Parenting

Life Lately: Childbirth & Sleep Deprivation

I’ve been on a bit of a writing hiatus since the birth of my second child, but I’m slowly starting to get into a routine and write more. I have two new FE Media parenting posts to share with you. Click the photos to read, and I hope you enjoy them. Thanks for reading and I hope to be back writing more soon.

Healing After Traumatic Childbirth: 7 Keys to a Better Birth Experience

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6 Strategies to Survive Sleep Deprivation that Don’t Include Sleep When the Baby Sleeps

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My newborn and I about two weeks after birth, bleary-eyed with sleep deprivation but happy and thankful!

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Two New FE Media Blog Posts

I haven’t been writing as much with the preparation for the birth of my second child, but I do have two new parenting blog posts I wrote for FE Media to share with you. Please click the photos to read. I hope you enjoy them, and thanks for reading!

Our Second Act: What I Currently Have in Common with the Duchess of Cambridge

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19 Survival Tips for the Last Month of Pregnancy

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7 Things to Do for Yourself as a Mom (Plus 1 Bonus)

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and weekend. My latest post at the parenting blog I write for FE Media is called “7 Things to Do for Yourself as a Mom.” Click the photo to read.

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At the end of the post I mention that my list is “by no means complete.” Another self-care activity I enjoy is writing in my journal. I like to free write. I set a timer for 15 minutes and write by hand with the goal of not stopping my pen. I write as fast as I can, whatever comes into my mind.

Recently I learned a new journaling technique I want to share with you. I first heard of it from Monica Cost, a corporate consultant, author of the parenting blog Mom-wise at FE Media, and author of the book The Things I Used to do to Sneeze!: How to Live an Authentic Life with Awesome Emotional Sensations

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The process works like this: every night before I go to sleep, I write down three things:

1. Something that went well

2. Something I want to accomplish tomorrow

3. Something I’m looking forward to in the future

For example, here’s the list I made the night of November 22:

1. Something that went well: turned in my mom blog post 2 days early

2. Something I want to accomplish tomorrow: write draft of blog post

3. Something I’m looking forward to in the future: watching NFL football

Review your list in the morning. I’ve found since I started doing this, I’m looking for the positives in my day instead of dwelling on negative things that inevitably happen. I’m also accomplishing more. When I write down one thing I want to do that day, and then get it done, I receive an endorphin rush and this usually leads to getting a few more things finished. The third benefit I’ve seen is once the event I’m looking forward to in the future arrives, I’m able to slow down and be present in that moment I’ve been anticipating rather than it flying by in a rush.

If you try this technique, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I’d also love to know what you do to relax and recharge, especially during this busy holiday season.

I’m Writing for Moxie Lady!

I’m thrilled to be a contributor for Moxie Lady, a website dedicated to improving women’s lives. For my first article, “Work-at-Home Mom? 5 style tips, starting with ditching the jammies,” image consultant and wardrobe stylist Kristen Kaleal shares her advice to be a stylish WAHM (her tips apply to any woman working from home). Kristen and I discussed the concept of having a uniform other than your pajamas, which frees up mental energy for more important tasks. Our discussion got me to think about my own “uniform,” which consists of:

  • Jeans (jean shorts in summer)
  • T-shirt (or tank top in summer, and I tend to wear plain or sports tees)
  • Nike trail runners (in one of my favorite colors, turquoise)
  • Under Armour ankle socks (these are the best socks EVER!)
  • I pile my hair on top of my head with a coordinating color claw clip, and wear an elastic headband (these ones from Adidas are my favorite right now)
  • Small stud earrings, usually rhinestone
  • A bracelet or cuff, which I use to keep track of which side to nurse my son

Click the photo to read the article for all the tips and feel free to share your own work-from-home uniform and/or fashion advice in the comments. ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Why Blogs are Like Tattoos

For writers, blogs are like tattoos: once you get one you have to have more. I started The Chipper Writer almost four years ago, and two months later joined the lovely ladies at the Cleveland Browns blog Bitter Orange & Brown. Earlier this year I received an invitation from Judith Manigault, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Lingk2us Magazine, to blog for FE Media’s collection of parenting blogs called The Mom (and Dad!) Collective. My blog is called The FTM Chronicles: First-Time-Mom Alanna Klapp’s journey into motherhood and beyond. I hope you’ll stop by and visit and say hello. I’ve written three posts so far (links below), and the fourth post (called “The Preposterous Postpartum Baby Bump Presumption”) is slated for publication on December first. Thanks for reading and have a blessed Thanksgiving!

10 Surprising Things I Loved & Loathed About Pregnancy

I’m about two months postpartum as I write this, and lately have found myself reflecting on my pregnancy (not to be confused for missing pregnancy). While I carried my son, I had a lot of friends who told me they hated being pregnant, and I heard from a few who said they loved it. I’m somewhere in the middle. There were definitely parts of pregnancy that made me miserable. Before I got pregnant I thought I’d hate it. But I was pleasantly surprised by all the things I loved and enjoyed about being pregnant. Love or loathe, I found them all to be surprises, since I knew pretty much zilch about pregnancy and babies until that fateful day when the word “Pregnant” appeared (twice) on the digital Clear Blue Easy.

LOVED

 

1. Even thicker, shiny hair. Pregnancy hormones and Rainbow Lite prenatal vitamins are not a joke. I didn’t think it was possible for my thick hair to get any thicker, but it did, and it was as shiny as Rudolph’s nose. Now I’m dealing with postpartum hair loss, but (surprisingly) this hasn’t been as horrible as I anticipated.

2. Baby movement. On my most achy, swollen and exhausted days, I forgot my ailments when my son moved or kicked.

3.  My acne cleared up. Since the age of 11 I’ve dealt with acne. In 23 years only Proactiv and pregnancy have cleared it up. My skin never looked as radiant as it did during pregnancy. I hoped the hormones would permanently banish the zits, but no such luck. Back to the Proactiv.

4. Strong nails. I attribute this to the prenatal vitamins, and what a treat for a girl with constantly breaking and peeling nails. Happily this has continued postpartum (which is why I think it’s the vitamins).

5. Voracious appetite. This was most prevalent during my second trimester, a point in my life where I can honestly say I enjoyed food more than any other time.

6. Maternity clothes. I dreaded buying maternity clothes until I tried them on. Nowadays they are stylish and comfortable. They can be expensive, but second-hand shops such as Clothes Mentor have entire maternity sections and you can walk out with a bag full of clothes for under $100. Target’s maternity section is chic and affordable too.

7. The way my cat and dog acted around me. The dog was extra protective and sweet, and the cat spent countless hours snuggled up with my belly.

8. Assertiveness. I became more decisive, especially when it came to picking a restaurant. It became easier for me to say no and to ask for help when I needed it.

9. Cocoa butter. I love the smell of Palmer’s cocoa butter.

10. The baby bump. Not something I’d always want to have as it made it difficult if not impossible to tie my shoes, but for the time it was necessary it was fun. Just ask my cat.

LOATHED

1. Gas. As it wasn’t enough I felt like a whale, I had to feel like a farting whale.
2. Fatigue. To all women pregnant with your first child: if you’re tired, sleep! There’s no shame in it. You need the sleep to take care of you and nurture your child, and once the baby comes, you will sleep but it won’t be the same. Ever. Again.
3. Crankiness. I thought all pregnant women were emotional, not cranky. Don’t get me wrong, I had my share of bawling (like I did in the Kohl’s bra section because they didn’t carry maternity bras), but at first I was extremely irritable. Before I took my pregnancy test I thought I had PMS because my mood was so foul.
4. Tailbone pain. I expected back pain, but the pain in the literal butt caught me off guard.
5. Migraines. Along with morning sickness I had migraines every day during my first trimester and at the beginning of the second. They were so debilitating I eventually saw a neurologist who diagnosed it as an intractable migraine and prescribed me oxygen therapy, which helped tremendously.
6. Hot flashes. I thought those were for menopause. But no, I got a special sneak peak while pregnant.
7. Peeing every 10 seconds. OK, so I’m exaggerating, it was every 10 minutes. Don’t miss that at all.
8. Functioning with extra weight. I was awkward, out of breath and wore shoes without laces the last two months.
9. Leg cramps. I got them before I was pregnant, but I never had them as often as I did until pregnant. Nothing like a fiery knot in your calf to start your day out right.
10. Sore ribs. This one perhaps surprised me most. It was mostly the right side where my son liked to rest his precious little feet. Two months after delivery my ribs are still a bit sore but feeling better every day.
Would I do it again? One look at my baby confirms the answer is yes (although I think just one more time and not right this second). What about you, mommas? Did you love pregnancy or hate it? Or were you like me with things you remember fondly and things that make you cringe? What specific things did you love or loathe about pregnancy? Please share in the comments below.

9 Things to Say and Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman

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I’m happy to tell you I’m five months pregnant with our first child! Our little boy is due around August 12th. Since I learned I was prego on December 10th, people have said kind and gracious things to me. Others have said things that if I’ve ever said them or anything else offensive to pregnant women out of ignorance, I’m going on record here to apologize and state I’ll never say them ever again, God willing. It’s been made painfully aware to me how folks lose all sense of boundaries with a pregnant woman. People mean well, and they’re not saying these things out of malice or to bother me enough to include them in a blog post. I hope this list makes you smile (and even giggle), and I also hope it will help make you aware of what to say and not to say the next time you’re talking to an expectant mother. Enjoy!

DON’T SAY

1. “Are you sure you’re not six or seven months? You look big today.” I was asked this at 21 weeks, more like five months. Yes, I’m sure.
2. “Are you sure it’s not twins? One might be hiding behind the other.” So, are you saying I’m so big there must be two babies in my belly?
3. “Was it planned?” Yes, he was “planned,” but this question irritates me. Babies are a gift from God whether or not they were intended by the child’s parents, and it’s such a nosy question. Are you asking me if I had unprotected sex with my husband on purpose? I think that’s none of your business.
4. “Is it your husband’s?” I was asked this with my husband standing right next to me. There are no words for this one, except, yes, the baby boy was sired by my husband. Thanks for asking.
5. “You’re not allowed to drink coffee.” Um, thanks, but actually, I am “allowed” to drink coffee. According to What to Expect When You’re Expecting, the most helpful and at the same time frightening book on pregnancy out there, on page 69:
“Most evidence suggests that drinking up to approximately 200 mg of caffeine a day is safe during pregnancy. Depending on how you take your coffee (black or with lots of milk), that could mean limiting yourself to about two cups (give or take) a day. Which means you’re good to go (and fuel your get-up-and-go) if you’re a light or moderate coffee drinker.”
 
6. “You might change your mind about his name after he’s born.” My husband and I have had our boy’s name picked out for years. We use it when we talk to him through my stomach (yes, we do that). You may know people who had this experience, which is great for them, but I still don’t understand why you’d say that to me? Why not say what a nice name and move on?
7. “Wouldn’t it be great if you had him on your birthday?” No, it wouldn’t. My birthday is about three weeks after my baby’s due date. That would make me 43 weeks (10-11 months) pregnant.
8. “You’re going to get carpel tunnel. Wow, I didn’t know you were a doctor! And that every single pregnant woman gets carpel tunnel! Again, just because you or someone you know had that experience doesn’t mean I will. Please don’t speak that over me (along with number seven). I already have carpel tunnel, it started 11 years ago and I’ve since made lifestyle and ergonomic changes that keep the pain away.
9. “You’re not allowed to dye your hair.” Please people, unless you’re my doctor (which you’re not), don’t tell me what I’m allowed and not allowed to do! No one has researched or freaked out about this stuff more than me. I am “allowed” and I did (gasp!). From What to Expect When You’re Expecting, page 144-145:
“Even though no evidence suggests the small amount of chemicals absorbed through the skin during hair coloring is harmful when you’re expecting, some experts still advise waiting out the first trimester before heading back to the salon for retouching. Others maintain that it’s safe to dye throughout pregnancy.”
 
I waited a few weeks into my second trimester to be on the safe side and also because I didn’t feel well enough the first trimester to make a trip to the salon (smells are also magnified during the first trimester and I handled this much better during the second).

DO SAY

1. “You look great.”
 
2. “You look beautiful.”
 
3. “You look lovely.”
 
4. “You have that lovely expectant glow.” or “You’re glowing.” We love hearing that.
 
5. “You’re so tiny!”
 
6. “You don’t look like you’re having a baby.” This made my day one day at the beginning of my fourth month.
7. “You’re so little!”
8. “What a lucky baby!” Well gosh, thanks!
9. “You’re going to be great parents!” or “You’re going to be a great mom!” Again, thank you and expectant mothers love hearing this one!
In other words, if you’re not telling me how fabulous I look or complimenting my future parenting skills, then please shut up.
If you have any DOs and DON’Ts of your own to add, please share them in the comments.