Friday, March 30, 2012

Take care of YOU

With baby fussy and needing to be fed, changed, and rocked, it's very easy to forget our own needs. Heck, I even sometimes feel my body isn't my own, that my breasts are now just food-producers and not for pleasure/looks. So before we head further down that road, heads up, mamas, here's my #1 advice: Take care of YOU.

Yes, people are right when they say "sleep when the baby sleeps," and so on: perhaps that can be one way of taking care of yourself, but think of it this way: a happy mama has a happy baby (most of the time). So do what you gotta do to take care of you.

Make some time for yourself, if that means napping when baby naps, or exercising (check with your health provider when you can do so post-birth: it is usually 6 weeks), or reading a book, sitting by the window to get some Vitamin D, snuggling with your pet dog or cat, sketching, journaling...whatever it is that makes you happy, do it: set aside some time each day, and you and everyone around you will thank you.

What will you do for yourself today?

Friday, March 23, 2012

On Dogs and Babies

Some people ridicule the notion of adopting a dog as "practice baby-training." Well, I disagree with that. Maybe some people think it foolhardy, but we adopted a standard poodle around my 5th/6th month of pregnancy. I love dogs, you see, and we moved to a place partly for my husband's hankering for a yard to grow stuff in, but also for my deep desire for a dog of our own. So soon after we moved, that's exactly what we did. I hesitated as the adoption fee wasn't cheap, but my husband said to go for it, anyway. And boy am I glad we did. Now the journey wasn't easy: she was found with mange, heartworm, and earmites, and was emaciated, so we did our best to heal those. We named her Bella, and smart cookie that she is, she responded to that name within days! However, she was also super skittish and shy, and wanted us in her sight at all times, hence our moniker sometimes for her being "Velcro dog." And therein is the big part that I'm glad we got a dog first before we had our baby: babies are fussy, and they want to be attached to you: after all, they were in our wombs for 40+ weeks, in my case, 41. They're used to being held 24/7, and fed 24/7. With the addition of a dog in our lives, there was another being to care for, spend for, someone else's schedule to think about, and who relies on me, whether it be food or medicine or even affection. With a baby, it's intensified like 500% as babies are even more helpless (so it does help that they're cute)! That plus our dog is really chill and centered when she's not spazzing or being all clingy; quiet, too: it took her months for us to hear her bark. But she's getting better: she doesn't get scared we'll leave her when we crate her, or see it as punishment; she has put on weight, and responds to the few commands my husband taught her; she even follows us into the bathroom now, whereas before she was terrified of it for some reason. Like her gradual improvement, we hope similarly for our baby, though at a slower pace as babies do take a while to hold their heads up on their own and not need us on demand 24/7. With the baby's arrival too, she is no longer the center of our lives, but she has responded to this with reluctant and resigned grace. With this standard poodle's awesomeness, plus the fact that she doesn't really shed, I am sold on standard (poodle)s! As my friend who told me about them, they are great family dogs. Indeed.

That being said, there are other things going on in life! I rarely cook as I am afraid of the stove (just as I dislike mess and bugs, but that's another story), so I feel bad that my husband even more so than before is doing so much for our family, what with cloth diapers and so on, on top of the regular stuff we have to do around the house, which with the baby has taken a bit of a backslide, hence my desire to help out more. Friends and family giving us food has been a godsend, but it won't last forever, so I was looking at these soup recipes: they look pretty easy, so maybe I can make them and make my husband happy and proud :-) Two in particular are catching my fancy: this Cucumber Gazpacho and this Coconut Cauliflower Soup, then macaroons for dessert! Is it super obvious I'm into healthy fats right now, especially coconut?!

I also got my certificate of graduation from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, or what we students fonds call IIN. Woohoo! Now on to more learning!...after I get the hang of caring for this baby...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mama Musings on 5 Weeks

My baby boy is 5 weeks this week; I did my gentle postnatal workout (hoping to graduate to Beach Body soon!) yesterday while he napped, and since I'm super craving coffee but too scared of the consequences of caffeine, I am excitedly/impatiently waiting for my orders of Dandy Blend and Teeccino's dandelion line, and I'll see what I prefer. Research shows that decaf coffee can still cause problems with babies through rheumatoid arthritis later on, whereas dandelion across many cultures promotes cleansing, good digestion, and even milk production for lactating mamas later on! What's even better is Dandy Blend is safe for kids to drink as it's gluten and caffeine-free. Dandelion's clearly pretty awesome!

I'm also looking into a Waldorf preschool program for him here, and they even have a very selective partial work-exchange program for tuition, so I'm hoping I can make the cut! I just want my child to have a holistic education, which I think Waldorf embodies.

And with that, J-Mike is my son, yes, but indeed he is his own person, as Kahlil Gibran says it so well.

For my own sanity and so I could connect to other mamas (as so far I've mainly been interacting only with my son!), a friend was telling me to look at Heights Kids Group...another friend told me to look at Moms of Preschoolers or M.O.P.S., and Holistic Moms Network, as well as a local chapter of La Leche League; ah, now to look into all of these and see what works for me!

Especially as a new momma I have a million things running through my head, but of course I'm lucky to remember two of to make sure they're the right ones to remember! Some things of note:

Please think about helping this cause that ends in 5 days: Chick Fil-A is threatening to shut him down, but he's not even competing with them. Don't let the bully win; vote for fresh food over fast food!

There's more, but with nursing and tending to my son's needs, I am doing all I can to remember one or two, hence my planner and iPhone come in very handy...

And on an unrelated note, here is a beautiful quote from Bari Tessler-Linden that really resonated with me: "Sometimes I am given the reflection that I am living a ‘small’ life and have colleagues + mentors rooting for me to become 'bigger' in my self and in my reach...than in other moments I am given the reflection that I am quite driven, accomplished and live a fully created life...big life vision, small life vision... it can get confusing sometimes... but in the end, I am the really the only one who can determine if I am making the most out of this one precious life..."

I'd prefer to live life on my terms, any day, though I still am working on being less of a pleaser! So here's to that.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

4 Weeks and Counting

So here I am with my 1 month, 2-day old son, literally: he is in a sling, and on my lap as I type this. This journey so far hasn't been easy: on top of the usual sleepless nights and baby-centered schedule, we got thrush last week. So that meant purple nipples for me and purple mouth for him. And FYI, thrush doesn't always mean the white patches right away, etc. But things get better, right? And things change constantly, especially with a new baby. He's gained almost 2 pounds now, as he's about 9 pounds, if not more, from his birth weight of 7 pounds 8 ounces. I was able to do a short 15-minute postnatal-specific workout yesterday, as well as finished writing thank-you cards (yay!). I was also able to put him in a sling and walk the dog for a bit today, all by myself-- a first!

But sometimes with 3 steps forward there are 2 steps back: I experienced some pain/twinges in my perineum today shortly after I had picked my son up for a feeding, but this was preceded by squatting to pick up mail and picking up said boxes, as well as a walk with baby and dog; also emptying the dryer and sweeping up the lint from a badly-placed disposable liner that had disintegrated in the dryer. What can I say, I like being able to do stuff, and keep things neat and tidy! But yes, overexertion can still happen after 4 weeks! So I guess no workout for me today. But hey, there's still tomorrow. And in tomorrow can we pin our dreams and plans....I know I do!

I've also been dealing with frustration that I'm not being able to get back into the swing of things. No-one in prenatal class tells you that thrush can happen, or that with post-birth comes lots of bleeding, and for a while, that baby bonding may not be instantaneous, that you'll be SUPER thirsty breastfeeding, how raspberry tea is incredibly healing not only during pregnancy but also after, and so on! No one tells you how soft/flabby your belly may look, or that you just won't have energy, or that your housekeeping duties will have to go to someone else, and that y'all will have to figure it all out. But all this happens and more. New mamas are brave during birthing, but also after-- for dealing with all this, hopefully with a supportive partner, but sometimes not. No-one talks about all these, but really, they should. So here's to mamas being brave and figuring this all out.