Sunday, June 30, 2013

Post-Pregnancy Weight Loss

I've been completely famished since I gave birth. I can't eat or drink enough no matter what I do. I'm trying to generally choose healthy foods, but I'm not dieting. Except for the addition of sushi, blue cheeses and cured meats, I'm eating the way I ate when I was pregnant. For almost nine months I tried to eat as healthy as possible while following the recommendations. (I didn't deny myself some treats now and again.)

Breastfeeding is said to help women to lose pregnancy weight. I gained about 25 pounds during the pregnancy and, according to our scale, I lost all of that weight in the first two weeks after labor. That was surprising to discover since my body didn't and doesn't look like it. My belly is still swollen (presumably from the c-section surgery) and I'm a slightly different shape all over. Even my feet are a little bigger. I know that I will need to work on strengthening my muscles once I feel up to it.

During pregnancy, my belly was particularly large. In fact, the doctor thought that I was measuring on the big side and was having a gigantic baby. I'm much shorter than my husband and she pointed at him saying, "you chose a very tall partner."

During our last sonogram, however, the doctor could better measure the baby and determined that the baby was progressing normally. Apparently I have a large uterus. (I have no idea what that means. It seemed to mean nothing, since everything went well.)

I've started to take some very slow walks with the bambino in the stroller. I look forward to the c-section pain being completely gone (it still comes and goes) and starting to take longer, more active walks. Maybe I'll return to doing yoga, too. I'd stopped with longer, regular walks and prenatal yoga at  about five and a half months because I was slightly dilated. The doctor put me on what she called "modified modified bed rest," which meant that I had to take it easy, but I didn't have to stay in bed or even at home.

For more on healthy weight loss after pregnancy, see the Mayo Clinic's page on the subject

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Book Resource: The Nursing Mother's Companion

A friend recommended the Nursing Mother's Companion after reading my recent post on breastfeeding.  It was generally quite helpful - very clear descriptions of various positions, possible issues regarding food, etc. The beginning focuses on preparing to have the baby and breastfeed, so you might consider reading it before giving birth.

I read it - perhaps ironically while breastfeeding - with a pen in hand and folded down some pages that I'll return to. While I've met with lactation specialists and completed a breastfeeding class, it is helpful to continue to learn and reinforce the information after having had more experience.

The book doesn't give much leeway for mothers who might opt out of nursing for various reasons, including medical challenges for the mother or child. While I'm committed to trying to breastfeeding because of the benefits, there are times when it might not be possible.

There are also some great resources on the book's website.

Thanks again to my friend for the recommendation. Posting on this blog and our Facebook group has been a great way to not only keep in touch, but to continue to learn from my amazing network and community of friends. Early motherhood can be really lonely (feeding every few hours, exhaustion, etc.), but reaching out, even electronically, makes it less so. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

To Equality and Love!

As the mother of a four-week-old, I'm woefully behind on current events. Of course, I couldn't miss the Supreme Court overturning DOMA

Here's to equality and love for all! I can only hope that we continue to make our country a better place for the next generation. And I promise to do what I can for my son and his peers. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Bilingual Gifts from il cocco di mamma

One of the many t-shirts available from il cocco di mamma

As I’ve been learning about raising a bilingual child and searching for related books and toys, friends pointed me to il cocco di mamma, an online boutique with books, tshirts, wooden blocks and other gift ideas in a number of different languages, including Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese and Greek. Of course, I’m smitten by everything in Italian.

The founder, Donna Bottari, was kind enough to share some thoughts with us. Read more about her story on the website. I was happy to discover that we both worked at NYU in Florence, although at different times. Small world, eh?

When did you begin the boutique?
The idea was born around the birth of my nephew Massimo. I wanted him to have the same bi-cultural upbringing and at the same time I wanted to gift  him the most unique gifts. The concept was born out of my love for languages, cultures, and children. I tend to bond with people who have had bi-cultural upbringings, there is an unspoken connection between us. 

How has your vision for the company changed (if it did) as your nephew got older?
The vision has mostly stayed the same. My products are for a certain consumer, a certain niche market, and I wanted to stay special that way. I want to add new tshirts and more toys (wooden), books and videos. I like to feature quality items because I believe it makes the gift extra special and a keepsake. 

Has your nephew (and other relatives) learned Italian or other languages?
My nephews and niece have learned some Italian. At the end of the day, I feel you have to be fully immersed to speak it fluently. However, they absolutely have the openness and sensitivity to the Italian culture and other cultures. My sister in law is fluent in Spanish and lived in Spain many years, so there is definitely a European influence in the household. SO between their home and my parents’ home, they have a deep appreciation and comfort with different languages and ways. I grew up differently than them. I consider myself to be near a native speaker as my parents were both born in Italy. I also have traveled to Italy every year since I was 5 years old and lived as well as studied there. I have a passion for the Italian culture and language but not only I traveled Spain extensively and currently learning the French language. 

Thanks, Donna!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

First Time Breastfeeding

The benefits of breastfeeding are undeniable, starting with protecting baby and mother from some illnesses. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for at least six months and then continued with solid foods up to age two and beyond. The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees.

Before giving birth, I imagined breastfeeding to be an idyllic and tender moment between mother and child (unlike these strange Victorian images.) I was convinced of the medical importance and beauty of it all. 

I wasn't prepared for how difficult it would be and I haven't even tried to breastfeed in public yet. It has taken the bambino and I some time to figure out how to breastfeed. And, even with the time and coaching from lactation specialists at the hospital, the Breastfeeding Center of D.C. and our pediatrician's office, we still have some trouble here and there. 

It has been hard to remember that we are both new to this process. He's new to eating and I'm new to feeding. Luckily, there is a lot of help out there (including very generous friends who have shared their stories.)

For more resources, I recommend the La Leche League International and the Breastfeeding Center of D.C.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day!

My husband and I have had many theoretical conversations about parenting, discipline, sleeping schedules, feeding schedules and more. And then our bambino was born three weeks ago and we had to learn quickly and reassess what was possible, impossible and reasonable.

I want to wish my husband the happiest of Father's Day, today on his first of many Father's Days. He's been an incredible partner during this hectic, exhausting, hormone-fueled period (which includes the pregnancy, birth, hospital stay, and the beginning of our time at home together. The books might not be clear about it, but this is a challenging period. More on that later; maybe.)

Our bambino is lucky to have him, as am I. Our son is calmed when he is held in his father's arms or placed to rest on his father's chest. He is soothed by his father's voice. I fall in love with my husband even more deeply when I watch him gaze at our son's wide open eyes, even late at night when they should theoretically be closed and his parents are exhausted.

To my husband - all day today and all year long!

Our two week old family

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Welcome Home!

We were happy to welcome our son over the Memorial Day weekend, three weeks before his due date. This peach-fuzzed nugget has stolen our hearts, sleepless nights and all. 

While we were mostly ready for his arrival, we've been busy with some final projects. We are particularly thankful to our parents for their help these past two weeks. Without them, well, I'm not sure how we would have been able to take care of our son, finish putting things together for him and still remained sane. 

Here is our bambino, a little over one week old, happily swaddled in a swaddle-shirt from friends. He's resting on a hand-sewn blanket by another friend and next to a furry gift from yet another friend. 
How lucky to be surrounded by love, near and far.