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My Whole30 Journey

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

You know what is really dumb? 

Having a baby in April and getting married in September.

Who does that shit?! Like who actually plans that???

I'd be totally lying to you if I said I did the Whole30 just to feel healthier. Psssssh, no. I wanted to lose this baby/college/chipotle/budlight pudge I had going on. I want to feel beautiful and confident on the day I marry my main man and after completing the Whole30, I really do feel amazing!

If you haven't heard of this craze, called the Whole30, it is basically a 30-day cleanse where you only eat healthy fats, proteins, fruits and vegetables. Their website has all the details and you can read about why they eliminate the foods they do in their book, It Starts With Food .

For me, the thought of giving up bread, cheese and sugar all at once was enough to make me curl up in a ball and die. When I was pregnant with Nora I would have a little snack of peanuts and chocolate chips erryday. And lots of waffles. GOSH, I love a waffle. But I knew the only way I was going to see the type of results I wanted was to cut it all out 100% and follow the Whole30 program to the T. Luckily, we started the program pretty soon after I had baby girl so I was already off the alcohol, and with breastfeeding, it was easy to stay off it for another 30 days. Otherwise, that would have been another really hard one for me to cut. I love winding down with a glass (or two or three) of wine at night.

I guess what I am trying to say is.. timing is EVERYTHING. And so is support. If you're looking to complete a Whole30, I suggest looking at your calendar and picking a time that isn't chalk full of weddings, BBQs, visitors and parties. Going out to eat while on the Whole30 isn't impossible but it is really hard to watch others indulge right in front of you. Unless you're a robot. So really take some time to plan it out. It was also really helpful that Josh and I we're both doing it together. We we're able to get rid of most of the bad stuff in the house and support each other when the cravings really hit.

^^^Egg muffins with Franks Hot Sauce
^^^Asian style ground pork with mushrooms, carrots and coconut aminos. Add fresh basil and cilantro with a spicy mayonnaise. Serve in a crunchy cabbage leaf!
^^^Fried eggs all day!!!!!
^^^My favorite breakfast to make: potato or sweet potato hash with sautéed onions, mushrooms and kale. Add bacon or sausage if you're looking for some more protein. Serve with fried egg and avocado.

Once you know when you want to start, it's time to prep for the grocery and your meals. The Whole30 website has great resources for your planning so I really suggest looking through those before you make a trip. One of the things that helped me the most when shopping was knowing all the different ways they slip sugar into foods. You can find many of the names they call it here so you know when checking labels.

Shopping was probably one of the more stressful parts of the whole process because it's more expensive buying everything organic and we ended up going to the store almost once a week. The up side was, we weren't going out to eat and drink like usual so we definitely saved money in that respect. My favorite places to find the best organic options we're Wegmans and MOM's Organic Market. 

^^^Breakfast tacos: turkey "taco shell", scrambled eggs, tomato and avocado
^^^Chicken salad cabbage wrap 
^^^Egg muffins
^^^I'm still obsessed with this salmon recipe and I tried beets for the first time! My fingers looked like I murdered someone but yum!

In terms of food, there were a few staples we always made or kept on hand. Each weekend we would meal prep by grilling lots of chicken and pork, make egg muffins for quick grab-and-go breakfasts (you can find the recipe for those here), boil eggs and grill or steam veggies. 

PS, did you know you can hard boil eggs by baking them in a muffin pan?! Genius I tell you!

We made salad dressings by just mixing olive oil & vinegar, and also made the Whole30 approved mayonnaise for some chicken salad and potato salad recipes. Beeteedubs, that Red, Hot & Blue copycat potato salad recipe is the BOMB dot com. You could also use the mayonnaise to make some of these yummy crab cakes! Old Bay does NOT have any sugar in it... hallelujah!!!

Since I was breastfeeding while doing the program, I made sure to keep a lot of nuts, fruit and Whole30 compliant Lara Bars on hand in case I needed a snack or didn't have time to cook something. Some of the bars have sugar in them so be sure to check the list for the ones that you can eat. 

We made sure to keep a lot of steam-in-the-bag veggies on hand for something quick and ground meats are perfect for quick stir fry meals. Cabbage was our favorite for crispy lettuce wraps with ground pork or beef. If you're looking for a soy sauce alternative to get a nice asian flavor, pick up some Coconut Aminos from your local organic store.. it's so yummy!

Also, don't forget fresh herbs can really help change it up when you've had scrambled eggs 9 mornings in a row. I loved tossing some basil in mine. And speaking of eggs... when in doubt, throw a fried egg on ANYTHING. One of my favorite meals we made was burgers with sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions, avocado, pickles and jalepeno. I usually really crave a slice of cheese (and a bun and ketchup and a brownie and ice cream) on top but with a fried egg I wasn't missing a thing! 

^^^Seared scallops may be my favorite

Instead of using butter, we used Ghee or Clarified butter that I found in the refrigerated organic section at Wegmans. Honestly, this stuff is delicious. It tastes sweeter than butter to me and works great for seafood dips and seasoning vegetables. 


There I am at 9 months pregnant. This was about four days before I had Nora and I was 209 pounds. That's right.. twooooo hundoooooooo. I can't believe I'm sharing that on the internet but you know what, FUCK IT, that body made and birthed a baby!!!!!!!! So I'm just gonna go with it!!!!!!!!


I took this on Nora's second day out of the womb. It's hard to tell with her strapped to my body, but I was still rocking a significant "after birth belly" and my face was a bit swollen.


I took this drunken selfie last week. YAY for date night! And pouffie ass hair!!! How do you spell poofy??? Google is not helping me.

I lost 10 pounds and 12 inches while doing the Whole30. Couple that with all the breastfeeding, I was able to lose all 45 pounds since having Nora.

I truly did feel a difference when I changed the food I was eating. I rarely needed to drink coffee because I felt so energized, even while waking up several times to feed Nora in the middle of the night. Cooking so often became second nature and I'm happy to report that I can turn down a dessert and not cry about it. My face and arms thinned out in the first week of cutting sugar. My skin also looked better than ever.

For me, the Whole30 helped me lose the weight I wanted to but it also helped me take control of my sugar consumption. It really is ridiculous when you start reading labels and see that sugar is added in to everything.
Thanks America, you fatso.

Losing weight is hard and making huge changes like this to your diet can be really tough if you don't have the support around you, so a big thank you to everyone who was with us on this health journey. Thanks for not teasing me with beers too many times and a big thanks to Hadley for not sharing her ice cream cone with me. I appreciate it girl!!!!! The only time I'll allow you to hog it all to yourself!

If you want to chat about the Whole30 feel free to comment here or email me at foreverfireflying AT gmail DOT com. I love to gab about this kind of stuff!

I also have a board on Pinterest dedicated to Whole30 if you are looking for some recipe inspiration.

Here's to feeling good in our swim suits and still enjoying an ice cream cone! Because really, life ain't worth livin' without some chocolate and alcohol every once in a while. Or every weekend. Or right now, BYE.

Our nursing story

Monday, June 22, 2015

Heyro lovebugs :) 
Before we get in to a seriously in-depth conversation about das boobies, I'd like to send a belated Happy Father's Day to all the amazing papas out there!! Especially you Josh, we love you so much and seeing you with our gals makes me the happiest mama in the whole world.

Here's a few pictures from our day yesterday...


**********
Before I continue, I'd like to make it very clear that I am in NO WAY a doctor or a nurse or a lactation consultant or an expert on breastfeeding. All of this blabber below is just my personal account and our experiences. I hope our story will help you in some way, whether emotionally or physically, with your breastfeeding journey but ALWAYS talk to your doctor or a medical professional for medical advice. 
********** 

Now for the good stuff.

BOOBS.....

.......that produce milk and keep your baby alive.

ISN'T THAT NUTS?! LIKE COOL AND CRAZY NUTS?!

I've been wanting to post about my experiences with breastfeeding Hadley, and now Nora, for a while and am excited to share the ups and serious downs we've had. When I was preparing to have Hadley I was so curious about what other women we're going through in regards to nursing their children, so I hope this post will provide some comfort and maybe even some tips that you haven't heard of before :)

So, what can you expect while reading this? Well, for one, there will be no photos of my ginormous tits because it would probably scar you for life. And I'm pretty sure my dad reads my blog. You're welcome, dad. 
I will use phrases like "cracked nipples" and "engorged breasts" so if you feel weird about that you may want to bow out now. 
I'm also going to make this real interesting by trying to think of all the different ways to say the word BOOBIES so lets see how weird this gets.


When I was pregnant with Hadley I was pretty much in the dark about breastfeeding. None of my friends we're pregnant or had babies. Neither did my sister or my cousins. So I turned where most do.. the internet. I began reading some other blogs and some of them briefly talked about the difficulties they had with nursing their babies, so I tried to keep an open mind. I knew I wanted to breastfeed but I also didn't want it to feel like the end of the world if, for some reason, it didn't work out. 

Luckily, once Hadley was born I had very little trouble producing milk (I have the opposite problem usually.. too much!) and Hadley was able to latch on right after birth. That girl came out sucking and I later learned that was not great news for my nipples. YOUCHIES.

The first two weeks after birth were difficult and painful with both Hadley and Nora. My mammies became SUPER engorged (AKA swollen) once the milk came in. I read it's common for the breast tissue to also swell after use of epidural and other drugs during labor, which is one reason many people choose the natural route. We had trouble getting the correct latch with both Hadley and Nora so my nipples cracked and bled in the first couple of days. Couple all of this with not getting enough sleep and you get a serious mommy meltdown.

Having a baby is hard you guys. Being the only one responsible for feeding her felt even harder to me. You should be able to produce enough milk, you should be able to latch them on correctly, you should be able to provide the nutrients they need to grow and build their immune systems, you should know the different positions, know when to pump, know when not to pump, know what to eat and what not to eat, don't confuse your nipples with pacifiers and bottles and blah blah blah, MY GOD. It's a lot! And it can be really stressful.

I've heard from some women who have absolutely no trouble latching their babies from the get-go and have never suffered a plugged duct in their life, and I always envied them. But after lots of reading, meeting with a lactation consultant and just some good-ole breastfeeding soul searching.. I've learned what works for us.

As the months went on with Hadley, things continued to get harder for us. I experienced more plugged ducts than I can count, 2 bouts of mastitis (infected breast tissue) and a yeast infection on both jugs. By 5 months, I tapped out. I couldn't do it anymore and I was embarrassed whenever anyone asked if I was still breastfeeding her. I felt like a huge failure.

We bottle-fed her the rest of the frozen breastmilk we had stored up and supplemented with formula until she turned one. She had some sensitivities to regular formula (like projectile vomiting sensitivities) so we had to experiment a lot until we found one that worked. We we're worried she might have food allergies since she had so much trouble with the formula but here we are, over a year later, and she has zero allergies to speak of. She's a healthy gal, and really, that's all that matters.


When we found out we we're pregnant with Nora, I knew I wanted to take some extra steps to prepare for breastfeeding her. I really wanted it to be a more positive experience so one day I could look back and remember enjoying such a special bond with my babies instead of just all the crying I did trying to pump the clogged milk out of my boobs.

I purchased The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by the La Leche League to read before she was born and as soon as she was here, we had a lactation consultant come help us out at the first sign of trouble. 

I had the same issues as before... engorged knockers and cracked nipples. But this time, I was determined to be proactive about getting these titties right. I read about home remedies for engorged breasts and tried the cabbage method. After applying cold cabbage leaves to my ginormous boobs (I have a picture of this but, really, I have to draw the line somewhere), the breast tissue swelling did go down and I was able to pump out much of the stopped up milk. Talk about SWEET relief. If you don't have cabbage leaves lying around (I sent Josh to get some at 5am, true story, thanks hunni!!!!!) then use a regular cold compress to try to reduce swelling. Hot compresses can help get your milk flowing as well but I've read that too much heat for too long can tell your body to make more milk so tread carefully!

On Nora's 3rd day out in the big ole world, I switched to exclusive pumping so that I could try to heal my poor nipples and soften my ta-tas for easier latching. Even making that decision to bottle feed her that early on was hard for me because there are SO many things out there telling you what to do and what not to do. In the end, all that matters is what works for you and your baby.

 I only had to exclusively pump for a few days (thank god because pumping and cleaning all those parts that many times a day is not fun) before we we're able to see the lactation consultant and get her back on the fun bag. Even after bottle feeding and giving her pacifiers, Nora has done really well latching back on the breast so don't let all those haters scare you! You do you!!!!

We requested an at-home appointment through the Breastfeeding Center in Washington, DC and they we're able to get someone out to us within 48 hours. She was a former labor and delivery nurse who was pregnant with her 2nd child and I wanted to cry tears of joy the second I saw her. She helped Nora and I perfect our latch and showed us a couple of different positions to try. She showed me how to feed her laying back so there wouldn't be so much strain on my back and assured me she could still breathe even while her face was completely smushed into my swollen melons. Did you know newborns have smushed noses just for this purpose? HOW COOL IS THAT?

She also suggested a few other helpful things.. I had a rash on my hooters when she was visiting that she said was from the disposable breast pads I was using. She said to apply some hydrocortisone cream to the skin and switch to cloth breast pads. The rash cleared up in a few days and I love these washable nursing pads by Bamboobies. I also used to use Lansinoh lanolin nipple cream for my cracked nipples but I didn't like how thick it was when I had to use it so frequently. Our consultant suggested using coconut oil instead and it worked like a dream. Plus, it smells so good!

Once we had seen the lactation consultant, I felt much more confidant when nursing Nora and working through issues if they cropped up again. I did have to see my OB/GYN about another bout of mastitis. When I suffered the infection with Hadley, I was visiting friends in New York City and didn't even know what mastitis was. I had a 102 degree fever for a few days and felt like I wanted to die. My breast was tender to the touch and had a large red spot on it. I kept trying to pump out what felt like a clog but did not feel any relief. It finally went away on it's own and I thought that was the end of it. I had no idea I needed antibiotics from my doctor!!!! When I felt the same symptoms this time with Nora, I went straight to the doc. The antibiotics cleared it up quickly and I haven't felt that kind of pain since. 

If you do suffer plugged ducts often like I do (which can lead to an infection), I suggest a really hot shower to try and break things up. I heat the affected area under the faucet and then try to hand express the milk out while still in the shower. Check your nipple for any white spots (dried milk clogging your ducts) and if you find one, peel it off to release the milk. If you're having trouble expressing milk, lean over and let gravity help you out a little. Nurse or pump immediately afterwards to drain your gazonga. I also read about nursing on all fours while your baby lays under you on their back. This will help drain all areas of the breast. You'll feel completely ridiculous doing it but I swear it helped us!

When it comes to nursing in public, I've become much more bold with Nora than I was with Hadley. I used to really worry about people seeing my ginormous watermelon of a boob so I'd either try to hide under a nursing cover or I would bring bottles and just pump later. For one, I fuggin' hate a nursing cover. I tried to use it again with Nora and threw that thing away shortly after. It's impossible to see what you're doing down there and it just kept getting in the way, getting us both frustrated. And nothing is worse than being in a restaurant, half exposed with a screaming, starving baby fighting against your titty. It is just the worst.

I found that wearing a nursing tank with a loose shirt over top is our best bet. I can easily pull up the shirt and either put it over her head to completely cover us or just cover my breast a bit while she feeds. Button downs are also super convenient and kimonos are perfect for throwing across your shoulder for more privacy.

I also attribute feeding Hadley so many bottles while out in public instead of just nursing her to many of my plugged ducts. So instead of worrying about other people and causing myself physical pain.. I just pull out my boob ALL the time. And it feels GREAT. Many places are now providing private rooms for breastfeeding, which is awesome! There's an app you can get called Moms Pump Here which will pull up the closest private locations for pumping or breastfeeding based on your location on GPS. You can also rate and read reviews of these spaces by other moms in terms of how comfortable and accessible they are. GENIUS.

And my last piece of breastfeeding advice? If you haven't mastered the laydown position for late night feedings it is a GAME CHANGER. 

^^^Breast shields double as great megaphones

When it comes to pumping, I've used the Medela Pump in Style since we had Hadley. Honestly, I wanted to burn it after I was done nursing her. The thought of strapping that contraption back on my chest was enough to make me sob. I still use it for when we're traveling but I really prefer the Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump while at home. It's so much easier to pump a few ounces here and there versus having to plug everything in with the in style. Hand-pumping definitely isn't for everyone, especially those who do big pumping sessions frequently while away from their baby, but I recommend trying it if you loathe that machine as much as I do.

For those of you who are exclusively pumping or pumping at work, I also found this handsfree bra to be much more convenient than the Medela zoro mask . It's nice because it converts into a regular bra so you don't have to change throughout the day. As for nursing bras and tanks, I LOVE the Bravado body silk nursing bra and their tank . The material is so soft and it's so comfortable I could sleep in it (and often do). The tank has clasps that are a little difficult to figure out at first but easy to do one-handed once you get the hang of it. For sleeping, I often use comfortable tanks I found at Target or these Lamaze cotton spandex bras .

If you are exclusively pumping or looking for a great app to track your milk production, I think the Milk Maid app offers the best features. You can track how much milk you've pumped, where it is being stored, set pumping reminders and alerts, track how much your baby has consumed and see statistics. If you're looking for an app to help track your baby's breastfeeding schedule, I like Baby Connect for all our baby tracking needs. You can see my whole post on our favorite pregnancy and baby apps here.


WHEWWWWW, HOLY HELL that is a lot of info!!!!
I hope this was comforting and helpful for you mamas out there who are working so hard to keep your babies fed and healthy. Whether you are breastfeeding, exclusively pumping, supplementing or exclusively using formula, just know you are the only one who knows what is best for you and your baby and we all just gotta do the best we can!

In the end, they all end up pooping in our tubs, throwing tantrums and loving us just the same :)


PS - there's a song about 99 ways to say boobs. Who knew?!
PPS - thank you, Urban Dictionary, for supplementing my boob synonyms. I forgot how wonderful it is to call them "fun bags".

Summertime Vibes

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Hey party people :)

I apologize for my internet absence these days.. things have been absolutely NUTZO BUSY around here and it looks like they won't be slowing down until after we tie the knot in September! HOLY HANNAH, someone help me! I've officially started to have nightmares about forgetting things for the wedding. Hashtag stressed, yo. But things are moving along.. we've got the bridesmaid dresses all set, my wedding dress ordered and our invitations in the works. I'll share some sneak peaks throughout the summer before the big day!

Since Hadley's birthday party, we had my aunt and her son stay with us for a few days and I think Hadley was SUPER pumped about having a fellow playmate. They we're so cute together and hanging with him always makes me want a little boy for our family. But it's WAY too soon to be thinking about that nonsense!!!!! One newborn is enough!!!!! Be quiet ovaries, you fertile ass myrtles!!!!!

We took the whole rowdy gang to the zoo one day, had a BBQ at our house for the neighborhood and got some yummy eats at Agua 301 and Ice Cream Jubilee down at the Yards Park.

^^^These two twins! King & Queen of the zoo mountain, look out!
 
^^^She didn't want to share her ice cream with us!! The seasonal blueberry flavor is SOOOOO good!

Little Nora girl is getting so alert and smiley these days, I love it. She always flashes us some good ones when we wake up in the morning and has been such a chill baby for us during all these parties and BBQs. Put that girl outside in someone's arms and she is zonked all day.

Hadley, on the other hand, has been like EFF YOU GUYS anytime we try to get her to sleep. She used to go to bed at 8pm and it wasn't always a battle. Lately she's been staying up until 11pm and we have to lay with her for a while until she'll finally pass out. It hasn't been fun but it has led to lots of great pictures of her passed out during the day.

 
 
^^^What is more Summery than an American tank and munchin' on watermelon?!

In honor of all these Summery days, I put together a little round up of some cute swim suits for the littles.

pink park print suit  ||  violet flutter one piece  ||  lime seahorse suit
white palm tree one piece  ||  pink pattern two piece
toddler panama hat

I can't get over how adorable that panama hat is. I might have to get matching ones for all of us! Also, for you mamas with little tykes, I love these fish trunks.

I hope you all have been enjoying June and the beginning of a glorious Summer.
Here's to sipping a cold one out back with the barbeque grill fired up, a smiley baby on your lap and a sunkissed gal running around half naked munchin' on watermelon.

Cheers,



Other photo sources:
June Hudson
Marie Beatty

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