Little Snowflakes


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4 month update

I can hardly believe that my baby girl is 4 months old already. How has time gone by so quickly? The newborn days are behind us now, and each day she gets more fun and more interactive.

I won’t lie, these past 4 months have been challenging. For the first 8 weeks, I barely slept because she barely slept. At night, she would be often up crying, and nothing would soothe her other than intense bouncing and rocking. This was no easy feat in the middle of the night. She would sleep during the day, but only if I was holding her or wearing her in a carrier. Thank goodness for babywearing or we would have been hungry with no clean clothes to wear.

At around 8 weeks, I took Alex to see my chiropractor. She specializes in pregnant women, babies and kids. She is extremely gentle. I took Alex three times, and at each visit Alex was crying when we got there for whatever reason. Hungry, tired, or both? I’m not sure. As soon as my chiropractor started her adjustment, Alex quieted down immediately and fell asleep. Coincidence? Or not? All I know is that after 3 adjustments, Alex started sleeping better. I am so thankful for that. At around the 8 week mark I also fully cut out dairy from my diet. I believe that has been helping too.

Now we happily co-sleep together, with no bouncing or rocking needed. When she wakes up at night, I hear her before she has a chance to cry. I latch her on lying down, and we both drift off to sleep. There is nothing better than that! As long as I am diligent about getting into bed early enough, I do not feel tired the next morning.

Juggling all three kids and maintaining some semblance of order in our house is no easy feat. Just the laundry alone is never-ending. I give a lot of thanks to my wonderful husband and my helpful mother and mother in law. My husband has been invaluable in his assistance with the older two boys and both grandmothers have been available at all times for sleepovers with the boys and pick ups from school. I am also so grateful that both boys are in school full-time – it gives me time to rest during the day and keeps them happy and occupied. It truly takes a village!

Even though things have been hard, I want time to slow down. I want to savour ever cuddle and snuggle and laugh with each of my kids. As Dylan has said often: “We will never have this day again.” How wise he is at only 6 years old.

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2014 Running Goals

OK so I know it’s February already, and most goal setting is done in January.  But I have a newborn, so I’m cutting myself some slack.

It’s hard to even think of running races when it is a challenge right now to take a shower or get dinner on the table, but I am going to do it anyways! Having a race to look forward to always motivates me to get out there and go for a run. So here is what I am thinking.

Sunday, April 13, 2014 – Yonge St 10k

Sunday, September 7, 2014 – Yorkville Run 5k (the best 5k in the city!!)

Sunday, October 19, 2014 – Scotiabank Waterfront Half Marathon

Is it overly ambitious to think that I can run 10k in just over 2 months?

Is it crazy to think I can train for a half marathon with 3 kids to take care of?

Perhaps, but I’m going to give it a try.

After all, the only thing actually holding me back is myself!

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Three week update

Today Alexandra is three weeks old!  Hard to believe just three short weeks ago I was pregnant and wondering when my sweet little baby would be joining us.  

Things are going well, all things considered.  I’m not going to lie – it has been exhausting with the boys home from school over winter break, and that is even with a lot of help from Jake and my parents.  The popular new mom saying “sleep when the baby sleeps” makes a lot of sense in theory, but in practice is quite hard to implement with a third child.  The boys are go go go all day long, and I’d love to catch a quick nap during the day, but it just isn’t happening even though Alex sleeps quite well during the day.  Nighttime is a different story.  3-5 am seems to be party time and at all hours of the day and night she is a noisy sleeper and her strange grunts, squeaks and snorts keep this mama awake.  With a third child, I have some perspective in that I know that she will sleep more at night EVENTUALLY and one day I will miss her newborn sounds. 

Adjusting to life with three kids is taking some time.  I’ve just now figured out how to manage during the day on my own with all three of them.  It involves a lot of organization, even more patience and a bit of humour.  Today was probably our best day so far.  I managed to make, serve and clean up breakfast, lunch and dinner for all of us, keep the house in decent order, do a few loads of laundry and  everyone was relatively happy.  This happened without the boys watching TV all day (just one movie), so I feel good about that.

I remember when Dylan was born I was afraid to be alone with him for the first few weeks.  If Jake had to go out, I would make my mom come over.  It seems so funny now, because when Jake takes the boys out and I am alone with Alex, it feels like a vacation!  

In terms of post partum exercise, I am quite anxious to get started again.  I’ve gone for a few walks, done a Nike Training Club workout, and done a few planks and push ups here and there.  I really miss spinning and running but will be waiting a bit to get back into both of those.  I know it is important that I rest now and let my body heal from birth.  Waiting a few more weeks won’t make a difference in the long run, but starting too early could lead to injury, and I want to avoid that.  It is humbling that just over a year ago I could run a half marathon (that’s 21km!!) no problem, and now I’m not sure I could even run 1km continuously.  I know that my body has been through a lot and giving birth is a huge physical accomplishment in itself, but I really miss my hard workouts!

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Alexandra’s Birth Story – Part 2

So Part 1 of Alex’s birth story left off with Jake and I heading over to the hospital to meet my midwife, Nicole, for an induction.  It was a strange feeling leaving the house and driving to the hospital without being in labour at all!  In a way it was nice not to have to drive with contractions.  It was easy to call my parents and ask them to come over and watch the boys – it wasn’t the middle of the night, no one had to rush!

We arrived at the hospital around 6:30 PM and headed to triage.  Here’s how the night unfolded:

6:30 PM

Nicole hooked me up for a non stress test.  This involved watching the baby’s heart rate and movement over half an hour.  The baby looked perfect on this test, and this meant that the induction could go ahead.

8:00 PM

A room opened for me on the labour and delivery floor.  We headed over to the room.  To my surprise, it was the exact same room I had for Benjamin’s birth – lucky number 18!  Number 18 has special significance in the Jewish religion – it represents life and therefore quite a fitting room for the occasion.   The room was tiny, crowded, old, run down, worn out – there wasn’t even a pillow on the bed and we couldn’t find an unclaimed one anywhere else on the floor.  This didn’t phase me much – I wasn’t planning on spending much time lying down in bed.  The room was adequate and I was hoping I wouldn’t be spending too much time there.

9:30 PM

First step in the induction process was getting an IV.  This was necessary because at 37 weeks I had tested positive for GBS and therefore required a dose of IV antibiotics.  The insertion of the IV really hurt – but I knew I had much more painful things ahead of me that evening!

10:00 PM

The antibiotics were done, and my IV line was disconnected, but a saline lock was left in my hand in case I needed another dose.  It was uncomfortable to leave the line in my hand, but there was no other choice.  As the night progressed, I would forget it was even there.  Nicole suggested that I have a little rest at this time, to give the antibiotics time to work and so that I would have the energy necessary for labour.  I lay down and tried to rest, but I was quite excited and unable to sleep.  Instead, I ate a banana, a Larabar and drank a lot of Nuun.  Felt like preparation for a half-marathon!

11:00 PM

The time had come to break my water.  As soon as Nicole did this, I immediately felt a pop and a contraction.  It was amazing how quickly my body responded!  Regular contractions followed.  They weren’t very painful right away, but they were certainly uncomfortable.

From 11:00 PM to 1:00 AM, the contractions came regularly every 3 minutes or so.  They increased in intensity over time.  I had to be hooked up to an electronic fetal monitoring machine, to monitor baby’s heart rate.  This was the hospital’s protocol for an induction.  It was a bit of nuisance to be hooked up to wires, but Nicole ensured that I could still move around and remain upright, rather than being limited to lying in bed.  This was very important to me.  Contractions when you are lying down hurt 1,ooo,ooo times more than contractions when you are standing up.  Moving around and standing up allowed my baby to move into an optimal position, and I believe this helped to minimize pain during contractions. At around 1:00 AM the contractions were quite painful, but always bearable.  The reason for this was that I always had a break in between contractions to regain the strength needed to tackle the next one.  I knew that each contraction meant my cervix was dilating further, and that I was one step closer to meeting my baby.  I was becoming a little bit worried though, as it had only been 2 hours of labour, and I wasn’t sure that I could handle the pain for too much longer.

1:00 AM

Nicole asked me if I wanted to be checked to determine my progress so far.  She said that I shouldn’t get my hopes up too much because it had only been 2 hours since she broke my water.  I said definitely YES!  I needed to know how far I was. However, I remembered vividly from Benjamin’s birth that lying down to be checked was extremely uncomfortable.  Nicole suggested that I climb up on the bed, but remain in a hands and knees position.  This worked out quite well and was much better than lying down, and felt just as good as standing up.

Nicole checked me and we were all shocked to learned that I was already 10 cm.  She asked if I felt ready to push, and at the point I did not.  She said let’s just wait a bit until my body was ready.  She called my second midwife, Noushin, to come down to the hospital.

1:05 AM

After a strong contraction – I went from not needing to push, to needing to push right away.  I told Nicole and Jake that this baby was coming soon!  Nicole called to the nurses station to ask for a respiratory therapist to come and help since it looked like Noushin would not be at the hospital in time for the birth.

1:15 AM

After a few more strong contractions, I yelled out:  This baby is coming RIGHT NOW.  Nicole picked up the phone to tell the respiratory therapist to come immediately, but there was no time for that.  Almost involuntarily, I gave a small push and out came Alex’s head, followed shortly after by the rest of her body.  Jake and Nicole were not expecting it to happen so fast – Nicole caught the baby with one hand and Jake didn’t even see Alex come out.  Nicole and Jake helped me out of the hands and knees position and I lay down in bed.  Alex was placed immediately on my chest skin to skin and we were all in a bit of shock.

The respiratory therapist came into the room a couple minutes after the birth.  I said to her:  That was amazing and so much fun!  She told me she hasn’t heard new moms say that before.  I truly felt great at that moment – so many endorphins were running through my body and my baby high was starting.

Alex and I snuggled for about an hour after birth.  She latched on immediately and nursed like a pro.  Noushin arrived and she and Nicole took care of all the paper work that needed to be done.  After an hour, Noushin did the new baby exam on Alex and we learned that she weighed 5 lbs 10 oz.  This corresponded to 2551 grams.  We were quite happy  – if she had been under 2500 grams we would have to stay in the hospital for 24 hours.  We were ready to go home!

4:45 AM

Noushin wheeled me to the door in a wheelchair and it was time to take Alex home.     Alexandra didn’t make a peep on the way home.  My parents heard us come in and came downstairs to meet their new granddaughter.  Dylan followed shortly after at around 6:00 AM and was immediately in love with his new sister.  Benny woke up at 7:00 AM and was a bit more cautious about the stranger in his house.  It was so wonderful to be at home, eating my own food, resting in my own bed, and showering in my own bathroom.

Final Thoughts

After weeks of worrying, both about the initial breech presentation, and subsequently about Alexandra’s size, I was so thankful that she had safely joined us and that she was perfectly healthy, despite being little.  We will never know why she was little – the placenta and cord both looked good.  She is already growing so much – she reached her birthweight before she turned one week old.

I am so grateful that I was able to have a natural birth again, without medication.  I was so concerned that I would require either pitocin or an epidural, and I am so glad I didn’t need either.  I know people think it is crazy to even consider a birth without an epidural.  I don’t think I accomplished anything special by not needing one – I think anyone can do it with proper information,  an open mindset and lots of support from a partner and health care provider.  Jake and Nicole didn’t doubt me once and kept telling me I was doing a phenomenal job.  I thank them both, and Noushin as well, for all of their help and their love during all 39 weeks of my pregnancy.

Alex at one week old

Alex at one week old

And now we adjust to life with three kids.  It is crazy, tiring, amazing and wonderful.  I feel like our family is complete and look forward to watching Alexandra grow up, alongside her two big brothers.

Photos by Kelly Fischstein.

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Alexandra’s Birth Story – Part 1 – The Background Info

So, ya….a lot has happened since I last posted in February. To summarize the most important parts briefly – I got pregnant with baby #3, experienced 39 weeks of pregnancy, and had a baby girl last week!

Needless to say, we are overjoyed with the safe arrival of our brand new daughter. I feel like the luckiest mama in the world to have two wonderful boys and now and a healthy little girl. The hormones are definitely flowing and each time I look at my new baby, my eyes well up with tears and I am so grateful.

And now for her birth story.

It starts back at 31 weeks when Alexandra presented herself in a breech position. She stayed in this position until 36 weeks, and for those 5 weeks I was extremely stressed out at the prospect of a breech birth. I was not interested in a c-section at all, and was very skeptical about the idea of a vaginal breech birth. It would require transfer of care from my midwife to an OB, and the birth would have to take place in an OR…the whole thing made me want to cry whenever I thought about it.

What did I do from weeks 31-36? I swam 3-4 times a week, I saw a chiropractor regularly and I did some yoga moves involving inversions. I can’t say exactly what did it, but I was thrilled when I went for a checkup at 36 weeks and Alex’s head was down. This was confirmed the next day at an ultrasound.

However, at the same ultrasound, Alexandra was measuring small, in the 10th percentile. This meant I had to go for another ultrasound at 37 weeks, and then another at 38 weeks to keep an eye on her, with an induction on the radar if she dropped from the 10th percentile. I know that there are people out there who enjoy ultrasounds and feel reassured by them, but they stressed me out immensely. I kept worrying that they would find something bad at each one! The ultrasounds at week 37 and 38 were OK…she was still looking small but everything seemed fine. I was worried about an induction – I really wanted to have a natural, drug free, intervention free birth, like the one I had withBenjamin .This seemed to be slipping away from me. I was also of course and more importantly very worried about the baby – how was she doing in there? Did she need to come out?

At week 39 I went for another ultrasound, and this time Alexandra had dropped from the 10th percentile to the 5th percentile. This concerned the OB that reviewed the ultrasound, and he suggested at this point that I be induced and not wait any longer. He wanted to make sure that the baby could tolerate labour, and there was a chance that if we waited too long, this would not be possible.

So here I was, at 39 weeks plus 5 days…I called my midwife after the ultrasound, and she agreed with the OB that it was time to be induced. So we made a plan to meet at the hospital and get this show on the road! At this point it was already almost 5pm. I went home to get a quick bite to eat, and to pick Jake up. And we headed down to the hospital at around 6pm. To be continued…

 


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Joining a gym

I’ve recently discovered there is a place I can go to where I can do all my favorite activities such as running, spinning, yoga and strength training. For a nominal fee, there’s even someone who will happily watch my two kids while I partake in these activities.

Of course I’m talking about a gym. Why has it taken me so long to discover that I love going to the gym?

I’ve been seriously exercising for almost 2 years now. I’ve been doing it mainly at home, using exercise videos or an app on my phone. And then of course I run outside. In nice weather I bike outside too.

It has been great working out at home. It’s free. I can do when the kids are around, and I can do it whenever I want.

Lately I’ve been feeling that I need a change. It’s good to shake up your routine now and then. That’s where the gym comes into play.

I’ve always thought that if I join a gym, I’d never go. But I’ve proven to myself over the last two years that I really enjoy exercising consistently. It makes me feel amazing and working out is the best way for me to get out of a bad mood. Moms often spend so much time caring for their families and I think it’s crucial that we take time to do things for ourselves.

So I’ve decided to join a gym. I plan on going during the week super early in the morning while the kids are still asleep so that I’m home in time to get them ready and send them off to school. I will also occasionally go on the weekends and bring them along, as there is on site babysitting.

Instead of telling myself I’m not going to go, I’ve decided to replace that negative self talk with some positive thinking. I am going to go to the gym 3-4 times a week because I love it and because exercise makes me feel alive!

I’ve already gone a few times before 6am and it was so motivating to see all of the like minded people who were there at that time. It felt amazing sweating during a challenging spinning class before most people even roll out of bed.

Waking up early means I also have to go to bed early. I’ve wanted to go to bed early for a while now but I’ve always found ways to waste time at night (random Internet surfing? Facebook? TV?). These are things I will gladly cut out of my life to make time for the gym.

Do you go to the gym? How do you make time to stay active?

Happy!


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Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon Race Recap

Back in October, I participated in my second half marathon, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon.

Why has it taken me three months to write this race recap? I don’t have a good excuse. It has been a combination of procrastination, and wanting to write the “perfect” race recap. I’m letting perfection go, and here it is. Better late than never.

Pre Race Thoughts

My training leading up to the race felt strong. I found it a lot easier to train for this race than my first half marathon that I ran in May 2012. Each long run for my May race was really hard. It wiped me out for the rest of the day. I was sore for days after. This time, the long runs were no big deal. I knew how to properly prepare for them. I knew how to tackle them, and I knew how to recover.

I was feeling fairly confident in the weeks leading up to the race. But then the week before, as I checked the weather forecast, my confidence started to wane. They were predicting rain, and a lot of it for race day. I had run in the rain before, but never a long run. I started to psych myself out. I didn’t know what to wear. I was worried about being freezing cold and wet and soggy and chafed all over. I even thought about dropping out of the race. Then I remembered all of my friends and family who had generously sponsored me and helped me raise funds for La Leche League. There was no way I was going to drop out! Here’s a post explaining how I tackled the rain.

The Race

Morning of the race it was 10 degrees Celcius and pouring rain. I was not pleased! I sucked it up and headed down to the start line. It was quite well organized with properly marked starting corrals, and lots of available porta-potties. I wore a Lululemon Pacesetter run skirt and a Lululemon Swiftly v-neck short sleeve T-shirt. I covered myself in a makeshift raincoat made out of a garbage bag and brought along a throwaway umbrella. I wanted to stay as dry as possible before the race. In spite of my wish for dryness, my shoes and socks got soaked. But, my clothes and hair stayed dry before the race started, and this was quite nice. I saw lots of soaked runners at the start line, and they looked pretty cold and miserable.

When the race started at 8:30 am, the pouring rain had slowed down to a very light drizzle. This made me very happy. My feet stayed wet for the whole race (it was hard to avoid puddles) but my clothes never got wet.

The race started at University and Dundas. The route took us through many nice areas in Toronto. I ran past the hospital where I gave birth to both of my kids. I ran past the dorms I lived in at the University of Toronto when I did my undergrad. I ran past the corner of King and Bay, past a tall office tower in which I worked before I had kids. It felt awesome knowing that I am currently in the best shape of my life, better than I was as a student in my 20s, and better than I was before I had two kids.

My splits for the race were as follows:

Mile 1 – 11:39

Mile 2 – 11:07

Mile 3 – 10:26

Mile 4 – 10:50

Mile 5 – 10:50

Mile 6 – 10:59

Mile 7 – 11:06

Mile 8 – 11:07

Mile 9 – 10:58

Mile 10 – 10:54

Mile 11 – 10:52

Mile 12 – 10:43

Mile 13 – 10:11

Chip time – 13.1 miles – 2:26:25

Overall, I am quite pleased with my time. I kept my pace steady during most of the race and I love that my last mile was my fastest. During the race, I was trying to psych myself up and kept repeating positive thoughts to myself, such as: “I trained perfectly for this race. I am wearing the ideal outfit for these conditions. I love running. This is a great day to run! No one said this would be easy. It is a challenge and that is why I love it.” Perhaps these thoughts sound cheesy to you. They are a bit cheesy, but thinking positive thoughts helped me make it through the race. I believe that distance running is 90% mental, and 10% physical. You obviously have to put in the time training your body, but you also have to really use your mind to make it through a race, and you need to use your mind to push your body through the pain.

OK, back to the race. I didn’t want to start out too fast. I felt great through the first 6 miles. At around mile 6, my legs got a bit tired and my muscles started to ache a bit. Once I got to mile 10, I knew I only had 3 miles left (5k). My legs were hurting at this point, but I sped up a bit, knowing I was near the end. The crowd was quite large during the last mile, and it felt great to hear all the cheering. The last 500m or so were slightly up hill. That was not fun. But I pushed myself right until the finish line. I really wanted to finish under 2:30.

I crossed the finish line and felt amazing! I also felt freezing and was quite thankful for the mylar blankets they were giving out. The area after the finish line was quite crowded. It probably took a good 15 minutes to walk through the area where I collected my medal and some food before I could get to the post run party, which was held in Mel Lastman Square at City Hall. The area where they designated for us to walk was far too narrow for the amount of people. This was probably my only complaint about the logistics of the race. My parents and brother were there to greet me at the party and snap a few pics. My husband and kids stayed home because of the inclement weather. I missed them, but it was nice to have some time to recover and enjoy the party, rather than chasing around two little ones.

Happy!

Happy!

Post run thoughts

My second half marathon was a phenomenal experience. I was amazed how much easier it felt than my first half marathon, and I know that with more training and more miles under my belt, I can easily improve my time. I know that there is a 2:15 half marathon in my future, and maybe even a 2:00. I also know that there is definitely a marathon in my future, but probably not until my kids are a bit older.

Since my half, I have kept up my running. I try to run 2-3 times a week (which is not easy in the middle of winter!). I haven’t kept up my distances – I think the farthest I’ve gone has been 7km. I’m OK with that – it has been good for my body to recover from the distances and I’ve enjoyed some cross training, including spinning, cross country skiing and some weight training.

I’m planning on taking a break from racing for the next little while. I will stay active and run – not because I’m training for something, but because I truly love running. I love what it does for my body, mind and soul. While races are a lot of fun, every day that I run is a good day.

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