One Year Post-Partum: What I Wish I’d Known

Our Lady Jr will be turning one next week(!!). So of course I’m thinking a lot about the last year. I have a lot to say and I’ll try to spread it out over several coherent posts.

This time last year I was 100% done being pregnant and convinced I’d be pregnant forever. I knew I’d be a week late, but thankfully I’d been prepared for labor to start since about 36 weeks. So when I actually went into labor on my due date, I was prepared.

…well, ish. Can anyone really be prepared for labor? For kids? That’s at least one thing I did right in those final weeks: to have no expectations. But even attempting to avoid expectations, you have expectations.

I realize now that I’d expected to have a long, late labor, that I’d have a difficult baby (in one way or another), that I’d be exhausted all the time, that I’d go for short walks, that I’d just sit around most of the time in the first few weeks, that I’d also be able to do things like go grocery shopping right away, that I’d have PPD, that I’d be back to my regular lifting/running by six weeks, that I’d be able to keep life-ing like usual, just minus the dayjob.

Oof. Yeah, not so much. So let’s just go with what I wish I’d known:

1) There’s a reason why a lot of ladies fear fast labors, and it’s not just because of the distance to the hospital. While I appreciated the shortened window of pain, the speed of it terrified me and gave me no time to absorb the fact that I was legit having a baby before the baby was had. I’m still grappling with some what-ifs from that time, TBH.

2) Putting any pressure on your bits post labor, including (especially) sitting, is painful AF. Leaning forward, getting up from sitting, basically any sort of movement was a lesson in pain and physics for about 2 weeks. I should’ve started using witch hazel and frozen pads sooner, but for some reason I just didn’t think about it.

3) PP recovery is no joke & just because I had a short labor, I wasn’t magically spared. I went to the grocery store 4 days post labor and nearly fainted. When they say take it easy, they legit mean stay in bed as long as possible. Do not do the dishes. Do not do the laundry. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

4) Colic =/ difficult baby. I wish I had known this sooner so that I would’ve sought more solutions instead of just accepting It Is What It Is. Beause…

5) Dairy intolerance does not necessarily mean lactose intolerance. It can mean casein, which means that even yogurt and hard cheese can be problematic. I didn’t realize this, so I avoided lactose, but still ate hard cheeses etc. It wasn’t until I cut out dairy 100% that Lady Jr stopped screaming and started sleeping longer, quite literally over the span of 24 hours.

6) Bouncers/rock n plays are lifesavers for colicky babies.

7) Sleep begets sleep and that’s true for mommy, too. I had a very hard time sleeping those first few months, even when given the time to sleep.

8) I’m running and lifting again now, but it took a good six, seven months before I was able to do anything like I used to. This is normal.

9) Honestly, I should’ve just expected to chill and try to sleep whenever I could for the first six months. After that, life began to get a bit easier.

10) It gets better. Don’t listen to those blog posts from moms with teens who’re telling new moms it doesn’t get easier. They’re assholes. You will sleep again. You won’t always cry from exhaustion when your baby smiles at you. They either had charming little sleeping newborns or they don’t remember what it’s like to have a 102 degree fever and be dragging yourself from room to room so you can pump for your 3 month old in daycare who was up all last night (and will be up all that night) only to have to stop and puke for the third time because you can’t keep liquids down and then have to spend all weekend caring for that 3 month old who is not happy because they can sense you’re not happy and you haven’t eaten or slept in 3 days… yeah.

11) Sleep is so incredibly important. I wish I’d been kinder to myself when I was so sleep-deprived.

12) The lows are really fucking low but the HIGHS are incredibly high.

13) It is 100% worth it.

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Diary of a Strong Mom: Fighter Class

I’ve been taking punching class for two months now and I can tell something’s improving. It might be my stance, it might be my pivot – it certainly ain’t my kick – but I’m getting through the initial Wow, I Suck At This into a more nuanced, Yes, I Suck At This But I’m Learning And It’s Okay.

Those first few weeks were rough, though. No, scratch that. The second few weeks. The first few, I could still rely on the newness of it all, jokingly add that I’ve only been to one or two classes. Now I’ve been to more than a dozen and I hit that wall of feeling like I should be at least good at some part of this already.

Learning new things is rough, especially when you’ve gotten really good at other things. I keep wanting to point at my running or my lifting and be like: look! I’m not bad at these. But those have nothing to do with this. I’m comfortable with those, I know the moves, I’ve even taught some of my friends how to lift. But every aspect of punching class is new and uncomfortable and trying to remember 6 different things at once while also getting up real close to a bunch of sweaty men.

Recently I was in class and failing (spectacularly) again at some key movement and all I wanted to do was throw in the towel and leave. I dreamed of joining a Crossfit box and getting back into doing something I knew well. Of feeling confident in myself again and, even – sometimes – being at the top of the class.

Thankfully I signed up for six months of classes, so giving up simply wasn’t an option. Well, not without feeling like I’d just wasted a bunch of money. So I stayed and then I came back and I came back again.

And then one day the teacher told me I’d improved a lot since August. As an aside, he mentioned that there were one or two things I could change in my stance, but he didn’t want to overwhelm me with the details and I should go home feeling proud of my progress.

I stopped him and told him no. I didn’t want to go home feeling proud. I wanted to go home knowing I was bad at this, but that there was something I could improve. He nodded, and then proceeded to show me those two things, and they made a difference, but I’m still not any good at it.

Then I realized: that’s okay. I need to stop fighting the discomfort and embrace it. I need to stop trying to prove I’m good at something I’ve only been doing for a few weeks. I need to listen and watch and ask all the questions and practice and get better and then, and only then, will I be able to kick ass.

At that point I also stopped pining after my Crossfit days. I’m not pure Warrior class anymore. Now I’m taking a level in Fighter. And I’m finally enjoying the process.

But one thing I’ve learned from this so far: I am really not good at being bad.

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11 Months!

We’re officially transitioning to sitting up photos! I realized I should have started this sooner, since at 10 months I had a hard time keeping her from rolling away. Now she cries whenever we lay her on her back (unless she’s distracted as such).

Holy cow, we’ve almost got a one year old and it shows!

What’s new:

MORE TEEF. One has broken through on the bottom making a neat line of three. We suspect there’s another tooth coming on top. I hope this means she’ll be able to chomp on apples and other fruits soon.

FAST. She can now crawl from one room to the next if you turn your back for a second. The cats are wising up, but sometimes they’re still surprised. She’s army crawling ATM, but I’ve seen her rock onto her knees. She just hasn’t figured out how to turn that into forward momentum.

Sits and plays. We’ve got this box of blocks that she’s recently discovered and she’ll just sit there, taking blocks out and putting them back in, or putting them on top of the box, for quite a long while. It’s freaking adorable and her concentration is intense.

More and more varied sounds. I swear she’s said “maaaaaaa” and meant it. I’ve heard “k” a few times around the kitties, too. No obvious words yet, but it’s no longer just “dadadad” or “mwa!” We’re getting an assortment that sounds like her own little language more and more.

Bath time!! We finally caved and got a little bathtub that we put out in the living room for bath time. We used to just wipe her down but she started getting upset at us and wiggling away. We tried putting her in our bathtub, but it scared her. we tried holding her in the shower, and she was kinda okay, but it was difficult for us to hold an increasingly heavy, wiggly baby. But now she has her own tub and she friggin loves it. It’s so good.

Games! She’ll grab tissues/shower curtains/random pieces of fabric and play peekaboo with us. She likes to drop her ducky outside of the bath so that we can then make it pop over the side somewhere unexpected. She’s tried to do this with food, but I give her no reaction and I’ve noticed that she’s doing it less and less.

Favorite foods are still proteins. Eggs, chicken, ham, etc. She really friggin loves bread, though, and whines if you don’t give her any.

Sleep is unchanged. Sometimes she’ll sleep through the night. Sometimes she’ll wake at 3 or 4am. She’s been sick these past two weeks with first a fever then an ear infection, and now there’re the teeth coming through, so we expect that’s why. She still goes to bed easy peasy and her 2 naps a day are awesome. I am thankful every time she goes to sleep without a fuss because I remember how hard it was, and I know we still have sleep regressions to come.

– She’s started crawling into my lap when she’s upset, which is both adorable and sad.

Basically, she’s more and more fun every day. We crawl together and play with blocks and read. Usually I just let her do her thing. She’s enjoying the stroller more often than not, so we’ve been taking advantage of the gorgeous autumn weather and going for more walks. She’s stopped crying when we drop her off at daycare and seems to be having fun with the other babies.

While she hasn’t yet pulled up, she’s started pulling on various things, so that’s on the way. Man, she only just learned to crawl and I can see her walking by the end of the year. We’ll need to get her little snow boots. Omg.

As for me, I almost feel like my old self. I’ve also accepted that my body will never quite be the same, so for my birthday I got some new clothes in a bigger size. My hips are just going to be bigger than they were, and that’s all right. Unfortunately, that also means a lot of my skirts don’t fit right anymore. So my goal for the next year is to replace any that make me feel less than fab with new ones that fit. Life is too short to shove yourself into too-small clothes.

My supply is even more abysmal than before. I suspect it’s because of my increased activity and decreased carb intake. I’ve decided to stop pumping next week and just see what happens. When it takes 60min a day to get 3oz, it just doesn’t seem worth it. And we’re already supplementing with formula on the weekends, so it won’t be that big of a change.

As for work, day job has been more stressful than usual with clients being slow/petty and projects backing up. Writing, however, seems to be going fine. I got edits back from my editor on books one and two and I don’t have to set everything on fire and start again, so that’s always a plus. If anything, the edits are way less substantial than I’d feared/expected and we’re on track to get book one done and out the proverbial door by February. Of course, it’ll still be a full ‘nother year until publication, but. Well. Publishing is slow, man.

Okay you made it through all of that have some more baby pics. ❤

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The Next Room at Daycare

I’m a bit feverish, so it’s time to write an update!

Lady Jr started in the Infants 2 room at daycare this week. They move babies in there when they reach a certain level of mobility and there they stay until they’re two. It’s a small thing, but it’s made me realize our little baby is fast on her way to becoming a little toddler.

She got to eat big kid food, which is awesome because now we don’t have to send lunch every day. She also seemed a lot happier when she got home – it seems like she’s starting to actually play with other babies. And I’m sure now that the cacophony of crying newborns is gone, that helps too.

It’s only been two days of course, but they spent most of August transitioning her and even before that she’d been going over at the end of the day when all the infants had been picked up (we seem to be the only ones with a 9-6 schedule).

But it’s just another reminder that October is coming.

august-123

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Diary of a Strong Mom: 3.1 miles in (less than) 31 minutes

30 minutes, 24 seconds, to be exact.

I think I could have gone faster. I started out stiff – we arrived with 10min to spare, so I didn’t have much time to stretch or warm up. I just went and did it. So the first mile was basically my warm up, the second was what I should have been running my first mile, and the third was painful and fast.

But it wasn’t as awful as I had feared and I managed to stay relatively consistent throughout. I wish I could have broken 30min, but I’m happy to have a new PR regardless.

Plus, every time I start to think that I should’ve gone faster, pushed harder, done better, I need to remember how far I’ve come. This time last year, I couldn’t even walk a mile, let alone run three. Six months ago, I was just starting to run two miles again. In the meantime, I’ve only been able to run 2 or 3 times a week. I still weigh 10lb+ over my pre-pregnancy weight.

My fastest 5k before this was 31-ish min, and that was back when I was 20lb lighter and doing crossfit. Before that, it was 32-ish min in high school.

I’m 30 going on 31 and I broke a PR I had from high school. I should probably just let myself be proud of that for a second.

Where do we go from here? Well, I want to break that 30min barrier, of course. That shouldn’t take much, but it’s a nice goal for the next two months.

I also need to figure out a way to fit lifting back into my life. Squats and other strength exercises will help me towards this goal. I just need to find a routine where they fit. And on top of that, I want to keep going to the MMA/punching class. I’m really loving learning how to fight.

One of Dr Lady’s labmates said the sweetest thing when she told him I was learning MMA: “She’s already scary enough.”

Yes, that is indeed my ultimate goal.

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30 going on 31

My birthday is just under a week away. I don’t have any plans aside from the 5k tomorrow and that’s all right. When I think about what I want to do, I just want to spend time with my family, get some writing done, maybe make a delicious meal together. That’s where I am these days, that’s where 30 has brought me.

A lot of older millennials have had a difficult time accepting adulthood. Even me. Especially me. I think a lot of us look around at all the responsibilities heaped on our plates and wonder who trusted us? I don’t know why or how this happened, but we seem to have a collective impostor syndrome, somehow believe that there are other, more responsible people out there. Actual adults who are more adulty. But no, this is it. Adult isn’t a mindset or a particular set of skills. It’s just an age where people expect you to deal with your own shit.

All that is to say that I’ve been slowly accepting adulthood over the last few years, but 30 shoved me over the edge. People call me “mom” now. I joined an informal online writing group and the people there spontaneously started calling me mama Speck. There are a lot of people I’ve met who didn’t know me before Lady Jr. And it’s… weird? But also kinda freeing.

30 was cataclysmic. A vast and massive upheaval. I didn’t mean to pack so many life changes into one year, but apparently when I do, I go all out. But I had wanted it. I had asked for it. I was getting bored and tired and learning that one of my Big Fears was just going through life, doing the same thing day after day. When Dr Lady and I initially left FL to move to WA, I warned her that I’d probably want to move again every few years. And while that has changed – I long to stay in one place and establish a community now – I still crave the change itself.

And 30 gave me more than enough to last a decade.

Let’s see, last year I:
– Moved from AZ to MI (technically I was still 29, but the change affected all of 30)
– Bought a house
– Gave birth
– Signed a 3 book contract
– Moved from an office to working at home
– Experienced the deepest, darkest depths of sleep deprivation
– Wrote a book

Plus my wife changed jobs and there was all the fun of adapting to the constantly changing needs of an infant now a baby now an almost-toddler while juggling my own career(s).

30 saw both my highest highs (book deal!! baby!! lifelong dreams coming true!!!) and my lowest lows (severe anxiety from sleep dep, sobbing because I couldn’t appreciate baby’s smiles, loneliness, and the stomach virus that I had to ignore to keep taking care of the baby).

It was intense. And I’m ready for it to be over, ready to move on to 31 and beyond. And, y’know, maybe have a year or two that’s a bit more boring. I think I can handle that. 🙂

(I’ll write more about my wishes for 31 next week.)

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Charlottesville

I’ve been having a difficult time grappling with what happened last weekend not because it happened – we knew this would happen, it was a when, not an if – but because our president failed the single easiest moral test: condemning Nazis.

Instead, I keep stumbling over the fact that there are human beings in this country who can look at a sea of white men carrying tiki torches and chanting white supremacist slogans, can hear those same white supremacists calling for ethnic cleansing, and still say “both sides are bad.”

I’m not surprised that there are Nazis in our country. They’ve always been here, a stain allowed by our facade of tolerance – a tolerance that only seems to be touted for white people, btw. I am surprised by the sympathizers. The people who say “but both sides…”

This is going to get worse. I don’t know what to do aside from stand up and shout. Vote, obviously. But I’ve been doing that for a long time. But talking needs to happen, too.

I skyped with my mom last Monday and although every thought I had was surrounded by Charlottesville, we didn’t touch on it until the end. And that was when my mom asked, “where did these people come from?” And I was flabbergasted. Because they’ve been here, they’ve always been here. They shoot up theaters and mosques and night clubs. They murder trans people and stab women who turn them down. They shoot black children holding skittles.

I keep reading people saying “this is not US.” But it IS US. These people are us. These people are American. This hate is woven deep within our society. We can’t let it be buried again. We have to confront it. We have to drag it out and have these conversations that hurt. Because yes, there are Nazis and yes, there are white supremacists, but they are an extreme. What leads to that extreme is everywhere around us – our words, our biases, our system.

It’s fun to punch Nazis. It’s a whole lot more difficult to talk to your uncle about racism. But it’s a conversation we all need to have.

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