Friday, December 31, 2010

Reflecting on my second maternity leave

I am back with a computer! Turns out we totally fried our hard drive so my dad is fixing it up and hopefully recovering our photos and other valuable data. I will do an update on my Shred workout but for now, I want to reflect on my maternity leave as it draws to a close, and Keith takes over the final three months.

Being a mom is by far, the best thing that has ever happened to me, aside from meeting and marrying Keith. I have always known I loved kids - but being a mom is amazing. I am a goof and nothing is better than having a dance party with Noah and Layla - Noah getting all red in the face, and Layla clapping to the  music. I have a hard time believing I will be a strict mom down the road, because I sure am lenient now. If you would have asked me before I had kids who was going to be the tough parent, I never would have said Keith - but he has rules and they are followed. I am lenient and get walked over a bit!

During my first maternity leave, I returned to school around the same time as I am going back to work this time. I was bitter to have done that, but I had no choice. This time, I did have a choice - and I am excited and scared.

Layla has been a very fun child right from the get-go. I remember those first moments, seeing her after she was born. They laid her on my chest and then....she wailed. I mean, WAILED...she really exercised her lungs. The healthcare staff had to shout over her as I tried to mash her face into my breast to nurse for the first time as Keith and I looked at each other with complete terror in our eyes. She wasn't quiet! She didn't just stare at me like Noah did. Oh dear....she was "spirited"!

Ever since her birth, Layla has been a spirited child who knows what she wants and when she wants it. In a way, I am happy to have such a daughter because I don't want my daughter to be a push-over. I want to raise a woman who can live on her own, stand up for what she wants in life and speaks her mind. So I think her personality will foster that.

Layla is the kind of child who you can't just leave on the floor with a bunch of toys around her. You can't allow her to go even the teensiest bit hungry, and heaven forbid you should prevent her from gnawing on an extension cord! Her voice has only gotten bigger, and her temper shorter. However, that being said, she is also the happiest and most beautiful baby. I know I am her mom, and thus biased, but she really is an amazing child. She has the largest and most gorgeous eyes that encompass you and melt your heart and her smile is stunning and warm. You can't help but fall in love with her!

Ending my mat leave early makes me sad for a few reasons: Noah is just getting funnier by the second and his imagination is exploding, so playing with him is so enjoyable; Layla is leaving the baby phase and entering the toddler years. She is increasingly mobile and she is interacting with her brother more and it is hilarious to watch. I am going to miss the days where it was just Layla and I; I am going to miss the days I had the two kids. I am really going to miss Friday morning trips to Country Style with Noah and Layla for treats. I am also going to miss my Weight watchers group and their fawning over Layla.

I have had a few thoughts about pregnancy and mat leave for second time moms that I think I should share because people just don't talk about this stuff (they are too busy with their kids to share)!

1. Pregnancy with the second child flies by when you are chasing a toddler! My first pregnancy was excruciatingly long (especially when I was on bedrest) but this time round, I really can't believe how fast it went by. Just thinking that Noah was a baby himself when I was pregnant and now is nearing 3 - it is just crazy, which brings me to point #2

2. The older child will change by leaps and bounds in your baby's first year (which, coincidentally, flies by even faster than your second pregnancy). I know the baby grows a lot in the first year, that is a given - they go from 9lbs to 30lbs in 12 months (wait...what? That is just my kids?!?!). But the older child also ages and they change so much. I know this must sound ridiculous to everyone, but I seriously feel like I just gave birth a few months ago so when I look back on Layla's early photos and Noah is only 23 months old and is now speaking in full and clear sentences and is fully toilet trained....that is shocking for only 9 months. You hear all the time that they grow up too fast but I really didn't feel that was true until we had Layla.

3. When you bring the second baby home, you assume they are going to take up all of your time. is the toddler that takes up all your time. They are thrust from their only child status and they are extremely challenging to handle those first few weeks. However, after a while, they seem to realize that the baby is here to stay and life gets a lot easier.

4. That said, having a two story house causes some difficulties when dealing with naps for two kids (which are never at the same time, by the way). It also complicates life when your baby hits the "distracted by everything" phase of breastfeeding and you have to feed in a dark and quiet room away from all stimuli. Tell me...what do you do with the older child?!?! Noah was just 2 years old and I had to find things for him to do while I was upstairs with the baby. Conversely, when Noah went down for his nap, but Layla wasn't ready to nap, I had to find something for her to do alone. It was very difficult and to this day I struggle with this.

5. It is true, you do loosen up on some things and learn not to stress the small things. New moms tend to be very concerned about what the child eats, drinks, how much tv they watch, what toys they play with, etc. I did that all with Noah. Yet, when the second one comes your values have to change. You may stick to your guns about certain things that are very important to you (whether that is tv time or juice intake) but you end up doing what you have to do to survive. For example, Noah's tv time went up...a lot - I mean, it kept him quiet and out of trouble while I put Layla down for a nap. However, as a result, I also really do think Treehouse helped his vocabulary, his speech, his counting and learning colours. It also has contributed to the development of his imagination - he is always telling me stories that are clearly based on the latest Max and Ruby program.

6. Your relationship with your spouse undergoes another change, as you become a family of 4. It is really hard to find time for your spouse. Often, Noah is with keith so I can nurse Layla and that leaves no time for ourselves. Once the kids are in bed and it is 8pm, one of us is either working out, packing lunches, doing dishes, shoveling snow, doing laundry, or falling asleep. We try to keep this in mind, but it can be hard. Thankfully kids are only this physically demanding and dependent for so long

7. Keeping track of milestones is next to impossible because time is flying by! I did my best to keep track of it all but I know I missed some stuff. I tried very hard to do for Layla all that I did for Noah, but I feel it is a bit impossible. There are also less photos and less video coverage because with Noah, I literally was just sitting in our condo, staring at him for 12 hours a day. With Layla, I have to keep Noah occupied and her happy. There is very little sitting and thus, less projects to keep me occupied.

8. Having more than one child is just awesome. One day, Noah pulled Layla's highchair over to his chair at the kitchen table and he kissed her and whispered in her ear that he loved her. I mean, you just don't get better than that in life. Also, the love she has in her eyes for Noah is unbelievable. He is the only one who can make her stop crying every time, because she worships him. Her eyes light up when she sees him and her smile becomes huge. She kicks her legs and gurgles happily for him. I would be surprised if her first word wasn't his name.

9. My house is a mess, I never style my hair, my makeup sits unused and I have no idea what is in style in fashion anymore....and I don't really care!

10. I forget what life with just Keith was like; I forget what life with just Noah was like - I honest to goodness can't imagine life without Keith, Noah, and Layla in my life.  I keep telling Keith we have to have another baby so I can go on leave again, but who knows what the future holds. A psychic told me once I would have three babies: two girls and a boy - so we shall see...

I have no photos on this computer, but I do have one of my prince and princess at Christmas...enjoy:

Sunday, December 12, 2010

7 days of the Shred completed

So I have done one week of Jillian Michaels 30 day shred. Now, I should tell you that my computer broke, so I am typing this on my iPad which is horribly frustrating (dear apple...fix this aspect of apple products and make me a happy girl).

I have kept a week long journal of my progress but I am not going to type this out until I have my computer back. For now, a brief summary...

I started on level 1 and did not find the abs or card hard at all....probably because I had been running three times a week and, after training my abs for hurdles in high school, I find ab workouts are not particularly challenging...even all these years later...the strength training, however, had me shouting at the television!

I kept up with level 1 and after about five days I was able to actually do the push ups without difficult, so by day 7, I decided to move onto level 2. was so hard! I was only able to follow the modified moves, and even then I had to take frequent breaks. is seriously hardcore.

I haven't lost any inches, but I have noticed my arms looking more toned already. Bear in mind I was doing the workout daily and making sure I had proper form. I was also was doing the high intensity for cardio, abs and most of the strength. The only modification I made was to the pushup.

Anyway, I am not sure if I will do two more weeks because Keith gave me a 9 week fitness program for the Wii and I want to try that out. However, I work out when the kids are asleep and it may be easier to do the shred for now and then do the wii once we get a tv put in in the basement (I can do the shred in the basement now because it is just a DVD on the computer). So keep posted on what I decide...I may do both because I can do the wii on the days I have just Layla because she finds my workouts amusing to watch. Who knows...if people really want to see how the shred pans out over 30 days I will keep it up

Once my computer is working i will input my daily log of the shred. Till then....


Ok, so I am on my old ibook in order to write up my daily journal of my first week on the 30 day shred:

I have my measurements too but I am scared to post them! haha

Here is my daily log for the first week:

Day 1

  • Found  cardio easy
  • Strength training was rough - I find myself yelling at Jillian a lot! 
  • Can't do a full set of push ups...those are HARD!
  • Abdominal exercises relatively easy as well
  • -Bad diet day - eating chocolate all day long because we decorated our Christmas tree today. Hopefully the new Weight Watchers program will help get me back on track
Day 2
  • Sore today before working out but it didn't really hinder my workout.
  • Even worse diet day!
Day 3
  • I didn't sleep well last night because Layla was up a lot. I slept in spurts from 12am - 4am. I was really dying to skip the workout today but I pushed through it.
  • After working out I found I was sore in my lower back but otherwise feeling good.
  • Workout is feeling easier already!!! I could actually do the push ups!
Day 4
  • Despite sleeping and eating well - I found the workout very challenging today. Not sure if it is because I worked out for 4 straight days, but it was a challenge, even doing the cardio today
Day 5
  • Similar to Day 4, I had a really hard time working out - not sure why Level 1 is killing me so badly lately.
Day 6
  • Despite feeling sluggish during the workout, I am finding that the strength training is getting easier and I am not feeling challenged - going to bump it up to Level 2 tomorrow...I am scared!
Day 7
  • Level 2 today! 
  • KILL ME is SO hard. I tried to follow the beginner modifications but I couldn't finish every set. 
  • The squats worked my thighs so badly that I found them too tender to do the cardio - going to not work myself as hard on the squats - there is no need to do a complete squat right off the bat if it is hindering the rest of my workout!
  • Notice my arms are more toned. My legs also feel tighter. The abdominals....well....lets just say 2 kids haven't been kind to them. I can see the obliques behind the loose skin but it will take time to get them where they should be. I should also note that I had a diastasis of the abdominal muscles with Layla's pregnancy and it is still there - perhaps an inch of separation between my muscles. It was much worse (about 2 inches of separation), but I had read that doing abdominal exercises with a diastasis is actually a bad idea - so I did put these exercises off as long as I could.
Here, I will admit I took 2 days off. Sorry! I know that is bad but I took the first day off because Layla fell off the change table and I was too worried about her all day to really concentrate on working out. I took the next day off, just because I was feeling lazy - Keith also gave me my Wii workout that day so I ditched the rest of the 30 day shred. 

After talking to Keith, I realized I have to finish what I started so today I was back on the Shred and did my second day of Level 2:

Day 8
  • Mad at myself for taking 2 days off - I would be on Day 10 by now if I hadn't done that!!!
  • I decided before I began that I would follow the modified exercises until I found those easy and then do them "normal". 
  • Despite finding myself doing a full squat, yet again, I found it much easier when I didn't push it, and allowed myself to do the modification for some exercises (note: I didn't modify them all - mostly just the moves that involved plank position). 
  • I wasn't too sore afterwards but I do have a bad knot in my left shoulder blade that led to a migraine after working out. 
  • I don't know that I will master Level 2 in the 30 days, so I doubt I will ever make it to Level 3! 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Trust and other things

I am preparing to go back to work early. Instead of taking my full year maternity leave, I am going back in January, when Layla is 8.5 months old.

I am not struggling with the idea of being away from my babies - although I do have my moments of sadness as I look at Layla nursing, or when I am having a quiet cuddle with Noah - I am struggling with the loss of control over the caring for the children.

Keith is a fantastic father - he loves his kids with every ounce of his being. He cares for them, plays with them and nurtures them. I know he will do a great job, but for some reason, I am having a lot of trouble believing that it will be ok when I am not around.

More than once I have found myself, pen in hand, ready to write out our daily schedule of how things get done:
-Brush Noah's teeth and hair before he goes to school
-Feed Layla no later than one hour before her nap

I have very specific guidelines and a pretty tight schedule of how things run when I am home with the kids. Yet, I have stopped myself a million times from writing it all out because I know that they will figure this stuff out for themselves.

I blame part of my controlling nature on being a nurse. As a nurse, I was very organized, scheduled and had my own way of doing things. I know that my colleagues were the same way: in the morning I would walk into my patients' rooms and reorganize their bedside table of supplies. After my shift, the next nurse would do her own thing and when I came back in the next day, I would have to redo what I had done the day before. We all had our own way of doing things - but did that stop my complaining about reorganizing the rooms? No way....

Yesterday I was at the toy store, buying some stuff for Christmas and I found myself in the bottle section. I am having a lot of trouble grasping the fact that Layla will be bottle fed during the day. I know many children breast and bottle feed quite well - but I know that won't be the case for us. Layla is, and always has been, an impatient nurser. She doesn't like to wait for the let-down and she will have a fit in the process of waiting, which makes the let-down even slower. So, I know once she gets a bottle, she will be in heaven. I have a feeling she will wean herself off shortly after that.

We have a lot of bottles at home because I was a bridesmaid when Noah was 5 months old, and he refused every bottle on the market. Since Layla will be older when she gets her bottles, we will need bigger bottles and nipples. While in the toy store, I stared at the multitude of bottles available. I am completely clueless: I have never bottle fed either of my kids. I didn't know the size of bottle, the type of nipple, or anything. I was near tears in this process so I BBM'd my brother for help, as he bottle fed his kids once they were no longer nursing. I began wondering if I also needed a bottle warmer, or more nipples, or more bottles. Here I was being controlling and untrusting. I stepped back and told myself that Keith was more than capable of coming to the store and getting what he needed, once he figured out what he would need. There was no need for me to buy it all.

Thus, with three weeks until I return to work, I have decided to believe that the family will figure things out on their own - I didn't instinctively know that Layla does best if she naps at 9am and 1pm - I found out by trial and error. Things will be rocky for a little while f while they find their own groove, but I am sure they will find it. Teeth may get forgotten, reflux medications may be given late, and naps may be shortened for a while, but over time they will figure it out.

The only thing I am forcing us to work on before I go back to work is bottles - I want Keith to try to do naps with bottles on the weekend (hey, you can't change me completely!). I think it would be nuts to go back to work without knowing if she can (or will) take a bottle of breastmilk before a nap.

In truth, despite my worries, I am actually excited to get back to work. I miss my office mates and I miss the hour-long train commute in - where I get to read and just be alone and quiet. I am also super excited for Keith to have this experience. As much as it kills me to leave my kids early, I really really want this to be a fun experience for Keith. I want them to have lots of bonding time and I want him to be able to feed one of his kids as they fall asleep in his arms. I want their relationship to grow even closer as they spend unlimited time together. In truth, I also want Keith to know what my life is like as a stay-at-home mom during mat leave. It is not always easy, there isn't always time for me to nap, and at times I want to pull my hair out....and I want him to experience that, good and bad.

I had a friend tell me that paternity leave is a great experience for a marriage, and I really believe that. I think we will both grow in this experience: I will learn how to trust him more and how to give up some control; Keith will learn how to be there for the kids 100% of the time and all that entails.

So wish us luck as we embark on this journey!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

30 day shred

I have had a bit of a rocky weight loss journey since having kids: before Noah I was on hormones to get pregnant or induce menstruation, so I gained 10 pounds before getting pregnant. After that pregnancy, I had just hit my pre-pregnancy weight, when I found out I was pregnant with Layla. It took me 14 months to loose the baby weight, but I was still unhappy with my weight because of those lingering 10 pounds (which, lets be honest - is a lot of weight on a short girl!).

So when I had Layla, I was sick of feeling overweight for so long - so I chose to start Weight Watchers at 5 weeks postpartum.

The program is very manageable when you are nursing - and I would often have "second dessert" much to Keith's horror. Despite the multitude of desserts, there was never a week that my weight went up. It went down...down...down...down past those lingering 10 pounds. By the time I was about 4 months post partum I had lost a total of 32 pounds. I kept it off for 6 weeks and made lifetime status.

During the weight loss, I took up running again with Keith. I used to be a sprinter in high school and after high school I took up running as my favourite way to work out. Since I had babies back-to-back, I chose to start slow with the Couch to 5K program. Once I got up to 5k, I kept that up three times a week until recently....I got bored.

Once I hit lifetime status, I have not been eating well - falling into old habits. I haven't gained weight, but I have been fluctuating in a close range. However, I hate that I am not being healthy because I feel sick when I eat poorly during the day. I found weight loss the easy part - maintaing it is absolutely brutal!

Weight Watchers is starting their new program this week so I hope to feel motivated again to be healthy. I am also starting work in January, so that will present me with new challenges with my diet and exercise routine, so I need all the help I can get.  Also, once back at work I loose points because I am not going to be nursing Layla around the clock. A 5 point loss is going to be hard!

I had Jillian Michaels, 30 day shred DVD in my house, so I decided to give that a whirl.

It is 30 straight days of exercise, based on the principle of muscle confusion. It is a short workout (so very do-able for a busy mom) but it is absolutely brutal - because you can't have big results if you don't work hard for them. 20 minutes isn't a long workout, so you have to work those 20 minutes to the max! I figured this DVD would give me a short term goal to aspire to, and hopefully motivate me again.

I am going to keep a blog of the month I do the shred, and post weekly reports. I took my measurements so I can keep track of my progress. I probably won't track my weight since I think my body has hit it's ideal weight, but I will keep track of inches lost because I really need to tone up.

Today is day 3 of the workout and I was already thinking up excuses why I should skip the 20 min routine, but typing this post has reminded me that I shouldn't - and if I blog about it, I am being held accountable. It is going to be a bit tough at times since I have a baby who hates to sleep some nights, but I will try to not skip a day...Wish me luck!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

First one is glass....

Ever since Noah came into our lives, I have been considered a "helicopter parent" - you know, the kind of parent who just hovers over her child and secretly wishes she could put him into a big bubble and save him from everything bad that could happen to him. Given all we have been through with Noah, can you blame me?!?!

People would constantly mock me and tell me that while I treat Noah like glass, I will treat our future children like plastic - be more lenient and easygoing....

Have these people met me?!?! The worst part of this is that it is my own family telling me this! HA! I am not just a helicopter parent because of Noah's health care issues....I am just obsessive and anxious by nature! I am a germ-a-phobe and a worrier - these things combined make a lethal combination of helicopter'ing.

Ok, so I am a bit more lenient with Layla: I don't make every ounce of her baby food from scratch and if her soother falls on the ground I don't sterilize it immediately; but for the most part, I still treat her the exact same way I did with Noah.

I am sure, if we ever have more children, I will treat them all like glass: they will be considered my own little china shop...
...and I will be the bull running through it.