Wednesday, September 26, 2012

To every thing, there is a season

I've mentioned this before, but I spent the first month or so of my daughter's life waiting (sometimes not so patiently) for her to grow up.  Not that I didn't love her immensely, and enjoy her sweet newborn smell and warm cuddles, but still, those first few weeks were draining as much as they were joyful.  I know it was partially due to how having a baby instantly changed my entire life, down to the fundamentals.  My sleep/eating/exercise patterns were turned upside down, every single relationship I have was suddenly different (all for the better though, I see that now), and my 24/7 was dedicated to caring for this little being who, I felt, didn't know me from Eve.  Whatever love and affection she felt for me was based solely on the fact that I was the provider of milk.  I didn't take this personally at all, and it was never particularly upsetting to me, but I was still waiting anxiously for the day when she would seem like a real person to me, instead of a purely instinctual little creature.

The first time she opened her eyes, she looked right at me.
I can't pinpoint exactly when it happened, but sometime during her 5th week of life, she started locking eyes with me and briefly smiling.  She would fuss when held by anyone else but calm instantly when I held her, like she knew me.  She began to look around intently when I carried her over my shoulder.  In the last week, she's started moving her mouth when we talk to her, and cooing back at us like we're having a conversation.

By following her cues, I've learned how to interact with her too.  I take her to all her favorite walls in the house and describe what she sees (she likes it when we stand by the bookshelf and I read her the titles).  When I lay down with her on her play mat, her eyes will wander and her limbs flail until her gaze finds mine; then she breaks out into the biggest grin and excitedly gurgles at me.  I inquire about her day, or tell her little stories, occasionally pausing so she can offer an opinion.  It's silly, and so much fun.

Yesterday, we stood by the mirrored closet, and she smiled and conversed with the "other" baby she found there.

Though I am fully, wholeheartedly enjoying this stage of her development, I have discovered another problem. See, now that the initial sleepy newborn stage has passed, I am absolutely staggered by how fast these milestones are piling up.  She batted at toys on her play mat this morning, and grasps toys when I place them in her hand.  Pretty soon she'll be grabbing for them on her own, and rolling over and babbling and crawling and walking and OMG.  It's exciting and scary and.... a little bit sad.  See, I only have about 8 more weeks at home with her before I have to go back to work.  Suddenly it will be other family members, and eventually daycare workers, who will be with her every day.  For five days a week, I won't be there for her happy waking up time or morning naps.  There are milestones I might miss, because I just won't be there.  I get teary just thinking about it.

I know I'm lucky to be able to take so much time away from work - I won't be going back until Amaliya is almost 4 months old.  I'm also fortunate that my mother-in-law will be staying with us into January, so I don't have to ship my baby off to daycare right away.  Instead of mourning the lost time before I actually lose it, I am trying my best to live in the moment and make the most of every smile, fuss, diaper change, nap on my chest, long walk, and 3am feeding.  I really will miss them when they're gone.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Amaliya at 8 weeks

For the first month of her life, Amaliya existed.  Slept, pooped, ate, cried, expressed the occasional preference for a motion or position, but there was not much of a personality there.  During the second month, though, she really started to BE.  These last few weeks have been truly amazing in terms of watching her grow, seeing her begin to recognize people and things, and become very vocal about what she wants and needs.  Sometimes I watch her looking intently at something, and I can picture all the cells in her brain multiplying and making new connections.

Amaliya likes: Making eye contact and smiling, talking to mama, touring the house, laying on the guest bed and looking out the window, wiggle time and tummy time on her play mat, eating her hands, napping in the Baby Hawk, walking around outside, diaper changes (unless she's hungry), bath time, boobs, bottles, being snuggled, dancing to all kinds of music.... basically everything.  She's a very happy baby!

Amaliya dislikes:  outfit changes, being away from mama, too many hands passing her around, overstimulation, napping in her crib (or anywhere besides strapped to my chest), waiting for bottles to warm up or diaper changes when she's hAngry.

She takes so much interest in the world around her now.  She stares at the bookshelves, pictures on the wall, herself in the mirror (and there's nothing cuter than watching her lock eyes with herself and break out in a giant smile); she follows objects with her eyes, and will grab at toys if you hold them at just the right angle; She looks me in the eye, smiles, and "talks" to me; her head and neck control are getting better every day.

This new sensitivity to the world around her is too much for her to handle sometimes.  She gets overwhelmed easily, especially by people - it doesn't take long for a few new faces and pairs of hands holding her to max out her social abilities.  That's the only time she really cries inconsolably, and it's only solved by mom's arms and voice (and if that doesn't work, a quick nursing session never fails to mellow her out).

The sleep situation deserves a post of it's own, but in short, she is an AWESOME night sleeper and I couldn't be more grateful.  (I hate to post specifics because I might jinx it... but...) for the last few nights she has clocked almost 8 straight hours of sleep.  I put her down about 8:00pm, and don't hear a peep out of her until 3:45am.  I pick her up, fix her swaddle, feed her for about 5-10 minutes on each side, and she's asleep again before I lay her back down.  She'll generally rest for another 2-2.5 hours before she's up for the day.

Naps are challenging, but she'll sleep for 1.5-2.5 hours at a time on my chest if I put her in the carrier.  Crib naps are variable - sometimes she'll spring up (figuratively) after 10 minutes, sometimes she'll go down for 45 or so - either way, she gets more sleep when I wear her.  Not ideal for the long term, but for now it enables her to rest well and me to get things done.  When she gets closer to 3 months, I'll work on transitioning her to full time crib naps if it doesn't happen naturally before then.

The best part of her naps in the Baby Hawk: getting to look down at this face all day!
Though she's exhausting, Amaliya is so much fun to be around now that she can really interact with people.  I never get tired of putting her up on my shoulder and explaining the world to her, or laying down and looking at toys together.  Every time she turns her head in the direction of my voice and gives me that special grin (which is different than the smiles she gives anyone else, I'm convinced), my heart grows by three sizes.

I never thought I would love being a mom so much  <3

Friday, September 21, 2012

On the horizon

Exciting news - I signed up for a race!

 I ran the Mission Inn 10K last year and had a wonderful time!  I went out WAY too fast and ended up dragging myself through the last 1/3 of the race, but it was still a great experience.

I was actually already pregnant when I ran this, though I didn't know it.  I'll get to tell my daughter one day that she ran her first race as an embryo!

I'm only running the 5K this year, but I'm super excited because I'll be running it with my mom!  She's been a gym-goer for years but never run a race or trained for anything specific, so for her birthday this year I registered her for this event!  Her half-hearted thanks will be more sincere after she sees firsthand how much fun these things are  ;-)  She recently started the Couch to 5K program and we're planning to run at her pace.  The race is November 11, and I can't wait!

I'm almost hesitant to mention my next goal race, because it's quite ambitious and borderline ridiculous considering I'll only be 4 months postpartum at the time.... but....
I was thisclose to doing a half marathon last year - I worked up to a 12 mile long run and registered for the Surf City Half, but then I found out I was pregnant so all running ambitions were put on hold.  I would feel so accomplished if I could still do a half this year.  This is a small race put on by the running club I belong to, the Lopers Club in Loma Linda.  We will run along the same course I train on during my long runs on Sundays, which is good.  The route is very hilly, and I mean steep hills, which is not so good.... but I'm scaling back my expectations.  If I walk part or even most of the race, that's okay.  I have no time goals whatsoever (well, secretly I might, but I'm trying to talk my overly-competitive self out of them).  I just want to finish, have a great time, and cross another item off my bucket list.

If I'm still on track with my training and do well on my upcoming 7-mile long run, I'm going to register.  I love having goals lined up!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Paleo apple-plum upside-down cake

I'm not a big recipe-sharer (because I'm not a big recipe maker), but I threw this together on Sunday for my mom's birthday and it was FABULOUS!  So fabulous that I didn't take a picture before devouring it, so you'll have to use your imagination.

This is technically a "paleo" cake, meaning it's grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, and supposedly caveman friendly.  I'm not a proponent of any diet ("diet" in this context meaning "a way of eating," not "a method of torturous self-deprivation for the purpose of dropping a few pounds").  I'm gluten-free because I have to be due to Celiac disease, but otherwise I believe in eating a wide variety of foods (mostly whole and unprocessed) for good health.

However, I suspect that my little one might be disturbed by dairy in my diet.  I don't eat much generally, but every time I've eaten a dairy-heavy meal (e.g. a big bowl of greek yogurt for breakfast) she gets super fussy, gassy, cries more, and the diapers.... oh dear.  I cut out all dairy for a little while and she was fine, but the next time I ate yogurt she was miserable.  SO, I'm limiting my intake for the moment.  I'm generally not worried about a sprinkle of cheese here and there or butter in my baked goods, but no more yogurt or big bowls of ice cream for me!

When searching for a recipe that is gluten- and dairy-free and doesn't use refined sugar (something I try to avoid anyway), paleo pops up everywhere!  I find the whole premise of the paleo diet suspect, personally, because I don't believe we have enough information to really know what our paleolithic ancestors were eating.  And, of course, our environment has changed and our needs may have changed with it.  I do like many aspects of the lifestyle though - the emphasis on whole, unprocessed foods, and taking in most of your carbs through fruits and veggies instead of grains.  I am guilty of eating sweet potatoes for lunch and making a turnip stir-fry for dinner in an effort to incorporate more paleo principles into my daily life.

And paleo-baking?  Kind of amazing, if I do say so myself.

Paleo Apple-Plum Upside-Down Cake

For the cake:
2 cups almond flour (I used the almond meal from Trader Joe's - cheap and delicious!)
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 t. seasalt
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
4 eggs
1/2 cup coconut oil
2 T. vanilla extract (you could probably use less, but I like a strong vanilla flavor)
1/2 cup honey

For the topping:
4 plums, slightly firm, sliced thin
1 large apple, sliced thin (I left the peel on)
1 T. coconut oil
1 t. cinnamon

Mix all ingredients for the topping in a bowl, pour into a springform pan and spread around evenly.

Mix all dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls.  Add the dry to the wet and mix well.  The batter will be very thick.  Pour the batter on top of the fruit in the springform pan and gently spread so the fruit is evenly covered.

Bake in a 350 degree, preheated oven for 40ish minutes (I didn't time this precisely, my bad, but consider it done when the middle is springy to the touch).

I imagine that this would be delicious when served warm with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Not that I've tried it that way, of course  :-(  I dare you to try this with pineapple!

Will a super-smiley baby picture compensate for the lack of imagery to go with this cake?

I thought so.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

An exercise in happiness :-)

If you glance at the Daily Mile widget off to the left, you will notice that I have returned to the world of regular workouts!  This makes me happier than I can put into words.  Pretty much since I got pregnant and quit distance running (and all running, after 16 weeks), I've been planning my fitness comeback.  I'm really proud of staying in shape during my pregnancy - I gained 37lbs, but I was attending Body Pump 3x and walking 4-6 miles every week up until the day before I went into labor.  However, I missed running, like a LOT, and couldn't wait to get back to it.  Nothing beats the feel of wind in your face, the alone time out in nature, the burning in your legs/lungs/butt.... etc.  :-)

As I've said before, I know that staying in shape throughout my pregnancy helped me immeasurably during labor and delivery.  My pelvic floor was really toned, so when I was pushing, I could feel the muscles working and direct energy where I needed it to go. I labored without medication, meaning that I was up and moving pretty much the whole time; Being able to stay on my feet for the better part of 11 hours, including one hour where I was doing squats every couple minutes during a contraction to cope with the pain, was a definite perk of staying in shape.  The mental conditioning really helped me as well - I was so prepared to "pace myself" during a long and grueling labor that I almost couldn't believe it when the handed me my baby.  I felt, in body and mind, that I could have handled a few more hours with no problem <-- I never thought I'd say that!

Now, seven weeks removed from the experience, I can also acknowledge that staying in shape during pregnancy has contributed to a quick recovery.  I mentioned in a previous post that my stitches never hurt - once the swelling went down in 2-3 days, I felt perfectly fine.  I went on a run two weeks postpartum and my body felt okay - strong, even.  I lost a lot of cardio fitness (my lungs were burning and I still wheeze my ways through runs, and my heart rate skyrockets quickly) but muscle-wise I felt similar to before.  I returned to Body Pump after 3 weeks for an easy workout, and now four weeks later I have bumped up to lifting my pre-pregnancy weight.

I'm also trying to get back into yoga, using videos on, but that's been tough both because I seldom have 30-minutes during the day without a baby strapped to me, and because I DID lose a lot of flexibility over the last few months.

Heading out for a walk with my little one
Even though I leapt back into exercise right away, it was definitely not easy.  My first couple weeks of runs were very discouraging - it hurt, having to stop and walk so often took a mental toll, and I didn't have a single enjoyable moment throughout an entire run.  Normally, I slog through the first mile or two and then reach a happy place, where my stride and breath fall into a natural rhythm, the endorphins hit my brain, and I feel like I could go on forever.  Last week during our group run, I found that place again for the first time since having my baby.  I ran in the last mile of that run feeling on top of the world, which I REALLY needed.  I haven't been cleared by a doctor yet, but I can say that I'm feeling 100% recovered from childbirth and confident that my body is up to achieving the lofty goals I have set for myself over the next couple of months.  More on those later!

How are YOU feeling today?