Mommy Monday: 10 Month Old Baby!

James is 10 months old tomorrow...how did this happen??

This is for sure my favorite age so far! James is so much fun!! He has the BEST personality and has quite the sense of humor. He laughs and giggles and gives me a sly smile when we're in on a joke together. He makes funny noises and cracks himself up. He feeds off of my laughter, which in turn makes me laugh more until we're both a big pile of giggles.

He's CONSTANTLY exploring and on the move. For a few months, he was army crawling and scooting around on his stomach, pulling himself around by his arms. He was FAST doing this!! But now he officially crawls, and oh my goodness, the kid can cover some serious ground!

James has been pulling himself up to stand for a couple of months now, and has recently started letting go of whatever he is holding onto. He falls pretty much right away, but always pulls himself right back up. He'll be standing on his own and walking before we know it. His pediatrician guessed within the next month or so.

Speaking of his pediatrician, he went in for his 9 month check last month. All is well and on track! But it was hilarious: they couldn't get a measurement for his length because as soon as we set him on the table and tried to get him to lie down still, he would start screaming and thrashing around. The minute I picked him up and he would grin and giggle and give us a sly look. hahaha It was hilarious. Then we tried to get his weight, and again as SOON as I set him down on the scale he was screaming and thrashing and rolling around. We had to weigh him by having me hold him and then having ME get on the scale. Then I set James down and they weighed me along and THEN subtracted the two weights. Not super accurate, but according to that he was almost 20 lbs.

Anyways, when the doctor came in she said, "so I see here that the nurse put that the patient was combative and we couldn't get a length for him." HAHA Ben and I are pretty proud that our nine month old was labeled "combative" in his medical chart. So freaking funny! And James was just grinning and laughing at us...he knew exactly what he was doing. We're going to have our hands full!!!

James eats pretty much everything that we eat. He eats "table food" and has never eaten baby food. I've always prepared everything he's eaten. I made our own purees out of fresh fruits and vegetables and meats, and now I cook him healthy, whole foods for his meals.

Would you guys like more information on the types of foods and meals that I make James? I could do a sample menu post or something like that, just let me know!

James loves music, playing peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake, walking around non stop holding onto his walker or our hands or the furniture, playing with Gunner (he throws the ball for him, it's SO cute to watch them play together!!), being outside, playing with blocks and buckets, and he LOVE LOVE LOVES BATHTIME!! He sticks his face under the water and giggles and splashes and just has the best time! :)

As far as how things are going for me 10 months postpartum, here's an update:

I feel like my old self. My tummy is tightening up more and more as I continue to focus on exercise and healthy eating. I still have stretch marks and my belly button is all droopy, haha, but I've learned to love those parts of me because of how I got them!

The one main update is about birth control! I have been on the mini pill since my postpartum exam at 7 weeks pp. Over the past few months, I've gotten HORRIBLE ACNE, which I have never had an issue with before in my life!! It's been so frustrating, and I tried everything - different cleansers, new makeup, NOT wearing makeup, changing my diet, supplements ...everything! Then after doing some research, it hit me: THE MINI PILL. My HORMONES were the issue, and the mini pill is the culprit. So, I went off of the mini pill a couple of days ago and switched to a new birth control pill. We'll see if things start clearing up!!

I'll keep you guys updated. I was also having SUCH irregular periods...like, having one for three weeks off and on, then skipping a month, then only having one for a day, etc...seriously messing with my body. I've read horror stories about the mini pill...any of you have any experiences with it??

OH! And I had my first Mother's Day!! Well, first one with James out in the world, that is! :) It was so special, and we got to spend it with my parents too! It was fun to celebrate my mom AND me being a mom this year!

Alright, that's it for our 10 month update! Let me know if you have any questions!! I'm planning things for James' first Birthday already. I don't think we'll have a party...maybe just a SMALL get together with close family. I definitely want to bake him a healthy smash cake (let me know if you'd like me to post the recipe!!) and I have a few other things planned for him!

Have a great week, friends!

Core Rehab, Part 2

"Is the Core Rehab Program worth the money?"

I get asked this A LOT.

I have shared a lot on the blog and on Instagram about how I had diastasis recti postpartum, as well as my ELATION over finding the Core Rehab Program. You can read about my experience during the first few phases of the program in my Core Rehab, Part 1 post - click here to read it.

To refresh, diastasis recti (abdominal separation) is a SUUUUUUUUPPPPERR common thing that so many women have after pregnancy. The scary thing is that there is a shocking lack of information and awareness about it, and often times it goes un-diagnosed and therefore, untreated. Here is a video you can watch that shows you how to check yourself for diastasis recti postpartum. Additionally, many women who ARE informed that they have it are told that surgery is the only way to repair it, which is NOT TRUE!! The Core Rehab Program helped me to heal my abdominal separation, and it can help you too.

First of all, let me say that this post is not an ad...I just genuinely am so passionate about this program because it seriously helped me to feel SO MUCH BETTER. I also get SO MANY QUESTIONS about my experience with the program, so I KNOW that there are other mamas out there who are interested in learning more and in finding a solution to their postpartum aches, pains, and misalignments. So, now that that is out of the way, let me update you now that I have finished all six phases of the program.

After completing the Core Rehab Program, I have definition in my abs and core, my diastasis recti has all but completely closed up, and I FEEL like my old self...the way I am SUPPOSED to feel.

While recovering post-baby is NOT all about looks or physical appearance, that is important in its own regard. When you like the way that you look, it's good for your head.

And mental recovery is JUST as big a part of the postpartum journey as is physical recovery!

The Core Rehab Program is slow-moving, which at first you don't necessarily feel like you are doing much at ALL. But that is the beauty of it, because Erica Ziel (the creator of the program) breaks it down slowly, step by step and helps you to re-form those deep connections that are needed to rebuild your core and heal abdominal separation the CORRECT and SAFE way.

After finishing the six phases of the program, my core feels strong, toned, and my whole body feels more aligned and centered. My posture is back to how it SHOULD be - pregnancy does a number on your spine, back muscles, neck, etc... and this program walks you through re-training your body into proper alignment. It teaches you how to pick things up properly and safely, protecting your back and abs while doing so. It teaches you how to do squats and arm work safely, how to lie down safely, and eventually, how to do "crunches" and additional work that uses your core.

It can be SO overwhelming, discouraging, and stressful trying to figure out where to begin to help your body heal and recover postpartum. I felt so un-like myself after giving birth and I was worried about my abdominal separation. I didn't know how to go about trying to fix things and heal my core.

The Core Rehab Program gave me to tools, and walked me step by step through it all. It's like Erica is a good friend, holding my hand, and gently guiding me through the process of healing and feeling like myself again.

So, is the program worth the money? In my opinion YES YES YES.  100% yes. Us mamas deserve to feel good postpartum. You deserve to give healing your diastasis recti without surgery a try. If you don't have abdominal separation, then you STILL deserve to re-learn how to properly stand, sit, walk, move in a way that is comfortable, safe, and right.

If you have any questions at all about the program or about my postpartum journey and my experience with diastasis recti, don't hesitate to ask! I'm here!

You can sign up for the Core Rehab Program and learn more about it here. Enrollment for the program closes on May 22nd so don't miss out on being able to sign up if you're interested!!

Mommy Monday: Core Rehab, Part 1

If you've been following me for awhile on my blog and on Instagram, you know that I have diastasis recti (abdominal separation) since being pregnant with my son.

Diagram of diastasis recti - mine wasn't this severe at all, but this shows kind of what happens with abdominal separation!

Abdominal separation is very common postpartum. However, there is a shocking lack of information out there for mamas who have this. In fact, many women have abdominal separation and aren't even aware that they have it (learn how to check for it here), OR they have been told that the only way to FIX it is by having surgery. Which is NOT TRUE!!

When I was first pregnant with James, I was searching the internet for some exercises that I could do while pregnant. That's when I first came across Erica Ziel. Erica Ziel is the founder of Knocked Up Fitness and Core Athletica Inc.. She is an EXPERT in helping women to strengthen their deep core muscles in order to have a safer and easier pregnancy, delivery, and recovery. 

Erica Ziel

Now, Erica has developed the Core Rehab Program for postpartum mamas! The Core Rehab Program is designed for mamas who are interested in "rehabbing" their cores after all that they have been through with pregnancy and delivery. This includes working on posture, techniques for safely picking things up, and how to properly engage your deep core muscles to strengthen your core and help to repair abdominal separation.

Pregnancy can do a number on a woman's body, especially her core. Muscles and connective tissues are weakened, stretched, etc... It is important to strengthen your deep core and connective tissues postpartum in order to properly heal and to feel better. But, if you're like me, it can be overwhelming and even a little scary because

...where do you even BEGIN??

Erica was kind enough to let me do the Core Rehab Program in exchange for reviewing it. And I certainly hope you all know that I will ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS be honest in my reviews. I would never recommend something that I wasn't totally excited about or impressed by or that I didn't genuinely believe in. So, with that said, let me dive right in:

THE CORE REHAB PROGRAM HAS BEEN THE MOST LIFE-CHANGING, GREATEST THING FOR ME. And I truly mean that. 

The program consists of six phases, each broken up into two weeks. I am through the first two phases, and oh my goodness, the changes are so incredible. And I'm not just talking about physical changes, although I've certainly seen some. I'm talking about changes in the way that I feel.

After giving birth to James, my back KILLED me. I have scoliosis, so my back has always hurt me. But pregnancy and delivery just really really messed it up. Plus, being on bedrest didn't help because I basically lost all of the muscle tone that was helping to support my back. Add in the abdominal separation and weakened core, and I was basically a hot-postpartum-mess of pain, discomfort, and consequently - stress

My abdominal separation was minor: just about a finger tip and a half wide, and not very deep (only about to my first knuckle). My doctor told me to just take it easy and refrain from doing core exercises or anything other than cardio for two months or so and it should close up. Well, two months came and went and if anything, when I re-checked, it seemed like my separation had not closed up at all. (Granted, I probably hadn't been taking it as easy as I should have been...) In fact, I think my separation had even gotten a little worse. I was very stressed about this and just wanted my body to be fully healed so that I could get back into my regular exercise routine (exercise is SUCH a huge part of my life!!) and so that I could start building up my back muscles again to help with my scoliosis and pain management. 

I had seen some buzz about Erica's Core Rehab Program floating around the internet and social media and I was really curious about it. Then, I saw one of my friends on Instagram, Kristen Suppa (@well.balanced.home) post something about the program. I messaged her about it, and she connected me with Erica, and the next thing I knew, I was diving into the program with so much excitement and hope. (You can read Kristen's story at the bottom of this post!)

Within the first week of the program, I noticed a difference in how I felt. I was standing taller. I was feeling more supported through my core. I was making changes in the ways that I held my baby and in the way that I picked him and other things up from the floor. I was moving and standing and sitting differently. Even breathing differently!

I finally was being given the tools that I needed to begin to heal myself and FEEL BETTER. 

Now, I've finished phase two and I am so excited to say that when I re-checked my abdominal separation yesterday, I can no longer stick ANY of my finger in AND my separation is less than a finger tip wide, which is normal!! I am blown away with how quickly the program has helped me to heal, and I know that these quick results probably aren't the norm. I also know that I still have a long way to go. I'm going to be continuing to work through all of the phases, and I'll be writing a follow-up blog post once I've completed phase six so that I can update you all, so check back for that in a few months! I can't even imagine how amazing I'll feel once I've finished all of the phases!! 

Again, these are my honest opinions. I am not being paid to say any of this, I just genuinely am so excited about the Core Rehab Program and I want to tell all of you about it in case you are suffering from discomfort, or abdominal separation, or the stress of not knowing where to begin healing your core postpartum like I was. Whether you are three months postpartum or twenty years...Erica shows that it is possible to repair your diastasis recti, strengthen your core, and MOST IMPORTANTLY...feel better. 

The Core Rehab Program opens for enrollment tomorrow, on January 3rd. You can sign up here to receive more information and to be notified when enrollment is open. I don't get anything out of your signing up, other than the joy of knowing that you are going to receive the same loving guidance from Erica that I have. 

If you are a postpartum mama who has abdominal separation, OR even if you DON'T have abdominal separation but just feel like you need some help in strengthening your core, please consider this program, because it has seriously made such a difference for me. I could cry I am so thankful for the Core Rehab Program and Erica Ziel. I want you to feel better too. 

If you have questions, feel free to ask! And follow me (@annamcohenblog), @well.balanced.home and @knockedupfitness on Instagram for more daily updates! 

Here's to taking care of ourselves and to feeling GOOD postpartum!! :)

Kristen's Story:

I'm Kristen, and I'm a Mama of 2 little guys in New Jersey. My oldest is almost 2.5 and my youngest is 10 months. I got pregnant the second time around when my oldest was just 9 months old, and unfortunately I still had some ab separation from that first pregnancy. I was nervous that it would get a lot worse the second time around, and I actually reached out to Erica Ziel to ask about her Prenatal Workouts. She was super encouraging and suggested her Prenatal Sculpt Workout DVD and I was consistent with that (especially the core routine- which is gentle and safe for those with ab separation) throughout my pregnancy. I am thankful for those workouts because I had a very quick labor (3 hours from the first contraction to holding my baby!) and a smooth, easy recovery. As expected, I still had some ab separation postpartum, but I believe it would have been a lot worse (and my labor not as easy) had I not been proactive during my pregnancy and committed to those workouts. 

I ended up having a 2 finger gap from a few inches above my belly button, all the way down to my pubic bone, also the depth of my gap showed that my fascia was weak (something I learned about from Erica's tutorials)- the depth was almost to my second knuckle. I jumped on the opportunity to participate in Erica's newly released Core Rehab Program, and I just finished Phase 4. I am thrilled with how my body is feeling. I am a firm believer in doing what you can when you can and practicing patience with yourself during this season of motherhood where the babies are little and you don't get much time for yourself. Easier said than done (and I'm forever working on maintaining that mindset!), but that being said, it has taken me about 6 months to complete the 4 phases, and I am ok with that! The workouts are all under 20 minutes, and usually there are 1 or 2 videos to do each day, so you can split them throughout your day when you find a pocket of time. You stream them from your phone, iPad, etc. or follow PDF printouts, which is helpful as a busy Mama! I'll be starting the New Year with Phase 5, and I can't wait to see how I feel after I complete the final 2 phases! 

This program did more for me than almost closing my ab separation- it has given me more awareness in my everyday movements and posture than I ever had before, and I'm so thankful for that. My gap is now just localized to about 1 inch above my belly button and right at my belly button, and it is about 1 finger or less in width. Under my belly button, my gap is closed! The depth has improved significantly as well- it is about as deep as my first knuckle at this point and just localized to right around that small belly button area, so I am proof that the program can help to strengthen your fascia as well! Erica gives us so much valuable information in all of her videos and her excellent cueing during the workouts and tutorials that I can now truly connect to my core during activities in everyday life, and I just feel stronger and more intentional with my movements throughout my busy days. Of course, the bonus is how much flatter my tummy is and how much better my posture is. My husband even noticed my posture, so that's a win too! 

My advice to other Mamas and Mamas-to-be is that it is so important to practice self care and find some time for yourselves. Erica's programs are designed in such a way that they're very manageable and they will give you that time for yourself, while giving you your body confidence back! 

I love connecting with other Moms on Instagram (you can find me @well.balanced.home)- we all have SO much in common and can and should lean on each other for support when we need it! I'm so thankful to have connected with Anna through this community of Mamas- her Instagram account and blog always brighten my day! Looking forward to seeing her progress with this awesome program, and hope to connect with some of you as well! Happy New Year! 

 

Mommy Monday: Pregnancy & Postpartum Q&A, Part 1

Sweatshirt: ILY Couture

Yes, it's Wednesday...not Monday - I know, I know. First off, let me apologize that this post took SO LONG for me to get up! I'm sure any other mama will understand how it can be challenging to find the time to brush your hair every day, let alone write blog posts consistently...but regardless, I feel bad. I miss blogging regularly, and I'm working really hard to get back into the swing of things. But the truth is, this little man has taken over my life and I wouldn't have it any other way!

Jammies: Kickee Pants

So, if for a bit my posts are inconsistent, or even a little baby-heavy, please hang in there with me. I PROMISE I'm still here and I'm working hard to get back to a regular posting schedule. :)

Alright, without further ado, here is my pregnancy/postpartum/new mom Q&A! I'll do a few of these because I got SOOO many questions. Here is part 1.

You all sent over some GREAT questions. I told you nothing was off limits or too personal, and boy I got some tough questions! I'm excited to answer them, so let's get to it!

*Also, if you are a guy, or if you just aren't interested in reading some TMI stuff, then you best turn away now! :)*

How did you handle the daily anxieties of having a not so smooth pregnancy?

Meditation was HUGE for me during my pregnancy. I would meditate twice a day, and I would spend A LOT of time in prayer every day as well. Praying and meditating REALLY got me through all of the fear and stress and worry and frustration of being on bedrest and of my situation.

What pregnancy symptom surprised you the most?

EXHAUSTION!! I was blown away by the utter and overwhelming exhaustion that I experienced, particularly in the first trimester. Bloody noses were a surprise too.

I'm scared of childbirth and of tearing! How was your experience with this?

Believe me, I was SO SO SO SO SO scared of child birth. The thought of tearing freaked me out SO badly. I seriously had anxiety about the entire thing. I had an epidural (BEST THING EVER - I napped while in labor!) so I didn't feel a thing. Seriously, labor and delivery didn't even hurt at all for me. I HIGHLY recommend epidurals. If you choose to go natural, more power to you! That takes a lot of will power! But for me, not having any pain was just a huge blessing!! So, my point is, that I didn't even notice that I tore a bit. I had a 2nd degree tear which is the most common degree of tear. It's not a big deal and I got a few stitches which fell out on their own within a few weeks. It was REALLY sore and stung for weeks after giving birth, but healed up totally fine and was not a big deal. Now, I hear that some women tear REALLY badly - but luckily that was not my experience.

What has been the biggest challenge physically for recovery?

I have Diastasis Recti which is ab separation. Mine is so minor - less than a finger tip. But, that means that, while I got the ok to start working out again, I have to hold off on doing any ab work until my abs have come all the way back together. My doctor said that should be in about another month or so. It's been hard to not be able to do ab exercises because I'm really eager to get my core toned up.

Another huge challenge physically for recovery was just the bleeding and pain for the first six weeks or so postpartum. Basically, your whole uterus has to heal and empty itself of all of the fluid and everything as it shrinks back down to it's pre-pregnancy size. So, there is a lot of bleeding, a lot of discharge known as lochia, and a lot of pain, burning, itching, and stinging as things heal.

What are your postpartum must-haves?

Listen carefully... STOCK UP ON THESE THINGS:

~Tucks Medicated Cooling Pads

~Sitz Bath Spray

~Dermoplast Pain Relieving Spray

~Colace

~Bio-Oil

~Peribottle (They should send you home from the hospital with one of these, but if for some reason they don't, GET ONE NOW!!!)

~Jumbo pads. Or adult diapers. The bigger the better. :p

How do you balance breastfeeding and working out?

I breastfed for the first two months, and during that time I wasn't cleared yet to work out at that point, so I didn't really have to deal with this. My breastfeeding and working out only over lapped for a week or two, and I wasn't really doing anything strenuous at that point. But, I've read that breastfeeding before working out, or pumping right after working out and discarding the pumped breast milk can help if a baby doesn't like the taste.

I would love to know the diet you are eating while breastfeeding?

While breastfeeding I didn't follow a particular diet - I mostly just focused on eating healthy foods and avoiding alcohol (but I don't really ever drink anyways so that wasn't very hard!!).

Once in college a professor told us after you have a baby you never feel quite like yourself or the same ever again. That always stuck with me as odd. Surely you feel different, but never the same again? I'd love to hear your thoughts on that.

I definitely still feel like myself after having a baby. It's not so much a matter of not feeling like myself, it's just that my LIFE and circumstances and body have drastically changed forever. THAT is the challenging and scary and disconcerting bit. I feel like the same person who has just been through something life altering: something scary and wonderful and absolutely incredible. And now I am someone's mother and that is my life now - me, Anna, the same person I have always been, just with a whole new view on life. And one that I am SO thankful for and excited about!

Maybe that doesn't make any sense. I'm not sure I articulated my thoughts very clearly there. Bottom line - I feel like me, but my life is different. My day to day activities have changed completely. My body is different. It's been a big adjustment, but I am loving my new life and I feel like the very best me, like my purpose in life is being fulfilled! :) And I am starting to figure out how to fit the things I love doing back into my new life (like blogging... ;), as well as enjoying the new things that I love doing, such as playing with my son and cuddling with him and caring for him night and day.

Alright, that is all I have time for right now. But at least I got some of the questions answered, FINALLY, right?? I'll do Part 2 sometime in the near future. As always, continue to send me any questions you may have and I promise I'll get around to answering them!

xo, Anna