Hello, friends! When you have a baby, there are 2 pieces of advice that nearly everyone who has children gives you. First, they tell you to "nap when she naps." Second, they counsel you to "cherish every moment, because they grow up so fast."
Well, I admit I have failed miserably at following the suggestion on napping. I've never been a good napper, and for the first 7 weeks or so of Beautiful Baby A's (BBA's) life, her naps were so unpredictable in terms of timing and length that I just did not get into a routine of going down when she did. Even if I was a good napper, however, I have no idea how I could have kept up with the rest of my responsibilities at home while snoozing throughout the day. Even when I was training for the Boston Marathon and a Half Ironman-distance triathlon at the same time, I never had more laundry than after having a baby due to frequent and unfortunate pee, poop and puke incidents (what I refer to as the "Deadly Triad"). Then there's writing thank yous to all of the wonderful friends and family members who blessed BBA with gifts. Shopping for food and making food - or at least trying to find a moment to eat food. Keeping the house in some semblance of order. Tending to our 10-month old puppy. Researching photographers and scheduling a baby photo shoot. Trying to put together a photo album of the photos from the baby shoot (a work-in-progress, or more accurately, a work to be started). Ordering and writing and addressing baby announcements. Trying to write in BBA's baby book (a total failure that I gave up after several weeks of horrible guilt). Hosting and entertaining family and friends who are excited to meet BBA. Oh, and trying to fit in workouts - one of my top priorities for my own physical and mental health - and launch this web site. While The Man has been an incredible help with all of these tasks, and I am immensely and eternally grateful that he switched jobs the week before BBA was born to one that has him working from home rather than his previous job in which he was out of town every week, I ultimately have only "napped when she napped" less than a handful of times in the past 9 1/2 weeks.
As for the advice on seizing the moment - carpe diem - I am trying to appreciate every single moment with BBA. Because even though some days have seemed like they have lasted for ever, it is ultimately true that the time flies so quickly, and I know that in the blink of an eye, she is going to transform from the sweet, innocent baby, who finds comfort in nestling against my breast, into the moody teenager, who (gasp!) yells at her mama "I hate you!".
Overview It is hard to believe that it has been 9 1/2 weeks since BBA entered this world, and those weeks have been filled with a series of firsts. First bath. First photo shoot. First shopping trip. First meeting of her grandparents and aunts. First "social smile" (i.e., a smile that is not caused by baby trying to relieve gas). First time jogging with the family (in her jogger stroller, of course) First road trip. First sleep through the night (just joking - I am still waiting for this one!).
Although my attempt at creating an artistic and memorable baby book failed miserably, I have diligently been writing in the Mom's One Line a Day Five Year Memory Book that I picked up at a local shop 10 days after BBA was born on her first shopping trip. There is just enough room to write a sentence or two each day about key events or happenings, and even though I have never been good at writing in a journal, I am finding it very easy to keep up with these brief entries on a daily basis (generally, in the middle of the night when I am nursing her). I know one day I will truly appreciate and cherish looking back at my writings - on the series of BBA's firsts (and seconds and thirds...) - and on my fears, trepidations and excitement about being a new mom and my deep gratitude for BBA.
Growth BBA weighed in at a healthy 7 pounds, 8 ounces at birth, and then, as is usually the case with newborns, she lost weight and dropped into the "sixes." When we visited her pediatrician for the first time after she was born, the doctor expressed minor concerns about her weight, and we were asked to come back later in the week to do another weigh check. When we went to her 2-week pediatrician visit, the doctor informed us that our primary goal for BBA between that time and our next doctor's visit (at 8 weeks) was weight gain. Perhaps BBA is like her mama, and when she is given a goal or challenge, she goes in with all she has, but through her 7th week of life, BBA nursed almost non-stop - every 2 hours (or less) around the clock. This feeding frenzy paid off, and at her 8-week pediatrician appointment, she weighed in at 12 pounds, sporting squeezable chubby cheeks, a plump belly and "fluffy" thighs that are made even more adorable by her knee dimples. Combine her healthy weight with her current hairstyle, which I have affectionately called a "Monk Mullet" because she is losing hair on the top of her head but the hair on the back and the sides is staying put and growing longer, and I think BBA looks like the modern-day, feminine version of the Buddha.
Development It really was no surprise to me that BBA was both strong and active from the start. When she was in my belly, I could feel her kicking me every night and joked that maybe she would become an Irish dancer, and from day 1 outside the belly, she was kicking and flailing her arms around almost non-stop. She also had pretty good head control from her earliest days, and she is gaining more control over her head every day, as we try to give her regular "tummy time" (which frustrates her immensely). She has not yet gained control over her arm movements, and it is sad to watch her bang herself in her head while waving her arms in the air as if she just doesn't care. Because of her constant, intense activity, we had to invest in some industrial swaddles with velcro - SwaddleMes - and yet somehow, BBA still manages to get her arms out of these swaddles at night, even though there is strong velcro designed to hold everything in. Ultimately, it is clear she does not like to be contained, a trait she gets honestly from both of her parents, and for the same reason, I am struggling to get her to enjoy time in the baby carrier (which I would greatly appreciate since it allows me to do other things while holding her - like write this blog - and also helps protect her from perpetuating the flat-head look she has started to develop). Although right now, she is sleeping in her Lillebaby Complete All Seasons carrier, so we might have turned a corner here.
Note that I have purchased, tried and returned so many baby carriers to Amazon that I feared they might divorce me as a customer. What I've learned is that baby carriers are one of the most difficult - and yet important - pieces of baby gear to "get right" - both for you and your baby. Some seemed to require a PhD in baby carrying in order to use (like the highly-acclaimed but highly-frustrating Moby Wrap). Others just did not seem to provide enough support for a newborn or position them in an ergonomically-preferred position (like the Mamaway Sling). And then there were those (like the original Baby Bjorn) that had no lumbar support for mama, which is critical after baby's weight moves into the double digits, or those that were too warm to wear in the 90-100-degree temperatures we have been experiencing for the past month.
In terms of other developmental milestones, BBA is finally (as of the past two weeks or so) sleeping much better (4-5-hour stints at a time at night), and taking naps more regularly in the morning and afternoon (who knew you had to "train" babies to take naps, even when they are completely exhausted?). She enjoys looking into lights and is good about visually following objects when you move them around. Her favorite pastime is gazing at Wee Art Cards for Baby, which are flashcards with black-and-white pictures of animals (since newborns are able to see black and white much better than other colors). She also likes to listen to mama sing and play the keyboards and has taken a particularly liking, quite strangely, to music from Tom Petty (which has given me the opportunity to teach her the important lesson that looks aren't everything). I talk to her constantly as if she understands what I am saying, and so far have "taught" her how to put on makeup ("although you won't need it for years, darling"), how to cook several meals and how to hand wash dishes ("water, soap, scrub, water").
Extended family & friends BBA has had the opportunity to meet a number of friends and family members over the past 9 1/2 weeks. Her very first visitors arrived the day after we got home from the hospital, and since then, we've had a relatively steady stream of visitors come to meet baby. Auntie Eileen came for just shy of a week in early July, providing great help to mama and dad, and Auntie Kristin and Meemaw (The Man's mom) also came to town in July, even enabling The Man and me to have a date night (of course, this sleep-deprived new mama fell asleep in the movie theater, but it was still a glorious evening out of the house!). BBA's first "road trip" took place in early August, when I packed her and our pup Bailey into the car (and more luggage, baby and dog stuff than my minimalist self could ever have imagined needing for a few days out of town) and drove to my hometown so that BBA could spend time with her Nani (my mom), and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins. We are truly blessed to have such wonderful friends, family and neighbors, and it has been nice getting to spend time with them over the past few months.
Postpartum fitness and nutrition This blog would certainly not be complete unless I spoke a little bit about my postpartum fitness and nutrition efforts. I have been incredibly lucky that despite the fact I had a C-section (BBA was breech), which is considered to be major abdominal surgery, I had a pretty easy recovery, and I never even had to take any of the pain medications prescribed to me. I healed so quickly, that at 4 weeks, my doctor gave me the go-ahead to engage in "light cardio" (including "light" jogging), and I took care to move slowly as I eased back into workouts that were more strenuous than my daily walks with the family and core exercises from Jessie Mundell's To Pregnancy & Beyond program, Lindsay Brin, Carriefit's Flat Belly System and Breaking Muscle designed to help close the slight gap I had developed along the center of my abs (a common "injury" associated with pregnancy, known as Diastasis Recti). Note that I continue to do these core exercises 3-4 days a week, as I work on building my core strength. At 6 weeks, I was cleared for "all exercise," and the timing fortunately coincided with the start of a new Women's Fit Club at my CrossFit box (CrossFit South Arlington), which takes place twice a week and is specifically geared towards pre- and post-natal fitness (and babies and children are welcome to join!). Additionally, I began swinging my beloved kettlebells again, which I missed dearly, and I am starting to get coached to train for my Russian Kettlebell Challenge kettlebell certification, which requires intense training for up to 6 months and will be my primary fitness goal as 2016 draws to a close and 2017 begins.
The Man and I have also just started going on early morning jogs with BBA and Bailey the Pup in place of our daily morning family walk sessions, as temperatures finally begin to drop a bit and our amazing Bumbleride Indie jogger stroller finally arrived at our absolute favorite baby store, Baby Blossom.
While I am engaging in daily exercise or purposeful movement, I am not following any particular nutrition plan yet. I credit my ability to return to my pre-pregnancy weight - and basically my pre-pregnancy shape - so quickly on taking care of myself during my entire pregnancy, i.e., working out regularly (on average, 5 days a week for all 9+ months) and eating well (and not necessarily "for 2"), along with almost non-stop breastfeeding (which often got in the way of allowing me to eat myself). By 4 weeks postpartum, I was back at my pre-pregnancy weight after having gained 22 pounds over the course of my nearly 10 months of pregnancy, and at 9 1/2 weeks postpartum, I am actually 5 pounds less than when I learned I was pregnant last fall. Anyway, while I am trying to generally eat a healthy, plant-based diet to provide good nutrition to BBA, I am also cognizant that I need to consume enough calories to support the two of us and not continue to lose weight, so let's just say I've had my share of sweet treats over the past few months and leave it at that. Note that BBA appears to have inherited her mama's lactose-intolerance, so dairy is a big no-no for this plant-based eater as well.
Our little family Being new parents is definitely an adjustment for a household, and when combined with too little sleep, mama's hormonal shifts, basically zero one-on-one time with your significant other, and a fleeting sense of "what the eff have we gotten ourselves into?", it can put a bit of a strain on even the best relationship. The Man and I have had a few tense moments over the past few months, but ultimately, we are really enjoying our new little family and finally settling into a new, happy normal at home. Bailey the Pup also took a little time to adjust to this new life, and he experienced jealous, older sibling syndrome in the early weeks, evidenced by him not eating much and sneaking off to "protest poop" on the rarely used 4th floor of our townhouse. He is now back to his old self and seems to really like spending time with his little sister.
So, that is a quick overview of the first few months of BBA's life and my first few months as a mama. I will check in regularly here to provide updates as the weeks and months progress - because as everyone says, they grow up so quickly, and I want to savor every single moment of the glorious life with my lovely newborn.
Until next time, be happy and healthy,
Hello, friends! I’m Kathleen, the Kettlebell Mama. Welcome to bells & peppers – a blog dedicated to all things related to fitness, nutrition and healthy living. As an athlete, trainer, nutritionist, cooking instructor, attorney, senior executive and new mom, I have learned how to balance my personal health and fitness goals with paying the bills, spending quality time with family and friends and pursuing a demanding career – without losing my mind! My goal is to inspire, empower and provide you with simple strategies to help you become your healthiest self in a balanced, realistic and sustainable way. Feel free to read more about my story here. Thanks for visiting bells & peppers!