post pregnancy fitness + health

pic c/o self.com
I always assumed that when I lost all of my baby weight, my body would look exactly how it did post pregnancy...makes sense right?! Wrong. I was lucky enough to lose the weight pretty fast. I gained somewhere between 22 and 25 lbs, and was extremely fortunate to lose it pretty much within the first month. After delivering an almost 8 lb baby, the placenta, fluids, etc. it gave me a huge head start coming home from the hospital. 

I'm not a nutrionist or trainer but I'd love to share a few things that have worked for me over the past 2.5 months. Some of it may be a fluke or some of it may have some method behind it- fully aware of that! 

1. Breastfeeding- some people say this is BS and other people swear by it. Obviously this isn't the reason I wanted to breastfeed, but I'm not, NOT happy about the perks that come with it. Every time I would breastfeed Ryen for the first month I would start to have cramping in my uterus. I asked my Dr. what was up with that, and she said that breastfeeding encourages the uterus to retract back to its original size. Breastfeeding has also been known to burn between 300 and 700 calories a day. To put this in perspective, when I jog on a treadmill for 30 minutes I burn about 150 calories.

2. Watching what I eat- for some reason, I am more careful about this now than I was during pregnancy. I know that when I was pregnant, Ryen still was connected to me and what I consumed through the umbilical chord, but having her in my arms and knowing that what I ate and drank was going directly to her through breastmilk definitely made me become more mindful. Trust me, I had my fair share of sweets post pregnancy... I had 3 vanilla long johns the morning after I gave birth, but I tried my hardest to stick to an 80:20 healthy eating plan the last couple of months. 

3. Drinking lots of water- Post delivery I was way more thirsty than normal. I started drinking a lot of water that first week, and have tried to keep it up ever since. Even my esthetician told me my skin for the first time look hydrated "from the inside". Not sure what that means, but I'll take it! 

4. Being busy- It's an understatement to say that having an infant is a full time job. It's funny because I used to think, when my baby is sleeping I can get all my work done, have time to myself to workout, etc. Rookie mistake. When Ryen is sleeping I barley have enough time to clean, do laundry, dishes (soooo many dishes with bottles and breast pump pieces),  walk my dog, etc. I then use all the extra time I can for  Shadow Social & my own blog. My friends have to text me three times to get a response some days, and that is soo unlike me. I used to have my phone glued to my hand.  I LOVE being busy, and would not trade this life in for anything in the world, but there are full days that go by that I literally don't have time to eat anything besides a breakfast bar, let alone pee. Oh, and not to mention having time to wash my hair daily or put on makeup is so 2017. 

5. Mom strength- Taking a carseat/stroller in and out of the car multiple times a day is no joke. Not to mention there are days Ryen does not let me put her down, and I must say carrying her has definitely helped me tone my arms. 

6. Walking- Wherever I go, she goes. I try to walk as much as possible to take advantage of summer in Chicago. Whether it be walking to a client to take photos, or to the grocery store, I try to avoid driving whenever I can (especially when I'm in the city). There are days when we walk up to 7 miles. For anyone that knows me, my inability to sit still has not changed since having a baby.

7. Fitness- When I do have 30 minutes to myself I love putting on headphones and going for a jog. I also try to do push ups and weights at various times of the day whenever I have a free minute. 

8. Lack of drinking- I've never been a big drinker, however when it comes to alcohol consumption I'm a go big or go home kind of girl. Even before I was pregnant there would be times that I'd go two months without having a class of wine. Some people love the taste, I just don't. I would choose having cookies and ice cream over a glass of wine any day. However, I do like the feeling of having a buzz for special occasions I do not hold back :)  (Don't worry,  I know all about pumping and dumping). I do think that not having daily glasses of wine or mixed drinks has always been a benefit to my diet. 

9. Working out during pregnancy- I didn't eat as well as I would've liked during pregnancy (will definitely try to change that the second time around), but I made sure to incorporate some sort of fitness 4-5 days a week. My husband and I would take nightly walks, and I'd also do weights, the elliptical, and the stairs every day that I could and felt up to it. The majority of my weight gain was during the third trimester due to feeling nauseous and a lack of appetite in the beginning. I was also lucky that towards the end the weather was beautiful in Chicago and I was able to incorporate walking into my daily + nightly routine naturally. 

I have a long way to go until I feel like myself again, but it is truly amazing how the female body bounces back. I will keep you guys updated on what works and doesn't work, and how long it takes me to fully get rid of this cute little kangaroo pouch I still have in my lower abdomen. (JK- it's really not that cute, so ab toning exercises would be greatly appreciated). 


Nordstroms baby girl picks


I am so sorry the first one didn't work in certain browsers, I've added links at the bottom to shop my favorite baby girl items!

Stars Long sleeve top // Ice cream tee // Love heart tee shirt // Metallic Leggings // Heart shirt and leggings // North Face Jacket // Pink and Blue star sweatshirt  // Distressed Skinny Jeans // Star Leggings // Leather Leggings // Gold Converse // Jean Jacket // Bomber Jacket // Grey Vans sneakers  // Black and White 3/4 tee // High Top Vans // Polk a dot top //

Denim Dress // Popsicle onsie // Stella colorful jumper // popsicle tee // Burberry swimsuit // Gold Metallic Leggings // Heart Tank // Kate Spade swimsuit // ice cream dress // black Moto leggings // tye dye romper // ruffle butts swimsuit and hat // cold shoulder top and skirt //

Nordstroms Anniversary Sale - Baby girl picks

Click on each image to shop it directly! PS If this doesn't work for you there will be links added to the bottom by 650 CT...sorry! (Enable your flash if this isn't working by then)


Ryen Mae - Birth Story

The moment they put Ryen on me for the first time (Yes, I brought my own blanket to the delivery room....)

Now that I'm coming back to life, I've been working on Ryen's Birth Story all week and can’t wait for her to be old enough to read it. As I’m sure you remember, Memorial Day weekend was SO hot. It was 95-98 degrees the entire weekend, and I was so determined and ready to get (her/him) out. I had such a great pregnancy-- minus weeks 6-9 (promise I’m going to write about the scare and complications I had during that time next) but the last two weeks got VERY uncomfortable. I had sciatic pain, which is basically a nerve pain that shot from the top of my back all the way down my left leg at random times throughout the day and night. On top of that, the swelling became pretty bad towards the end-- especially because of the heat. As every pregnant person or mom knows, sleeping towards the end is pretty nonexistent.

walking into triage...

Okay... done complaining-- just giving you some background on why I was so anxious and excited to get this baby out over Memorial Day weekend. I had literally tried EVERYTHING people had told me (eat spicy foods, eat pineapple, walk, do jumping jacks, have sex, drink a certain type of tea, bounce on a bouncy medicine ball;  you name it…I did it)! I walked a total of 7-9 miles a day Saturday and Sunday of Memorial Day (including night walks to the lakefront) in the 95 degree heat...and still NOTHING. :(

Monday of Memorial Day rolls around (my due date) and I woke up feeling a weird pressure that I hadn’t felt before.  Still no signs of this babe coming, so I decided to go with my family and family friends to our annual Memorial Day picnic in Deerfield. I played in the egg toss, had a great lunch, got some sun, played fetch with Dash, and had an all around fun day. We then headed back to the city and decided to go out to dinner with my parents, brother, cousin, her fiancĂ©, and my aunt and uncle. We were set on going to the Athenian Room like we always do, but my brother was so annoyed with us for always going there that he suggested going out for Mexican food. (I’m seriously convinced this restaurant was what did the trick!)

After dinner, we got Dairy Queen and walked around Oz Park-- but I was EXHAUSTED.  We decided to head home early. By the time I got in bed at 10:00, I wasn’t feeling any pressure anymore, so I assumed I was just going to be induced on June 4th like I had decided with my doctor at the previous appointment. Well, little did I know… Ryen had other plans!

pre epidural

post epidural
Starting at midnight on the 29th, I woke up with my very first “real” contraction. Everyone always said that I would know the difference between Braxton Hicks contractions and labor contractions. Although at this point the pain wasn’t anything crazy, I knew they were much different than just the tightening feeling that happened with Braxton Hicks. If I had to describe how they felt from 12-4am,  I’d say it just felt like a pretty strong period cramp once every 5 minutes. I woke Jeff and told him I felt my first contraction, and he asked if we should go to the hospital. I said no we’d just get sent home until they were closer together, so we both tried getting some more rest. By 12:30 I realized sleeping through these were not going to be an option, so I decided to clean my entire house, shower, blow dry my hair, and finish packing my hospital bag. By 3:30 they started getting stronger and were never more than 5-6 minutes apart, so I decided to call the on-call doctor.  She pretty much said exactly what I thought she’d say, that until they were closer together and painful enough that I couldn’t talk or walk through them, that they’d probably still send me home if we went to the hospital. By 4am they were starting to getting pretty painful, so I woke Jeff up…because if I couldn’t sleep, why should he... right?! Haha. He showered too, and packed his bag because we both knew it’d be a long day or couple days in front of us. We went to Starbucks at 6 am and then headed over to Prentice Hospital.

It's so weird because every 5-6 minutes I was in excruciating pain from the contractions, but after 30-45 seconds, it was done and I would feel PERFECT until the next one came on. We got checked into triage, and, at this point, I was having contractions that ranged 3-5 minutes apart. However, they checked my cervix and I was only one centimeter dilated. P.S... having your cervix checked on top of feeling contraction IS NOT FUN. The nurse could feel the baby’s head right away and said it was very low, but said my cervix was tucked pretty far back so she had to put her fingers ALL the way up to check it. Not, not extremely painful....  But anyways, the on-call Dr. for my practice came in and could see how much pain I was in, so she suggested walking for two hours around triage and bouncing on a medicine ball to see if that would move things along. She also asked if she could strip my membrane before I started this. At this point I was so desperate, so what was another 30 seconds of intense pain?

After this, my husband and I started our two hour walk around triage. He called his family who lives in Michigan, and said “We THINK that this is going to happen today but aren’t sure”, and immediately my mother in law said “We’re getting in the car!!”  Now the pressure was really on to get this babe out. I don’t know why, but I was so nervous at this point for people to know that I was in labor. I was still thinking of every single scenario that could go wrong, and was in so much pain that I wasn’t thinking clearly about how exciting this actually was. I kept saying to my husband throughout the walk (where I’d be on the floor in pain every 5 minutes) that I kept forgetting why we were here, it just seriously all felt so weird and surreal.

After the two hours was up, the doctor checked me again and I was still only 1 cm dilated. I literally said “Are you fucking kidding me??” to a very nice Doctor, so I felt pretty bad about that after the fact... haha…it’s not like it was her fault! She basically said I had two options,--to go upstairs and get an epidural which could really slow down the labor process, or go home and try to let things progress in the comfort of my own home. She also said that if we forced my body to go into labor before it was ready, that my chances of having a C-section would be higher. That combined with the fact that I don’t even stay at very nice hotels because I’m such a germ freak, was enough for me to decide to head home and let this play out a little longer.

Bad move going home. I kept curling up in a ball on the floor, and was probably scaring my neighbor every few minutes. I ordered a vanilla long john from Dunkin Donuts because that was the only thing I was craving…and I could only have a couple of bites (that’s how you know this pain was serious... haha). Jeff’s parents got into town  and my parents came over around 4pm and were sitting in the living room watching TV while I was on the floor timing these contractions and deciding what to do. I have a really high pain tolerance but by 6pm I was crying from the pain. That’s when I knew I had to get the epidural. Our parents wanted to drive us and come to the hospital but I told them to go out to dinner because as far as I knew it’d be a long time until we got admitted. We got our bags and headed back…and this time when were walking in I said to jeff, we are NOT leaving this hospital again without our baby, and he fully agreed!

This time, they checked my cervix and I was at  4 cm!! I got sent upstairs to a room right away to get my epidural. I knew a couple of nurses in Labor and Delivery and was so embarrassed that I was hysterically crying when I got brought up stairs from the pain and being so nervous and scared that this was actually about to happen. But let me tell you, the second I got the epidural, I felt SOOOO good and all of the pain was completely gone. Also, the epidural didn’t hurt at all..they numb/freeze the area where they give you the shot so you don’t feel it at all. Within 5 minutes,  it was showing on the monitors that I was having contractions but could not feel a single thing.

my friend holding my Starbucks while I feed Ryen

Also, another unbelievable thing-- somehow my doctor was the Dr. on- call from 7pm-7am the next morning….like seriously, how is that possible that I was that lucky?! She told me that I probably wouldn’t get to 10cm until 3 or 4 am (you can’t start pushing until you get to 10cm) so that I should try to take a nap and get some rest. Well,  if you knew my family you would know that wasn’t going to be possible…and that’s why I love them! Everyone kept coming to visit us and see us before I started pushing, bringing us candy and flowers…it was so nice and made both of us feel so good. Finally, I told my parents and everyone to go home, that it was going to be a while and we’d call them when it was time. At this point, I fell asleep for maybe 30 minutes.  I woke up and felt SO much pressure (but not pain) and I told the nurse that it literally felt like my baby was coming out! Seriously, I had to keep checking because it felt like the head was sticking out (it wasn’t).

At midnight they checked and I was 10cm!! My Dr. came in and broke my water bag since it didn’t break itself. At this point she told me not to freak out, but that the NICU team would have to be in there during delivery because the baby had pooped in the womb and when it mixes into the amniotic fluid it can be very dangerous if the baby inhales it and enters the airway when they take their first breath. She assured me that this was very common and happens because of the stress that labor puts on the baby, but of course,  I was freaking out about that. Within 2 minutes, 6 people from the NICU team were down and in the delivery room waiting on the side. I will say, at Northwestern you truly feel like you are in the best hands. They do not mess around, and have every single team ready with the click of a button.

I finally relaxed and couldn’t even believe how calm I was when it was time to start pushing.  Jeff and I were talking to my doctor and the nurses about a show on Netflix, and it was really just so calm and surreal. My Dr.  told Jeff to come hold my leg, and I kept asking him what he could see. Every time the monitors would show I was having a contraction, I’d push as hard as I could for 10 seconds straight. At first,  Jeff said he could see hair, and then during the second round of pushes the entire head was out. At this point I completely forgot that we didn’t even know if it was a girl or a boy. After 15-20 minutes of pushing she said okay one more push and it will be out... I literally thought “Are you kidding me?”  How is that possible…I had prepared for this to be a 3 hour process! I pushed with everything I had, and when I saw Jeff start to tear up and have the biggest smile I've ever seen on his face, I knew that our baby girl had melted his heart for the first of many, many times. Still, when he said IT’S A GIRL!”,  I was so SHOCKED hearing the words that I of course started hysterical crying again! Every single one of my dreams had just come true. The doctor pulled her out and immediately passed her to the NICU team for evaluation. She passed all of the tests (yay!) and they finally place my BABY GIRL on my chest for the first time.  I truly have never felt happiness like that in my entire life. To say it was the best day of my entire life is the biggest understatement in the world.

** That was just so much for you guys to read.  If you have any other questions or things I didn’t answer, please DM them to me and  I'll add them into another post or answer questions on my insta story. Xooox

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