Holy cow, it’s been a long time since I’ve updated about Bean. He’s going to be 8 months this Saturday (Valentine’s Day!).
Why didn’t anyone tell me that he would grow up this fast?! J/k, j/k. Plenty of people did, I just didn’t believe them. It’s been a good 3 months since I last posted an update. I actually had to read what I wrote to see how far he’s come, and it’s far!
Bean now sits up on his own. In fact, he can now get himself up into the sitting position from being on his back or belly. He still scooches more than crawls, and since my friend called him Lieutenant Dan, I giggle every time he drags himself around with his arms, his little legs dragging behind him.
He went within days from being able to pull himself up to his knees to pulling himself into a fully standing position. He loves to stand up, but he’s not sure what to do from there!
Bean has also started eating from the table – well, his high chair. So far he has tried (and liked!), in no particular order:
He is still mainly breastfed, and I hope we continue through at least a year or longer! He’s mastered pinching with his thumb and finger, which is great for him eating, but not so good when it’s Mama or Papa’s skin.
Bean cut both bottom front teeth on Christmas Eve! I guess that’s all he wanted for Christmas. Haha! He’s also still a babbler. No words yet, but he understands “milk” and “more” in sign language, and has recently begun to sign “milk” when he gets hungry. Yay for communication!
He has become increasingly independent in his play, and he now loves Veggie Tales and Baby Einstein. He takes fewer naps (cries to self) and is sleeping longer periods through the night.
Bean loves when Bear or I blow raspberries on his belly, and he’s recently begun blowing raspberries on my belly! It is the funniest thing! If I lay down on the floor with him, he will pull himself to standing next to me, pull my shirt up, and start blowing at my belly. Sometimes he actually manages to get his face on my belly, and comes up with a grin of satisfaction after hearing the funny sounds he makes.
Bean loves being around other children, though we’ve had to limit his exposure due to the height of RSV and Flu season. He is usually gentle with other children, doesn’t get overwhelmed with having several others around, and likes to smile and laugh at them.
We got to visit our sweet friend in the hospital the day she gave birth to her second son. Bean was very curious, and not the least bit jealous when Mama held the new baby. I was so proud of him! It’s hard to believe that Bean was ever that itty bitty, and yet it seems like yesterday. I’m not gonna lie, I’m pretty sure I have the fever again… Baby fever!
Last week, I with dealing with almost constant anxiety, as several women I knew were being induced or having c-sections scheduled to get babies here before Christmas, and I was reminded every time I logged onto Facebook. This article was the catalyst for a very serious thinking session. Then I realized something very important for myself.
It was my choice to have a cesarean.
Absolutely my choice. Just like it was my choice to labor at home, to limit the number of tests run, to limit the number of ultrasounds done. Just like it is my choice (and Bear’s) to have Bean on a selective/delayed vaccination schedule, to take him everywhere with us instead of having a babysitter, to use homeopathic and natural remedies for ourselves and Bean unless we need something more, to cloth diaper.
I had (and have) complete faith and trust in our midwife, but I could have told her, “no,” when she told her assistant to call 9-1-1. I could have refused to allow the paramedics to take me into the ambulance. I could have denied consent to the operation by not signing the papers presented to me at the hospital. I could have said, “no,” until the very moment the anesthesiologist injected the stuff to knock me out.
I am one of the very lucky women in this country to have an emergency cesarean section without being bullied or forced into it. I agreed to this decision because it was the best choice for my baby and me. I made the choice based on the sound advice of my trusted practitioner, who actually had nearly the same exact thing happen to her.
While the whole experience was very surreal and seemed to happen in both an instant and an eternity, I was still completely aware of what was going on. Even though I wasn’t in control of how my baby acted during the birthing process, I was in control of my reaction to his actions.
I have known this, to an extent, since it happened. I guess the PTSD is blinding in a way, and that this is another step in my healing process. I still hate that I had to have a c-section, but I’m hating it less. My scar is less of a painful reminder and more of a source of amazement (my kid came out of that?!). I even managed a trip the other day to the maternity ward we lived on for a week after his birth, to bring cookies to a friend who just had her baby, and left without a panic attack.
I’m still dealing with a lot of “what-if”s and anxiety, panic attacks, hard feelings against the OB who performed the c-section for threatening me afterwards, and frustration at memory loss from moments I was hoping to cherish forever. I still have a long way to go, but I’m so grateful to have gotten this far.
My dear, sweet Bean,
Right now, you are asleep in my arms. You are the picture of perfection, with those chubby cheeks and eyelashes the ladies would all die for.
I want to always remember this, the way your hand rests on my chest and your little feet dangle off my lap. It's hard to believe that just 6 months ago you were placed in my arms. I can't imagine life before you, without you. Yet, 6 months have flown too quickly. The first time I held you, you curled up perfectly on my chest. I try to hold you that way now, and your head rests on my shoulder and your feet reach my lap. The baby swing you used to drown in barely contains you anymore.
You light my days with smiles and my nights with cuddles. I get a (not so) secret thrill when you only want me or daddy.
I'm so blessed to get to watch you grow, though sometimes it gets frustrating for both of us. Not just cutting teeth - though mama hates to see you in that pain, too - but in learning how to do things yourself. Rolling over, sitting up, now crawling. You're so close, and you get so angry when you've almost reached your toy but it is still out of reach. I hope we both learn from this; you, to not give up when you set your mind on something, and me, to encourage you and support you but not do it for you.
In one short week, we will celebrate our first Christmas together. A year ago, papa was laughing at me for staring at the lights. Now he's so excited to have them up so you can stare, and stare you do. I hope you never lose that joy of innocence and wonder (and staring at a lit Christmas tree).
If I could pause time, I'd almost want to right now. But not quite. I look forward to coming Christmases, to teaching you about the birth of Christ, to seeing your eyes light up at the presents under the tree, to listening to your little voice sing carols and hymns, and hearing your little feet patter around way too early.
But, for this moment, I will wonder and awe over you the way you wonder and awe over the Christmas lights.
With all the love in my heart, and all that overflows from it,
These cookies... where do I start?! Yes, the entire first row is gone... straight out of the oven. They're that good. I promise.
I first discovered this recipe a few months ago, after I had seen something about flourless peanut butter cookies on Facebook. I was hoping to find something with just a little more than the traditional flourless peanut butter cookie, which generally consists of peanut butter, eggs, and sugar. I found this recipe on Ambitious Kitchen, which ended up being my inspiration!
My goal with these cookies was to have something that I could grab and eat with one hand, without any sort of heating or prepping beyond the initial baking. It also needed to be something lower in sugar and higher in protein, so that I wouldn't have a sugar crash shortly after eating. Additionally, I was looking for something flourless, since gluten-free flours tend to be expensive, and most have a gritty texture that I'm still trying to get used to after nearly 2 years.
These cookies taste and feel like cookies should taste and feel! Thankfully, they aren't overly sweet so no tummy ache if I eat 4 (or 5... or 10...). But they are sweet enough to satisfy any sweet-tooth, including Bear's!
Here are the changes I made to the recipe:
I hope you enjoy these cookies as much as I do! Make sure you get a BIG jar of peanut butter, though, because these won't last long and you'll definitely be wanting to make more!
Today marks 5 months of breastfeeding for me and Bean. I cannot believe how quickly the time has gone! As the saying goes, the days are so long and the years are so short. I mean, seriously, he was just born yesterday (right?), and it'll be Christmas in a few weeks.
I'm sure I was told plenty about breastfeeding while I was pregnant. Honestly, I don't know how much went in one ear and out the other. Here are 5 things that nobody told me about breastfeeding (or maybe they did and I just don't remember):
5 Things Nobody Told Me About Breastfeeding
1. Nobody told me that it would suck my brain dry.
I mean it. I'd been in the professional communication field for almost a decade prior to Bean's birth. I had a great vocabulary and was a great articulator. Now I can't remember my name half the time. Or how old I am. I'll get stuck in the middle of a story and not be able to finish because my mind can't remember a simple word. Instead, I'll spend an hour trying to explain the word I'm looking for.
2. Nobody told me how soon nursling gymnastics (a.k.a. Gymnurstics) would start.
About a month ago, Bean started rolling around in my arms into completely contorted positions while nursing. And heaven forbid I try to move him into what I think would be a more comfortable position. He MUST stay in his desired contortion until he's done.
3. Nobody told me how exhausting it would be.
Especially when he is going through a growth spurt. He stays attached at the boob. All. Day. Long. And now we think he's teething, because he's been super fussy and clingy. I'm grateful that we co-sleep, because I can't imagine having to get up multiple times a night to get him out of a crib. Even still, he's gone from sleeping 4 hours through the night back to being up every 2 hours. I'm a sleepy mama.
4. Nobody told me how much it would annoy me.
Not all the time, but sometimes. Sometimes, I just need to pee. Or eat. Or take a 5 minute shower instead of a 2 minute shower. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Mamas with babies (especially breastfed) should have a pass to wear Depends.
5. Nobody told me how much I would love it.
This is all of the time. I'm constantly in awe of how my body continues to grow this amazing tiny human. He is alive and thriving because of me. It's incredible. I am excited for him to start exploring the world of solid foods, but I'm already dreading when this part of our relationship ends. When our eyes connect, I know that he loves me. When he smiles and makes happy noises when he's full, I know that he's saying, "Thank you, mama." When he falls asleep with his hand on my chest, I know that he feels comfortable and well taken care of.
In celebration of reaching our 5 month mark, I am giving away a box of Lanisol Disposable Nursing Pads and a weighted nursing cover. The nursing pads were amazing and I used them constantly while we were in the hospital our first couple weeks home. I have since switched to washable, but I still keep some as back-up.
Since this is not a sponsored giveaway, simply leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite, least favorite, or craziest thing about breastfeeding, or what you're most looking forward to about it. I'll be doing a good ole fashioned drawing Monday morning. Drawing will be closed Monday, 11.17.14, at 10am EDT. Good luck!
“They” say a lot of things about breastfeeding. “Breast is best,” and “You won’t get your period as long as you breastfeed!” I’ll be honest, the one that made me the happiest was, “You’ll lose so much weight breastfeeding!”
See, I’ve had this thing since I was young. It’s not a very nice thing. But it’s a thing that has made me obsess about my body, specifically my weight. This is a thing that has sent me to the hospital. A thing that has turned me to skin and bones, and at other times a blimp. A thing that, after years of therapy, still creeps into the back of my mind and whispers terrible things in my ear. A thing that I’ll never conquer, and can barely control. A thing that made me hate myself and how I look. A thing that can make me cry or rage when I look in a mirror or see a picture of myself.
This thing? Eating disorders. Anorexia and Bulimia and Body Dysmorphic Disorder, all wrapped up together in a Monster I seem to have caged most of the time, but manages to escape on occasion. My own mental bully that has grown up with me from age 10, when my thyroid (unbeknownst to myself or my doctors) stopped working like it was supposed to.
I’ve been “overweight” most of my life, “obese” according to the BMI charts, which I try to tell myself is bull shit because my mom says I have an “athletic build” and I don’t look good at what they consider a “healthy weight.” Sheesh, that’s a lot of quotation marks.
Last summer, I finally figured out everything that was wrong with me. I found an exercise routine that worked, ate healthy, cut out gluten, and finally got on the right thyroid medication. In just over a month, I dropped 25 lbs, and was only 25 lbs away from my goal weight. I would have kept going, but I found out that I was pregnant with Bean.
Pregnancy has been the only time I have been truly happy with my body. I managed to continue eating healthy for the most part, and it didn’t bother me to gain the 35 or so lbs I did. I did not keep a vigorous exercise routine, but Bear and I took walks all the time. I loved watching my baby bump grow in the mirror. I was grateful that I didn’t seem to gain much anywhere else. I didn’t always feel great, but I felt great about my body. I would have walked around without a shirt on at all times, if it were socially acceptable.
I did miss exercising like I used to, though. I was looking forward to Bean being born and getting back into it a few weeks later, as soon as I had the go-ahead from my midwife. I imagined hitting it hard with Jillian Michael’s while Bean watched from his swing or bouncer. I wanted to be at my previous goal weight by Christmas of this year, and I just knew between breastfeeding and exercising, I’d get there.
So much for that. I’m currently 4 ½ months postpartum and I still can’t even walk for too long. And I’m not talking fast-paced, supercharged power walking. I’m talking about an evening stroll through town like Bear and I used to do while I was pregnant. It hurts too much to walk for long, much less even thinking about real exercise. I can’t even do yoga for more than a few minutes. I look in the mirror and all I can see is that c-section shelf, something that I will probably always have, a flab of skin to hang over the top of my mom jeans (jk, I’ll NEVER wear mom jeans…). And the numbers on the scale, they haven’t gone down since a week after Bean’s birth.
The pain, the physical pain, is still excruciating some days. Some days, it’s all I can do to cart Bean around. Chunker. It’s also frustrating. This isn’t the way it was supposed to be. It’s another thing that didn’t go according to plan. And the physical pain is a constant reminder, something that I carry with my constantly, making it feel like nothing went right. It translates into emotional pain, which is excruciating, too.
So, on top of the postpartum anxiety and PTSD that I am working through, the Monster comes back. Taunts me. Makes me obsessed with the numbers on the scale. Makes me justify when Bean doesn’t want to be put down so that I don’t have to make something for myself to eat. Makes me angry when I look in the mirror. Makes me avoid having my picture taken (we still don’t have a real family picture).
I know I can’t live like this. I can’t keep stepping on the scale multiple times a day. I can’t keep skipping meals. I cannot obsess about my now-matronly body. And I need your help.
I’m sharing this to make myself accountable to you, my reader. I’m putting away the scale. I am making an effort to plan my meals and have healthy snacks available for myself. I will tell myself, out loud, affirmations any time I look in the mirror. I will do my best to live a healthy lifestyle without obsessing about my weight or shape.
This is hard. This is very, very hard. But I know that I am not the only one out there who feels like this. If you feel the same in any way, I would like to invite you to join me. Let’s take this journey together, to learn to love our bodies, stretch marks and scars and all.
I decided immediately after Bean's birth that I would not be a "milestone checker". You know, one of those moms obsessed with their child reaching specific milestones by a certain age? I refuse to look at baby books. I don't remember the day his umbilical cord fell off or the first time I cut his nails. I do, however, remember the first time he slept for 4 hours straight instead of his normal 2 hours, because that was 3 weeks ago and I woke up with boobs as hard as rocks!
As a type A personality, it's actually been a relief to me to not have milestones to stress over. Instead, I take in my son as he takes in the world! He is such a bright, alert little man, and I try to enjoy him as much as I can in these sometimes-long-but-always-quickly-passing days.
The two things that have thrilled me the most in the past few weeks are: his discovery of his smile and laugh, and his discovery of his hands.
His first laugh was at our two-week post-partum visit with our midwife. We were discussing how he planned such a grand entrance at 40 weeks and 4 days - despite his mama's pleas that he get here just a leeeeettle sooner - and as confirmation that he did, indeed, plan it, he smiled and gave a giggle. Since then, I have waited with bated breath until he started doing this voluntarily. This started happening just a few weeks ago! Now I'm becoming a morning person again, because he is genuinely happy to see me and I get to bask in the glow of that gummy grin! His nursing takes longer than normal, too, because he keeps popping off just to grin at me before he resumes his eating. *heartmelts* His giggle is contagious, and when I laugh, he laughs, which is the best thing ever!
In the past couple weeks, another amazing thing has happened. His hands, and what he can with them, fascinate Bean. He will sit in Bear’s lap or mine and examine them for minutes. He has finally figured out how to get his thumb in his mouth, but still needs both hands to hold it in there. Best of all, he has started reaching for things! For a while, he has "talked" to the mobile toys hanging above him in his swing and bouncy seat, but he is just now actually reaching for them and trying to grab them! Bear says that, this weekend at my sister's wedding, Bean reached for him while my dad held Bean!
My friend told me that for the first few months after babies are born, they are potatoes. Eating, crying, sleeping, peeing, pooping potatoes. Cute potatoes, but still potatoes because they don't really do anything. And while we are not keeping to any particular milestone guideline, I'm so proud (and a little sad) to say that my Bean is a potato no more!
I recently had a friend diagnosed as gluten-intolerant ask for a list of foods she can eat. Happy to oblige, I thought I'd make my list readily available to all of my friends and readers! I would first like to share a quick story of my history and what lead me to a gluten-free lifestyle.
I have battled with my weight since puberty. Summer of 2007 I was severely overweight, and was diagnosed with severe acid reflux and sludge in my gall bladder. I was told to change my diet, and there would be a chance of my gall bladder clearing itself out. I stopped eating fast food, red meat, and anything fried. I also cut out as much processed sugar as possible. By way of elimination, I discovered that I was lactose intolerant. The severe gas pains I experienced nightly went away when I stopped eating my traditional after-work bowl of cereal. That summer I switched to soy milk and cut out ice cream, cheese, and yogurt completely. I was able to avoid having my gall bladder removed, as well as lose about 50 lbs that summer, and mostly maintained that for several years.
Spring of 2012 I was working out and eating a healthy, whole gain diet, but started packing on the pounds again. I had been put on pain management medication for undiagnosed pain and gained 20 lbs in 2 months. After weaning myself off the meds, I continued to gain weight, despite working out several times a week and being extremely conscious of my diet. I gained a total of 50 lbs in less than 6 months. When I suddenly became so exhausted I couldn't stay awake even after 12 hours of sleep, I had my thyroid tested and was diagnosed with hypothyroidism.
Once I was put on the right level of thyroid medication, my weight plateaued. I continued to eat as healthily as I could and exercise regularly (I was able to run and enjoy doing so for the first time in my life!), but I was not losing any weight.
February of 2013, I was complaining to a friend about how I was sick and tired of always being sick and tired. I told him I always felt run-down regardless of how much I slept; how I always felt like there was a rock in my stomach; how my acid reflux was worse than ever; how I was never hungry because it felt like my body wasn't digesting any food; how I rarely went a day without throwing up; how I was always bloated and passing the worst kind of gas ever. This particular friend has Celiac's, and told me that was precisely how he felt before he was diagnosed. Because I could not afford medical testing at that time, I did an elimination diet again, this time cutting out all gluten. Within a week, my energy levels rebounded, I felt like my food was digesting, my acid reflex had all but disappeared, I was always hungry, I hadn’t thrown up in several days, and I was no longer bloated! Because gluten was the only thing I eliminated that week, I knew it was the culprit, and so am self-diagnosed as gluten intolerant, and have been gluten-free ever since.**
For me, it took the right combination of thyroid medication, diet, and exercise to become healthy again. Last summer I lost 25 lbs in less than 2 months. I was able to have my thyroid medication lowered, and immediately thereafter became pregnant after trying for several years!
For my family and me, being gluten-free does not mean a lot of the "specialty" gluten-free items, although I am thrilled to see so many more options available than there were when I started my gluten-free lifestyle nearly two years ago. What it does mean is a lot of whole foods and preparing our food at home. We avoid fast food, since there is a huge risk of cross-contamination, and we are very careful of what we order at sit-down restaurants.
I also do not believe that a gluten-free lifestyle is necessary for everyone. I have not done much research into the fad of gluten-free, but I have known a few people to try it that it had no effect on whatsoever. However, if you feel it is beneficial, absolutely make the change!
A typical shopping trip for my family consists mostly of fresh produce, eggs, chicken breast, ground turkey, olive oil, coconut oil, rice, and beans. There are two things about this list - one is that all of these things are whole foods and so naturally gluten-free; that is, none of them contain rye, barley, or wheat, which are natural sources of gluten. Second, most of these things can be found by shopping around the perimeter of the store. The aisles are what contain the most processed foods, which are more likely to contain gluten or have a chance of cross contamination during processing. The less processed = the least likelihood of gluten in naturally gluten-free foods.
Other items on my shopping list sometimes include:
Simple condiments, such as mayonnaise, mustard, and ketchup, do not generally contain gluten, although I do still check under the ingredients list to make sure. Many other condiments, such as soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, BBQ sauces, marinades, and salad dressings DO contain gluten, or are processed in plants that also process gluten, so be diligent to check under the ingredients list. Even if it does not say that the product contains wheat, I do not purchase unless it specifically says “GLUTEN FREE” or has the Certified Gluten-Free logo of Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO). Our local grocery store chain has even started labeling gluten-free food items on the price tag, making them easier to locate throughout the store! I still recommend checking the labels, however, as I recently found several mislabeled items in my store (they were all natural, but not gluten-free).
Living gluten-free does not have to be expensive – most of the above brands are not much more expensive than their gluten-containing counterparts – or difficult, though it can take some getting used to. I find the easiest way to stay gluten-free is to meal plan and grocery shop specifically for that. Pinterest has been a lifesaver for me, especially for simple, easy, gluten-free dinners. I plan to share these recipes and a brand-new Pinterest board with you all soon, so stay tuned!
*The author has not been compensated by any of these brands in any way, and all opinions expressed in this blog are solely that of the author’s.
**I am not a doctor, or a nutritionalist, and so none of this should be taken as medical advice. This is simply my experience with food and going gluten-free. Please consult your doctor if you are considering making any dietary changes.
August was National Breastfeeding Month. Those that are close to me know that breastfeeding is very important to me, and I'm blessed to be a part of a community that holds it in a high respect, and is also very supportive in helping mamas new to breastfeeding.
One of those ladies is a very dear friend of mine, Kimberly. She has been breastfeeding her son Gage, now 17 months, and is a huge inspiration to me. She confided in me that this special relationship is starting to come to a close, so I suggested a photo shoot to commemorate their journey. Joe came along for the ride, so we were able to get a few family shots, too!
It's been years since I've had the chance to really get behind the camera like this, so it was extra-special for everyone. Photography is one of my biggest passions, and I had to put it down for quite a while to finish school, deal with some major life changes, and my own pregnancy and birth of my son. I'm so excited to be jumping back into the game with my camera!
Now, without further adieu, the photos!
High-flying baby! Thank you guys, again, for allowing me to capture such special moments. I love you all, and I can't wait for our next very special shoot! :D
Mama Bear of one Baby Bear, Bean, who both love Papa Bear, and live in a crafty, gluten-free cozy den.