Mommy Guilt Again.

February 28.

I was supposed to be going back to work next week.  (Looks around to see if anyone is listening).  I kinda wish I was.

I’m bored.  I had a feeling this might happen.  Baby is fully weaned, enjoying his formula and waking up usually only once a night now.  He’s not taking solids all that great but we are getting there.

The weather sucks.  I’m not usually to complain about our climate but this has been a particularly long winter. At least it feels that way.  I don’t even mind the snow, but the bitter, bitter cold makes it very difficult to go out for walks with the kids.

I haven’t run in a week.  My ankle is still sore.  I finally got on the exercise bike last night for 45 minutes and worked up a sweat and that felt good.  But I miss running.  I miss the freedom.  I miss that 30-40 minutes of solely me-time.

And that makes me feel guilty.  In five weeks I’ll be working 4 days a week and leaving husband with 3 kids.  I’ll have all day to be with adults, to be “on my own” and to miss the kids.  Yet right at this very moment, I wish I was going back to work next week.

My brain, like my body after not running for a week, feels like mush.  I have a stack of New England Journal of Medicine magazines that I need to start reading, but I can’t focus for more than a few minutes without a child demanding juice, or a snack, or a diaper change.  I honestly don’t know how parents do this day-in and day-out.  I don’t know how my husband does it.  I’ve been home for 5 months and I’m starting to go crazy.  I knew this would happen but it felt too soon to go back to work in March.  Now April feels a million miles away.

Even as I write this the guilt is overflowing – the older kids are watching Sleeping Beauty and the baby is jumping jolly.  Lazy parenting at its best.


On Migraines and Breastfeeding

It’s been a rough weekend, I can’t lie. I have been plagued with migraine headaches for the past 5 days. I have taken more Advil, Tylenol and Axert in the last 5 days than I have in the last 5 months. Brutal. It’s gotten me down too.  I hate having the ice pack on my head so much that my kids now ask me if I have a headache again.  I don’t want their early memories of mommy being plagued by migraines.

Yet, during one of the reprieves I managed a 6.6km run, so I guess it wasn’t that bad of a weekend. But the headache that ensued a few hours later was brutal and made me wish I hadn’t gone out when I was feeling better.

My girlfriend made me an aromatherapy rub a few months ago which I forgot about until this weekend. My tummy felt icky after all the drugs I took so I decided to try the rub. Oh my. It was amazing. I’m not sure what was in it but it left a paradoxical cooling heat on my forehead that took the pain away for a good half hour.  Those 30 minutes were a nice taste of heaven.

I can’t help but wonder what’s caused this sudden increase in migraine frequency. I suspect it’s a change in my hormones. The baby is all but weaned. I might nurse him once a day now. I’m finding it much more difficult to let it go this time. Part of me wants to keep nursing him because I’m never going to be able to do it again once we are done.  But on the other hand my vanity sets in and I really want to see the last 10 lbs gone (the sooner the better) and I like to think that it’ll fall off once I stop nursing for good. I wish it wasn’t so hard. I’ve really enjoyed the nursing relationship we’ve had but I know it’s time to wrap things up. He is taking his formula really well and starting to eat some rice cereal but not as often as I’d like.  And I am back to work in 6 weeks.

It’s time.

How To Stay Sane During Your Maternity Leave.

Day 15. National Blog Posting Month.

Halfway there!!  Thank you for your continued readership!

Yesterday I took the baby to a movie. (!!!) You might wonder what kind of movie theater would allow someone to bring an infant to a show?  Well, where I live, the major movie theater company runs a weekly program called “Stars & Strollers”.  Maybe you have something similar where you live.  It’s basically a movie showing at 1pm where moms can bring very small children, (ie infants and toddlers) and enjoy an afternoon watching the latest releases.  The volume is turned down, there’s even a change table at the front of the theater!  How awesome is that?

During my first maternity leave, I went to a lot of movies with a friend whose son was born just a few days after my daughter.  We saved each others sanity, I am quite sure.  It was wintertime and the only saving grace (for me at least) were those weekly trips to the movies.  For two hours it was okay if your kid cried.  Everyone in the theater would totally understand.  I remember having to walk up and down the aisles with my daughter because she was freaking out crying, and it was fine because at any given moment there was at least one other mom doing the same.

Remembering that time led me to think about other things that saved my sanity during that particularly difficult maternity leave.

  • Sleep in in the morning.  After the husband leaves to take the kids to school, go back to bed with the baby.
  • Learn how to eat with one hand.  What’s the other hand doing? Balancing the baby on the breast, or on the bottle of formula.
  • If the baby is asleep, and you feel rested and aren’t doing the first thing on this list, go have a shower.  A long, hot shower.  Your boobs will tell you when baby wakes up.  (Seriously, this happens to me all the time.  I start leaking in the shower and if I listen really, really hard, I can hear the baby crying and know that my shower time is up).
  • Go for walks, every day.
  • Eat whatever you want.
  • Drink whatever you want – in fact, a glass of wine or a stout beer will make you feel 100x better.  Scientific fact! (Not really.)
  • Don’t be afraid to give the baby some formula, or expressed breast milk, in a bottle. Let someone else feed the baby so you can go out for an hour or four.
  • Use a soother!!! There’s no reason you need to be the pacifier.
  • Remember: it’s a brief period of time, the sleep deprivation in particular; before you know it, the baby will be a toddler, the toddler a child and you’ll wish you could go back to when they were infants.  No, really, you will.

How did you survive maternity leave?

The Time Has Come.

This week I had my 6 week postpartum checkup.  She gushed over my son and checked my incision.  Really, it was just a formality.  I did ask one specific question:  When can I start exercising?

And the answer I wanted to hear, I got – I am good to go.

Great!  Now the pressure is on!

My goal is to be able to run the 5 km home from the office by the time I return to work, in March.  A tall order for someone who has sat on her, well you know, for the past 10 months. Sigh … where to begin?

I guess the first thing to do is to get some muscle tone back, there’s quite a bit of flab going on, to be honest.  I know, I know, I just had a child so I shouldn’t be too hard on myself.  The initial plan was to start going for walks and I think that’s a good place to start.  The baby loves to be in a carrier, so taking him out for walks is good for him, as well as for me (he’s almost 10 lbs now, so the extra weight I’m carrying offers increased resistance, right?).  As much as I’d love to get out there and start running, the last thing I need is to do too much too soon and risk an injury. I think it’s also important to get some flexibility back – I started doing some gentle yoga stretching a few days ago.

The other concern I have is the impact exercise will have (if any) on breastfeeding, or more specifically, my milk supply.  A quick Google search came up with a few hits from the usual suspects:  La Leche League, (I found this great article on Postpartum Fitness from the La Leche League), KellyMom, BabyCenter.  The general consensus from these sites is that exercise doesn’t affect breast milk supply, though go to any “mom forum” and you might read differently.  I have personally heard from some friends that exercise did in fact, affect their supply.

So, I decided to do a little bit of research, because really, what else have I got to do these days?

A Google Scholar search came up with this study from 1994, published in the New England Journal of Medicine.  Thirty-three women, all exclusively breastfeeding and 6-8 weeks postpartum were randomly assigned to an exercise group or a control group (no exercise).  The exercise group were supervised and did aerobic exercise at 60-70% of maximum heart rate for 45 minutes, 5 days a week for 12 weeks.  Energy expenditure, dietary intake, body composition and the volume and composition of breast milk were assessed.  The results showed that aerobic exercise 4-5 times per week, beginning 6-8 weeks postpartum had no adverse effects on breast milk supply and significantly improved the cardiovascular fitness of the women.  Interestingly, the rate of weight loss was not different between the two groups.  Bearing in mind that the study size was quite small, it’s encouraging to see that exercise didn’t appear to affect a woman’s milk supply.  The article also goes on to discuss the importance of keeping hydrated before, during and after exercise, as well as keeping one’s caloric intake up to support breast-feeding. While weight loss is of course the eventual goal, it is important for me at least, to recognize that this probably won’t happen as quickly as I’d like since I do continue to keep nursing.  In the long run, that’s not so much a concern as I know my body and it naturally reverts back to what it knows (at least, I hope it does this third time!).

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada published a joint Clinical Practice Guideline with the Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology in 2003, titled “Exercise in Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period”.  Here’s an excerpt:

Exercise and Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is the best method of providing optimal nutrition, immunologic- based protection, and emotional nurturing for the growth and development of infants.51 Therefore, exercise frequency and intensity should not interfere with a mother’s ability to breastfeed. Although exercise does not negatively affect milk production or composition,52–54 lactic acid has been shown to be increased in the breast milk of women exercising at maximal intensity, but not in those exercising at moderate level.55–58 There is controversy as to whether this short-term increase in lactic acid makes the breast milk less palatable to the nursing infant.55,56, 58–61 Mothers who find that their baby does not feed as well right after exercising may consider feeding the baby right before exercising (which may also make the breasts more comfortable during exercise), postponing feeding until 1 hour after exercising, or expressing milk prior to exercising to be used after exercising. The growth of breastfeeding babies of exercising women is normal, even for the infants whose mothers are losing weight as part of their exercise regimen.53


Women should be advised that moderate exercise during lactation does not affect the quantity or composition of breast milk or impact infant growth. (I-A)

Well, that’s good enough for me.

The other “mom forums” also had a few good suggestions, like nursing before exercising.  This makes complete sense to me – a well-fed infant will sleep while mommy goes out for a run!  The other suggestion I read was taking baby with you – ie. in a carrier while going for a brisk walk, or using a jogging stroller!  Brilliant!  We happen to have a Chariot and husband has been talking about buying the jogging handle attachment, though I’m not sure how we’d fit three kids when it seats only two?  Hmm … might have to think about that one a bit.

In any event, it appears I have no excuse not to get started.  There is a pair of Guess jeans that are desperately waiting to be worn again, and LOTS of left over Hallowe’en chocolate that is taunting me.

Get ready. Get set. Go!

Binky, Soo-Soo, I love you!

A few days ago, I caved and got my infant son a soother.  He’s 5 weeks old and was starting to use me as a pacifier.  I could not put him down to nap without having him nurse to sleep.  It was becoming exhausting.  My arms hurt. I couldn’t eat dinner with two hands. But more importantly, it was affecting his sleep.

Now, I have nothing against soothers and don’t believe they cause “nipple confusion.”  (I reference La Leche League, but by no means do I agree 100% with their philosophy.)  My daughter took a soother and when it became a crutch (ie. she would wake up the second it fell out of her mouth), we took it away.  My eldest son never took the soother and instead sucks his thumb (which he still does at 2.5 years of age).  The baby could find his thumb right from birth but seems to have forgotten this important skill over the last week or so. Hence, the decision to get him a soother.

Frankly, it has changed my life!

I can now type this post with two hands!!!  I can eat dinner with two hands!!  I can start doing some housework (yippee!!).  Okay, not so thrilled about that last one.

The other big change is that I am no longer acting as the bed for my son.  He’s getting too big to sleep on my chest and he seems uncomfortable, so over the past few days I have started using the bassinet.  He enjoys being swaddled and even sleeping on his stomach, so I am alternating those positions for sleep.  (I like the shape of his head as it is and don’t want him getting a flat spot!).  The downside to having him sleep in the bassinet is that I physically have to get up off the couch (where I am still sleeping) to get him.  It makes my awake time longer and subsequently is more difficult to fall back asleep.  Sigh …. fix one “problem”, cause another.  Oh well, that just means I get to have more naps during the day!