The overgrown and weedy section near the bees.
When I stole 10 minutes the other day to wander around the yard I also tinkered in the garden for a few minutes. My time spent enjoying the garden is practically non-existent now that the weather has turned cooler, the daylight is short, and I have returned to work. Weekends are spent trying to catch up on chores in the house and keeping the baby fed, changed, and happy. Gardening? What is that? Despite being a little sad that winter is coming, I’m glad at the same time—I can just abandon the garden and not worry about it until spring. I can’t even think about it right now….except I’m running into the typical issue many Creatives have, which is that I want to Do All The Things—which means I want to do all of my creative endeavors at the same time. But, that’s a post for another day…’cause Momma ain’t got time for Doing All The Things.
So, the garden…it is quite lovely in its mid-autumn downward spiral and it seems winter is approaching earlier than usual with some temperatures hitting the freezing mark already. The grey days are already here. This is good and bad…will probably be more bad for me this year since I won’t be outside enjoying the grey days and instead will probably stew inside far too often on the grey days. I’m not a stew indoors in the winter type of person—yes I enjoy my cozy and cuddly days and weekends but they need to be interspersed with trips outside to get keep my mind from going insane.
At least, though, we’re not in the northern climes where snow has already reached—that would just be too much!
(Ok, almost silent…the cooler weather has allowed me to get closer to the hive these days without risking getting stung, which in turn means more bee photos!)
I spend most of my commute to and from work oogling at the colors on the trees. There are a couple of sassafrass trees near the office that are a glorious apple red tempting me to soak in them, if one could soak in trees. Peak fall color is here now and quickly passing. I don’t get to wander around my yard much these days but I stole 10 minutes the other day and wandered around to see what I was missing. With what seems to be an early freeze this year (first one last night—but not a killing freeze at least) winter may be rolling in sooner than I wanted…not that I’ve been able to savor it as much this year.
Alas, the color is pretty spectacular even if it is on the subtle side.
Just a new weekly meme. Something for me to share a Forest photo and to write a little something here.
Getting back into shape postpartum has been eye opening. The last time I did any hard workouts was last December before I knew I was pregnant. Since all the months prior hadn’t resulted in a positive pregnancy test I had decided to bust my butt and start working out hardcore with some YouTube videos to try to lose about 10 lbs. I was feeling it, doing good and enjoying it. And then I got pregnant. Out went the hard workouts and in came the walking and general hiking. I missed rollerblading and even the 1-2 mile jogs I would take. I didn’t lift weights much and after a certain point I stopped doing core exercises. Bending down and touching my toes without needing to bend my knees to do so became my only measuring point of fitness towards the end. I took pride in the fact that I was 40 weeks pregnant and could still touch my toes—nevermind the fact I’d gained 50 lbs and was huge.
So, here I am 10 weeks postpartum and nearing 40 lbs lost of that 50 lbs. I’ve been close to this current weight twice in my life, the highest weight point for me prior to being pregnant: senior year of college and just before hiking the AT. Both times, however, I was still able to maintain muscle mass, and even though I was fluffy I was still in single digit clothing sizes. The muscle mass kept things a little tighter even though I was overweight.
Now, I know we’re not supposed to get all wrapped up in the number on the jeans because they always vary from designer to designer, but who am I kidding? I think just about every woman does at some point in their life. A few weeks ago we had a women’s team-building lunch at work and before I headed home I stopped by Target for some baby-free shopping. I was still wearing maternity jeans and didn’t have much in the way of winter wear for my post baby body. I’m a simple clothing girl, I like jeans and t-shirts, maybe a button down or two during the winter. I thought I’d stop in and get a few pieces of clothing to tide me over until I could get into my actual winter wardrobe later in the season. I was also optimistic, grabbing only a size up from what I was pre-pregnancy. I did this because only a few weeks ago I’d managed to get on my pre-pregnancy jeans and button them with a massive muffin top, leading me to think that I only had about 10 lbs to go before I could get in them, leading me further to think that I was thinner than I was.
When I got into the dressing room I was in for a rude awakening. That size jeans didn’t fit. Defeated I went back out and pulled off the shelf the next two sizes. Normally I wouldn’t have even attempted to go bigger, going bigger meant bad, bad things. But, my maternity jeans were getting loose and frankly I was just tired of wearing them. In the end the size two sizes bigger than the original pair I tried on ended up being what I chose. I was pissed off but at least comfortable and happy to be wearing jeans that zipped for once in many months.
What I was left with was knowing I had a lot further to go to getting back in shape. I’d lost a lot of muscle mass and my abdominal wall was still wrecked. I realized this over the weekend when I went for a jog. Not only was I just jiggly from fat but I could feel my muscles loose and hurting. I didn’t straight jog that mile—I delusionally thought I could do it before I left…I think my lung capacity was up for it—but my abs told me otherwise. So, I chose to run to *that* mailbox, walk to *that* crack in the road, etcetera, etcetera on down the road.
It felt good. My thighs were tight and cramping when I finished. I remembered that I could rollerblade now, one of my favorite cardio activities aside from hiking. I’ll have to dig those out soon.
For the last several weeks I’ve been doing the PiYo workouts and I can definitely tell they are helping me strength and stretching wise, but it is nice on the running just to get some straight out cardio every now and then. The DVDs are great for the evenings and one of my priorities right now is that 30 minutes at least three or four evenings a week in which I can work out. When Forest goes to daycare in December I will eventually use my lunch break for some workouts during the week which will free up some evenings for me to spend time with Forest and to work on other creative things.
Over the weekend I sorted through maternity clothes that were out of season and put them away. I also went through all of my pants and winter clothes and folded them, putting them on the top shelves in my closet, making room for my ‘big’ clothes. My sister-in-law, Stephanie, has undergone a transformation over the last two years. She’s taken charge of her health and dropped considerable weight but also improving her health at the same time. I thought of her as I left Target, not wanting to buy more than one pair of pants in that size. I wondered if she had any of her ‘big’ clothes left over and gave her a call. I was in luck, she still had them and sent them down with my mom when my mom came to watch Forest last week. I went through the the bags she sent, keeping the sizes I could wear now and those I would be slimming down into over the coming months. Now these are in my closet instead of my regular wardrobe. Yes, the sizes bother me but having clothes that fit me and make me feel good is also important.
Hopefully I can continue to make progress and get back into good cardio and strength fitness once again. I’m ready for some long hikes come spring and I need to get as strong as I can so I can carry the little dude (who is getting huge by the day!) on the trails.
I’ve written about Kleb Woods twice before but last weekend was the first time Forest had been there. We didn’t have a ton of time to do a longer hike and I wanted to stay relatively near the house so we chose this small park to do a little outside rambling.
This time we explored the north section of the park, taking the stroller and a sleeping Forest along.
I spotted a Passiflora incarnata fairly quickly but found no fruit or flowers.
The downside to this park is that it is overrun with yaupon holly, Ilex vomitoria. Ideally they would burn this park on occassion but I think they come in and do some manual removal of the plants. Yaupons are native but this habitat would definitely be healthier with an burn every so often.
We crossed a dry forested wetland that was invaded by Chinese tallow.
A fading pluchea plant.
Yaupon berries in time for the holidays.
And we spotted another Amanita muscaria off the trail.
It was a great walk but I wish the park was a bit more diverse in their habitat!
The big things for Forest during his eighth and ninth weeks of life were his first shots and me returning to work. I remember getting some shots as a small kid but over the years I’ve forgotten just how painful and scary they could have been. I must have blocked out some of that when anticipating Forest’s first round of shots because it was much more horrible than I imagined. He had four different vaccinations, one of them being a liquid taken by mouth (rotovirus), and then three shots in the tops of both thighs. Oh the wail that came out of his mouth! It was devastating to watch and for a second there I wondered if he was going to stop breathing—the cry was so guttural that no sound came out of his mouth, his face frozen in terror with giant tears welling in his eyes.
And then we went home.
Chris had to return to work and I was still on maternity leave so I had the day to take care of him. He slept on the way home and once home, Chris attempted to put him in his crib where he woke up quickly. I nursed him and then he fell back asleep. When he woke back up from that nap it was all downhill for the rest of the afternoon and into the early evening. He started crying hysterically and wouldn’t nurse. I checked his diaper a million times. Finally I managed to distract him some by going outside but anytime I tried to nurse him the wails would continue. Knowing he needed to eat I prepared a bottle and tried to get him to drink an ounce here and an ounce there. Chris came home later to prepare for an ill-timed, previously planned guy’s poker night as part of team building event for coworkers. As I tried to talk to him about the hysterical crying I was dealing with we finally realized that the cloth diapers were hurting his legs. We switched to the disposables we have on hand and he seemed to feel a little better, less hysterical but still upset.
I tried multiple times to put him down if he fell asleep in my arms, only within seconds after I set him down the crying began again. That was the day I held him while I went to the bathroom….Momma has to pee, too…that’s a difficult thing to manuever! Slowly throughout the afternoon I managed to continue getting him an ounce down here and there and he started feeling better towards late evening. Luckily Chris was at the house starting around 4pm so he was able to help me out on occassion between poker games. I knew that nursing Forest would likely help soothe him and it was finally at around 6pm that I attempted to try again, this time changing his position where he was sitting practically upright, held in a way that I would start bottle feeding him. It worked! And that’s how I got him to start nursing again. I’d read about nursing strikes, where babies refuse to breastfeed for one reason or another, and I began to worry he was going to start on one.
I ate dinner that night with him reclined on me sleeping and me reaching around to scoop up dinner. Luckily over the next few days the only effects were some general tiredness and a catch-up on breastfeeding since he ate very little that afternoon. We kept the disposables on for the next day until we felt his legs had started feeling less tender.
I’m not looking forward to shot days coming up in the next year.
So, the other big thing during this week and the beginning of week 9 was that I went back to work. Conveniently it worked out that I really only worked 3.5 days as I took Monday off and I had a half day on Friday for the girl’s version of a team building event that Chris had with the poker night. Chris’ mom was down for the first week of daytime care of Forest. I was definitely nervous about leaving Forest, even with family. How was he going to act? How would he go to sleep without nursing on me? Would he fuss and want me? Thankfully he did very well and even though the first night or two he was a little more clingy than normal, things seemed to be ok with him. He definitely missed me and even if he had recently had a bottle before I got home, he’d nurse for a bit but then very clearly switched to comfort nursing. At first I felt bad and let him do it for awhile but then it got old and I had things to do and eat dinner so I’ve kept that to a minimum.
I’m definitely having to adjust my evenings now that I have to come home and nurse Forest and spend time with him. My time online has dwindled to just about nothing in the evenings. Between taking care of Forest, eating dinner, and then doing any chores I need to do and throwing in a workout, I’m ready for bed just about when he goes to bed. I’m trying to get him in bed between 9 and 10 and that seems to work most evenings. He likes to take as short nap in the evenings around 7-8 pm. I’ve tried getting him down before 9 and he usually wakes up again, so right now I don’t bother putting him down for the night before 9pm.
I’ve been off of dairy for nearly two weeks now. I know there have been slip ups here and there because I’m finding out that dairy is in a lot of items! I miss chocolate the most, but have found that some chocolate chips don’t have added milk and some dark chocolates don’t either. I’m currently savoring a bar of Baker’s chocolate! Yeah, I like my dark chocolate! But I miss brownies and the like. I do think going dairy free has helped Forest in some manners, particularly with his diapers–there’s less green and mucousy poo—and some days I think we’re doing better with the reflux and other days I don’t think we are. His first taste of medicine was the liquid Zantac and liquid Tylenol the day of his shot and the look on his face was priceless! He’s taking the Zantac better now but still makes the face and throws a small fit after taking it. Most of the time it all ends up swallowed but sometimes he dribbles it out of his mouth.
Some other adjustments to my return to work was figuring out how much he needed to eat during the day and pumping at work. When breastfeeding on demand he might want to have a sip here and there between real ‘meals’ because babies do get thirsty and aren’t always necessarily hungry. I wondered how that would be sated by bottle feeding. I had my mother-in-law, and continued with my mom this week, write down when he ate and how much along with his naps and their duration so I could look at patterns. So far it appears that about 16-18 ounces from 8-5 is what he takes and generally makes him happy. From my reading about what breastfed babies eat between months 1-6, they obviously vary from baby to baby, but on average babies take in 25 ounces a day with a range from 19-30 ounces. I basically told them to start with a 4 oz bottle and see what he will eat. Sometimes he only takes in 2 ounces to start and then finishes up the rest of the bottle later in the hour after he sits around or snoozes. Sometimes he gobbles up the 4 ounces and would like another ounce 30 minutes later.
As for pumping at work, thankfully I have my own office which allows me to pump in private. Even if I didn’t have my own office there are several places I could duck into and have privacy if I needed it. I had a curtain hung up on my door since it had a window. I pump three times a day with another pump in the morning after Forest feeds around 6-7 am, giving me four pumping times. So far I’ve been able to have about two daytime feedings in the fridge when I get home at the end of the day. This was because I started off with some extra milk in the fridge before I returned to work wanting to have some extra on hand until we determined how much Forest needed during the day. I will probably start freezing 4-8 oz at the end of the week for freezer stash, but that will be determined on how much I have in the fridge at the end of the week. What I pump on Friday will be saved for Monday’s daytime feeding and I will also pump at least one morning during the weekends, maybe two if I feel like it. Pumping four times a day during the week really turns me off to pumping at any other time if I don’t have to.
On the milk supply and pumping, so far it has been great. I have made two batches of lactation cookies so far, running out of the first batch on the first day I returned to work. I feel that they definitely helped with adding in a few extra ounces to my mid-day pumping sessions and could notice a difference when I wasn’t eating them. I think I’ll double the batch next time and freeze one batch so I’m not having to make them every week. I also drink the Mother’s Milk tea as iced tea at home. Some people don’t like the taste, I think it’s the fennel that gets to them, but as an iced tea it really isn’t that bad.
Well, I’m sure I’m missing something but it already took me several days to write this up in bits and pieces. If you have any questions ask away!
Last weekend we took Forest out for his first ‘hike—he strolled, we hiked—at our local state forest, WG Jones State Forest. Chris and I have been there a few times and thought it would be a great outing for us to stretch our legs and to get away from the house for awhile. The forest is split in two by a road, FM 1488, with the larger tract being on the south side of the road. This tract also has the most trails.
We set off from the western most parking area on 1488 and Forest managed to stay asleep during his transfer from truck to stroller. I had debated wearing him in a carrier but knew that he’d likely be asleep when we arrived. Plus, the carriers can be hot in our weather and Forest is generally a ‘hot’ baby, so I didn’t want to overheat him.
Our first wildlife encounter was with a southern leopard frog jumping across the trail. Chris spotted it first and I managed to get my ‘I saw it’ photo before attempting a better photo. The better photo was ruined because our frog friend was skeptical of us and hopped away too quickly.
A lot of the trails in this forest were likely old logging trams but there are several real single-track trails that spur off of these wider pathways. We found one to head down but somehow along the way managed to get off the trail and wound up back on another wider trail.
The stroller did well through here, which was good to know. I was a bit worried it wouldn’t navigate the single-track well.
I think this is an Amanita sp. but I’m not sure. There were quite a few different fungus we saw on our hike that are highlighted below.
I believe this might be cucumber mosaic virus on the beautyberry. We have it in our yard too, on the native beautyberries that are part of the landscape.
I’m not sure on this fungus as it appears to be on the old side. There were two species I thought it might be, however I’m not going to guess. Anyone??
A sweet little lobelia, I think Lobelia puberula.
And a sweet little spiranthes orchid.
Amanita muscaria, not edible and probably poisonous.
I think this is Coltricia perennis but another fungus expert might know better. Not edible.
It was a great first hike for the little dude and a great hike for me to stretch my brain—on learning things again—and my legs!
Sometimes I wonder who the person in the photo is. It’s me, of course, but a different me and yet the same me. It’s odd, motherhood, parenthood. We’re the same people yet completely different. Part of me feels like Forest has always been with us, but of course I know he hasn’t been. There was a time that I couldn’t have even fathomed him. The other day I had placed him on the Boppy to sleep which was situated on the ottoman to our oversized chair in the living room. Leo was sitting with him and I reminisced for a second that Forest was sitting where Samson used to lay with Leo. Forest had replaced Samson in a way. And then I began to think about Samson and how it was only a few months ago that he was here, not the eons ago that it feels like. While Leo has adapted to Forest, Chris and I both wonder how Samson would have adapted to him…probably not nearly as well. He would have been a grouchy old man about it.
I think what I miss most about my former self is the ability to just pick up and go—go outside, walk to get the mail, drive to town and run a frivolous errand, go off exploring, have a weekend in Austin. I know we’ll get back to those things eventually, and some of them I have already adapated to with Forest, but the harder, more involved stuff will take time. And that’s hard. Sitting at home these eight weeks had me passing time mostly sitting on the couch and watching television (oh, daytime tv is awful!), but there were plenty of times that my brain transported me to all sorts of memories that I thought I’d forgotten about. Little inklings of moments from hikes, previous work experiences, times with friends and family—it was something similar that happened to me when we were hiking on the Appalachian Trail. On the AT I spent a lot of time looking down at the pathway making sure I wasn’t going to trip, and all sorts of weird things like the placement of leaves or a tree stump would remind me of something else in a previous time.
As I wrap up the end of my maternity leave part of me wishes it wasn’t over. I mean, I don’t really want to go back to work…but the other part of me is looking forward to a little bit of a mental ‘me’ time—time to listen to the radio, to talk to adults, to focus on something besides a diaper change and if it is time to feed him again. Of course at the same time I would love to be a stay at home mom, one who maybe drops him off at a mother’s day out once in awhile so that she can work on some stuff for herself, but still one that is around to see all of the ‘firsts’ happen instead of someone at daycare seeing it first. We’ve managed to delay daycare for another month with Chris’ mom coming for three weeks in November and my mom coming for a week. I’m nervous about this, too. It’s generally pretty easy to soothe all the cries with the whipping out of a boob—oh the power of a boob!—so I’m worried about periods of crying where nothing soothes him and I’m not there. How’s he going to adapt? Yes, I know that in the end he’ll figure it out and get used to it, but still. I know this week is going to be rough and I’ll likely spend my evenings tied to the couch with him—which will probably be fine with me since I know I’m going to miss him when I get home on Tuesday.
Recovering from a c-section has been better than I imagined. I was really disappointed with the outcome of Forest’s birth for the first two weeks, crying about feeling like I failed, crying over the horrible epidural, just sad about the passage of time and how quickly it all seemed to have been going. I don’t know how much I weighed when I left the hospital but I’m sure it was more than when I entered due to the amount of IV fluids I received. Two weeks after I was home I weighed myself and I had lost 30 lbs of what my known weight was before entering the hospital. I had already started feeling ‘skinny’ compared to the fully pregant I had only been weeks before. Of course that skinny was really just a very flabby belly with a lot of loose skin and definitely not really skinny, but it was all a matter of perspective. I really got a kick out of how that flab and loose skin and untight muscles looked! Oh, I should mention that my belly around the incision area was very bruised and battered for several weeks. It was gross to look at for awhile.
And then for weeks after the scale didn’t budge at all. I was breastfeeding but I wasn’t moving or doing much exercising. I’d started doing some light walking but was still sore around the incision and didn’t want to take chances with messing anything up. Finally after a few weeks I dropped another four pounds which made me quite happy! I had started cleaning up my diet a bit more, taking in healthier calories to keep up with the breastfeeding, and indulging only slightly. Of course now that I’m not eating dairy for Forest’s reflux issue, that eliminates a lot of guilty pleasure foods for me.
To close up the incision they used staples that are supposed to dissolve and then some sort of glue on the outside. I left everything how it was until my final postpartum check-up when I was told I could peel the glue off and my midwife pulled a staple out that I could see that was bothering me. Now that I’m losing a bit more weight and my muscles are firming up again I can feel a few more of those staples. Oh, something else that I was worried about with the incision was this knotted area that felt like something was left inside me. I had mentioned it in the hospital and was told it was probably just blood that had pooled and would eventually be reabsorbed by the body. It stayed there for many weeks and I just realized the other day that it is now gone.
I think it was maybe a week or so after the surgery that I felt like I could get out of bed without grunting or hurting. It was rough the first few days, needing someone to assist me in getting out of a supine position. At least when I was full-term pregnant I could manage to get out of the bed by myself.
The scar itself is very low and should I ever have the body and courage to prance around on the beach in a bikini again, no one would see the scar. I did end up with stretch marks. It took awhile for stretch marks to show up on me and I was hoping I would be one of the few people who didn’t get any (my reading online said that a very slim minority don’t get them, so don’t freak out if you get them) but they showed up sometime in July and more appeared after I had Forest that weren’t visible beforehand. Some of them are already fading but I’m sure there will be some that last forever.
As for getting back into shape I am still continuing walking but have now returned to doing some indoor workout videos on YouTube and I ordered the PiYo series after seeing several friends on Facebook having great success with it. I will definitely say that I lost a lot fitness wise in the 9 months of being pregnant. Now my goal is not only to lose weight but to regain the strength that I lost all over my body. It’s going to be tough figuring out when to workout in the coming months but eventually I plan to use my lunch break to do some of this since there is a shower available at work. I may end up getting up early some days to get a workout in, too. Evenings may be shot for awhile as I adjust to returning back to work and spending time with Forest those evenings. I’ll have to play it by ear.
Having a baby is definitely a life altering event. I mourned my loss of freedom for awhile, still do at times. Breastfeeding and doing it on demand made me insane for awhile and sometimes I lapse back into it, feeling frustrated that I’m the only one who feeds and comforts him. Of course this is a choice we made. Eventually I told myself that I had to just accept it and release any pre-baby goals and thoughts for awhile, to just accept the change and work with it for the time being. I’ll be able to go back to these things I love and do them more often (art, gardening, photography, hiking) as he gets older and we figure out how to juggle it all. I still have to remind myself of this—that this too shall pass and to savor what I can of it, even the insane and frustrating times. (Although, I do not savor the day he got his first shots…OMG…horrible, horrible, day.)
I love this dude! He’s pretty damn awesome!
About a week ago I was coming in from hanging up diapers and noticed a leopard frog on our back porch. It hung around for a few days and let me get a photo of it before finally disappearing into the garden.
We have a healthy frog population around our house but this was the first time I had noticed a leopard frog.
Southern Leopard Frog information from TPWD