Sunday, April 13, 2014

Adventures in Breastfeeding

My youngest son will be 10.5 months old on Tuesday. His first year is going by far faster than my older son's did. This is probably mostly in part to the fact that I am now responsible for two lives instead of one and do not get the luxury of basking in his every second. I am currently sitting at the Philadelphia airport on an almost 3 hour lay over and am reminiscing about this same trip I made once before. The only difference was that I was pregnant with that second baby and soon he will be a year old.

My oldest son was 14 months when he finally stopped nursing and we came to the end of my massive stores of frozen milk. He was not a good nurser in the sense that he had a bit of a reflux problem so would only nurse from one side at a time and then spit most of it back up and then need to try again about an hour later. I spent a large amount of my time feeding him. Because he was born prior to my husband and I getting married, we left him with my in-laws for a week when he was 4.5 months old and went off to seal the deal. I knew that this was going to happen, so I started pumping and storing milk from the moment he was born. I was terrified (as a first time mom and first time breastfeeder) that my milk supply would give out while I was gone. So, at the advisement of my midwife and lactation consultant I took the herbal supplement fenugreek for a few weeks before the trip and throughout the entire trip. I reeked of pancakes, but my husband didn't mind. He got his first two teeth the day we left and while we were driving to New York City. When we returned he latched right back on, happy to be returned to his safe, warm, natural nursing spot.
Because of that successful experience, I was not worried about traveling while nursing this time.

On my first adventure in pumping I traveled for a conference, just over night, to New Orleans when my oldest was 2.5 months old. I lugged my "carry-on" that was mostly consumed with a breast pump and cooler both there and back and nervously pumped on schedule every 3 hours, storing my liquid gold in the mini fridge I rented from the Hilton. When I was at the airport, I hid in a bathroom stall and quietly filled bottles using a hand pump. When we drove from North Carolina to Maine and back in a week for our wedding trip we also lugged a full size 5-day cooler in the back seat of my Honda Civic Hybrid. It was loaded with dry ice to help freeze the milk as I pumped it. I would ride in the front seat of the car as my then fiance drove down the interstate with the sound of the pump chugging us along. I had purchased a car adapter for it and every three hours we'd change seats and the milk factory would open for business. My husband joked a lot because the fenugreek had me producing up to 16oz at each pumping session. I looked fantastically busty in my wedding photos. It was wonderful.

I've had to pump in strange places as well as feed my children in weird places. Over this past Christmas holiday we drove to Iowa to visit my family. in a car....with an almost 3 year old and a 6.5 month old. It took us 23 hours to get to my mom's house from our house, including stops and sleeping in the car for a short while at a rest stop during a freezing rain/snow storm that I didn't feel comfortable driving through at 2am. I have perfected my in the car seat feeding technique. I now know how to balance just perfectly in the back seat of a Honda Pilot and still adequately change sides as my little boy has his meal still fully strapped in. all the crazy places and ways that I have encountered with breastfeeding and pumping, the one thing I've never become comfortable with is performing the act in public. I think this has a little to do with the fact that neither of my kids would ever leave a cover on, so I'd have to do it bare breast for all to see. And part of it is because I really enjoy that that is a special, private, bonding moment for my child and I. I treasure those moments and the sweet look on their faces when they meet me eye to eye with a smile and some milk dripping out of the side of their mouth.
When I travel this way the pump and cooler take up a lot of space in my carry-on and it's not practical for me to check it as I need to have access to it on these long lay-overs. However, it gets awkward asking for a private space to pump in during a workshop. It is a little odd to have the pump and cooler sitting up front with me as I present. It's a unique situation to explain to the TSA people why I have three carrying items coming through security and one of them being a cooler full of liquid. And it's frustrating when I am forced to check my bag with the pump inside through to my final destination with no resolve for how I am supposed to pump for the next 7 hours. So, here I am in Philly with a cooler full of pumped milk and slowly filling breasts waiting to go home and take care of my kids again. I've missed them. And I'm sure we'll make pancakes in the morning because Mama smells like them already.

A special THANK YOU to the very understanding mom at Logan Airport in Boston who didn't bite my head off for commandeering the family/assisted care bathroom for 20 minutes before my flight so I could pump. As I was packing up my stuff I had a knock at the door and felt really bad when I opened it to find a mom with her young son who was in a wheel chair waiting on me. I apologized and explained what I, a single healthy female, was doing in the bathroom. She looked annoyed before my apology, but afterward gave me praises and understanding as she had nursed all of her children for at least 2 years each.

This is where I leave this post tonight. A little laugh for the times that I had funny moments while breastfeeding like when my children, furniture, and everything in sight were sprayed by my powerful let down.
A little joy for the ability to provide my children with this great start in life. A little acceptance that airline policies are airline policies and sometimes I will just have to suffer from some rock hard melons while I travel. And a lot of grace and appreciation for moms everywhere.

Thank you too if you read this. I would love to hear your weirdest moment in breastfeeding. Namaste.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Public Displays

Have you ever thought it would be a good idea to wear a sign around your neck proclaiming something important to those around you about yourself? I've heard this idea brought up in fake date conversations in various movies I've seen. What would yours say? Mine would read:
SOCIAL least today anyway.

Have you ever had one of those moments when you were so incredibly lame that you wished that you could crawl into a whole and disappear? Has that same moment ever made you feel old? Have you ever been embarrassed for your kids even though they are not old enough to be embarrassed by you and were not even in the same state as you? Well, today I was that person....more than once.

As stated yesterday, I'm on a business trip this weekend in beautiful Lowell, MA. The first time I visited this town it was dreary and wet and gray and honestly, I wasn't sure I was so excited about coming back. But that was almost 2 years ago and for some reason it's really pretty and looks like someone polished it up a bit since I last visited. I'm kind of enjoying driving around Lowell this weekend. But, I'm afraid that they might not invite me back if they knew what a social disaster I am.

So, worst thing about rental cars and driving in towns you are unfamiliar with while trying to listen to a navigation is that you become a HORRIBLE driver. Guilty as charged this weekend. I have run over at least three curbs, done over five u-turns, and parked illegally while I ran in to pick up my dinner.

On top of that I am teaching an amazing group of people this weekend who are most 10+ years younger than me. So, I'm feeling kind of a like a dork and all of my references seem outdated and I am irrelevant. Plus, while I was standing up in front of the class today I had a majorly embarrassing cough attack for which I had to run out of the room and retrieve more water. I also feel like my usually cute yoga pants looked a lot like mom pants today and I kept fidgeting with the front of them like they were attacking my midsection.

And are you ready for more? Last night I attempted to "catch the elevator" in my hotel by jumping into it as the doors were closing. I thought I would make a very nimble and graceful leap into the elevator and narrowly miss the closing doors and magically escape the incident without cause for concern. But, as you've already guessed, that was not the case. I, instead, jumped into the elevator door and then ricocheted off of it into the other door and almost fell on top of some college baseball player from Maine who was standing in the elevator. He looked horrified and confused and, as I said, "Ooops, I just totally hit the door" he stared at me like he wasn't sure if I were being funny or if I were a mental case that needed some serious medical attention. I had to ride three floors down with this kid and felt the need to make small talk with him about baseball (I don't follow that sport) and a full hotel. LAME!

Okay, and to complete my elevator encounters this weekend, I also rode up with a very confused couple who are rooming a few doors down from me. They thought that my breast pump bag and yoga pants meant that I was with one of the teams in town this weekend. If only they knew what was in the bag I was carrying... And finally, upon entering the elevator I was greeted with, "Welcome to Moe's!" when I clearly was at Courtyard and not Moe's. But I guess the kid who yelled it was tweeting it and then was "sniped" by someone. This is where I started to feel really old and un-tech-savy because I don't know how you talk to tweet nor do I know how or why you would snipe someone.

So, overall, I feel completely unfit for social interactions at this point and have a very large bruise on my leg to prove that I should at least be banned from elevators for the time being.

Good night blog world. Keep breathing, tomorrow is another day.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Diphenhydramine My Old Friend....

I'm in Lowell, Massachusetts this weekend on a work trip to UMass Lowell. I am missing my husband and my kids as I always do when I travel. What I am not missing is the Azalea Festival in Wilmington this weekend and all of the pollen that goes with these blooming beauties. My family has been under attack by the flowers in our neighborhood and most especially the Bradford Pear Trees. If you have ever come in contact with a Bradford Pear Tree, I feel for you. If you have not, run as fast as you can from them. Click this link to read a hilarious take on the Bradford Pear Tree.

Because I am still nursing my youngest I have tried to refrain from pumping myself full of allergy meds to stop the assault on my sinuses, but yesterday I gave in. Now I am up north and safe from the inflammation, itching, watering, and sneezing, but still sad for my babies who are suffering down south. Especially the youngest as he cannot have any relief other than a little chest rub, some nice hot showers, and a steamy vaporizer in his room at night. I feel for him because he is my little outdoorsman and for the last week he has also been my little booger bear. And he also became my teacher; this week Eliot taught me about the power of Acceptance.

The other night as Eliot lay in my arms nursing with a crusty green film over his nose, wheezing, and choking from lack of air flow as he tried to drink, instead of crying and fussing and otherwise "complaining", he looked up at me and smiled. He accepted that this is a temporary situation and went right about his business. I looked at him and fell in love with my baby even more. He showed me that sometimes life kind of sucks, but most often it's not a permanent situation, so we smile and keep moving forward.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you could just accept everything in your life how it is and everything about yourself as okay? Imagine the power that would come from the freedom of being released from judgement and worry and criticism and the weight of feeling the need to change the world around you. This is a very tempting and intoxicating thought to me. That is not to say that I think that all things in life are good and should remain unchanged. I don't feel I could ever accept the mistreatment of animals, children, and other humans for the benefit or amusement of others. I have morals that I live by and I could never compromise those in order to be accepting of life, others, and the world around me. But I'm talking about the kind of acceptance for which we waste time and energy worrying about the status quo.

I've felt of late that there have been a great many barriers in my life that are preventing me from achieving some goals that I have. In spite of this, I choose to persevere and to continually move forward. I choose to smile in the face of challenges and to remember that living a yogic lifestyle is not purely about self improvement, but more so self acceptance. In the iconic words of Stuart Smalley:

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Eggs and Chicks

So, the eternal question: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Today we went to story time at our local library and they had baby chicks there for the kids to pet and admire. It was great fun, but my mother in law would have had a fit. She's always worried about kids and petting zoos etc. There was a large bottle of hand sanitizer right next to the chicks, so I'm sure that all the germophobic moms would be okay with their kids touching domesticated animals. I was okay with both of my kids touching the chicks because I'm okay with anything that exposes my kids to new experiences. My grandparents had a farm when I was growing up and my uncle still runs it today. My oldest son was put in a pasture full of cows last July for us to take pictures of him on a farm. He drove a tractor, played in the dirt, and ran barefoot in the grass chasing lightning bugs with his grandma. I love things like that for kids.

A few weeks ago a friend of mine were talking about a similar chicken vs egg debate in regards to kids menus at restaurants. The question is: Which came first, chicken nuggets as kids' food or chicken nuggets because that's what kids like? I wonder how many times kids are exposed to chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, mini pizzas, corn dogs, hot dogs, chicken strips, cheese burgers, pbj sandwiches, etc because we think of these things as kids' foods. Or, did these items become labeled as kids' foods because they truly fit the tastes of those little people?

Luckily for me, my three year old eats a wide variety of foods, but I still struggle with what to feed him when we go out to eat. He has finally gotten too big for me to share a meal with him when we go out, so I am forced between three decisions. A: Give him something off of the kids' menu that doesn't align with the food that I would normally feed him. B: Order an adult meal that comes in more healthy options and costs a lot more, but then feed him more like he is used to. or C:Continue to share my meal and then end up needing to eat again after we get home.

Have you ever faced this situation? How have you dealt with it? Do you bring meals to restaurants for your kids? Which restaurants do you take your kids to eat at? At what age did you let them have their own meals at restaurants?

All of these thoughts on eating bring me to an interesting concept regarding yoga and eating. I recently read a book about yoga, The Science of Yoga, in which I learned that the practice of yoga can actually make you gain weight because it slows your metabolism as well as breathing rate and heart rate. So, why do we not see a bunch of overweight yogis? It turns out that it's all because the lifestyle associated with the practice of yoga can outweigh the negative effects of a slowing metabolism.

The lifestyle associated with the practice of yoga has changed my life in many ways, but also in respect to my eating habits and how I treat my body in regards to food. In yoga we think of our bodies as our temples. We try to protect that temple and not to poison it with over processed foods, chemical additives, etc. I do my best each day to eat as clean as I can in balance with my budget and my husband's preferences. My oldest son is a great balance of the two of us and I hope that our younger son will be as well. I will always wish that I can do more and that the scales will tip in my favor.

Therefore, I think that the chicken came first to protect her egg and that the chicken nugget is a product of marketing. I will inhale the clean ideals of my practice and exhale the toxins surrounding me. I will treat my body as a temple, but also the bodies of my family and especially my children.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

March Moving Mania

So, we did it; we moved across town two weeks ago today. Yay! However, that also entailed purchasing a house, painting the whole house, clearing out all the left behind junk from the house, cleaning the house, packing up the old house, moving the old house to the new house, unloading and arranging the new house while still making changes to the new house, cleaning the old house, etc all within two weeks time and with a 3 year old and 9 1/2 month old under foot most of the time. Okay, so that was an extremely long sentence and I'm tired just thinking about all we've done. By the way, THANK YOU to all of our friends and family that MAJORLY helped out during this time. You guys are AMAZING!

Well, despite everything we've been through my husband and I have only mildly wanted to kill each other and I've only tried to give my children away/sell them a handful of times. And I am extremely grateful that we are now here and I am typing this from my new office space with children sleeping soundly during the scheduled afternoon nap time. I'm not superwoman by any means, but I'm feeling pretty close to it at this moment......except for the fact that I have some personal work to do now that we're in this new space.

If you've ever moved you've probably experienced what I am currently going through. I like to call this the moving weight phase of my year. It's not holiday weight, it's not post-baby weight, it's just moving weight. I have been for exactly ONE walk in my new neighborhood with the kids in the stroller. It was Monday this past week and it was cold, but we went out anyway for 32 beautiful minutes of one foot in front of the other. It was also very lonely as I'm now accustomed to having a walking partner who talks to me about more than the different things they see as we walk and who doesn't ask me, "But why Mama?" eighteen thousand times in two miles. I love talking to my toddler; really, I do. He has some hilarious things to say. However, I want to let my mind wander when I'm walking. Friends allow me to do that; he forces me to think of new and creative ways to explain things. We've not been walking much due to some chillier weather, rainy weather, and an overall lack of sleep on my part. More about that in a moment.

The moving weight is also part due to the fact that for 5 days we were eating pretty much junk. Now, I have successfully refrained from giving my toddler actual fast food and soda for three years, two months, and counting. But, that doesn't mean that I haven't eaten it myself, more than I should. Don't get me wrong, Those places serve a purpose in this world, but I don't want my little ones full of sodium and extra calories and ingredients I cannot pronounce. I am glad that we are back to eating real food and that, hopefully, that will help me to get back to where I was headed in being healthy and fit. A special THANK YOU to Kristin Porter at Iowa Girl Eats for the recipe that was our family's first home cooked meal in our first home that we own. It was a wine braised beef shepherd's pie (see recipe linked above).

In addition to trying to eat better, slowly working on mastering the Ab Prep Pilates exercise (my head still wants to sneak forward from time to time), and my 8 million other daily tasks I've given myself, I am currently trying to teach my almost 10 month old how to sleep in his own room for the first time in his life. So far he's not got the idea for more than 4 hours at a time, but it's a process, as is most of life, so I will stick with it and see great results in the future. Speaking of sleeping well and babies.....Have you ever tried the Happy Baby pose in Yoga?

This is the pose I will suggest for you all today. It is great for beginners and is very calming. I think we could all use a little calm on a Sunday afternoon.

This stick figure drawing makes me laugh and that makes me happy, so it works. :)  If you've ever seen a baby playing with their feet, they are practicing Happy Baby pose. It is a great pose for letting go of your stresses and your dignity. Just lay down on the ground, pretend that you're still six months old without a care in the world. Feel your toes in your fingers and gently rock side to side as you give your back a nice little massage. Trust me, this can be life changing work here. As you do it, let your breath slow and your mind wander. Just enjoy the moment. If you'd like to practice a little meditation (though not a meditative pose) here, try closing your eyes and imagining a smile.

Happy Sunday to you all. May your week ahead be as full of life and happiness as your lungs are filled with air!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

This Little Piggy

I am NOT smarter than a 3 year old!

There, I said it, it's out there for all to know. A Master's Degree and all of my other trainings have not prepared me for the very simple task of wearing underwear correctly. Even my 3 year old knows that the tag goes both in the back and ON THE INSIDE! However, his mother wore her underwear inside out ALL DAY yesterday and managed not to notice until she went to bed. That speaks volumes for my days of late.

We are currently drowning in plastic bins at our house and are counting down the last 6 days of living here. It is causing us all to go a little stir crazy, especially since the weather has warmed up and we live at the beach, but cannot frequent the beach because we are too busy packing and wearing our underwear the wrong way! However, today I found some time to not only write to you, but also to do my Ab Prep exercise, shave my legs, and take a 4.69mile walk around our neighborhood in order give my husband a break from two crazy kids.

During my walk I realized that I REALLY need some new socks. Have you ever been the mom that sacrifices everything that you need to meet the needs of everyone else in your household? Well, I didn't want to be that mom, but I am that mom. I have not bought new socks since I moved to North Carolina in 2008. Gross huh? I currently wear gym socks that my husband bought and didn't like and since we're very close to the same shoe size, I inherited them. Now I have a blister on my last little piggy on the right foot. It is bothering me tremendously this evening.

My poor piggies do so much for me. They keep me balanced as I walk and run and stand and chase my children. They provide me with props for children's nursery rhymes. They even pick things up for me when I'm too lazy to bend down to get them. Actually, my feet are more like a second set of hands some days and I won't gross you out with a photo, but I kind of have fists down there when I curl my toes under. So,when was the last time you looked at your toes and thanked them for all that they do? When was the last time you could touch your toes? I mean without bending your knees and cheating?

It always amazes me at how flexible children are and how effortless it is for them to touch their toes; curl up into little balls of giggling human; and how rarely they get hurt from flipping off of things in a contorted position. We were all that way at one point in time, but what changed?

My youngest has inherited my claustrophobic foot disease. While he is nursing he bends his leg up next to his head and pulls his socks off so that his toes are free. What I wouldn't give to be able to pull of that maneuver whenever I like! So, today when he was baring his piggies, it got me thinking about how I could get back that lost flexibility. Yes, I am a yoga instructor and I have really great flexibility compared to some, but I still don't reach far past my toes in Seated Forward Fold. I have not achieved my goal of learning to do a full split. I still feel aches and pains from lack of flexibility and somedays desperately want to be Gumby!

So, I'm going to spend a little more time reaching down there and getting friendly with my little piggies each day. Whether you like feet or not, I encourage you to get yours bare, Inhale and reach up to the sky, Exhale and reach down to those toes!

Friday, March 7, 2014


It's 8 days until moving day at our house. We are slowly filling plastic bins full of our belongings and selling things on Craigslist that have sat in storage since we moved here almost 3 years ago. I love the feeling of ridding my family of unneeded items. I really want to be a minimalist, although I'm not there yet.

In the process I've been working on ridding myself of some other things. One thing in particular that I like to call my "sack lunch stomach". That is where you have a slightly wrinkled little pouch of who knows what right under your navel that looks like someone rolled up their sack lunch with the leftover apple core still inside and attached it to you. Now, being a fitness professional does not mean that I have a perfect body (far from it) or that I can magically have two children and pop back; looking like I did at age 19.....

That's me on the right at age 19 with Jurgen Zack in the middle. He's a now retired Ironman triathlete. The girl on the left and I were at Wildflower Triathlon in California competing in the collegiate triathlon championships.

Honestly, I really don't desire to look like I did at 19. I want to look like a 33 year old mother of two, but a healthy and active 33 year old mother of two. I try to eat right (as I sit here drinking a nice glass of "warm chocolate") most of the time and do my best to stay active. I exercise regularly, but I always know I could be doing more.

Two weeks ago I taught a Pilates workshop. It was the first one I'd done since September 2012 and I was pretty impressed with how well I performed considering I'd split my abs wide open during my second pregnancy. It also encouraged me to work with what I know to get myself ready for the rest of my life and not just bathing suit season. So, I'm taking the Pilates approach and attempting to master each exercise before I move on to the previous. This makes sense to me for a number of reasons both silly and serious:

1. Pilates believed that the Grecian male physique was preferable to all others as it showed balance within the body. I'm part Greek, so why not want the body of Greek goddess?

2. As a fitness professional I tell people all of the time that you don't need a gym to get fit and there's not one at my ready access at the moment, so Pilates works for me. No excuses that it's raining outside or I can't afford fancy equipment to get the job done.

3. Pilates works the entire body and doesn't just focus on the abs. While I may dislike my sack lunch stomach, I would prefer to be fit all over. See what comes later in Pilates.

4. Finally, after my last pregnancy my midwife gave me a simple exercise to work on to strengthen the fascia and other tissues of my rectus abdominus and simple starts worked.

The first exercise in Pilates is the Ab Prep. (Here is a link to a picture of the exercise, but if you attempt it, DO NOT tuck your chin to your chest! Remember that new exercises are always better learned with the help of a trained, certified, and well educated/degreed fitness professional.)

It's simple like a crunch. It works my pelvic floor as well as my abs. It makes me focus on my breath and keeps me in tune with where my body is. So here I start...Inhale...Prepare...Exhale...AB PREP!