Zoe's Birth Story Part 2

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

If you missed Part 1, you can find it here.

The feeling of my water breaking was total relief. It was a great physical relief and a mental relief. I knew now that my membranes ruptured, she would be following closely. 

After the small celebration, I looked at my midwife and she had a serious look on her face. She grasped my hand and told me that there was meconium in my waters. Because of this, a pediatrician would have to check over Zoe, before I would get to hold her, to be sure that she didn't breathe any in, on her way out. 
I heard my midwife talking to PJ, telling him that when Zoe came out she would use a technique where she placed her hand across Zoe's chest to keep her from taking that first big breath and crying immediately upon being born. Rather, they would wait until she was completely out for her to take that big breath, to minimize the chance for her to breathe in meconium. 

I wasn't nervous. I have been to a number of births where meconium was present. I've seen the way it looks when it's present in the waters and I was familiar with the procedure she was explaining to PJ. 

They helped me off the bed and I saw it. It was thick and there was a lot more than I had ever seen in the births I've attended. I got really scared.  

I had a monster contraction as I sat on the edge of the bed, preparing to walk the 50ft to the Hospital side. My doula supported my head from behind as I gave in to the contraction, and my midwife held my hands. I no longer felt strong. I was so scared. 

Once the contraction was over, my team helped me from the Birth Center side to the Hospital side. It was a short walk through a set of double doors, and we were there. I had another contraction as soon as I reached the bed. I grasped the sheets and my knees buckled as the contraction surged through my body. I swayed side to side trying to find the strength I had for the past 23 and a half hours. 

Then I found it. After that contraction I knew it was time to push. I got onto the bed and layed on my side. I told my midwife "I have to push". She said cheerfully "Well, let's have a baby". 

With the next contraction my body took over and began to bear down. It felt so good to push. I could feel Zoe moving down the birth canal, with each push. 

Another contraction came and again, my body got to work and started bearing down on its own. I let out a loud, long grunt as I felt Zoe moving. 

Then I heard my midwife say the one thing I never imagined to hear in that moment. 
"That's her butt. She's breech, in the birth canal."

She could have said anything else and I would have been less surprised. She could have said Zoe was a boy. She could have said Zoe was actually twins. She could have said anything. 
Zoe had been head down for at least 10 weeks. She was head down just the day before. Now here we were. She was about to be born...and breech. 

Come to find out later, her position is why the meconium was so thick. During labor, breech babies tend to poop on their way down, because of their position and how they are moving through the mothers body.

I looked around and saw the seriousness on everyones faces. For a moment it was silent. Everyone in the room was looking at each other in disbelief. PJ was confused. My doula looked at me as if she was talking to me with her eyes. 

My midwife then took my face gently in her hands and said "Tami, Zoe is breech and she is the birth canal. I can see her butt. You are going to have an emergency cesarean with general anesthesia."

Another contraction took over and I couldn't stop pushing. My midwife and doula were at my sides trying to help me breathe through and not push. The doctor was yelling for me to stop. It was impossible to stop. 

The room was in a frenzy, prepping. None of the doctors were acknowledging that my husband had no idea what was going on. He was afraid. No one told him what was happening. And no one told him why he couldn't come into surgery with me. I'm so thankful our doula was there with him for comfort. 

Within minutes I was wheeled into surgery, given an IV, transferred to another table and strapped down, and a mask was put over my face. Then I was asleep.
It happened so fast that I didn't even get to say goodbye, or anything at all, to PJ.

I didn't get to see her born. I didn't get to do skin to skin contact. And I didn't get to experience her birth. I was asleep.

I woke 45 minutes later in a hospital room, in bed, and PJ was standing there holding our sweet Zoe. He brought her over to me and I cried. He unswaddled her and placed her onto my chest for skin to skin contact and to start breastfeeding. 

I wish I had more pictures from those first few moments, but I was so out of it that I forgot to ask anyone to take any. My doula snapped this one.

I'm eternally grateful Zoe was born healthy, and for the doctors who helped make sure she came safely into this world. I'll forever be thankful to them.

I also feel a sort of dissonance between my labor and Zoe's birth. My mind can make sense of what happened, but my body is having trouble understanding. I've let myself cry to mourn the birth I thought I would have. I've also reminded myself to trust the wisdom of life and to accept that this was the way she needed to come into the world.

Although Zoe's birth wasn't what I envisioned, I had the most beautiful labor experience I could have imagined. It was perfect. The support I felt surrounded me and gave me strength. I felt confident. Like a powerful goddess bringing life into the world. Every woman deserves to feel that kind of support during labor. 

Pj wants to do a guest post to talk about the whole birth experience (now that he has been through two totally different birth experiences) from his perspective and what it's like for the husband/partner. I can't wait to share it!

Thanks for reading!

Tell me, what was your birth like? Were there any surprises? 

Zoe's Birth Story Part 1

Monday, December 28, 2015

Hi Friends! It has been over a week since my last post! But oh what a week it has been. I can't even remember the last time I went that long without posting.

How was everyones holiday? Ours was wonderful and exhausting, all at the same time. We have had a lot of family in and out, which has been incredibly helpful. And we've been getting settled into our new normal.

I'm excited to share Zoe's birth story with everyone. It was the most intense emotional rollercoaster I've ever been on.

Meet Zoe Washenko.

It all started on Friday (the 18th). I was officially 39 weeks pregnant and I had a routine appointment with my midwife that morning. Zoe was head down, settled nicely into my pelvis, just waiting on the word  from the universe, that it was time to make her entrance.

After my appointment I went to get some lunch and went to the chiropractor to get aligned, just incase Zoe decided to come over the weekend.

Around 7pm I started having some cramping. I was also feeling very frustrated and upset about something personal going on, so I thought the cramping may have to do with that. I grabbed my yoga mat and some frankincense oil, to do some meditating.

I went to bed that night around 10pm, still cramping. At 1:30am I woke up to regular contractions. My last labor was insanely fast. It was less than 5 hours long, including pushing. Because second babies tend to come in about half the time of first babies, my doula and I made a plan for me to call her once I knew I was in labor, so she could be ready.

When I talked to her I told her I was managing contractions well and I didn't feel like they were intensifying quickly. We made a plan to talk in the morning unless something changed drastically before then.

After we got off the phone I quietly milled around the house packing last minute things in our bags, getting something to eat to keep my energy up, and sitting on my birth ball. Then I stood there enjoying what I thought would be my last few moments of quiet, in my living room, rubbing my belly, with the moonlight shining in, onto the hardwood floor. It was truly a beautiful moment.

My contractions still didn't seem to be intensifying too quickly so I decided to lay down in bed. I was in and out of rest, falling asleep between contractions. It wasn't total rest, but it was rest.

Around 6am I woke PJ and told him I was in labor. I was still managing contractions well, although they were intensifying. I hadn't timed them yet because timing is less important than intensity, and I didn't feel like we were there yet. We all got up for the day, and I spent some time with Aria because I knew I wouldn't be home later in the day to see her.
My in laws came to pick up Aria 9am, to allow me to labor at home peacefully, concentrating on the important work my body was doing.

My contractions intensified gradually throughout the day. I put some essential oils in my diffuser to encourage a peaceful environment. I bounced on my birth ball while watching Love Actually, and eating the most delicious grilled cheese of my life. Then I layed down in bed and tried to rest between contractions. After that, I took a bath. By this time it was about noon.

The bath was a game changer. In the bath my contractions started coming closer together and I could tell I was starting to make progress. I called my doula back and told her that we may be getting close to time for her to come. Knowing things were ramping up, I decided to lay down for an hour and rest between contractions again. PJ layed behind me and held me as I drifted off and awoke, over and over again.

When I got up, my body was telling me to get back in the tub, so I did. The water felt good and again, things started to pick up. By this time I was vocalizing through contractions and swaying back and forth with the sensations. As I felt a contraction coming I would close my eyes, place my hands on my belly, sway from side to side and vocalize low, deep sounds to remain relaxed and let my body work.

By this time it was 3pm. I called my doula and she was on her way. I called my midwife and she listened to me work through a contraction. She said to leave and head to the Birth Center as soon as my doula arrived.

My doula arrived at our house and guided me through contractions, as Pj packed the car. Then we all headed out.

We arrived at the Birth Center and my midwife was waiting for us in the lobby. I immediately had a contraction as we started to walk through the lobby. I leaned against the wall, swaying and vocalizing. My doula applied pressure to my hips and my midwife talked me through it.

Once we got into the Birth Center my midwife did an internal exam to see how my cervix was progressing. I was 4cm dilated. She and my doula suggested I get into the shower. The warm water of the shower helps manage contractions, while also helping labor progress. The water does a fantastic job of stimulating the nipples, which produces the oxytocin that moves your cervix along.

I got into the shower with PJ. Through each contraction I leaned on him, we swayed like a beautiful slow dance, and I vocalized through the contraction. Between contractions he held me and I rested my head back on his chest. Most of the time we were quiet, but after each contraction encouraged me with sweet words about my strength and how much he loved me. My contractions grew more intense very quickly.

After about 30 minutes in the shower, my doula peeked her head in the bathroom and told us that she could hear my contractions changing and that they were consistently 2 minutes apart...all good signs.

I moved into the big tub. The tub felt so good. Being submerged in water does amazing things for contractions. Imagine a contraction is like a wave. The water eliminates the start and end of the wave, making the contractions feel shorter and less intense. The water also offers a calming sensation throughout the body.
Pj sat on the edge of the tub with is feet in, so that he was available should I need him, and I alternated through positions during each contraction The most comfortable position was on my knees with my arms resting on the side of the tub and my head resting on my arms. My doula sat next to the tub holding my hand when I needed it, coaching me through contractions and reminding me to trust my body because although this was really hard, my body was doing exactly what it was supposed to. She encouraged me to talk to Zoe.

After a while in the tub (I have no sense of how long I was in there), my midwife suggested I get out to try some other positions to move baby along. Our doula mentioned that her clients have a lot of success incorporating childs pose in their labor. That position encourages baby to move down and naturally puts pressure on the cervix to open.
I got into childs pose on the bed, for a few contractions.

I started to feel very tired at this point. It was 6pm and I had been laboring for almost 24 hours. All I wanted to do was lay down. I layed on my side in the bed, with my doula sitting at my side, my head resting in PJ's lap and my midwife sitting behind me. I felt completely safe and supported.

Contractions continued to rock through my body. By this point I felt like my body was going to rip into two, but somehow each time a contraction would come, I breathed and worked my way through it confidently. I had an amazing support team.

I started to shake uncontrollably and telling them there was no way I could do this and that I didn't want to do this anymore. I started to lose it a bit, but my awesome support team brought me right back.

My midwife kept reassuring me I could do this and I was amazing. I remember saying to her, If I survive this....champagne for all. And calling her crazy about 100 times. Labor makes you say weird things.

I asked her to check me again because I was feeling desperate to know if I had progressed. I was 8cm. Another contraction came, and with it my water broke with a huge gush! It was an incredible relief. That's when things got real.

Part 2 will be up tomorrow! Enjoy your Monday everyone! I'm taking both girls out by myself for the first time today. Wish me luck!

Thursday Random Ramblings

Thursday, December 17, 2015
Good afternoon friends! Today is one of those day's where I'm just late. It's actually pretty ironic because that's a huge pet peeve of mine. I can't stand being late. It makes me anxious and itchy and so uncomfortable. 
We were late for gymnastics this morning. Then late for our lunch date. And I'm late putting this post up. Some days things just don't go as planned. 

The good news...I got 2 new cookbooks and I can't wait to start showing off some new recipes in the next couple of weeks!!!

1. I am obsessed with Periscope! It's such a cool way to connect with people online. If you haven't tried it, you need to do it right now!!! I haven't actually done a scope of my own yet...but it's coming soon! Trust me!
I watch so many awesome scopes every day and it's so cool to see into other peoples lives, listen to the valuable information they have to share, and connect with the real person rather than just their website!

These are just a couple of the amazing women who's scopes I've been watching this week:

Sarah Gabriel - Uplift Training
Shawna Pence
Jasmine Niemiec - Mommy's Marathon
Nicole Culver - Blissful Eat's
Amanda Tress - Fit Pregnancy and Parenting
Beth - Sublimely Fit

If you've never used Periscope before, scopes are only available on Periscope for 24 hours...but if you go to Katch.me (and they're registered), you can see their older scopes too!
All of these women have so much to offer! Check them out!

2. My massive load of essential oils that I ordered, to get ready for baby, just arrived yesterday and I'm psyched!
Yes, I'm not only the crazy lady with the coconut oil...I'm also the one who's pulling oils out of my bag to treat everything from someones dry skin, to their hormone imbalance, to a stain on their shirt.
After I tore open the package yesterday, I immediately opened Gentle Baby to apply to Aria's spine and put in her diffuser, with Lavender, before bed. She slept amazingly last night!

3. Today I have my long awaited massage with the massage therapist who put me into labor with Aria. Today would actually be the same day in my pregnancy that I got the massage last time. Honestly, I don't think I'll be going into labor today. It would just be too good to be true. However, an hour long massage in the middle of the day will be heavenly!

I did wake up at 4am this morning with a monster contraction. Just one. I haven't had anything else happen today except the normal cramping. Zoe is playing games with us.

4. I've been thinking a lot about my goals for when I'm cleared to exercise again. I do really well with specific, smaller goals that lead up to one big goal. It helps keep me accountable, because rather than seeing just one giant goal, I can see the smaller steps that will lead me there, all laid out for me.

It's very helpful that I'm also one of those people who find it very motivating to check things off of lists. It's like an addiction. With numerous smaller goals, I can check those goals off as I meet them, and keep moving forward with crazy, unstoppable, satisfaction.

The funny thing is that in working on my goals, I have come up with a number of great smaller goals...but I'm haven't clearly identified the large goal yet. I don't want something as generic as "get back into shape". I need something bigger, stronger and more powerful than that. I'm a bad ass lady, after all. And so are you! Just incase you forgot :)

I hope everyone has a great day! We're getting soaked in rain over here, but I'm enjoying the laziness.

What random things are going on, on your Thursday?

How do you like to structure your goals?

Do you use Periscope?

Our Everyday Uses for Coconut Oil

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

I'll admit it. I'm that weird lady who whips out a jar of coconut oil 100 times a day for everything under the sun. I even keep a tiny mason jar in both my purse and the diaper bag...and in the bathrooms, our bedroom, the kitchen and Aria's room.

In my defense, coconut oil is amazing. It's naturally antibacterial and anti-fungal and it's a fantastic moisturizer. It's main fatty acid helps control cholesterol levels. It contains Vitamins E, K and Iron. Coconut oil also improves digestion and immunity.

There are a zillion things you can use it for, but these are a few of the things we use it for daily.

1. Diaper rash cream

2. Dry skin anywhere on the body

3. Eye make up remover

4. Dry scalp or cradle cap, for baby

5. Lip balm

6. For nursing/pumping (back when I was pumping for Aria)

7. Natural shave cream

8. As a carrier oil with essential oils

9. Melted and mixed in with your dogs food to help with his itching and allergies

10. Massage oil

11. DIY Vapor Rub

12. Melted in hot tea to treat a sore throat

13. Healing cracked dog paws

14. Removes caked on food from dishes

15. Bug bite soother

16. Get rid of the sticky stuff left over from stickers

17. Helps heal cuts and scrapes

18. In place of vegetable oil and butter in cooking

19. Mixed with a tablespoon of chia seeds for a natural energy booster

20. Tame frizzy hair

What's your favorite use for coconut oil?

What's your favorite multi use natural remedy?

Connecting With Your Baby Through Exercise

Monday, December 14, 2015

Good evening friends! This is something I've been thinking a lot about and talking with my clients about lately...the importance connecting with your unborn baby and how you can do that through exercise.

I get so excited about sharing the love, when it comes to the benefits of exercising during pregnancy. I want everyone to know how good it is for them and their baby!

The main benefits that moms hear, over and over again, revolve around decreased weight gain, easier labor and delivery, increased energy, boosting your childs intellectual and athletic potential, and positive effects on your immune system...just to name a few.

While those are so important...the one benefit that is rarely addressed is how exercising allows you to connect deeply with your unborn baby.
In the Fit for Birth Pre and Postnatal certification course I went through, we talked about this topic a lot. It's growing quickly as the world is starting to really grasp how emotional wellness is directly connected to physical and mental well being, and successful relationships in all area's of life.

This is actually one of my favorite benefits, but is often sidelined to all the other goodies.

From the moment a baby is conceived, all of the mothers thoughts, feelings and emotions are communicated through neurohormones to her unborn baby. Positive feelings and emotions have been proven to advance the physical and mental health of an unborn child. While negative feelings and stress can wire a baby to have a quick firing stress response and behavioral challenges later in life.

All of our thoughts and feelings affect baby's future coping mechanisms, behavior, stress response and baby's relationships with the world around him. Communicating an intentional sense of love contributes greatly to their development.

Exercise can be a great way to connect with your unborn baby.

1. Exercise produces endorphins, which turn into positive feelings, distributed directly to mom and baby. Additionally, those endorphins which affect mom's overall well being and attitude even after exercise, continue being directly communicated to baby throughout the day.

2. Physical exercises is a natural de-stressor and can reduce tension in the muscles, in turn reducing tension in the mind. A relaxed mind creates a relaxed home for baby.

3. Nature and fresh air naturally make us feel awake and alive. Take advantage of that and get out for a walk with your belly.

4. Exercise is a safe place for releasing frustration, stress and negative feelings. After a workout you feel good. Even beyond the endorphins, emotionally and mentally you feel clear. Whatever tension you were holding on to was released through you workout, in a healthy way, rather than bottling up and being released in an unhealthy way.

Have a great night everyone! Be sure to get moving today for yourself and for baby!

How do you like to connect with your baby? 

What's your favorite reason to exercise during pregnancy?

38 Weeks

Monday funday is upon us. It's another two post day! Be sure to check in later for a post on connecting with your unborn baby through exercise.

How was the weekend? Ours was uneventful. The prenatal massage I was so looking forward to, was rescheduled to this coming Thursday. Other than that, there wasn't much on the docket.

When you find yourself in the last 2 weeks until your due date, your schedule tends to get a little lighter. Partially because you're hopeful you'll go early...and partially because you're too dang tired to do anything.

Baby's Size: 19.75 in, the size of a leek. I'm going to go ahead and just say it...she's the size of a newborn baby now. We no longer need to speak in vegetable terms.

Overall: Every day I feel different. Some day's I wake up feeling so good that I know there's no way she's coming anytime soon. Then other days I feel so awful that I'm sure she's coming that day. I am incredibly tired and the energetic bouts are very short lived. Chasing a toddler all day doesn't leave much time for resting, so I'm sure I'm in desperate need of rest.

Symptoms: Still a ton of cramping. I'm also still having a lot of braxton hicks contractions. I've had a couple of bouts of loose stools...which can be an indication of the shift in hormones prior to labor.

It's actually pretty interesting...the shift in hormones that brings on labor, can also affect your bowels, in order to rid your body of any waste. That way once labor starts, your body can concentrate solely on the very important task of birthing your baby.

Cravings: Smoothies. I want smoothies all day every day. More than food.

Emotions: I am incredibly emotional right now. It's a bizarre feeling because normally (when not pregnant) I'm so even keeled. I've been crying a lot and getting super frustrated with my well meaning husband a lot. I may also be a little bit irrational.

Exercise: I have gotten in a couple of short intense workouts the past few days, but I'm mostly doing stretching and yoga.

I'm really looking forward to working hard and getting back in shape.

Upcoming week: This week my Mom and step Dad come up to visit for an entire week, which I'm thrilled about. It'll be wonderful to see them, and it'll also be wonderful to have an extra couple of hands to wrangle my sweet toddler beast.

Clothes: I am really looking forward to burning all of my maternity clothes. Okay, maybe that was a little extreme. I'm just so tired of wearing maternity clothes. I cannot wait to get rid of them forever.

Last Minute Prep for Baby: Bags are packed, cosleeper is ready, both sets of parents are on standby, carseat is installed...what could possibly be left?

Making the list of things (for PJ) to remember to do/get when labor starts. Before things get rolling too intensely, there are a few things that the both of us will need to do to make sure that when it get's to be time to leave, we can just go.
When labor starts, whether it starts fast or slow, everyones adrenaline tends to ramp up. It makes it very easy to forget things. I'd like to think I'll have time to help prep everything along side PJ, but just incase I can't, it's helpful for him to know what's left to be done without having to ask.

There wasn't so much to prep last minute for our last rodeo...but since Aria will stay with either set of our parents, we have to make sure everything is ready for her to be taken care of for a day, so we don't interrupt her schedule too much. She'll have plenty of that once we bring Zoe home. There's also the placenta materials that will need to be gathered and packed. And making sure the dogs are loved and walked enough while were gone.

Maybe this will be the last weekly update...but probably not :)

See you guys later on post #2! Have a great day!

Zooma Run Love Challenge and More!

Friday, December 11, 2015
Happy Friday! It's the weekend ya'll!!!

As some of you already know, I'm super excited that I've been chosen as a 2016 ZOOMA Run Series Ambassador!

ZOOMA is an amazing group of women, inspiring and supporting each other, to live happy, healthy and active lives.

Imagine a powerful sea of women encouraging each other, creating unforgettable moments, and celebrating personal triumphs! The race weekends are filled with unforgettable celebrations, yoga sessions, an amazing expo, mocktail parties and meeting other women who are all about lifting each other up and being strong together. All of this in a beautiful destination!!! That's a ZOOMA Race!

Its about that time to start planning the 2016 race season, and you should most definitely consider adding a ZOOMA event to your calendar!

There are 3 events destinations this year:

Annapolis 10k/Half Marathon on June 4th 
Cape Cod 10k/Half Marathon on September 24th
Florida 5k, 10k, Half Marathon on October 22nd

I'll be running in Annapolis on June 4th!

What else does ZOOMA have up their sleeve???


This challenge is the perfect way to stay motivated through the winter, while training with hundreds of your closest runner friends. ZOOMA will top off the event feeling the Run Love during the 5k or 10k on (or around) Valentines Day.

Participants Receive: 
5k/10k Training Program
Cozy Run Love Sweatshirt (pictured below)
ZOOMA Run Love Medal
Weekly Newsletter
Bonus ZOOMALife Radio podcast episod
Swag from our sponsors
Access to a private ZOOMA Challenge Facebook group
Audio for your Virtual Race from Motigo

Cost $50
Training begins January 4th
Registration will close on January 11th
Run your virtual 5k or 10k on our around February 14th

Participation will be capped so don't delay! This will be my first race postpartum. Come train and run with me!

Click here to get started! I'm looking forward to training and running with all of you in the New Year!!!

10 Minute Medicine Ball Workout & Labor Training

Thursday, December 10, 2015
Thursday rocks my world. It's just before the weekend starts. Oh the anticipation.
Not that we have anything too exciting planned.
Oh wait. I am getting a prenatal massage on Saturday from the queen of all prenatal massages.

AKA...the massage therapist who helped put me into labor with Aria.

Fun story...
When I was 39 weeks pregnant with Aria, I was having one of those nights where I couldn't get comfortable, I was cranky, I was tired, I felt completely terrible from head to toe...yet I couldn't sleep for the life of me.
All of those feelings...times 100.
I was awake for hours that night.  Finally at about 3am I put in a request online for a massage at 9:30am. She got back to me first thing in the morning, and I was on my way!

She and I talked about how there are some pressure points that can induce labor if my body is ready. I told her to go for it because I was sure I was going to be pregnant for another 2 weeks.
I had the best massage of my life that morning.

Afterwards, I went to the craft store, the baby store, then to Whole Foods. I then proceeded to inhale the food I got from the hot bar, in my car, because I was too hungry to drive the 2 minutes home to eat it.

Then when I got home I snuggled in on the couch and watched Titanic. Wouldn't you know it...my water broke while I was watching Titanic.

I don't anticipate this massage to send me into labor. I don't think my body is quite ready to take the plunge. Sure, sometimes it feels like she is going to fall right out, because of how low she is resting...but in all honestly, I think I have at least another week to go.

Prenatal massage can help women go into labor only if their bodies are ready and if the massage therapist is trained properly on the corresponding pressure points. Additionally, often times a good massage is all it takes to relax a woman enough to let her body do what it's trying to do.

While overall my body has been pretty tired lately...I have been getting these small bursts of energy. They've been great for short, intense workouts. I'm still doing yoga every day, but these little sweat fests have been a really nice way to mix it up.

This medicine ball workout has been exactly what I've needed. It also doubles as one of my Labor Training workouts that I use for myself and for my Prenatal Fitness clients.

What you need to know
This workout is great for prenatal clients as well as not pregnant clients!
I particularly love this workout parentally because it is structured to help train for labor. It's designed to mimic the hard work and rest periods of labor contractions. Hence, why the work period increases through the workout. By training this way prenatally, it'll help you prepare your body and mind for the challenges of labor, as well as build your endurance for labor and birth.

For each exercise, work hard for the prescribed period of time. I mean, really hard. In order to mirror a contraction, you have to really push yourself. Once the time is up, find a comfortable position, close your eyes, concentrate on your breathing and really try to clear your mind, calm your breath, mind and muscles. Then when your rest period is up, work hard for the next period of time.

You can do as many rounds as you would like. Each full round (all 6 exercises and rest sessions) is just short of 10 minutes.

What you'll need
Medicine ball 3-10lbs - I use a 6 pound ball

The Workout

What's your favorite medicine ball exercise? 

Mine tends to change depending on the needs of my body and training. Right now I'm loving the sumo squat with forward extension.

Did you do anything interesting before you went into labor? 

The massage really did it for me...but I do love telling people I was watching Titanic. It seems so fitting.

5 Healthy Breakfasts to Keep You Full

Tuesday, December 8, 2015
Good morning! How is everyone? We're doing well! Just prepping for Christmas. And being really pregnant.

I've been sneaking in some short intense workouts the past few days. I find that occasionally my body is still up for working hard...but short durations are key...so that I still have some energy for the rest of the day.

Lately one of my favorite workouts is a squat and medicine ball strength session. I'll be posting it for you guys on Thursday!  Get ready to sweat!

Today I have a treat for you. Some of my favorite breakfast recipes!

I love breakfast. When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I think about is breakfast...and coffee. I actually don't think I've ever skipped breakfast in my life.

I'm not someone who can get by with something small like a yogurt or a piece of fruit. I need an entire meal of food. Something that'll fill me up and kickstart my body for the day. Breakfast actually sets the tone for my entire day!

These are a collection of some of my FAVORITE breakfast recipes that keep even my massive morning appetite at bay. Title and picture are links to the yumminess!

Savory Pesto Quinoa Breakfast Bowl 

This breakfast is one of my favorites! It's packed with protein, healthy fats, good carbohydrates and flavor!!!

Steel Cut Oats with Ricotta, Pistachios and Raisins

I never would have thought to pair ricotta cheese and oats together, but it's amazing! This dish is the perfect combination of sweet and savory. And if you love different textures, like I do, the pistachios and raisins are perfection!

Spinach Mushroom Egg White Scramble

This breakfast is one of my favorites because it is so versatile. It's not as boring as plain eggs and spinach and you can do a few different things with it. I like putting it in a wrap on on some sourdough toast.

Five Minute Oatmeal Power Bowl

This oatmeal power bowl is so quick to make (which is essential most mornings) and full of good stuff. I love adding hemp hearts on top and cashew butter.

Make Ahead Egg, Spinach and White Bean Breakfast Quesadilla

These are awesome to have on hand! We eat them for breakfast and throughout the day, because they're so delicious. The recipe makes 8 quesadillas. You can swap out ingredients as you'd like...but I promise you this combination is delicious!!!

I hope you guys enjoy!

What's your favorite breakfast? 

37 Weeks

Monday, December 7, 2015
Happy Monday friends! How was everyones weekend? Ours was very productive.

Well, here we are! 37 weeks along and absolutely ready to burst. I know I usually do pregnancy updates every 2 weeks, but with the end approaching so quickly, weekly updates feels right.
Things are changing so quickly now, as well.

Baby's Size: 19.25 inches, the size of swiss chard.

I'd like to say I can't believe she's that big...but I can. Her feet are all the way up in my ribs, even though she has already dropped.

Weight Gained: 33 pounds

Overall: I feel okay. I had a few days where I was feeling really bad.
Saturday I felt amazing and even got in a great squat and upper body medicine ball workout. It definitely counted as cardio as well, because my heart pounding the entire time. Afterwards, I did fall asleep on the couch for an hour...so it must have been good.
Then yesterday I was so nauseous, all I could do to keep from getting sick, was lay on my side.

In chatting with my doula, we talked about all of the different variations of how these end of pregnancy shifts in my hormones could impact me. Namely, the nausea.

Symptoms: So. Much. Cramping. During the day and a lot in the evening. A few nights ago it was so consistent that I thought I was going into labor.
I'm also having frequent waves of nausea, which I haven't had in months.

Baby Position: Baby Zoe has dropped and is engaged. She dropped a few days ago and I knew it immediately. I can feel the pressure of her head down in my pelvis. The shape of my belly has also changed a lot. It's lower and harder.

Emotions: Still crazy.

Nursery: Looking good! We finished getting everything in there and set up this weekend, aside from her wall art. It's adorable! The most adorable part being that I was obsessing over setting it up, when she wont' even be sleeping in there for who knows how long.

Cosleeper: Completely finished, with an adorable sheet that I made, on it. Pics to come soon.

Cravings: I haven't had any cravings this week. Like I mentioned earlier in this post...I've actually been feeling nauseous. I lose my appetite mid meal and end up throwing half of it away.

Size Estimate: At my last appointment, my midwife spent some time feeling around on my belly to try to estimate baby's size. Her prediction was... if I go at 39 weeks, as I did with Aria, 7 pounds. We shall see.
Let's just say I haven't taken the tags off of any of the newborn clothes...just in case she is huge.

Exercise: I'm listening to my body. I stretch and do some prenatal yoga everyday. There aren't as many days that I do an online yoga class anymore. I find that it feels better if I just wing it and move how my body feels is necessary.

I have still been doing different squat variations and upper body work. I also walk a few miles a day. I'm missing running, but I know I'll be back out there soon.

Looking forward to: Meeting this fireball! And caffeinated coffee! And champagne to celebrate!

Have an awesome day!

Why We Have a Birth Doula

Friday, December 4, 2015
Happy Friday! Last night was the weirdest night we've had in a long time.

First, Aria was really strange at bed time. Usually we do her whole bedtime routine (wash up, brush teeth, read books, sing songs) and then when it's time to lay down and actually go to sleep, she flips and flops around and asks for water or oils 578 times.
Last night she said she just asked me to hold her tight, and fell asleep in my arms, without any of the usual resistance.

Then, while laying there with her, I started having a lot of very consistent cramping, to the point that I thought I was going into labor. I immediately started to cry because I realized in that moment that it was the last time it would just be the two of us.
Pregnancy hormones anyone?

Spoiler alert...it wasn't labor. I'm still pregnant.

I was feeling really bad, physically, all evening, so I took a long bath. After my bath, the tub somehow started leaking through the floor and ceiling, into the kitchen...at 11 o'clock at night. It was everywhere! We're still dealing with that one....

Strange night. Which is also why this post is up so late in the day.

I've talked a few times about our doula and how I'm so happy we have her as part of our birth experience.
I'm a huge supporter of having a doula as part of your pregnancy, birth and postpartum, no matter what type of birth you are planning.
Even as a trained doula myself, I still feel it's essential for me to have that outside, unique support from a professional, who has a genuine passion for birth.

A doula by definition is someone who offers physical and emotional support to a woman and her partner before, during and after childbirth. She "mother's the mother".

1. Doulas have experience in many different variations of labor and birth. 

Birth is unpredictable. Always. Having someone there who has experienced and supported women through many different variations of labor, can be very helpful. Not only can she be a calming presence, but she can help you to navigate through your experience physically, emotionally and with the endless options available.

2. Doulas offer unbiased, neutral information to the mother and her partner, enabling them to make the best decision for them. 

A doula understands that this is your birth and your baby. She has no agenda and is truly only interested in what you want for your birth. She has the education, experience and knowledge to present information and options to you and your partner, but does so in an unbiased way, to allow you to find your best path. Additionally, she is trained to ask questions to get you to think outside the box and help you find what that path is.

3. Doulas work with the partner to support the mother.

There is a common misconception that if you have a doula, she will replace your partner, and your partner may be phased out. That couldn't be further from the truth.

A doula's purpose is to support the mother and partner. Through getting to know you and through observing how you and your partner work together during labor, she will use her experience and knowledge to figure out the best way for her to support the two of you, working together. A big part of what you can talk about during the prenatal period is how the three of you can work together.

A mother's partner knows her in a way her doula never could, and a doula knows things about birth that the partner could never fully understand.

4. Doulas also support the partner.

For a couple, birth is often full of the unknown. Having an experienced person there to answer questions for the partner can help him/her to feel calm and comforted. Additionally, a doula will make sure the partner's needs are being met. During a long labor she will stay will mom, while the partner takes care of his needs (ie. eating, resting), etc. etc.

5. Your doula can help you prepare for your prenatal appointment.

Doulas are trained to help you navigate all of the options offered to you during pregnancy and for your birth.

Before your prenatal appointments, you can talk with your doula to help you formulate any questions to ask your care provider. Sometimes during appointments, things just roll along so quickly that by the end you don't really know what to ask. Then by the time you go back for your next appointment, you find yourself in the same cycle.

Your doula has supported clients through the pregnancy and birth experience numerous times and can be a good touch stone before your appointment, to discuss where you are in your pregnancy and what it's a good time to start thinking about.

Additionally, if you start to approach the time your care provider want's to discuss induction, your doula can help you with questions to ask, to ensure you are being offered all of the possible options. There are many ways to start an induction. You don't necessarily have to start with pitocin.

6. Your doula can also help you navigate the postpartum period. 

The postpartum period is often forgotten about during pregnancy. We concentrate so much on the pregnancy and birth aspect, that we forget to think much about what happens once we get home. Your doula can help you plan for your care, newborn care and talk with you about what you may experience.
Also, she will often be there for you during that time to talk and process through your experience.

7. Many doulas offer childbirth education as well. 

Doulas are trained in newborn care, breastfeeding, relaxation for labor, massage, reflexology, and a number of other childbirth education topics, which can be invaluable to you as a client!

8. Doulas are trained to support women through any type of birth. 

Doulas aren't just for women planning a medication free birth. A doula is trained to support a woman through any type of birth. A doula's role extends from pregnancy through after birth, not just during the time you are in labor.

9. Women who work with doulas are 40% less likely to have a cesarean.

Some of the reasons for this are; because the doula is with the couple for the duration of labor. She can offer options of different techniques to help the mother remain comfortable, while encouraging the labor to progress. Failure to progress is a very common reason that ends up leading to an unscheduled cesarean.

If baby is posterior, she can offer position changes and other ideas to try to help turn baby. If the cervix has a lip, she can offer ideas to help with that as well. Should there be another reason labor isn't progressing, your doula will go above and beyond to ensure that she has tapped into and exhausted every possible scenario to help you achieve the birth you want. She has a lot of experience with numerous different variations of labor.

10. A doula can make the birth experience more enjoyable. 

Having a doula can help a mother and her partner go into their birth experience feeling confident and empowered, by supporting them and arming them with knowledge and options.

12. She can help you identify options for unexpected things, in the moment.

Because doulas have seen a number of different ways a birth can unfold, they have experience in helping couples navigate through these times of the unexpected. Should something unexpected arise in the hospital, she can help you through those conversations with doctors and nurses, and help you to ask the right questions to gather all of the information you need to make an informed decision. You're much less likely to find yourself in a situation where you felt something was just sprung on you and you didn't have choices, or the chance to make a decision.

12. You are less likely to have unwanted procedures. 

There are a number of procedures that can occur during the labor process, birth process and postpartum (with your baby). A doula can discuss some of these with you during pregnancy to help you identify what is important to you and where you stand on these procedures, so you can in turn discuss with your care provider.

Additionally, during labor, she will be there to help ensure your needs are being met and wishes are being honored.

13. A doula can help you find the right pediatrician and care provider. 

I've mentioned before how your doula is trained to ask questions to help you make the best decision for you. When it comes to finding a care provider or a pediatrician, she can help you navigate the questions to ask yourself and to ask potential care providers that you interview, to determine if they are right for you.

Additionally, she can share with you some of the common questions clients ask, and the not so common...to give you the full spectrum. She will likely have heard it all, and will have insight on questions that may have never even crossed your mind to ask.

14. She can offer support for breastfeeding. 

I mentioned breastfeeding support when I touched on childbirth education, but I wanted to be sure to dive more deeply into it because it is so important.

Doulas are trained in breastfeeding support. And your doula is there for you, to support you. Having someone there who has supported a number of women and who genuinely is invested in you, while having so much knowledge, is so valuable.
She can also help you prepare for breastfeeding before the baby is born, and can help postpartum, in your home.

15. Your doula will share in your excitement and emotion. 

A doula get's into this type of work because she has a true passion for birth and supporting women. There is no other reason to become a doula. She will truly be excited for you and will offer support you didn't even know you wanted or needed.

I could go on all day about how valuable having a doula is. Birth is such a special experience and unfortunately many women aren't offered all of the information or choices that they are entitled to. And even further than that, having the support of someone who is 100% there for you and your needs and has no other agenda,  during such a life changing experience, is so worth it.

Well, were' off to walk Harper and search for a christmas movie for family movie night.
Have a great weekend everyone!

Random Ramblings

Thursday, December 3, 2015
Happy Thursday friends. How is everyone today?

I was thinking of doing a Holiday Gift Guide post...but I honestly have no idea what to get anyone this year. I haven't even started Holiday shopping.

That's not true. I did buy my husband a card that says "Dat Ass" "I like it".
Hey. I just want to remind him.

So instead of a beautifully composed post about fabulous gifts you could buy your loved ones, I'm writing about the random happenings inside my head and around my house. It has been a while since I unloaded my crazy on you guys.

1. Sometimes I'm yearning to get back to training so intensely, that I could literally crawl out of my skin. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate and respect my body and the very important work it's doing. I'm taking care to and give it what it needs right now...which seems to be limited to prenatal yoga and squats. But, I do miss serious sweat sessions. Those ones that hurt so good.

2. I'm getting really excited for launching some fun things in the New Year that I've been working very hard on!

I'll be offering online individualized personal training, individualized postnatal fitness, and health and fitness group training. The first health and fitness group training will start mid February, once I am cleared to exercise...because I'll be doing it with the group! I'm super excited! As a long time athlete and fitness lover, I truly believe that the support of your tribe is one of the huge key's to success in health and I want to be able to provide that!

The group program will include the workouts, encouragement, group motivation, health and wellness tips, fitness tips, nutrition information, and tons more. I'll be releasing more on all of these exciting upcoming additions, in the coming months.

3. These last few months I've finally reached a place where I'm doing a really good job at taking care of myself, amidst the insanity that is life. No matter how long my "to do" list is every day, or what kind of craziness we've encountered, I take time out for myself, to connect with me, and get in touch with my needs. It has become second nature, which is great because it's so important for balance.

4. I recently stocked up on all of our YL essential oil needs for the winter and the new baby. We use oils every day in our house. I started using them here and there, when Aria was born. Now we don't go a day without using them. They are so powerful and really can be used for EVERYTHING. They're my natural medicine cabinet.
I've ordered a few new ones that I didn't have when Aria was tiny and I'm really excited to try them.

5. I'm so pumped about the Ninja Blender I go on black Friday for 60% off. It's so much better than the blender we had. We've really stepped up our smoothie game with this new blender.
Expect more smoothie recipes coming your way!

6. I can't stop thinking about labor....and gasp!.... I'm kind of looking forward to it.
My last labor was fast, scary and intense. This labor will likely also be very fast and intense, but I'm hoping to eliminate (or at least dial down) the scary part.

This time around I am more experienced in birth, as a mother and as a doula, and most importantly...I have a super support team. With experience and the preparations we've made, I'm hopeful for a more peaceful and intuitive experience. I know my body and have confidence my body. I trust it to do what it is meant to do.

7. Yesterday PJ slyly put a tupperware in the sink that had been in his car for a couple of days, with the lid on...completely sealed up. I discovered it when I was doing dishes. Without a second thought, I just threw it away. Didn't even try to open that beast.

If we didn't share a bed, I'd take those gross tupperwares, that he leaves in his car and bag for days, and put them under his pillow. I just can't even deal with the smell. It kills me.
That may or may not be one of my pet peeves. :)

I hope you guys have a great day! We're headed out for gymnastics and 465 errands.

What's going on with you today? 

Surviving the Picky Eater

Tuesday, December 1, 2015
I am convinced that I have the pickiest eater on the planet, living in my house. And I'm honestly not sure how it happened. Being someone who is committed to healthy eating, we always have whole, nutritious, and delicious foods in our house, which Aria is exposed to daily. Also, Aria and I spend every day together, and I know she is watching what I eat, which makes it even more confusing.

Over the past year Aria has become so unbelievably picky when it comes to food. Sometimes it changes daily. Sometimes it changes hourly. Some day's it seems like she barely eats anything, but instead of saying "I'm not hungry", she will decide that she doesn't like whatever food is presented to her.

It used to cause me a lot of stress, because I want the best for her, especially in terms of physical and bodily health. Also largely because I was walking the fine line of not becoming a short order cook, while at the same time not wanting her to go to bed hungry.

It can be challenging to remain internally calm when you work so hard to make a delicious meal that you are sure your family will love, only to have your little one completely melt down, because it's just the most awful thing she's ever seen...and then melt down again immediately, because she only want's to eat shredded cheese or ketchup for dinner.

These are some strategies that work well for our family through this picky eating stage.

1. Identify type of eater...and accept it

Some kids do really well with 3 structured meals per day, while other kids are grazers. I have a grazer on my hands. She is hungry throughout the day and eats a lot of small meals. I can never expect her to eat a lot during meal times because that's not how her body works. She has a small tummy, eats small meals, burns them off, and then eats again.
I remind myself of this throughout the day when I expect her to be starving after her nap, or when I make a big delicious dinner that I'm hopeful she will fill up on before bed, but she only takes 3 bites.

2. If a child is hungry, they really will eat

Sometimes kids just aren't hungry. Their metabolisms change, sometimes daily, as their activity level does. Some day's they are hungrier than others.
We go through days where I feel like Aria hardly eats anything. I'll constantly ask if she's hungry and she will continue to say no. She'll eat a tiny bit through the day and I'll expect her to wake up starving at 2am. But she never does.
The next day she usually eats more.

3. Aim for a balanced week

My pediatrician gave me this advice and it lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. As an adult, I constantly aim for a balanced day of the food groups. With toddlers, because they can be so finicky in what they eat and inconsistent in the amount they eat day to day, aim for a balanced week instead.
Some day's it feels like the only thing Aria eat's is fruit. Then the following day she moves on to the next food group.

4. Be creative

I get very creative when it comes to making sure Aria is getting some of the nutrients she needs. It's not perfect, but it works well. We drink a lot of smoothies and fresh homemade juice (with vegetables and fruit). She won't eat kale no matter how I make it, but she will always drink juice or a smoothie with kale in it. Or any other vegetable.
I make homemade macaroni and cheese with pureed carrots in it. I also buy these organic Veggie Fries from Whole Foods, which she loves.

5. Stay consistent

I find that staying consistent in continuing to offer her the full range of whatever we are eating, is helpful. When cooking meals I always make one thing that I know she will eat, with the meal. I make her plate just like our plates, with a little bit of everything I've made. She is welcomed to eat as much or as little as she would like of each thing on her plate. Some day's she only eats the one thing I predicted she will eat. Other day's she will surprise me and try the other things on her plate.

The most important thing about the consistency factor for us is that she knows what to expect. She knows that she won't get a separate meal if she doesn't "like" something. Instead she doesn't have to eat what she doesn't "like". That eliminates the independence struggle. She is free to eat as many servings as she wants, of what she does like.

This also allows me to continuously present foods to her over and over again, showing her what a balanced meal looks like and giving the opportunity for her to try something, should we find ourselves in one of those very rare days where she's adventurous with food.

6. Sit together

When Pj is home we always sit together for meals. When he isn't home it can be tempting for me to be cleaning up or doing dishes while Aria is having lunch or dinner. When I don't sit and eat with her, she eat's much less than when I do. While it may be convenient for me to get things done during that time, it's important for me to be present while she's eating, and to eat with her. She's learning from me how mealtimes work, as well as watching the foods I eat.

7. Expect inconsistency

Expecting that your toddlers eating will be inconsistent is incredibly freeing. Once you accept that it's totally unpredictable and that it has nothing to do with you or the amazing food you've worked so hard to prepare, it's much easier to just let go of it.

8. Snack options

Aria is at an age where she loves having some control and asserting her independence. When it comes to food, she especially loves doing this, because she knows that she ultimately has control over what she puts in her mouth.

When offering her a snack, I have a shelf in the pantry and a shelf in the fridge, filled with healthy snacks she can pick from. When she is hungry she can pick something from one of the shelves. Giving her that bit of control helps fill that desire for independence, while still ultimately giving mommy control.

What do you find helpful to survive a picky eater?

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