On A Mother Note…10 Lessons from 2015

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2015 has by far been one of the most challenging and rewarding, growth-filling, love-filled, change-filled years of my life. As I look back at all the things I have learned the lessons I have learned as a mother are the most important and meaningful ones. They’re also the lessons that are the domino effect to the over all happiness that exists in our home. Happy mom= happy child. Happy wife=happy life. I seriously believe these things because I have experienced them to be true.

So here are my top 10 lessons on mom life of 2015:

  1. Laugh at Yourself: IMG_7592This is me totally defeated by my toddler who did not nap that day, had been going strong from 6:45am on, was hard core teething and fussy and was recovering from being sick to boot. I think at this point I was thinking “I have to jump up again and run into the other room…what is she doing in there? Why won’t my body move?” This was just seconds of thought and then I of course did run into the other room only to catch her running back into this room. At this point I wondered if it was 10pm but then realized it was only 4:30 and I better go get her dinner ready (which will probably all end up on the floor I feel like I just cleaned up from lunch). At this moment I realized I just needed to LAUGH. Laugh at the day, laugh at what felt a little “crazy” and laugh at myself for trying so hard all day and nothing was going right. Laugh at the fact that everything was actually out of my control that day mostly because of a little thing called “teething.” Laugh and except defeat!
  2. Trust Your Gut: People always talk about a mother’s intuition and until I became a mother I always considered it made sense but now I know it’s 100% real. I can FEEL when my daughter wakes up before she even lets out a whimper. I can FEEL when she is hungry and understand that cry as totally different to another type of cry. I can FEEL when she’s over tired and needs to just go to sleep (despite her best efforts not to). I can feel all these things but what I have learned is in the really tough moments like when she’s sick or not sleeping or crying like crazy and won’t eat and we’re both over-tired zombie parents: this is the moment I have to trust my gut. In the beginning of my motherhood journey I was so nervous to do the right thing all the time that I often second guessed my gut feeling. Sometimes I even listened to other people over what my gut feeling was telling me to do. In the end almost always, my gut was right. So now, in those crazy tough moments, I try really hard to let go, breathe, listen to my gut and just try that solution. My husband at this point even says “what’s your gut tell you?” and then urges me to choose that. Part of trusting your gut is like all things with parenthood- you may be wrong but you also may be right. You just have to try it out.
  3. Redefine Your Expectations of Yourself: I have struggled with having extremely high expectations for myself all my life but when I became a mother they went on overload, super-charge, ridiculous speed. As a stay at home mother and wife of a surgeon who for the first year of our daughter’s life was finishing his training, my days consisted of trying to pretty much do it all and take the best care of my two people as possible. Now, there is nothing wrong with that but if you add unreal expectations to it then it’s a hot mess. Not so much on the outside, I don’t think anyone would have said “oh wow that Sarah, she’s a mess.” Nope it’s all on the inside. It’s the place inside all of us where we take ourselves, hang ourselves up, put our boxing gloves on and start beating the shit out of ourselves. It’s that place in our mind that goes over and over all the things we did and checks off mental to-do-lists all day long only to realize it didn’t all get done and what does that mean? Yep- failure. Okay so after realizing that I was never feeling good about all the things I DID accomplish everyday I had to work at trying to redefine my expectations. For example: Today I expect to feed my daughter, change her, dress her, play with her, teach her, help her take a nap (repeat feeding, changing, teaching, playing). I also expect to get through the day’s laundry, dishes, light house cleaning and make dinner for me and my husband. I do NOT expect that I will be able to wash my hair today and I do NOT expect to get longer than a 90 second shower while watching our daughter. I do NOT expect to get through all my emails or calls. I do NOT expect to have time to pick up the dry cleaning or go to store to buy flowers (I would really love to have some flowers for the weekend). I do NOT expect to be able to stay awake through a movie I attempt to watch with my husband tonight. If any of the things I don’t expect to get done happen- I will be THRILLED but if they don’t well- I didn’t expect them to anyway. I now feel pretty good about what I can get done in a day and also okay when I just can’t. Important note: teething or an illness can potentially throw off the entire list of things I can try to get done and that has to be okay too. Throw the punching bag away you are doing GREAT mamas!
  4. Except The Mom Body That is Now Your Body: So whether you had vaginal birth or a C-section (like me) there’s all sorts of “left over” weird body stuff that goes on far after you have your baby. I still can’t really feel the area across my C-Section scar. It’s kind of creepy. Sometimes I have the strangest little twinges of pain or a feeling of my lower stomach muscles not being fused together (it’s hard to explain). I’ll be doing something totally normal like picking up my baby and there’s the weird feeling out of no where. It’s weird but it’s also my body reminding me that I gave birth to this amazing little person and I just kind of smile about it.  Other things that go on are more on the outside like for example the change in your boobs. Everyone is different but almost all the moms I know have something to say about their post breast feeding/pumping boobs. They’re just a little different. Mine are smaller (which I’m okay with) and other friends of mine feel like theirs are saggier. Well duh! Think about what those boobs went through? Jeez sometimes when I was pumping and crying through the pain of it I actually felt so sad for my boobs- what will become of them after this torture?! Oh and will I put them through it again one day? (Yeah probably it’s worth it. Sorry boobs). Then there’s just the over all slightly different body that you have now that you’re a mom. Some people say their hips are wider or their chest is thicker or their tummy skin is saggy. Some people are heavier or thinner than before. Either way it’s hard when your pre-pregnancy clothes fit weird (or not at all) and when you look in the mirror kind of confused like “who are you?” Well we all have it to some degree post baby and I think it’s important for your daily happiness to just except that this “mom bod” is pretty and it’s special and it’s a warrior princess and to just CHOOSE to like it. Also if you like it, the other people in your world will too. Also try to not listen to the outside comments because a lot of people don’t think before they speak. For me, I’m about 8 lbs thinner than when I got pregnant. I’m just thinner. Everything is smaller (boobs included) and also slightly different. My hips are a little different than before and some other things too. It’s okay it’s just what it is but then someone will say something and I can only hear a negative comment and I kind of just want to say “who gave you permission to comment on my post-baby body? Perhaps I should comment on your post-November body?” But instead…I just let it go and try to like my new mom body. This body did an amazing thing for goodness sake! It made a human!
  5. Ask For What You Need: Okay this one is huge it’s also one of the hardest things for me (and many other women I know). The partner in your home does not know how to read your mind. I know it sucks but it’s the truth. So, mama’s out there guess what? When you’re sleep deprived for like 14 months and tapped out emotionally because you’ve been thinking of someone else’s needs 24/7 above all else and trying with all your might to meet said needs, trying to keep an infant/baby/toddler alive all day and still manage a household well… your partner does NOT know that you want them to say “honey, I want to take you out on a date. You need a night off! Let’s get a baby sitter and go have a romantic and fun night together!” Nope. They don’t know. So, even though it may be annoying to HAVE to tell your partner this is what you need/want (because why don’t they just realize it on their own?! Ugh so frustrating!) TELL THEM! Tell them what you need! Tell them what you want. Trust me they want to make you happy but sometimes there’s so much going on that even they don’t know you need something. This is not just about going on a date once in a while. It’s also about the daily grind. If you need you partner to help out more around the house you need to TELL THEM! Note: sometimes it helps to be very specific with what you want them to do. Not just “help more” but specifically what: “I would really appreciate it if you could empty the dishwasher if you see it’s done and if you could put the laundry in the dryer if you hear it buzz.” You will be happier and so will you partner if you ask for what you need and in turn, get it. Everyone feels good in this scenario. Don’t be scared to ask for help…it doesn’t mean you can’t do it all it just means you are human.
  6. Accept The In Betweens: There are so many phases we go through as mothers. There’s the first four months of life when you’re basically in a bubble in your house just trying to get your feeding/sleeping schedule on point. Just fighting daily to survive through zero sleep and a healing body, breast feeding issues, feeding, sleeping issues, etc. You’re in a cave for about four months. After that you emerge into the world and then try to learn how to manage normal life “on the outside” with a little person who can’t even hold their own body upright yet and often poops through their diaper and clothing while you are out. Then there’s the awesome zone of being able to go out to lunch while your baby sleeps next to you in the stroller (because you are a master of knowing when to time lunch with nap and deserve a metal). There’s the fun “hey look she’s walking” stage when you can show off your babe’s new skills while still managing to keep them in strollers, high chairs or on your lap. And then there’s the in between…when you are working so hard at a new sleep schedule that it runs your life because in order to train your child’s body you have to be regimented and committed and it WILL trump anything else socially you may want to do. The in between time where your baby isn’t old enough to go to pre-school yet and you have them all day to entertain/teach/take care of. (This of course applies to SAHM’s like me more so). The in between stages are weird because as as SAHM you need socialization too and it’s hard when you’re working on that nap/sleep schedule and end up home doing meals and playtime more than out because it just often works out this way. I have found it to be hard so I have reached out to try to connect with other SAHM’s. I am still working on finding my “people” but I feel good about trying. It’s easy for people to say “go to this play group or music class it’s awesome” and then I realize said class is 25 minutes away and I KNOW my daughter will fall asleep in the car and then the nap schedule I have been working so hard to implement is now thrown out the window. So no, I don’t sign up for that class. It’s just this weird in between time and it’s okay. I urge moms in this space to embrace that it’s not going to be like this very long, and try to savor this time with our babies as we’ll never have it again. There’s beauty in between.
  7. Don’t Compare: One thing that I still can’t believe happens at the level it does is mothers comparing with other mothers. It even happens on the grandma level: “well my grandson is doing xyz already.” “Really? My granddaughter isn’t even close to doing xyz” (insert phone call to daughter “Honey so and so’s grandson is doing xyz do you think it’s normal that your daughter isn’t doing xyz yet? Should we ask the pediatrician?” Note: No mom you have never done this but I know it happens. I do not compare my daughter to your kid. I have chosen to compare my daughter’s development to science and data. I compare her growth to what we know from a medical perspective is “normal.” If your son is walking at 10 months old that’s cool! But it doesn’t mean that my daughter isn’t okay because she’s not walking yet and is 11 months old. Nope. When mom’s try to have that casual “let’s compare notes” conversation I try my best to filter out the judging and the over-all weirdness that is this process. You can’t really get away from it but trust me moms, you’ll be a lot happier (and less worried about stupid things) if you opt out of the comparing. Think about it this way: would you want your baby to compare your mothering to his/her friend’s mothers? Can you even imagine? So not cool right?
  8. SAHM The Work Out: IMG_7694One of the things I get asked a lot is what I do for my work out. I usually laugh because I haven’t set foot in a gym since early in my pregnancy and have only occasionally taken a pilates (my favorite) class post baby. But I’m in pretty good shape and it’s because I have found an awesome new work out…it’s called MOM LIFE! I choose to do as much on foot with my baby as possible. I take her in the stroller to the grocery store and use her stroller as a cart and then walk with her plus groceries home. The stroller weighs enough but with groceries it’s a lot to push (esp up and down big hills) and if you push from your core it’s a great tummy/butt work out. If you walk fast it’s even better! Then there’s weight lifting. My daughter weighs about 22 lbs and I am always picking her up, dancing with her, cooking while holding her and it adds up (the gun show is looking pretty good over here). Then there’s the constant cleaning. I am always running around quickly cleaning up after our daughter and us. I am doing laundry and vacuuming (which can be a nice little work out in itself), I’m up I’m down I’m holding my baby while doing these things. I am in CONSTANT motion! I truly believe I just work out a little bit all day long! That said the biggest thing is the daily walks sometimes it’s one but I try for 2 walks with the baby a day. If I wear her in the baby carrier and go run errands on foot that really get’s my heart rate up and can be a nice adventure too! My almost 17 month old is in constant motion and I am in constant motion running after her. She’s the best trainer ever and she doesn’t charge a thing!
  9. Ignore Judgment: I have written about the judgment I have received about being a stay at home mom a few times. The reason is it’s a constant in my life. I think the reality right now is moms can’t win. If you’re a working mom you’re made to feel bad if you can’t “do it all” and if you’re a stay at home mom you’re made to feel bad because you’re not doing enough (because you should be working). I’m pretty over this. I find myself in social situations all the time where I get a look or an eye roll of judgment about being “just” a stay at home mom. Or someone makes a stupid comment like “what do you do all day?” Or “well that’s easy! Nice.” Or my favorite “Did you used to work?” Um, really? Yeah since I was about 14 years old I worked. Thanks for asking. The best one is when someone doesn’t even say a word but just chooses to gloss right over me because I am now considered to have nothing to offer the conversation. I used to be angery or hurt by these moments because they usually happen in social settings when I am just so excited to be OUT (BECAUSE I AM A STAY AT HOME MOM). They really used to put a damper on my over all enjoyment of those times. Now I just remind myself of who I am and WHY I chose to be a SAHM. I remind myself what I have to offer the conversation (which is a lot) and ignore the ignorant judgmental people trying to rain on my parade! Ignoring judgment is probably the hardest thing to do as a mother because we’re always judging ourselves and worrying if we’re good enough moms all the time anyway but, it must be done. If you’re a working mom or a stay at home mom or any combo of the two try to refrain from judging others who’re doing it differently than you are and try to ignore the judgment when it comes your way. We really need to change the conversation to supporting all moms because we’re all doing hard things the best we can.
  10. More Than Mom: The most recent lesson I have learned and am still very much in the process of learning is that I need to try to feel like more than just a mom. Don’t get me wrong the title of mother, the role of mother is the most important honor, gift, title, job of my entire life. It’s all I ever really wanted to be in life and I take it more seriously than anything else, ever. That said because I am a SAHM and my days and nights consist of mothering or organizing and planning out my mothering. It’s not often I feel like just my husband’s date or just my friend’s friend or my mom’s daughter. I have recently realized I have to plan and make time to do things that make me connect to the former non-mother version of myself. Not because she was better in fact quite the opposite but because it’s important to be reminded of the sum of all your parts. I need to have date nights with my husband. I need to have girls brunches and lunches on occasion. I need to go take a pilates reformer class now and then. I need a mom-daughter day with MY mom just the two of us. I need to spend some time alone once in a while. All of the above are things that occur with out my daughter so in order to experience them I have to plan child care in the form (usually) of my husband or a baby-sitter. More and more I have started to do these things and I think over-all it makes me a happier mom and a more centered and well rounded mom to boot. I want my daughter to get the best version of me possible every day and in order for that to happen, I have to be away from her once in a while. It’s hard not to feel guilty for wanting to be away from her (or needing to be) but I am trying to manage that. 2016 is going to be the year I figure it all out! Ha! Yeah right! Cheers to all you moms out there doing the best you can! Wishing you all a happy New Year filled with LOVE, JOY and LAUGHTER!

This blog is dedicated to all my “skinny jeans”…

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I have to assume it’s common at 9+ months pregnant to have dreams about wearing clothes you haven’t been able to wear in months right? (Let’s just say it is and that my latest fantasy wouldn’t be considered “weird” at all)… This isn’t like a sex fantasy it’s like, a fashion fantasy. It’s been a reoccurring dream I’ve been having lately where I get to open up my drawer of skinny jeans, pick any pair I want, put them on, zip them up with ease, button the button around my waist and then in an effortless and carefree way, toss on a heal, pick a fabulous top that doesn’t require a bra with the letter G or F on the tag, grab my beautiful baby, put her in the stroller (and yes she looks fabulous in this dream too- totally baby-chic in a little onesie someone got us that has “Je t’aime” written on it, a baby denim pant and adorable little booties) and off I go for some kind of cat walk like walk down the street, smiling at her sweet face the entire way). Total fashion fantasy pregnancy dream.

(Note: picture above is of me and one of my dearest friends Alex aka my “gay husband” who’s soon to be a “guncle” (gay uncle) to our little one. He’s also the most stylish man and I happen to be wearing my ultimate favorite skinny jeans (that I also was wearing when I met my husband for the first time so they’re extra special ones). I’m wearing vintage Gucci heals and some top that doesn’t matter- it’s all about those jeans!)

So when will I be back in these favorite jeans? The answer is simple- I have no idea! Also, it doesn’t really matter. The baby weight we gain WILL come off eventually and the jeans will be back in rotation but who knows when or how long it’ll take. So this brings me to the “why” of this blog. Why the hell am I sharing my weird jean fantasy and talking about skinny jeans right now? Simple- because the issue of pregnancy weight gain and post pregnancy weight loss is on all our minds but mostly- it’s in our faces! We preggo ladies can’t get away from reading about or hearing about the latest celebrity or model who just gave birth then walked the Victoria Secret runway 2 months later, or who “bounced back after baby” in what seems like a miraculous amount of time only to look almost better than she did before she got knocked up! What the hell? How do these women do this? More important- holy sh-t that’s a lot of pressure society- thanks a lot! Jeez!

Let me shed some light on at least part of this. I have worked in fashion in my past and have known plenty of models, actresses, and socialites over the years. I know what their lifestyles can be like, some of the secrets they have about pregnancy (I will share in a moment) and also the fact that financially, many of them can afford things that 99% of women on this planet can not (personal chef, personal trainer, nutritionist, tons of help at home, etc).

The bottom line is this: do NOT compare yourself to anyone but yourself! It’s one of the hardest things to do as a woman who lives in our society bombarded by images and stories that are meant to make us feel like poop and teach the men in our society that we should be super-human and that what is beautiful is something that most of us can’t possibly attain with out being unhealthy in some way. Not to get on a soap box here but I think it’s SO important when nearing the end of pregnancy and looking ahead to the next phase, to try to be kind to ourselves and realistic.

During my pregnancy I have been taken back by the number of comments I’ve received about the size of my bump or questions about my weight gain. I’ve spoken with pregnant friends and all of us have had the same experiences. This only reinforces that our pregnancy weight gain or weight loss post baby, should be a personal thing. The truth is that just as every woman’s body is different, so is every woman’s pregnancy. My pregnancy is totally different than my friend’s. Each of them has had their own personal struggles just as I have had mine and none of us share the exact same experience so why would we share the same weight gain or loss?

Health plays a part in all of this too don’t forget. For example I haven’t been able to work out for months now aside from the occasional prenatal yoga class because working out was triggering my pregnancy migraines. So, I had to stop. I went from lot’s of activity to very little and for months, of course that will play a role in how my body looks, feels, what I weigh or perhaps even how I bounce back after child birth. Only time will tell. So, how do I feel reading about pregnant women being super active while I’ve been laid up on the couch more than I’d like to remember these past nine months? A little jealous but then I remind myself- that’s their pregnancy journey and I can’t compare myself to it.

So if you’re pregnant and looking at what society’s images and stories are telling you, I urge you to shut the magazine, turn off the TV, close your Facebook feed and do something that makes YOU feel good about you. Or meditate and feel your beautiful baby growing inside you and focus on what this is all about. It helps and it brings you back to the center of all this- you are creating LIFE. There’s no size or weight range or activity level that has anything to do with this- just your body doing something miracle-like and it’s perfect, just as it is.

Now just because you shouldn’t compare yourself to the latest pregnant celeb doesn’t mean you aren’t entitled to know about a couple tricks they use to get their bodies back fast. I will now share two of them with you. And yes, I am planning on doing both of these things so I will also try to report back on how it worked out for my body after baby (at some point).

1. The Belly Bandit– This belly wrap is considered the best out there and they make different versions of it for different needs. I will be using the one designed for mom’s who’ve had c-sections as it will best suit my needs. I would suggest you look through the website and learn about why compression is so wonderful and which one is best for you. The bottom line here is that by wearing a wrap you will help your uterus go back to it’s normal size much faster than it otherwise would. There’s also a ton of support for your back and stomach muscles here and as far as I’m concerned, there is no reason not to try this! I already have mine so I can get in it as soon as possible after birth!

2. ShrinkxHips– Many pregnant women’s hips have shifted and widened in order to allow for space to hold the baby. This is another wrap made to help your hips go back to their normal size. I’m going to try it with the Belly Bandit and see if it works. I’m not sure I’ll wear both but if I can, I will. It also will depend on my c-section recovery. If one of these goes out the door for me it’ll be this one but I plan on trying. I have it ready to go when I’m ready. I also have purchased this company’s C-Panty made for women who are recovering from c-sections, like myself. Looking forward to reporting back on all of these!

The other secrets these women in the media have are the amount of help they have around them and the resources they have to get back in shape like their life depends on it. Remember, for many of these women their career does depend on their body looking a certain way. Chances are, yours does not. So, give yourself a break! Just focus on taking care of your baby with all the love and attention you have to give and also being GOOD to yourself! Eat healthy and balanced, drink lots of water and do what you can with what you have to work with! I know I will be recovering from a c-section and so my jumping back into my work out routines will not be on the same timeline as my friends who are having natural childbirth. That’s okay! It’s all good! I will do what I can and keep my focus on taking care of me so I can take the best care of my little girl.

The skinny jeans in my fashion fantasy may collect some more dust and that’s all right with me. The most important thing is that I am the best for my baby and that means being kind to myself so I can show her from day one what’s important and being “perfect” by what society shows us, is not it. Being HAPPY, is. Happy, is beautiful!!!! (And it’s sexy too)! 😉

Note: If you’re struggling with how to answer questions about your pregnancy weight gain or if you feel someone is out of line, judging, or upsetting you about your body during this time, try these answers on for size:

* That’s personal and what’s important is that my baby is healthy. 

* I don’t discuss my weight with people. I’m sure you don’t either. (Smile)

* Thank you for the concern with my pregnancy. Let’s talk about how excited I am to have this baby!

* You think my bump is (too small/too big)?! That’s so interesting! I think it’s my perfect bump! (Laugh it off and rub your perfect bump!)

*No I’m not worried about loosing my pregnancy weight. All I care about is that my baby is healthy! 

I urge you to try to change how much focus is on the weight and body issues around pregnancy and postpartum loss by changing the conversation. Re-direct it back to what’s important- the baby’s health and yours. One woman at a time, perhaps we can nudge our way through what society is feeding us so that it’ll be different for our daughters!

 

 

Getting Your Body Ready

smooches from the elliptical getting ready for baby!

smooches from the elliptical getting ready for baby!

Getting your body ready is crucial and goes a little bit beyond the obvious ones you’ve probably heard about like; cut down on alcohol, cut down on caffeine, put down the crack pipe (okay no but seriously if you are doing anything harmful to your body stop it right now), don’t use artificial sweeteners, etc. For example, (page out of my own book here) have you had your wisdom teeth out? What’s the status of your dental health? Stop drop and make an appointment to get your teeth and gums checked out. Pregnancy lasts for a while and you do not want to need any dental work during that time so get it done now! I had to have my wisdom teeth removed which requires taking lot’s of drugs so I booked my surgery well before TTC so that I would have time to heal and the yucky drugs would be out of my system.  It’s not just the dentist you need to see but your gynecologist as well. I suggest getting a check up and blood work to check and make sure mom to be is in perfect health before TTC. If there are any issues you want time to try to address them before you TTC. Going to your gynecologist is crucial. You should have a pap smear and make sure you get a clean bill of health “down there” before you press go.

The next part of getting your body ready is to look at your eating habits, your weight and your fitness level. There’s something very important to address before we get into this part. That is, every woman is different and should only compare themselves to themselves. Don’t compare yourself to your best friend, that celebrity you’re sort of obsessed with or even your mom or me. You are unique and your journey is your own. Your body is one of a kind and you know it better than anyone else. You know how it handles foods and what exercises it prefers. So that said, it’s time to check in with you. Are you at a healthy weight? Do you eat a balanced and healthy diet? Do you drink mostly water or do you drink sodas? Do you try to eat an organic diet? Do you eat a lot of fruits and vegetables? And the big one…do you exercise and how often? What kind of cardiovascular shape are you in? I’m not going to tell you exactly how you should eat or work out or what you should weigh, only that you do need to do some self-evaluation about all of these things before TTC. If some changes need to be made then give yourself TIME to make the changes before you go for it.

What I chose to do:

I mentioned I got my wisdom teeth pulled and saw the dentist, the gynecologist and got a full blood work panel done including a full Thyroid check because I have a Thyroid issue.

Note on Thyroid: If you are like me and have a thyroid issue make SURE to get your levels checked before you TTC and do not TTC until you get your numbers in a good range. When you are TTC you run the risk of not being able to get pregnant or if you do get pregnant, not being able to keep the pregnancy going if you are Hyper or Hypo Thyroid. Once you are pregnant, the OB will monitor your Thyroid levels very carefully as they can shift a lot due to the surge of hormones. It is possible that your Thyroid medication may need to be tweaked here or there during pregnancy for the safety of the baby.
Once I did my self-evaluation of health, I started to sloooooowly making some changes. Slow is key ladies; if you ease into changes, they won’t be such a big deal. For example, I love coffee. My body seems to feel like it “needs” coffee to get going in the morning. So, I took this one slow. I cut down from 3 to 2 cups then 2 to 1 cup over the period of about 4 months. My body never went into shock and it didn’t feel like I was depriving it of something it loves.

As far as eating goes, I’m an extremely healthy, organic, balanced eater and cook as is. I have always loved eating healthy and constantly finding new and fun ways to cook and enjoy healthy food. I eat a ton of fruit and veggies (lot’s of good greens on that list) and choose to drink water (sometimes with lemon) all day long vs. anything else. (Although I did like iced tea and that had to go along with my coffee). On this front I just chose to continue eating as I do but one major change I made was to allow myself to cheat a little more and not stress about it. Now you might be thinking…Sarah, seriously? That’s your big food change? I know it sounds silly and even annoying, but the truth is; in preparing to be pregnant you need to start to re-wire your brain. When you are pregnant you will not be trying to stay slim or loose weight or be obsessing over eating perfectly to stay at a certain weight or in those favorite skinny jeans of yours. Nope that whole neurotic mess we put ourselves through daily (come on we all do it) will need to go out the window for 9-10 months plus however long you choose to breastfeed (if you choose to). So…yep! I decided to chill the f-out on myself and if I felt like some ice cream or popcorn or indulging in a piece of bread dipped in olive oil before dinner, I would! Other than that…chef Sarah kept it about the same.

My fitness level was in pretty good standing but I made a deal with myself when we moved to Seattle in July (and I started on this process). The deal was that I was going to work hard to get my body as strong as I could (with in reason, ladies you can’t get pregnant with zero body fat) to hopefully house a growing human the best I could! Important areas I chose to try to work on were back and core strength (to carry all that extra weight around in front of me one day I was going to need it)! So I signed up at this amazing Pilates studio I discovered (LAB5 Fitness) on Broadway in Seattle owned by this sweet couple). The studio is a few blocks walking from my apt and they have amazing reformer classes with awesome instructors. Also, my hubby and I invested in our family health by purchasing an elliptical machine for our home. This way no matter what the weather is outside or what time it is (not limited by a gym) we could get our cardio in. So, I decided to get my tush moving and in just a couple of months I was shocked at the transformation. My body was more “ripped” than it’d been in years plus I was in a great place with my stamina on my cardio (this is VERY important while pregnant).

Like with all new habits sometimes we get a little extreme. I will note that my husband did pull me aside one day and ask me to chill out my working out just a bit because he was concerned I was over-doing it and we wouldn’t be able to conceive because of it. (He’s a physician and was speaking from a knowledgeable place and also a loving one). I listened and I chilled out a bit, which didn’t even show on my body at all, but I knew he was right. It’s not about killing yourself it’s about preparing your body for something truly special.

Folic Acid/Prenatal Vitamins:

Taking Folic Acid is one of the most important things you can do before TTC. Ideally you’ll give yourself about 3 month on it before you TTC. You can also start taking prenatal vitamins (which should contain folic acid) if you want to but you don’t have to. Just so long as you get your folic acid in.

The skinny on Folic Acid is this:  (Note: Check with your doctor before taking anything, always).
Folic acid is a pregnancy superhero! Taking a prenatal vitamin with the recommended 800 (mcg) of folic acid before and during pregnancy can help prevent birth defects of your baby’s brain and spinal cord. Folic acid, which is also called folate, is a B vitamin. Folic acid plays an important role in the production of red blood cells and helps your baby’s neural tube develop into his/her brain and spinal cord. Birth defects occur within the first 3-4 weeks of pregnancy. So it’s important to have folic acid in your system during those early stages when your baby’s brain and spinal cord are developing.

Getting Ready Mentally: great books to read and more!

Nerds are cool but PREGNANCY NERDS ARE HOT!

My husband calls me a “pregnancy nerd.” He says this with a look of pride and admiration. He’s an MD-PhD (and the coolest nerd on the planet). He says this not because it takes one to know one, but because it’s awesome to take this seriously and educate yourself before you start.

It’s totally true, I have become a complete nerd about our pregnancy and that started BEFORE we even conceived! I got my nerdy-on months before we “went for it.” Let me explain why; this (making a baby/being a mom) is in my world, the MOST important thing I have ever done and will ever do in life. So, I decided to learn as much about doing it as possible. This included what I needed to do before we “went for it”. It may come as a surprise to you that in fact there is a lot you can do before you start trying to conceive (TTC).

It’s my hope that I can make your journey a little easier by sharing what I learned, what I did and what I geeked out on along the way.

Picking your OB:

This is a very important relationship and you want to feel totally comfortable with this doctor, with the practice they are in and the hospital they deliver at.

If you have family or friends to ask for referrals then you’re lucky. For us, we’d just moved to a new city and didn’t know anyone so I had to do it on my own. The way I went about this was to start with my insurance and get a list of OB-gyn’s in my area. Then I googled the hospitals near us in Seattle that have Neonatal care. I personally do not want to give birth at a hospital that doesn’t have this. Here’s what you’re looking for.

So then I took the names of the OB-gyn’s that deliver at Swedish from my list and started looking them up online (this included yelp reviews). I spent hours and hours on this. I finally narrowed it down and realized that the top rated people covered by my insurance, in my area, that deliver at Swedish are ALL in the same practice! So, I called and started to try to get into someone there. Then, I asked the owner of my pilates studio who’s lived in Seattle forever and seems to know everything if she knew of anyone great. She then gave me a name of the OB-gyn that I now go to that was a part of this fabulous practice. Once you choose, I suggest you go make an appointment and start seeing this person right away for your pap and a little chat about TTC.

Let’s geek out:

I’m listing the books I loved and the order in which I suggest reading them. The first two I suggest reading before you TTC as there’s a lot of helpful information in there. Keep these books to go back to once you’re pregnant.

“Getting Ready to Get Pregnant: Your Complete Pregnancy guide to Making a Smart and Healthy Baby” by Michael C. LU, MD

“The Mother of all Pregnancy Books” by Ann Douglas

“Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy” From Doctors who are parents too

“The Girlfriends Guide To Pregnancy” by Vicki Iovine

“From The hips” by Rebecca Odes and Ceridwen Morris


Note: I will add to this list as I read more great books!