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Author: cakebully

Maniac

Maniac

I keep seeing these inspirational quotes that say things like “you are enough” and “if Britney can make it through 2007, you can make it though today.” Admittedly, the last one makes me laugh. But to be honest, there are so many days when I feel like I am NOT enough and I may not survive to see dinner. Some people get this feeling especially during the holidays, with all the gift-buying, tradition-making, and party-going. I get this feeling in spring, during the last week of April and first week of May.

That is my busy time. Within 2 weeks, we celebrate 6 birthdays (two of which are Kirk and Reid). We are also big fans of the Kentucky Derby, and this year we are having a party. Reid will also be doing a school birthday celebration since he’s in preschool this year, which means I have 23 goodie bags to make plus a gift to buy to donate to the school. Plus the goodie bags for Reid’s birthday party, as well as food since it’s happening over lunch. Oh, and two cakes because his actual birthday is on the Derby so his party is the next day, but I couldn’t bear the thought of Reid not blowing out candles on his real birthday.

And then I need to plan out a little menu for the Derby party, make a cute hat (the reason I wanted to have the damn party to begin with), and actually cook the food. And get some booze, because Derby.

Notice how Kirk hasn’t been mentioned once? That’s because every damn year, his birthday sneaks up on me. May 1, for some reason, seems so far away until it’s April 30 and I see all those Justin Timberlake memes everywhere.


Makes me laugh every time. And then say “OH NO KIRK’S BIRTHDAY IS TOMORROW” and frantically try to pull things together. Kirk is such a thoughtful husband and seriously great gift giver that he deserves so much more than a hurried footnote on the year. But again, so many events. So many.

Part of the problem is that I am a perfectionist and people-pleaser. This means I usually throw a really good party, because I truly care about whether people have a good time, and my food and drinks are usually pretty great. There is nothing sloppy about my approach to entertaining. Just ask Kirk, who rolls his eyes everytime we have friends over for dinner and I bust out the plate chargers. But this perfectionist/people pleaser stuff also means I stress myself out pretty easily. I want all these cute Pinterest things at the Derby party, like a blind bourbon tasting, creating your own horse name, and a betting booth but I’m not sure when I’ll have time to put that together. I want to make Reid’s cake(s) from scratch but I feel like I’ll run out of time, and cakes are not meant to be half-assed. Not to mention Kirk’s birthday treats- I try to go big here, since it’s one of the only things I can do that he can’t. I’ll let you know how his tiramisu goes when I actually make it sometime in June.

Among all this, I have a few friends that have had babies, are moving, or just going through a crappy time. You won’t be surprised to hear that I show love with food, and I really want to make dinners, breakfast quiches, etc for them. It’s the kind of friend and neighbor I want to be- the kind that just shows up with some brownies because you had a bad day. But between the kids, our obligations, and everyday normal life, I am not sure when I can be this person. It kills me, because if my friends don’t have a quiche, how will they know I care?!

I’m not sure what the point of all this is. The past few days have been hard as a mother, and it’s just kicking off a long stretch of insanity. Just know that if you are feeling crazed, overwhelmed, or frantic, I  right there with you.

The Milk Bar

The Milk Bar

Spring break was last week, and while we had a great time doing some fun stuff around town, staying in pajamas until mid-morning, and playing with friends, I was pretty excited to get back to our regularly scheduled programming yesterday. Reid does pretty well with a schedule, and it’s no shocker that my super controlling, type A personality does as well. Sunday night I fell asleep with a smile on my face, dreaming of a quiet morning on Monday while Reid was at school.

Then he woke up with pink eye. No school for Reid, no peace and quiet for me.

For those of you whose children have never had it, pink eye is the worst. I mean not literally – it’s not life threatening or anything – but we now have to do eye drops 3x/day. Reid is really sensitive about things touching his eyes, ears, hair, etc. This makes haircuts REALLY fun, and eye drops fall into that category as well. I tried everything to get him to lay down willingly- bribes, taking away TV, threats, and finally sitting on him with his arms pinned to his sides with my legs. I controlled his head with my elbows and got his eye pried open with my fingers. We have to do this a total of 21 times. I told Reid if we didn’t, his eye will fall out of his head on the playground.

Fun times.

Anyway, something has been on my mind lately. When I got pregnant with Reid, I read tons of books, websites, went to classes, and got as prepared as possible. We hired a doula for the birth, and I thought that we were pretty ready. I did not prepare for breastfeeding, because I kept reading about how “natural” it is, how it’s what babies and mamas are meant to do. I didn’t even think twice about it- that’s how I would feed our new baby. I didn’t even learn to use my pump ahead of time because I didn’t think I’d need it. I owned no nursing bras or shirts, no nursing pads or lanolin cream. I didn’t even know half that stuff existed, or why I’d need it. I didn’t know what a lactation consultant did, or why I’d need one. I had no clue that there was more than one position to hold a nursing baby. I was clueless.

Then Reid was born.

It turns out that breastfeeding is really HARD. Reid was a super sleepy baby, so when I finally got him to latch on (a whole process in itself) he would almost immediately fall asleep. I confused this with him being done eating, so I’d try to put him back in his bed. Almost immediately he’d cry, because he was still hungry. This dance of latch-eat for 2 minutes-sleep-cry continued night after night. He never got into that “milk coma” that newborn babies get- he was just crying after eating. I felt so guilty, because this was supposed to be natural and easy, right? But it wasn’t. It was hard, and terrible, and painful (thanks engorgement). I felt lonely- Kirk was asleep in our room, and I was stuck with this baby in the nursery, so unsure of how to handle this, but Kirk couldn’t really help me because he lacked the proper equipment. I started to get a little resentful that I had to grow a baby, push him out, and then single-handedly feed him. This wasn’t fair.

I had my mom run to Target at 9pm on a Friday night to get me a manual pump because my electric one was too confusing for this first time mom to figure out. I pumped a little bottle for Reid, which also eased the pain, and he ate it right up and FELL ASLEEP. This was amazing! We talked to the pediatrician, who also felt that a dairy sensitivity may be at play, and decided about 3 weeks after Reid was born to switch to formula. He became much happier and slept better, and I hardly felt any guilt at all anymore. Sure, I wanted to breastfeed, but it just didn’t work for us. Plus, the difference in Reid’s mood was so clear- we made the right choice.

Three and a half years later, Sydney arrived. This time, I put all my effort into learning about breastfeeding, which I felt a little silly about being a mother already. I hired a private lactation consultant who came to my house to talk with me before Sydney’s arrival, and then came twice after her birth. I bought nursing bras, tank tops and shirts, pads, creams, and watched about 500 YouTube videos on latching properly. I talked to all of my breastfeeding friends about my plan, and lined up as much support as possible. I googled lactation support groups and knew where I could go almost every day of the week. I was prepared for the engorgement, the pain while the baby figures out how to eat, and the endless leaking once my milk came in. I set up goals for myself- Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, then the 6 month mark. I WAS READY.

Sydney is a much different baby than Reid was, and she caught on to nursing right away. She was still sleepy, but I could usually keep her awake enough to eat. My lactation consultant, Sam, came over about 5 days after Sydney was born, and helped me figure a few more things out. I struggle with the anxiety of not knowing exactly how much she was eating (one benefit of a bottle-fed baby), and she reminded me to just watch the baby. Syd was happy, slept well (for a newborn, anyway), was content after eating. Kirk and I developed a system where he’d sleep with Sydney in the guest room (her little baby noises would wake me up all night), and change her when she woke up to eat. I then fed her and put her back to bed. It allowed me to stay in bed for the most part, and I felt like Kirk was actually helping where he could. It was a good system.

I made it to my Halloween goal, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas. Around the 4 month mark, I decided to start supplementing with a bottle of formula before bed to make sure she had a full tummy before bedtime. But for the most part, I kept breastfeeding. We finally made it to the 6 month mark, and I was so happy. I felt pretty proud of how much we had done- I wanted to quit when Sydney had RSV and basically threw up most of what she ate, but I kept going. I wanted to quit when I was so, so tired of getting up in the middle of the night but I didn’t. I really wanted to quit when I got mastitis, and again when I had the flu, but I didn’t. I have so much love and support- it was so needed.

But now, at 6 months, I felt a little different about it. Sydney was becoming more and more distracted when she ate, and it was really difficult to feed her. Nursing took at least 30 minutes a lot of the time. I couldn’t just take her to her room where it was quiet- I still had Reid running around and terrorizing the house. I tried that once and came down to crayon all over the TV. Plus, I selfishly liked the idea that anyone could feed her, and I’d be able to have a little bit more of my body back to myself. So I started pumping and giving her bottles all the time. And guess what? She was still happy and thriving. As pumping got to be more of a chore, I weaned off of that and mixed in more formula. And guess what? She was still happy and thriving.

Today, at 7 months, she is 100% bottle fed. I sometimes miss the connection and bond I had with her with breastfeeding, but I don’t regret my decision. I do feel some guilt- not that I made the wrong choice, but that others will judge me for not going a full year. I’m such a people pleaser, I want everyone to agree with my decisions (on everything, really) regardless of whether it matters or not. I mean, the people who think I should have kept going aren’t exactly going to come over and help me feed my baby.

Sydney is doing great. She’s happy and so am I. Breastmilk, formula, bottles- it all ends up the same, in my opinion- with your toddler eating something they found on the floor at Target.

 

44 Days

44 Days

Three months ago, I had my initial appointment at the Center for Functional Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic. I didn’t really know what to expect, and I left my appointment feeling a little overwhelmed and unsure if I would follow all of these recommendations. It seemed like a lot to take on, and this is coming from someone who has experimented with elimination-style diets before. I own tons of healthy cookbooks, and have a decent grasp on nutrition. But this wasn’t just going gluten-free: I was to eliminate a lot of favorites for a long time, and perhaps permanently. With the encouragement of my husband, family, and friends, I made the leap. This seems a little trivial, so be so concerned about my diet, but food is pretty emotional for me. It’s associated with happiness, holidays, fun family gatherings, traditions, and is my go-to way of connecting with others. You are new in town? Come over for dinner and drinks! You just had a baby? Here’s a quiche, casserole, and dessert! You had a bad day? I made you cookies. And so on.

So, for 6 weeks and 2 days (but who’s counting?) I didn’t have any gluten, dairy, soy, corn, peanuts, refined sugar, eggs, beef, pork, or alcohol. The first few days were tough. I had a lot of cravings, and the habit of having a glass of wine (or two, or three) in the evening was still strong. I missed having dessert after dinner (and lunch, and the more-than-occasional breakfast cookies). I struggled with what to eat for breakfast without eggs or cereal, which is what I usually had. I wanted to stop by Starbucks on the way home from Crossfit for a latte, like I did a few times a week. This sucked. So I made a countdown on my bathroom mirror like a prisoner counting down his sentence. This was helpful.

Then, around the 2 week mark, I noticed that my pants fit better. I stepped on the scale and realized I’d lost a couple pounds, but more importantly- I wasn’t as puffy and bloated anymore. I didn’t think I was bloated at all, but apparently I had been that way for so long, I assumed it was extra weight. So, maybe this diet is worth it, I thought. Seeing some results definitely provided some motivation to keep going.

Around week 3, I noticed that my mood and energy had improved. I was consistently happier, joking around, not as impatient with the kids. I felt really happy at the end of the day when Kirk got home from work- not because I was exhausted and ready to hand the kids over to him, but because I missed him and wanted to talk. It was a feeling I hadn’t had in about 4 years, since Reid was born. And, I was continuing to deflate like a balloon. Some friends commented on how I was looking, which was super validating for my efforts. These feelings continued through the completion of the diet, which ended on April 4th when I met with my doctor and dietician again.

There’s so much I could say about my experience, but in the interest of brevity, I’ll try to summarize it.

  • Weight loss: This wasn’t my primary goal (easing my anxiety and boosting energy were) but I figured I’d lose a few pounds. I did not anticipate losing THIRTEEN. I haven’t seen that number on the scale since I got married. I know that the scale isn’t reflective of overall health, but damn. This feels good. I did this without counting calories or macros which was so freeing.
  • Confidence: This is probably related to the weight loss, but I’m so much more confident in my own skin. I even bought a two-piece bathing suit that I might actually keep! And wear! IN PUBLIC!
  • Mood: This was the big one for me. Previously, I was sort of happy. Pretty pessimistic, sarcastic, kind of just making it through the day. I was happy if there was something to actually be happy about, like a fun party coming up, Sydney sleeping well, etc. Now, I feel generally happy most of the time. Of course there are still times I am irritated (I do have 2 small children after all) or upset, but I’m able to get over it/snap out of it fairly quickly. It doesn’t drag me down like it did before.
  • Palate: This was unexpected. My palate has changed a bit. I now happily drink my coffee black, no cream or sugar. A great treat for me is a cashew-raisin-toasted coconut mix, or maybe a rice cake with some almond butter. Sure, I still love the smell of a cake or cookies baking (I’m only human) but I don’t crave these things like I did before. This is huge- I was the kind of person who literally couldn’t walk by a dessert without sampling some. Cookies and brownies didn’t stand a chance in our house. We’ve had m&m’s in our house for several weeks (Reid’s treat for potty related stuff) and I haven’t even thought about them.
  • Energy: My energy levels definitely improved, as did my motivation to do things. I still think there’s room for improvement here, but things are better. I started lifting heavier at crossfit, completing workouts more quickly and with less rest in between rounds, and no longer wanted to just sit on the couch in the afternoon.
  • Habits: Still a work in progress, but a lot of habits have changed. I don’t have a drink every night anymore, nor do I feel the urge to pour a big glass of wine to destress at the end of the day. I don’t search for a snack before sitting down to watch TV, and I don’t always have a snack in between meals. I have a better sense of when I’m legitimately hungry versus when I’m just associating an activity with eating. Frequently, dinner is the last time I eat for the day- no snack before bed. I was unable to do this before.

At my appointment this week, the doctor and nutritionist discussed with me the plan from here on out. Over the next 10 weeks or so, I’ll reintroduce 4 foods: eggs, beef, pork, and soy. I can have some clear liquors and if those are tolerated well, a little red wine is ok. I have ordered a few more supplements to help balance things out, plus a thyroid medication to really help my body feel 100%. I’m so pleased with the results, and think most people could benefit from a diet like this to see how you truly tolerate certain foods. Especially if you feel tired, or bloated, or anxious- it’s worth it. Food is so, so integral to how we think and feel every day!

I would love to hear about others’ stories with elimination diets or how you’ve changed your life. What have you done to feel better?

 

Batman Forever

Batman Forever

Unlike Garfield, I don’t really hate Mondays. I love the predictability of a routine, and for me, that’s what Monday brings. Plus, when you have little kids, the weekends are not for sleeping in and leisurely brunches. Yes, we get to watch cartoons in our pajamas instead of rushing out the door to school, but I’m still up well before 7am.  So, happy Monday! This weekend was more challenging than most since Kirk took his first real trip since Sydney was born. He headed off to St. Louis with some friends for a BBQ trip- I am so glad he got to go. Kirk is one of those people who gets really energized by being around others, whereas I prefer to stay at home and read a book, watch tv, have a glass of wine, etc. I’m not opposed to being social, I am just a bit introverted and need that alone time to recharge. Anyway, I had the kids by myself all weekend and we did not die. Success! Everyone even got a bath or shower at some point. Our really, REALLY awesome neighbors even had us over for a playdate Saturday afternoon (aka I invited myself over) and kept Reid for dinner while I ran across the street to put Sydney to bed. The BEST gift you can give a parent of more than one child is to keep an eye on other kids while she deals with one of them. So, I’m not eager for Kirk to travel again anytime soon, but I can certainly handle it.

On another note, Reid is now the age where he gets invited to birthday parties and birthdays are celebrated at school. He frequently comes home with small bags of little toys, pencils, sometimes a treat. I have a love/hate relationship with this whole idea, although of course I’ll do it when Reid turns 4 in a few weeks. I love that Reid gets so excited about a pencil with rainbows on it (because he gets to use the sharpener mounted on our basement wall), or some Mickey Mouse stickers, or a little piece of candy. I hate that we now have about 55 semi-sharpened pencils and my floor is covered in stickers. Once Reid went to a friend’s birthday and the goodie bag he received was amazing. I mean, it rivaled the Oscars swag bags. A superhero cape and mask, a really cool royal icing cookie, a Superman doll that he still sleeps with, and a kit to design and make your own superhero masks. And that’s just the stuff I remember!

Anyway, last week Reid came home from school with another birthday goodie bag. This one contained temporary tattoos. Now, I was surprised that Reid wanted to put these on. He’s kind of weird about stuff being on his face, and he wanted it on his cheek. He also wanted one on my cheek. No problem, these are temporary tattoos. So we put them on, and I felt like a good mom because it made Reid really happy that we had matching Batman tattoos.

Until that night when I washed my face, expecting it to come off.  It didn’t.

I washed. I scrubbed. It remained as bold and bright as it had ever been.

It seemed like such a rookie mom mistake. Why the hell would I put this on my face? I received a few comments on how to remove it (rubbing alcohol, baby oil, coconut oil) but I decided to leave it for a bit because Reid liked it. I went to crossfit the next morning (hoping the sweat would help, along with a shower afterwards) but no such luck.

This was after several face washes (including one exfoliation), a sweaty workout, and some scrubbing. Eventually, I did get it off with an oil-based makeup remover. Reid asked me over the weekend to try the Finding Dory tattoos he got. I said sure, why not!

I put this one on my hand.

34 trips around the sun 

34 trips around the sun 

I turned 34 over the weekend. It was a pretty tame event- being on this elimination diet cuts down on a lot of party favorites, like champagne and cake. I ended up tweaking a paleo recipe and made my own damn cake-  carrot cake layered cheesecake. It. Was. Phenomenal.


It was so good. I couldn’t believe it! And, my family liked it too, and they are not ones to experiment with alternative flours or gluten-free anything. So that was definitely a win.

It was kind of weird to celebrate without my usual indulgences though. I’m a big fan of “go ahead, it’s your birthday.” Although I have trouble putting the brakes on- it can turn into “go ahead, it’s your birthday weekend/week/month” and things kind of snowball from there. So, aside from my little cake detour, there wasn’t anything off my elimination diet plan. And the birthday cake didn’t have any ingredients that were not allowed, but the honey/maple syrup content was higher than I should have had in a day.

But hey, it’s my birthday. 🎉

This past year has been a good one. I spent half of it pregnant, which was worth it for the end result but not something I care to do again, especially during the summer. We did some traveling, mostly for weddings or to see family, and expanded our own family from 3 to 4. There were some rough moments (see: third trimester during the hottest summer in years, also threenager tantrums) but overall things were good.

This upcoming year I would like to focus a little more on myself. That sounds kind of selfish, but I spent about 90% of my brain power thinking about Kirk or the kids. I’m currently writing this on my phone from nap jail (aka the glider in the nursery) because Sydney won’t sleep without being held this afternoon and my tiny girlfriend is a hot mess without a nap.

So yeah, I don’t do a lot for myself. I’d love to meet a friend for coffee or a drink more often, maybe actually blow dry my hair more than twice a month, get manicures regularly, that sort of thing. I find myself wanting to do things other than talk to people shorter than my hip, and that is ok! I felt a little guilty at first, because I chose to quit my job and stay at home. But I think that 34 is the Year of Sarah (not unlike the Summer of George?). Looking forward to what this year has in store for me (starting with a cooler summer and a drink by the pool)!

Two Weeks

Two Weeks

I seriously hate hot weather. I’m not one of those people who can lay out on the beach for hours- first, because I instantly become a hot/sweaty mess, and second, because I have a horrible tendency to get sunburned. Once, Kirk and I were driving in a convertible during the summer to a friend’s wedding, which was about an hour away. I totally forgot that I could get sunburned in the car, and ended up with a seatbelt outline across my chest, which was only accented by my strapless dress that I wore. It was terrible.

That said, one nice part about the summer is that my family is relatively healthy. It’s not a continuous stream of runny noses, coughs, ear infections, and visits to the doctor, with the occasional serious ailment thrown in. That is the season we’re currently in- and I am over it. I would love 24 hours free of coughing and nose wiping. Spring can’t come soon enough.

So as of yesterday, I’m officially 1/3 of the way through the elimination diet. Yes, I am keeping a countdown on my bathroom mirror like I’m in prison. Honestly though, I *think* it’s getting easier. Some of the habits, like a nightly glass (or two, or three) of wine are slowly fading. That’s not to say I don’t still want a little cabernet stress-reliever, but the habitual part of that is fading away. Some habits are still very much there, like having a snack after dinner. Still can’t break that one, although the food has changed from cookies/brownies/ice cream/garbage to a rice cake with cashew or almond butter. So, I suppose that’s an improvement! The hardest part of this is still giving up eggs. My breakfast options are pretty limited without eggs- I think this will be the first food I’ll reintroduce when the diet is over.

I’ve noticed an improvement in my energy, especially that afternoon 2pm-3pm slump. I do think the lack of sugar and booze is helping me sleep better. I think the 5 month old baby is helping me sleep worse, sadly. But, usually after I get up with her (for the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th time) I fall back asleep quickly which didn’t happen before this diet. I’m also down about 3-ish pounds, which is a nice perk. Weight loss wasn’t my main goal here (although with the absence of wine and sugar, I figured I’d shed at least a couple lb’s) but I’m happy to see some of it go.

One improvement I’d still like to make is getting more veggies in my diet. Usually, if I’m looking for veggies in the morning, I’ll make a veggie frittata or veggie hash with some over-easy eggs. Not an option here. So this is something I’d really like to focus on in the next few weeks!

Off to go shove some carrots down my throat, although they are really just a vehicle for baba ganoush.

 

Crossfit and cookies

Crossfit and cookies

Anyone familiar with crossfit knows that this is the Open season. The Open is how athletes qualify for the Crossfit Games during the summer. Well, actually they qualify for regionals, and at regionals they compete for a spot in The Games. The Open is 5 weeks long, and each week there is a different workout announced that must be completed over the weekend. They are typically pretty hard, grueling workouts that require both mental toughness and physical strength to get through.

This week’s workout was no different. It involved weighted walking lunges (this autocorrected to “lunches” which would have been preferable), dumbbell power cleans, hanging knee raises, and pull-ups. Most of the people at my gym complete the workout on Friday night, where there’s tons of people cheering, food, drinks, and generally a fun atmosphere. But Kirk also does Crossfit and was going to do this workout Friday night, and apparently leaving your kids at home alone at 3.5 and 5 months is “too young” and “irresponsible parenting” so I did it this morning with my friend Gretchen who is nearing the end of her third trimester.

I got smoked by her! She is absolutely awesome. When I was in that stage of pregnancy, I basically waddled around the gym doing a lighter workout. This lady gave absolutely 100% and even lapped the two (pretty strong) guys that had joined us for the workout. How awesome is that?

On another topic, today is parent-teacher conferences at school so Reid is home with us all day. When I got home from the gym, Reid started asking politely (demanding) that we make cookies. At 7am. We had a long day ahead of us, so I didn’t want to start the battles quite this early. Plus, I had a recipe from Clean Eating with a Dirty Mind that I wanted to try!


They turned out great! I made some changes to the recipe and would make a few more next time. But overall, they are SO simple and involve very little skill! Try these immediately.

Flourless Almond Butter Cookies (adapted from Clean Eating with a Dirty Mind)

Makes 12-18 cookies

  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
  • 2.5 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup almond butter (or cashew, sun butter, peanut, etc.)
  • Scant 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Heaping 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  1. Put flaxseed and water in a small bowl and whisk together. Let sit for 5 minutes until it reaches a gel-like consistency.
  2. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3.  Place all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium until smooth.
  4. Scoop out onto the baking sheet, about 1-2 tablespoon dollops, leaving a couple inches in between. Dough will be very sticky and delicious.
  5. Bake each sheet separately for 10-12 minutes. Cookies will be puffy when they come out of the oven but solidify as they cool. Once they have cooled a bit, remove with a spatula and place on cooking rack to finish.
  6. Store covered for up to 3 days, if you don’t eat them all in one sitting.

Enjoy!

The time I wanted to live in the basement

The time I wanted to live in the basement

When I got pregnant with Reid, I had a very clear vision of what my life would be like. After all, I had plenty of baby experience with my sweet nephew, so I knew exactly what to do! Kirk and I decided about halfway through the pregnancy that I would leave my position at the prosecutor’s office (which was a kick ass job, by the way) and stay home with our baby. It’s what I wanted and he was cool with it. The baby and I would lounge around the house together, play at the park, take leisurely strolls around the neighborhood, etc. Spoiler: this is a very unrealistic view of the first few months of having a newborn, especially your first.

About 4 weeks before Reid was born, Kirk’s dad died suddenly. For anyone who knew Dick, he was an absolute force. His mere presence filled the room. I loved being around him- there was something about his self-assuredness that I found incredibly comforting. He was teaching Kirk all about the family business (at which Kirk had been working for a few years) and how it was run. Now, there was a huge, gaping hole in our lives. So with a few weeks until my due date, Kirk unexpectedly took over his family business.

Reid was born (against his will, thanks to an induction) on Monday, May 6. On Tuesday, I had an absolute breakdown in the hospital. I told Kirk that this is where I live now- in the maternity ward- because there are nurses and people to help me here. He said we have to go home eventually. The nurses basically had to kick us out on Wednesday. I figured what I was feeling was pretty normal- just my hormones all out of whack and finding their balance again. Give it time, I thought.

I tried giving it time. For a couple weeks I tried to get myself together. Breastfeeding was so much harder than I thought it would be, and I sighed with relief when the pediatrician suggested we try formula. Reid cried ALL THE TIME. Where was my blissful, sleeping baby? He would scream from 6pm-10pm, every night. Since the weather was nice, Kirk frequently took him outside on a walk to calm him down. It worked like 30% of the time. Sometimes in the morning, I would take Reid outside because the crying wasn’t as loud out there. I hated this new life. This was NOTHING like I had imagined. I resented my baby.

I coped with this by being away from Reid when I could. If someone came over, I handed them the baby and went downstairs to the basement (where the guest room was) to take a nap. Everyone told me to “sleep when you can” so I figured I should sleep all the time. And I was tired. I couldn’t seem to find energy to do anything. I was crying several times a day, but couldn’t figure out why. I thought, “this is my life now. I live in the basement, apart from my family, and I hate it.” Kirk and Reid shared our bedroom, and Kirk did all the middle-of-the-night feedings. Did I mention how much I love him, and what a saint he is?

So basically, I felt almost no emotion. I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t exactly sad, I just…was. Frequently I became anxious over small things, like Kirk leaving for work in the morning. Or Reid sleeping too much or not enough, eating too much or not enough, basically standard baby things. I am a total TV junkie (name a show and I’ve probably seen at least one episode) and I wouldn’t even turn it on because I didn’t enjoy it anymore. I think that’s when Kirk more or less forced me to call my OB and reach out to a friend who had trouble after her first baby was born. My OB prescribed some anti-depressants, which could take up to 6 weeks to fully kick in. Awesome. My friend recommended her therapist, Dr. K, and I made an appointment for a few days later.

Dr. K had me fill out a survey indicating whether you seem to have postpartum depression/anxiety or not. I had a pretty high score on the quiz- I mean, I am a good student after all. I cried for almost the whole hour and kept apologizing for being a mess. She was fantastic throughout the whole meeting- and told me that newborn babies are sometimes hard to like. They take without giving, and it’s especially hard to “treasure each moment” when they are purple-faced and screaming constantly. That made me feel so much better and like less of a failure.

I continued to see Dr. K frequently, and we figured out the correct dosage of the medication I had been taking. She helped me with some cognitive therapy as well. Very, very slowly I started to feel better. I felt not exactly confident as a mother, but adequate. Everyone was still alive, including me. I started doing normal things, like taking in the mail each day (yes, this is how bad it had become). One day, I held Reid for his entire nap. I could have put him down in the bassinet, but I wanted to hold my baby. This was a huge turning point for me!

I still take some medication, especially after Sydney was born. It was much better and less intense the second time around- I knew what to look for, how to cope, and we started medication immediately after birth (I went off of it during the pregnancy). I wasn’t ashamed like I was the first time, barely able to tell my friends and family. I even took in the mail and watched TV. I know this is kind of a long story, and this is incredibly difficult for me to share. It’s not the best time in our lives- Kirk and I say that we basically blacked out from May 6 to the 4th of July. But I discovered that so many of my friends had gone through this too, in varying degrees. I had no clue, because people just don’t talk about it. I never thought this would happen to me (see: clear vision of life with baby). But it did, and I got through it.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a new baby (beyond the usual crazy newborn stuff), please reach out. Information and help can be found here, or contact your OB. This is NOT the way your life is now. It does get better.

Sleep training?

Sleep training?

Originally, our plan for helping Sydney learn to go to sleep by herself was to do a little bedtime/nap routine, give her the little bunny lovey we got for her, and put her in the crib. Awake. And somehow she would just drift off to sleep, according to the several sleep books I read. Ok, I told myself. You can do this, just give it at least a week. Reid was sleeping better after a weekend of sleep training when he was a baby. Sydney should be no problem!

Her main issue is the pacifier- she can’t go to sleep without it. That resulted in putting her down either totally asleep (which could take 20-90 minutes) or dashing upstairs every 5 seconds because the damn pacifier had fallen out. Again. One time she was literally holding it in her hand- she had taken it out herself. This was at naptime too. I felt like a prisoner in her room. So, we figured if she could fall asleep without it, our problems would be solved!

I lasted 2 days. 😫

She caught on at bedtime pretty quickly. The first night Sydney fell asleep in about 45 minutes, and it got better from there. Naps, however – and Sydney takes up to 4 a day – were a total disaster. She’d cry for an hour each time, and by the end of the second day she was so tired that she could barely stay awake for her bottle and fell asleep while I was burping her. So I decided I couldn’t do this anymore and maybe we needed to slow it down a little. 

So a week or so later, she goes down for bed pretty easily without a pacifier which is awesome. Naps are still a crapshoot, but what we are doing is working for us. 

I think that’s the takeaway here- do what works for you. If rocking your baby or nursing her to sleep works for you, then don’t let anyone tell you it’s wrong! It just wasn’t feasible anymore for us. 

That’s pretty much the approach I condone for the rest parenting as well. We don’t restrict screen time and other families do. We are psychopaths about our kids’ bedtimes and other parents are way flexible. It all evens out, so just do what makes you and your family happy!

Week One

Week One

One week down, five to go with this elimination diet. This week has been hard- staring at the bag of candy we use for potty training and NOT shoveling any into my mouth has been difficult. And not being able to unwind with a glass of wine at the end of the day is a habit that’s going to be hard to break. I stare at the wine rack above the fridge and whisper “I’ll see you soon” like a totally normal and well-functioning adult.

But, I made it. I’ve gone an entire week without cheese, booze, or sugar, among other things. Not having eggs in the morning is tough, but I’ve embraced oatmeal (sort of).

I’m really looking forward to how I’ll look and feel at the end of this- I’m guessing limitless energy and supermodel body? Seems reasonable for giving up sugar and wine for 6 weeks. Especially while raising a tyrant preschooler and a baby. The Oscars are tonight and instead of my standard glass of champagne while red carpet watching, I’m having grapefruit flavored sparkling water in a champagne glass.

My taste buds aren’t fooled.

And while we’re on the subject, quinoa mac & cheese is NOT a good substitute for the real thing. Neither is cauliflower rice for regular rice, cauliflower mash for mashed potatoes, or really cauliflower anything. I have nothing against cauliflower, but honestly- it does NOT taste “just like mashed potatoes.” You know what does? Potatoes. With cream, and butter, and some garlic.

5 more weeks, 5 more weeks…