Sunday, 30 October 2016

A Year Later, Still Recovering

It was actually one of my patients who told me that it would take a full year to recover from a pregnancy and a C/section. I wrote an update at 6 months, and I had planned to write another when I hit the year mark. Not that it takes much to distract me from writing (I have one in draft that I started in March) but I delayed because I knew I wasn't where I wanted to be and I wanted to give myself a little more time.

Physical Recovery
While it's much better than where I was in January, I still have some pain around my incision. I'm sure my insides turned to cement when they healed after my surgery, which helps confirm our decision to have only one baby. I have the feeling the scar tissue would make a second C/section difficult. My scar is finally starting to fade in spots. My hair stopped shedding, as I noticed that it was taking longer to blow dry in the morning. For the longest time, I still had a bit of a high diastasis. Kate spent much time at the top of my uterus, which may have been following the old wives tale that girls are positioned high, or my low lying placenta prevented her from engaging in my pelvis, but it really separated by upper abdominals. It finally seems to be resolving.

While, I'm so relieved that a year of breastfeeding didn't leave my breasts with the deflated balloon effect, once I started losing weight, they were the first to go. It's actually been a bit distressing. I'm happy to have my flat-ish stomach back and I have a defined waist again, I look at myself in a swimsuit or certain dresses, and I notice that there is something missing. It's brought me back to my 13 year old self conscious state. I'm reliving my teen angst. We're talking this is an Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret "I must, I must, I must increase my bust!" situation. It took years to get over those feelings of insecurity and finally embrace my A cup status. My friends in England even formed a group called the Small Breast Club. The SBC. We figured that if we stuck together, we might actually draw some male attention. Now that I'm married and over 40, I shouldn't care about my chest size anymore. Except now, I've been to the other side. I had voluptuous curves! I had cleavage! I haven't started googling breast augmentation yet, but I am planning to do some Wonderbra shopping.

As a brief recall, I weighed 135 pounds when I got married 10 years ago. Like many new brides, I gained 10 pounds in our first year of marriage. When I took a new job that increased my commute and decreased gym time, I gained another stubborn 5 pounds. Then we bought our current house and for six months we devoted every measure of free time to renovation projects and ate a lot of take out and crappy microwave meals. My weight went up to 157 lbs. I found my way back to the gym, started swimming and distance running, but could only manage to get the scale down to 150 on a good day. I was happy with that, but as the years passed it was harder to maintain. Once we started fertility treatments, my weight ranged between 152-154. I decided to round up and used 155 as my pre-pregnancy weight. I gained 23 pounds during pregnancy and lost most of it within the first two weeks postpartum. Then the breastfeeding hunger took hold and I became a human eating machine. I found that in order to be a cow, I needed to be a pig. I went though a box of oatmeal raisin cookies per week. I kept them in my car to hide my secret from Husband and to keep him from eating any of my cookies.

I would go throught cycles of feeling guilt and shame over my cookie habit, so I would reduce my caloric intake. Then I'd have a low pumping session and would experience a different form of guilt and shame, so I'd chow down on the cookies again. I had decided not to weigh myself until I was in a position to do something about it. Then around the end of January, curiosity got the better of me. I stepped on the scale and felt a bit of relief that it was 'only' 165. (I was fully expecting to be in the 170s). I knew that the number and my reaction to it were not good in any way. While I knew I wasn't in a position to start losing weight, I figured I could plan my strategery and set my start day after I finished breastfeeding. Then I remembered Amanda at Beloved Burnt Toast (now Burnt Toast Life) wrote about her success with Whole 30. I emailed her and she quickly sold me on Whole 30, as she described, it's not a diet, but a method that teaches you to eat better.  I was hooked.

I'll write a separate post about my Whole 30 experience, but when I started my first attempt in June (which was a miserable failure) I weighed 161 lbs. I did back to back Whole 30s in August and September and finished weighing 151 lbs. (I feel compelled to mention that the focus of Whole 30 is on improving your eating habits and fixing bad relationships with food; not merely weight loss, but this is a section on weight) I can't believe I'm actually below pre-pregnancy weight! Just for fun, I'll step on the scale in the middle of the day, fully clothed and find myself still under pre-pregnancy weight. (At press time, I'm actually at 149. First time under 150 in years) During my heavier days, I had a 'Who Are You Kidding?' purge of my closet. I had been hanging on to a lot of clothes on the promise of "if I lose some weight, I'l fit into them again!" Some were from my days when I weighed in the 130s. That was over 10 years ago. I decided they needed to go, purely from a fashion standpoint. I also got rid of my going out clothes. It was time to face reality. I'm married, over 40 and I've had a baby via C/section. I figured that if I ever did lose the weight, I could treat myself to some new clothes. I'm not sure if it was accidentally or subconsciously intentional, but I recently discovered an old pair of jeans that didn't get tossed. (They didn't fit me pre-pregnancy, but my regular pre-pregnancy jeans are now too big) I decided to try them on, but prepared myself to be disappointed. They fit. It felt so satisfying,

Yet these numbers and clothes sizes only tell one aspect of the story. I recently did a body fat test. Every four months, our gym offers body fat testing in a water dunk tank (considered to be the best and most accurate form of testing). My prior test was in February of 2014, which was the month I ran two half marathons. My weight was 155 and my body fat percentage was 24.5. This time around (after a stim cycle and retrieval, 4 FETs, 39 weeks of pregnancy and 1 year of breastfeeding) my weight was down to 152, but my body fat percentage was 26.9% (which the guy administering the test graciously rounded up to 27%). I've lost 6 pounds of muscle and gained 3 pounds of fat. So, this news burst my bubble about old clothes fitting again and getting into sub 150 territory. Yet, I feel optimistic that I may actually reach my best body state after the age of 40 and after a baby. I have set some goals for my next body fat test in February.

Much like my pre-Kate life, I'll go in cycles with Cross-Fit. I'll go regularly for a while and work on a new skill or reach a PB. Then life gets in the way, I can't make it into the gym for a while, and when I go back, I feel like I'm starting over. I sustained a weird back injury in January and had to rest for a few weeks. When I ready to work out again, I started bringing Kate to the gym. Our box offers the option of 'open gym' where you can do a self directed work-out. I had felt intimidated by the people who do open gym, as most of them are elite athletes, for whom the Work Out of the Day (WOD) is too easy. Then one of the strongest female lifters explained, "No, it's just about getting in and getting your stuff done." I came up with 'The Baby WOD', I would give Kate a bottle or a pouch while I would row a 5K, then do 50-75 wall balls and 10 pull ups. I get in some cardio and strength and work every major muscle group. Sometimes Husband would join us and we'd trade off working out and watching Kate, although this was only feasible in her pre-walking days. Around the end of April, our WOD was an AMRAP (As Many Rounds as Possible) of pull ups, push ups and double unders. I was determined to Rx it (do the work out 'as prescribed' -no modifications) even if I did only one round. I actually managed 4 rounds (others in the class did anywhere from 5 to 7), but they clapped and cheered for me when I announced that my score was Rx'd. It was a good moment.

You can imagine how the rest of the story goes. We went to Hawaii in May, which meant I didn't make it in to the gym in the preceding week as I was running too many errands to prepare for our trip and I didn't go the following week as I was catching up on errands after being away for a week. Then I was diagnosed with pneumonia and like my back injury, it took a few weeks to recover; and then my return was delayed due to Kate's birthday party. When my parents came to visit in August, I was able to get into the gym more regularly. We've worked into a routine where I go on Thursday evenings and Sunday morning. After a few weeks, I was able to do a strict pull up again. (Our gym teaches kipping techniques to make pull ups faster and more efficient, but they require that you can do strict before you kip) A week or so later, I attended a class that involved doing 50 pull ups. I figured I would try to do 25 on my own, and the other 25 with bands, but thought to myself that 20/30 was probably more realistic. Working in sets of five, I was able to easily bust out four rounds to complete 20 pull ups. I felt pretty good, so I decided to keep going. I also noticed I was the only woman doing real pull ups.  I did two more sets of five to reach 30. I had to start breaking into three and two, but I brought my total to 40. At this point I was the last person still on the rig, but I didn't care. I was so excited about what I had achieved. It was a huge PR for me. I used the bands for the final 10 just so I would finish the entire WOD on time.

As the story goes, Husband left for the east coast for two and a half weeks (Kate and I joined him for one week), so once again my gym time has been limited. Yet to my surprise, on my first day back, I found that I hadn't lost my pull-ups! I've come to accept that I have to make my work outs more efficient and effective, since I don't always know if I'll be able to fit them in. There are areas where I'm still struggling. My stamina is lacking (and I can't blame it on breastfeeding) and there have been many classes where I've been the last person to finish. I'm trying to convince myself that I can only improve and I'll focus on one thing each class to use as a benchmark. I'm trying to lift heavier, even if it's just one kilogram at a time.

One of the things I knew I was going to miss most about maternity leave was being able to swim at noon almost every day. I coordinated Kate's nap to occur during practice time, so I could leave her sleeping poolside while I swam under the warm California sun. I was so determined to go back to swimming at 6 AM when my leave ended that I paid my monthly fee for November. It never happened. There just wasn't enough time in the morning to either pump or nurse. It just wasn't going to work out. When I started taking Tuesdays off, I considered going back to the noon class, but swimming just once a week seemed inadequate. Thus, I took a nine month hiatus from swimming while I was breastfeeding. Just as I was contemplating returning to the 6 AM class in August while my parents were visiting, my coach somehow convinced me to swim on a few relays in a meet. To my surprise, I actually swam faster than two other women who had been practicing regularly. Although, to be fair, I am a faster swimmer when I'm fit. Still, I know I would have resented someone who showed up out of the blue and was faster than me; so I acknowledge I had become what I hate.

So I started swimming in the morning, with the exception of Monday and Friday, as I start work earlier those days. Tuesdays I can stay for the entire class. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, I'll get out at 6:45 and shower on the pool deck. I turn on the heat in my car to start to dry my hair as I drive home. I get home at 7:15 to find Husband giving Kate her breakfast (hopefully she's slept to 6:30 or later or else Husband may be grumpy. Oh well, too bad) Kate will play in the bathroom while I dry my hair, then I get dressed while Husband dresses Kate and then we're ready to go. On time. Sometimes actually early. Our morning routine is smoother and more efficient on swimming days. It makes me wish that I had gone back sooner. It's also easier than pre-Kate life, where I'd have to toss my wet towel and suit in the dryer when I got home at the end of the day. Then I'd have to pack my swim bag including my work clothes and make up as I'd leave for work from the pool. It was very time consuming. Now, when I get back from the pool, I can hang my towel and suit to dry in the garage and then I just grab it on my way out the next morning. On Tuesdays, I'll bring Kate to the pool at noon, and if I get a second swim session done, it's a bonus. We go to baby music from 10:30 -11:30, and she'll usually fall asleep on the drive to the pool. So far there's only be one day that she had a meltdown and I had to leave early. I'm not sure what we'll done once the colder and rainy months hit, but for now, this is working.

I soon found that while I was able to produce a decent sprint time in a relay, swimming for 45 minutes or an hour as a structured practice was a different story. It was humbling and reminded me of my early days where I could barely make it through a session or even needed a scaled workout. I've also discovered that my swimming is much better at noon than in the morning. I've struggled or hated a morning workout, but breezed through it at noon. I recently competed in a meet and overall felt satisfied with how I did. I had to accept that I was probably right where I was last year (I resumed swimming around August, I was three months postpartum, but I had been swimming during most of my pregnancy.) Last year, I had somehow managed to score a PR in my 50 Free, so I was hoping to set a new PR this year. I fell short of that goal, but I got my second best 50 Fly time ever (and event I haven't swam in two and a half years) so I was pleased with that. I'm determined that my times can only improve. However I'm now in a new age group with some fast 40+ year old women.

When my parents arrived for their month long stay in August, I announced my intention to start swimming in the mornings. Completely out of the blue, my mother said to me, "So there's no field hockey. There is no tennis." What the fuck? I haven't played field hockey in over three years. I was stimming/early pregnant and postpartum for the past few seasons and the league gained a lot of younger more skillful players and I was feeling out of depth. Additionally, I haven't played tennis in over two and a half years since I haven't really found a local place to play. I could have replied with a rational answer to simply acknowledge that no, I haven't played field hockey or tennis in years, even pre-Kate. However there was something about hearing my mother say 'no' to an activity that set off a trigger. I felt like a little girl who was being chastized. So, I replied with a nasty response that I was 40 years old and [my mother] couldn't tell me what to do anymore.

My Dad quickly jumped to my mother's defense, proclaiming that it wasn't her intention to tell me what I could or couldn't do. (Really? because it sounded a lot like that). My mother should have left it there, but she felt the need to hammer home her point. "You can't do it all Jane. There's just not enough time for everything." NO SHIT. That's why I'm not trying to do it all. I gave up those other two sports years ago. For some reason, Husband decided to support my mother's position by adding "Unless you want to be one of those women who never sees her kid." I DON'T. THAT'S WHY I'M NOT TRYING TO PLAY THESE OTHER SPORTS. WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU BRINGING THIS UP? Husband did feel the need to explain why I stopped playing hockey, by telling my parents that I'm not very good as the league standard has improved. Thanks honey, I am well aware of my lack of skill.

My mother started crying crocodile tears, as she thought my reaction was so harsh and unfair to her. As it seemed that Husband and my father were supporting her while I felt that I was the one being persecuted. I felt the need to establish that I was the victim. I threw back that I was hurt over the fact that she was pointing out what I couldn't do and not acknowledging what I AM doing. This was something typical for my mother. When I was growing up, she could give me a list of 10 chores to do while she was away. If I only completed nine by the time she came home, she would immediately pick out the one task that I didn't do before she would comment on the ones I finished. In turn, my mother informed me that I should be focusing on swimming as there are many health benefits to swimming, as well as Cross-fit as lifting is good for strength. (She proceeded to lift an imaginary barbell). Once again, I should have left it alone, but I felt compelled to remind her that she can't tell me what to do; and furthermore I felt it was completely insulting and patronizing to have a non-swimmer and non-lifter explain the benefits of these activities. I know their benefits. That's why I figured out on my own that I can work swimming and Cross-fit into my life as a working mother and I'm not trying to do anything else. I then abruptly left the table and excused myself to my room (because that's mature). If Kate hadn't been sleeping, I would have slammed my door. Yes, immature, but very satisfying.

Anyway, I'm recounting this story as I'm still pissed off (just in case that wasn't clear) and to emphasize that I've largely had to drop running. (Fortunately, my mother didn't bring that up, otherwise we probably wouldn't be speaking to each other today). I stopped running while pregnant as I had developed plantar fascitis and with my placenta issues, I feared bleeding on a long run. Without any training, I completed a 10K last Thanksgiving and I planned to do my traditional New Year's Day 10 K run, but freezing cold tempertures encouraged me to ring in the New Year from my nice warm bed. As my parents gave us a jogging stroller for a Christmas gift, Kate and I ran our first 5 K around Valentine's Day. We were also scheduled to run another 5K on St Patrick's Day, but there was an extraordinary rain storm that kept us home. A week later, I participated in a marathon as part of a relay team and truly struggled. At one point, I couldn't keep up with the 13 min/mile pacer who was running a half marathon. (I'm omitting the fact that he was probably in his late 60s). I used to be a faster runner than one of my teammates, but I have no doubt that she beat my time (on a harder part of the course too). I could no longer run a 10 K on a whim.

It prompted me to start training on a regular basis. After baby sign, Kate and I would take a 3 mile stroll around Lake Merritt. There aren't too many races scheduled in April, so our next race was over Memorial Day weekend. It was another struggle. Kate was completely fussy in the pram, so I had to stop often to offer her food or a bottle. I can apply some blame to Kate, but I felt relived to be walking in bits. A few days later I was diagnosed with pneumonia and felt relieved to have another explanation for my performance.

After recovering from pneumonia, I decided to resume training (with Kate and the jogging stroller) by starting from the begining. Going out to run just one mile, next week two miles. That didn't last long as Kate's birthday party fell upon us. I signed up for a 10 K in early August and talked my parents into pushing Kate along for the 5 K distance. I actually felt really good for the first four miles, but then began to slow down and wished I had signed up for the 5K. Then I saw an elderly runner fall in front of me. I was the first responder on the scene. He wasn't responsive, but I could hear he was breathing, it actually sounded like he was snoring. As I was trying to feel for a pulse, I saw his face turn purple. I was struck by the fear that this man was dying in front of my eyes. I've participated in code situations, but it's always been in a hospital setting or on my ambulance ride along. I had other professionals, medications a defibrillator, access to a cath lab, cardiothorasic surgeons...This time I was all alone as I started chest compressions. Fortunately I was soon joined by two other runners who helped perform CPR and summon emergency services. The man started breathing again and we were able to regain a pulse. He was alert by the time the EMS crew arrived.

As this race took place on my usual training course, I recently questioned if I had been avoiding doing any training as I don't want to pass by that spot and evoke the memories of witnessing someone's near death. Then I questioned if that wasn't the case at all and I had just invented a convenient excuse as it was easier than facing two other fears. My mother is right. I can't do it all. [Please note, I didn't share the story to seem heroic, I was actually told by one of the other responders that my chest compressions were too slow. She did provide a good tip if you're in the situation. Follow the beat to the Bee Gees' Stayin' Alive. "Staying Alive. Staying Alive. Ah, ha, ha, ha Staying Alive, Staying Alive."] Then I remembered the words of one of my swim teammates, "there's no such thing as 'I can't do something'. You find modifications." So my modification is that Kate and I will stick to 5K distances for now. It will be a while before I can think about doing a half. I signed us up to run two 5K races over Thanksgiving weekend. We'll try to fit in a training session.


Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Fifteen Months

We're appriaching a major transition. Not a big milestone like first day of school, or first trip away, but one that will have a big impact on me. It's time to upgrade from the infant seat to a convertible car seat. We've loved our combination unit. The person who came up with the idea of attaching the infant seat to a stroller is a fucking genius. As she's been getting bigger, I've started putting her in the "big girl" stroller, rather than attaching the infant seat, which was sign #1 that we were ready to move on. I even picked up an accessory tray, which requires that you remove the supports for the infant seat (sign #2). Her feet have now reached beyond the edge, so they're just hanging off, but she's not yet touching the seat in my car. She's only 29.5 inches, but Husband is such a Dudley Do-Right that he wanted to make sure we moved her into a new car seat before she reached 30 inches. We figured it would be a project after we returned from visiting the east coast, but a local baby supply store was offering a 25% discount on a new car seat, if you traded in your old one during the month of September. A price reduction and you take away the old one so I don't have to deal with it? That's a win-win! 

Except I am finding it hard to part with the infant seat. The infant seat allowed me to be a mom who didn't work her day around her baby's nap schedule. Well to a point, I would often take advantage of the fact that she easily falls asleep in the car and could just transfer her in the infant seat to the stroller when I needed to get some errands done. If she fell asleep on the way home, I could just drop the infant seat off in her room and carry on unpacking groceries. [as I am writing this, she's sleeping in her infant seat]. Once we move to a convertable car seat, I'll have to risk waking her as I move her from the car seat to a stroller and hope she'll fall back asleep. It's going to put a crimp in my carefree mom life style. [I do acknowledge that this is going to be less of an issue, especially as we officially transition to a one day a day schedule]. There was just something else about the infant carrier. I admit I felt that it gave me a sense of status. I have one of these! I'm in the club now! I'm thinking the same thing you are; Jane, after all this time, do you still need validation that you're a mother? Well, no. Yet, I still enjoyed it. Of course it was easier when I was carrying around an 8 pound newborn and not a 23 pound toddler. I won't miss lugging that thing back and forth while dropping her off and picking her up at Day Care [Husband and I alternate Day Care duties, so we needed to leave it with her. We also need two convertable car seats for this reason]. I have brusises around my mid thighs and knees that might finally fade. Still there are aspects that I'm going to miss. It's going to be hard to hand it over; but it needs to be done. Otherwise, I might try to repurpose it for hanging plants. 

Stats: Weight 24 lbs 13 oz, 29.5 inches

Teeth: She was a little late on her two month schedule of cutting teeth. At first she seemed to be on track as she was especially irritable when she turned 14 months, but the swollen gums didn't appear for another two weeks. At press time, another tooth on the lower left has started to emerge. 

Hair: Getting longer, but it will be ages before she'll be ready for a barrett, let along a pony tail. As she's been following me into the bathroom while I'm ready in the morning, I'll use my rotating brush hairdryer on her. I think she likes the way it feels, and I'm envious that she can practically get a blow-out with just one pass.  

Sleep: We're still so blessed to have a great sleeper, yet I fear this will come back to bite us in the ass once she can climb out of her crib, or moves into a big girl bed. She has had a few nights were she'll wake up in the middle of the night screaming bloddy murder. This is not her just stirring, but will go back to sleep cry, this is full on panic mode. We're guessing maybe it's a bad dream? She'll fall asleep quickly if you hold or rock her, but wakes as soon as you put her down. So, we've taken her back to bed with us on these few occasions, as they seem to correspond with the nights before my long days at work. However the last time we did, neither Husband nor I slept well as she kicked us all night. I think the next time it happens, we'll have to soothe her, but then let her cry it out. A funny thing occured a few weeks ago; she woke up around 12:45 AM with some light cries. Husband asked what I wanted to do and I told him to wait it out, as I thought she would likely go back to sleep. Well, Husband and I definately fell back asleep as we were woken up five minutes later with a 3.5 magnitude earthquake!  We quickly ran to check on Kate and found her sleeping peacefully. We joked that the quake rocked her back to sleep. 

While she's an angel once she falls asleep, she's become more difficult to put down for the night. Our routine has been; change into a fresh diaper and jammies, read a book while having a bottle, go brush teeth, [turn lights out, set white noise machine and sleep sheep] have a cuddle with Muma (or Daddy) and then go into the crib. First, I had to cut out the story as it was too stimulating for her as she wanted to turn the pages herself. (cue freak out that I'm not reading to her enough during the day) Then one night she was squirming on my lap and dropped her bottle. I picked up the bottle and placed in on the end table as I prepared to re-adjust her on my lap, but she jumped down and grabbed her bottle, tucked it under her arm and headed out of the room in a business like manner. This occurred while my parents were visiting, so I suspect she was aware that everyone else was staying up and was having fun without her (which I imagine will only get worse as she gets older and more aware). Since then, I've changed her routine. We turn the lights out as soon as we're changed into jammies and the white noise and sleep sheep go on while the lights go out. We drink the bottle in [near] dark and I bring a loaded toothbrush into her room to give the teeth a wipe, and then it's a few minutes of cuddle before putting her down in her crib. Then it's usually 5-10 minutes of crying before she falls asleep.

On one of those nights when she had a nightmare and slept with us, she slept late the next morning. Husband (wanting to take advantage of this, so he could get some extra shut eye himself) suggested to let her sleep and offered to take her in later that morning (as he also had help available from my visiting parents).  When I picked her up that evening, I saw on her report that she only took one nap, which I explained was due to her lie-in. "Oh, she'll need to be on one nap when she goes to the toddler room [at eightteen months]" My least favourite attendant informed me. Just as I was thinking that we still had 4 months to work on this, she also informed me, "Grayson is on one nap per day. So is Lilly." She has such an amazing way of making me feel that I'm doing everything wrong. Fortunately, Kate know what she's doing, as she has been starting to take only one nap at Day Care. 

The other sleep related issue is that we had to make a decision about crib bumpers. We placed a mesh, breatheable bumper around her crib once she started sleeping in it nightly. A few months ago, I discovered that she was able to put her foot above the crib bumper and she trapped her foot between the slats of the crib and the wall. So we bought a second bumper to place on top of the first one. Then we discovered that could loosen the velcro on the bumpers and still manage to wedge her feet between the bumpers. So since the bumpers aren't really serving their purpose, we decided to remove them. I spent some nervous nights getting up multiple times to check on her hands and feet. Then it became colder and I started putting her back in her sleep sacks. Problem (partially) solved. 

Eating: Oh, I feel there is so much to report on this topics! She started eating packets again, and I started sending them to Day Care with her. They weren't coming home, so I figured she was eating them; until I got a report that she had dumped one all over the floor. So, she will eat packets, but only if you hold them for her and squeeze them. It's just something to use at home now. I started cooking a batch of frozen meatballs at the start of the week. Along with the microwave bag of frozen veggies and rice, it's become a convenient way to prepare small containters in order to quickly assemble her lunch each day. Okay, there is a part of me that feels really quilty about feeding her processed foods, but I've decided there are worse things I could do. I keep planning to make a batch of homemade meatballs, and one day I'll get around to doing so. I did learn that she has been trying to feed her food to the other babies at Day Care. Sigh. No Kate, I don't mind you sharing, it's not like I put a lot of effort into prepping your meals each day... [Future Kate reading this] Um, didn't you just finish saying that you used a bunch of processed food because it was convenient? Maybe it's not such a good idea that I'm writing all this down.

Her appetite can sometimes be hit or miss. Our pediatrician wanted us to try to cut down one bottle per day, by giving her more food. Yet I would find that sometimes if she's too hungry, she'll be too frustrated to feed herself and if I give her a bottle, she'll be more interested in eating. Although I've found sometimes that can backfire; if she has a bottle too close to meal time, she won't eat. Somedays it just feels that I can't win. I used to be able to get her to finish her protein by dumping some cut up fruit on her plate, but now she's savvy enough to pick through the pile and pull out want she wants (and throw what she doesn't want on the floor). I do worry a bit about her becoming a picky eater, as both her parents are picky. Well, I've become a bit better with age. While I don't go out of my way to eat tomatos, mushrooms, green peppers or onions, I won't push them to the side of my plate anymore. Husband refuses to admit that he's a picky eater, which makes him the worst picky eater of all. We also tried having baby eat what we eat, when we eat it. While we were on vacation visitng my parents, we were able to eat early enough to have meals with her before she went to bed. I think she seemed to enjoy the socialization (there is a no phone at the table rule when Kate is dining with us) of being a part of the table, which is probably much better that sitting alone in her high chair while Husband or I wash her Day Care bottles and containers or work on cooking our meal. Yet it's still logistically hard. I work late on Monday. Wednesday is Husband's gym night. Thursday is my gym night; three nights out of the week, one of us is alone with her. It's not easy to cook while she's underfoot. I try to arrange Monday's dinner to be reheating Sunday's meal and we use the slow cooker at least once a week. We'll keep working on it.

The sippee cup saga continues.  I was using the sippee cups only for water, figuring that if she was going to be spilling the contents, I'd rather it be water. It also helped when she started signing to distinguish between milk (bottle) and water (sippee cup). Then one day I filled her sippee cup with milk, just to see what would happen. She drank it without any issues. Around this time I had the opportunity to meet up with Kimberly Q and pick her brain about when and how to make the switch. She offered that whenever you have the opportunity for a drama free transition, you have to take advantage of it. So I really should do this sooner rather than later. Yet when I went to shop for more bottles, I noticed that smaller ones tend to have handles (which would not fit into her current lunch bag). Ones without handles hold twice the volume I need and are a bit large for her to handle. I looked to see if her current brand of bottles make a sippee top (because that seems way to logical) and they do make one... for a cup with handles. The tops don't work with the current collars and aren't sold separately. So I could buy the cups, and use the tops on her current bottles. Maybe. Actually those shitty cups from Ikea seem like they would fit the bill, except they don't have a screw top and would waste a lot of milk while making a complete mess. It is also possible that I am overthinking this.
"I don't need a sippee cup; I'm ready for a big person bottle!"

Milestones: She is so physicially active! She's figured out how to dismount from our bed. She looks like she's going to dive off head first, but she turns sideways and lowers her legs down. So naturally, as soon as she gets down, she wants to climb back up so she can get down again. She pretty much wants to climb on anything and everything, and in doing so, she's picked up quite a few scrapes and owies, but fortunately no major injuries. I often think of a 'Calvin and Hobbes' cartoon, where after playing outside on a summer day, Calvin explains that 'if your knees aren't bruised and grass stained by the end of the day, then you need to seriously re-examine your life." It's part of being a kid exploring her world. Mostly we want to teach her that when you fall, you brush yourself off, and get back up again. While we were on vacation, she tripped going out the front door and grazed the side of her face. Two days later she slipped in the outdoor shower and picked up a scratch on the extact opposite side of her face, so her owies were symmetrical. I am wondering if she is exhibiting any of her parents' CDO (it's like OCD, but the letters are in their proper alphabetical order).

I've been trying to let her walk more when we're out in public, but I'm still so nervous. I feel I need to wait until she really understands and response to commands before letting her walk near a parking lot. She's getting so quick when she walks/runs and she'll sometimes turn away if I try to take her hand. However, she is frickin Houdini in her stroller. We may have set a bad prescident. She could easily slip her arms out of the over the shoulder straps in her high chair. As she was still rather secure with the lap belt and tray, I stopped re-attaching them, especially as I felt that having more freedom with her arms would be better for her self feeding. It was helpful for eating, but not so much when she popped her arms out and tried to escape from her stroller while I was in the queue at Chip.olte. We may be using the Bjorn carrier for a long time. I also got one you can wear on your back that can be used up to 45 pounds.

She picked up a new sign, as she's become obsessed with dogs. The proper sign for 'dog' is to tap your hip and then snap; Kate just starts tapping any part of her body, but she has been doing it consistenly whenever she sees a dog. Recently, I had an opportunity to do some shopping while Husband was watching Kate. I saw a couple walking their dog and I exclaimed "Look! Doggie!" [while doing the sign]... before realising that I was by myself... She was starting to get really expressive with the milk sign. When she was becoming impatient, she would raise the hand in the air and pump her little fist quickly. Milk.Now. MILK!!!!. She hasn't been using the milk sign as often as she was while we were home with her when Day Care was closed. I think I know why. The director at her Day Care informed me that she would make the milk sign whenever she saw other babies with a bottle, so I think she's learning that she doesn't always get milk when she signs for milk. She wasn't grasping the sign for  'all done', but she would clap to indicate when she was finished eating, so I had to accept that as close enough. However, at press time, she's just started doing the actual 'all done' sign. I signed us up to reapeat another 6 week series of sign classes, so hopefully she'll pick up more signs and applications.

She has become quite talkative, but it's completely in her own language. The most consistent word she uses is 'kitty' and almost every animal (a dog, a bird) is "Kitty!" She's picked up a lot of new sounds into her bables. The most recent one has been "oh eh oh eh", which propmpted me to recall that I have been listening to an all-80s radio station. I think this is the influence of Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine. The rhythm is going to get  you. Both our pediatrician and Isabelle (everyone's favourite Speech and Language Pathologist) feel that she is right on track and don't have any concerns about her language development, but as her mother, the doubt always creeps in. My cousin's language delayed son was saying the words "bubble" and "turtle" (with very clear diction,  although absent context) just before he turned 16 months, so I'd feel more comfortable if she had some actual words by next month. Yet, as I remind myself not to compare the children, I'm also reminding myself that his developmental delay wasn't with where he was at 16 months, it was the fact that he was pretty much at the same place a year later.

We also had a bit of a breakthrough in Baby Music. Previously, when the instructor would bring out the big box of instruments, Kate would find a padded drumstick and start chewing on it. She had little interest in the instruments. During her recent classes, she has finally started using the drumstick to tap on a drum. I felt like I was in the scene from Mr Holland's Opus, where he finally succeeds in teaching a football player to keep a beat. Since then, she has started trying to drum on everything she can, and according to my dad, she actually has some rhythm. My dad's side of the family is very musical. His brother was a pianist, my dad sung in a touring choir for many years. My cousins both played piano and my other cousin's kids play percussion and saxaphone in the jazz band at their school. Actually my cousins from my mother's side were both members of the marching and pep bands while they were in high school and college (yes, the went to band camp too). This trait certainly skipped over me as I am hopelessly tone deaf. One of the objectives of Baby Music is that all children are musical and all children can achieve basic music competence. Their parents on the other hand, are still a lost cause.

Clothing: I did a purge of her closet recently, but saved some 9 month clothes that still fit her. Holy shit, I can't beleive that that was 6 months ago. I found a stash of 9-12 month clothes that I had be storing for when she "got bigger" and completely forgot about them. So now I'm using them frequently in her rotation so I feel they get their proper wear before she outgrows them. I've been putting her in dresses more often, because I'm guilty of wanting to dress up my little girl. However, the best thing about dresses? They become next year's shirts! (sorry boy moms) Pants that no longer fit -become leggings! Clothing sizes can be so crazy though; she can still wear a Gymboree dress that is for 3-6 months, but I recently bought two 12 month dresses from Cart.ers that she only wore once. Once. Unfortunately, it looks like Kate has inherited my broad shoulders.

I am becoming slightly obsessed with shoes. It's been like Cinderella trying to get the perfect fit.'s has some really cute shoes, but the quality isn't as good as their regular clothes. I purchased a sweet pair of grey flats, but after washing them once, I went to put them on her and found they were filled with sand! I thought she may have worn them went she went to the park, but my mother confirmed she hadn't. Seriously, it was like we had been to the beach. I had to throw them away. She has another sweet pair from Cart.ers that she's only worn a few times and they're already starting to look worn. Or maybe my daughter just wears the hell out of her shoes quite quickly.

Highlights from our New England Trip

First trip to Boston and visit with a Doggie!

First Carosel ride
(Mom got in trouble for trying to ride too)

Meeting 'Salty' the beach cat and substitute Tyler

So adorable to see cat paw prints in the sand

Wading in the Atlantic Ocean

Another canine dining companion

Visit to Aquarium with Little Myrtle

Husband and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary on the day it was announced that Brad and Angelinia were divorcing. I thought back to when it was announced that Brad and Jennifer Anniston split. "When these two are tired of having sex with each other, what hope do the rest of us have?" asked Tina Fey on Weekend Update. (this was before some sketchy details about the Brangelina situation emerged) Actually, we celebrated on the night before our anniversary as Husband had to umpire a hockey match on our actual anniversary. When we travelled to Australia and New Zealand for our honeymoon, we talked about going back down under for our 10th anniversary. Instead we bought a house that needed renovations, did a few rounds of IVF and spent our anniversary at a cottage in Rhode Island with my parents and our amazing daughter. Living the life of dreams.

Looking forward to: My next update! So, as you can see, (if you made it to reading the end of this) I've become a bit obsessed with update writing. I had to keep jotting down notes and I actually had the bulk of it written weeks before the deadline. I'm looking forward to the holidays and am trying to grasp on to the fact that by the end of the year, my baby will be a year in a half.