the 4th trimester no one talks about

No one talks about the three month period after you have the baby. I know the first time I envisaged it would be effortless breasfeeding, a sweet smelling giggly baby and me being at the best weight of my life due to breastfeeding. Reality was that breastfeeding was a bitch in the beginning, though my baby was in fact sweet smelling he also often smelt of milk which was also nice but also due to the fact that he had bad reflux and would projectile vomit over himself, me and whatever couch I was sitting on when I breastfed. And the giggling, he did and still does do plenty of that but he also cried shrilly painful cries from the reflux. oh, and the breastfeeding, forget it. I returned to pre pregnancy weight pretty quickly, but over the year I breastfed my weight yo-yoed up and down (more up then down).

More than ever you need to not pressure yourself to be a supermama, especially if you are also having to nurture one or many older siblings. Their is also still alot of development going on for baby during this time. Let the laundry and dishes go for a day or two or three. Ok, the laundry may be a bit harder if you are dealing with explosive poos, spit up and leaky boobs – yes, I am dealing with or have dealt with all of these things in the past week since the birth of Monkey #2. You have bigger things to deal with, namely the surge of hormones playing havoc on your tired brain. No matter how good  a sleeper your baby is, you will lose sleep in the first 3 months. Their wee tum tums can only take in so much milk at once, hence most doctor’s and midwives’ standard recommendation to feed every 2-3 hours while you both get the hang of the breastfeeding thing.

Breastfeeding is natural, but it doesn’t mean it’s easy. Get help from a lactation consultant your OB/midwife or even a friend. A conversation I had with a friend about holding your boob like a hamburger, was the final clincher in me sorting out Monkey #1 latching. Trust me, remember ‘hold your breast like a hamburger‘ and it will make sense once you have the baby in front of you and the boob in your hand. Thankfully for us 2nd time and beyond mamas, the body remembers, like muscle memory, and your milk will kick in alot quicker the second time around. This time around a nurse at the hospital was able to give me a few quick tips and it all came back to me – team Me and Monkey #2 had this breastfeeding thing sorted in no time. On a side note: don’t be too smug because you can breastfeed. Some women want desperately to breastfeed but can’t for all kinds of medical reasons. Also, the best advice I was given by my midwife with Monkey #1 was to give it time. It takes time for your milk to come in, on average 2-5 days. If you want to breastfeed, keep at it, get help, do all that you can til you’ve exhausted your resources. Because Monkey #1 was 3.5 weeks early and I had never breastfed before, neither of our bodies was ready. He was too sleepy, and my body was just not ready. I had to use an industrial size pump for 2 weeks to get my milk supply up while he got his energy levels up. I still shutter at the thought of the whirring engine of the pump I was hooked up to like a cow every 2 hours. The good news is that I was able to breastfeed without any problems for a year and was able to use a much smaller battery-operated hand pump when I needed some milk on reserve.

Kankles and water retention. You are likely to retain water somewhere – your ankles, hands, arms. It may be one part of your body or it may be all over. For me its the dreaded kankles. If anything it reminds me to rest more than I probably want to, and to keep my feet up. The compression socks I wore on the plane over here are coming in handy. Drink lots of water and stay off the salty foods. But then again, don’t stress too much about what you eat. My first meal at 2:00 AM once I was finally settled in a room and Big Monkey could pull himself away from Monkey #2 to go out and buy, was a chicken salad sandwich and yummy salty fries. Their is much debate on what you should and shouldn’t eat specifically around breastfeeding. I’ve been told not too much fruit or spicy foods. But then it can be argued how do Indian mothers breastfeed, don’t they eat largely spicy foods? I think introduce extreme foods (such as spicy dishes) slowly. Like all things moderation.

Keep taking your prenatal vitamins if you plan on breastfeeding. That is all.

If you are breastfeeding, you can handle the lack of sleep. In fact, you can probably handle it even better than your husband or women who are bottle feeding. Prolactin is released during deep sleep as well as by mother’s who breastfeed. That is why we can hop into bed for 2 hours in between feeds and actually have a deep sleep before we get up to feed again. In the sleep cycle of most people, it would take an hour or 2 to get to the first cycle of deep sleep (the good restorative sleep). This is mother nature’s way of helping us get through the initial stage of breastfeeding. I’m not sure how long this prolactin helps out, but I can say first hand it does. I still crash at some point during the day, but overall it’s amazing how well I can function considering. While I was pregnant, the broken sleep pattern from getting up to pee 3-4 times during the night was a killer for me the next day. Now, I am probably sleeping even less at night and the next day I do not feel nearly as horrendous as I did back then.

Emotional roller coaster and irrational fears. Ah, dreaded hormones, blame them for everything. They will hit unexpectedly, make you cry for no reason (or at least no plausible reason) and even bring on nutty dreams and irrational thoughts. I remember with Monkey #1 going into his room 99 times a night (ok, slight exaggeration, but still very often) to check if he was breathing. I had him swaddled up so tightly like a little kebab that he would lay there motionless and I would wonder if he was ok. Thankfully with Monkey #2, because I know the drill I don’t seem to have these concerns.

Hair loss and bad skin. Though I haven’t experienced this personally, I have friends who have told me about washing their hair in the shower and finding clumps of hair in their hands. Be ready for it. Bad skin or really awesome glowing skin. You will have one or the other thanks to hormones settling.

You will look anywhere from 5-8 months pregnant after you give birth. Don’t be surprised when you take your first shower in the hospital and you look down to see you have not returned to your svelte former self. The only weight you are guaranteed to have lost immediately after birth is the birth weight of your child (in my case 6 lbs) and the weight of the placenta and amniotic fluid (which is on average about 4 lbs). Say hello to your new muffin top, it will be with you for the next little while. The rest of the breakdown of weight gain that you are now desperately wanting to lose looks something like this:

  • The uterus is about 2 lbs and will shrink over time, sometimes causing mild to intense pain. Again, different with everyone. With Monkey #1 I hardly felt anything. With Monkey #2, the cramps were intense in those first few days every time I breastfed her. Don’t suffer, pop a few motrin, the nurses dish it out like candy at the hospital.
  • The excess blood needed for pregnancy is another 4 lbs that is again flushed out with water. As in pregnancy, water is your best friend post partum.
  • It may have felt like you were carrying around massive melons on your chest for the past couple of months, but they really only amount to another 3 lbs. This will fluctuate as your milk comes in and you experience engorged boobies (fun! Not). They will still hold enough milk for bubba once you are in a feeding routine, but they will feel relatively normal. Hold off on buying the new bra for a few weeks to see if you are someone whose boobs completely disappear post partum or someone who gains a bra size – either is possible.
  • Apart from that, most healthy pregnancies include an extra 10-20 lbs of what most of us call fat or medical peeps might call ‘maternal stores’. This is likely to be the weight that will be the hardest to budge. Of course this can be higher or lower depending on how many cheeseburgers, ring dings and oreos you just had to have during pregnancy. Remember, you are eating for 2 when pregnant but you can still eat healthy. I think we all have cravings at some time though, and for all that we have to go through, I am hardly one to encourage you to deny them. I had a wicked craving for Whoppers with cheese for about a month during my pregnancy. It was the only food I could keep down so I let myself indulge away!
singer Pink 5 days post pregnancy

Paparazzi splashed this pic of Pink 5 days post pregnancy all over. This is what real women look like after childbirth. Deal with it Hollywood! Photo credit to

Model Heidi Klum 1month after pregnancy.

Model Heidi Klum 1month after pregnancy. Her freakish model genes are the exception to the rule on post-baby weight loss. Photo credit to

Because your abs have separated during pregnancy, and your pelvic region has undergone some serious changes both during pregnancy and childbirth, its recommended that you refrain from exercise for 6 weeks. Heed that advice unless you get the okay before then from your doc. You need the time to let your milk come in properly (sweating can affect milk supply) and the time for your body to recuperate while dealing with the lack of sleep, crazy hormones and most importantly your new baby.

Most of all remember we are all different, so give yourself a break and know that this too shall pass. You’ve created an amazing miracle so enjoy her or him! Your body will come right both emotionally and physically, just give it time.

What do you remember about the 4th trimester that you wish someone had warned you about?

iMessenger and happy coincidences

free iMessenger conversation with my bestie in NZ and me in NYC

free iMessenger conversation with my bestie in NZ and me in NYC

Today is 11/11/11 and because this is considered to be an auspicious day that rolls around once a century the world has gone berserk with record numbers of people tying the knot, and making wishes at 11 minutes past 11. I am not a big believer in that sort of stuff, so instead I choose to celebrate the one week anniversary of Monkey #2’s birth. This time last week, I was holding her in my arms for the first time, marveling at how the day had unfolded. Looking at how perfect she is and very thankful that though she was considered preterm she would not have to spend even one night away from me in NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unitas so many preterm newborns do.

One week later and Monkey #2 and I are rocking this mother/daughter relationship. Monkey #1 is happy to have her around and not showing any signs of jealousy (yet!). He’s a bit surprised that she doesn’t have more energy to play with him, but he gets that now and is happy to just shower her in kisses. Big Monkey and I are gelling, making time for both Monkeys and squeezing in a bit of time for ourselves.

Having only been in New York for 2 months, I don’t have a network of people around me to come by and visit or check up on me in person. I kinda miss that, but at the same time it can be overwhelming when dealing with sleepless nights, so it’s been okay. Big Monkey has been a rock, my parents and sister have been in contact  often as well as Big Monkey’s family, so it helps to know that people are thinking of us. Besides posting here, I have been pretty quiet on Facebook and slowly getting through personal emails back to friends and family.

Between moving to New Zealand, back to Canada, then to New Zealand again, then from Christchurch to Auckland and now here to New York, I am use to periods of time where I really enjoy time to myself. It’s kinda like getting reacquainted with myself and discovering my new surroundings. I think with Thanksgiving in the States rolling around in 2 weeks and Christmas shortly after, plus wanting everyone to experience the brilliance that is Monkey #2, I’m starting to feel the need to break from my self-imposed period of introversion. Anyone who knows me, knows its not in my nature to be a loner for the long term.

So I was over the moon when my iPhone bleeped a message from my bestie in New Zealand. Back track to 3 weeks ago. I sent her an email seeing how she was doing as she was pregnant and due mid-November. In the email I was joking that with our track records, we were likely to deliver on the same day. She delivered her 3 babies about a week early each time and I delivered Monkey #1 three and a half weeks early ( I was due December 1). Fast forward to the night after I gave birth, Big Monkey’s dad told us that he thought my bestie had given birth as well. Yep, sure enough we both delivered on December 4th! How cool is that. So back to the bleeping iPhone message, we proceeded to have a conversation via the new iOS5 iMessenger service that let’s you send Multimedia Messages like photos and videos. We sent pictures of our new kiddies and their siblings back and forth. The whole exchange was really good for my soul, and was a reminder that even if I can’t be with my closest friends and family, these little connections are really important to me and I will take them however I can get them.

3 for thursday: baby related humor blogs

Thought I’d try something a little different today as my brain is understandably fuzzy as I round out day 6 of 2-3 hourly feeds with Monkey #2. I set myself the challenge at the beginning of the month to take part in NaBloPoMo, and I’d like to follow through with it for as long as I have the ideas in my brain to keep writing on a daily basis. Even though the doctor kept stressing that I was likely to deliver this baby early seeing as I had delivered Monkey #1 early, I kept thinking I would get through most of the month sans bebe. Apparently it takes 21 days for an adult to form a habit (incidentally it only takes 3 days for a baby), so this is a great challenge as I am just starting out with this site.

So seeing as it is Thursday I thought I’d introduce some wittily themed list or meme. Well, I couldn’t really come up with a witty theme, but I did come up with a themed list nonetheless.

Introducing the inaugural 3 for thursday, where I will attempt to compile a list of 3 things that I am digging/hating/wanting/all have something in common and may be of interest to you.

Seeing as I am all things baby at the moment, I wanted to share 3 websites that I have stumbled across in the last little while that are baby related. Without further ado…

  1. I am part of a photography community called I heart faces. I’m hoping that by soaking up the info on this site and by osmosis I will one day have the funds to get a high quality camera and become a talented photographer. Today they released this tutorial on how to do achieve the newborn pose often referred to as the “head in hands”. Their have been many photos doing the rounds on Facebook with everything from babies dressed like chickens or decked out in tutus in this particular pose. I admit it elicits a huge aaaaawwww from me every time I see one, but there is also interesting debate in the comments as to if this is really photography, seeing as to achieve the pose safely most photogs use Photoshop. If you want to create the pose shown below check out the head in hands tutorial at iheartfaces.

    trendy "head in hands" newborn pose

    trendy "head in hands" newborn pose. Photo from

  2. Have you seen Suri’s Burn Book? This Tumblr site has been around for a few months and has a huge following. Every once and awhile I will browse over to it for mindless laughs and it never fails to deliver. Imagine what it would be like if mini fashionista Suri Cruise, daughter of couch jumping Tom and Katie Holmes had her own blog that she used as an outlet to burn fellow children of famous people? That is what Suri’s burn book is. The Pitt-Jolie kids take alot of her nasty digs, with Suri (or the person writing in her voice) often comments on the mixed up family. Check it out, I know every time I do I have to read at least 5 entries.
  3. The last blog Too Big for Stroller  is no longer being updated. I guess it has something to do with the hate mail and nasty comments she was receiving both on the blog and her Facebook page. In the style of People of Walmart, the site owner posts pictures of children who are waaaay too old being pushed around by their parents in strollers. Where the controversy lies is that opponents of the site feel that she is being insensitive. The argument goes that some of the kids in the photos may be disabled or have some other plausible reason for being upwards of 11 yet still being pushed around in a stroller. There is something about these user-generated sites that poke fun at everyday people that is not quite right. They may start off as innocent, but often end up a bit spiteful. After seeing a few stories from the author of Too Big for Stroller and from reading her blog, I do not feel she set out to be nasty, but in the end the haters silenced her.
Well, there you go. There’s my 3 for Thursday and you even got a bonus 4th with the third one! Would like to know if you have seen these sites and if you find them funny or not.

the bigger the city, the more organized the chaos

New York city is home to well over 8 million people (over 1.5 million in Manhattan alone). Add to this the millions of people that visit the city as tourists every year and that is a whole lotta people. In a city with this many people, a percentage of these people are bound to be a little clueless or lacking in common sense, hence the need for signs, alot of signs, I mean a WHOLE LOTTA SIGNS.

Signs help organise the masses and keep the flow of traffic (human, vehicular and other modes of transport) moving. Without them, their would be people going fisticuffs on running paths, in the parks and on the sidewalks.  People in close quarters in cities are people under pressure.

Our first day in New York we headed down to the reservoir with an exhausted Monkey #1 in his stroller. From the markings “No dogs. No bikes. No carriages” we surmised that ‘carriages’ referred to strollers. What makes me laugh about this sign is that people look at me funny and totally uncomprehending when I use the term ‘pram’ when referring to a stroller (the more common term in New Zealand), yet somehow we are suppose to know what a carriage is.  The main takeaway point is that only people either walking or running are allowed on this track. On any given day, this track is very busy, add to it tourists stopping to take photos. It would be challenging without these restrictions.

ambient signage around the Jacqueline Kennedy Onnassis Reservoir in Central Park

At first, I chuckled at the excessive amount of signs but I’ve now come to understand the need for them. In fact, I am a sign snob. If someone is running in the wrong direction I feel the need to give them the evil eye. Don’t they see the signs? They are everywhere. Big Monkey took off for a run around the reservoir and felt that something was not quite right. He was running in the wrong direction. No one actually said anything to him about it, he just felt the surge of people going against him. You see, my man has not only common sense, but a sense of what is going on around him, so he turned around and followed the flow of the crowd. A little confused as to why the direction was anti-clockwise, but happy nonetheless to do his part in minimizing chaos 😉

Walk or run this direction sign in Central Park

Signs tell you which way to run/walk around the reservoir.

you would think many of these rules are obvious, but you can never assume...

signage overload. Oh, right, I thought bike lanes were for something else.

I’d love to actually see the “don’t honk” signs enforced. We have several of these on our street, but still morning rush hour traffic always brings out the impatient driver who is too heavy handed on the horn. I’d love if this sign came with the ability to hand out citizen’s arrests or citizen’s tickets if there is such a thing.

dog waste laws

in my opinion, more of these signs are needed

Oh New York, you have big city chaos control down to an art. Wonder what other big cities do to keep the pressure cooker from blowing.

just ask bucket list

If you’ve had a look around this blog, you’ll know that I am a big fan of bucket lists, goal setting, writing your ambitions down – whatever you want to call it, basically planning to achieve in Oprah’s words “your best life”. I have a list of 100 things that I would like to do in this lifetime. I think it is important to acknowledge your goals and writing them down often helps propel them into reality.

With the arrival of my second child, I feel even more strongly about achieving items on the list. After all, the closer I am to being who I want to be and achieving ‘things’ off the list, the happier I will be and in turn the better a mama I will be.

Just Ask want you to stay around for a good long while so you can cross epic activities and life-changing achievements off that list of yours. That’s why they’ve developed a test that could save your life—the BRACAnalysis test—by informing you about your chances of getting breast or ovarian cancer.

– from the Today’s Mama website

They are running a competition at the moment in conjunction with Today’s Mama and in order to take part, I just need to share 15 of the items off my list. In no particular order, here are 15 highlights on my bucket list:

  1. Running in a woman’s marathon. There is something about running in front of spectators that is so invigorating. I think running as part of a sisterhood would be a-ma-zing!
  2. Write an award winning book. I have a lot of stories to tell, both fiction and non-fiction. They say that the difference between someone who has published a book and someone who hasn’t is that the published author just writes. This blog is a first step in getting to that book for me.
  3. Take drawing lessons. I think I have it in me to draw, I just need some guidance.
  4. Drink a bang lassi in India. India has always been on my list of places to visit. What’s not to like? The friendly people, the food, the meditation and yoga…oh and a bang lassi to end the day :)
  5. New Orleans for Mardi Gras. I’m not sure I want any of the beads, but I’d love to drink up the atmosphere.
  6. Ride a camel. Not sure where, maybe Abu Dhabi. I’d love to do this even though some have said the stinky bumpy animal rides are overrated…I’d like to find out for myself.
  7. Visit FAO Schwartz and enjoy it as if I am a child. Maybe even rent out the whole place and have a pyjama party for a few friends, make ice creams and dance on the massive piano.
  8. Travel from Marathon to Athens in Greece. Get an understanding of the history behind the epic running event.
  9. Ride a gondola in Venice. If I could I would travel more often. I’ve been to Cinque Terre in Italy and loved every moment of it. Venice I think would be classy and romantic
  10. Drink cognac in Cognac.
  11. Sip champagne in Champagne.
  12. Have a pint of cider in Ireland. Most would say Guiness, but I’ve never been a fan of the stuff.
  13. Become a yoga instructor. The ultimate would be to become a Bikram yoga instructor. The experience of fully dedicating myself to the practice for 3 months in order to become certified is scary and exciting at the same time.
  14. Go on African Safari.
  15. Skydive.

This is my entry in the Just Ask Bucket List Getaway Giveaway. Just Ask offers a breast and ovarian cancer screening and is encouraging people to share 15 things that I want to enjoy in my lifetime as a reminder to be aware of my health. Want to enter? Head over to to get the details. 

The Onion story that brought tears to parents’ eyes

If you have read any of my past couple of posts you will know that I have just recently had Monkey #2 – on November 4 at 10:45 PM to be precise. She weighed in at just 6lbs exact and is just beautiful. We are all in awe of her, including Monkey #1. In light of this momentous occasion, I will continue with NaBloPoMo (posting everyday in November) until it becomes impossible. These first few days with a new bub are always the most hectic. It’s already a relief to experience my body kicking into a place where it is remembering how it did all of this the first time around and making it easier this time around.
I jotted down my birth story in point form while I was in hospital – something I also did for Monkey #1. I’d like to write it up over the next couple of days…again, time permitting.
In the meantime I leave you with a story from The Onion that has been doing the rounds on the Internet. Fact or fiction? You decide. This is a timely reminder to me as a parent that we parents just never seem to get it right 😉

SANTA ROSA, CA—A study released by the California Parenting Institute Tuesday shows that every style of parenting inevitably causes children to grow into profoundly unhappy adults. “Our research suggests that while overprotective parenting ultimately produces adults unprepared to contend with life’s difficulties, highly permissive parenting leads to feelings of bitterness and isolation throughout adulthood,” lead researcher Daniel Porter said. “And, interestingly, we found that anything between those two extremes is equally damaging, always resulting in an adult who suffers from some debilitating combination of unpreparedness and isolation. Despite great variance in parenting styles across populations, the end product is always the same: a profoundly flawed and joyless human being.” The study did find, however, that adults often achieve temporary happiness when they have children of their own to perpetuate the cycle of human misery.

Oh dear! Us poor parents. Leave your thoughts in the comments.

KiwiCanadian expat adventures with my husband and 2 kids from life in New Zealand to New York and back again. Adventures in inspired family living, travel, health & fitness.Read More »