Surprises About Motherhood: Part One

Today, I’m kicking off a new series on the blog: Surprises About Motherhood. There have been a few things along the way that have surprised me. OK, OK…maybe more than a few. Let’s focus on the biggest things for the purposes of this blog.

Today, it’s the phrase “just wait.”

You’ve heard it. You may have said it.

While pregnant, I heard it a lot. My desire for a natural childbirth, whether to sleep train, bottle vs. breast feed, the list goes on. Every time I heard another mom who was full of wisdom tell me “just wait” after I proclaimed my plans, it hurt. I knew that we all do things differently, have different kids, and therefore each mother’s “just wait” was relative to her own situation.

I vowed to never, ever say it to another mom.

As I hit my stride as a mom, I found truth in the “just wait” comments. Many things that I just knew to be a certain way, weren’t. The other moms were right.

As a pregnant mom, I just knew that I’d use Major’s changing table until he was potty trained. Well, that wasn’t so fun. Once he got to be…actually, I have no clue how old he was, because another thing is that time really does fly…that changing table was booted from the room and Major was getting changed on the floor. Wresting with a crazy one year old, hurting my back, and worrying about him falling were not on my radar.

Milestones. Writing all of them down. Oh yeah, I was going to be quite the historian. Many said I would start strong and then slow down. And, right they were. My child’s milestones are mostly undocumented after the first six months. There is no baby book. There is a planner filled with some milestones, and a giant bag of photos that need to be put into an album. In fact, I didn’t even print the photos. My mom did. Because she knew. She knew.

Let’s talk about food. Oh, the food. I was going to be a baby led weaning champion. I was ready. Just wait, they said. And then, I quickly learned that I have an intense fear of choking and vomiting. Baby lead weaning allows the child to work through new textures without pureeing food. There is some gagging – which is a good thing! Babies are very protective of their little throats. It’s actually a great method, and I believe in it. However, one little gag and I’m screaming, flailing my arms, and have been known to run out of the room before getting my wits about me and returning. All the while, there is no choking. I waited, and they were right.

Finally, childbirth. I wanted a drug free birth. I had the playlist. I had the plan. The plan began to crumble with the very first moment of labor when my water broke and not a single contraction followed. Pitocin began about 6 hours later. After a few hours, I thought I could totally handle it. Then, the nurse told me that I wasn’t having productive enough contractions with the amount of energy I had and my ability to run laps around the floor. Weird. And with the increase in Pitocin and each passing hour, I knew. They were right. I would be taken down by my pain, and did indeed consent to an epidural after a 17 hour joy ride of stubbornness. I know many mothers who did it, and would do it again, and I think that is truly awesome. I also know that my sweet friends who said “just wait” knew ME pretty darn well.

Still, the other mothers weren’t right about everything. I sleep trained. Still do. I started timeouts pretty young. I wasn’t attached to Major’s baby hair. I put up a very adult Christmas tree and trained Major not to touch it. I stuck to no less than monthly date nights with my husband. I still exercise. I had Major off a bottle at 10 months. I don’t talk to him like he is a child, but rather a tiny adult.

There is no right, and there is no wrong, there is just what each family does.

Where’s the surprise, you ask? The surprise is, despite my dislike of the “just wait” phrase – I’ve almost said it.

I’ve wanted to say it so, so many times. I’ve bit my tongue. In those moments, I remind myself that that mother’s dream of her child putting laundry away on their own by one year is my pretty Christmas tree. That mother will do a lot of things her own way and exactly as planned, and she will do a lot of things like I thought she would. It won’t be because I was right; it will be because she and her child are not like Major and me. And we aren’t exactly like them.

Just wait…you’ll do things your own way, too. OK, I lied. Now I’ve said it once.

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NICU VS PEDS

When Major was born, he was sent to the NICU after a few days. We spent the normal two days in labor and delivery, and when it became clear that Major had some type of medical issue going on, off we went.
As a new mommy, I took everyone’s advice in labor and delivery and let the nurses help me a lot. So, I hadn’t slept overnight in the same room as Major, hadn’t even changed many diapers. For two days I took the rest and cuddled and fed him, while letting someone else do most of the tough stuff. I am an only child who never had interest in baby sitting, so I was truly starting from scratch.
Then, we moved Major, and me the new mom, to a place where he was connected to tubes, in very poor health, not allowed to eat, and threw in a beeping heart monitor. Nurses filled the room all day and night, and I continued to do nothing other than cuddles for several days.
Eventually, thanks to the support and encouragement of our nurses, I found my stride! I walked out of the NICU ready to tackle motherhood, and wondering how non-NICU families learn how to take care of babies. Seriously! How do you take a brand new baby home without NICU training?
Recently, Major sat in the pediatric unit of the same hospital as he dealt with a cystic fibrosis exacerbation. And oh my, how times have changed with 2 years of parenting under my belt…
NICU – Didn’t change a diaper for 2 days and used that call button at will to get help.
Peds – Immediately requested diapers and wipes, carrying on as if at home.
NICU – Had to pass the “bath test” and was terrified to take the test. Bathe my baby?! He was slippery!
Peds – Give me a bucket and some washcloths!
NICU – Wondered how Major’s tiny body could ever grow into a little boy.
Peds – Signed a waiver for that little boy to get upgraded to a real bed rather than a crib.
NICU – Totally comfortable eating gluten free hospital sandwiches for days.
Peds – Give me all the takeout.
NICU – Wondered when the toy fairy would be coming to bring me magazines or a book. Ha!
Peds – Asked for child life immediately so Major could have toys and movies!
NICU – Went home a few times to shower while tiny man took naps.
Peds – Packed my things and remained in or just outside the hospital (momma needed walks!). With a toddler who knows when mom leaves the room, there isn’t much freedom and I brought my whole life to the hospital!
NICU – Learned how to be an advocate for my child.
Peds – Served as a true advocate for my child. Our nurse staff is great, but can’t be expected to be experts on every patient. That’s mom and dads job!
We don’t have aspirations to go back to the hospital, but I’m sure with any admission we will learn even more.
If your child has been admitted to NICU and/or the pediatric floor, how did you evolve as a parent with each stay?

A Fresh Start

*Disclaimer: I am an Independent Beachbody Coach. I am not being compensated by Beachbody for this post. I will be honest in any review I perform on this blog, regardless of the product.

I’ve been struggling with exercise lately. I was really dedicated to the 21 Day Fix for about four months, and then PiYO for two months. When a new Beachbody program came out called Hammer and Chisel, I was so excited to try it! I excitedly began on January 4th and found myself petering out after two weeks. I had some pre-cancerous spots removed from my stomach and back and after taking two days off to heal, I really fell off the wagon.

However, I continued to eat clean and did get workouts in, though sporadically. That helped me keep the elbees off! When Drew said he would do the meal plan for Hammer and Chisel with me, I was back IN!

I decided to kick things off with the 3 Day Refresh. This is a 3 day cleanse that is made for a jump start to any new program, or even a monthly reset. I’ve sold a few of these to my customers but hadn’t tried it myself yet, so I felt it important to do so. The program consists of a Shakeology each morning, a fiber drink mid-morning, lunch is a protein drink with fruit/veggie/fat, snack is a veggie/fat, and dinner is another protein drink and veggie option.

Day One – I woke up excited and ready to go! The morning didn’t feel much different than normal. I always drink a Shakeology for breakfast so that was normal. The Fiber Sweep time came around 10:30 for me. Here’s the thing with the fiber drink. I’ve heard that many don’t like it, and most describe it as citrusy. To me, it tasted like tea. Now, I hate tea. BUT the fact that it was a familiar taste outweighed the fact that it was a taste I don’t care for. I actually felt really full at lunch so that was no problem! My biggest concern was  the time between my snack and dinner. I like to eat dinner late, so a mid-afternoon snack of veggies and fat didn’t seem to be enough. In the end, I spaced my dinner out a bit. I had the optional cup of vegetable broth, then my veggies a bit later, then my protein drink shortly before bedtime. I’m not sure if that’s a best practice, but it was very helpful to me.

Day Two – I woke up with a bit of a change in my stomach already! I was shocked. I was also down one inch, so it wasn’t just in my head. The day was relatively easy, to be honest! I had the confidence from the prior day not being too bad, so I knew I could do it again. I actually really enjoyed the vanilla protein drinks and began to look forward to those. That night, I was able to eat dinner all at once and didn’t feel the need to graze through the night. A win!

Day Three – Again, I felt confident! I did begin to think about what I wanted to eat when I was done. I wasn’t really craving anything. And I knew I didn’t want to undo the work I’d put in, but I definitely was daydreaming about food. I really held up nicely all day, until about 4pm. I had dinner plans with some girlfriends and it was around 4 that I got really discouraged. I told myself it would be OK to just eat as I normally would and to throw in the towel early. However, how could I tell my clients what it is like if I did that? And why make it so far only to quit? So, I pushed on and reminded myself that dinner was really about hanging out with my friends. Upon arrival, protein drink in hand, I was just fine. I ordered a side of carrots and broccoli and was just fine. I went to bed immediately upon arriving home, excited to wake up and see my results! And have the OPTION of eating something else 🙂

Weight at Start/Finish: 146/146

Waist at Start/Finish: 30/29

Hips at Start/Finish: 38/37

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I can definitely see a difference between my 1st and 3rd picture! My tummy feels quite taut.

I am pretty pleased with my results! I think the lack of weight loss comes from two things. One, it the time of the month that I tend to be more bloated. Two, I’m at a healthy weight for my body so I expect most of my changes to come from inches at this point, but who knows what will happen at the end of Hammer and Chisel!

It does take some willpower to do the 3 Day Refresh, but I would definitely do it again. The protein drink was great, the fiber sweep really wasn’t bad it just wasn’t my flavor of choice, and I like the way I look! Three days is the perfect amount of time. I couldn’t have mentally handled a fourth day. Also note, I was able to handle my Hammer and Chisel workouts with ease each day while completing this program.

If you’re interested in trying out the Refresh by itself or in combo with a new program, comment below with your email address and we will chat!

 

 

Gramma Bunny’s Banana Bread

My mom is always scratching her head trying to think of high calorie food options for Major. I used to say she missed her calling as a CF dietician, but that’s not true. She has hit her calling on the mark, which is to be my mom and a CF grandma. With that, I give you Gramma Bunny’s Banana Bread.

Gramma Bunny’s Bread Machine Banana Bread

Makes Lovely 2-Pound Loaf

Notes:

Liquid ingredients should be room temperature
Combine all dry ingredients except yeast
Grease bread machine pan or use baking spray
Put combined liquid ingredients into bread machine pan
Carefully add dry ingredients on top of liquid ingredients
Add Yeast: Make small hole in flour mixture and add yeast. Yeast should not touch liquid.

Liquid Ingredients

2 cups over-ripe mashed bananas*

3 /4 cup sour cream

3 /4 cup butter

3 regular size eggs

3 teaspoons real vanilla

Dry Ingredients

3 /4 cup granulated white sugar

1 cup dark brown sugar (packed)

3 cups white bread machine flour or white all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoon baking soda

1 ½ teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 ½ teaspoon bread machine yeast

#grammabunnytips

Warning: Perilous learning curve lurks. Bleh. Imperative: measure stuff; do not just throw in stuff because you think you know how to cook. This irresponsible notion lures you directly into bread machine misadventure. Crucial: SCRUTINIZE bread machine instruction booklet (booklet in box if you still have box). If you do not have the booklet go buy another bread machine.

Flour amounts are complicated, in which case I cannot help you. Google is your friend.

The bread machine baking method experience can be annoying, pathetic, campy and cult-like. Yup, troubling, but discouragingly accurate. You either adapt to the process or get a friend to help. Good luck with that because even your best friend will only be there for you at 3 in the morning for tears, anger, blood, relationship histrionics and the like. Mom was right. Clean as you go. Remain calm. Do not drink.

All ingredients should be room temperature or 80 degrees or refer to the current Google consensus. YES, even dry ingredients need to be at room temperature so if you keep that stuff in the refrigerator, get it out so it becomes one with the environment.

Remove eggs from refrigerator ASAP to avoid project delay. I do not know how to get an egg to room temperature without waiting, or at least any method not resulting in a partially poached egg. If you soften butter and sour cream in microwave, make sure they are not hot. Also, factor in outside and inside temperature, humidity, barometric pressure and prevailing winds — of which I understand nothing so you are on your own. Google.

I puree bananas in the food processor and then add them to a mixing bowl. Except for EGGS, add rest of liquid ingredients to mixing bowl and mix briefly. Add your room temperature eggs and mix just past the point where the yolks are not staring at you.

Pour liquid mixture into Pam-sprayed or greased bread machine bowl. Remember to put in the stir thing.

Carefully add your dry ingredients. Like do not just throw them in there because it’s a bad thing trust me.

With your sterilized pointer finger or gloved hands make a little nest type hole in the middle of the flour. With absolute precision, add the yeast to the nest. Make sure the yeast does not encounter liquid.

Bread machine should be on sturdy surface duh and you need to be able to open the lid during the procedure so do not put in under the dish cupboard over the dishwasher.

So, look at your dough after the first or second mixing or kneading part. You may need (ha! Im so funny) to add more flour. Add a little at a time and scrape sides of bread pan with spatula. Do not do this a lot or the yeast will fail. After the last kneading session, your bread should look like an oval formed dough ball. If not, then it is too late because baking commences and you are screwed.

If the bread is not cooked by cycle’s end, carefully remove pan from bread maker and put in 350 oven for about 15 mintues. Secure pan so it does not tip over, good luck.

*Ripe banana tip: If you forgot to purchase bananas several days before baking day, put your lovely fresh bananas, unpeeled, on a cookie tray in a 350 degree oven for 5-7 minutes. They will be black. Open with knife and puree them immediately because I do not know what happens if you don’t,

Ah, the final act: bread is baking!

Start drinking. Avoid drunkenness because you are responsible for getting the bread out of the machine. The bread pan is screaming hot and you will need both hands and potholders to pull the damn thing out of the machine. Then, wait a few minutes and dump the bread upside down onto a plate. Oh, I forgot, the kneading paddle will still be in the bread. Leave it there. Turn bread over; let cool. Turn cooled bread over and dig out small paddle. Yes there will be a hole. Serve to people you love. If anyone mentions the hole in the bottom, do not love them anymore. Continue to drink. Do not drive.

Cutting the Roses.

I saw an image last night that absolutely crushed me. I tend to breeze past things that make me sad. Not just about cystic fibrosis, but really anything that bums me out. I don’t consciously do it, I just have always been a person who likes to focus on the good in a situation. Then, sometimes the bad creeps up and I need to have a good cry. Last night, the bad bubbled up and I spent an hour flung onto Drew’s lap.

One thing that many don’t know about cystic fibrosis is that it is also referred to as “65 roses.” There was a little boy who had it and he was so young he didn’t know he had it yet. But after overhearing his mother say it repeatedly, he called it 65 roses. And so that is one term us CF groupies use to describe this disease.

Last night, I was exhausted. Drew had a Crossfit competition all weekend and the back and forth trips, solo parenting (though I have help from family), and no interaction with Drew took a lot out of me. I know I shouldn’t complain about how tired I was after HE competed all weekend. But the thing is…this is my blog so I’m gonna say how I felt 🙂

Right when I finally was starting to spend some time with Drew, I saw this image on Facebook:

roses

Initially I didn’t cry. I wanted to throw up. Scream. I have never felt so physically uncomfortable from seeing something. This is like looking right into Major’s lungs and wanting to rip all the roses away. I cried for a few minutes last night, then Drew left to pick up dinner and I lost it while putting Major to bed. You may think I’m crazy but I know he knew why I was crying. At the very least he knew I was crying about him. I hated that but I couldn’t stop. We just held eye contact with each other for a few minutes and his little eyes told me it would be OK. I don’t plan to let him see me cry like that all the time, but I’m human, and it happened.

Let me tell you, just like the roses being beautiful in the quote, so is this image. But man…it hurts. It sums up so many things that I feel about cystic fibrosis. In a crazy way, CF is beautiful to me. It is part of Major. How can I not love something that is part of making him…HIM. Cystic fibrosis has brought a lot of beauty into my life, and a lot of lessons.

Despite all the good things that have come along with it, of course there are so many bad things. It is a disease that makes my son grow up too fast. It has made him cry countless times as he has more doctors appointments than a baby should. It has kept him up coughing when he should be fast asleep.

The list of painful thoughts that have crossed my mind since Major’s diagnosis is too long to detail. Please just know that while I don’t dwell on all the what-if’s, I’m not super woman and they are there. I spend time being terrified of what could happen. But then I read him a book and we are back in our happy little life. I read research that discourages me and makes me question my immense hope. But then I do treatment and see it working and know that my hope is not futile.

Moms need to cry sometimes, so I do, and then I move on. Today was a happy day full of laughs and games. We visited our pharmacy crew at HyVee, got some lunch, and had a sweet 4.5 hour nap. That’s the good stuff! There will be more yucky nights, but until then, breathe easy.

 

A Christmas Tradition

There is a Christmas lights display in Des Moines each year, at Water Works Park. It is a park you drive through and look at many displays of Christmas fun. It is the same thing every year, but I’ve always enjoyed driving through it. For me, it has always been just something you do around the holidays. I never gave it much thought.

Why is it held? It is a benefit for the Make A Wish Foundation. I have always known this, but it didn’t hold meaning for me and was just a good cause for me to support.

Well, it has hit home for me the past two years. Major will one day be granted a wish, when he is ready. Driving through last year was extra special as I read the wishes granted for local children, displayed with their pictures on posters to read as you drive. I was teary eyed thinking about Major’s little poster being part of that one day. More than anything, I was thankful for everyone driving through and their donations.

Due to flooding, the display has had to close early this year. As I see various articles on my news feed about this, I find myself compelled to read the comments section. And there, I find myself unable to look away from the small train wreck going on. Such anger about the fear of not getting refunds for pre-purchased tickets.

I get it. I have some sadness about the tickets that now won’t be purchased over the next 20 days, and therefore the money won’t be donated.

To those who purchased tickets and are upset about the possibility of not being refunded, I get it. You donated money expecting something in return. And now you aren’t going to get what you paid for. But please find a space in your heart to be happy with your donation. I may have had the same reaction two years ago. The Make a Wish Foundation didn’t resonate with me. I thought it was cool, but it just wasn’t something I knew much about. I would have only been thinking about not getting what I paid for.

And now, what I do know is that your donations are rewarding my son for something I hope you never understand. As a reward for how hard he works every day, my son will get to do something really cool. As a reward for the hours strapped to his vest, he may get a dream vacation. As a reward for taking 8 medications per day, he might meet his future favorite NFL star. As a reward for trying to wrap his head around a potentially shortened life, he may get to go skiing.

More than anything, I wish cystic fibrosis would be cured so that he wouldn’t even get these rewards.

To my regular readers, thanks for letting me take a moment to not be so positive. I appreciate it more than you know! I will be donating the amount that we would have paid for our car directly to the Make A Wish Foundation. In fact, I will donate two cars’ admission worth. If you live in Des Moines and would have attended, please join me in doing so. Let’s do what we can to make Jolly Holiday Lights a successful event this Christmas!

https://secure2.wish.org/site/SPageServer?pagename=donate_now&chid=065-000

Cheers. 🙂

How Crossfit Saved My Marriage

Six months ago, Drew and I were bickering all the time. We rarely saw each other. And if we did, it was while sitting silently next to each other in bed at night, playing with our iPhones.

As I see it, the biggest reason for the lack of quality time together related back to our workouts. I got to workout Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Drew got to workout Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. It was a pretty fair split.

The only problem was that Drew wanted to workout more. He prefers to workout 4-5 days per week. He began to get frustrated that he didn’t have the time to devote to his goals in the gym. You see, as a powerlifter, his workouts were taking him about 3 hours from the time of leaving the house to the time arriving home. He was also frustrated because I was frustrated with the time away from home. The tension built.

I was upset because every night I had something going on. Workout Monday, alone with Major Tuesday, workout Wednesday or Thursday, and Friday. Wednesdays I tended to end up running errands, therefore still missing time at home. Fridays I would often bail on my own workout because I wanted to be with Drew and Major. Then later I would be upset I’d missed my workout. Saturday and Sunday mornings I basically sat at home having fun with Major, but resenting Drew’s absence.

We were not in a good flow. As new parents, I wrote this off for a while as getting our new routine established. And that may have been true. I suspect that if we had continued on the same path, it would have become normal. But not a good normal, just us accepting a marriage that wasn’t growing. It also would have continued to breed tension and bad feelings between the two of us. Me being upset with Drew, and Drew being upset at the thought of having to cut back even further on working out. This is how marriages start to get off track. It may sound silly to some that workouts could do such a thing, but it wasn’t about the workouts. It was about the unmet needs of two people. Drew and I have overcome too much to allow ourselves to continue living as we were.

A large part of Drew’s connection to his powerlifting gym was the people. The thought of leaving there and not seeing everyone a few times a week was a tough pill for him to swallow. And I understood that – many at that gym have become our good friends.

So what to do?

After much, much, MUCH convincing for a few years from Drew’s friends, he decided one Saturday he would start Crossfit the following Monday. Just poof, like that. I don’t think I could have been any happier if he’d bought me a pony that day! I knew things were about to change. Suddenly Drew went from evenings and precious weekend mornings being away from home to exercising before the sun came up and being home every night with us. This shift in scheduling immediately lifted about 20 pounds of tension from our house. I know we both felt it. I can’t remember the last time I wanted Drew to tell me all about his workout, and finally I was interested again because I no longer felt like it was running our life. I felt like it was enhancing it! Drew was happier, too. He loves powerlifting and all his friends at the gym. However, he so needed a new challenge. Seeing him have new goals to work toward inspired me and made me proud of him! The great part of joining Crossfit is that Drew can now workout 5-6 days a week without missing much free time with us.

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Seeing the success that Drew brought to our family by making such a change, I decided to make one, too. I knew that our frustrations were not solely brought on by his workouts. I knew how hard it was for me to walk out the door for my own exercise and miss precious time with him and Major after work. So I made a change, too! I began to use Beachbody workouts. I still get other workouts in like yoga and walking, but being able to stay in my home and disappear for only 30 minutes has been such a game changer for me! This post is not about my Beachbody business, but I wanted to share this to illustrate that I made some changes for our family, too.

I don’t know what the future will bring for Drew’s fitness passions. What I do know is that right now, Crossfit is crushing it for him. He is happy, motivated, present at home, more focused in all areas of his life. Most importantly, he is having so much fun! I love Crossfit’s quick, efficient workouts that allow my family more time together. AND (could I praise it more?), there is a great community at the box. Now our family time includes going to competitions and get togethers.

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So there you go. No, we weren’t on the verge of divorce. But we weren’t in a place where I felt like much good was happening. We found the root of so much tension with one simple (but huge) change.

Plus…look at him!

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Happy Sunday!