Wednesday, October 28, 2015

What I Eat for Breakfast

As a busy, working mom, I'm constantly asked, "How do you do it?". Ok, of course that's a lie, no one cares. BUT, at the baby shower I attended recently, I did get asked how I fit in exercise in the mornings before work. I explained that my main secret was putting absolutely no effort in regarding the looks department, and I also explained what I eat for breakfast. I thought it might make an interesting post.

I tend to get into breakfast routines, and stick with the same thing for awhile. I used to be all about the sweet breakfasts, yogurt, cereal, oatmeal, etc. But the past two months, I've only been able to do salty.

First, there were these crackers. Huge time saver. Throw a box in my work bag, put them on the table when I arrive, eat while answering email. No preparation necessary, and they even sell them in bulk at Costco.

Next up, salt and vinegar chips. Nothing starts off a productive day like an intense burning sensation on your tongue. I recommend pairing with water.

A little more traditional, whole wheat toast or English muffin. Best enjoyed while hiding in your bedroom from your son, who demands at least half of literally any food anyone is eating, ever.

Then, I started to think I needed some more protein, not just carbs. I started adding some hard boiled eggs. I like to dip them in salt. Or, sometimes hot sauce. 

Lately, instead of my morning coffee, I've been enjoying this green tea.

It's no coffee, but it's something.
The best part is, these breakfast choices can double as evening snacks. They can even be eaten in bed, if, by 7pm, I'm too exhausted to be vertical. Which is frequently the case.

Sea bands really complete the look.

The only problem is, all these breakfasts are preventing my pants from buttoning lately.

Or....maybe the reason my pants won't close is also the reason I'm craving weird - ass breakfasts?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Treat yo self

This weekend it was time to treat yo self.

My BFFs and I were supposed to do a mani/pedi date to celebrate two of our birthdays in JUNE, and it finally happened this past weekend. It was definitely well worth the wait, though. We even went for a run first to make sure our toes were sufficiently disgusting. I'm not sure I've had a manicure since my wedding. It's been four days and it's surprisingly still mainly intact! I've been wearing flip flops no matter how unseasonably cold it is to show off my toes.

I love my time with my friends, and getting a pedicure is always super relaxing. Especially with those glorious massage chairs. There's just something different about it now though, where even if I'm in heaven, drinking coffee, getting my feet rubbed, and chatting with my girlfriends, I still miss this face.

Even though he was napping for a good chunk of time I was gone....I still missed some awake time with him. It's probably for the best though, as Eric has requested some father/son time. Apparently I'm somewhat of a baby hog. #shocking

Yes, I'm still calling him a baby even though he is officially wobble walking everywhere. There's no stopping him.

We went to get our pumpkins Sunday morning. Maybe I'm just out of the holiday circuit, but have pumpkins always been so expensive?? 

Ours were slightly smaller.

Dalton had a great time and was obsessed with the wheel barrows. He ran after one full speed and was thrilled when Eric let him push ours. 

He could actually push it, no help needed.
I got a hot spiced cider, which sentenced me to a nonstop attack of bees. A fate worse than death, and yet I refused to stop drinking it.

Bee all up in my cider.
We were all excited to let him check out the pumpkin guts while we carved them and he was completely uninterested and just wanted to bang the big metal spoon we were using to scrape out the insides. Babies. They know nothing.

Despite his lack of interest, I'm still really excited for Halloween this year. It's our first time as adults living in a home where we can actually hand out candy to trick or treaters (we didn't get too many in our previous third floor apartment). Dalton is sort of old enough to participate (if you can walk, you can trick or treat) and yet young enough where I can dress him however I want and eat all his candy without protest. 

Last year, he was five weeks old on Halloween. While that was adorable, it didn't lend itself to celebrating much.

Not to be the holiday police or anything, but when did Halloween start like the second week of October? My Facebook feed is filled with people in costumes already. And I heard that trick or treating can take place all sorts of random days that towns decide now? What is this insanity? I can get on board with holiday parties happening earlier, and I'm certainly not saying I would be turning them down myself, but trick or treating needs to be reserved for the 31st. 

In a tiny bit of non baby news, I finally started listening to Undisclosed, which is a podcast that has more information about the case of Adnan Syed, from the Serial podcast. It's no Serial, but I've been getting pretty into it on my runs. 

I'll end with a random picture from our trip to the playground Sunday evening.

Because that smile.
Thoughts on trick or treating on various dates throughout October? I'm not talking about trunk or treats or those zoo events or anything like that. I'm talking about door to door, getting candy. Seems especially unnecessary this year with Halloween on a Saturday.

Anyone else listen to Undisclosed?

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Baltimore Running Festival 5k and other fun fall activities

I think it's safe to say it's officially fall.

Stroller runs have gotten chilly.
As most lame suburban moms do, I used the change in season as an excuse to be completely basic this weekend.

First up: pumpkin farm baby play date. Our family met one of my best friends since middle school and her son in Western MD. They live about two hours away, and there's excellent farm land right in the middle. Our boys were born only 8 days apart!


I mean....these boys....

Our third (and best) hay ride this year. 

#soskinny #fitfluential

Obviously everything we do with Dalton is fantastic but this was especially fun since it was our first baby geared outing since he has been able to walk. Of course, we still had to mainly carry him, but it was fun to let him wobble around in the toddler corn maze and similar activities.

Dalton has taken all of his required monthly sticker pics with a white llama (for size reference). When we realized this farm had a white llama, we naturally had to attempt a picture.

He's still not down with the animal kingdom #likemotherlikeson #proud
The farm had apple fritters that were essentially a giant bowl of fried dough filled with apple pieces...AMAZING. 

Next up: a race.

Once upon a time, my #motherrunner friend Katharine and I had this excellent idea of doing a postpartum redemption race - the Baltimore Half Marathon! Both of us have done either the half or full every year, except 2014 when we were both recovering from recently birthing tiny humans (two weeks apart, it's like I had a pregnancy pact with all my friends). 

But then, the #motherrunning became a bit too much, and we downgraded to the 5k. We heartily regretted this decision when we had to spend more time planning the logistics of packet pickup and public transit to the race than we intended to spend actually running the race. However, at mile 2, when we had one mile left instead of 11, we embraced our wise choice and never looked back. The race seemed to be over in a flash, and we even got medals. 

I was originally going to make this post a recap of the 5k, but really, what is there to say? I showed up, ran 3.1 miles at a moderate pace while dodging walkers who liked to use the middle of the course to stroll 6 abreast, and then I went home.

Dalton was unimpressed with my 5k medal.

Whether running 26 miles or 3, it's always important to cook a decadent dessert afterwards. 

Pioneer Woman Knock You Naked brownies

Luckily, I actually had an event to take my dessert to, so I didn't have to eat the whole thing myself. After Dalton was born, I attended a new mom support group that was hosted by the hospital where I delivered. Once my maternity leave was over, I couldn't just hang out with new moms in yoga pants at 10am on Thursdays talking about breastfeeding and sleep training any more, sadly. I met two amazing friends there, and we've doing a monthly mommy night at someone's hosue (yoga pants required) since we all went back to work (and have added in other new moms since then). I highly recommend a support group to anyone who is expecting! It was a lifesaver for me. 

Clearly what I was getting at was that last night was our mom night. We used to just lay all the babies on activity mats and drink wine. We could also get wild and stay until, like, 9pm, since little babies can sleep anywhere. Now that we have walking toddlers, it's clearly changed a lot - still great, just not quite as relaxing! 

What's your favorite fall food or drink? I used to love pumpkin spiced lattes, but this year, I'm all about the apple cider.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Doing the bare minimum, and a few other fun things

I'm in one of those phases where life is incredibly overwhelming and the thought of doing even simple tasks like cooking dinner exhausts me. 100% of my energy is devoted towards working and caring for my child and that's about all I can manage. My house is being overtaken by clean laundry and toys. Send help.

Although I have declared myself unable to perform basic life duties, against all odds, last week I wore real pants outside the work day and socialized after the sun set. All thanks to picking up a diet coke on my way to daycare after work. Imagine if I tried this little trick called "extra caffeine"in order to do things like clean or fill out that empty baby book in the evenings? That would never happen though. In reality, I used that extra little energy boost to attend my first ever alumni event for my college.

This was kind of a big deal. I went to a tiny state school in a very rural town in upstate New York (SUNY Geneseo! RIP Kelly's) so we don't have huge alumni events out of state. This was the first one we've ever had here in Baltimore, at least since 2005 when I graduated. I was no where close to the oldest one there, and it was enough fun to be worth losing sleep on a Tuesday night.

Less glamorous - Dalton and I picked up a prescription. They had lost it or something (listening and remembering is on that list of things I'm struggling with currently) and had to redo it when I got there. It's not easy to find ways to entertain a one year old in the grocery story for nearly 30 minutes.

Over the weekend, we feasted on the world's greatest barbecue - Dinosaur Barbecue.

It's a staple in my home town of Rochester, NY. They opened up a location in Baltimore last month and this was the first time our group of friends was all free to meet up and stuff our faces with delicious meat. 

My plate.

Dalton has had takeout from Dino before, and certainly ingested some while in utero, but this was his first time actually dining in. Of course, he loved it and devoured everything.

I think I officially have a toddler. 

Once he figured out walking, he was off. He now walks everywhere. Tonight, he even started clapping! 

We've been trying to teach him for months and the closest he would come would be to clap our hands together. It's so much fun but I can't even believe that the baby stage is pretty much finished. 

Would you rather: never have to do laundry again (cleaning or putting away), or never have to do dishes again (same)?

Hard to say but I think laundry because it seems so much more time consuming, and pointless now that one of my child's favorite activities is taking everything out of his dresser drawers.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Dalton's First Birthday Party

So, we all know I hate pinterest-y BS. People kept asking what Dalton's party theme would be and I was like the theme is friends and family gathering to watch a one year old smash a cake.

Which he did, with glee.
Although I don't really do "party themes", luckily I have some crafty friends. My BFF Casi made this smash cake for Dalton - tell me this is not THE BEST?!

My sister made this gorgeous sign for him - no big deal, she just has a three year old and 2 month old and works full time. Aunt of the year, right there.

We had to update it at the very last minute because of his 7th tooth and sudden ability to WALK! By the party, he was doing way more than four steps. He walked across the entire kitchen in front of everyone! Granted, our house is tiny so it may seem more impressive than it really is, but clearly I'm still excited.

I look terrible, he looks great, it gets posted.

I executed this idea all by myself!

Dalton's monthly pictures

Clearly Dalton didn't have a clue it was his birthday or anything. The party was just a fun excuse get together with people we love and celebrate how amazing this year has been with Dalton in our lives.

Can't imagine life any other way.

In every picture, one of these boys is always a blur.

Of course, he got some sweet gifts. We have pretty awesome friends. 

I know some moms cry because they survived the first year, but I didn't feel that way, although of course I had my moments where survival was my goal. I'm not going to get cocky about that or anything, because I'm sure it just means he's holding out for a different year to be the survival one. In my mind, the year mark is the transition to real parenting. We've spent the past year meeting his basic needs, but now, we actually have to help him grow into a good person. Terrifying. 

Do you do party themes? I might when he gets old enough to be interested but while he doesn't care, I'm not trying to do extra work.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Breastfeeding: a year in review

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for a year. Children need either breastmilk or formula for the first year. My mom breastfed me and my two siblings for a year each. I grew up just assuming that was the norm. My sister breastfed my nephew for a year. It was best for baby, it was the norm in my family, medical professionals said to do it, and on top of all that, it was free, which formula certainly is not.

While I was pregnant, I knew my intention was to breastfeed for a year. 

My final moments of pregnancy. Glamorous.

I “prepared” for this. I read a book. I took the class at the hospital. My sister lent me her nursing tanks and bras. I added breastmilk storage bags, nipple pads, and bottles specifically designed for the breastfed baby to my registry. I ordered my pump from insurance in the 8th month. When it arrived, I carefully read all the directions and sanitized all the parts.

I’m sure we all see where this is going. Of course, when Dalton arrived, there was nothing that could have prepared me. All the books said babies were supposed to nurse as soon as possible after delivery, within the first hour. Of course, that was out the window. I spent the first hour of his life getting stitched up on an operating table, while he was whisked off to a NICU nurse to make sure he hadn’t aspirated any meconium in the womb. It was probably 2 or 3 hours before I once again had feeling in my hands and could even hold him. I was barely conscious, and a nice nurse came to the recovery room and told me I should try nursing now, since he was awake. I had no clue what I was doing, but he latched on and I think she indicated all was well. I’d been awake for nearly 48 hours at this point, and was on morphine, so it’s all quite hazy.

OMG brand new baby!!!!

We got to our hospital room at 3:30am on Wednesday. I’d been awake since 5am Monday, and I finally got some broken sleep in between the nurses bringing Dalton in to nurse, checking my vitals, and the inflating compression sleeves on my calves. At 7:30, our pediatrician came in to tell me Dalton had a tongue tie. I was so out of it at this point I barely even remembered having a baby, but I tried to pretend I knew what she was talking about. Later that morning, the lactation consultants came to my room to help me. Although he had latched before (because nothing will ever come between this kid and food, even being 3 hours old and having a clueless mom who doesn’t know how to hold him to the boob!), I was pretty far off from doing it right and they helped me quite a bit.

I still don’t know how I got so lucky. Even with the tongue tie, everything was relatively easy from day 1. He always had dirty diapers and had surpassed his birth weight within a week. Everyone had warned me of the pain, but I never thought it was that bad (although I was on painkillers from the surgery). He was fairly regular, nursing every 2 hours with some cluster feeds thrown in there. It was a two man operation at first. Eric would have to hold his tiny hands so he didn’t push the nipple out of his mouth, and I would have to compress and help him latch. We didn’t understand how it took two adults to overpower a 6 pound baby so we could feed him, but somehow it did.

We got his tongue tie fixed at a week old, and then things got even easier. While on maternity leave, breastfeeding seemed pretty simple. Dalton was pretty regular, feeding every two hours, sometimes 3 at night, and some very rare times, 4. But he was a fast eater, right from the start, so generally nursing would only take ten minutes or so.

Just like for so many other women, exclusive breast feeding was smooth sailing, but once I went back to work, things got tricky. Pretty much every breastfeeding book will emphasize the importance of spending as much time as possible with your baby, so that’s pretty helpful when you have to work for a living. Dalton began daycare at 3 months old, and I spent the next 8 months pumping like crazy and constantly obsessing over how much I was producing. He was still eating every 2-3 hours at night when I returned to work, probably until about six or seven months old (it's all a blur). On maternity leave, Eric would give him a bottle for one night feeding, but back at work I was not about to pump one second more than necessary, so all night feeds were straight from the tap.

I went back around Christmas, so here Dalton is sleeping on a nursing pillow in a Christmas outfit.

Months 3-6 were the most challenging in terms of pumping. Dalton was growing so much, his appetite was ramping up, we were figuring out daycare, and my body was getting used to pumping instead of nursing. It was stressful. I didn’t want to supplement unless there was a true medical need (fussiness was not a reason to start formula for me). As Dalton got more comfortable at daycare, his fussiness subsided even though his bottles remained the same (which supported my theory that it wasn’t due to hunger). One of my huge goals was to make it through the school year, so that was a good feeling when it happened.

I was forced to eat so many lactation cookies. Anything for the baby.

At six months, we started solids, and even though he didn’t really take to them until 7 months, it started to take some of the pressure off. If he was hungry at daycare, he could have a banana. Everything I read says food before one is just for fun, it’s supposed to be a supplement to breast milk, not a replacement, etc. This was true around 7 months but by 9-10 months, this kid just took off with solids and that was not the case for him. He wanted a burger, not a boob.

At ten months, I went through utter hell with nightmarish clogged ducts and top teeth drawing blood every time we nursed. 

I almost threw in the towel. But, I’m really glad I pushed through. I went to boob PT, pumped the left side and didn’t let him near it until he healed, and we kept going. Even though his sessions were insanely short by that point (2-3 minutes, tops), I’m still glad we had those. 

Just before 11 months, a new school year began, and I made the executive decision to be done pumping. I sent milk from my frozen stash to daycare (only 6oz per day though). We nursed morning and night, and the middle of the night. He hadn’t been nursing in the middle of the night much, but the new school year was a hot mess. Even though Dalton had been in daycare all summer, part time, it really messed with his world (and mine, to be honest) and sleep went down the drain. Those were tough times. But on the bright side, the middle of the night was the only good nursing sessions he had! We did a lot of co-sleeping here.

And luckily, he's cute (only 2 months old here!)

Finally, we got back to a good place with sleep, and just a week and a half before his first birthday, Dalton was done with breastfeeding. He just refused. He’d stopped nursing in the middle of the night and before bed, so we were down to only a morning session of maybe 2 minutes. Then, suddenly, that was done. I offered a few more times, but he wasn’t interested. Since weaning was such a gradual process, I had very, very minimal engorgement (about the time I quit the pump) and no pain. It also wasn’t as difficult emotionally as I’d expected. The last two months were so stressful, difficult, and painful (with the clogs) that I was just grateful to have made it the whole year without losing my mind in the process. I was sad when I realized I’d never get to have a “last time” that I knew about, and I do miss it sometimes, but there’s so many more fun things we get to do together now.

At one, he's ridiculously fun.

I’m still working through my freezer stash, so he’s still getting breast milk even now. I’m not sure how long it will last for. He’s getting cow’s milk too, since that’s provided at daycare (the doctor said it was fine to give him both). As thrilled as I am to have made it a year, I feel like it puts even more pressure on me when we have a second kid, because I’ll want to do the same to keep things “even”. Dumb, I know, but true. Plus, now I know how much I love breastfeeding, so I really hope to get another year in at some point.

And that's the story of my year of breastfeeding my first child. I'd love to hear other mom's experiences! If you're not a mom, share your favorite cookie to eat with milk!