Good Reads: Running Mothers, Sharing Praise, Stress Eating

It has been a really long time since I’ve done some link loving, but I thought I’d share a couple of things that really made me stop, read, and contemplate, which is pretty hard for me to do lately.

LinkLove

 

Why She Runs: To Adapt to Mother Hood (Runners’ World): “Running, with its demands that I mentally focus and take care of my body, ultimately made my transition to motherhood easier. And becoming a parent improved my running, requiring that I make it a priority and get the most out of each workout in the limited time I had.” I’m a big supporter of being active to help your mental health. And as a new mother myself, I know that there are days I need to get my frustration out so I can be a better mom to Baby A&W. I cannot wait to get back into running training again!

You are Doing a Really Good Job (I Got a Dumpster Family): It’s sad, but there are times that really, I just want a pat on the back. The past few months have been rough, and sometimes I wonder if anyone even notices, but I continue to come into work, paste a smile on my face and try to clear my mind of the craziness that is my life. I now understand mothers a lot more than before I had my baby, and I believe that, yes, we do need to support each other and say, “You’re doing great.” No matter what it is.

Stop the Cycle of Stress Eating (Evolution by Ariana): Stress eating is one of my biggest vices, and lately I know that’s what has stifled me losing the remaining baby weight. The crazy mornings, boring workdays, and then the harried evenings with the baby mean it’s hard to eat healthy for me some times. And I know a lot of it is lack of willpower, but sometimes you just say “F– it” and shovel those animal crackers in your mouth as you prepare a bottle for your crying baby. It’s important to just take a moment and think for yourself–you want you be healthy not only for yourself, but for your baby.

Your turn: Share your favorite reads from the past couple of weeks!

Breastfeeding Isn’t Easy, nor for Everyone

While going through pregnancy, I was asked many times if I planned to breastfeed Baby A&W. It wasn’t even much of a conversation between M and I–it was up to me, and I figured it was the best thing to do. I had read articles saying how it helped keep allergies at bay and boost the immune system of the baby. Plus, let’s face it, I was all about the weight loss benefits.

I knew breastfeeding wasn’t going to be easy, and I’ve many stories from those who tried and couldn’t or tired and succeeded, but I still went into it kind of blind, thinking surely it’d be something that just came to you–like maternal instincts are supposed to do. But then Aubrey came along, and I was rocked into motherhood.

Poor thing had no clue what she was getting into with momma and nursing.

Poor thing had no clue what she was getting into with momma and nursing.

Aubrey was a bit of a “lazy nurser”–meaning she didn’t want to try very hard to nurse on me, and would fall asleep often. She was also a little jaundice and lost about a pound from her birth weight, so I was stressing. The pediatrician prescribed that I feed her every two hours, and to pump after each nursing. I was spending 1.5 hours feeding A every 2, between fighting her to nurse, then pumping, then feeding what I pumped to her to make sure she actually got nutrition. It was wearing me down. I wanted to go straight to bottle feeding and pumping, but our first pediatrician said to not do that for another three weeks.

We went to see a lactation specialist, who had taught our breastfeeding class we took a month before A was born. She was great–she spent 3 hours with us, helping to work on A’s latch, checking to see how many ounces she really was getting from me, and being a big support. Unlike some lactation consultants, she was OK with pumping and she said she expected that I would have to supplement with formula–and that was OK. But because the doctor wanted A strictly on breastmilk, she helped us form a plan (which was the feeding, pumping, bottle plan), gave me her personal cell phone number, and wished us luck.

I was feeling more and more depressed, and stressed, feeling like I was a horrible mother for starving my child. I was also exhausting myself with the hellacious schedule that it required. It was all a nasty cycle that just continued, and I felt like M was getting tired of dealing with my tears of exhaustion and frustration because he knew there wasn’t anything he could do to help, and he hated feeling helpless.

Thankfully, we had to see another pediatrician in the same practice due to scheduling for one of A’s follow-ups. Dr. W was a breath of fresh air. She admitted that breastfeeding was difficult for her with her two boys, and how she felt guilty because, after all, she was a health care professional and she couldn’t breastfeed. But she pumped, and supplemented with formula, and her boys turned out just fine. Her wise words of advice: “All that matters is that you’re feeding and nourishing your baby. How you do that doesn’t matter–whether it’s via breastfeeding, pumping and feeding via bottle, supplementing with formula, or using all formula. It’s all the same. Just get food into her.”

That was a turning point, and, thanks to support from my mom, who saw how beaten down I was (my phrase was “Mom, I feel like I’m a dairy cow, and that’s all I am right now.”), I turned to exclusively pumping and feeding A via a bottle, using Similac Supplemental to boost her ounces. Doing such helped her finally start to gain weight and really start growing.

Now that I’m back to work, things have changed even more so. I’m extremely thankful to have a boss who immediately went to work finding an empty room and making it a “Mothers’ Room” for me and any other mother looking for a place to pump in peace. However, I was also dealing with being somewhat of a “single mom” and had to figure out how to pump when A was still awake (pumping in the middle of the night or before she woke up was easy). Because of that, I had to start dropping pumpings because it just wasn’t feasible.

Feeding your child helps you bond, whether its via the breast or the bottle, and no one should make you feel horrible for choosing either way.

Feeding your child helps you bond, whether its via the breast or the bottle, and no one should make you feel horrible for choosing either way.

Now that she’s past the two month mark, and had her first set of shots, I’m feeling more comfortable with the fact that I’m already starting to dry up. I never was able to produce much in the first place–maybe 3 ounces (from both breasts) at a time–so I knew my time would be limited. However, it does make me sad that soon I won’t be able to provide my own nourishment to her, not to mention the idea of buying formula more often than I am now makes my bank account cry.

I feel selfish saying that I can’t wait until I’m done producing breast milk because then I can easily go workout or go for runs on a tight schedule (right now I have to pump for at least 30 minutes beforehand, which requires planning and balancing). I can also relish in an adult beverage or two, which I haven’t done since I discovered I was pregnant (sure I could “pump and dump,” but I barely make enough milk as it is, I felt like that would be a waste of “liquid gold.”). And I can get back to wearing normal bras and clothes that I don’t have to worry about being able to pull up easily to pump while at work. Even just typing this makes me feel like I’ll be judged.

But, truth is, I’m ready to have my body back to myself. I’ve been able to provide more than some mothers are able to, for some reason or another, so I should be proud of myself for at least being able to stick it out as long as I have. I really did give it a good college try, and I provided her with my nutrients the best I could. I can’t be like my co-worker who has a 15-month-old and still pumps 10 ounces once a day–most women aren’t built like that.

And I’m OK with that.

More reading:
Fit Pregnancy: It’s OK if You Can’t Breastfeed
The Lean Green Bean: Breastfeeding is Hard

Support from my Bump Post

I took the big leap and posted my piece on “Why Don’t I Feel Bonded to my Baby Bump?” piece on my personal Facebook page a week ago. I don’t do that often, for certain reasons, but I felt like I needed to share my story with the people that knew me best. If they wanted to read it, they were welcome to. I was just hoping to share my personal feelings with those around me to help them understand what’s going on with me.

The response was massive. I was truly overwhelmed by the support and the reassurances from friends who had been there before, or maybe they were just happy I confided my personal feelings to them. I wanted to share some of the comments from my FB post on here, in case anyone else ever felt alone in this endeavor like I did.

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I was in the EXACT same place 19 years ago. My world changed when he was born.

Girl don’t feel guilty at all!! We all respond differently to pregnancy, and I was right there with you not feeling the whole “glow” of being pregnant…..I just felt like a blob. But the minute I met the little girl who was in there all those “mommy” feelings hit, and I hope they do for you as well, but even if they don’t right away, again, it’s different for everyone. I know people who didn’t feel a bond until their child was interacting some. It definitely is a very trying journey, and you will always second guess yourself and wonder if you are doing things “right”. But the only right thing is what works for you guys, and I promise, the journey ends up being amazing despite all the trying times. Best wishes as you finish your pregnancy journey and meet your little ‘bump’.

I never felt the swoony love everyone said I should have when I was pregnant. I gained 60lbs and I’ve never weighed more that 130 my entire life, so I was miserable and definitely didn’t want my picture taken. I always had doubts whether I could be a super mom and the night we went to the hospital, I said, “Brody, can I do this?” He said, “It’s a little late now, Jen!” It wasn’t until a few days after Saer arrived that I realized, wow, I really, really love this tiny human and I will kill anyone that tries to hurt him. Parenthood is exhausting those first few months, but you just do it! Every day that he’s here on this planet, I fall more in love with him and his little personality. Brody and I have become those obnoxious parents we used to HATE at dinner, because Saer will be blabbering loudly and we laugh and tell him how awesome he is. So, rest assured, you are not lacking any special mommy bonding feelings. It will probably hit you before you leave the hospital though

You are not alone! I can remember being all over the place with my feelings during my pregnancy. I had a miscarriage first, so my second pregnancy (first full term) I wouldn’t LET myself bond for the longest time. I felt like I was waiting for the “other shoe to drop”, so to speak. It was only at the end of the pregnancy where I bonded, and even then, I wasn’t the glowing, happy, maternal vision that I had expected to be. With my second, we were not trying at all, and I think the first three months of that pregnancy I walked around in a daze – as stupefied, terrified daze.

There were times when I would feel maternal, lovey, and excited about my “bump” or the baby. But I would say that was about ten percent of each pregnancy. Especially towards the last few months, I felt fat, clumsy, and I even voiced aloud to my husband that it felt like I was a prisoner in my own body when I had to have help to roll over at night, when the babies kicked my ribs constantly, when my insomnia brought me to tears. Literally, as a mother, your body is not your own any more. Like your heart beating, your body just…creates without you giving instruction. And to some, that is a wonderful feeling. But to me, 90% of my pregnancies were panic and confusion and a loss of control that was foreign.

Megan: you are an amazing woman. You are smart, motivated, kind, and dedicated. I have no doubt that you will be a FANTASTIC mother. Own your feelings – if you are frustrated or not feeling “maternal”, that’s ok. And it’s totally normal. The bonding will come, maybe not during the pregnancy, maybe not at the hospital, maybe not for a while! But it WILL, and it will be marvelous. Love you, girl!

I really liked being pregnant, and what I remember being really weird was this complete disconnect on the day Nora was born between the bump that was gone and the baby in my arms. Intellectually I knew they were the same, but I really missed my “inside baby.” Hormones are weird…

If you’d like to share your story, please do below! Reading everyone’s accounts made me tear up every time, and helped reassure me that I wasn’t alone. We had our first baby shower the weekend before Thanksgiving, and I had hoped to share some photos from it, but forgot to take very many! (FAIL.) I’ll take some of some of the swag Baby A&W received (though some is still in Indiana because we couldn’t fit it in the car) and share a little about the shower.

 (Off Topic, but timely: Don’t forget about my special offer to get 40% off ProCompression items–Use discount code “PINK2through Dec. 15 to get 40% off ProCompression Marathon Socks or Calf Sleeves–great gifts for the runner(s) in your life and yourself!)

Why Don’t I Feel Bonded to my Baby Bump?

Brace yourselves, you’re about to get a little personal with me. I was back and forth about actually writing all of this down and sharing it with everyone, but my hope is that this will help me get over a mental threshold and help those close to me understand.

When I saw the headline for the article “Should You Feel Bonded to your Baby Bump? during my usual am news reading, I immediately clicked on it. This has been a question that has rattled through my mind for a couple of months now, and growing more so as my own baby bump has grown.

I’ve felt so guilty for so long about my reactions to being pregnant. And I think that guilt hasn’t helped me feel happy or comfortable with myself, which just leads to a snowball effect of the two just going around and around in my head. I’ve heard so many reactions from friends, co-workers, and those I workout with like “Your belly is so big!” or “Oh, I see the baby now!” or “You’re still so small!” And with each comment, I do a half smile and just go on with what I’m doing. I don’t know how to take those types of comments.

The article goes on about how actresses like Vanessa Lachey felt guilty with her first pregnancy because all she heard was how you’d feel this sudden love and bond with your bump, yet it never came until they found out the gender of the baby. I’m the same way. I don’t feel a love or a bond…I feel frustration and fear. I feel uncertain in my abilities and future and uncomfortable in my own skin. I don’t feel strong, or sexy, or that I look decent in any of my clothes—not even my sweats. You won’t see me rubbing my belly while sitting in a meeting at work, or talking to the baby (except for the occasional, “Will you stop kicking me there?”). I just feel…nothing.

The article says: “As many women can attest, impending motherhood is rife with expectations. It’s often not enough to maintain a healthy pregnancy — many women feel pressure to have their maternal instincts flow from the moment the pregnancy stick turns positive, and they feel confused and disappointed when those feelings don’t materialize. To be fair, pregnancy is a deeply personal process and there are plenty of women for whom the experience is wholly transformative.

It doesn’t help seeing how celebrity moms sport their baby bumps proudly and how people say they’re “glowing.” Celebrity moms don’t have to stress about the fact that they only get 6 weeks of maternity leave, and that’s only paid at 50% of your measly salary. Celebrity moms don’t have to worry about how they’ll pay for daycare, let alone the rest of the expensive things baby needs, when currently we’re doing our best to just afford the two of us. Celebrity moms don’t have to worry about a lot of things that those of us on the lower rung have to. So of course they can glow and splurge on expensive maternity clothes, personal trainers for after the baby comes, etc.

I’ve been asked why I haven’t posted any baby bump photos on Facebook…well I think what I said above explains all of that. It’s not my thing.

Baby A&W has already been learning how to handle a dog on an agility course, as you can see here (yes, you can see my baby bump!).

So far this has been the closest you’ve gotten to seeing my baby bump

Perhaps a small part of my feelings is because we weren’t trying for this to happen. I know quite a few people who all they want is a child, and they struggled for years. Once they conceived, they were so jubilant and ready to share their journey…and you can’t fault them for that. I applaud them. Then there are those who try and try, and just can’t, for some reason or another, and they’re heartbroken. I’m heartbroken for them. And I feel guilty because my pregnancy just happened.

For me, I never saw myself as a mother. M and I had been talking about the possibility of having children, but I never saw it in my future. We were so wishy-washy. I’ve been told that perhaps this is the best way for it to happen—extreme accident (trust me kids, we know how babies are made and how to prevent them, and we were doing that) that will make you make the decision right then and there.

As I prepare for my baby showers, which I am ever so grateful for my family and friends who love me enough to want to celebrate this monumental event and help me prepare to be a mother, I’m hoping in the next couple of months my feelings and thoughts will change. I know the stress will always be there. I know the uncertainty will always be there. But maybe…just maybe…I can accept it, let go, and be that glowing mother-to-be everyone talks about being.

Or maybe not…

  ( Thank you to some of my fellow bloggers who showed me you can bravely share your struggles to help others, like my girl

Am I the “Anti-Mom Mom”?

While I swore I wasn’t going to make this blog all about being an expectant mother, it seems that with my blogging slow down, when I do write, that is what I write about.

I’ve been hit with a lot of freelancing deadlines, so I’ve been busy working on those when I’m not at work. When your brain is fried from having to be creative, and you’re battling from “pregnancy brain,” one of the last things you want to do is blog some more. So, for my infrequent posts, I apologize.

I’m sure the title intrigued you enough to click on the link, so now you’re thinking “What is an “anti-mom mom”? Well, apparently maybe it’s me.

I might get some flack for this post, and I’m sorry if I upset anyone. But I wasn’t looking to be a mom. I’ve never really been one to map out my life, but if you asked me where I saw myself in five or ten years, I have never once even come close to saying that I saw myself as a mother. When I admitted this to M one teary night, it surprised him. I also said, “Hey, I also never said I saw myself married, and look! Here we are!” (I don’t know if that cheered him up or not.)

I’m an animal person–I relate to animals so much more than kids, and people. I’ve had so many people say, “You’re so great with your dogs, you’re going to be a great mother…” But that’s still not very comforting to me.

Yeaaahhhhh....I already know I won't be that kind of mom. Just the opposite--you might have to remind me I'm a mother...

Yeaaahhhhh….I already know I won’t be that kind of mom. Just the opposite–you might have to remind me I’m a mother…

I feel horrible for any negative feelings I have about being pregnant, because I (personally) know there are many that struggle just to have kids that they love the moment they’re expecting or they’re adopting. I know there are some who may never have a child of their own…and there are some who maybe shouldn’t continue reproducing. I don’t know if I’d call myself lucky, but if you want to lean that way, then yes…I’m lucky. I’m part of that 1% that is expecting a kid while I was on the pill. (Now if only my luck worked on lottery tickets…)

But I haven’t done anything to hurt my growing child. I’ve read (a little) about what’s going on with my growing belly, and I’ve taken precautions with my workouts and lifestyle. But I haven’t completely changed. I still run, I still do CrossFit, I still work basically three jobs, I still live my life the same way I did before June. It’s a little different than back in May, but basically still the same.

I won’t post ultrasound photos on Facebook–I’m just not a fan of that, whether it’s my child or someone else’s. (Sorry, I don’t see how ultrasounds are “cute” and I’ve admitted that to our doctor a couple of times already.) And, no, I won’t post growing belly photos or be proud to have people touching my stomach. I struggled with my body image way before the pregnancy, and now it’s even worse. I don’t know how some women can do whole photo shoots of them almost completely naked and their large baby belly out there for the world to see…I barely let my husband see mine.

I’m not posting anything about baby countdowns or what size my baby is this week on any social network. The only thing we really have looking forward to the baby is our chalkboard that says “Baby A&W is ## weeks”, which is maybe updated every week to every two weeks…

I find it hard to tell someone “I’m pregnant”, yet I want to use it as an excuse for the sudden large belly that sticks out from my jeans and my workout clothes. I dread looking at maternity clothes because a lot of it puts out there, “Hey, guess what…I’m preggo!!”

I’m just still trying to be me, while trying to grasp the fact that a year from now, I’ll have 7-month-old that has completely changed my life in more ways than I can even wrap my head around right now. I know I’ll have friends who abandon me, and there will be times that I’ll be overwhelmed by everything (more than just some times), there will be changes. But hopefully, down this road, these changes will make me a better person than I think I am now. Who knows…maybe I can transfer my “good dog mom” skills to being a “good human mom”…or maybe I’ll have to rely heavily on M… We’ll see.

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