for me." I breathed, trying to relax, but also trying to ignore that unmistakable clenching down of muscle trying to push my baby out while I was still fully clothed. Once the contraction ended I climbed fast and furiously into the tub, and announced to the surprised midwives,"okay, she's crowning!" One minute later my baby girl, cord wrapped twice around her neck and once around her body, was in the water being carefully and expertly untangled by Savanna. She surfaced blue as can be, eyes wide open - in as much shock as the rest of us. Her lusty cry soon rang out, and her coloring went from a dusty blue to a sweet pink very quickly. Baby girl was born at 6:28, a mere 28 minutes after reaching 6cm, and 13 minutes after the second midwife arrived. While it was an incredibly fast labor and delivery, the speed and shock did not set in until baby girl was in my arms and I had a moment to breath. All I could say was,"wow, it's over," and cry of course. Because of the sudden pick up in speed, the photographer [Elizabeth Cranmer of Lizzy Anne Photography] whom we had lined up for recording our birth story for us was not contacted a second time to let her know it was time to come over. I had sent her a text at 4:45 letting her know I thought I was in real labor this time, but would let her know when the midwife arrived and confirmed it, and things were progressing. And well, the time between having labor confirmed and labor progressing is pretty much indiscernible.  As I  was laying in bed afterwards, my phone lite up with a message from Elizabeth asking how things were going. Yeah, it was a bummer to miss out on the birth story [because I was really looking forward to having a beautiful record of babes arrival...] but we did schedule a Welcome Baby Session [which we had Monday morning] instead which eased my disappointment.  
My Hottie Husband must have sensed that labor was nearing the end, and got all of two photos of the labor before it was over, and then snapped a couple after baby arrived. So, instead of the gorgeous birth stories that you'll find over on Elizabeth's site, I have a slightly less artistic and awe inspiring collection of photos - but none the less, they tell the story of the ridiculously fast arrival of my adorably sweet baby girl.

Baby Girl, 7lbs1oz 20" long 34cm head