Sheryl Jesin


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My results from the 21 Day Fix

I realized I never shared my results from when I first did the 21 Day Fix back in the spring of 2014!  I thought I would write about them today, in honor of Transformation Tuesday.

I first did the 21 Day Fix when Alex was about 5 months old.  I had slowly eased into exercising again when she was 3 months old.  It felt great to be moving again, but the scale was barely budging.  I had 10-15 lbs that I wanted to get rid of.  They were mostly situated around my midsection and it made clothes fit really funny – especially jeans – they were SO uncomfortable!

I knew I had to get my eating under control to see results.  Through social media, I had heard of the 21 Day Fix – and the nutrition plan caught my attention!  It seemed so simple to follow – just calclulate how many containers a day you need of different types of foods, and then eat them.

I was worried about maintaining my milk supply as Alex was still exclusively nursing at that time.  So I added in 500 calories each day and jumped in!  It was really easy to fit in the workouts – they were just 30 mins a day and I could do them at home.  I did them while Alex was napping or sometimes she would sit in her bouncy chair and watch me.   I followed the modifier at first to keep things low impact.

I did three rounds of the 21 Day Fix.  I was so thrilled with my results.   After the first round I lost 5lbs, I lost another 4 lbs in the second round and 5 more lbs in the third round.  15 lbs in total in 63 days.

After the 21 Day Fix, I fell in love with Beachbody, the company that makes the program.  I used to enjoy going to the gym, but with three kids it was just too hard to make time for that.   I learned so much about portion control – I used to think nuts are healthy (they are!!) but it’s really easy to overeat them and be in a calorie surplus for the day – even with exercising.  I realized also that I was not eating enough veggies or protein – both of which are very filling, nutrient dense but low in calories – perfect for when you want to lean out around the midsection.

In addition to losing weight, I also gained so much energy.   The four o’clock slump that I had been experiencing almost daily was gone.  I was waking up in the morning excited to do my workouts and plan my meals.  I say now that my workouts are my therapy – the endorphins I get from them boost my mood and give me energy to make it through my busy day.

As you can probably tell…I really love the 21 Day Fix.  I think this program is perfect for busy moms who want to learn how to fit daily exercise and portion controlled clean eating into their lives.   Yes – it takes dedication and hard work if you want to see results – but if you follow the program – you will 100% see results!

I’m putting together my next 21 day health and fitness challenge.  We start January 4th.  If you have been wanting to start taking better care of yourself – this is the perfect opportunity!  Join my supportive community of women who help each other on their journies towards better health.  Be a part of our group – work out everyday for 30 mins from the comfort of your home, learn about portion controlled clean eating and enrich your mind, body and spirit!  If you want more info, please shoot me an email at sheryl@ikor.com  or PM me via Facebook and I will get back to you ASAP with the details about the challenge. 

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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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Birth centres are coming to Ontario!

I was quite excited this week to hear the announcement that the province of Ontario has plans to open two birth centres within the next couple of years.  What great news for the women and babies of Ontario!

Right now, women in Ontario can choose to deliver with the assistance of an obstetrician or family doctor in a hospital, or with a midwife at home or at a hospital.   Soon women will have one more option – the choice to deliver with the support of a midwife in a birth centre.

“Evidence shows midwives provide quality care – excellent patient outcomes and good value for health care dollars. Midwifery care also leads to fewer medical and surgical interventions which benefits both mother and baby.”

 – Deb Matthews
Minister of Health and Long-Term Care

Birth centres are amazing in so many ways!  Here are just a few great things about birth centres:

  • By birthing in a birth centre, and thereby avoiding a birth in a hospital, women and newborns can reduce their exposure to hospital-based infections and to outbreaks of the flu.
  • Did you know that C-sections are costing the Ontario health care system over $100 million every year?  The current C-section rate in Ontario is over 30%.  Birth centres can help decrease these costs by reducing C-section rates and reducing other medical interventions.  Fewer interventions are better for moms and babies too – moms recover much faster from normal births.
  • Birth centres can free up hospital beds for high risk moms who need to be in a hospital.  

I feel so lucky to have been supported by two wonderful midwives for the birth of my second son, Benjamin.  I wrote about my experience with a midwife assisted birth in a hospital here.  His birth was such a peaceful and empowering experience, and if we are blessed with a third child and a low risk pregnancy, I would choose a midwife again in a heartbeat!  I wrote a bit about my experience with a midwife here.  I would absolutely love to try out a birthing centre!!


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Birthday lessons

Another birthday has come and gone and I’m a year older.  It’s been a wonderful year – of course the highlight was the birth of my second son Benjamin last December. It certainly was an adjustment at first learning to care for two kids, but now I can’t even remember what life was like before he arrived!

I spent my birthday doing a lot of things that I normally do, but it was still a wonderful day.  Taking Dylan to school, snuggling with Ben during a nap, going out for lunch with my mom, going for an amazing 10k run, leading a LLL mtg, cooking up and eating some delicious healthy food, watching TV with Jake after the kids were in bed.  Nothing too out of the ordinary, but still a wonderful day nonetheless.  It got me thinking how lucky I am that I get to do all of these things on a regular basis, not just on my birthday.  Birthdays are wonderful and a chance for special treats – but what is more important is how we live our day to day lives.   Each day should be full of joy, spent with family and friends, doing things that make us feel good!

I’ve been reading some amazing running/exercise/healthy eating blogs lately, and I have been finding them so motivating!  I especially like reading blogs written by active moms – I love hearing how they fit their activity of choice into their busy lives.  Swim Bike Mom is a great blog about a mom and full-time attorney who also just happens to compete in triathalons.   She recently completed a half-ironman in Miami (that is 70.3 km of swimming, biking and running!!!) – you can read her race report here.   At the end of her report, she lists some lessons she learned from the Ironman.  I loved this one:

5) No one cares.  I have done an epic thing (in my head).  But guess what?  No one cares.  People outside of triathlon think I am weird.  People at work wonder why I’m not in my office. People don’t care.  The lesson? When you do something “epic”—- you better care.  Because you’re all you’ve got.  You better tuck away your victories.  You better know.  Because no one else does….. and if they do…they don’t care.

She is so right!  When we do things in life, we have to do them for ourselves – because we believe it is the right thing to do, because we want to challenge ourselves and make our lives better!  I have learned that it is so important to be self-motivated, rather than relying on others for validation – because as Swim Bike Mom says – no one else really cares!  (They are probably too busy worrying about their own lives!)


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Birth Matters! Part I

In March, I had the honor of attending a day long seminar at the University of Toronto given by Ina May Gaskin. Ina May is a world renowned midwife, called the “midwife of modern midwifery”. She has practiced midwifery for almost 40 years at the Farm Midwifery Centre in Tennessee. She is the author of some of my personal favorite books about birth and breastfeeding, including Spiritual Midwifery, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding and her newest book, Birth Matters.

I first came across Ina May after my first son, Dylan, was born.   A few months after his birth, I was browsing the aisles of a local bookstore, and stumbled upon Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. I picked it up and flipped through the pages, and could not put it down!   I had never read a book about natural childbirth before, and found it so fascinating.  So many of the principles Ina May speaks about in the book rang true to me and helped shed light on my birth experience with Dylan.   The book inspired me to do things differently for my next birth – I knew after reading it that I wanted a midwife, rather than an OB, as my health care provider and I wanted to try and have a natural, drug free birth.   As mentioned in an earlier post, my second birth experience was fantastic, and I definitely owe a lot of that to Ina May!!

So when I heard that Ina May would be speaking in Toronto, I had to go!  Benjamin and I headed down to UofT very early that Saturday morning.  The seminar was all day – from 8:30-4:30 pm, which is a long time to be out with a 3 month old.  But I was determined to go.   I’m so glad that I did – Ina May is a wonderful speaker and is truly an inspiration!

Ina May Speaking

Ina May spoke on a number of different topics – breastfeeding, labour, birth and the post partum period.   She spoke so frankly, and so openly, sprinkled with humour and personal stories.  The day focused on many ideas from her new book Birth Matters.  

I love the opening of Birth Matters.   On page 1, Ina May tells us why we should care about birth:

Birth Matters.  It matters because it is the way we all begin our lives outside of our sources, our mothers’ bodies.  It’s the means through which we enter and feel our first impressions of the wider word.  For each mother, it is an event that shakes and shapes her to her innermost core.  Women’s perceptions about their bodies and their babies’ capabilities will be deeply influenced by the care their receive around the time of their birth.

My Signed Copy of Birth Matters

Ina May shared many positive birth stories.  So often, moms-to-be hear horror stories about pain or about something that went wrong, and not often enough do we share the positive stories!  Ina May says:

I have found it helpful, even necessary, to tell positive birth stories.   This is one of the best ways for women to learn the kids of things that may help or hinder labor and birth.  Stories teach in memorable ways.  In that sense, they are much more valuable than rote learning and memorization.

I agree!  I was really moved by the natural birth stories I had read in Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth.    Before reading that book, every birth story I heard involved an OB, a hospital and an epidural.   I was fascinated by all of the “regular” women in Ina May’s book who gave birth naturally.   If they could do it, why couldn’t I?

In addition to birth stories, Ina May spoke about the importance of birth images and watching videos and seeing pictures of birth.   Interestingly, Ina May showed a You Tube video – The Dramatic Struggle For Life.  It is a video of an elephant giving birth in an animal park in Bali.  (Just warning you that you have to sign in to prove you are over 18 – but it is well worth the effort!)  Ina May suggests that pregnant women view this video, along with other videos of large mammals giving birth.  It’s fascinating to see how birth happens naturally in nature.  Ina May points out how the elephant shifts her weight from foot to foot as she labours.  The elephant also opens her mouth when her baby begins to emerge from her body.   These are two things that humans can do to assist the birth process!  Being in a standing position and shifting weight from side to side helps the baby descend and be in the optimal position. (I definitely remember doing this during Benjamin’s birth. It wasn’t something that my midwives or doulas suggested, I just did it instinctually!)  Opening your mouth helps to relax your body and open up the cervix.  It’s amazing how similar we mammals are when it comes to birth.   The video also demonstrates how the mother figures out how to stimulate her baby to breathe – something she accomplishes without having taken a course in neonatal resuscitation.  Unbelievable really!  We have a lot to learn from this elephant.

I have more to say about Ina May and what I learned at her talk, but if I try to capture everything, I will never publish this blog post.   So consider this to be Part I…Part II (and possibly Part III and IV) to follow at a later date!


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Top 10 Ways to Get Breastfeeding Off To a Good Start

Welcome to the March Carnival of Natural Parenting: Natural Parenting Top 10 Lists

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared Top 10 lists on a wide variety of aspects of attachment parenting and natural living. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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I am often asked by moms-to-be what they can do to prepare for breastfeeding during pregnancy and what they can do during the early days and weeks to ensure that they are able to breastfeed.   While breastfeeding is certainly natural, it is not always easy.   Here are my top 10 tips to help breastfeeding get off to a good start:

  1. Attend a La Leche League (LLL) meeting (or two, or three or four!) during pregnancy – Going to a meeting can be a great way to meet other breastfeeding moms who live near you.   You will hear what it’s really like in the early weeks, and you will learn from the experiences of other moms.  Your group leaders can also be a great resource to you once your baby is born – either via email or phone.
  2. Buy a good baby care or breastfeeding book – Two great books are Dr. Sears’ The Baby Book or LLL’s Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. I found both books full of really useful information about breastfeeding specifically and about taking care of a baby in general.  What I like best about both books is that they empower moms to trust their own mothering instincts and listen to their babies.
  3. Have minimal medical interventions during labour and delivery – Interventions such as c-sections, forceps or vacuum delivery, episiotimies, epidurals and IV lines can all lead to a more difficult recovery during the postnatal period for a mom.   In addition, a natural birth reduces the likelihood that the baby will have to be separated from the mom after birth.  This is very important, as immediate skin to skin contact for an hour after birth has been shown to increase the likelihood of successful breastfeeding.
  4. Hire a birth and/or post-partum doula – Having a doula at birth can enhance bonding between a mother and her baby. This can lead to more positive interactions between mom and baby and can assist in establishing a strong milk supply.   A post natal doula can assist with things that need to get done around the house so that a mom can rest and focus on feeding her baby.   Some doulas also have breastfeeding experience and can help if problems arise.
  5. Know where to go for help –  After birth, have phone numbers handy for your LLL leaders or an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant).
  6. Keep your baby skin to skin for the first hour and delay the new born exam – Babies are quietly alert during the first hour after birth.  Babies who are kept skin to skin for the first hour are likely to latch on, and likely to latch on well.  They also are more likely to have stable and normal heart rates, blood pressure and temperatures.  Studies have shown that babies who are kept skin to skin for the first hour are more likely to breastfeed exclusively longer.
  7. Keep visitors to a minimum during the first couple of weeks – Everyone wants to see a newborn, especially well-meaning family members.   However,  moms need their rest so that they can recover from birth and meet the demands of a new baby.  It’s best to keep visitors to a minimum so mom can focus on two things:  getting sleep and feeding the baby.   If visitors do come over, let them bring over a meal or two, or help around the house.
  8. Keep your baby close during the early weeks and feed often – Feeding your baby on demand is crucial during the first few weeks to establish a strong milk supply.  By keeping your baby close at all times, you can respond to early cues of hunger, rather than waiting for full out crying.  You can’t feed your baby too often, and the more you breastfeed, the more milk you will make for your baby.    C0-sleeping can be a great way to ensure your baby feeds often at night without disturbing your own sleep too much.
  9. Surround yourself with other moms that breastfeed – It’s great to have friends who are currently breastfeeding their babies, or who have breastfed in the past.   They can be a wonderful source of information and encouragement. Sometimes just hearing how someone else is dealing with an obstacle or problem can provide you with enough inspiration to overcome your own difficulties, should they arise.
  10. Don’t give up! The first few months are hard.  I think of the first three months as breastfeeding boot camp where you put in the hard work, and then after that you reap the benefits.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants: