24 to Go

aeb-knh_before_walk_01-05-08.jpgWell, my weight seems a little stuck. Even though feeding Ainsley burns about 500 calories per day, I’ve plateaued at 24 pounds above my goal weight. I gained two pounds, if you’re keeping track. My diet is (mostly) healthful. What else can I do? I know, sawgrass diet pills and laser cellulite reduction!

No, actually, I’ll choose the exercise route. The recent cold snap was unforgiving. I have precious little free time and I do not choose to jog in the ugly cold, unable to take Ainsley due to the temperature. I just stayed home and read books to her.

However, this week has been almost balmy. I couldn’t take the stroller- too rainy. I also thought that holding a 12-pound weight could make the exercise more efficient. So I bundled my little girl into a front pack, zipped my husband’s coat over both of us, grabbed an umbrella and hit the bricks.

She didn’t seem to care one way or the other. She sucked on her toys and was pretty content. She wasn’t looking around much but the umbrella blocked most of her view. Unfortunately, she started to develop some congestion so I had to quickly turn home. She has a deviated tear duct and it’s really important that she not develop congestion or (worse) a cold- it can cause an eye infection for her.

So I had about 10 minutes of exercise. Better than zero, right?

I Am Not a Vegetarian

Fourteen months ago, I became pregnant. It is a widely known fact that pregnancy wildly affects the senses. I could not stand to be near the rabbit’s litterbox because of the smell (a smell I never could smell before and now cannot smell anymore). I thought root beer tasted like Altoids. And meat tasted…well, tasted OK, but made my stomach turn.

Since then, I’ve read that meats and other easily spoiled foods are one of the biggest triggers of pregnancy sickness. Colloquial stories from message boards support the research. I took meat totally off of the menu and started finding new sources of protein.

Let’s backtrack a little. I was one of the biggest meat eaters I knew. To me, a bologna and cheese sandwich contained bologna and cheese, not bread. I routinely ate entire summer sausages out of hand. I absconded the potato and went for a bigger steak. So this was totally new to me. I was worried that the little person inside me would not have optimal development without animal protein. But I simply could not eat meat.

I was already using FitDay to track my consumption of foods (when I was trying to lose weight before the pregnancy). I tried to balance my diet and ensure I had adequate protein, vitamins, and minerals without meat. I found that I was eating less saturated fat and more healthful vegetables. Almost every day, I obtained 100% RDA of all vitamins from food sources, something I had not done pre-pregnancy and pre-no meat.

A friend of mine had recently become a vegetarian, and she jumped into it completely, even checking for animal-based ingredients in seemingly veg-friendly foods. I respected her decision and admired her all-out commitment but didn’t feel it was right for me. I did know that my food habits were changing. Eating no meat begat better habits in general. For instance, when I was craving food as I did throughout my pregnancy, I was reaching for fruit instead of donuts. I still managed to pack on almost two pounds a week, but at least it wasn’t clogging my arteries!

As my body lifted its meat ban, I had planned to pledge to eat more healthfully, meat or no meat. But the meatless diet was working so well. I was concerned that I might not get enough of the right proteins for the baby unless I ate animal protein. So I incorporated two portions of lean fish per week.

I started to feel really good about my choices. It’s supposedly better for the environment to be a vegetarian due to the lower use of natural resources. I started really watching for local fruits and vegetables and other ways to eat well and help the planet. As an animal lover, I realized that I liked not eating them. Then, when people wondered why a meatatarian like me was piling only veggies on her plate, I carefully told family and friends of my new choice.

“Why would anyone do that?”
“I don’t think that is good for you. You need meat.”
“I hope you come to your senses soon.”
And, my favorite, “that is the stupidest thing I’ve heard.”

I guess I was surprised that everyone cared so much what I ate. My husband is very supportive. I even cook meat for people occasionally, just to make them feel more comfortable. And I continue not to eat much meat. As long as I’m nursing the baby, I will not stop eating animal protein, and I probably won’t stop when she’s finished either. I’m labeled as a “flexitarian” or “pescetarian,” neither of which is exactly great. The terms irritate most true vegetarians and cause only eyerolling among my omnivorous brethren. I’m stuck in a middle that works for me: better for my health, Ainsley’s health, definitely better for the lives of animals I don’t eat(!), and the environment, but still not so strict that a slipup means I will feel like a failure. Unfortunately it’s a middle that not many others appreciate. For some odd reason my dietary blog posts draw more comments- and more ire- than the rest of my posts.

A few thoughts, for the record: I don’t care what you eat. My new diet doesn’t mean I’m silently judging you for having a steak. I haven’t forgotten how enjoyable meat-based foods are; I’m just trying something that I hope will be a permanent, healthful change for me and for my family. I am very supportive of people who can commit to a vegetarian lifestyle, especially in a meat-and-potatoes Midwest.

Any time someone makes a commitment to try to change for the better, isn’t that a good thing?

22 to Go

I’m feeling pretty good about the weight loss. It’s slowed to a crawl, but a healthy one; about 1 pound per week. It’s distressing to think I still have 22 weeks to go, but I’m satisfied.

In fact, I stuffed myself into some non-maternity pants today. The seams are feeling a bit challenged! But I did it. And I’m focusing on the positive.

It amazes me that, with 22 left to go, I’ve already lost something like 50 pounds from my highest weight (of course, the baby weighed about 8 of that, but you see what I’m saying here). While I stood on the scale, I had Carlton push on my shoulders as hard as he could. Fifty pounds is quite a bit! It’s not suprising that my heart nearly gave out, trying to support all the extra fat as well as the new life.

Last night was rough. Ainsley ate at 5:00PM, 6:30PM, 7:30PM, 8:30PM, 10:00PM, 12:00AM, 4:00AM, and 5:00AM. She ate so much that I had to unfreeze some milk because I was totally out. I feel like the walking dead. She does this occasionally, and it may be an indicator that she’s ready to have other sources of nutrition. We’ll see if this is a trend.

Lucky for me, I had family around to help with some of those later feedings. I’m still exhausted- partially emotionally. It is no fun to listen to my baby cry from hunger. I’m OK with fussy cries, crying herself to sleep, and the occasional whining, but when she’s just begging for food, it is really hard on my psyche.

But she is such a joy. When I walk in the room, she beams a smile and wiggles. My mom said, “she smiles with her whole body.” I’m so lucky to have her in my life. Last night may have been frustrating, but I was never upset with her.

I’m so tired I could throw up.

Life has never been so wonderful.

Thoughts on Three Months

Ainsley is three months old. Time doesn’t fly. For some reason, this has been a very long three months. Maybe it’s because I’ve felt so many emotional highs and lows over the past 90 days; maybe it’s just that I’ve been awake a larger percentage of the time!  But it doesn’t feel extra long because it’s been awful; it has been a lot of fun.  Lately she’s been smiling and cooing a lot and that is very rewarding.

She changes little by little; a new facial expression, a new fat roll, a new skill. My flexible work schedule means that I’m not missing her grow. My wonderful husband makes sure that sometimes I do miss it: he takes over and lets me sleep.

I’m still new enough at this that I miss my freedom.  Every nap is a brief chance to go back to “single” behavior: watching a movie, cleaning the house, blogging, cooking.  As she grows, she’s awake more, and that flexibility to do stuff other than educate her…well, it’s dwindling.  I don’t want to be the kind of parent who absentmindedly carries the baby around without really paying attention to her; on the flip side, I don’t want to coddle her too much and stifle her independence.

Happy three months on this side of the world, little one.  I hope I can be a good mommy.

Baby Wise Book Review

Finding new blogs is a really fun treasure hunt. I’ve found a lot of parenting blogs; they range from individual parents posting an online diary to collaborative sites with multiple contributors and sound advice.

The largest group of parenting bloggers are the moms. That’s no surprise- most of the links I follow are from other women’s blogs. One theme I’ve found among new moms is that they are really frustrated with their child’s sleeping and eating patterns. Trust me, I feel your pain. I have two words that may help: Baby Wise.

My sister was a new mom three years ago and she called a friend of hers, frustrated and tired. The friend told her to immediately obtain a copy of the book. From that day forward, my sister’s parenting woes became a lot easier. She had another baby and this one was started with the Baby Wise philosophy. My sister can tell of the enormous difference it made for her second child.

As a result, I bought my own copy of Baby Wise and read it cover to cover about four times before Ainsley was born. In the early days, when I was often emotional and tired, I read sections of it while she slept or nursed. I can attest that it works! My baby has slept well from the very start. Don’t let me fool you…it’s been rocky, but it has worked. After the first couple of weeks, Ainsley moved to a 2 to 2 1/2 hour schedule for feedings. After 5 weeks, it was every 2 1/2 to 3 hours, with one 4 to 5 hour stretch every night. Since the age of 9 weeks, she has a very predictable schedule of 8 hours of nighttime sleep and feedings every 3 hours during the day. (again, I say “predictable,” but of course it isn’t 100% perfect.)

I had read that some parents think BW expects parents to ignore their child’s cries. Not true! The book states over and over that hunger is always a legitimate reason to feed earlier than scheduled. It emphasizes a need for family and for nurturing. It’s not a book about how to love your child, it’s about how to give the gift of peaceful sleep to your baby. For a few days, I slept in a bed in her room, next to her crib. I learned her fussy cry and comforted her to sleep; I learned her hungry cry and fed her. When it was time for me to sleep in another room, she didn’t have to be moved so it didn’t disrupt her.

Because of the Baby Wise routine of feeding-waketime-naptime, Ainsley learned how to go to sleep, not be nursed to sleep. This has liberated me and has also meant that Ainsley is happy in the arms of other caretakers. She’s been put to bed by three different grandparents, her aunt, and especially her dad. She has been able to enjoy the love and comfort of not just Mommy, but also all of those other people who love her.

The best thing that BW did for me was to give me the confidence to assess the situation. Food is not the only thing Ainsley needs when she cries- sometimes she needs a new diaper or just some cuddling. Sometimes, she just wants to fuss for 5 minutes before she drifts to sleep!

Baby Wise worked so well for me that I recommend it to anyone who’s frustrated over their infant’s sleep (or lack thereof).

Work plus Home plus Baby

I survived!

I’m back to work.  I thought I would ease into it, but I am going full speed ahead.  The first time I went to the office, I was pretty miserable and just wanted to go home and watch Ainsley take a nap.  After a couple of days, I started to really enjoy working again.

My new role means a new schedule.  I arise and feed her at 5AM, then put her back to bed until her normal wake time of 8AM.  I can scurry home early and still manage a full day’s work by working while she naps.  I only miss about 3 hours of waketime!  In the meantime, she’s receiving a great Montessori education.

I am reeely tired at the end of two days of this schedule.  However, I’m learning to power through it and I am actually functioning better than before Ainsley was born.  I know that my time for work or for housework is very limited, so I make the best of it by scurrying around like I’m on Supermarket Sweep.  I bet watching me clean is amusing.  It’s aerobic; I’m sweating and breathless by the time I’m finished.  My house is actually in better shape than it was a year ago!

Life has a different rhythm.  But it’s a fantastic challenge.

Weight Updates

I waited as long as I could to weigh Ainsley again.  She sure looked bigger and fatter, but hey.  I’m a scientist and I need data.

Her weight gain was great!  She’s been gaining almost at the ideal pace of one ounce per day.  Like I said, I was pretty sure she was on the right track, but data is what put my mind at ease.

The new bottle is what did it.  She now eats like a normal baby and she naps better too.  I hate to think how hard it must have been for her to be getting sugary milk instead of the high fat milk she needed.  I would never have made it this far without the support of the Clarian North Lactation Consultants.

Ainsley and Daddy at the Reef AquariumI wish I’d been carrying my real camera when I saw this shot.  She already loves to watch the aquariums in the house and her favorite book right now is The Biotope Aquarium.  I love that Ainsley’s first words might be “Zebrasoma flavescens.” Carlton has really been a great dad, too.  He doesn’t view her as a chore; he sent me to bed at 7:30PM the other night and took care of her.  I had a terrible migraine yesterday and he took care of both his girls all day with no complaints.  What a great guy.

Oh, and 26 to go for me.  The pounds aren’t melting off anymore, so the weight I’m carrying is that excessive amount because I was so hungry in the beginning of the pregnancy.  I can’t wait to be rid of this artery-clogging flabbbb!

Video Clip Attempt

Went back to work Monday. I feel pulled in too many directions: job, Ainsley, husband, diet, pets, cooking, laundry, cleaning, et cetera. I am sure things will become better, but for now I am ready for a nice hot bath and an afternoon to myself.

My mobile phone has a pretty good still camera, but the video is really pixellated. We’ll see if this works! Let me know if it’s too garble-y to be worth watching. Note that the suggested videos are of famous Ainsleys, both fiction and nonfiction. I think that sounds like a good band name: The Famous Ainsleys.

How to Be Crazy: Hoarding

While out for Ainsley’s two month checkup, I walked past this vehicle.  The picture does not do it justice.   It is piled to the roof with stuff.  Not just junk, not just trash, but  anything that would fit into the car.   Looking through the windshield, I saw that the garbage in the front passenger seat has started to creep into the driver’s seat, and the plastic bags/fast food empties have a person-shaped hole in them for the driver.

What drives someone to this level?  Sure, I’ve thrown a few things in the back seat; I’ve found french fries a month after they went missing.  When does it go from that to having to shove the garbage out of the way to drive?  And forget checking the blind spot.

I wanted to stick around to see what kind of person drove the vehicle, but it would not have made me feel better.  Plus, poor little Ainsley had just had a tough appointment: her first vaccinations.  She went from content little girl to dark purple and screaming in one second flat.  After we redressed her and comforted her for a few minutes, she was OK, but I wanted to go home quickly so I could rock her more.  She’s been fussy and sleepy all day since.

She’s gained three ounces since her visit Friday.  Everybody’s all relieved and happy, including her new pediatrician.  Well, everyone but me.  She’s only gained a net of nine ounces in 30 days (she should have gained 20-30).  I am feeling good about her new bottle and about her progress this week, but it doesn’terase her painfully slow growth.  The doctor did say that a formula supplement would not help things; that indicated to me that he’s confident she’s doing well as is.

Neither the doctor nor Carlton will let me have her weighed in a week.  Where’s the crime in a weight check?  If she’s doing great, I will feel much better.  If she’s the same, well, I won’t be any more worried than I already am.  I do think that the new bottle is working wonders, but I want hard data.

Enough of this.  Off to feed the kid.