6 Tips to Keep From Losing Yourself in Motherhood

Becoming a mom changes you. It shifts your priorities and gives your life new purpose and meaning, but it’s easy to lose sight of the things that were important to you before motherhood in the process. It’s normal for being a mom to define you, but there’s more to you than raising kids. Your dreams from before motherhood are still there, you just need to re-connect with them.

  1. Identify your goals

What are you striving for? Are you simply pursuing your career or continuing education because it’s “the thing to do?” Is your heart really in it? I’m sure there are plenty of moms that are miserable working because they’d rather be home with their kids. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with being a stay at home mom, it’s something I often yearn for. What I mean is that spending time away from your kids doing work you hate is a bad deal. Before you haphazardly agree to take on more responsibility with your limited time, it’s important to sit down and reflect on what you want your life to look like in 5 or 10 years.  For me, connection with others through teaching gets me fired up. Becoming a better educator and communicator are things I’m stoked to invest more time in.

  1. Set aside time for being creative

Identifying your biggest goals might not come to you initially. You might not know anymore what you’re passionate about. At these times, it’s helpful to spend time playing or doing something creative. Scheduling time to paint, write, draw, take photos, dance, or make videos can energize you. I felt so depressed and tired this week. Do you ever feel that way? Like you’re in a fog and just going through the motions? I decided to take a pause to free-write for awhile to get to the bottom of what was bothering me, and it helped me a lot! I’m looking forward to spending more time developing recipes and creating art on a more regular basis.

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  1. Commit to something and finish it

Once you identify your goals, you have to start somewhere. The first piece of creative work you do might not be amazing, but you’ll be excited to have finished it! Good work comes through practice. While I was pregnant, I worked for many hours on countless drafts of a continuing education article for dietitians. I wrote a short course on the role of RD’s in prevention and treatment of obesity in kids. I’m not a strong writer, but I was determined to finish the project. While it’s not a very exciting read, but I’m so proud of myself for finishing it. Even if nobody reads it, I’m glad that I was able to accomplish this thing that I had set out to do.

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Check out the full article here! (pages 53-58)

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  1. Nurture friendships

It’s easy to feel isolated when the only people you spend time with are your kids. First of all, it’s so good for your marriage to schedule date nights (without your kids) to reconnect with your husband. It’s nice to have meaningful conversations like you used to before having children. Similarly, it’s good for your sanity to have other adult friends to connect with. Talking through what you’re concerned about or excited for with other women can be super therapeutic. If you don’t have many mom friends, join a mom’s group to make some! There are plenty of mom MeetUp groups, Facebook groups, and church groups.

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  1. Stay connected spiritually

Trust me- if you feel like you are just drifting or becoming overly self-centered at this stage in life, spending time in the prayer or meditation will re-align your purpose and fire you up for something more. To be honest, Colby and I haven’t been going to church since Everly was born. I miss the richness that participating in fellowship with other Christians brings to my faith, and I know that getting back to it will get me on track with my priorities and the way I want to live my life. The kind of person I want to be, the type of personality I strive to have are manifested through a spiritual life that is well nourished. Not sure where to start? Begin by implementing a gratitude practice. I like to start and end each day praying thanks for the blessings in my life. I’m also really digging this app, Headspace, for guided meditation.

  1. Don’t overlook the power of getting your blood flowing

This may seem trivial, but it’s a simple habit that can make a huge impact in your happiness. Exercise is a free and accessible form of self-care for most moms. If you can do it outside, it’s even better! Getting fresh air and surrounding yourself with nature can make you feel more grounded and refreshed. Awhile ago I figured out that my bad moods are almost always linked to being completely sedentary for more than a day. I know my body craves joyful movement- dancing, cycling, running, swimming… If I go too long without moving my body, I get disproportionately down. I can’t emphasize enough how much better you’ll feel if you get up early, move your body, and then go about your day. It just gets things started on a positive note and will give you an extra bit of energy in a way that sleeping in won’t!

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If you’re a mom, what do you do to keep other aspects of your identity alive? If you aren’t a mom, what habits do you practice to keep sight of your life’s purpose?

 

 

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Finding my way as a new mom

It’s taken me nearly a year to settle into motherhood!

I’m finally feeling like myself again, although a different version of who I used to be. I’m beginning to find balance and prioritize the things that matter to me. Here are a few things that have helped me find my way as a mom this past year:

Getting back to work

This was a tough decision. Before having Everly, I assumed I would be eager to go back to work full time. However, after she was born I began to feel more and more that being a stay at home mom might be a better fit. I had 3 months off for maternity leave and even though it was so hard to be home and responsible for my newborn 24/7, it didn’t seem right to leave her.

Luckily, my mom is the one who watches her during the day so I know she’s in good hands. It would have been a harder choice if I had to take Everly to daycare.

For the past 8 months, I’ve been back at work 4 days a week instead of 5 and I cut back on the number of diabetes classes I’m teaching. Cutting back has made for a good balance between work and home, although there are weeks that I get anxious about how much time I’m missing out on with Ev. There are other weeks, especially when Colby is out of town, that being home for 3 days straight with her is really hard. Weeks like those I feel guilty for feeling like I need time away from Everly, but I try to remind myself that getting a break makes me a happier mom when I am around.

Overall, I am thankful to have the opportunity to work at a job I love, help provide for our family, and still get plenty of time with Everly.

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Setting professional goals

I applied for my CDE (Certified Diabetes Educator) exam yesterday! Having a goal of passing it this November gives me a personal development challenge to work toward. I’m also super proud of a scholarly article opportunity I had recently. I’ll tell you more about it soon! I hadn’t done anything academic since the Beta Sandwich Science podcast a few years ago, so it was nice to push myself in this way.  Of course, I’d love to get back to blogging and recipe development more regularly, too. Tonight I had some time to post because Colby is traveling for work.

Finding a rhythm with nursing and pumping

I assumed it would be difficult to breastfeed until Everly is a year old. Here we are approaching her first birthday and I can’t see myself stopping anytime soon. I guess things get easier if you anticipate the worst! There are definitely days and nights that I don’t feel like pumping, especially when I’m exhausted. When I feel like giving up, I remind myself of a few things:

  1. If I don’t pump, I’ll end up waking up in the middle of the night with painful, engorged breasts and I DEFINITELY won’t want to pump at 2am.
  2. If I pump and nurse regularly, I’ll keep my milk production up and can keep feeding Everly!
  3. If I keep breastfeeding and pumping, that’s an extra 500 calories I’m burning per day, which means more food for me!
  4. Because of the changes in hormones with lactation, I haven’t had my period since before I was pregnant (2016!!), and that’s pretty awesome.
  5. Our dogs, Alec & Abbi, like to cuddle up in my lap when I’m pumping on the couch.
  6. Nursing Everly is pretty much the sweetest thing ever. I thought I’d be weirded out by it, but I love it. She snuggles up and I like the opportunity for extra cuddles since I’m at work most days, even though that means waking up two or three times a night.

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Getting back to working out

CrossFit had been a huge part of my identity prior to having Everly. I didn’t do any exercise at all for 2 months postpartum, and I definitely didn’t feel like myself when I wasn’t active. I got back into CrossFit when Everly started sleeping well, but stopped again when she began to wake up several times each night.

Not working out at all was really messing with my moods, so I decided to get creative about adding more physical activity. This is nice since I like a LOT of variety in my exercise. While I can’t usually wake up at 6am for workout classes because of Everly’s night waking, I sometimes walk on the treadmill at work or take a spin class before going to the office. Colby and I recently got a gym membership together, so we take advantage of childcare there a few days a week to be able to swim or lift weights. Oh! And I signed up for a moms’ running group once a week that will be starting soon. Maybe someday I’ll get to the point where I can run with Everly in a stroller!

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Outsourcing some things

I’m not a super-mom. I can’t do everything. I’ve started to outsource certain things to have more time with my family. A few things that have helped me find more balance between work and home are:

  1. Having a housekeeper come over every 3 weeks to deep clean. I used to think it was an unnecessary luxury to pay someone to do my dirty work, but I’m thankful every time we don’t spend a whole weekend day scrubbing bathrooms and vacuuming anymore. It’s been a huge relief to put cleaning on the backburner.
  2. Using Instacart for grocery delivery. Getting our groceries delivered is such a time saver! We waste less food this way, too. I still like grocery shopping with Everly sometimes because she enjoys the experience, but it’s nice to know I don’t have to add running to the grocery store for milk to my to-do list on already busy days.
  3. Not cooking. Ok- this one actually makes me pretty sad. I like cooking! But I like hanging out with Everly more… I’ve been packing really easy lunches for work and eating out more frequently than ever before. I try to pick entrees that will inspire future recipe development and make good leftovers for lunches the next day. When I don’t have leftovers, here is of my favorite lunches that takes very little time to pack: Wickedly Prime Minestrone soup, fresh fruit, Greek yogurt, Kind Bar, and a slice of Egg Bake with various chopped veggies. One of my favorite meals out is a Café Rio tostada with tortilla on the side (so I can use it to make a quesadilla at another meal!). The food at Flower Child is amazing, too.

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That’s it for now! Thank you for reading :) Please feel free to suggest other good lunch ideas in the comments or share how you adjusted to motherhood if you’re a mom.

Pregnancy Update: 37 weeks

 

37 weeks is basically full-term, right? Everly could be arriving any day now… I’ve always heard that the last month of pregnancy feels like the longest. I think part of what makes it feel so long is the uncertainty of when the baby is going to arrive! Each day feels like another slow and steady round of a CrossFit EMOM workout. The day starts with wrestling my compression socks for five minutes, then going to the gym, then savoring a cup of coffee, then doing the surprisingly exhausting task of showering and getting dressed for work, then listening to an audiobook on breastfeeding on my way to the office, then seeing patients till lunch, then napping for an hour on the floor in my office, then eating oatmeal and drinking lots of water with some psyllium husk to prevent constipation, then elevating my legs between nutrition classes, and then finally driving home to plop myself down on the couch with my sweet dogs. When it’s a really good day, Colby comes home in time to give me a foot rub before bed. Absolutely no chores are getting done around the house lately, but that’s ok. I’m honestly feeling pretty good overall!

The most stressful week of my pregnancy was week 34. At the start of that week, the swelling in my arms and legs suddenly got much worse and my blood pressure went up. Protein was detected in my urine and my doctor started to worry that I might be developing pre-eclampsia. She ordered some bloodwork and a 24 hour urine test to keep an eye on things. I collected every drop of urine in a jug and on a Monday morning I went in to drop it off and to get a “quick blood pressure check.”

That’s when things started to get a little more stressful. I waited in the office for nearly an hour just to get my blood pressure checked. I got super frustrated at the situation because this “quick check” was taking so long that I was going to be late for work. By the time I was called back, I was so mad that my blood pressure was through the roof. I was put on a fetal NST (non-stress test) monitor and was swabbed for fFN (fetal fibronectin). The NST showed that I had an irritable uterus (LOL). I totally thought this was a made-up term, but apparently it’s a real condition in which the uterus contracts in a random twitching manner. I couldn’t feel these contractions so I didn’t think much of it. I had to come back the next day for more monitoring and to get the result of my fFN test.

I was a little more concerned on Tuesday because my fFN came back positive- which meant that I was likely to go into premature labor within the next 7-10 days. The doctor recommended getting betamethasone steroid injections to speed up baby’s lung development just in case. I was frantically reading up on these injections and felt totally spooked because there’s no clear consensus on whether the benefits outweigh the risks of these shots when given between 34 and 36 weeks. After talking to the doctor, I decided to get the two part shot. I continued to feel shitty the rest of week 34, gaining a total of 12 lbs of fluid in my legs, arms, and face rapidly. Then, magically, week 35 came and I felt a lot better! I even lost 4 lbs of edema while maintaining a healthy level of amniotic fluid. Everything went back to normal, including my blood pressure and the contractions quieted down. One of the best/worst things about the pre-eclampsia scare was my doctor’s decision to put me on bi-weekly NST monitoring. As inconvenient as it is, I’m grateful to get to have the nurse keeping an eye on Everly’s heart rate and movements as well as my contractions and amniotic fluid levels frequently. It gives me great peace of mind!

The crazy thing now is that my cervix is starting to dilate and I continue to have contractions on the monitor! Apparently I could go into labor anytime now- it could be a few hours, a few days, or a few weeks. I go back today to see how things are progressing.

My Birth plan:

I’m going to discuss my questions about having a birth plan with the doctor this morning. It seems like a silly idea to write out exactly how I expect labor and delivery to progress. Anything could happen, so I want to stay flexible and open minded. I’m open to getting an epidural if labor is very painful. I’m ok with having the doctor do any procedure that is medically necessary and follow accepted OB practices and guidelines. I’m not going to pretend that I know better than my doctor.

I really hope I can avoid tearing or having an episiotomy. I’m going to ask what my doctor thinks about the effectiveness of preventative measures because I’ve heard that perineal massage can be helpful for preventing tears and episiotomies in first time moms. I’ve also read that warm washcloths and oils can help to stretch the skin when baby is crowning. The part about childbirth that is unsettling to me is that it’s hard to know exactly how big baby will be and whether she will fit on her way out.

I have some ideas about how to make labor and delivery more comfortable. I’ve packed my hospital bag with a cozy robe, nursing sleep bra, and slippers to change into after giving birth. I’m also bringing a few things to make the sensory experience of pushing a baby out less painful.

Breathing: I’m going to breathe through the pain the same way I breathe through the discomfort of challenging workouts. This might mean slow, cleansing breaths or shallow bracing breaths. I’ll probably use a combination of the two. I haven’t taken any official breathing classes, such as Lamaze, but I hope that doing tough CrossFit workouts throughout pregnancy will improve my mental game during the marathon workout that is labor.

Sight: I will probably focus on a single point in the room the same way I do when doing heavy lifts or stringing together double unders in CrossFit. I might dim the lights in the room if the lighting is harsh.

Smell: I bought the same Pure Fiji pineapple massage oil that I use during my prenatal massages at Belly Bliss Spa! This stuff smells incredible- just like fresh, sweet pineapples.

Touch: I’ve looked up some YouTube videos on giving hand, foot, shoulder, and back massages. My plan is to have Colby massage me with the pineapple oil between contractions to keep my relaxed. I’ve been loving foot rubs at home to make my swollen feet feel better! I’m glad Colby is up for this task. I’d love to have a massage therapist doula in the room with me, but that’s really expensive and I am set on getting through childbirth without a doula.

Sound: I called Belly Bliss Spa to find out what soundtrack they use in their massage rooms. Can you tell I’m a little obsessed with the prenatal massages I’ve been getting? They said they use a Pandora station based on the artist Deuter. I looked him up and he happens to be Polish! What a nice coincidence. If the spa music is too mellow for me in the end, I might play something more upbeat like Eye of the Tiger and other motivational music on my portable speakers in the room.

Taste: I don’t think I’m allowed to eat or drink anything once I’m in active labor, but I packed some snacks for Colby and I’m hoping to have a little champagne toast after giving birth :)

Childbirth class

Colby and I took a childbirth class at Sunrise Hospital. I chose that one over the one offered at Summerlin Hospital where I’ll be delivering because it was twice as long and half as expensive. Mistake. I hated the class. We left halfway through. Maybe the problem was that I had a headache that morning, but I had no patience for the elderly nurse teaching the class. I’m a very “data driven” person, and this lady’s personal anecdotes weren’t cutting it for me when I wanted to know about the risks associated with epidurals. The childbirth videos we watched also made me feel very unsettled. Colby loved those, though. I’m not sure why they made me so uncomfortable. Maybe I’m still grossed out by the messiness of giving birth and the awkwardness of breast feeding. From now on I’ll be doing my own research to answer childbirth related questions.

Baby Shower

My boss and coworker threw me a baby shower! It was during week 34, so I was feeling very tired and swollen, but also very loved. It was so nice to see lots of women I care about show up to celebrate Everly’s upcoming arrival! Here are some photos from the shower:

 

Pregnancy Update: 33 Weeks

I am so tired. It’s a special kind of tired that you can feel in every limb. My arms, jaw, and eyelids feel so heavy! It’s as if I could sleep all day, but I haven’t been able to sleep so well. I wake up when the dogs start making noise around 4:30am and can’t get back to sleep so I take them for a walk before the sun comes up.IMG_3226

I really like our walks. I get my compression socks on and take them out for about an hour around our neighborhood. Lately my  back has been getting sore, so I try to keep my posture straight as we walk. I get winded so easily! Luckily, Abbi and Alec are good at pulling me up the hills.

When we get home, I change shoes and head to CrossFit. Strangely, CrossFit usually feels easier than our walk! I’ve been scaling back some movements in the gym. I can’t do pull ups at all anymore, but some things are still unchanged (double unders) and other movements are actually easier than before (a back squat PR while pregnant was completely unexpected). Being pregnant has definitely been an interesting journey so far. I mostly love it.

I’ve recently started swelling a lot in my hands and feet. Some of the swelling is moving to my face now, too. I wake up with my fingers numb and unable to clench my hands into fists. I’ve tried a few things to relieve some of the swelling:

  • My doctor suggested drinking at least a gallon of water a day. I carry a 32 oz hydroflask to work, but I don’t like drinking plain water. To mix it up, I’ve been adding a little cranberry juice or hibiscus tea to my water. Sometimes I drink seltzer water with lime or watered down Coke Zero for a mini caffeine boost. I’m almost up to a gallon a day, but  not quite. I usually stop drinking around 8pm so that I won’t be up all night running to the bathroom. It’s so frustrating to feel the urge to go every time I stand up, especially since it’s usually a false alarm. Baby Everly must be stomping on my bladder!
  • When my back is really sore, I take a warm Epsom salt bath. I add 2 cups of salt and 1 cup of baking soda to warm (not hot) water and soak for about 20 minutes. I’ve read that this can ease fluid retention and muscle soreness, but I’ve also read that the body can absorb some of the salt and actually make fluid retention worse. I’ve noticed that my swelling usually subsides a bit right after a salty bath, but the effect is pretty short lived.
  • Compression socks. Putting these babies on first thing in the morning makes my legs feel so much more comfortable later in the day! This pair from Amazon is fantastic- size L/XL is roomy enough for my full calves and tall enough to extend above my knees. I wear these socks on walks, to the gym, and even sported them at the Pitbull concert we went to last weekend! 2 hours of standing at 33 weeks pregnant didn’t seems so bad with compression socks on. I think dancing around helped, too.
  • Foot massages! Colby has been awesome about giving me foot rubs every night. I usually crash on the couch with the dogs by 7 or 8pm and elevate my feet until Colby is ready to join us and watch a show. I get at least a half hour of massage while he watches Vice, Ken Burns, or Game of Thrones. I typically fall asleep from being so relaxed.
  • Swimming pool. I don’t know if it’s the coolness of the water, the all-over compression from being submerged, or feeling weightless in the pool, but being in water is amazing at this point in pregnancy!
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Pregnancy mistakes I’ve made:

  • Spending too much time outside. It’s been a fairly humid summer for Vegas. I think part of the reason I’ve been swelling so much is that I don’t stay indoors in air conditioned spaces as much as I should. Just in the past two weeks we’ve spent the majority of the weekend doing outdoor activities- Top Golf, al fresco dining, family BBQ, and lounging by the pool instead of staying in the water. I’m swelling up just thinking about it! This weekend I’m trying to stay indoors to see if I feel better.
  • Eating too much salty food. I don’t want to cook and all I crave lately is processed and fast food. Maybe it’s all the water I’m drinking? All I know is that quesadillas, mac & cheese with hot dogs, pizza, salt & vinegar chips, and Café Rio all sound incredible, while low-sodium foods sound bland and unappealing. The only forms of vegetables that seem palatable to me are in soups (salty) or fresh pressed juices (expensive).

Maternity Photos!

Our photographer recommended shooting pregnancy pictures between weeks 29 and 32- before I got too uncomfortable. We went in at 30 weeks pregnant and she was RIGHT! I still felt fantastic at that point. My belly wasn’t quite as big and round as it is now, but doing a photoshoot today doesn’t sound nearly as fun as it did a few short weeks ago.

Here are some of our favorite shots:

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I have a baby shower coming up next weekend! I’m so grateful for my boss and coworker, who have been amazing and are taking care of planning and doing everything.  I can’t wait! Thinking about getting this dress for the party to cover up my swollen ankles.

If you’re in the middle of a summer pregnancy, too, check out these “maternity hacks” for staying cool!

Pregnancy Update: 30 weeks

I can’t believe our baby is due in just over two months! The second trimester of pregnancy went by so quickly. I’m now starting to get some back pain and swelling in my hands and feet, but having a few months of feeling great has been awesome. Our dogs love relaxing with me and taking rides on the baby bump.


Today’s pregnancy update is mainly about the nursery and baby registry!

Nursery

We haven’t made much progress on the nursery yet, but this is the look I’m most inspired by from Pinterest: 

I love how light and bright this room is! The botanical art prints are very pretty. The two pieces of furniture we have in the nursery so far are a white Hemnes dresser and white Sundvik crib from IKEA. Both are simple, sturdy, and inexpensive. I think they would be versatile choices for any nursery! 

Hemnes dresser- you can customize it with your own drawer pulls!

This is the Sundvik crib- it converts to a toddler bed and has great reviews on Consumer Reports. It’s made of solid pine- not bad for $99! 

The room we are using as the nursery is small- I don’t think a rocking chair or glider would fit in the space we have. We do have a linen colored Strandmon armchair from IKEA in the loft and I found a conversion kit online to turn the chair into a rocker. I haven’t purchased it yet because I have no idea if the baby will like being rocked or not. 

I don’t know how you’re supposed to pick things like bouncers, swings, gliders, and rockers for a baby registry when you don’t know what kind of motion your baby will like! Fortunately, my mom is awesome and found a great deal on a 4moms MamaRoo listed on Craig’s List in California! This fancy device has a bunch of different swinging and bouncing settings with variable speeds. Hopefully our little girl will like it! 


The only other thing we’ve done in the nursery so far is hang light colored blackout curtains with a sheer overlay. One of the windows is arched, so I wasn’t sure how it would look with regular curtains. It’s actually pretty nice, though! Kind of like this:


…but with curtains that look like this:


Registry

A lot of what I’ve put on our baby registry is nursery decor. I was torn between using amazon.com’s baby registry and Target’s. They both offer a completion discount, but neither option had everything I wanted to register for. I ended up creating private registries through Amazon and Target to be eligible for welcome gifts and completion discounts, but combined them into a public registry on Babylist. Babylist is AWESOME because you can register for any item that is sold online on any website! The site gives gift givers multiple purchasing options and you can include items from sites like Etsy, IKEA, Land of Nod, and even local businesses (doulas and maternity photographers included!). I love Babylist, but I still think the service could be made better. It would be fantastic if you could register for items simply by scanning a barcode with your phone and having the ability to automatically import items from other registries you’ve already created. If you’re interested in what I’ve registered for, you can check it out here. I did a lot of research before adding things. The most helpful advice I received about useful baby gear came from a registry consultant at Buy Buy Baby. If you’re considering doing a baby registry at a brick and mortar store rather than online, I highly recommend Buy Buy Baby because they have wonderful staff and a massive selection of baby things! 

Karolina is pregnant!

Finally blogging about pregnancy at 26 weeks is a little late, but better now than not at all! I’ve been wanting to write about my experience with pregnancy for some time now, and Kylie’s sweet posts about her pregnancy at Imma Eat That finally got me to sit down and get to it!

First Trimester, Morning Sickness, and Gender Reveal

I’ll start at the beginning! Colby and I were able to conceive easily with the help of this kit of ovulation test strips and pregnancy test strips. It’s so reasonably priced on Amazon and we got the timing right on our first try. Awesome!

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I kept the pregnancy a secret from Colby for a little less than a day. I wanted to surprise him with the announcement, but didn’t want to wait too long to plan something elaborate. I decided to put the positive pregnancy test in an envelope addressed to him and stuck it in the mailbox before he got home. Then I secretly filmed him opening our mail :)  I shared his reaction when opening the mail on instagram; you can check out my account here, I’m @rdkarolina.

We weren’t able to keep my pregnancy a secret for long! I was dying to tell our family and close friends almost immediately. We waited until 12 weeks to announce the pregnancy on social media.

The first trimester had me feeling nauseous and ravenously hungry- a strange combination. I made a morning sickness kit to carry around with me. It included Sea Bands acupressure bracelets, mint essential oil, ginger chews, Unisom, Vitamin B6, toothbrush, toothpaste, a barf bag, and a hair tie for holding my hair back :P

Something like this would make an excellent gift for an expectant mother! The morning sickness was only bad for a couple of months, from about weeks 6-14. When I felt nauseous, I didn’t throw up. The only times I vomited came completely out of nowhere and with no warning! One time I was pulling out of my parking space at CrossFit when it hit me. Another time I was brewing coffee at home and suddenly had to rush to the sink. I usually love coffee, but the taste of it grossed me out during the first trimester. I guess it worked out since I had to cut back on my caffeine intake anyway (maximum 200 mg daily), but I was tired out of my mind. Pregnancy fatigue hit me hard and I usually took naps every weekend.

We briefly considered not finding out the gender of our baby, but we couldn’t stand to wait. I tried out lots of silly gender prediction methods- Chinese calendar, baking soda test, gender specific symptoms- and they all pointed to us having a boy.

At 14 weeks, we did a 4D ultrasound that surprised us with news of a baby girl! We sent out these gender reveal scratch cards to family and friends. I also did an Easter egg reveal for my friends at CrossFit and at work. This is a fun way to do a gender reveal in the springtime- just stick pink or blue marshmallow Peeps inside of Easter eggs and watch in delight as your friends “peep” inside!

Cravings and Aversions

I’ve been craving mango, nachos, and pizza. Anything with melted cheese sounds delicious to me! My only two aversions  lately have been ginger (I now associate it with being nauseous) and the smell of denim. The denim thing is strange- I didn’t even know denim had a smell! All my jeans- old, new, washed, dirty- completely gross me out.

Maternity Clothing

The shape of my body has made it very challenging to find jeans that fit (and don’t smell like denim). When I find a pair that fits right over or under my belly, they end up being so tight on my legs that they pull my pants down. Some pairs I’ve tried on have and unflattering wash or cut, while others have disproportionately small back pockets. Merrick, over at Merrick’s Art, posted a fantastic maternity jeans round up. I haven’t tried on her favorite pair from Pea in a Pod Maternity (because over $200 for maternity jeans???), but I do like the reasonably priced ASOS under the belly maternity jeans. I’m obsessed with this dress from H&M because it’s 100% cotton and can be dressed up or down. I also bought several dresses by PattyBoutik that I love wearing. I find that I feel best in form fitted clothing because it shows off my bump! Under dresses, I recommend these shorts to prevent chafing. My favorite bras right now are those without an underwire. In fact, with Vegas temperatures shooting up above 110 degrees now, I wish I could live in sports bras and Lululemon shorts. I had to size up in the running shorts, but they now fit comfortably under my belly. The racerback tank tops are barely fitting now, so I bought a few GapFit tanks that should last through the second half of pregnancy.

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My feet haven’t started swelling, but I think they’re growing. I’m up about a half size in shoes. Comfortable footwear has been as much of a staple in my wardrobe as maternity bras. My favorite pair are Dr. Scholl’s wedge sandals, similar to these, because they’re stable and cute. It’s getting uncomfortable to  get shoes on and off, but I have yet to find a pair of slide sandals that I like.

My favorite non-dress maternity outfit is a pair of maternity leggings, a long tank top, long necklace, and a cover up. Chiffon kimonos, long cardigans, and unbuttoned jackets have been useful in adding variety to this basic look.

Maternity shorts that don’t suck remain elusive to me. If anyone has suggestions for summer maternity clothing they like, please comment this post!

Body Image

I feel surprisingly good about my body right now. I always assumed I would struggle with feeling fat during pregnancy, but I feel big AND beautiful. I’ve never felt these two things simultaneously before. I even feel better in a bikini now than ever before.  I gained a lot of weight during the first trimester, before a baby bump was even showing. That was frustrating. It seemed like all the extra weight was going to my butt, arms, and legs. Now that I can see more of the weight going to my belly, I have more appreciation for what my body is doing. Up until a few weeks ago, taking showers made me feel very vulnerable and strange. I felt like this changing body wasn’t mine and it gave me a creepy feeling to touch my belly and know a baby is growing inside. Surprisingly, it feels less foreign to me now that I can feel her moving in there. It helps that Colby still loves the way I look pregnant. I haven’t gotten any stretch marks yet, but I think I’m developing diastasis recti because my belly changes to a coning shape whenever I sit up from a supine position.  Thinking about my abdominal muscles separating like that is eerie.

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Exercise

The biggest surprise has been seeing strength gains in CrossFit! I haven’t been trying to set any personal records, but heavier weights feel easier on all the barbell lifts we do. My aerobic capacity is definitely worse than it was before. I get winded so easily! It’s actually nice to know that I should keep my heart rate below 150 BPM because anything more intense would be SO uncomfortable. I haven’t done any CrossFit over the past 3 weeks while Colby and I were on vacation. We did a lot of walking on our “babymoon” and even fit in some bike riding. Walking feels great and I’m thinking about trying some prenatal yoga soon.

Physical Health

I go in for glucose screening this week. That’s the initial screening for gestational diabetes in which you drink a glucose sweetened drink and wait an hour before having your blood sugar tested. If I fail that test, I have to return for the longer glucose tolerance test.

My immune system has been frustrating during pregnancy. I’ve already caught 4 colds in the past 6 months and my asthma has been getting worse. It’s frustrating not to be able to take decongestants when I’m sick, but the humidifier we bought has been helpful.

My only other health-related issue has been a nerve impingement in my hip, meralgia parasthetica, that makes my right thigh get numb and then painful whenever I’m standing up for more than a few minutes at a time. Luckily, this unpleasant condition typically goes away after birth and some stretches and exercises have been helping.

Ok, that’s enough of a pregnancy update for now! I’ll be sure to share some of the highlights of our “babymoon” vacation soon. We are so excited to meet our baby girl in September!

Grilled Zucchini Naan Panini

I received free samples of Sabra Spreads mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Sabra and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

I don’t like boring sandwiches. I pack my lunch to work most days, but I rarely ever pack sandwiches because they’re either too plain or too soggy. When I do eat a sandwich, it’s typically a grilled panini with flavorful toppings. Sabra has re-ignited my love of panini sandwiches with their flavorful new spreads!

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Sabra’s zesty spreads bring life to otherwise boring sandwiches. These healthy spreads will be my go-to sandwich topping in place of mayonnaise. They have 75% less fat and waaaay more flavor than plain ol’ mayo.

The flavorful blend of garlic, basil, chives, and oregano in the Garlic Herb Spread inspired me to create a dairy-free panini sandwich! If you happen to be lactose intolerant, you won’t even miss the cheese.

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Grilled Zucchini Naan Panini

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A zesty dairy free grilled sandwich with garlic herb hummus spread.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 zucchini, sliced lengthwise into 1/4″ thick strips
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large naan bread
  • 2 tablespoons Sabra Garlic Herb Spread
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 2 oz shredded cooked chicken

Directions

  1. Heat a grill pan over medium heat. Brush olive oil onto one side of zucchini strips. Place them oil side down on the hot grill pan and brush olive oil on the top side as well. Carefully flip after about 2 minutes, or when grill marks form. Grill for 2 more minutes and set aside.
  2. Cut the naan bread in half, place bumpy side down, and spread 1 tablespoon of Sabra Garlic Herb Spread on each flat half.
  3. Layer roasted red pepper strips, shredded chicken, and grilled zucchini on one of the naan bread halves. Top with the other naan bread half.
  4. Brush the grill pan with olive oil and carefully transfer the sandwich onto the grill pan for 2 minutes. Brush olive oil on top of the sandwich and carefully turn it over using tongs. Grill for 2 more minutes.
  5. Remove from the grill pan using tongs, cut in half, and serve immediately

My husband, who prefers a cheesy quesadilla for dinner most nights, agreed that this sandwich is delicious and he didn’t even miss the cheese! Of course, a little bit of crumbled feta on here would be heavenly. Have you tread the Sabra Spreads? What do you think?

Check out the posts in the Recipe ReDux linkup below for more sandwich inspiration!

 

Easy Tom Kha Soup

Don’t you hate it when you’re on the verge of being sick, so you take it easy, but then you keep on feeling like you’re coming down with something? I’ve been fighting off some kind of bug for nearly a week now. I’m glad it hasn’t turned into a full blown cold, but I’m ready to kick this thing! So today I made a shortcut version of my favorite Thai chicken soup- tom kha. My version is considerably “Westernized,” considering that I was missing a few key ingredients. The soup traditionally calls for kaffir lime leaves, stalks of lemongrass, and Thai chilis. I replaced kaffir lime leaves with a combination of lime zest and lime juice, bought Gourmet Garden fresh lemongrass, and replaced the Thai chilis with Gourmet Garden fresh chili.

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I hadn’t used these fresh herbs in a tube before, but I like them a lot! They stay fresh in the fridge for weeks. I think these will serve me well in making other Thai dishes in the upcoming weeks. I might pick up the garlic paste, too!

The fresh taste of ginger, lemongrass, and lime in this soup are well matched by the umami of fish sauce and spicy, salty broth. All the bold flavors are melded together with creamy coconut milk. Perfection.

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Tom Kha Soup

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A bold and vibrant Thai soup with lemongrass and coconut milk.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups low sodium chicken stock or broth
  • 1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon lemongrass paste
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon chili pepper paste
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 2 cups diced vegetables, such as carrot, zucchini, onion, bok choy, etc. (optional)
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 lb chicken breast, cooked and shredded
  • one 13 oz can unsweetened coconut milk
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Chopped fresh cilantro and green onion for garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. Bring the broth, soy sauce, fish sauce, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, chili, lime juice, and lime zest to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce to medium heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. If using, add the vegetables and boil for another 5 minutes, until tender.
  3. Add the mushrooms and chicken breast. Bring back to a simmer for 5 more minutes.
  4. Add the coconut milk, whisk until combined and melted. Season with salt & pepper. Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped cilantro and green onion.

Use this recipe as a general guideline rather than the ultimate, correct formula! If you really love some of the aromatic ingredients, feel free to add more and simmer a little longer to infuse the broth. Thai chilis and kaffir lime leaves are on my list of ingredients to buy soon! I can’t wait to make a more authentic version of this soup later this fall. Enjoy!

What’s your favorite Thai dish? 

Grown Up Macaroni and Cheese

This month’s Recipe Redux theme is “First Cooking Recollections.” I’m excited to share a little of my cooking background with you, especially now that I’m getting geared up to teach some basic cooking skills classes to my patients at work! I believe that kids are more likely to become interested and proficient in cooking healthy, delicious meals if they get started at a young age.

I’ve been cooking since I was four or five years old. Back then, my dad would pay me $5 to make him dinner. Dinner, in this case, was a couple of slices of Wonder bread topped with ketchup, shredded cheese, and pepperoni microwaved until hot and soggy for 60 seconds! I was so proud of myself.

When I was a little older, I learned to scramble eggs and cook quesadillas in a pan. When I was 12 or so, I started writing down my grandmother’s Polish recipes and learning some more sophisticated cooking techniques. She showed me how to tenderize chicken, chop vegetables without cutting my fingers off, and knead pierogi dough.

You’d think that by high school I must have been whipping up gourmet foods. In reality, I was too busy with school and IM-ing my friends to be bothered by cooking complex meals. I usually baked boxed cake mixes and enhanced cans of Spaghetti-O’s with cheese and tuna. To be honest, some of my favorite meals these days are the ones that take the least time and effort to prepare!

As a dietitian, I don’t feel great about eating a box of mac & cheese for dinner, but I can justify it if I add some protein and greens! My favorite combos lately have been sharp cheddar mac + broccoli + cherry tomatoes + chicken breast and the recipe I’m sharing with you today.

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Grown Up Mac & Cheese

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A healthier take on a childhood classic.

Ingredients

  • 1 box mac & cheese, such as Aunt Annie’s Aged Cheddar Macaroni & Cheese
  • 3 tablespoons low fat milk
  • 1 cup chopped frozen spinach, thawed
  • 4 oz cooked shredded chicken breast
  • 1/2 cup marinara sauce

Directions

  1. Prepare boxed macaroni and cheese according to package directions. Keep the macaroni with cheese sauce in the saucepan.
  2. Stir in the spinach, chicken, and marinara sauce.
  3. Heat and stir until all ingredients are hot and well combined.

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This week I’m teaching the kids some knife skills. We’re starting easy by cutting bananas, avocados, and zucchini using nylon chef’s knives. If you want to get your kids into cooking, here’s a great blog post with tips.  I love the idea of using a lettuce knife and Play Doh to start! This handbook from Cooking Matters gives some great insight for starting a hands on cooking program in your area! If you’re at a point where you’re still learning, Williams & Sonoma offers reasonably priced cooking classes for kids and adults. Recent topics covered were spiralizer recipes, Fall baking, barista basics, and Labor Day BBQ. Colby and I are taking a knife skills class these this weekend! I’ve heard is worth well over the $10 we’re paying to attend :)

The Recipe ReDux is the first and only recipe challenge founded by registered dietitians. The group is focused on taking delicious dishes, keeping them delicious, but making them better for you. 

Check out the link below to see how some of my fellow RDs and healthy foodies got their start in the kitchen!