Category Archives: Motherhood

Motherhood / Personal / Stay Fit

Getting My Strength (and Body) Back

November 8, 2017

^^ Ancient Bar Method socks and hella-old Lulus still going strong ^^

I’m going to be honest here — I did not want to write this post. In fact, I actually wrote a draft of this a few weeks ago and didn’t end up hitting “publish.” The whole “post-baby body” discussion is tricky and very personal. After having two babies less than two years apart and failing to really get back into a workout rhythm between the two, I decided to get serious about regaining my pre-baby strength. Yes, part of this is about vanity — I do “want my body back” (I have been pregnant or breastfeeding now for over 3 years straight, sooo… yeah. I would like to reclaim at least some small part of myself — though I think this is bigger discussion which deserves its own post on another day); but more than that, I want to feel strong and healthy and keep my back in shape.

Those of you who know me or who have been reading the blog for a bit, already know that I have a bad back. I had surgery 14 years ago but have continued to live with severe restrictions and occasional bouts of awful pain.

After having Prim I never really got back into a good workout rhythm. I had a new baby and went back to work and then moved across the world to Amsterdam and promptly got pregnant again… All of which are reasonable excuses for not exercising — but overall it wasn’t a good thing for my back or health. After having Lark I started to realize how much strength I had really lost. I could feel my lack of core stability every time I lifted the girls, and started to feel the familiar ache of constant pain beginning in my lower back. Having been through 9 months of excruciating pain prior to my surgery 14 years ago, I now live in constant fear of it returning. Any twinge makes my heart stop; any bout of pain sets me into a minor panic.

I finally decided that I needed to commit to myself to get my body and core back in shape. Yes, it is partially to (hopefully) rid myself of the last ten pounds of baby weight which are clinging to me like I’m a life boat on the Titanic, but it is mostly so I can live my life without pain. (And let me tell you — avoidance of chronic pain is an amazing motivator.)

After hearing rave reviews from my sister about this website specializing in diastasis-safe, post-pregnancy workouts, I decided to sign up for the Birth to Fit Mum 12-week program. Even though I didn’t have diastasis recti, my abs were still severely compromised by my two back-to-back pregnancies, so a lot of regular ab work was too intense for me.

In case you’re curious, or maybe a postpartum mama yourself looking for exercises to do at home, I thought I would write out my current routine and link to the exercises. I try to do all of this four times a week, and sometimes add a fifth day where I do a shorter Bar Method workout (usually 45 minutes). Bar Method Online has a lot of different options — targeted and full-body workouts in 20, 30, 45, and 60 minute sessions with prenatal, beginner, mixed, and accelerated level options.

I start with 60 minutes of accelerated or mixed-level Bar Method and then go through some variation of the following exercises three times afterwards (it takes about 20 minutes):

I finish with the Bar Method final stretch sequence.

Some of the above exercises change every 3 weeks, as they are part of the Birth to Fit Mum 12 week program, which works through four progressive strength sequences across the 12 weeks. I specifically added the curl up, bird dog, and planks due to my bad back. These are the “Big 3” exercises for back pain, recommended by Stuart McGill, a renowned spine surgeon.

After completing the 12 week Birth to Fit Mum program and adding Bar Method for the last 7 weeks, my back pain has disappeared and my core is so much stronger. While I am (yes, vainly) waiting for the last few pounds to disappear, I’m trying to be patient and remember that the way I feel is good enough reason to continue to work out right now and that the last of the weight will come off eventually. I mean, honestly, 12 weeks ago I was struggling to get through a 30-second plank on my knees; now I can power through a 2-minute plank on my toes, no problem.

If you are a mama or mama-to-be who is looking for safe pregnancy or postnatal workout options — especially ones you can do at home, Bar Method Online and these pregnancy/postnatal workouts are awesome. The Pregnancy Exercise website has specific programs for during pregnancy, post-birth (the Birth to Fit Mum program I started with), and beyond. I have now moved on to the Super Fit Mum program, which despite its hokey name, is quite a good workout for strength-building.

If you have any questions about either of the programs I’m using (which are not sponsored in any way, by the way!) feel free to leave me a comment or send me a message.

Life Abroad / Motherhood / Travel

Our Trip to Copenhagen

October 23, 2017

As I mentioned in the last post, KC has been traveling for work a bunch lately. Normally he’s gone for 4-5 nights and then returns for the weekend, but since he had back-to-back work weeks in Dublin, he opted to just stay through this past weekend, which meant I was facing 13 solo bedtime routines with the girls while he was gone (because really, isn’t that always the most exhausting part of the day?) and was really not looking forward to two straight weeks of solo-parenting.

I happened to get a home exchange request for part of the period when KC would be gone, and I was lamenting that it seemed like an awesome opportunity and was bummed that we couldn’t take advantage of it. KC immediately chimed in, “Well you could just go,” which, while true, is a bit tricky with both kids and just one me (just navigating the airport with both kids and all the stuff we have to bring on our trips would be near-impossible for just one person). I thought about it for awhile and then thought I would see if another stay-at-home mama friend would want to join along with her 2 year old. We spend a lot of time together already (Prim and her little one are best buds these days) and I know she’s generally down for an adventure, so I thought it might be a good option. She jumped at the chance to get out of town and we set our plans, buying our tickets less than two weeks before our departure date.

We were in Copenhagen for 5 days, and wandered through the city with our three girls, all under the age of 2 1/2. We weathered flight delays coming and going (both times while on the plane) and somehow managed to navigate two airports and an entire city without losing any luggage, children, or our minds.

^^ Don’t mind the caution tape in that picture. I’m sure everything is fine. #goodparenting  And really, looking back on the trip, I have to say how proud I am of these little ones of ours. They are seriously veteran travelers now and go with the flow better than I could ever expect a baby and two toddlers to. Being stuck in a plane seat or stroller, or confined to a restaurant chair is not easy for wiggly two year olds and a newly-mobile 8 month old, but these ladies weathered the challenges like pros.  We did opt to have some slow days so that the kids could nap and sought out activities where they could run around and stretch their little legs. And, honestly, we didn’t see nearly as much as I would hope to see of Copenhagen on our trip (I mean, this is where Mikeller is from — so many more beers to drink! So many awesome restaurants to try!) but we still did a lot and I’m so glad we made the trip.  And yes, of course the kids had their moments where they were just over it, but luckily those were few and far between. (And honestly, sometimes those moments make for the most memorable photos after the fact.) ^^ This wasn’t actually a meltdown, just a point where Prim decided she simply couldn’t carry on and laid down on the ground. Sometimes, as a two year old, this is the only way to assert yourself.  Copenhagen, you were so charming. I can’t wait to visit you again someday!

Baby / Lark / Motherhood

Motherhood Update: Lark at 8 months

October 21, 2017

Lark hit 8 months on the 16th, but we were traveling in Copenhagen at the time so this update is a little late. Here’s a picture of her tearing into some pizza during our trip.

Sleeping: Lark is now sleeping through the night for 12 hour stretches pretty consistently. I would say she slept through the night about 75-80% of last month, which is so amazing. Prim didn’t sleep through the night like this until she was 11 months, so I’m super pumped about this development. I’m sure we will have random nights where travel or teething get in the way, but just the fact that she’s managing to sleep this long so much earlier than Prim did is a freaking godsend.

Eating: Lark is now diving into eating solids with gusto. She was pretty lukewarm about the whole experience when we started, but she’s now eating about as much as Prim did at this age (ahem, which was A LOT). She still prefers to feed herself, but will allow me to spoonfeed her occasionally, especially if it’s yogurt (both she and Prim from the beginning have been head-over-heels for plain yogurt).

Lifesavers: We recently purchased a new baby carrier, which so far has been awesome. We have had the Beco Gemini for awhile now, but one of the snaps keeps popping, which was driving me CRAZY. We have also randomly been toting Prim around in the carrier when we’re on vacation and she’s ready to pass out and take a nap, and the Gemini’s narrower seat isn’t ideal for carrying a 28lb toddler. I happened to connect with a woman here in Amsterdam who was selling some carriers for wholesale (she had started a babywearing website that she was shutting down) so we were able to purchase the organic version of the Beco Soleil for a steal. So far the carrier has been awesome — it’s not as bulky as the Gemini and has a much wider seat; plus I’m totally into the detachable pocket, which makes accessing necessities like my wallet and keys way easier while babywearing.

Latest trick: Lark is fulling creeping her way around the floor now and can control where she goes. This is especially fun since her favorite things at the moment are the antique fireplace, DVD player, printer, and Prim’s potty.

Sweetest things: Lark is now waving, which is so so sweet. KC has been traveling a lot for work lately, and when we facetime him she gets so excited to see his face and will start waving and babbling (KC is convinced she’s saying “Dada,” but it’s completely wishful thinking on his part.)

Favorite thing about this age: Lark has reached the separation anxiety/stranger danger phase, and while I don’t love either of those milestones, it’s really sweet to see how attached she is to her “people” and will calm down immediately when one of us picks her up.

Baby / Motherhood / Toddler

Our Daily Routine

October 5, 2017

I’m always interested in how people structure their days — especially other mamas. These little ones seem to really thrive on a predictable schedule, I suppose because they lack so little control over their own lives. It must be nice to have a sense of how things are going to go each day when you have pretty much zero authority over the schedule.

We obviously can’t stick to this schedule every single day, but I make an effort to make this their reality at least 80-90% of the time. Oddly enough, I think it’s this consistency that makes both Prim and Lark much more adaptable when we’re traveling and unable to stick to their normal routine. I also keep this structure somewhat flexible to account for the random days when the girls don’t sleep well or nap on the go, but the below is the general framework we follow on normal days.

Prim has been on a schedule for a long time, but I read a lot about routines after Lark was born because I was struggling with managing the schedules of an almost-2-year old and a newborn. I was a little frustrated with a lot of what I read because it seemed like most of the schedules were aimed at people who had a baby OR a toddler — not both. Given that many people have more than one child, I wanted to see schedules that accounted for more than one child in the same household. The only schedule I found that took multiple kids into consideration was the Moms on Call book series, which was really helpful in setting up our rhythm.

Now that Lark is older and the girls are sharing a room, their schedules are much more enmeshed and seamless, but it was not without some trial and error during the first months. Our schedule seems to be continually evolving to account for consolidating naps and nursing sessions as Lark gets older, which I think is normal. Now that Lark is down to two naps a day though, this will likely be our schedule for awhile, as she likely won’t go down to one nap until she’s a year old.

7:30am We get girls out of their room and bring them into our bed for a bit of cozy time and so Lark can nurse.

The girls often wake up around 7am, but after having a rough transition period when they first started sharing a room where Prim would wake up for the day at 5am (um, NO THANKS) I bought her a clock that lights up when it’s time to get up. She now knows that when the “light turns green it’s time to wake up” and will start calling for us after it goes on.

8:00am Breakfast

9:30am Lark nurses and takes first nap (1 1/2 to 2 hours)

11:30/Noon Lunch

1pm-3pm Lark nurses and Prim and Lark nap

The girls go down for their nap awake together and are generally in their room for two hours total, but usually only sleep an hour and a half of that time.

3/3:30pm Snack

4pm Lark nurses (some days)

I’m trying to eliminate this feeding.

5/5:30pm Dinner

I don’t prefer to eat dinner this early and I am working to move dinner back bit by bit. I started having them eat this early when I combined their bedtime routine because Lark could not be up past 7pm (she just can’t hang). I have now managed to push bedtime to 7:30pm (and usually not a moment later — Lark is very strict on this). I am dreading the upcoming time change a little bit, because I really don’t want them going to bed at 6:30pm.

6:45pm Bedtime routine starts

Girls take a bath together, pajamas on, read 1-2 stories, sing one song, nightlight + sound machine on, Lark nurses.

7:30pm Girls in bed, door closed

Baby / Lark / Motherhood

Motherhood Update: Lark at 7 months

September 16, 2017

Sleeping: I finally managed to get Prim’s nap to coincide with Lark’s second nap of that day AND managed to get them down together in the same room. They had actually been napping roughly at the same time most days, but I had Lark sleeping in the guest room because Prim takes a while to wind down for naptime, generally. (My rule for Prim right now is that she doesn’t have to sleep, but she does need to relax and be quiet.) Prim still falls asleep most days, so I actually get 1-2 hours of time by myself, which as any mom will tell you — feels like a freaking VACATION. Of course, because they’re in the same room and on the same nap schedule, the days when naptime falls apart, it’s reallllly falls apart. Motherhood sure does have a way of making sure you don’t pat yourself on the back too quickly!

The world’s largest high chair in Budapest.

Eating: Lark started solids at 6 months, and so far is a totally different eater than Prim was at this age. Prim was pretty interested in eating right off the bat and loved just about anything I gave her. Lark is proving to be a bit more discerning in her tastes and so far is not very fond of being spoonfed. She prefers to feed herself, which, while somewhat convenient, is not really super effective at this age. I started Prim on finger foods pretty early on to build her dexterity, but also spoonfed her for most meals as well. Brainstorming foods that I can turn into finger foods for Lark that are easy for a 6/7 month old to grab and eat without choking herself is a bit tricky, but we’re muddling through together. And as for her pickiness, I am approaching her meals the same way I approach Prim’s — she eats what we eat (to the extent possible) and there are no alternatives.

Lifesavers: It’s gotten pretty chilly in Amsterdam over the past couple of weeks (summer is officially over here, I’m afraid) and nights in particular get cold upstairs. The Puckababy sleep sack has been a lifesaver in this old, Dutch house (because no matter how much we crank the heat, the bedrooms seem to perpetually stay at 65 degrees or lower). We purchased this one for Prim last winter, which Lark will start using once she grows out of the newborn size. I love that it’s good for year-round use, even in the crazy climate of Amsterdam.

Latest trick: Lark has entered the phase where she’s on the move, but has very little control over where she’s going. She often ends up stuck underneath the couch and alerts us to her predicament by screaming like she’s falling into a sinkhole.

Sweetest things: Lark is readily babbling and seems to be trying to keep up with the speech of her very chatty older sister. She’s making more and more sounds these days, and I’ll often find Prim laying on a blanket with her with the two of them babbling back and forth. Prim is already trying to involve Lark into her imaginative play and Lark readily joins in to the extent she can, happily squealing and babbling. I love that these two chatterboxes are already entertaining each other.

Just having a little Lion King moment at one of the churches we visited on vacation.

Favorite thing about this age: Lark is learning how to get herself back to sleep more and more each week. Now on the random nights when Prim has trouble winding down and going to sleep and we have to re-enter the room, she will often open her eyes to peer at us dealing with her big sister and then just roll over and go back to sleep. That milestone is all the praise hands emojis, guys.