Archives for category: Pregnancy

As I sit here writing at 34 weeks pregnant with my second baby, and indulging on some Nutella and pretzels, something I never actually ate until I got pregnant, I can’t help but think about the wonderful world of being pregnant.  I am sooo incredibly overjoyed and grateful to be pregnant, but there are so many crazy things that happen to us while we are expecting, it’s almost hard to narrow it down.  However, I think I’ve managed to put together a quite realistic list of more than what to “expect when you’re expecting…” Warning: this is not a composed list of how amazing you feel, because while you feel mentally wonderful, our bodies sure go through the ringer while growing these miracles inside us!  So, this is more of a list about the common discomforts women experience while pregnant.

The Top Ten Most Challenging Aspects of being Pregnant:

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1) Exhaustion: It’s a different kind of exhaustion that I can’t quite put my finger on, it’s not the staying out all night exhaustion or working a 12 hour shift exhaustion, it’s the exhaustion that comes from your body suddenly supporting not just one, but two living beings now. For no reason at all you will just want to camp out on the couch, bed, chair, nearest willing shoulder to rest your head on and just doze off into oblivion.  It doesn’t matter what time of day it is, if you had a full 8 hours of sleep the night before or if you just came out of hibernation, it will hit you, I promise!

2) Forgetfulness: Vitamin B12 anyone? Not only does your body suffer from sheer exhaustion, but you will start forgetting the most random of things while you are pregnant. Pregnant brain, mommy brain, becoming a total airhead, whatever you want to call it can be difficult to deal with.  This is coming from a woman who lives off her to-do lists and she suddenly finds herself wondering where it that she put that to-do list is or why she even made it at all?  The woman who thinks she has everything all set in the car before she heads out for the day and realizes she forgot her keys, only to find them later in the bathroom closet.

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3) Mood Swings/Extra Emotional: Yes, I understand that as women we are already pretty emotional, but something happens to your feelings when you find out you are expecting. The extra tears, fears, joy, pain, sappy love song or commercial, snappiness, wanting to punch random people in the face or even just give them a hug all has to do with one thing- HORMONES!  Please pass the tissues…

4) The Pains: Between back pain, breast tenderness and growth, acid reflux, gas, heartburn, carpal tunnel, TMJ, constipation, stretch marks, sinus pressure, chasing around your first child (if you have one), stretch marks, worsening allergies, cracking pelvis, swelling, or in my worst case scenario gross and terribly bulging varicose veins that require wearing compression stocking daily. Pregnancy changes your body in so many ways, so be sure to take extra good care of yourself as your baby growing inside you is quite literally sucking the life out of you, but trust me is adding a whole lot of love to make up for it!

5) Morning sickness: Not every woman gets this one, and if you aren’t I envy you! With my first pregnancy with my daughter’s it wasn’t so bad, I had it mostly in the morning and I am not one who vomits, but I had the feeling like I wanted to all through those AM hours.  During my current pregnancy with my second child I felt sick, morning, noon and worst of all at night during my first trimester.  I had to force myself to eat because while I was hungry, literally everything grossed me out.  For most women this nauseous feeling subsides or at least gets better by the second trimester, but for some never fully goes away.  I still get it some mornings and after certain things I eat…carbs and ginger ale help.

6) Frequent Urination: Before I ever got pregnant I didn’t think this started until the end of pregnancy, boy was a wrong. Not only do you make many more trips to the bathroom than you ever thought possible, but it’s also much harder to hold your pee.  When you do get to relieve yourself you expect it to be this huge amount (the kind my husband and like to call ‘A League of Their Own’ pee, you know you remember that scene when hungover Tom Hanks pees for about 6 minutes straight), but it’s not it’s usually quite as huge as you thought.  You leave the powder room scratching your head wondering how such a small amount feels so urgent, but not to worry you will be back there soon enough to forget.

7) Temperature Control Issues: Hot, cold, warm? All of the above?  Mostly hot for me, which left me apologizing to anyone I used to make fun of before who seemed much more on the warmer side, and I was usually the cold one.  Not anymore, though…you won’t always be hot, but for some reason it will be hard to regulate your temperature, especially when you sleep.

8) Shortness of Breath: It’s getting extremely hard to breathe now as I enter into the last six weeks of my pregnancy. Baby starts taking up too much room and sits on your lungs, ribs or whatever else they can find.  Sometimes I will find myself doing breathing exercises as if I just came off the treadmill for an hour, if only that were true.  Sitting upright helps, slowing down, putting your hands behind your head, taking deep breaths and drinking water helps.

9) Pressure: There’s a pregnancy waddle I’ve been sporting since somewhere after the 20 week mark. It’s kind of like a duck walk, except ducks have much leaner legs.  It’s not just because of the weight or because of back, hip or leg pain, it’s from the pressure you feel on the lower portion of your body and shifting your weight helps.  So you ultimately start to tilt and sometimes even lose balance because of it.  I actually twisted my ankle on my due date with my daughter due to losing my balance and mistepping, and then really had to stay off my feet until she decided to make her appearance four days late.

10) Getting ready for baby/life with baby: You’ve got the room set up, you’ve got your bag packed, you’ve got your birth plan all lined up, and have an awesome amount of diapers ready. Think you’re prepared for when that little bundle starts to contract?  Or that you are ready when your water breaks?  Or you’ll be able to handle this tiny little person when you’re blissfully on your way home with that little one from the hospital?  Think again, you will never be completely ready!  But the good news?  You will learn, there will be ups, downs, highs, lows, moments when you don’t think you can handle it, moments when you wonder what the heck you’ve gotten yourself into…but it will all truly be worth it!  Because with all the stress also comes a brand new outpouring of love that you’ve never experienced.  This love will fill you up and help you pull through and soon feel gleeful again when you hear that first little coo, or see that first little smile, successfully breastfeed, successfully burp, bathe or handle your baby all by yourself alone, or get more than four hours of uninterrupted sleep.

Having a child is a complete whirlwind and I am still learning, my daughter and 3 ½ and my son is due in a little over a month and I still get scared.  I still have days where I feel totally awesome and then days when I feel like a total failure.  I can tell you this though; IT’S ALL TRULY A LABOR OF LOVE AND A DREAM COME TRUE!  So to all my fellow preggers out there past and present, whenever you get a chance to, which can be very difficult, pat yourself on the back, sit back, put your feet up, smile and tell yourself you’re doing a good job.  😉  ~J

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There are so many milestones we reach throughout the course of our lives.  Once you become a parent you will begin to realize just how many milestones there are that you don’t even remember from your very own youth.  You will be a witness to so many “firsts” through your child that it will be hard to keep track of them all. This got me thinking about “Mommy Milestones.”  A milestone is defined as a “significant point in development,” and because children grow so quickly from infancy to toddlers these regular milestones will become so apparent.  All the top things like their first words, first steps, first birthday, etc. will be very exciting.  But, I think “Mommy Milestones” are a little different and exciting in a different way, in a sense of accomplishment that you are actually a “good mom.”  You will start to have these startling moments where you sit back and can’t believe you just did this, or got through that, or that actually just happen?

So, here are the top 15 “Mommy Milestones” I’ve come up with from CONCEPTION TO TODDLERVILLE:

1) GETTING PREGNANT!!!!  Any woman planning on having a baby can tell how wonderful it is to pee on that little stick and have it come out POSITIVE!!!  As a female I think its safe to say that we feel this is a part of our role, our God given right to be able to grow a baby inside of us.  Whether it takes you a short, long, or ‘somewhere in between there’ time to get pregnant, it’s truly a moment of pure bliss that you won’t ever forget! pregnant_clipart

2) GIVING BIRTH.  Being preggers can be very exciting and exhausting time of your life.  But that is nothing compared to the craziness of giving birth!  Everyone has a different experience when it comes to labor.  However, fear not!  The most painful experience of your entire life is entirely worth it because you are rewarded with the most beautiful baby you will ever meet! You gave birth FROM YOUR VERY OWN BODY to this little blessing.   YES, YOU ARE AWESOME!!

3) NURSING YOUR CHILD (errr, successfully).  I was looking forward to being able to breastfeed, another God-given right, right??  Well yes, in a manner of speaking.  My daughter was not easy to nurse and we had many problems along the way and then just as we finally got into the swing of it around six weeks, I had to give it up due to her acid reflux.  Oh well, at least I gave it my best effort.  I was still very hard on myself as we were trying to nurse.  Some women have no issues and swear by it, others never try, some stop due to the many different circumstances.  But, if you are successful in doing this, I can tell you its amazing feeling to be able to feed your own child from just purely and simply, you.

4) Being able to care for your child on YOUR own for the first time.  Sounds strange right?  So much preparation goes into planning for the baby, but what about when they are actually there?  At the hospital you have so much help, then at home I had the help of my Mom and my husband for almost two weeks on just about a daily basis.  Then the reality kicks in on the day it’s just you and your baby for the first time!!!  It’s a little scary at first, but you manage to do it.  Plus you feel pretty cool (and relieved) when your husband gets home and you tell him, that’s right your are a Mom and yes you kicked ass taking care of your child by yourself, ALL DAY!

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5) Leaving your baby alone successfully with someone else for more than a few hours.  I can still remember the first time I had to leave my daughter alone with my Mom for about 8 hours.  Of course I completely trusted my mom, but as I drove away from Juliette I felt an overwhelming ache, sadness, and worry for a while.  Then once I got to my destination I was so overwhelmed with people asking me for photos of her, how she was, how I was, etc. that the ache and sadness subsided mostly, but I still had worry.  It also felt a little freeing and somewhat normal again to be on my own, just me.  I now know the worry will probably never fully go away, but it does get better and a little easier with time.

6) Getting your baby to sleep through the night.  Any mom will tell you that this is in one word, wait for it…LEGENDARY!  (HIMYM fans will get that legendary reference) Right around 8 weeks old my daughter starting doing this and I can’t even tell you what the magic key was, but whatever we were doing with her was working!!! You will hear that Hallelujah song literally ring through your head, so much that you will have to make sure you keep doing what we are doing.  Of course, any mother will also tell you that just because they slept through the night, it does NOT mean you will.  You will wake up, stare at the monitor, listen to the monitor, turn it up, make sure its working, wander into their room, feel their chest, watch them, pace the halls, make sure they have enough blankets, are in the proper position, tiptoe to the bathroom, not to mention check the time about 40 more times, etc. This also gets easier with time.

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7) Losing the baby weight.  For me, nursing really helped with this one, plus honestly it truly is hard to find time to eat for quite a while.  Sometimes you just shovel into your mouth what you can between feedings.  Happily, after bout 4 weeks, I was back in my old jeans.  I was pretty proud of having shed almost all the pounds because it felt awesome.  I think the last few were gone after about 10 more weeks.  This is not to say your body will look exactly the same after, you will have stretch marks and that line down your stomach will fade, but your body will never truly be the same.  It will be a little stretched out in different places.  It’s all worth it though as you almost feel a sense of accomplishment like who cares, they are almost like battle scars and I’m ok with that. fat-woman-2-clipart (1) 8) The pride of their Independence (seeing them do things on their own for the first time like eating, drinking, walking, crawling, talking, etc.)  These are milestones for both baby and parents.  It’s fun to watch them try to become mobile and the strange things they will do to get there.  You’ll feel like you are living with a little drunken munchkin for a while.  You’ll have many proud mommy and daddy moments here.  Is the saying true that it’s all over once they start to crawl or walk?  Well its over for a little while, but once they become steady and you childproof even more so than you ever thought was necessary or possible, it gets easier.  Talking is also quite humorous at first, but when you start hearing real words, its just adorable.  Eating and drinking can be quite the scene too as you’ll learn that even your cell phone apparently tastes delicious, so does that 2-week-old Cheerio from under the couch you missed while cleaning…

9) Saying Mama!  Admit it, you know you want to hear “Mama” before “Dada.”  I still stand by the fact that Juliette’s first words were not “Dada” but merely “DAAAAAAA” followed barely by another “daiiii.”  Anyway, whether its said first or not, it’s amazing to hear when they actually look at you, know who you are, and say it out loud, be prepared to grab the tissues!

10) You become the ultimate healer.  Who still doesn’t want their mom around when they are sick?  I know I do!  There’s something about them that just makes you feel better.  Guess what?  You will have the same power over your child; a mother’s nurturing is the ultimate gift to their child.  It’s incredible that by just comforting them and knowing what to do when they aren’t well makes you the Dali Lama!  Caring for them in this state makes you realize how much they truly need you, that you are that person who makes it all better. Healing Heart-256x256 11) Signing up your child for their first independent class.  My daughter’s first ‘non-Mommy and Me’ class was her dance class the started in the fall of 2013.  Let me tell you that YOU will be more nervous; YOU will be “that mom” in class that becomes the worrywart.  However, my fears subsided when I realized how well Juliette did when that door shut, and that there were, in fact…NO TEARS!  A bit of tears came a few weeks later on for her, but she got over it and now she absolutely LOVES her dance class, her teachers, the students, and looks forward to every Tuesday!  I catch her doing moves all over the house too, which is thoroughly adorable.  They learn, you learn, it’s a wonderful all-around learning experience.  Plus, it gets them used to taking direction from other adults besides their parents and social interaction with other little ones. IMG_0524

12) Signing up your child for school.  Preschool was a hard word for me to say.  I stay at home with my daughter, so it was probably a little harder to let go, as Juliette is like my little sidekick all day, everyday.  But, whether you are a working mom or a stay-at-home one, I think this is a BIG milestone and it is never easy.  Juliette will start two half days of preschool this coming fall and that was a big moment for her, her Daddy and I.  My little girl is growing up, which is a very bittersweet pill to swallow. school  

13) Getting them off the Pacifier.  Juliette was very attached to her beloved “paci” as it really did get her through lots of tough times, but they say around 18 months old its time to give it up.  Well the timeline was near and I first tried poking holes, but Juliette realized what I did right away and just tried making the holes bigger by poking at them, so now she had a new and very cool paci toy to pick at.  Then I tried cutting off the top of it, as apparently most babies realize the sucking sensation is gone and give up, well my daughter is NOT that easy.  She realized what I did took it out of her mouth, gave it a maddening stare and then looked at me with a huge pout and proceeded to throw the paci across the room in effigy (almost hitting my head and the wall).  Hmmm, ok maybe a little too soon??  At that point I realized maybe it was too early for this, so about a month later I tried to take it away cold turkey, which led to various battles, lots of crying to sleep, and some nights where she would get so worked up into a tantrum that she would end up vomiting.  Ok, still too early!  As the months went on I starting putting away the pacifiers hanging around the house and in my bags, therefore keeping them out of sight and out of mind…and ONLY giving them to her at nap/bedtime if needed.  This part worked well, but I still wanted to get her off it for dental reasons and for the fact that I hate seeing preschoolers walking around with a pacifier in their mouth.  It’s a comfort thing but luckily Juliette still had another comfort things, her favorite blanket, a.k.a. “binks” which she could NEVER sleep without.  Then on one magical and splendid summer night right around 22 months old she didn’t ask for it, so I didn’t give it to her and she went happily to bed.  I was thrilled and hoped it would continue.  The next night she asked for it as my husband and I were leaving the room and we just ignored it.  She asked again a few times and I would just say something else to distract her, or sing her a favorite song, or give her a little stuffed animal to sleep with.  There was a little crying in some of the nights following, but nothing too major.  After this we never looked back, and said goodbye to the PACI!!!  I was so ecstatic I might even have proceeded to do a little “BYE-BYE-BYE” dance on my way out of the room, well ok not every night.

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14) Feeling that special bond.  You’ll see once you become a parent that ‘that special bond’ you always hear about doesn’t always happen right away.  Maybe for some it does.  Of course you love them unconditionally right away, that goes without saying.  But as a first time mom, I remember feeling so much worry and emotion at the same time and that can take you over.  You just want to make sure you are doing all the right things for your new baby.  But as the days, weeks, months, years etc. go on you will have those special moments that make everything completely worth it.   You will fall more and more in love with your child as time goes on.  I can still remember the first time Juliette really smiled at me, genuinely laughed at something I did the first time, the first time she ran over to me to just give me a hug, the first time she reached out to hold my hand; the first time she said “I love you.”  There are so many special things that will make you feel that bond as they grow; it’s truly a wonderful and amazing thing.

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15) Potty training success!!!!  This brings me to my very last thing, as it the most recent thing we are trying our best to conquer.  I’m learning there is no real magic spell to get your child to start peeing in the potty.  There are many methods and like most things as a first time parent, you try them all through trial and error.  Different methods work for different children and at all different ages too.  Potty training takes a LOT of patience, routine, perseverance, cleaning products, and happy dances…oh and in my daughter’s case- STICKERS!!  After trying various methods, the one that worked was an intense 15-minute rotation onto the potty and using pull-ups for a few weeks straight and then she finally started to get it.  Something started to click and we would all get super excited and reward her with a sticker immediately after, and now she knew what was up.  We’ve now worked up to about every 30 minutes or so, and sometimes she even tells me when she has to.  We still miss some here and there, still haven’t had any poop in that potty yet, and we have tried underwear a few times which didn’t go so well.  So my hope is that in a few more months is that she will be fully potty-trained…fingers crossed!!!  Again it takes a lot of patience, just like most things in parenting do.

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Parenthood is a very long and winding road, but it is filled with many memorable milestones, so be sure to appreciate them as the years go by.  Any other Mommy Milestones you can think of for this stage that I might have missed?  Or any extra special ones we might have to look forward to?  Leave it in the comments, for now happy parenting!!!   ~J

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I always considered myself a “healthy” eater.  I am not picky and truly enjoy most foods, but months back I started to think… I am really that healthy of an eater as I think?…and moreover, do we all really EAT to LIVE or do we LIVE to EAT?  This could be a very hot topic to digest (literally and figuratively).  I am sure we’d all love to say that we ‘eat to live’ that we basically eat to get through our day, it is our fuel and we need it to survive, so we all only eat when we are hungry, right???  WRONG!

Food can be in a word…comfort!  No matter how you cut, slice or dice it, eating yummy food makes you feel good, sometimes too good that we ignore that inner voice that says “STOP” OR “I’M FULL” or “THIS WILL GO RIGHT TO YOUR SPARE TIRE.”  We’ve all been there, eating that extra cookie, having that second helping, snacking on something while we watch our favorite show or movie, surrendering to that late night craving, or even heating up something quick or ordering food for dinner because its easy, but not really ‘the best for you.’

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A little after my daughter Juliette turned one, I started to think a whole lot more about food, and how I always make sure my daughter has the proper food, nutrients and vitamins, so why am I not doing that for myself?  Why not???  This led to the “Top Ten Reasons Why We Need to be More Like a Baby” entry I wrote right before Christmas (https://juliettesworldblog.wordpress.com/2012/12/19/top-ten-reasons-why-we-need-to-be-more-like-a-baby/).  That entry was not completely dedicated to food, however it really made me rethink why I eat the way I eat, or really it made me start to think about that dreaded word… “DIET!”

I am NOT a fan of the word DIET.  Now I know some people call it a “lifestyle change,” but I am not really a fan of that phrase either, it’s such a cliché to me.  I prefer the phrases “healthy living” or “eating healthy.”  Whatever you want to call it, you have to be truly ready and committed to go on a diet, and I never really realized that before.  You have to remember that this comes from a girl whom when she was younger couldn’t gain an ounce if I tried!!!  I know, I know, I hate me too when I look back and think about it, because oh how I wish that still were the case!

I understand that every body type is different and growing up I was often made fun of because I was very tall and very thin, almost too thin…in other words, the good ol’ days, haha!  Luckily, after puberty kicked in I got a bit more of a shape to me than just skin and bones, but still could pretty much eat whatever I wanted and not gain an ounce. I should have cherished that time in my life much more when it was around!  I could eat a whole bag of salt and vinegar chips and not feel bad about myself or grossly bloated afterwards.  Granted, I was also very active and very athletic in those days, always participating in a sport.  Even in college when I was forced to give up track due to an injury, I didn’t even gain the dreaded “freshman 15.”  However, you metabolism does change into your 20’s and even more so as you get older.

What kicked started this weight gain?  Well, it wasn’t baby weight.  In the summer of 2009, I had two foot surgeries only two months apart, one on each foot and something bad happened to me…I GAINED WEIGHT!!!  I had to be off my feet for a while after each surgery, so my metabolism slowed way down, plus with no real movement going on for many weeks at a time you can’t really burn anything off…at all!!  To top it off I went on a cruise after one of the surgeries and definitely splurged on the lavish menu options.  So, by the end of 2009, even though I had recovered from my foot surgeries I did start to notice my pants were all a little bit tighter.  At this point though, my husband and I happily decided to work on expanding our family, so I thought, “hey its ok if my waistline expands a little too, I should be pregnant soon,” right?  WRONG!!!  At about the 6-month point after trying to have a baby and having not succeeded yet, I started to get down on myself about my increased weight and my lack to reproduce as of yet.

By the end of the summer in 2010 I decided it was time for a change, I started to exercise much more and eat much better, healthier foods.  Then, just as I was starting to lose weight and not worry about my ovulation cycle, a wonderful thing happened that made me forget all about the scale…I GOT PREGNANT!  At this point, I WAS OVERJOYED!!! (you can read all about my 11 month process of getting pregnant here https://juliettesworldblog.wordpress.com/2012/08/26/11-months-later-and-we-are-pregnant-or-are-we-get-the-digital-testand-get-a-new-obgyn)

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I gained a total of 35 pounds while pregnant and actually taking off the baby weight afterward wasn’t the hard part.  Thanks to breastfeeding and the life of a busy first time mom I lost all of the baby weight very easily after only three weeks.  I wasn’t so concerned about the rest of the weight that I hadn’t taken off yet from before I had gotten pregnant, as I now had bigger things to worry about…like a new baby!  Plus, a lot happened only a few months after Juliette was born.  My husband got a new job in NJ and we quickly had to move from one state (CT) to another and started looking for a new house.  I also became a stay-at-home mother, and your life changes in many ways when that happens.  Anyway I am straying from the point.

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I started to realize last summer that I needed to lose some weight when some of my clothes got so tight that they didn’t even fit anymore.  I actually had to go to the stores and buy bigger clothes and this was the first time in my life that I DID NOT ENJOY SHOPPING!  When this happened I realized that I needed to start working out much more.  In addition to that, anyone who knows me well enough knows how much I love to take pictures, and once my daughter was born, this got even worse as most pictures were of her.  When I did see myself in some of the photos, I began to not like how I looked as much.  Of course I felt much bigger than I was, and because I am very tall, I carry my weight well and many people didn’t notice…but I DID NOTICE!  And that is the most important thing, that I wasn’t losing for anyone else, I needed to lose the weight for MYSELF!  I started to notice that no matter how much I exercised something had to be done.  To top it off, I recently learned that I had a mild case of scoliosis in my lower back, and the extra weight did not help with that problem.  I did not feel that great about how I looked or felt.   My wonderful husband always reassured that I was beautiful not matter what weight I was, and while that was lovely of him, I didn’t feel that way.  Not that a number on the scale defined me, but not feeling good about the way I was did define me.  As a woman I always wanted to exude confidence and be a great role model for my daughter.

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My breaking point came when my younger sister came to visit on Thanksgiving 2012 and I saw how wonderful she looked, she had taken off a quite a bit of weight and I was so proud of her.  She went on the South Beach Diet, which I knew a little bit about from her.  She had been on that diet before and when she lived with me for a short period of time a few years back, we had made some recipes from the book, and I had read a little bit of the book, so I had some knowledge about it.  I thought to myself, if Tara could do it, so can I! (thanks again Tar)  Luckily, she had left the South Beach Diet book with me and one day after I had really had enough, I ended up reading it probably 3 or 4 times in a row and came to a decision…it was time, I finally admitted it to myself that MOMMY NEEDS TO GO ON A DIET!!!

Of course coming to this conclusion with Christmas just a few weeks away I thought it might be too difficult.  I didn’t want to miss out on Christmas cookies, or be that annoying person at the holiday get parties who couldn’t eat certain things because they were “on a diet.”  So I decided to only loosely follow the diet and still splurge for holiday things…then after the New Year, (January 2 to be exact) I would totally and completely surrender and start myself strictly onto the South Beach Diet.

If you want to know more about my journey of dieting Part 2 of this “dieting” entry will be up very shortly.  I will tell you, that this diet is one of the best things I have ever done for myself!  What I realized so much more than anything else is that being on a diet is way more mental than anything else!  You have to truly be willing to surrender yourself and follow a strict regimen and NOT to stray from it.  Exercise was a part of this too, but I had already conquered that many months ago, which is why I began the diet, it was the missing link because I wasn’t seeing all the results I wanted from just exercising.  So…if you are at all curious about how much weight I lost, how I did it, stuck to it and any pratfalls in between, I’ll meet you at Part 2!!

“It’s not how much you eat, it’s what you eat.”

To read Part 2 click here: https://juliettesworldblog.wordpress.com/2013/05/29/mommy-on-a-diet-part-2-of-3/

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Happy New Year!!!  Even though it’s now March, I think it’s a safe bet that we are all still getting used to writing “2013” when we write the date, well I know I am anyway.  I did want to get this entry back in January, but honestly I had a real hard time fitting it in, not just because of the busy life of a mom, wife, human being, etc., but also because I was on a DIET for the first time in my life, which took up A LOT of my time, but more on that later in the entry.

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Now, (I feel like there should be a drum roll here, ha-ha) here is that blog I have been working on that some might consider a little controversial.  To all you MOMs, MOM-to-be’s, those who want to be a MOM one day, (even dads, parents, or if you’re just a little curious), here it is…THE UGLY TRUTH!

Before I dive into that, I would like to explore a bit why it is called the ugly truth?  I never really liked that terminology, because what makes the truth so ugly?  I consider myself to be a very honest and truthful person, and you know what?  NOT EVERY ONE IS, and that’s ok, some people are not quite as blunt as I can be because they believe perhaps that the TRUTH hurts.  I have gotten in trouble here and there for being so honest, so you do have to watch it.  However, I also believe that the other saying is true too “the truth shall set you free.”  While the truth does hurt, sometimes it is just what the doctor ordered!  I do not expect everyone to be the same as myself, nor am I saying it is the best way to go, but I do believe that I wished someone had told me about not only the millions of WONDERFUL things about being a Mom, but also the truly UGLY things about being a Mom.  So here goes, I hope this truth is not too ugly for my readers out there…

Here is what i believe to be The hardest (ugliest) things about being a MOM:

You will be saying goodbye to:

  • Your free/alone time
  • Sleep and showers, as they become a luxury
  • Having time to eat/cook/bake
  • Staying up late
  • Exercising
  • Having time to clean like you used to
  • Having time to put on makeup/groom yourself
  • Making the time for you and your husband/significant other
  • Saying goodbye (pun intended), as its very hard to leave your child, even when you do they are now always first in your thoughts

Not that the above things are impossible to do, you find a way to work them into your schedule, that is unless you haven’t passed out from sheer exhaustion.  But, you do become creative and find a way to (as Tim Gunn would say) “make it work.”

Plus, in my experience, these things become much easier after the first two months…you then have a window of time between from about 2 months until they start moving where you start having some new ugly truths.  Once they start crawling and walking, which for my daughter she was crawling at 7 months and walking at 10 months, you have a whole slew of new things to worry about.  You have now moved onto the next stage, the mobile stage (or the nervous wreck stage if you were like me).

You will be worrying about:

  • Them falling constantly
  • If you baby-proofed everything well-enough (and trust me NO ONE ever does)
  • Where did they get that bruise?
  • You mean I can’t use the play-pen/yard as much as I did before because they want to explore?
  • When will they stop being so wobbly?
  • Where did they get that piece of food they just put in your mouth (you will be cleaning your floors A LOT more)
  • Some days you want to just drop from being so tired of chasing them around, or saying “no” or “not for babies” for the hundredth time

Now, these worries also get much easier as they become more stable on their feet and learn their boundaries.  It’s funny how we all as parents are sooo eagerly waiting for our children to become mobile, (I was one of them too) but once they do, IT’S ALL OVER.  Free time again becomes even more diminished, but just like everything else in life…you learn, you grow, you adapt right along with them.  Seeing them in any type of pain is a very difficult thing to deal with as well.  Not to mention just how awful it is when they are sick and/or you don’t know what’s wrong with them too.  But, once these things subside (they don’t ever fully go away, but they do get better) you really begin to enjoy everything much more again.  They start talking even more and doing all sorts of things that just make you happy, and sometimes yes they do make you crazy as well.

Another ugly truth?  Well, as a proud parent we sometimes like to brag about our child.  So, here is my little bit of boasting, I am very proud to admit that Juliette can walk, run, skip, dance and gallop at 19 months old.  I feel like she says a new word almost daily lately, she has even started to say phrases, I am waiting for her first real sentence soon.  She knows all of her letters, how old she is, most of her body parts, and now we are working on numbers, shapes, and colors.  She even knows some songs and animals sounds…remember you are talking to a former teacher here who is her Mommy.  But, I will also admit that we are currently trying to get her off the pacifier, which is proving to be a VERY difficult task.

This now brings me to the much happier side, the most beautiful things about being a Mom/parent.  I will tell anyone who has asked me about motherhood, “it is the best thing I have ever done in my life, but also the HARDEST thing I have ever done in my life.”  The rewards and the benefits definitely outweigh the tough times.  So, just try to keep in mind if you are having a rough moment about your child or children no matter what the age, “this too shall pass.”

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Here’s my favorite list…

THE TOP TEN MOST WONDERFUL THINGS ABOUT BEING A MOM:

1)   HOW you feel when you child looks into your eyes and smiles because they are happy to see you

2)   How you feel from watching your husband play with your daughter as he falls more and more into being a father everyday

3)   How you feel when your child accomplishes something/anything for the first time, whether it be getting their first tooth or saying “thank you” (sounds more like “tank tuuu” from Juliette as she said it this week for the first time)

4)   How you feel from just thinking about your child

5)   How you feel having some peace and quiet when they are quietly and blissfully asleep J

6)   How you feel when you hire a babysitter (outside your family) and feel comfortable leaving them with someone you trust, that’s was a BIG step for me

7)   How you feel when you make them/hear them laugh

8)   Hearing them say “Mama” for the first time

9)   Realizing that you didn’t know anything about being a parent until it actually happened to you

10)  Realizing how you life is now forever changed for the better because of them

And the truth is here that I could go on and on and on about the joyous things, the hard things, the scary things, and so much more, and I know this list will only increase as my daughter and my family grows.

One thing I know for certain is you will love the child more than life itself as soon as you feel them kick inside of you for the first time.  I’d like to say it all gets easier with certainty, but it probably won’t.  What I do know (as I previously wrote) is that the benefits outweigh any of the hard things that happen, and you will adjust.  Like this blog is so aptly titled, it’s now purely “Juliette’s World” and I just live in it.

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One last little confession here, earlier in this entry I wrote about how I was on a diet, the first diet I’ve ever been on and I’m going to save all the information about that until my next entry.  Until then, I will leave you with my take on the answers to these questions I asked many of the readers, my friends, and family in order to come up with this entry.  Thanks girls 🙂

What is the hardest thing about being a Mom? Wondering if you are doing the right thing for your child

What is the best/your favorite thing about being a Mom? Everything

What do you wish you could have more of now that you are a Mom? Free time

What were you most surprised about now that you are a Mom? That I would constantly be infected with the syndrome I now call “Mommy-brain”

Do you want more kids? Yes

MOM-to-be’s (here I thought of myself when I was a Mom-to-be): What are you most excited about? Seeing and holding my child for the first time

Is this your first pregnancy? Yes, Juliette was my first pregnancy

What are you most afraid of (if anything)? I couldn’t think of anything here

Those who want to be a MOM (hopefully) someday: Why do you want to be a Mom? (For these questions I just had to think about when I knew I wanted to be a mom, which was pretty much always, truly it was)  I believe I was born to be a mother; it’s as simple as that

How many children do you think you want? We know we want at least two kids, maybe three, but we will see how we feel after two

What are you most excited about or afraid of as/once that day comes near? I was most excited about being able to have my own child, as many people cannot.  I was afraid of giving birth a little, but just looked forward to end result, giving birth to my beautiful daughter. 

Until next time, hope you guys enjoyed THE UGLY TRUTH!!!

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~J

“When a child is born, so is a mom.”  -Carter’s commercialImage

So imagine this…you think you are a super-cool and super-organized Mom (perhaps using “super” now makes me so very uncool, hmmm…oh well).  You think you have everything with you as you get in the car before you leave your house: a fully stocked diaper bag, your purse, sippy cup, snacks, water bottle, coupons, shopping lists, and (you would think, most importantly) your DAUGHTERbut there is another very important item that I am missing here!!!  I go to start the ignition and I am missing my…KEYS!!!  Yes, I forgot my keys and had locked myself out of the house with my baby!!

Has this happened to you?  Well, before I became a mother this NEVER happened to me, I actually was that super-organized, not to mention a much less forgetful, person.  I was that person who always had everything anyone needed, and more.  Hey, I was a Girl Scout after all, and our motto was,  “Be Prepared,” and up until I became a Mom, actually scratch that…up until I became pregnant, I was a very together person.  This has all changed now!

I always prided myself in my organization, my to-do lists, and my great balance.  I was an athlete growing up, very flexible, and I was barely ever hurt.  I would forget things every now and then (like anyone else did), but I was not a klutz…nor was I completely absent minded.  I had my “blonde” moments and could be a little ditzy from time to time, but well, if you have been pregnant before I am sure we can all say an “AMEN” together when you hear the term “BABY BRAIN.”  Sometimes it is also referred to as either, “pregnant brain,” or “Mommy brain.”

As I have mentioned before, when I was pregnant I was a teacher.  As I got further and further along in my pregnancy, I suddenly noticed myself making quite a few mistakes inside the classroom.  So, instead of making an excuse to my students I began to blame my mistakes and forgetfulness on my newly found (or lost) “pregnant brain.”  It actually became a running joke in my classroom, any time I had some weird “brain fart” or error, especially at the white-board, I would look at the students shake my head and they would say, “pregnant brain!” and I would nod my head, smile, and throw my hands up in the air.

At home, my husband started to see a whole new side of me too, besides wanting to go to bed at 6:30 p.m. and hibernate (like that of a bear), I began running into things constantly, slipping, getting strange bumps and bruises all over my body.  I can’t even tell you how many times he would ask me, “Jess, are you ok?”  or “what did you do now?” and I would say, “oh yeah hunny…I just it’s just my pregnant brain.”

Think this might stop after you’ve had your baby???  THINK AGAIN!!  It does not stop, actually it gets worse, because now your pregnant brain has magically turned into “Mommy Brain” or “Baby Brain.”  Besides the lack of sleep and free time from the start of being a Mom, or a parent for that matter, you slowly start to lose your mind.

So, here is a TOP 10 list of what BABY BRAIN has done to me (as it has slowly taken over my body over almost the past two years…from pregnancy to the present, as Juliette is now 14 months). 

1)   Losing my keys for the first time- When Juliette was only about a month old, I couldn’t find my keys.  Instead of making a big fuss over it, I used my extra set and didn’t fret about it.  About 30 minutes later we had arrived at our destination.  As I went to get Juliette out of the car, I discovered something very odd…MY KEYS on THE ROOF?!  They were stuck on the roof rack on top of the car right above the car door near her car-seat side…how did they stay on top of the car that whole time???  I haven’t a clue, but either way it saved me a lot of time and money.  Note to self: Next time you get your child out of their car-seat, do not temporarily place your keys on top of the car!

2)   Getting Lost- While driving home from work one day, very tired and pregnant, I got so dazed out I missed the same exit that I took home everyday for almost four years!  The funny thing is that I didn’t realize this until 6 more exits passed!

3)   Slipping on the Ice– On one cold wintery day while exiting the car ( I think I had just entered into my second trimester) it happened to be very slippery out and, even though I was wearing boots, I slipped and nearly did a split, and skinned my hand and wrist.  Not a hard enough fall where I was worried about my belly, but hard enough where I got a little shook up and switched to better gripped boots for the rest of the winter.

4)   Colliding with a student- Monitoring the hallways during the change of classes ifs always a part of any middle-school teacher’s job.  So, once the bell would ring I would waddle over and stand in the small crevice between the hallway and my classroom door so I didn’t get plowed into as I watched the students pass by.  One day, while I was doing this, I heard something behind me, stepped forward and turned my head to make sure everything was ok.  Just then- BOOM…I was hit by the student carrying all of their books!  As their books fell and the student quickly saw my face, she abruptly apologized.  I was getting pretty big at this point, I think about 6 or 7 months along and even though I played it off like I was fine, I did feel a tiny little pain in my belly.  I called the doctor on my way home and they told me I was probably fine, but if I was worried I could stop by.  OF COURSE, I STOPPED BY.  After being hooked up to a monitor to check the baby’s heartbeat, crisis was averted and all was fine.

5)   Ankle hit #1– (right ankle) One day over my due date and VERY restless and uncomfortable, I decided to go on a walk with the dogs, my Mom, and my husband.  I hadn’t even gotten out of my parents driveway when my ankle turned out and I fell right down onto my butt.  No bumps or bruises this time, just very shaken up, and a very twisted ankle.  That’s all I needed, I just wanted my baby to be delivered, and now I had a huge swollen ankle, which makes it even harder to walk around.  I had to wear an ace bandage and ice it very often up until Juliette came, which was just three days later.

6)   Ankle hit #2 & #3- Juliette was about six months old when I walking down the stairs with her on one arm and my purse and diaper bag on the other, when I slipped!  Of course all I worried about was my baby, so I protected her as I stumbled down 4 stairs and landed on my bottom, but definitely sprained left my ankle.  Juliette was fine as can be, but after a trip to the doctor and I learned I did sprain my left ankle and had to wear a brace for almost a month, at least I didn’t have to use crutches.  I was still able to walk, just with a limp for a while.  Ankle hit #3- You think I would’ve learned my lesson at this point!  After my left ankle was just about healed, I was walking down the stairs, thankfully alone this time, but of course carrying two bags, and fell down the same stairs again!  This time it was VERY bad, I could barely move my right ankle and I had never seen it so swollen.  Another doctor’s visit later, I had a new brace, lot of icing to do…and oh yeah crutches this time too!!!  How do you take care of a baby with crutches?  You become just like them, you are stumbling, kneeling, and even crawling a lot, plus you get lots of help from family, thankfully.  The very LONG week of crutches was NOT fun or easy in any which way!  Believe it or not my right ankle is still swollen to this day!  I STILL have to ice it sometimes, as the doctor said I jammed this one up very badly and it could take up to 8-12 months to fully heal.  However, I have a feeling that this right ankle won’t ever be the same.

7)   A Pain in the neck…and back– I strained my neck so badly on Mother’s Day…(yup on my first Mother’s Day) when I had turned around very quickly to see what Juliette was doing behind me.  This was a mistake, my neck was strained so bad that I could barely keep it straight all day, let alone move it to the right side, and it took about two weeks to recover from that.  Then, just a few weeks ago, I once again strained it while rocking Juliette to sleep.  Just to top it off, again last week (NO BABY INVOLVED THIS TIME) I was just lying down in bed when I moved, not even quickly this time, to grab my glass of water and again strained it!  The back issues have not been fun either.  They have been there for the past four years or so, having to bend for most things, (because as most tall people know, the world is not created for tall people…or short people for that matter…it’s made for average sized people).  The lower back pain got so bad while I was at the end of my pregnancy I had to wear a back brace.  Just recently, I really strained it again bending over to pull the sheet off of Juliette’s crib.  While heating pads and ice did help slightly, a very necessary chiropractor appointment was made…but more on that issue in another entry.

8)   Forgetting to put on deodorant– Once on my way to work when I was pregnant, I realized I forgot to put on deodorant.  Luckily, I had an extra one in my desk, which I quickly put on before the students arrived.  Much later on, after rushing out of the house when Juliette was only about four months old, we were on our way to a party when I realized that I once again forgot to put on deodorant!  So, we had to make a pit stop for me to get some deodorant at CVS.  Which I now proudly keep in my glove compartment, thanks to the advice from my husband.

9)   Losing my sandal at Walmart- it was almost the end of September, and I always hold onto my  sandals as long as I possibly can before getting into closed toe shoes.  I was running some errands with the little one and when my flip-flop broke!  This was not just any old flip-flop either, it was one of my favorite (not to mention expensive) pairs, my Fit-Flops!  So, there I was dragging my foot along the aisles of Walmart, looking for the shoe section.  I ended up having to buy some imitation Converse sneakers and wear them out of the store.  I have to admit, I am not one who embarrasses easily, but for some reason this one really did embarrass me.

10)  LOCKED OUT OF THE HOUSE– This brings me to the start of my entry, when I had locked my baby and myself out of the house.  Jumping through the back window, which was very high might I add, even for a girl who is 6 feet tall, was no easy task.  It was the middle of August, and as I wrote at the beginning, I thought I had everything with me!  But, I got into the car and what was I missing, MY KEYS!  I called my husband in a panic, who (if he had to, he could have drove home) but it wouldn’t be for at least 2 hours (one hour to get out of work, and another hour to drive home)…did I really want to waste the money and call a locksmith??  No, instead I remembered that I may have a left one of the back windows unlocked…of course it wasn’t the one connected to the deck, that would’ve been too easy!  It was the highest one on the side of the house in the back.  So, after stacking up three chairs and a small table on top of each other I got that window open and slipped in (and when I mean slipped I mean bumped, bruised and jumped…err, skidded through the window).  Juliette is watching this all go down in the backyard perfectly content in her stroller playing with her teether keys and babbling to herself…probably saying, “Mommy did you have a brain before I was born?”  This was the worst set of purple and red bruises I’ve had since I was 9 and had fell over a fence.  These bruises took weeks to heal, and were quite painful, it’s now October and one of them is still going away!

So, there you have it!  A list of all my LITERAL ups, downs, accidents, bumps, bruises, etc. over the past two years due to the joy of motherhood (well that’s what I am blaming anyway).  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it…because everyone falls down, even those who are not Moms!

 “When real people fall down in life, they get right back up and keep on walking.” –Carrie of Sex and The City, from the one of my favorite (and I think one of the most beloved) episodes, “The Real Me,” (Season 4) where Carrie becomes ‘fashion road-kill.’

when I was only a mere 15 weeks along

Just a few days ago Juliette became 13 months old, and I find myself still in disbelief that my little baby could be actually over 1 year now.  Should we still be counting the months at this point?  It seems like most people do when it comes to pregnancy and babies.  Actually with pregnancy you count weeks, and unless you’ve been pregnant before, when most people ask, “how far along are you?” you tell them by the weeks, not months.  However, I soon found out that you had to convert those weeks into the amount of months for the everyday person.

Looking back on the long road it took to get pregnant, and then how it finally happened, it seemed like such a dream to me.  I was full of a fantastic bliss during those first few weeks that I found out I was pregnant.  I was living on cloud nine for quite some time, just beaming with smiles.  I was teaching at the time, and I found that the pregnancy even gave me a newfound patience with my trying and troublesome homeroom class at the time.  I was about 6 weeks along when I found out, and I only told close friends and family members, before we decided to announce it to the world at that safe 12-week mark.  It was December and all the lovely Christmas songs, décor, and shopping was in the air.  Just in time for the holidays, I did, however, start to get some of those dreaded first trimester symptoms that pregnancy brings on.

First off, I had to switch from my comforting and awakening morning tea in my handy little to-go cup (for my hour long drive to work) to a can of coke…the only thing that seemed to help my unsettled stomach.  Parts of my body, (and ladies you know which parts these are), were already bigger and swollen, which lead to no more button fly pants and more elastic ones until all maternity clothing started.  Then there was the appetite and change in food.  Since I was young I can remember, whether pregnant or not, most people relied on those every handy saltine crackers to be the cure for that nauseas stomach, especially that one you get during your first trimester (and not just in the morning, though that did seem to be the worst time of day for it).  Of course, in my case, (because it never seems  to be that easy for me), saltines were not the cure, they actually made me feel more nauseated.

I tried to eat whatever I could hold down for breakfast, usually some type of dry cereal and then I would head to work not feeling too hot, and still hiding my growing tummy from everyone at work (except my closest teacher friend my principal).  Let me tell you…it was not easy hiding it from my other fellow coworkers or my 140 students or so, who began to ask why I always had coke now in the morning, and why started to chew gum from time to time.  I had heard somewhere that gum could help with that sour stomach and for me, it did.  Cinnamon flavored Trident was now my new best friend.  But, when you teach at a catholic middle school (that doesn’t allow gum for its students) and one of the teachers suddenly starts to chew it, the students will notice, as they usually notice everything!  My explanations?  Well as for the coke, it gave me that extra caffeine I needed to get me through my early mornings.  Explaining the gum was pretty funny, I told the students that it was a special prescription from my doctor for a dental gum condition I had, which also explained my late arrivals and/or early leaving some days for those many OBGYN appointments and blood work you need during that first trimester.  They actually bought this idea, and even asked me how my mouth was and if I was going to need surgery, ha-ha…silly kids.

I was still having lots of trouble subsiding my churning stomach though, as I wasn’t a puker at all, but wished I were for once, just to have some relief…I just always felt like I was going to puke.  Then on an absurd day, right around Christmastime, on one of our last days before our vacation we had our annual Christmas party with our sister elementary school.  On this day, we had snack time with the student visitors.  For this, we always passed out juice and animal crackers, which I hadn’t had much of since I was a kid myself, but now all of the sudden they looked better to me than any other food I could possibly think of!  So, as we began passing out the snack, I grabbed myself a few of these sweet crackers, and even had some apple juice to boot….and wow!!!  Who knew that a second graders snack would be my new cure for my rumbly tummy.  I felt like a new person!  That same weekend, my husband dashed off to BJ’s and bought me any economy-sized tub of animal crackers.  I kept a stash of those crackers on my nightstand, in my purse, in the car, in my desk at work…it got so bad that I began to pop those lovely little crackers as much as my favorite TV doctor, Gregory House, popped his vicodin pills.

What’s even stranger, is that throughout my pregnancy I seemed to revert to the many simple foods I loved as a child.  Grilled cheeses, anything with eggs (egg salad, eggs over easy…which I used to call “dippy eggs,”) an English muffin with peanut butter, mac’ and cheese, French fries, white grape juice, Jell-O, and many others…it was quite funny.  I craved many carbs, veggies, and fruit in the beginning too…so dinner was quite challenging as I could not eat any meat or fish throughout my first four months of pregnancy.  I also loved all things bitter…especially those with vinegar.  Bigger meals were very hard, as just a salad of fruit or greens, or some pasta didn’t seem to fill me up very much.  One night I even fell apart crying on the kitchen floor as I was so hungry, and couldn’t figure out what to eat, (besides an animal cracker or bread), that didn’t make me sick.  I think my husband was getting tired of it too, because even though he would try to make his own dinner, but it was so bad that I couldn’t take the smell of any meat either, so I would either brave the cold outside to get away from the smell, but he wouldn’t have that as I was carrying his unborn child, so he stopped cooking the meat as well.  Speaking or smells…oh good God the smells when I pregnant!  I will have to save that for another entry, because it was very, very bad…so bad, I think I am still going through it.

Soon though, that 12-week mark came and I was able to announce it to my students and the whole school at the Monday morning assembly that I was preggers!  It was very cute, they all clapped and cheered for me.  As that week went on, many of 8th graders were like “I knew it,” and some of the girls tried to call me “Mama,” which I politely told them “please do not do that, I am not your Mama,” (seriously? NO!).  A few teachers even said they had a hunch I was ‘with child,” as I came in many mornings looking quite green.

Then soon, after many food mishaps, my nausea eventually started wearing away by the 4th month, and I was able to slowly start eating more food again, like meat, especially hot dogs, I seemed to love hot dogs…so hot dog day every Wednesday at school was something to look forward to!  Throughout my whole pregnancy though, I could not eat any beef or eggplant…and so I began to wonder, would I ever be able to eat those things again?  All things considered though, I didn’t have it too bad with the food part of it, I have heard about woman who had it much worse…and the nausea did subside.  After all, I did only actually vomit once, but always had the feeling like I was going to in that first trimester.

Luckily, after I gave birth I was able to eat beef again, and any and everything I used to eat after a few weeks  I could even drink alcohol again (after all those breastfeeding mishaps and having to give that up, I needed a good stiff drink).  I really thought too, that I would miss alcohol much during my pregnancy.  I remember toward the end, I would occasionally miss a glass of wine, or a nice cold margarita in the summer.  And oh gosh, how I could’ve used a nice strong mixed drink toward the end of the last trimester due to all those horrible aches and pains at the end…but more on that at another time too.

Now, I can proudly say that Juliette is officially over a year, or 13 months to be exact…and we are both very healthy eaters.  She even started to spoon-feed herself yesterday, which is still very much a learning process, and very messy one at that.  Plus, while Juliette has that cute little baby potbelly and oh-so squeezable thighs, while I am still trying getting rid of the last little bits that are left of mine.  She is a very good eater, not at all picky and loves cheese (just like her Mama) and bananas too.  The challenges of eating don’t change though, as once you are post-preggers, you will have to restrict yourself to not overindulge.  You will once again feel bad about those McDonald Frappe runs and Baby Ruth bars that felt like a wonderful sweet indulgence and were “OK” while pregnant, but not so much post pregnancy.  At least now though you can have that nice glass of wine or a margarita again (or whatever drink you so desire).  And trust me, you will need that drink once those minutes of the day have worn you down and your baby is soundly asleep (if, hopefully, they do sleep well)…at that point you can put your feet up and have that nice relaxing drink, if you can still stay up by the end of the day.

In conclusion, whether you count months, years, days, minutes, etc…just know that while its hard to figure out what you can eat while that little one is growing inside you, it all goes back to normal.  Your baby and you will be able to eat as much or as little as you need…even when you are still craving something unusual like a peanut butter cheesecake (thanks Lisa) on your daughter’s  Lucky 13th month birthday.

and so the spoon-feeding begins

Any funny cravings (pregnant or not) or weird pregnancy food choices you had?  What about your baby?  Please share on the comments below if you’d like…

very proud of herself =)
(so is her Mommy)

Got milk???

Ahhh the joy of spending $30 a pop on a tub of formula…did we really have a choice in the matter though?  Actually we didn’t after a rough first 8 weeks with Juliette.  It’s a great debate…formula vs. breastmilk, and I have to admit I believed that breast was best.  My daughter did get breastfed at least for a little while, not as long as I had hoped, but there was reason for that.

Let’s back up a bit here, I believe in a woman’s right to choose in many ways.  Now, I am not going to go out on a limb (like Mr. Bloomberg did) and decide to take away formula from any place, but I will say that choices are there and they are made for a REASON, not just for convenience.  Unto the whole nursing issue, I was so very excited preparing for all of the things motherhood brought upon me, and one of the most important things was my ability to breastfeed (and my bigger cup size too might I add).

When I first started to breastfeed Juliette it was not easy as I had hoped, but I told myself that it was going to be ‘ok,’ I wasn’t expecting it to be.  A nipple-shield helped a lot at first, especially with that precious “liquid-gold” colostrum that comes in those first few days.  Then, as the milk came in, the shields were used less as Juliette latched on much better.  Unfortunately though, this is not where the story ends.  I so wish I was like one of those women who easily popped their baby on their boob and delightfully fed them on each side.  I envied those women!!  This was not the case for me…the first problem was, Juliette never seemed full, and was also quite colic after almost a week at home with us, especially at feeding time.  After one very worried trip to the ER, many pediatrician appointments, a meeting with a lactation consultant, and joining La Leche League, I began to also pump my milk.  They all agreed that, most likely, our somewhat discontented newborn wasn’t getting enough milk or and when she was, she wasn’t getting it fast enough.  Every new mom will learn that all babies lose weight once they come home from the hospital, but she wasn’t gaining any and loosing too much.

I admit that it was frustrating, (not to mention those very, very sore and leaky nipples to boot), and I was quite worried and felt somewhat inadequate.  But, I would not be defeated!!!  So, after her feedings, I would pump, then hydrate, try my best to replenish my insatiable hunger, and by the time this process was done I was left with maybe 15 minutes or perhaps 25 minutes, (if I was lucky), before her next feeding.  So, there I was exhausted, feeding her directly from the breasts, then offered her some from the bottle with pumped milk (if she was still hungry), then burped her (she was a very tough burper), followed by pumping, eating/drinking for myself, and then having barely any time left to do anything for myself, like brush my hair or go to the bathroom.  Still, I was not giving up, I was determined to do this.  By her next doctor’s appointment she seemed to be getting enough now, however she had begun to spit up a lot more and was having an even harder time burping.  On top of that, she still hadn’t gained much, but (AH-HA!) something was working because she hadn’t  lost any weight!  Unfortunately though, due to the gassy, non-burping and constantly spitting up baby Juliette had become after just a few weeks, they suggested changing my diet.  So, I gave up dairy first, which wasn’t too bad.  My husband stocked us up with many new types of food for my diet, after a week though, still no change, so then they suggested to try to soy free diet.  Well, I really feel very badly for anyone who can’t eat soy, because it’s in almost EVERYTHING!!  This diet was hard, but I pressed on and kept at it, sent Steve to the store almost daily to find something to eat that way soy free and filled me up…but still no change, and a lot more crying and spitting up.  Next up, I tried a soy and dairy free diet, this was the hardest one, but I was doing this for the better of my child, so I still didn’t give up!  Much to my chagrin though, no change with Juliette.  She was not so happy at feeding time especially, and the poor thing couldn’t keep anything down.  I went back to my regular diet and just exclusively on the breast and she would cry and cry and cry and not even want to eat.  What was happening?  Was she self-weaning already?  What did she want?  It was so hard to tell!!  Would there ever be a resolution to this?  Will I ever enjoy my new daughter?  Why can’t I just feed her my milk?  Bottle or breast is best?  Why does she cry every time she is nursing?????  So many questions and I NEEDED ANSWERS!!!

Finally, after six long and stressful weeks of this…she was diagnosed with ACID REFLUX, and with the right formula and meds, she was like a new baby!  I couldn’t believe it!!!  Why didn’t we know this before?  Apparently it is VERY common, and my younger sister and mother-in-law even had it when they were babies…who knew?  Finding the right formula and meds wasn’t easy either, and I even kept trying to sneak in my pumped breast-milk too, but every single time I did, she puked and had a sour stomach.  Plus, because as this point I was just pumping, my supply was going down.  So, I finally and unfortunately stopped breastfeeding after 8 weeks of putting my all into it!  It was very sad day for me, and I shed many tears over it, but no one could say I didn’t try, because I did everything I possibly could.  My loving husband was very supportive of the fact that I had to stop, and he was my biggest supporter through all of this.  In conclusion, I did not have a choice but to give up nursing my baby, unless I wanted to make her sick everyday…I think NOT!

I started to enjoy Juliette so much more, and from that moment on there was stress here and there, but nothing so bad that we couldn’t handle it.  Burp cloths, bibs, and wipes became my new best friends, and burping every 2 ounces was much better for my hard to burp baby.  As she became an adorably happy and, might I add, very full baby, who by her third month was in the 95th percentile for weight, and has stayed around that same mark since, we knew we did the right thing for her.

So, trust me, they made formula for a reason, not just for women who chose not to breastfeed (which if you chose that too, I have no judgment there either because breastfeeding, even if it agrees with them, is serious business), but it was also made for those babies who couldn’t be exclusively breastfed.  It was a long road, and once she started solids her acid reflux kept getting better, her spit-ups diminished, and she now loves practically all food.  Skip to the present time…today was her last day of her beloved soy formula, which took us so long to find the right one after those six weeks.  Today it’s all whole milk.  This was a 3-week milk  project, adding more whole milk and less formula every week…and I was quite nervous about it, because of all her problems feeding in the beginning, but I am happy to report that so far, so good!

So, all you new moms hear me out- DO NOT be too hard on yourself, if for whatever the reason, you can not breastfeed, because you do have choices.  I tried my very best, and still do hope to be able to breastfeed (for a longer period of time) with the next child, when that time comes.  But when that day does comes, if it doesn’t work out I am not going to be too hard on myself, because I have a very happy and healthy baby now.  And if you are successful in breastfeeding easily, congratulations to you, I am very jealous!

Got milk?  Yes, we all do, but it comes in many different shapes, forms, sizes, and brands, and yes you do have the right to choose!  Please remember that ladies, your baby’s health and happiness comes first, and don’t be too hard on yourself like I was…it’s unnecessary in the end! J

PS: Any questions about acid reflux, feel free to ask me anytime!  I had a hard time finding enough information out there about it, and while I’m no expert, I can try my best advice to help.

It’s such a fantastic and quite gleeful statement to spread around, “We are trying to have a baby!!!”  Little do you know, that statement will come back to bite you!  Trust me, it will, unless you are one of those women, and I know them too, who have an unplanned pregnancy or go off the pill and are pregnant a mere week later.  That was not I, not this time around anyway.  I’m that girl who always dreamt of having a baby and being a Mom, I believe this is one of the roles I was born to fulfill.  I’ve known this ever since I was five years old and would willingly help my Mom take care of my little sister with any of the many baby tasks.  So, Tara you are really to blame for my baby fever!  My husband always knew this about me too, as I would constantly remind him, “I need to have a baby before I am 30!”  So the moment my well-to-do and responsible husband decided we were financially secure enough to give it a go, you better believe we jumped on it, pun intended.  And although it was not as easy as I had originally thought it would be, we just made the cutoff…I was 36 weeks ‘preggers’ and just about ready to pop when I had just turned 30.

A brief back-story is needed here: I had to switch gynecologists since we had moved to a new town, and had taken a referral for a new nearby doctor, without first looking into it myself…MISTAKE!  I’ll save the whole story for another day, but I was misdiagnosed and that misdiagnosis caused much unnecessary stress to both my husband and myself for many months.

So there we were, trying for many months. I had this weird misdiagnosis, was very stressed, and after a few tearful talks with my husband, we finally stopped ‘trying’ and just went back to ‘having sex’ and ‘tried’ to stop worrying about it.  It was actually quite a relief, as I stopped charting my ovulation schedule and we just went back to our regular lives, so to speak.  The last tearful breakdown I had was somewhere around Halloween 2010, when I had thrown myself into my work and didn’t even think much about getting pregnant anymore.  Funnily enough, by Thanksgiving I noticed my sense of smell increasing : the turkey scent I always so enjoyed kind of made me nauseous.  I also had a few times on my way to work when I had to pull over and spit out some of my daily tea, plus my boobs hurt so bad I couldn’t even sleep on my stomach anymore, and on top of that my period was 10 days late.  I finally came clean about these symptoms on that 10th day to my husband,  (I didn’t tell him sooner because I didn’t want to jinx it!), and he ran to the store to get a pregnancy test!

While I was waiting, I called one of my friends who was just about to have a baby, and another friend who already had a little one.  They both were excited and said all signs pointed to yes, but they also told me, (which I already knew, but like my husband, I was just so excited!), that it was best to take those tests in the morning…something having to do with urine being easier to read in the morning.  Anyway, Steve got home and I ran to the bathroom to take the test, and I had one solidly clear pink line, and the other (as you need two lines to be pregnant) was there but it was a much lighter pink, not invisible, but not as dark as the other.  Now, I had taken these before but had never seen two, just one, so this was a good sign, right?  How were we supposed to know??  I was skeptical and gave my friends both a call back to which they both told me again all sign point to yes and to take it in the morning, however this time to take the DIGITAL test!!!  It was more expensive, but it would be worth it.  Well, Steve ran back out and we waited until morning, don’t ask me how we slept, because we didn’t get much as both of us were ridiculously smiley that whole night.

I woke up 10 minutes before my 5:00 a.m. alarm just glaring at the clock, for once gladly awaiting that sound most of us hate to wake up to.  My little mini dachshund dog, Layla, always gets up with me, she goes outside first and then I go to the bathroom.  Alarm went off and I happily threw on my coat and boots and took Layla out, I practically skipped back in and she must have known something because she was very quick outside for once.  I’ve never been so excited to pee in my whole life!!  I peed onto the strip and waited for the longest moment of my life…which led to the happiest moment of my life! (At that point, at least).  My shaking hand finally got still when that digital test read “Pregnant.”  AHHHHHHHH!!!  We, (both Layla and I), jumped into the bedroom and onto the bed to wake Steve up with the good news: it had finally happened, we were going to have a baby!!!

We were both blissful all morning and it was so hard to keep it to myself at work.  I looked for a new OBGYN online during the little bit of free time I had at work and found one I seemed to like, and called to schedule an appointment, luckily they fit me in the next day!  I called my parents that morning, as did Steve.  They were all so happy for us, and I told my sisters (who both adorably cried) and my two closest friends on my way home from work.  It was a wonderful day, as was the next when it was confirmed that next morning at my new doctor that I was in fact, scientifically and all, PREGNANT!

So, take my 4 pieces of advice if you are planning to have a baby:

1) Don’t go on and on to people about the fact that you are “trying” 

2) Find your own doctor that you can trust and feel very comfortable with

3) Be patient, I know it is hard, but some women get pregnant after a week, and for some it may take years, for me it took 11 months

4) Save yourself a lot of time and energy and take only the digital pregnancy test, as it is the most accurate…and while you are at it try to hold off and take it in the morning, because it’s the best alarm in the morning that you will ever hear!

As I watch my newly 1 year-old daughter adorably walk, or should I say stumble and stomp around the house and hand me her little Rosita toy with a huge smile on her face, I cannot help but think, has it really been over a year since I gave birth to her?  There are many, many, many huge things that happen throughout the course of someone’s life, but just like the corny Faith Hill Christmas song states, “A Baby Changes Everything,” don’t roll your eyes just yet, because it’s very, very, very true in so many ways.  We have all heard people say that, but until it happens to you, (and as much as your mother tells you), you cannot understand that statement.

We have had many ups and downs during Juliette’s first year of life.  Not only during her first year of her life do things change though, because as every mother can tell you, everything truly changes for a woman is once she actually becomes pregnant.  That’s not to say it doesn’t change for the man as well, but no offense guys, until you’ve gone through waiting for that period not to come, peeing on that stick, feeling overwhelmingly nauseated, having rock hard breasts, getting so grossed out about even the thought of raw chicken, the purely blissful feeling of that baby growing inside you kicking for the first time, or the unbearable back pain and heartburn (just to name a few)…not to mention giving birth, guys you have it easy!

Now that I’m a proud stay-at-home Mom, I have decided to start writing about the many highs and lows from pregnancy to birth and all the way through Juliette’s first year, and hopefully beyond that as well.  Since there are already so many blogs and books out there, (no offense to “What to Expect When You Are Expecting” and “What to Expect the First Year (and Second Year, etc.),” but I find it to be the most comforting when I read things written from a first hand experience perspective, in the most realistic terminology.  And what more life altering experiences are there than pregnancy and raising a child/children?  Don’t get me wrong, I have read all my “What to Expect…” books religiously so far, but what I love most is when I read something that makes me feel like I am not alone, other moms go through these same things too.  I hope that this blog will ring true and spark the same feeling in other moms or mom-to-be’s out there, because what I have found from all of my readings is that there is not enough no-nonsense narratives about the unusual situations you are bound to encounter for a first time mom.

And I have to make sure I give credit where credit is due to the people responsible for this blog.  This is dedicated to my beautiful, unique and extremely active daughter Juliette Maria Giunta, because without her this now stay-at-home Mom and former middle school English teacher wouldn’t be writing this.  And finally, a huge shout-out to my devoted and wonderful husband, Steve, whom without his love, support (and sperm might I add) none of this new life would even exist.  I hope you will enjoy reading what I would like to call “Juliette’s World.”  (cue Juliette’s beloved “Elmo’s World” theme song, if you don’t know it yet, don’t worry every new mom soon will).