January 30, 2015

7 Quick Takes

1. I forgot to mention one oh-so-importante piece of how I stayed well while growing a human: massage. I batted my eyes for a massage prescription from my OB and spent every other (sometimes every) week over with Jami at Bodhi Wellness. She is the BOMB. She put me back together and lined everything up and I call her the "body whisperer." Now I just need to think up another reason for a massage prescription...hmmmm....newborn baby carrying backache???

2. Found the most amazing product for severe dry skin: Aquafor. It's like a clear paste and I rub it in the kids' faces every night before bed (their skin gets so dry and flaky in the winter). I also rub it on my feet before I go to bed and it's like a pedicure in a jar. That's all I have to say about it. Because the product speaks for itself.

3. I also found some denim that doesn't break the bank: Treasure and Bond from Nordstrom. They run pretty true to size, although I sized up in the picture below for a more relaxed fit. Mine were on sale for $52.90, regular $88. Not bad for some good denim. Other great brand, Kut from the Kloth.  Their prices are awesome and the denim is great quality. I find that brand runs true to size/a bit big so I always size down.

Sweater Halogen Nordstrom  - Tank James Perse  -  Denim Treasure and Bond (sold out) Similar styles here  -  Shoes Chinese Laundry Similar here  - Watch Daniel Wellington  - Engraveable bar necklace (it says ALOHA) Stella and Dot

4. More Magna Tile fun. The block tile things can be played with by a 2-year-old or 6-year-old. One of the bestest toys we have.

5. I found that one of the best ways I can get over my grumpiness about doing crap around the house is to set a stop watch. Instead of mulling over the fact I have to unload the dishwasher (AGAIN. We are now a "run it twice a day" family) I set the timer to see how long it actually takes me. When I realized that I can bust out the kitchen in 10 minutes or 5 loads of laundry folded/put away in 20 minutes I stopped complaining. I must be a 4-year-old boy or something - motivated by competition with the clock.

6. Michael and Avila went to the daddy-daughter dance at our Parish School and had a blast Last year she cried because she didn't know anyone. This year she cut a rug up front - dancing so much that she was sore the next morning.

7. Avila and I started a journal together. I write during the day, she writes at night. I won't share any more of what we write other than this but I'm telling you this is, by far, one of the most special and insightful things I have done with my children. I plan on doing it with her like, um, for forever. And hopefully with the boys, too. But we'll see how much they really want to divulge their feelings. Oh, maybe Levi will. Because he tells me every other minute how much I hurt his feelings when I get mad when he sits in his own poop for 3 hours and doesn't tell me. 

January 29, 2015

Postpartum and all that jazz.

OMGosh. I better keep on writing about pregnancy/after pregnancy stuff now before I forget/block it out of my mind forever like I want to block out Lola's stupid teething nights from my mind. I mean, I don't mind if she needs to eat or something (usually that happens anywhere from 2:30-4:30am and it only takes 15 minutes if I don't fall asleep in the overly comfortable pillow chair) but this whole "I'm going to wake up, whine whine whine, fuss fuss fuss, pretend cry pretend cry then go back to sleep and do it 30 minutes later" deal is getting quite annoying. Yeah yeah, I should be sympathetic but that doesn't mean I have to luuuuv it. What do I luv? COFFEE. Hashtag ALL THE COFFEE.

OK, stop complaining Kristine. I guess God made Lola cute for a reason...

The postpartum phase of all the baby jazz is the phase I always get most nervous about. Well, not with Avila because I had NO IDEA what I was doing and the postpartum phase hit me like a truck and I was sidelined with Postpartum Depression for a few months before getting treatment. And it's safe to say that it was one of the lowest and most difficult times of my life. I cried everyday, I was angry, I wanted to hurt myself. I wanted to hurt my baby. It was scary and debilitating and oh so hopeless. No amount of prayer or support or anything else could pull me from the mires and I ended up on an antidepressant which, after a couple weeks, lifted the fog. My first recollection of being me again came on a Saturday morning, out to coffee with Michael and our then 5-month-old Avila. I caught myself smiling. And at peace. Another thing that helped my PPD? Sleep training. But more on that later 'cause I don't feel like opening cans of worms. Unless they are laced with COFFEE.

So, in the efforts of keeping it short and sweet and to the point here is a list dealio of what I did postpartum to have the best postpartum experience thus far.

**Planned Ahead.
I prepared myself mentally for all the stuff about to come. I tried to keep all the sleepless nights, the lack of control, the feeling off, and whatever else in perspective and I reminded myself that it is just a stage that passes sometimes slowly but most of the time ever so quickly.

**Have Mental Checkpoints. 
6 weeks. 12 weeks. 4 months. 5 months. It was like running a marathon - I just had to make it to the next mile. With each checkpoint came a different sort of routine with the baby (because they change all the time) and once I made it to the date I felt a surge of confidence and excitement that the hard phases were ticking by.

**Clean Eating.
Again, this one is HUGE. With my emotions all over the place I needed to keep things as even steven as possible. Although Serotonin is manufactured in the brain, 90% of it IS FOUND IN THE DIGESTIVE TRACT. That's why people with IBS, gluten intolerance, food allergies have HIGHER RATES OF DEPRESSION. I capitalize this because of experience. When I was "on gluten" I was so up and down and I had no control over my emotions. I lashed out. I hit peaks and valleys. If there is one thing you can do for yourself to have a better mood/less stress/happier days it would be to eat as clean as possible. What do I mean? Here is a short list: fruits and vegetables (if they're the dirty dozen then organic if possible. or get a good vegetable wash like THIS ONE). Nuts. Lean protein (I eat organic chicken and wild, not farmed, fish. I actually get nauseous eating farmed fish - true story. I'm not a liar I promise. I have the most sensitive stomach in the world and I can be your guinea pig as to whether food has been tampered with or not...) No dairy and No gluten. Very little grains. It sounds restrictive but I'd rather be happy dappy than mean Kristine.

**Bare Minimum Mode.
I started this with Levi, but I wrote my "bare minimum" list on the chalkboard to remind myself that, at the end of the day, these are the only things that matter: 1) feed baby 2) eat healthy and take meds/supplements 4) do dishes 5) rest in the afternoon. Some days the house got picked up, most days it didn't. Some days dinner got made, some days it didn't. But if I checked these things off on my "to do" list it was a good day. And bare minimum mode houses some of my favorite memories when I look back on the baby stages.

**Make Rest/Sleep a Priority.
I am the type of person that needs a minimum of 7 hours of sleep, preferably 8. That's just how I roll. Too many sleepless/restless nights in a row send me spiraling downward. Every third day or so (or when I felt like I hit a wall) I would plan a nap day. No, not easy with 4 kids, but when Levi and Lola would nap I'd put on a movie for the big kids and tell Avila to come get me if there was a fire or something. Michael would take the big kids out for a couple hours on the weekend and I'd nap. If ever anyone was over to help I would use that time to take a nap. My goal nap time was 10-20 minutes (because sometimes a power nap is where it's at) but sometimes I'd end up snoozing for at least an hour. Again, I let go of everything else and made sleep a priority.

**Stay Active/Get Fresh Air.
OK, I'll be the first to admit that I did too much during the first 6 weeks postpartum. Not because it had any negative side effects (I recovered quickly physically and felt good to start running 3 weeks PP and I totally listened to my body........) but I should've just let that go too mostly because there is no better time in life to have the excuse of DOING NOTHING except LOVING ON A BABY. Oh well, next time...But the fresh air part is a must for me (hence probably the running itch) and I tried to get outside as much as possible. And the starting to workout/run again really did help my mental energy and overall happiness.

**Placenta Pills.
Yup, you heard me right. I had my placenta encapsulated. At the risk of sounding like a pyscho weirdo just hear me out. I had first heard of this thing whilst pregnant and did some looking into it. I went through Puget Sound Placenta and figured it couldn't hurt to try. Plus it was a third of the price of having my placenta thrown away at the hospital so there you go. I didn't have to do a thing: the nurse packed it on ice in my cooler, the placenta lady picked it up that day at the hospital and I was delivered a jar of magic pills. Literally. MAGIC. I took 2 every morning and 1 at lunch (sometimes 2 at lunch if I needed an extra kick) and I had never been happier, had more energy, or felt better during the postpartum period than I did after Lola. They are most effective the first six weeks and once you start running out you have to wean off gradually as to not kick in any withdraws - almost like an antidepressant. My energy actually started to drop once I stopped taking them and I wished my placenta was like 20 times bigger to GIVE ME MORE PILLS. Bahahaha, don't you love me all talking about placentas and shiz? PS: they're supposed to help with milk supply (which I was actually worried about since I create enough to feed quadruplets) so if you have that issue I would totally go this route. OK, the end on placentas.

There are probably lots of other things I can mention about "how to have a good after baby is born" experience - like good support, letting go, etc etc etc but that'll be good for now. Or I can talk about placentas some more.

But I won't. You're welcome.

January 28, 2015

Phone Dump 5.0

So I have the whole postpartum post just about finished but I need to be done with that one and post some cute pictures or something. Because we have had a ROCKIN' week. Like awesome kids, awesome sun, and awesome everything (except Lola's teething sleep. NOT awesome).

So, without further adieu here is some loveliness that is the last week of January.

Artist Study: Picasso. We had to miss our CC class last week so we did our own Artist deal and these turned out awesome.

Some rockin' tower making.

Grape NUUN, Perrier, and Lemon. All it's missing is some vodka.


On the menu this week: carrots/spinach/ciltaro, peas/broccoli/avocado, banana/pear/apple/avocado, and so many sweet potatoes her nose is turning orange.

SUUUUUUN. And dead plants. 

Avila reading to Levi. I get to listen to her read and he gets a reading buddy and I get to make dinner.
Win Win Win.

January 27, 2015

How I healed my Diastasis Recti

Dude, if you know what those two words mean I feel your pain. Those cute squishy babies all moving our insides around and stuff - pushing our intestines here, our bladder (oh the bladder) there, and SPLITTING OUR ALREADY SORRY MOMMY "ABS" IN TWO.

If you don't know what diastasis recti is or to check to see if you have it (yes, even men get it), click here for more information. 

You see, I never knew I had diastasis recti until Levi was 18 months old. I was at a PT appointment for all my running stuff when my (awesome - Erik check him out here, shout out shout out!) PT said, "It looks like you have a separation in your abdominal muscles."

What?! And sure enough. When I laid down and tested it all out, my finger width was almost 4 fingers. And, unbeknownst to me, I had been making it worse.

Diastasis recti (DR for short) can cause a whole wad of issues other than just the "mummy tummy." Yes, it's the culprit for the stomach that won't go back into place no matter what you do. Yes, it's the culprit for everyone asking you if you're pregnant when your child is actually potty trained and in the time out stage. Ahem, I could've counted on 17 hands how many times I was "congratulated" hahaha.) But DR can also cause digestive issues, core imbalances (hence a lot of the reason I saw a PT for running), back pain, incontinence, prolapse, and hernias. So we're not just talking about abs and I'm not all advocating we all need to work on a 6-pack or something. Fixing DR (in my experience) is more about healing the body and restoring balance/strength/all that jazz than it is about rocking' a bikini. So there.

Enough talk. Onto how I actually healed my DR and brought my poor little abdominal walls back together. I mean, they missed each other. And now that they've reunited they're all happy and in love again. Before I go into the how and give some better resources other than my ramblings, here are some key points to remember/start doing now:

**STOP DOING AB EXERCISES. The End. Planks, crunches, ANYTHING PILATES, anything related to outward exertion (careful with push ups) with the abdominal muscles - stop doing those now. YOU ARE MAKING IT WORSE. My DR got worse and worse as time went on after having Levi and it's because I was trying to work out my abs. Healing DR is a combination of breathing exercises, training yourself in core support, and to an extent, diet.

**IT TAKES TIME. No, your DR will not be healed overnight. You're looking at probably 6-8 weeks to see initial improvement but once things click in progress will zip along. Don't get discouraged. It's worth it. And I'm living proof that you can go from literally no abdominal support to a tighter (more helpful in life) core.

From the moment I found out I had DR I started researching and stumbled upon the Tuppler Technique (TT for short). Not wanting to shell out money for the program I actually found an article on how to do the TT and started right away. I only got a month or so into it before I got pregnant with Lola but I continued with the TT during pregnancy and afterwards noticed that I had actually closed  the gap by a couple finger widths. (2 finger widths is considered "normal" ab separation). I fluctuated as everything was healing postpartum and now I'm back to within normal range.

So, I guess in order to make sense, here's a checklist bullet point thing of what I did to heal my DR:

-As listed above, I stopped all planks, crunches, etc until I was healed and even now I still do my TT exercises and am super careful with my breathing during weight lifting sessions and with everything else...

-Did the Tuppler Technique breaths 300-500 times a day. You can get the book here, or HERE is a great article explaining the technique. I was able to learn it without the book or DVD. Main points: breath in through the nose and when exhaling, breath out through the mouth and pull the transverse abdominals into the spine NEVER OUTWARDS. I learned to do it by breating out/counting as I pulled my abdominal muscles to my spine - blowing a breath with each count, working up to 100 breaths a time a few times a day. Takes a bit to get used to it but I'm actually doing it now as I type this. During my workouts I would sit in my chair do them in place of what I would usually do "ab" wise. I did them in the car. I did them standing doing dishes (although less effective standing)

-I CONSTANTLY HELD IN MY CORE. "Belly button to the spine" replayed over and over into my head. No, it's not like holding your breath. But by constantly holding in my core and not splaying my abdominal muscles out even more I was able to provide support to my (growing belly). I paid special attention while running, getting up out of bed or off the couch (again, any outward exertion makes it worse), picking up kids, lifting weights, getting groceries, you name it. And by holding/supporting my core I had ZERO back or pelvic pain during pregnancy. I think it's the main reason I was able to keep running and the reason I felt so good at the end.

-NOTE: The hardest part is just remembering. But over time you'll train yourself to constantly hold the abdominals in and breath correctly and it'll become second nature.

-Special note about pregnancy: since the abdominals are already weak be extra careful when you use the bathroom (TMI? not when it comes to the mummy tummy lol) and when you push during labor. You could go your whole pregnancy without DR and split those babies open (no pun intended) during the pushing stage of labor. I can't remember where I found it but I researched the correct way to push (breathing wise) and not only does it pop that baby out faster and more effectively but by breathing correctly the force will go to get the baby out and not to splitting the abs open. I also tried to splint during the pushing stage (mostly with my hands - holding the abdominals together - which actually helped me push correctly) but I didn't do it all the way right because well, I was swearing up a storm or something.

-After the birth of Lola I used a splint. I researched the CRAP outta 17,000 different splints, tried a couple, and THIS IS THE ONE I LOVED - it's called the Squeem. Make sure to measure yourself where it tells you. After birth I was a medium, now I'm down to a small. No, the splint won't fix everything for you however it does do two important things: 1) it holds the abdominal muscles in the correct place as everything is healing postpartum and 2) it is a constant reminder to do the breathing exercises and hold your core. I wore mine from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to bed for the first 6 weeks (OK, a lot of days I forgot or didn't care) and I still throw it on a couple days a week to keep reminding myself to breathe correctly and hold in my core.

-The TT and breathing exercises can help anyone - not just people with DR. My trainer actually sent me a video on breathing exercises to make sure that I'm doing and it is very similar to the TT breathing.

OK, I hope that helped! There are a ton of great articles out there but really, if you do the breathing exercises consistently (it'll feel weird and ineffective at first), stop everything that's making it worse (if you take an exercise class sit out during the ABS part - I actually do ZERO specific ab work other than planks however my core has never been this tight), and learn to hold in your core at all time (especially when exerting any effort) you will be on your way to closing the gap.

Up next....Pregnancy 4.0 2.0 where I talk about the new things I did after having Lola, during the newborn period, to feel good, keep my postpartum depression at bay, and recover well. Until then, time to go comfort a teething babe........

January 22, 2015

Pregnancy 4.0

It has been 6 months and 5 days since I've been pregnant. (Not that I'm rejoicing in denim again or anything…liar liar jeans on fire) And it has been during this time I was able to reflect on the pregnancy journey the fourth time around.

Well, technically the fifth. We lost a little one during the first trimester between Avila and Max. Our little "Gabriel" as we call him. Yes it was hard. But it is also beautiful knowing we did our job: to get our child to heaven. 'Cause that's all we're really asked to do. And every time I refer to anything about our family - we have 4 kids, there are 6 of us - Avila always corrects me. NO mom, there are 5 kids. NO mom, there are 7 of us. They love their brother and pray for him every night. They ask what he looks like and can't wait to meet him. And neither can we. I didn't mean to make this a weird side note, but if Avila were reading the blog she would be on my case. Plus, Gabriel needs a shout out every now and then.

And so, I guess the fifth time around you would think I finally have this bun in the oven thing figured out. Maybe I do and maybe I don't but I did learn/try some things this time around that made a world of difference.

Before I go on, you should read this. It's awesome...
Hey American, Pregnancy: You're doing it all wrong.

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming: listening to me opine about bellies and babies. Cute, squishy, babies.

And only somewhat cute, very squishy bellies.

You see, my pregnancy with Lola wasn't necessarily easy by all means but the decisions I made and the attitude I was determined to have made a huge difference. Yes, I had nausea until 20 weeks. Yes, I felt like a house at times. Yes, there were many days I did NOT want to be pregnant and I did NOT want to choose the right things. But I powered on in the effort to at least live my "normal" life and not throw away 9 months with excuses.

If I were to sum up my pregnancy with Lola it would go something like this:
Listen to my body but pretend I'm not pregnant.

#1: Listening to my body: Well, that's a given. If I was hungry, I ate (more on what in a minute). If I was tired (like death tired) I would let go of everything non-important and try to fit a nap in. If I was only kind of tired I sucked it up. I pushed myself pretty far in this pregnancy (running, boarding) but at the end of the day, baby always came first. Hence the reason I was on the cheering squad for the Tacoma City Marathon and not with my peeps.

#2: Pretend I wasn't pregnant: This doesn't mean I wasn't careful but I never let pregnancy be an excuse for giving up. If I have a crappy non-pregnant day it's not like I can blame it on something so pregnancy wasn't a cop out for me to be a blob (most days) or for me to over-indulge in bad habits "just because" I was pregnant. If anything, I took extra care to make sure I was eating clean, working out, staying happy, being normal because well, hello: life inside of me! I also didn't really change a whole lot of my normal routine because (as Kendra writes in the article above) pregnancy isn't a disease: I still drank coffee and ate shrimp. I went on water slides. I drank a glass of wine every week. I still ran marathons (4 to be exact). No, I wasn't careless, but I listened to science and reason and I don't believe that life should be stopped living. Pregnancy is beautiful and wonderful and normal and I don't think God meant for us to throw in the towel for 9 months.

Marathon/Ultra #12 for me. #1 for Lola.

Marathon #2 for Lola. I was 8 weeks. And wanted to die. But I wore a tutu so that helped.

Marathon #3 for Lola. Where she officially became a Marathon Maniac

And now for some details. I honestly believe that staying active and eating as clean as possible were two of the biggest keys to having a great pregnancy.

**A disclaimer: listen to your body (duh like above) and check with your doc. But my doc was weird about the marathons and I ran them anyway (my body said it was OK) so I might not be the best person to ask for advice, bahahaha. PLUS, I was running marathons BEFORE I got pregnant so it's not like I was doing something new. My body was actually going through withdrawals from the LESS RUNNING during the first parts of my pregnancy so in order to not feel EXTRA crappy I had to keep up most of what I was doing before. OK, the end.**

Here's a little breakdown of what I did, trimester by trimester:

TRI 1 (weeks 1-13): Ate lots of protein. Never ever let myself get hungry (makes nausea worse). Tried to eat only whole foods (fruits, veggies, nothing processed) but sometimes cereal was where it was at. Gave myself a little hall pass for not being too stringent but at the same time knowing that the healthier I was the better I would feel. Probably a bonus I have every food allergy in the world and can't eat that Big Mac I really really wanted. I also ran/worked out as much as I could which totally helped the nausea. But I also took this time to "be selfish" and do more of what felt good instead of what I "should have been" doing. Although I did run three marathons in my first trimester. Nothing like nausea at mile 18.....

TRI 2 (weeks 14-38): Yes, I know the second trimester ends at 28 weeks or something like that. But most people hit that third trimester and kick their feet back and then crap sits in and it's WEEKS (WEEKS PEOPLE) of misery. So I always kept the notion that I had a looong way to go. With my other pregnancies I would think "Ooooo, only 6 more weeks!" but with this one I would say "2 more months, gotta step it up a notch!" Totally helped mentally.

While I did get 2nd trimester bursts of energy I was also the most tired at this stage. Like, I napped a couple times a week. Crazy I tell you. It was in the second trimester that I remained the most disciplined and never ever tried to let my brain trick my body into giving up. I used to run every night (before pregnancy) but I would be dog tired at that point so I switched to the mornings. Up at 5AM, FOR AN HOUR, SIX DAYS A WEEK. No matter if I felt like it or not. I ran Monday/Wednesday/Friday (on an old treadmill we have in the garage), lifted weights at home on Tuesdays/Thursdays and did Boot Camp on Saturday mornings. Sometimes I would even sleep in my workout clothes and tell myself: just make it through the warm-up...... Sundays were for resting or (when the weather was awesome) paddle boarding. Pregnant lady bump in the middle of the sound is guaranteed to get you weird/awesome looks. Hey, it gives a new meaning to water birth right?! I also ran a marathon (OK, 25K but it was up and down mountains and took as long as a marathon) and that race was awesome 'cause I didn't want people passing the pregnant lady and getting any sort of joy outta it, hahaha

My motto for eating was this: not too much, mostly plants. My diet consisted of lean protein, fruit, lots of veggies, eggs, nuts, very little grains. I don't buy into the "eating for two" and I wanted to keep my weight gain within a healthy yet reasonable amount. In total I gained 17 lbs and still had a healthy 7lb 11oz baby girl. (First pregnancy, 25lbs, second pregnancy 20lbs, third 18lbs.) Knowing how my body handles weight during pregnancy I didn't really gain anything the first trimester, the second I kept it at about 1/2 pound a week, and the third trimester is where I usually pack it on - a pound a week the last 5-6 weeks. I never was fixated on the number because all I cared about was a healthy baby but I pretty much just ate (clean) when I was hungry and knew my body would grow this baby nice and fine. I did allow myself treats every now and then but I also knew that it would be easier to keep any extra weight gain at bay NOW vs trying to lose it WHEN TAKING CARE OF A NEWBORN AND 3 OTHER KIDS.

(I'm totally not knocking anyone and their pregnancy journey - I'm just trying to outline what I personally did to try and turn a potentially crappy time into a potentially good-feeling one. I got a lot of "you are so lucky you have easy pregnancy" comments but in actuality I put in the freaking hard work to make sure I felt good. Just trying to help a mother (or two) out, Cheers!)

TRI 3 (Weeks 38-42): Yes, I delivered at 42 weeks. OK, more like 41 weeks and 5 flipping days. I totally thought she would fall out on the treadmill or on my paddle board or something but she had to get kicked out. (Full birth story here, if you're into that thing.) But honestly I felt so good even being overdue that I could've gone another 2 weeks. I did Boot Camp and boarded the day before she came. She must've been all cozy. Or stuck. Waiting for mama to slow down....I had never been induced before and it was a longer-ish labor but my endurance remained (almost) and I was thanking my lucky stars (and the dreadmill) for keeping my spirits high.

This was two days before Lola was born. 2.5 miles like a snail.

And the day before she was kicked out. Glorious sun for a soon-to-be glorious babe.

Post-Partum: OK, this is where I noticed the BIGGEST difference in keeping active/eating clean during pregnancy. But this post has gone on long enough so I shall name it Pregnancy 4.0 1.0...Part 2.0 will come next where I talk about the few key things I did to recover well, stave of Post-Partum Depression (of which I've had), and feel great during the newborn crappy time. OH, and I'll share HOW I HEALED MY DIASTASIS RECTI DURING and POST PREGNANCY. You know, that Ab separation thing that makes non-pregnant ladies look pregnant. Yup had it BAD. Like, "are you pregnant" when your baby was 18 months old bad. But it can be healed! I promise I won't leave you hanging too long on that one. It's just that my fingers are tired. And I have kids to feed or something.

But you're welcome for obligatory baby picture. Buh Bye. For now.


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