Sleep

Every once in a while, or maybe more, who knows, I’m going to throw a post up here about my experience with motherhood. I’m still thinking of adding a post or two from things that I wrote in the early days of motherhood when I was really struggling, but I’m not sure. For now, here’s one about how we approached sleep with/ (for) Gabriel. He’s a pretty good little sleeper these days and my life is mostly normal in terms of sleep, and I feel pretty good about that. The purpose of this blog, for me, is to document things – for me, and for anyone else who’s interested. Some things are already starting to slip my memory in terms of how we’ve gone about raising Gabriel. If we ever do this whole kid thing again, or even if we don’t, I want to remember how we went about things. And maybe someone else can identify with some of these experiences or get an idea, so I’m sharing. So here.

Sleep.

When Gabriel was about 7 weeks old, I went to a lunchtime peer to peer breastfeeding group at The Womb Room. It was the second or third time I’d been. While on maternity leave, most weeks I would go to a breastfeeding group on Mondays at Mercy Hospital, facilitated by a nurse and a lactation consultant, and also this one on Thursdays, facilitated by other breastfeeding mothers. I’d noticed something that felt particularly acute that week: I appreciated the breastfeeding support but I CRAVED information about newborn sleep (particularly overnight sleep) and any indication that I might get more of it soon. On that Thursday, I felt exasperation and desperation as mothers went around the room describing their breastfeeding experiences and challenges, and I just wanted to scream, yes but what about SLEEP?! When it was my turn, I did express my frustration that it didn’t seem to be getting any better and that I needed to know when it would. Everyone around the room was like, oh, 7 weeks? You should start getting longer stretches soon. Four hours, five hours, six hours. At least for the first stretch of the night.

Nope. Until Gabriel was 11 or 12 weeks, we got a four or five hour stretch once, and it was the night after he got his two-month shots. I made sure to breastfeed every two hours during the day, trying to increase day calories so he wouldn’t need them at night. I heard other mothers’ stories of their babies sleeping until 2 or 3 or 6 in the morning, while I was up every night at 11, 2, 4, 5, 6. I tried to come to terms with the fact that Gabriel was maybe just destined to be a bad sleeper. I am, so maybe it’s in the genes.

Sleep: The Early Days

In the first few weeks, I of course had no expectations that Gabriel would understand night and day. But my parents were staying with us, so I could feed Gabriel at 6 am and then pass him off to my mother downstairs and sleep uninterrupted for two more hours until 8 or so. It didn’t really occur to me after she left that I wouldn’t be able to do that anymore, so I kept trying to sleep til 8 or 8:30, but Gabriel was not sleeping at those hours. It felt like I fed at 5:30, 6, 6:45, 7:15. I thought of these as overnight feeds, but they weren’t, really. Around 6 weeks, which also happened to be during a very hot period in Baltimore, I said screw it, I’m just going to start getting up at 6 and going for a walk. It was too hot to go out later in the day anyway. So we’d walk for an hour or more before 8am. 

But I was still feeling desperate. I hit a wall around 9 weeks when we went to Whistler for a family vacation. I was up with Gabriel 4-5 times a night, more frequently as daytime approached. I just fed him every time he woke up fussing. I knew about strategies of not responding right away and all that to see if he went back to sleep (as described, for example, in Bringing up Bebe, an actual source for parenting advice we’ve relied on), but 1) at that particular time, we were in a very close space in an Airbnb, and other people (Dan’s parents) were staying there also. I didn’t want Gabriel to cry for too long. And 2) I was so desperate for sleep that I preferred to just feed him and get it over with than risk him fussing and not stopping and THEN having to feed him, thereby missing out on five or ten minutes of desperately needed sleep.

So I bought Babywise and read it on the flight home (while wearing a Solly-wrapped sleeping baby on my chest). I didn’t know much about it in advance except that it seemed polarizing and some people thought it was cruel and other people swore by it. Whatever, I just needed some ideas.

We tried to implement babywise (ie, a schedule of feeding and naps and a cycle of eating upon waking, followed by wake time, followed by nap time, and then eating upon waking again). We tried to force the schedule (which required unrealistic 1.5 hour naps) for a week or two, and then gave that part up, but kept the cycle of eat, wake, sleep – which actually was a sort of routine we’d fallen into even before I read babywise. Sometimes this led to more cycles in a day than babywise would have predicted, sometimes not. Gabriel rarely ever had a nap longer than 45 minutes (which is still true).

The other thing we adopted around that time was trying to soothe Gabriel back to sleep at night without feeding him for the first part of the night. With a pacifier, it worked – for a bit. Throughout weeks 9-10, we had goals of getting to 1, then 1:30, then 2 am without feeding him and instead giving him his pacifier.

Cool. Until, we started to realize around week 10-11 that we were having to reinsert his pacifier like every 5-10 minutes. This came to a head on another trip, mid-August, to Michigan. We were staying in a hotel room, and none of us were getting any sleep, having to reinsert his pacifier every time it fell out. We were achieving the goal of not feeding until 1 or 2 (some nights), but not actually getting more sleep. When we got home from that trip, I swore we were going cold turkey and giving the pacifier up. And anyway, Babywise emphasized the importance of getting to no sleep props. We tried for the first 24 hours, in which he did not nap or sleep much at all and cried constantly. I realized the following day he also had his first cold, which had been unclear the day before because I thought his hoarse voice and runny nose was due to all the crying. Sigh. And went back to using the pacifier.

Sleep: Finally Seeing Some Light

But not as much. I tried to limit its use to only when it seemed absolutely necessary, including during the day, and seeing if Gabriel would fall asleep without it. And I’m not sure if it has anything to do with our interventions to try to limit it or not, but Gabriel stopped using it on his own within a few days or maybe a week and found his fingers for sucking. Some people think that’s better, some people say it’s a harder habit to break, because you can’t take their fingers away from them. At 10 months, Gabriel still uses his fingers to self soothe, and maybe it will be a hard habit to break. But his ability to self soothe has made all the difference. And for better or worse, he hasn’t really taken a pacifier since. He’ll chew on one these days sometimes, but doesn’t even seem to recognize it as a thing to suck on.

But back to week 11 or 12 and my (new) desperation to break the pacifier habit… which was now no longer helping the sleep situation, but hurting it. In searching for pacifier strategies and what’s normal, I came across Precious Little Sleep, the website companion of the book by the same name, which I recalled that a good friend of mine had recommended. I bought the book and read it immediately (even sacrificing some sleep to do so).

Fast forward to now, it’s seven or more months later, and Gabriel consistently sleeps through the night from 7 or 7:30 til 6 or 6:30, and mostly has since his six month birthday. We go through periods of early wake ups (5-5:30), and are currently, but that’s the worst of it. He naps pretty well at home (they’re short sometimes, but he falls asleep easily), not so well at daycare, but better now than a few months ago. All in all, sleep is good. I’m no longer desperate and haven’t been in months. 

Sleep: What Worked For Us

So I’ll tell you what we did, but the real implementation of strategies didn’t really begin until 3-4 months. Had I read these books earlier, could I have implemented things earlier? Would I with the next kid (if there is a next kid)? Maybe not really. Most of it can’t be done before then.

The most valuable things I got from those books were:

1. The eat, wake, sleep structure. This might not work for everyone, and some people worry that it sets babies up for short naps (if they’ve been awake for a while after eating, they might wake up from their nap out of hunger, whereas if you fed right before a nap, they wouldn’t wake up for that reason). But it helped us so much. It helped me because I thrive on routine. I think it mostly helped my husband because he had a solution for a fussy baby. If baby’s just woken up and was fussy, he was probably hungry. If he’s eaten and been awake for a while, he was probably tired. And that helped me because then husband wasn’t always begging me to feed baby to get him to stop crying. We still do it. We dropped to four feeds when we dropped to two naps around 7 months or so, so I feed Gabriel upon waking for the day, after the first and second naps, and before bed.

2. The importance of establishing independent sleep.

3. The importance of a consistent routine. 

Here’s what we did (that I think helped):

• 3 weeks and beyond: Tried to lay him down awake in the normal sleep spot for at least one nap a day. Gabriel slept all over the place – being carried, in a bassinet down in the kitchen, on walks in the stroller, in the car seat. But he usually had at least one good morning nap and one good afternoon nap, and I tried to have at least one of those be in his bassinet in our room where he also slept at night, and to put him down awake or drowsy if possible (that didn’t always happen). Later, around 10 or 12 weeks, we started trying to have this be in his crib in his room instead of the bassinet in our room.

• 3-4 weeks: Have a consistent night time routine. We didn’t REALLY have this down until after I read Precious Little Sleep (and until we moved him out of our room at just after 3 months), but starting very early, I did try to read him a story every night before the sleep period that I hoped would be the longest.

• 3-4 weeks: Pause. Wait a minute or two, whatever felt comfortable, before responding to his fussing. I didn’t always do this, as I said before, but often I did.

• 9 weeks: Implemented consistent wake time of 6:30am. (Tried to implement a full Babywise schedule, but that didn’t work). We’ve had this wake time since then. Correct, I haven’t really slept past 6:30am in 8 months.

• 2.5 months: A little bit of crying when it was time to go to sleep (at night, or for a nap). I wasn’t comfortable letting him cry much yet (and PLS and AAP and various other sources recommend against ‘cry it out’ before four months), so this was a transition from not letting him cry at all to letting him cry a little to letting him cry longer – not an immediate thing. As the days and weeks passed, I got more comfortable with letting him cry 2, 5, sometimes 10 minutes. (Dan was comfortable much earlier.) Gabriel didn’t usually cry longer than that to fall asleep, and if he did, I would try to calm him, and if that didn’t work (total crying of about 20 mins, with some intermittent intervention), I would just get him up and start the cycle over (feeding, wake time, down for a nap after some wake time).

• 2.5-3 months: After I read Babywise but especially Precious Little Sleep, we stopped doing things that could become sleep crutches. No rocking to sleep, no feeding to sleep (we switched up the bedtime routine to begin feeding him first, then doing pajamas, bath if doing that night, and story), no letting him fall asleep on us. (The feeding him first thing terrified me because it made me worry that I would lose that potential sleep time because he’d wake up earlier because he’d fed earlier by 20ish minutes. But it was fine.)

• 2.5-3 months: At about 11-12 weeks, I started trying to set a consistent bedtime as well as the consistent daily wake time. I started with 9pm or so, but Gabriel wasn’t making it that long, and it was shifted up to 7:30 within a week, with bedtime routine starting consistently at 7pm every night. We stuck with this until around 7 months when we dropped to two naps and were having early wake ups, so bedtime routine shifted as early as 6:30 and down by 6:45 or 7, depending on how naps went during the day (yes, earlier bedtime helped him sleep later 🤷‍♀️). More recently, we’re back to a 7/7:30 bed time. But a consistent bedtime was magical. Suddenly I had a baby-less hour to myself each night after he went to sleep and before I went to sleep. Until this point, I’d gone to bed when he did in order to maximize sleep, but somehow this consistency gave me the freedom and confidence (that I would still get some quality sleep) to prioritize a bit of me time over sleep.

• 3 months: The night before his 3-month birthday, Gabriel woke up around 10 or something and I fed him, and then he miraculously slept until daily wake time. It wasn’t repeated in the surrounding nights, but was encouraging all the same.

• 3 months, 1 week: We moved him to his crib in his room for overnight. AAP recommendations are to sleep in the parents’ room until 6 months, but it wasn’t destined to be for us. We didn’t suddenly all start sleeping better, but it was a slight improvement (even if just in terms of not having to tiptoe around the bedroom at night). We were still up frequently overnight and my superhuman mother ears (never mind the monitor) meant that I felt like I was awake at his every movement and noise still.

• Around 4 months: The night before his 4 month birthday, Gabriel had his first night actually sleeping through from bedtime to daily wake time. Again, this was a one-time occurrence. But, we started to be more comfortable with him crying a bit, and around this time, I stopped feeding him before midnight. Period. I would send Dan in to soothe him if he woke up crying (or I would go in if Dan wasn’t home). For full transparency, Gabriel was persistent. Throughout the next few months, there were at least a handful of nights where he cried for 1-2 hours. It was kind of rough, but I wasn’t worried that he needed to eat. And Dan would go in and soothe, so I felt better that he didn’t feel abandoned.

• Around 5 months: Gabriel was not waking until 3-4am most nights to feed (although sometimes would still wake up at like 11 and cry, then fall back to sleep until 3-4), so I stopped feeding him if he woke before 2 am. This basically meant I was feeding him once between 3 and 4, and sleeping the rest of the night. This felt pretty sustainable. And honestly, the one overnight feed felt like cozy quality time. But it also really started to feel more like a habit than a need.

• 6 months: So, on Gabriel’s 6 month birthday, I stopped feeding him overnight altogether. In the week leading up to this, I limited the 3am feed to 10 minutes, then 8, then 6, hoping he would drop it himself. Nope. We did 2 minutes the last night. And then… none. His 6 month birthday was on a Monday. He cried for a bit, I don’t remember. 30-60 minutes? Same thing Tuesday night. Wednesday night, I woke up with a stomach bug and feeling terrible. After throwing up, I decided to go check on Gabriel at 2:30am. He was fast asleep…. laying in his own vomit. So I got him up and changed his sheets and fed him, obviously. Thursday night and Friday night were miracles. No wake ups, no crying, no peeps. Then Saturday night. It was the worst. He cried for 2-3 hours, maybe more. I even went in and rocked him for 20 minutes at one point. It was awful. I realized the next morning that he had a piece of hair wrapped tightly around a finger, which may have been the issue. :(.

• And since then…. mostly sleeping through the night with no wakeups. Around the holidays (7 months), we had family staying with us and the whole household was up later than usual, which disrupted things. I did feed him 2 nights in a row after bedtime because I was awake, and he’d woken up from people bustling around, and I think I was also worried he hadn’t been eating enough. Anyway, that resulted in two more nights of crying after everyone left, and then things went back to normal. 

• Now (almost 10 months): Gabriel is still on two naps that range typically from 45 minutes to 1:15 at home, and shorter at daycare. His overnight sleep is more like 10.5 or 11 hours, so that often means early wake ups if he goes to bed at 7, but we are trying to move bedtime later instead (which has sort of been helped by DST and two trips out west). He surprised me with 11.5 hours (7:15p to 6:45a) a few nights ago, but that’s not the norm lately. But in any case, we are all mostly well rested, confident that we will get a good nights sleep, and no longer desperate. 

Hallelujah. 

Holiday-themed Weekend

My approach to weekends has changed a bit since having Gabriel. I used to be v.e.r.y hesitant to make plans, preferring to hole up and homebody (and often cook :)). I still would probably prefer that, but it’s no longer possible with an infant, who needs to be looked after and somewhat entertained all day. It’s nice to spend time together, but it’s also sometimes exhausting (especially if he’s fussy) or boring (if we read the same book five times or just sit on the floor and bang toys around). So having activities to do to get out of the house is often a welcome distraction for us both. It keeps us entertained. So I find myself saying yes to more things than I used to. This weekend I did four events in two days, which would have been totally unheard of pre-baby. And enjoyably, most were holiday-themed!

On Saturday, I attended the annual Baltimore Delta Gamma alumnae ornament exchange. I brought Gabriel, of course. Dan works overnight on Fridays so sleeps til 1 or 2pm on Saturdays. I love this event. The hostess has a lovely home and makes a delicious brunch, and we exchange ornaments white elephant style. I came home with two anchor ornaments that look nice on our tree. Gabriel did great. Around his nap time, I put him in the Ergo to see if he’d sleep on me, which we hadn’t tried in months. It took a bit (~20 minutes?) but he eventually fell asleep. It was nice, because we don’t cuddle like that anymore (goal: independent sleep habits, achieved). And then I think he slept on the car ride home.

That evening (okay, late afternoon really), we went to a friends’ house to have latkes and light Hanukkah candles. She has a two year old and a three month old and was very impressive wrangling them both (Dan and I weren’t much help unfortunately – they mostly wanted their mom’s attention) until her husband came home. It was really nice to visit. Gabriel had a 30-minute late bedtime, but was okay.

On Sunday, we had three couples over, two of which have two kids each, ages 3-6. Four of the six adults went to high school with Dan, and we all try to get together roughly annually. Before Dan and I lived in the area, we would see them when we came to Dan’s parents for the holidays. Now that we live nearby, we don’t see them any more frequently unfortunately, but it’s nice when we do. I made this chili from The Real Food RDs (added kidney beans near the end), and it was a big hit. One couple brought cornbread and beer, another cookies, and the other cookies. We had a great visit, got to enjoy entertaining in our new house, and proved that multiple young children can survive in and enjoy the space.

Finally, yesterday evening we went to another friend’s house in Hampden to celebrate their daughter’s third birthday and walk to 34th St to see the wild Christmas lights that the entire block participates in. They do it every year, it’s a Baltimore thing, but I’d never gone. There was a Santa on a Harley Davidson and other Baltimore things. We didn’t stay for long – it was again past Gabriel’s bedtime and he was letting us know it, but it was still fun to walk around with him and see the lights.

I think we (well, me) paid for the schedule disruption this morning when Gabriel woke up crying an hour early. Dan always says something like, well, maybe he’ll sleep well tonight, or maybe he’ll sleep in, when he gets less sleep due to missed naps or late bedtime. But no – it throws everything out of whack and usually results in less sleep for me. But I’m starting to be well-rested enough to think that sometimes it’s worth it, because I had a lot of fun this weekend!

Halfway There – Pregnancy Purchases (or make-dos)

I’ve spent a fair amount of time perseverating over whether to buy certain products (mostly clothes) while pregnant, and which ones. I thought I’d share what I’ve found it worth my dollars to spend money on so far in my pregnancy (and what I’ve somewhat regretted). I’ll probably do another post like this near/after the end of my pregnancy.

I may also do a post on our baby registry, which required way more research and thought.

Hopefully this is helpful to someone! Jumping right in:

Workout bottoms:

  • Lululemon high-waisted full on luon ankle tight (non-maternity)I bought these around 11 weeks pregnant in a size 8. I’m normally a size 6. (Ankle length fits me full-length.) I figured they would work for the first part of my pregnancy and again after birth. They’ve been great, and they’re still working at 22.5 weeks (and a big bump) without slipping down below the belly too much. (I actually originally purchased these in a 10, since I’d seen a recommendation to go two sizes up, but they seemed too large, so I returned them for the 8.)
  • Lululemon high-waisted full on luon crop (non-maternity): I bought these at the same time as the ones above, in a size 10. I decided to keep these in a size 10, thinking I’d probably still need the room to grow. However, at 11 weeks I had to constantly pull these up during a workout. And the same is true now at 22 weeks. They don’t stay up on my bump as well as the 8s. So I guess I should have just gone one size up after all. Still, I’ve been using these regardless (especially now that I’ve started prenatal yoga that allows for more pulling up than CrossFit does), and I’m glad to have the second pair.
  • Ingrid & Isabel ‘Active’ maternity leggings: Around 19 weeks, I finally broke down and bought a maternity pair of workout pants. I got these in a size small, which is my pre-pregnancy size for most leggings. Hopefully these will last me til the end. They’re super comfortable and good for all kinds of workouts, plus lounging (if they’re not already sweaty from the day’s workout…). If my Lulus stop working, I might need to get another pair.

Workout tops:

  • GapFit Maternity Breath short sleeve crew tee: So far, this is the only dedicated maternity workout top I’ve purchased. I got a medium, as I’m often between a small and medium in shirts (pre-pregnancy). A small probably would have worked fine so far, but the medium is fine too and I’m only going to get bigger. I only started wearing this around 18 weeks or so because it really accentuates the belly. But hey – I really have one now.
  • Other than that, I’ve just used longer Ts that I already had on hand for a while, though I think that is coming to an end. I’ve also been able to wear my Sweaty Betty Athlete tank tops (I had one already and then purchased another recently in a sale, both size M), and I also purchased an Athleta Speedlight tank (size small) when I was in Colorado because I forgot a workout top. It’s still working. I have NOT been wearing my Lululemon racerback tanks since about 11-12 weeks because they would ride up and be super stretched out (the SB and Athleta tops have that grippy stuff around the bottom hem that helps keep them down below the bump).

Sports bras:

This has been the area of biggest frustration for me. Many years ago, I decided that investing in good, supportive sports bras is worth it, even though they are expensive. So, I’ve been annoyed that I’ve had to invest in MULTIPLE, and even some of those aren’t really working anymore. Here’s what I’ve been wearing (only the last three were new purchases):

  • Sweaty Betty Victory padded run bra: I bought this in a 34C (my pre-pregnancy size) JUST before I found out I was pregnant (at about 4 weeks). I was able to wear it through… maybe 8-10 weeks? #frustrating
  • Lululemon Enlite bra: I had this pre-pregnancy in a 34C. I was able to wear this until maybe 16 or 17 weeks.
  • Moving Comfort Juno bra: I had this pre-pregnancy in 34C. I was also able to wear this until maybe 16 or 17 weeks.
  • Sweaty Betty Victory padded run bra: When the two bras above started getting tight AND SB was having a holiday sale, I bought this again in a 36D. I bought this at 16.5 weeks, probably started wearing it at 17 weeks… and now at 22 weeks, it’s already too tight. Gaaaaaah. This one is the most frustrating. It was only $32 on sale, but still. 5 weeks of use?! Maybe it’ll be useful post-pregnancy. I don’t know. #veryfrustrating
  • Moving Comfort Juno bra: This bra is a recurring theme. I love it. I also had this one pre-pregnancy in a 36D, saved from several years ago before I’d lost some weight and when I had bigger breasts. Hallelujah! I’m still able to wear this at 22.5 weeks, but it’s getting tight.
  • Juno bra by Brooks: I just purchased this in a 36DD and wore it for the first time this morning (22.5 weeks). This version is slightly different than the Moving Comfort ones I already had, even though I know Moving Comfort is by Brooks. I think this one still has a little room to grow… (thank god).

So let’s take stock of my current sports bra situation. As of today, I can wear the 36DD Juno, the 36D Juno (but it’s tight)… and the 36D Sweaty Betty Victory if I can handle being fairly uncomfortable. The last two aren’t going to last much longer at this rate. SIGH. I think it’s so important to have a good fitting high-impact sports bra, but this is EXPENSIVE.

Casual bottoms:

  • J. Crew signature leggings (non-maternity): I bought these very shortly after I found out I was pregnant, knowing that I would want something that was stretchy as my body started to grow but before I really had a bump. I tried a small and medium. Normally I would have kept the small, but since I was purchasing them to have room to grow, I kept the medium. I haven’t tried these on in a week or two, but so far they’re still working, though they don’t really have much to keep the waist band up on the belly instead of below it. I might start wearing them with my belly band (see below). I think they’ll work for a while. I’ve thought of getting maternity leggings, but I’d prefer to make do with what I have while I can.
  • JUSTBLACK Maternity skinny jean in dark grey from Stitch Fix: When I was about 8 weeks pregnant and realized I needed some maternity clothes but didn’t know where to start, I decided to start with a Stitch Fix box. I ended up keeping all five items in it (a questionable decision, as you’ll see). I got these in a size 28, which I thought was too big, but now is probably about right. I’m usually a 27 or 28. I still wear these with my belly band (see below) to hold them up, but I think they fit right in the hips/thighs. Hopefully these will work all the way through! I wear them a lot.
  • GapMaternity full panel best girlfriend jeans: Got these in a size 28. They’re roomy in the hips and thighs. I guess I’m glad I got these to have another jeans option, but I usually just wear these at home on telework days or weekends. If I’m going out of the house, I’ll usually wear the grey jeans above. I probably could have foregone this purchase.

Work bottoms:

  • LOFT Maternity skinny ankle pant: I got these in a 6 petite, which is usually my pre-pregnancy size. I started wearing these around 12 weeks, and they’re still working great.

Tops:

I was able to wear my pre-pregnancy tops for maybe the first 12 weeks. Since then, it’s been more limited to certain sweaters (generally longer ones) and some button-down shirts. Most of those are starting to become inappropriate, so I’m down to a few maternity tops. Purchases include:

  • Bowie 3/4 Sleeve Dolman Knit Top from Stitch Fix (non-maternity): This was in that one StitchFix box I got (size small). I think I’ve worn it twice. It is roomy and flowy and was advertised as being good for the in-between period, and it seemed it would be. But I just don’t love it, and the in-between period really only lasted a few weeks. While it’s roomy and flowy, it’s not super long, so (I just tried it on again) it doesn’t completely cover the pants belly panel, especially if I raise my arms. But I should wear this one or two more times before it really becomes impossible. And maybe it’ll be useful post-pregnancy for a bit.
  • Chiana Graphic Open Drape Cardigan (non-maternity): Also in that StitchFix box, size S. I’ve never loved the super-long cardigan look, but I actually LOVE this and wear it all the time. It was great for the in-between time and now the early bump time. I imagine it will take me through to the end and beyond.
  • Loveappella Charlote Ruched side maternity knit top from Stitch Fix: Also in StitchFix box, size S. Since this is clearly a maternity shirt, I didn’t start wearing it until 17-18 weeks. But I love it.
  • H&M MAMA Jersey top (maternity): size medium. In addition to the Loveappella top above, this is one of three maternity tops I own right now. Essential. If you’ve seen me in the past four weeks, I was probably wearing this or the Loveappella top, the chiana cardigan, and my grey maternity jeans.
  • Old Navy maternity classic white popover shirt: Size small. This is bordering on the tent-like-maternity-shirt-necessary-in-the-third-trimester, but given my shortage of shirts, I wore this for the first time to work yesterday. Roomy, so far.

Dresses:

  • Renee C Lior Maternity Cross Front Aline Dress from Stitch Fix: Size M. This was the last item in that StitchFix box. With the 25% discount they give you if you buy all five items, sometimes it doesn’t make sense to return an item. I haven’t worn this yet, but I’m just now probably getting to wear I’m pregnant enough for it to make sense. The print is a little louder than I’d normally choose, but I decided I liked it enough to keep it (especially when the marginal cost is free). It could be nice for a shower dress or for work.
  • GapMaternity 3/4 sleeve wrap dress: Size S. This dress, along with the LOFT pants and couple shirts above, rounds out my work wardrobe for the most part. (Plus Le Tote, see below.) This one should work all the way through, and I don’t think I’ll need to buy more work clothes, though maybe another shirt or two. I only go into the office 3x/week, and one of those (Fridays) I can typically wear jeans. So my LOFT pants one day, my dress another, and my jeans the last. That’ll do for about 6 months, right?
  • Kimi & Kai Lace Maternity Skater Dress: After a) realizing that it costs at minimum about $45 to rent a dress and b) that I have three weddings to go to in the next four months, I decided it would be worth it to spend $90 on a maternity dress that I can (hopefully) wear to all three and that I can guarantee I like (which isn’t always true of rentals). I ordered no less than 8 dresses from Nordstrom to try on, including this one in teal and a medium as well as in black and a small. I kept the small, black one. I’ll wear it to a wedding next month in Houston and hopefully to another in April and a final in mid-May. There’s definitely room for belly growth, some room for boob growth, and generally otherwise forgiving. Fingers crossed.

Hosiery and Undergarments:

  • H&M MAMA tights 100-denier: The denier indicates opacity. These are pretty opaque. Size medium. I needed tights to wear with my dress.
  • H&M MAMA tights 30-denier: Size medium. Again, just generally need tights in the winter. I’ll wear these to those weddings (but don’t want to wear them every day, because they’re pretty thin and therefore colder and more likely to snag).
  • Belevation Maternity Support Belly BandSize medium. Belly bands are advertised as being for women who want to keep wearing their pre-pregnancy pants so that they can wear them unbuttoned and this will keep them up. Well, I only wear this with maternity pants. I’m not sure why, but the panel in maternity pants isn’t enough to hold the pants up… they start to slip down and pull my underwear with them. It’s very uncomfortable. It’s probably for a similar reason that I ALWAYS have to wear a belt with regular jeans. I think I’m just shaped funny (and have proportionally larger thighs than waist, although now I don’t have a waist, so who knows). Anyway, whatever the reason, this has vastly improved the maternity-pant-wearing experience. I’ve also worn it once on a long run with my Lulu Wunder Unders, and I’m going to start wearing it with my non-maternity J. Crew leggings.
  • ThirdLove Classic T-Shirt Bra: Size 36D. This (and by ‘this,’ I mean a bigger bra) became a desire around 10-11 weeks and a must around 11-12. It was a little too big when I got it, but now (22.5 weeks) fits quite well and is starting to approach maybe too small. This is the only real bra I have that fits. I wear it a lot. Like, most days if not every day. I’m getting close to buying a new one, but I would like my next purchase to be a nursing bra, so I want to get closer to estimating what my final bra size is going to be. Like sports bras, I believe in investing in good quality regular bras, but unlike sports bras, I’m comfortable not washing this after every single use. Also, I have two Patagonia Barely Bras that I had pre-pregnancy (size M) that I wear when I’m at home (which is 2x/work week and on the weekends). I wouldn’t wear these out of the house at this point, though.

Other Clothing ‘Purchases’:

Not wanting to buy a lot more clothes but knowing I’d want some more variety over the last five months of pregnancy, I decided to try LeTote’s subscription service. They have a maternity option. I selected the one where you pay a flat fee per month and get three clothing items and two accessories per box. Why pregnancy necessitates new accessories, I still can’t explain. You can wear the items as many times as you like and then return them, at which point LeTote will send you another box. Boxes are unlimited and you get to select the items you’re going to get in your box. In my first box, I only wore one clothing item (a size M Seraphine black pencil skirt) and the two accessories. The other two clothing items (a VERY low-cut dress – why are so many maternity dresses V-neck??? – and a tent-like maternity top) were no good. I just got my second box last night, and I will wear the shirt for sure, the sweater most likely, the accessories definitely, and not the dress. So. I cancelled the subscription. I’ve only paid for one month and got several days’ outfits out of it (while avoiding making unnecessary purchases), so I’m okay with having made this purchase, but also think it’s right that I cancelled.

Other purchases:

  • Honest Organic Belly BalmI started using this around 20 weeks. I haven’t noticed any new stretch marks so far and there’s no real evidence that using something like this prevents them, but why the hell not try? It supposedly also helps prevent itchy skin which commonly occurs as the belly skin stretches. So far so good.
  • Thorne D3/K2 dropsMy early pregnancy bloodwork indicated that I’m ‘deficient’ in Vitamin D. I’ve paid enough attention to people like Chris Masterjohn and Chris Kresser to know that that statement is more complicated than people suggest, so I put off doing anything about it for a while. I did try to make a more concerted effort to get sunshine during the day, but then temps were in the single digits for a few weeks and work was super busy and that just didn’t happen. So I decided it wouldn’t hurt to try these. I use 2-4 drops (which is only 1,000-2,000 IU of Vitamin D3) per day.
  • PaleoValley GrassFed Organ Complex: Because I’m not even pretending to try to eat organ meats right now. And, assuming this is as potent and real-food-like as it claims it is, this is so much easier.
  • Rosita Extra Virgin Cod Liver OilBecause I haven’t been making salmon a priority, and I want baby to have all the DHA he needs to grow a fully functional brain and nervous system and I trust Liz Wolfe.

Those supplements, along with the prenatal vitamin and probiotic I was taking well before I got pregnant, make me feel like I’ve turned away from my real-food roots and am succumbing to the supplement hoo ha. Maybe I am. But just for pregnancy. I expect to go back to assuming my diet fulfills all my needs as soon as I’ve given birth. Or as soon as I’m done breast feeding. You know. Eventually.

Assessment:

So there you have it. Those are all the things I’ve spent hard-earned money on (or in some cases already had) as a result of being pregnant. Not a short list. That’s depressing. But I really feel like most of it has been worth it, with the possible exceptions of the second Sweaty Betty sports bra, the Bowie knit top from Stitch Fix, and maybe the Gap jeans and Stitch Fix dress.

I also have my eye on this cozy sweatshirt. I’ll probably break down and buy it. But unlike the other items I’ve bought, which I intended to buy as living essentials (to work out, go to work, have clothes that fit, etc.), this one would be pure luxury. I want it just because I want it. We’re going to Telluride for almost a week in February, and I want this to go with me. We’ll see.

 

Lately – February 2017

Lately:

Things I’ve been reading:

  • The Bone People. About three people – a man, a woman, and a child – all damaged. Set in New Zealand. Really beautiful, really hard to read at points, and really wonderful.
  • Big Little Lies. I read this on a short vacation in Park City last weekend. I was in the middle of reading Underground Railroad, but switched to this so that I could start watching the HBO series. I thought I had read it already, but I hadn’t. (Instead, I’d read The Husband’s Secret by the same author.) Anyway, a quick, fun, suspenseful read!
  • The Underground Railroad. Currently reading. Isn’t everyone? I’m going to a book club for this book on Wednesday (in three days!) and I’m only 30% into it. I should not have deviated last weekend to read Big Little Lies. Sigh. Anyway, I’m into it, it’s not that I’m not into it. I was just feeling a little beaten up after The Sympathizer and The Bone People and not wanting to read something with torture and abuse. Hence the deviation. But I’m back at it, and maybe I’ll be able to read enough by  Wednesday.

Things I’ve been watching:

  • Big Little Lies. I’ve watched the first two episodes. I think it’s good. It’s so hard to watch things based on books I’ve read. So far, it has only minor deviations from the book. I think it’s good. Certainly good enough to have on while I’m cooking dinner!
  • The Putin segment of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. I don’t actually usually watch these types of shows (I group this with The Daily Show, SNL, Colbert, etc.). But I always wish I watched them more, and on the particular evening I watched this, I really wanted some perspective and comic relief on the media.

Things I’ve been eating:

  • Many of the recipes from Cassy Joy Garcia’s Fed & Fit book, including:
    • Cold Cut Roll-ups
    • Basic Pork Tenderloin and Easy Parsnip Mash
    • Roasted Fruit Pops
    • Anti-inflammatory Smoothie (I added spinach.)fullsizeoutput_aa9a
    • Buffalo Ranch Bison Burgers and Braised Greens (Really enjoyed these, and have been eating the leftovers in a salad with roasted sweet potato chunks and leftover homemade paleo ranch dressing, also from the book.)fullsizeoutput_aa99
    • Plantain Protein Pancakes with Salted Raspberry Jam (Yum.)
    • Sausage & Cranberry Stuffed Acorn Squash with Rosemary Orange Cream Sauce (thought I would love this, but I think I could have cooked my acorn longer, and citrus-y anything is really hit or miss for me. The orange cream sauce was a bit of a miss.) (Photo is from before I cooked it. You couldn’t see any red after I cooked it.)fullsizeoutput_aa98
    • Lemony Kale & Sausage Soup (wasn’t sure I would like this because, again, citrus. But turns out it was delicious and the lemon wasn’t lemon-y tasting, just bright.)
    • Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash Casserole (quite a lot of prep but pretty good).a2e19108-4b8a-401e-ba8e-3a1021aea263
    • Buffalo Chicken Casserole (made for the Super Bowl, and made with spaghetti squash instead of potatoes, which I didn’t have. Very good.)

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  • And… HelloFresh! Dan and I tried it out for two weeks. We meant to only do one week (we had an introductory offer), but I forgot to cancel it in time. I have to say, all the meals were really, really, really good. Easy to prepare, not too time consuming. I’ve always sort of pooh poohed these home delivery dinner things, since I have no trouble prioritizing grocery shopping and making dinner. But. It was convenient and delicious. And I was able to make them all paleo/Fed&Fit compliant. We’re trying Blue Apron with an introductory offer next week 🙂 (but those will be more difficult to make paleo/compliant). Some photos:

Races I’ve registered for:

Fitness I’ve been doing:

  • Still CrossFitting at CrossFit Federal Hill. 3x week, except the past two weeks. I developed some fairly intense low back pain throughout January, and it got so bad a few weeks ago that I totally put the halt on everything. Then I saw a PT and met with the gym owner and gained back some confidence to keep moving but taking it easy. So now I’m back at it, with lower weights.
  • Still running 2x week. Yesterday, I did a 6-mile trail run in Patapsco State Park. I combined the Soapstone Trail with the Grist Mill Trail and road, then the River Trail, and returned on the Grist Mill Trail from the swinging bridge. Clio had a blast (so did I). It was near 70 degrees! I’ll be doing more trail runs to get ready for the half marathon. Fun!
  • Easy C1 yoga at CorePowerYoga in Fed Hill and Canton. This has been amazing for my back. I hadn’t been in a while, but have been 3-4 times over the past two weeks.
  • Skiing at Snowbird and Deer Valley in Utah last weekend.

So that’s that! I’m going to do a cooking class tonight with Baltimore Delta Gamma alumnae at Pier Point Restaurant. Looking forward to it!

Eating and Skiing in Park City

Dan and I had a romantical weekend in Park City, UT last weekend. Here’s what we ate:

  • Handle. We ate here our first night. We shared four starters (beet salad, mushrooms, smoked trout, and buffalo cauliflower) and one entree (venison). They’re famous for their buffalo cauliflower, apparently, and it was good… but I could have taken or left it. It was probably good to have because Dan was hungry. But the beet salad (with a duck egg), mushrooms (with crusty bread slathered in some kind of fat), and smoked trout (with pepper jelly and ricotta cream) were really great. The venison was simplegreat but not the star. The service was pretty good (definitely acceptable but not impeccable), and the atmosphere was nice.
  • Firewood. We ate here our second night in Park City. This restaurant has only been open for about 8 weeks, I believe, and you could tell. As I mentioned in my Charlottesville post, the entry process at restaurants can make or break the experience for me. When we arrived, there were several other groups in the entryway of this restaurant. It was unclear what they were all doing, but it seemed that one was waiting for a table, one was getting their coats hung up (nice touch – something I looked for and was missing at Handle). But the walkway to the host podium was clear, so I walked up to it, where the hostess was looking down at her iPad. And continued to look down, doing stuff. And continued. After a minute or so, she finally looked up and greeted me. Not. Cool. Then we had to ask to get our coats hung (the coat hang lady didn’t realize we were not part of another group or waiting for that, but that’s forgivable). Finally, we were seated. When our server walked up, he had a card in his hands, and he too, was looking down at it (I think reading from it, actually), as he approached our table, and he did not make eye contact for the first several seconds. He ended up being a fine server, though a little awkward. The food was really good, though. We split two starters (oak wood roasted acorn squash with baby greens, goat cheese and cardamom spiced pumpkin seeds – YUM!; and the applewood smoked burrata with beets and tarragon pesto) and each had a main (Dan had the rack of lamb with lentil ragout, and I had the berbere spiced duck). All very, very good. Especially that roasted acorn squash. God.
  • Wasatch Brew Pub. Nothing special, just burgers and beer (my burger was pretty salty, actually). But the service was notable. Again, nothing special, very casual… but very well-timed, no awkwardness. It was in stark contrast to the evening before at Firewood. (We overheard that our server was also a server at a fancy restaurant, I believe at Deer Valley, so that might explain it.

We skied at Snowbird and Deer Valley. Snowbird was white out conditions – not my fave. Deer Valley started out with some windy, white out conditions, but the weather improved, and I had a really, really enjoyable day. I didn’t want it to be over! (Usually by 3 I’m ready to cuddle up with my book and a drink in the lodge, but not this day.)

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Revelstoke

Six or so years ago, my husband and his best friend spent a day skiing with a classmate of my husband’s and her father. They raved about the skiing in this place called Revelstoke in British Columbia, Canada. I think it was a new resort at the time. (Wikipedia just told me it opened in December 2007.) My husband and his best friend have fantasized about skiing there ever since.

The two of them have been skiing together out west at least once a year (and usually more) for the past ten years. For the first six of those years, it was just the two of them and occasionally me and/or someone else who was available for a somewhat random ski hill meetup, like with Dan’s classmate. But for the past four years, it has been a bigger group/reunion, with a core group of six of us that all went to the same college, plus a few other friends or significant others each year. Four years ago, we rented a house outside Park City. I believe there were 7 of us that  year. The next year, we got a house (the best house ever) in Big Sky, Montana. We were… 12? that year. Again, friends from college, Atlanta, a friend of mine from Madison, and friends of friends. Last year was thrown together a little late – we were 8 staying in a not-as-great house in Salt Lake City and driving to ski resorts, but I had one of my favorite days skiing ever at Powder Mountain. And this year, finally, we made the trek to Revelstoke, Canada. This year there were 8 of us total.

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It took 17 hours of traveling to get there, and 17 hours to get home yesterday. Both travel days, we had to wake up at 3 am local time. But it was worth it.

We got to see friends:

 

There were some amazing views of Revelstoke and the Columbia River:

 

And Lake Louise in Banff:

 

Plus I got to go for a short 3-mile hike, all by myself, fresh tracks, in Mount Revelstoke National Park (with snow up to my waist when I accidentally stepped off the path – the pictures don’t quite capture it):

 

And see wildlife. In the middle of the Trans-Canada Highway:

 

And eat good food. Some of which was only good-tasting if not good for me:

As far as eating goes, our MO has become a huge Costco shopping trip as soon as we arrive to purchase food for the week. Each person/couple takes a night to cook and populates a shared grocery shopping list in advance. We spend the last night (or in this case, two) eating leftovers. One or two people also take on sandwich-making duties each morning for everyone for on-mountain lunches. It works out great. Our Costco trip for 8 people this time for the week was under $500. That’s about $60/person for food for the week. Not bad. And everyone makes really good food. In the picture above, Dan is eating a taco filled with mole chicken we made together. For dinners, we ate:

  • Saturday (arrival day): burgers and sausages, salad, and sweet potato fries
  • Sunday: meatballs and pasta (atop kale for me)
  • Monday: homemade pizza
  • Tuesday: chicken in mole sauce, plus taco fixings
  • Wednesday: tofu stir fry
  • Thursday and Friday: leftovers

We did pretty well this time not wasting any food. In past years, we’ve eaten at least one dinner out. This time, we didn’t do any (though I did fill up on that poutine in the picture above on the last day at the Lake Louise ski resort), but we probably should have eaten out the last night. We were really scrounging. But we got back from Lake Louise late after a harrowing 3.5 hour drive through fog and snowy roads along the Trans-Canada Highway and then had to get up at 3 am the next morning to drive 2.5 hours more, so eating out wasn’t really in the cards.

I skied 4 days – 3 at Revelstoke and 1 at Lake Louise. Two friends and I (we are known as the ‘Blue Crew,’ but have sort of graduated to the ‘Blue-Black Crew’) took a private lesson on the second afternoon that was a lot of fun. I like doing stuff that challenges me (i.e., not just the blue groomers), but I like having my hand held when I do it.

Revelstoke was amazing. It has the longest vertical in North America (5,620 feet). The longest run (the green run that goes from the top all the way down) is 9.5 miles long. It was exhausting. We got a fair amount of snow mid-week and had a lot of powder on Wednesday, which was incredible. So fun. Longer lift lines, unfortunately, but worth it.

Lake Louise was okay. It was kind of icy in parts and had less varied/interesting terrain. The view across the valley of Lake Louise was incredible, though. Pictures don’t do any of this justice. And I was sort of cold that day and pretty tired from the week. I only skied about 3.5 hours. Then I went to the pub and drank a hot toddy and ate poutine.

I always try to hike at least one day while on these ski trips. I love hiking in the snow. I’ve been fortunate to find  hikes that are manageable without snow shoes. (Except for that time two years ago in Big Sky when Dan and another friend and I hiked six miles into a canyon and definitely should have had snow shoes.) This hike was easily accessible from town, didn’t feel too remote to make me feel nervous, and elevated my heart rate at times but didn’t leave me exhausted. It was a rest day, after all.

All in all, a very good trip. I’m very glad to be home, though, and back to my routine. Like  most Sundays, yesterday I grocery shopped and made lunch for the week. And I was back at CrossFit this morning at 5:30 am…

Tri Tri a Duathlon

Exactly a year ago, I saw my new neighbor, hot and sweaty, carrying her bike into her house. She had just finished the Iron Girl triathlon in Columbia, MD. I’ve always been interested in doing a triathlon, and she was very supportive (in a motherly I’ll-take-care-of-you-and-make-it-not-scary sort of way), so I pretty much decided on the spot to do it with her the following year. She stayed on me throughout the fall to make sure I signed up. It’s 1,000 m swim, 16 mile bike, and 5 k run.

The event was today. I joined a gym from mid-June through July and have been swimming there at least once a week for the past six or so weeks. Dan’s been able to go with me. I started doing ‘brick’ (new term for me) workouts on the weekends maybe five weeks ago, mostly with my supportive neighbor and/or my husband. For the past three,  I’ve done almost the whole distance, swimming 1,000 m at Hammerman Beach, biking 12 miles, and then running 3 miles around the park. For the first several weeks, I kept up my regular schedule of running 3 miles every Tuesday and Thursday morning, but toward the end that fell off a bit. I kept it pretty light this past week. I started CrossFit Foundations classes on Monday, did that again on Tuesday, and ran 3 miles Thursday morning. I felt really good going into the weekend and really excited to complete my first triathlon.

And then we all found out Friday morning that the swim was cancelled!! For good reasons. We had a pretty bad storm last weekend (which caused major flooding and damage in nearby historic Ellicott City), and the lake water is still too toxic for swimming. So, you know, I’m glad they cancelled it. BUT I WAS REALLY DISAPPOINTED! Part of this whole thing for me was just trying to figure it all out. The things that have kept me from signing up for a triathlon ever before, honestly, were: 1) I don’t understand what you wear (even after I figured out that things like tri suits existed, I was still unclear about what to do about a sports bra for extra support) and 2) Transitions?! What? And like… swimming without lanes? So, I just wanted to figure all that out. But alas – no swim, so this morning, I completed my first duathlon! Run 0.25 miles, bike 16 miles, run 3.1 miles (but guys… that last ‘0.1’ mile was way longer than that).

Anyway, it was a lot of fun! And I still feel pretty prepared for whatever future triathlon I do.

Transition area yesterday and this morning pre-race:

Post-race!

For breakfast, right before I left home at 5am, I drank a smoothie I’d made a couple days ago with almond milk, almond butter, a banana, and spinach. At about 6:30 (an hour before the race), I ate another banana. Post-race, before the hunger set in, I had another banana! It was the only post-race food that was #Whole30-compliant! They also had chicken salad (weird, right), maple water (? never knew that existed), and bagels. Oh, and snow cones.

And then we sat around for an hour to wait for the awards ceremony because my supportive neighbor and another neighbor both placed in their respective Athena categories (!!!). And that’s when hunger started to set in. So I had… another banana. Four bananas before 11 am! Eeek. All day sugar high. We finally went back to the transition area around 11:30 where I had some nuts, and I shoved those in my face.

At home, after putting everything away and showering, I finally got to really eat. I heated up leftover roasted vegetables from last night’s dinner and a half of a leftover chicken breast from a couple days ago and then added two eggs and some chopped green onion. Since it was mostly from leftovers, it was super quick and easy (thank god!). Plus more coffee. (I’ve been trying to limit my coffee consumption to 1-2 cups per day this month, and so far have been successful. But… treating myself today. Sugar-and-caffeine-high-all-day-all-day!)

Overall, pretty good experience. I think I’ll do it again.