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Your Vagina is Great!

Hey mama! Just a friendly reminder…your vagina is great! 

 

After having our babies our bodies often don’t look or feel the same. Sometimes it can be hard to even recognize these bodies. And this is especially true when it comes to our vaginas. When things don’t feel right, or if things don’t function properly we can easily forget that this is the site of pleasure, power and creation. We can start to feel as if we ARE our symptoms or our diagnosis. Scientific pain studies show that the more we think and focus on our symptoms, the worse they are. We hop on Google and read the horror stories. We wonder or sometimes believe that our lives will forever be changed. 

 

Sex will always hurt. 

We will pee every time we sneeze. 

We will never be able to lift more than 5lbs. 

We will never be able run/squat/do our favorite sport again. 

 

But mama…your vagina is great! And you are not your symptoms or your diagnosis! 

 

Our bodies change constantly. We grow. We age. We gain or lose muscle. We get pregnant. He give birth. We switch jobs and are either more sedentary or more active. We get more or less rest. 

 

When we can start to embrace the ever changing nature of our bodies, it can be easier to accept the big, sweeping changes that can happen during pregnancy and postpartum. 

 

And, you don’t need to accept the pain or discomfort. This is not your penance to pay for having kids! Seek out professionals who understand your goals and help keep you positive. If your goal is to get back into the gym or back to your sport and your therapist tells you that you shouldn’t workout or paints a doom and gloom picture of your recovery, it’s ok to ask why or get a second opinion! There is often a lot you can do to change your breath, pressure or posture that can lessen or alleviate your symptoms. 

 

Time, therapy and learning to listen to your body can go a long way toward helping you manage your symptoms and get back to the things you love to do! Don’t give your power away to your symptoms or your diagnosis! Your vagina is great! 

 

If you want to see how we integrate working with other professionals, helping you manage your symptoms and get back into the gym and back into a body you recognize, come try out one of our classes or schedule a consultation! Our personal training studio helps moms get strong during pregnancy and postpartum! 

Exercising after baby: what to do about knees that cave in

Getting back into the gym after having your baby can be like stepping into an alternate universe. Maybe everything looks the same. Same old treadmills. Same old stretch area. Same old weights. But everyone is speaking a language you don’t recognize. What the heck happened to my core? Why do I feel so weak? Why do my knees cave in when I squat or lunge? 

 

Pregnancy can make big changes to your body. Sometimes you can see those changes. Sometimes you can’t. Pregnancy changes your posture. It puts pressure on your core muscles and ligaments. It stretches and challenges the pelvic floor. And after baby is born it can take some time to put everything back together again! 

 

When our core is recovering, or is weak, our bodies find ways to borrow stability from other places in our body. This is often why our knees cave in when we squat or lunge. You may have learned in middle school physics class that the triangle is the strongest shape. When our knees cave in our body is trying to use the structure of our body to gain stability that we are lacking in our core. 

 

If your knees are doing this, here are a few things that you can try. 

 

  1. Change your breathing/pressure strategy. Try to relax your belly and inhale as you descend into a squat. Exhale as you come up. Watch your knees and see what happens. 
  2. Use a band. Put a band around your knees so you have to actively push your knees out. Do a few squats actively pushing your knees out. 
  3. Do corrective exercises. Clamshells and miniband walks can help build more stability in your hips and also coordinate your breath and core with your glutes.

 

If you want to learn more about getting back into the gym postpartum, or you are interested in staying strong safely during pregnancy, schedule a consultation with us! 

How to Survive the Fair with Small Kids

As we were driving to my kids’ childcare provider’s house one morning I saw that “FAIR THIS WAY” signs had been put up. And I made the mistake of saying something about it out loud. 

“Oh! The fair must be starting soon!” I said.

Then pipes up my 3-year-old, “I wanna go to the fair!” And those were the words I heard for five straight days. 

So, that weekend I decided to be FunMom and suggest that we all go to the fair on Sunday. 

Really going anywhere with a 3-year-old and 15-month-old is an ordeal, but when you’re going somewhere like the fair where it could be hot, crowded and has potential for sensory overload, it’s good to have a game plan in place to help you relax a little bit more and survive, er, I mean, enjoy the day.

Here’s how I survived the fair with small kids.

Don’t go. Just kidding. Sort of. Okay, here’s what I really did:

Snacks.

My 3-year-old could live on sugar all day, every day if I’d let him. And let’s be real, part of the fun of going to the fair is partaking in the sweet, gooey goodness that you don’t have in everyday life. But, in order to keep the sweets at a minimum (and my wallet in tact) I set the expectations ahead of time. I let him know that we would be having two treats at the fair and that otherwise if he were hungry we’d offer him snacks that we had brought along with us. (Some of our favorite easy snacks are uncured pepperoni and salami, cheese sticks, almonds, bananas and Lara Bars.) He did pretty well with these guidelines and he had the power of choosing which two fair foods he wanted to have.

Regular quiet breaks.

When you walk into a fair it’s like sensory overload. It might be hot, crowded, there’s loud music playing, lots of noise and chatter…and that can be a lot for little kids! It’s no wonder that they get irritable and fussy when stimulation is coming at them from all sides. To help alleviate some of these we scoped out the fairgrounds and found some places that were shaded and a little bit more far removed from the hustle and bustle. And every hour to hour and a half we went back to these spots to recoup. Yes, we stopped a lot. But having these mini breaks throughout the day helped the kids regain their cool. (Oh, and us parents, too).

Plan it out.

There is SO much to see and do at the fair that you could literally spend hours roaming around. But as we all know kids have a cool meter, and we want to get the fun stuff in before their cool meter runs out. So take a look at your state fair’s website and/or fairgrounds map and make a list of the things that you and your kiddos absolutely want to experience. For us, it was seeing all of the animals, checking out the kids interactive areas like the petting zoo and hands on activities and, for my husband and I, walking through the art exhibits.

Going places with kids can be hard work. If you went to the State Fair this year or if you’re planning on going, what are some of your survival guide tips? Share them by commenting on this post!

Good luck on your next family day!

Jill

www.movementduets.com

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3 Ways to Make Time For Yourself When You Have Small Children

I was in the bathroom, my sanctuary since I had my first son, doing my business. And honestly, I was taking a few minutes to breathe, scroll Facebook and have a moment when a small child wasn’t asking something of me. As I zipped up my pants I could hear my son yelling from outside the door, “Mommy! I made you a picture!” 

 

As I opened the door I saw the cap of a permanent marker…a beacon that strikes fear in the hearts of parents everywhere. Where was that little gremlin? What has he done??? And there he was, in the hallway, beaming with pride at the picture he had drawn on the wall. 

 

Was I being punished? Was I not allowed just a moment to myself??? The answer to that mama is YES! You are allowed a moment, many moments to yourself, but you’ve got to make them! Here are some tips that we have learned as moms ourselves, and working with many other moms in our gym. 

 

FIND YOUR SUPPORT SYSTEM

When we become moms it can be hard to ask for help. We worry that if we don’t look like we have it all together we will be judged. We don’t want to put anyone out. But, your friends really do want to help! And we all need help sometimes! So, make a list of the people in your support system, all the people who have offered to help, and take them up on it! 

 

PUT YOURSELF ON THE CALENDAR

Now…put yourself on your own calendar. Schedule the time away to do something. If we don’t make a formal plan it can be easy to keep knocking yourself down the list. Don’t do that, you are important! And not just because time away from your kids will make you a better mother or wife, just because you have intrinsic worth and value!

 

FEED YOUR INTERESTS

Remember the woman you were before kids? Ask her what she’d like to do with some time away! Did she like to read books and write poetry? Did she always have a joke when out with friends for happy hour? Did she train for triathlons? Go do those things. Because eventually, these little beings become more than part of our heart walking around on the outside. They become autonomous beings who move out and create lives of their own. 

 

Making time for yourself is an essential part of being a mom and just a human being. Find your support system, schedule the time and do something that makes you feel alive! If going to the gym is something that makes you feel alive, come check out one of our classes! Get your sweat on and meet other moms! 

Finn’s Birth Story

**(TRIGGER WARNING: This birth story discusses things related to preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM), an emergency c-section, birth trauma, postpartum depression (PPD), post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). If you believe that reading this will be comprising to your mental health, please feel free to skip this post. Take care of yourself.)**

I’ve been trying to write Finn’s birth story for months. For awhile, I literally couldn’t do it. It was just too painful. But, being that September was NICU awareness month and that Finn was in the NICU, I feel compelled that now is the time to share my story. It’s important for me and my healing, but it’s also important for me to use my platform to help other people know that they are not alone.

To be honest, I’m still having trouble writing it. I have stopped and started many times, taking deep breaths in between. I didn’t go back and edit very much. It’s not going to be perfect. Some of it may be rambling. It’s long. But, all the same, here it is:

Myself, Jack & Sam moments after he was born.

My pregnancy and birth experience with Jack was what I would consider pretty expected. My pregnancy was fairly textbook and uneventful. Even when it was go time for labor my contractions were the typical 45-60 seconds every 4-5 minutes.

I had a hospital birth with Jack and I chose to have an epidural. All around I had a pretty positive experience and we got to go home after a day or two (you can read Jack’s birth story here). And while my birth experience with Jack was what I would consider a good one, I knew when I became pregnant with my second child that I wanted to do things a little differently.

After much discussion about all of our options, my husband Sam and I decided that we wanted to hire a midwife and that we wanted to have a home birth. There was something magical about the thought. No hospital, no doctors, no bright lights…..just us welcoming our baby boy into the world.

I absolutely loved the fact that my midwife came to my home for my prenatal visits. No having to find a babysitter or trying to keep a 2-year-old occupied. We were in the comfort of our own home and Jack was a part of the experience. He really enjoyed putting the ultrasound gel on my pregnant belly and listening to the baby’s heartbeat. My midwife and her student even let Jack listen to his own “baby” after mama had her turn. It was one of the most precious things ever.

It all seemed so perfect. My midwife, Julia, and I agreed that based on my history there really was no foreseeable reason that I shouldn’t be a good candidate for a home birth. I had an uncomplicated vaginal birth with Jack and no serious medical issues to speak of. We should be good to go!

 Of course, I was nervous about contracting and birthing without an epidural. I even briefly talked about the possibility of transport should I change my mind. Even though I knew that I was able and wanted to birth this baby at home, mentally I needed my options.

I had no reason to think that this home birth wouldn’t happen for me and my baby. I was nervous, but I was excited. And the closer his due date got, the more I began looking forward to it.

It was a typical Wednesday night. Sam had just gotten home from work and was getting dinner ready. Jack was “helping” with said dinner. I was sitting in my recliner browsing Pinterest on my phone for home birth décor ideas and essential oil blends that could help with labor. All was well.

Both of my feet were placed on the floor and I decided that I wanted to pick them up to sit crossed legged in my chair, a thing I did regularly.…and that’s when it happened.

All of a sudden my chair was wet. I looked down and my pants were wet as well. At first, I thought maybe it was urine. I had been having bouts of incontinence throughout my pregnancy (which I was seeing a pelvic floor PT for), but this gush seemed so unprovoked. Plus, it was a lot of fluid. A LOT.

“Dang!” I yelled into the kitchen to Sam. “I just peed myself again! I don’t know what happened!” and I rushed to the bathroom.

I sat down on the toilet and the fluid kept coming. I looked. It was clear. It did not smell like urine. I was only 26 weeks pregnant. Did my water actually break? I was terrified.

“Sam! I don’t know what’s happening!”

He came running around the corner from the kitchen to check on me and opened the bathroom door. I was still sitting on the toilet, fluid splashing into the bowl, tears starting to come into my eyes.

“You need to call Julia,” he said, and he went and grabbed my phone.

Still sitting right where I was, fluid continuing to come out, I called Julia on speaker so that Sam could hear. I was now sobbing.

I told her what had happened and she said, very calmly, that I should go to the hospital to get checked out and that she would be there as soon as she could.

Not knowing how long we were going to be there we rushed to grab a few items for Jack’s diaper bag and turned off the stove where dinner was cooking. I grabbed a bath towel and put it between my legs as the fluid continued to come out. Frightened and confused I continued to sob as I grabbed my purse and put on my flip flops. Luckily, the drive to the hospital was a short one.

I cried all the way there, in the elevator on the way up to labor and delivery and at reception. Jack kept saying, “It’s okay, Mama. It’s okay. It’s okay, Mama.” Tara, the receptionist, was a phenomenal presence. She was calm and reassuring as she got me checked in as soon as possible.

I continued to leak and hold my towel in between my legs as we sat and waited for a nurse to come get us. I was so scared. It was too early for this little guy to come. What did this mean for him? What did this mean for the rest of my pregnancy? What did it mean for our home birth plans?

The nurse finally came after what felt like an eternity (although I’m sure it was just a few minutes) and took us back to triage. As I changed into a hospital gown in the bathroom, more fluid came out and splashed on the floor. I was shaking. Sam had to help me tie my gown in the back. Sweet Jack continued to say, “It’s okay, Mama.”

I laid back on the table as the nurse took some preliminary vitals and asked me what had happened. One of the OB hospitalists came in, Dr. Lugenbill, and after her examination she confirmed that my water did in fact break. The medical term is preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM). She assured me that while it was low, there was enough amniotic fluid for baby, that he looked healthy and that they would be giving me medicine to slow and stop progression of labor should it be happening.

“You’re going to be admitted until you deliver,” she said.

Ummmmm……what?!

Unaware that I could cry even more than I already had, I began crying even harder. I was 26 weeks pregnant, and I was going to stay in the hospital 24/7 until I delivered my baby that wasn’t due for another 3 months?

ALL of the things that I would be missing out on flashed through my mind. Mother’s Day. Summer. My birthday. A play that I wanted to go to. My special things that I wanted to do with Jack while it was still just the two of us until his brother arrived. Being at home with my family. Snuggling in bed with Jack in the morning. Sharing a bed with my husband. Our home birth plans. All of it, just like that, was gone.

“As in, I can’t leave until the baby is born?” I asked through my tears.

“That’s right,” she said, as she patted my leg. “I’m sorry. I know that’s not what you want to hear.”

 The whole first night was devoted to making sure that I didn’t go into labor. I was given medications that kept me bound to the bed and that made me a fall risk. They wouldn’t even let me walk to the bathroom. I had to be assisted in using a portable bucket right next to my bed.

Sam stayed with me all of the first night, which wasn’t very restful. The fetal heart monitor was on all night and because the baby was so little, the nursing staff had to keep readjusting the monitor. Not like I was getting a lot of sleep anyway. It was all such a shock.

They say in about 1/3rd of the cases that PPROM is caused by an infection and in the rest of the cases they don’t know why it happened. I was in the “we don’t know why it happened” category. I didn’t appear to have an infection, but they and I would be looking for signs of infection for the rest of my hospital stay.

Throughout the coming days I was assessed and visited by different specialists. A maternal fetal medicine physician told me that if I made it to 34 weeks that the risk of staying pregnant for me went up and for the baby went down, and that it wouldn’t be worth the risk to keep me pregnant. So, if I made it 34 weeks, they would plan to induce labor. I looked at my calendar. That was 7 weeks from the day I was told this. I could potentially be in the hospital for up to 7 weeks.

I hunkered down. I got outside as often as I could. I continued to meet different doctors and specialists. One of the neonatologists came to explain what having a premature baby would look like and mean for us. I got to tour the NICU and ask as many questions as I could think of.

My angel nurse, Shelley, would often check and make sure that I was getting outside and moving around and that I wasn’t just working the whole time. Jack and I made a construction paper advent

calendar that would countdown the number of days until it was until I hit the 34 week mark. But, I didn’t make it that far.

On Friday, May 18, 2018 Sam and I had finally settled on a name for the baby. His name would be Finn, Scottish in heritage, which means warrior. It seemed entirely fitting for the situation that we were in. It turned out that it was a good thing that we had picked out a name.

The next day, Saturday, May 19th. I was 27 weeks 5 days pregnant. Other than my arrival my time at the hospital had been pretty uneventful. I was feeling good, baby was staying healthy and on the inside, everything was seemingly fine. At the last ultrasound I had it showed that Finn was head down and that he had started to make some of his own amniotic fluid. Sam and Jack had come for a visit that afternoon. We took a family walk outside (as we did most days) and had just gotten back to the room. We were talking about ordering dinner.

All of a sudden and out of nowhere I started to feel a little off. A little achy. Then I started having chills. I was starting to see black dots in my vision. I went to the bathroom and didn’t see anything unusual there. It didn’t totally feel like I was getting sick, but I could tell that something was different.

I laid down in my bed and pulled up the covers. Sam and I agreed that I should call the nurse in. When she came in she checked my vitals. All seemed well there. Then she wanted to check Finn’s heartbeat on the monitor. She was having a hard time finding it for awhile, but that wasn’t all that uncommon. He was little and moved around a lot. Many nurses have had trouble finding his heartbeat. She continued to try and with no luck.

She called in another nurse. She tried, and still no luck. They decided to call in Dr. Lugenbill who not only happened to be the doctor that admitted me, but was on the floor that day. Dr. Lugenbill came in and decided that we should do an ultrasound, but rather than making me get up and go to radiology she would bring the machine into the room. While we were having this discussion Finn’s heartbeat finally came up on the monitor.

We were relieved. Jack was starting to get fussy and wanted to go play out in the lobby. Knowing that we had found Finn’s heartbeat and that I was okay, Sam decided to go ahead and take Jack out for a little bit and come back.

That’s when things hit the fan.

Finn’s heart rate was slowing down. The ultrasound showed that he had flipped from head down to transverse. His heart rate wasn’t picking back up the way it usually did. He continued to get a little slower. Dr. Lugenbill said, “We’ve got to take this baby out. Right now.”

I started to cry. Where was my husband? I needed my husband!

She leaned close to me and said, “I know this is hard, but I need you to stop crying to help this baby. He’s saying that it’s time.”

I slowed my breath as much as I could as the silent tears kept spilling. The bed rails were going up. Where was Sam?

“I need my husband. I need him, please.”

As we were beginning to roll out toward the operation room, Sam and Jack were making their way back to the room.

“What’s happening?” Sam said. I could see the fear in his eyes.

“They’re doing a c-section. Call everyone.” I said, still trying to calm myself.

Sam tore himself away from the bed. I could tell how painful it was for him to have to leave me alone. Actually, I could feel it. Because I desperately didn’t want him to go.

They rolled me to the operating room in the NICU. It was so bright. Sterile. The screen went up. Splash. “They’re putting some iodine on you,” said the anesthesiologist. Everybody was talking to each other like I wasn’t there. Roll call. Saying what duties they were assigned to. I was barely being told what was happening as it was happening. It was all going so fast.

The anesthesiologist looked directly into my eyes, “I’m going to put you to sleep now. It’s okay. We’re going to take care of you. We’re going to take care of your baby. Here we go.

Baby Finn: born on 5/19/18 at 8:29 p.m. 2lbs 10.3oz, 14.5″ long

And that’s all I remembered.

Sometime later I woke up in a different room. The recovery room, they called it. There was a nurse to my right. “She’s starting to wake up,” I heard her say.

I remember laying there, not moving. I shifted my gaze from left to right several times. “Where’s my husband?” I could hear myself say. “Can I see my husband, please?” It was definitely my voice speaking but it felt like it was coming from somewhere else.

Sam came into the room and by my side. “He’s okay. He’s stable. I was with him,” he told me right away.

 Finn was in the NICU. It would still be another hour and a half before I could see him.

Finally, after what seemed like a lifetime, they said that they were ready to roll me up to the mother and baby unit. “Can I see him first?” I asked. And they obliged.

They rolled my bed into a hallway and into a dark room. There was my baby. He was tiny. 2 pounds and 10.3 ounces. He had so many tubes, wires and monitors that between all of the medical equipment and my inability to sit up I couldn’t even see his face. It had a little CPAP mask on it. All too quickly, I was taken upstairs.

It would still be another couple of days before I could hold him.

The morning after my surgery Dr. Lugenbill came in to talk to me about my incision. She told me that because of Finn’s size and position that she had to do an inverted T cut, and that if Sam and I planned on having any more children that we should prepare to have another cesarean. More grief washed over me. Not only did I not get to have a home birth, I would probably never have one.

I was in the hospital as a patient for about 4 days. I could have been discharged at 3 days, but I was nervous to have to go home and that I wouldn’t be one floor up from my baby that I opted for as much time as I could get.

The NICU staff told us that the hospital offered “boarding rooms” for NICU parents. What that means is as long as our baby was a patient in the NICU and as long as they had room, we could stay in one of the patient rooms. We took advantage of that for as long as we could, which ended up only being about a week. During that week we were moved from the mother/baby unit to the pediatric unit and were out of the hospital completely after only one night post room change.

I was terrified to go home.

On the drive home everything played backward. Finn in the dark hospital room hooked up to all kinds of things. Me being wheeled in to see him. Me waking up after the surgery. The anesthesiologist looking into my eyes. The cold splash of the iodine. Being wheeled into the bright, cold operating room. The look in Dr. Lugenbill’s eyes when she said that we would be taking the baby out now. Sam taking Jack into the lobby to play. The uneventful days in the hospital before this happened. My first night in the hospital. The triage nurse. Checking in. The drive to the hospital. Holding a towel in between my legs. Picking my feet up to sit crossed legged in my chair. I saw everything.

And every mile, every inch closer that we got home the more shallow my breathing became, the more tears that had started to shed. I was having a full blown panic attack.

I remember being at the bottom of the stairs to our apartment and our landlord coming out to say hi and to talk to us about a lease renewal. “Oh…is this a bad time?”

“Yes,” Sam answered for me. “Sorry, we’ll get back to you on this.”

As soon as I got into our apartment I collapsed on the kitchen floor into heaving sobs. I stayed there for a long time. Sam had to physically pick me up.

 

From that point on everything revolved around Finn’s care times at the hospital. I would go in in the morning and Sam would go in at night. We watched as our sweet boy worked toward breathing on his own, growing and warding off infections. Such a strong boy. Such a warrior.

For 74 days I watched him struggle, overcome challenges and grow. For weeks I went in everyday to see him, to hold him, to do whatever was in my power to help him th

rive. For weeks I listened to and watched those monitors, feeling nervous and helpless. And for weeks I lamented not making it to 34 weeks, staying hospital bound, because at least I could have fought *for* him instead of watching him do it on his own.

For most of those 74 days I stayed in a dark room, alone with my son. Being a NICU parent can be so incredibly lonely. Between Sam’s work schedule and us both coming to see Finn, werarely were together. And we definitely weren’t together as a whole family that often. If it weren’t for the nursing staff in the NICU I might have gone crazy. They have some really amazing people at Salem Health.

I will always remember how incredibly resilient Jack was during this time. How empathetic he was when I checked in to the hospital. How he just rolled with going to the hospital every day for over two months. Seeing the fish and his favorite receptionist were becoming the highlights of his day. I have some pretty amazing boys.

I will always be grateful for how my husband rose to the occasion. How patient he has been with my multiple episodes of falling apart. How, despite all of the things that were going on, he would always attempt to put me first. How he loves and cares for the boys and I. How strong he was even though he must have been terrified. Everyone that came into contact with our family at the hospital told me how lucky I was to have a guy like him. And they are right. I am incredibly lucky.

I will never forget the day that the doctor said, “It looks like Finn can go home tomorrow!” Nervousness and elation flooded my body.

That night we had Jack sleep over with my dad and stepmom and Sam and I spent the night in the hospital with Finn. We rolled up our newborn sleeves and got ready. We got up together at each feeding. We gave him a bath at 5:00 a.m. We did all of the things on the discharge list that there was to do. Sam packed up all of Finn’s things and took them down to the car and came back up. Now we just sat and waited for a nurse to walk us out.

As we walked toward the elevator I thought of each and every nurse and doctor that we came into contact with. I thought of how I would miss certain ones. We had gotten into a routine, but now, it was time for the next phase. We walked outside and into the sunlight. Finn was 2 ½ months old and this was his first time outside. It was incredible to think about.

“Congratulations,” the nurse said. She gave us each a hug and turned to walk away.

Kind of in a daze Sam and I both got into the car. And we both sobbed.

We’ve been dreaming about this day for weeks and it was finally here. We were out of the hospital. No more monitors. No more cords. No more tubes. No more dark rooms. No more having to go through two doors of security to get to our son. No more trying to keep Jack occupied and quiet so that we could spend time together as a family of four in a small hospital room. We were on the outside, with our baby. Our warrior. We could take Finn wherever we pleased.

This experience has changed my family forever. The significance and the impact runs deep. From now on our life experiences will be categorized into two parts: before this happened, and after this happened. It has simultaneously challenged and strengthened my marriage.

I have been struggling with significant postpartum depression and post traumatic stress disorder. I have panic attacks. There are days when the depression runs so deep that I can barely speak or move. There are times my anxiety is so high that I can’t think straight or focus on what I was initially trying to do. I have been in therapy for months and will mostly likely be in therapy for many more.

Writing out this story was really, really hard for me. In some ways, I didn’t want you to know. I didn’t want you to see that I wasn’t handling things all that well. But, in other ways, I knew that writing my story and sharing it with you was one of the most important things that I had to do. You have to know that you’re not alone. You have to know that even though social media is a highlight reel that I’m struggling, too. Sharing this all with you is essential to my healing. It’s a part of the process of letting go.

As for how things are going now I’m in it, not through it. But, I’m through it enough that I feel ready to share this story with you. I feel ready to connect. I hope by sharing my story that you see that nobody is perfect, that everybody struggles and that if you’re struggling with a birth that didn’t go as planned, postpartum depression, anxiety, PTSD, if you have/had a baby or babies in the NICU….I’m here.

And to my fellow c-section moms: having a c-section in no way says that you’re incompetent, that you didn’t “really” give birth, that you took the easy way out, that you’re weak or that you can’t possibly bond with your baby. You’re not less of a woman because you didn’t give birth “naturally.” You are a strong, resilient woman and an amazing mom who did what was best for your child. There’s nothing more primal than that.

Thank you for reading my story. I know it was long. I know it was messy. But, if I touched even just one person by sharing it then it was totally worth it.

Xoxo,

Jill

www.movementduets.com

info@movementduets.com

 

 

 

Goodbye, plans! (And hello new ones)

“I think I want to wait until after Christmas next year to have another baby.”

Photo: Tutu Shots

This was part of a conversation that I was having with my husband over breakfast the morning of December 5th.

I had just received an email that StrongFirst was hosting a SFG 1 Kettlebell certification course in Seattle next September. I’ve been wanting to get this certification for the past 5 years and for one reason or another, the timing was never right. This time, it was right! I was so excited to get serious about training for the course requirements (swing, double clean, press, double front squat, get up and the 5 minute snatch test).

I also was also excited to train for the upcoming Highland Games season again. So, I figured if we waited until after Christmastime to get pregnant that I could compete in the Highland Games in the summer, attend SFG 1 in September and we could go on our family vacation to Southern California that we had been planning since 2016 without being my being pregnant (like I was last time – 8 months!) and without adding an extra family member to our bunch quite yet.

This was the conversation I was having over breakfast with my husband on December 5th. The afternoon of December 6th, I found out that I was pregnant.

Goodbye, plans!

Photo: caitalystmedia

A couple of weeks after I found out that I was pregnant morning sickness hit me like a Mack truck. I mean I was sick All. Of. The. Time. If I wasn’t throwing up I was thinking about it or almost about to. Fatigue and nausea have been really kicking my butt.

My workouts became almost nonexistent. I was averaging maybe one workout a week, sometimes none. I started to feel depressed and I have been feeling more aches and pains this time around. I knew that working out would help alleviate some of these things, but I couldn’t seem to bring myself to increase my frequency.

“I should be working out more,” has come out of my mouth countless times over the past 2 months. And I attributed my lack of activity to how I was feeling. I mean, the first trimester can kind of suck. But, not too long ago, I realized that there was actually more to it than that.

Yes, I’ve been feeling like crap, that’s true. But, I was also really lamenting the loss of my training goals.

I will be 7+ months pregnant when the Highland Games season begins and about a month postpartum if I attended the StrongFirst certification in September. Participating in or training for either of these things at this point is hardly appropriate. But, right before I found out that I was pregnant I felt like I was finally hitting my stride again after having Jack over 2 years ago. I felt strong, capable and was coming off of a high of a recent 275 lb deadlift PR. Getting pregnant felt like starting all over again.

Yes, we were excited to find out that we were pregnant. We always knew that we wanted a second child. But, I also was really bummed that the direction of my training had to change course. And, to be frank, I was feeling a little sorry for myself. “If I can’t do the stuff that I want to do, then why bother?” Kind of sad, right?

They say that you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge. It may have taken me a couple of months to really discover what I wasn’t acknowledging, but I got there. No, I don’t get to train for the “big stuff” like StrongFirst SFG 1 and the Highland Games right now, but I do have something BIG to train for.

Pregnancy and childbirth is also the big stuff! And training for it is really, really important. I want a strong, healthy pregnancy. I want to prepare as best as I can for childbirth. I want to set myself up for a successful postpartum recovery. And focusing in on training for this time in my life is going to set me up to be able to get back to the other big stuff later.

So, I made a 180. It’s time to let go of what I can’t do and focus on what I can. It’s time to train for the big stuff carrying and having a baby!

Jill

P.S. If you’re a coach, trainer or someone who wants to learn more about the ins and outs of training a pregnant and/or postpartum client make sure that you don’t miss the Willamette Trainers and Coaches Summit on March 9th and 10th! Get more event info and register here. (Use the code MCLEAN or TURNQUIST for a discount!)

Too big? Says who?

“You’re too big for him.”

Growing up I never gave much thought to this idea. That I was “too big.” Sure, I had insecurities and struggled with self esteem. I wanted to look pretty, have nice clothes and wished that some things about my body had been different, but I never really considered myself “big.” Not until this moment.

My first serious college boyfriend, his friend and I were hanging out one evening having dinner, and my boyfriend’s friend was studying the two of us closely. “What?” I’d asked. “Why are you staring at me?”

“You’re too big for him,” he blurted out.

Honestly, it was the first time I’d really noticed. My boyfriend at the time was of average height and he was thin. Compared to him, I did look quite a bit bigger. But, I never considered it before. Now it was all I could think about.

In my shock and dismay my boyfriend rushed to my defense and we quickly wrapped up the evening. The car ride home was filled with apologies and “So you’re a little bigger, you’re not fat,” type of statements.

I never saw his friend again (not sad about it). And eventually, my boyfriend and I broke up. But that one statement stuck with me. “You’re too big for him.” You’re too big. And I started to believe it.

The next several years of my life were filled with chasing beauty standards that I would never achieve. I thought that in order to be desirable

At a holiday party. My family was worried about me at this point in my life.

that I needed to be smaller. I started using exercise as punishment. I started starving myself. If I had dessert with friends or a cupcake at a holiday party I went home and did an extra cardio session to work it off. The “fat burning zone” and the “calories burned” counter on the elliptical machine became my guide. When I started to see my spine with more clarity I thought that I was finally beginning to arrive.

Thankfully, I had people in my life who intervened and helped me get back on track with healthy eating and exercise habits (you can read more about that here). And while I never did go back to extreme dieting and 2.5 hour+ training sessions, I thought that all of the head games over my body image was behind me…..until I got pregnant with my first son.

The expectations for the expecting woman are intense. Everyone has an idea of how much weight you “should” be gaining per week and how quickly you should be able to “bounce back” after you give birth. And, I’ll be honest…..as a fitness professional, I fell into the trap of putting a lot of pressure on myself to look a certain way postpartum. At first, the weight fell off pretty quickly, but then there was a stall, and I started to worry. “You’re too big.”

But, wait a second…..says who?! The more I thought about it the more I wondered that. Who says that I need to look a certain way? Who says that the postpartum body needs to be erased as if the pregnancy never happened? Who says that I need to weigh a certain amount?

We get to make a choice here. We can either buy what society, media and other people are selling or we get to decide for ourselves what beauty and strength is. Who gets to decide these things for me?

I DO. I get to decide. I get to define my self worth. Not other people. Not the media. Not #fitspiration celebrities. I do.

I’m not “too big.” I’m BIG. I’m powerful. I’m strong. And I have decided to take back what’s always been mine: my esteem, my confidence, my self love and my body.

Jill

P.S. We’re always looking for more women to join us in the quest of gaining strength and confidence on the inside and out. Join our weekly newsletter list or check out our training options here.

3 Ways I De-stress

Things are a little crazy right now.

If you’ve been following Movement Duets for awhile you know that we’re continuing to expand our training options of  in-person and our online group training program Fit Mom Foundations, we’re in the middle of our 2nd annual Making Time for Mom 21-Day Challenge and we’re also preparing to host our workshop, Pregnant to the Core, next month. In addition to all of this, I work part-time at a chiropractic clinic. And to add an interesting twist to the mix, my husband and I share a car and we’re parents to a beautiful, busy 21 month old boy. So….yeah, like I was saying, things are little crazy, haha!

All of this said, even though a lot of it has been good stress, my stress levels have been a little high lately. Now I know that I’m not the first mom to have high stress or a hectic schedule, but living in a frenzied state just isn’t for me (is it for anybody?). So, I’ve had to step up my self care game in order to not let my candle burn at both ends. You know what they say, “If momma ain’t happy……”

Here are three ways that I’m taking action to reduce stress in my life:

  1. Working out. This should come as no surprise. Working out is literally my therapy. When I get in touch with iron I can feel my tension leaving my body. And it’s not just what I feel or what I think, there have been numerous studies showing the benefits of exercise on your mental health.

Almost everybody has heard that exercise helps combat stress by releasing endorphins and other feel good hormones into your body, but more than that, exercise has also been shown to help your brain cope more efficiently with stress. According to an article by the American Psychological Association psychologists believe that “exercise thwarts depression and anxiety by enhancing the body’s ability to respond to stress” by giving the body the opportunity to practice dealing with stress through the imposed demands of physical activity.

So, exercise equals less stress and makes us better at dealing with stress in general….that’s a pretty good deal! And you don’t necessarily have to put in an hour at the gym to get these effects. Simply getting outside and taking a brisk walk can do the same thing!

  1. Prioritizing instead of multitasking. Multitasking has typically been praised as a super skill.  I mean, heck, it’s usually something that people list as a strength in job interviews! And let’s face it, as a mom multitasking is sometimes necessary. But, what I’ve found is that multitasking has been decreasing my quality of life.

I’m constantly placing the demand on my brain to switch gears. I co-own and run a business, I have another part-time job, I’m a wife, mother, friend….I’m answering text messages, emails, writing Facebook posts and breastfeeding the baby, sometimes all at once! I can get so bogged down on trying to be as productive as possible by doing all of these things at once that I feel like I’m not actually being as productive as I thought! And, as is turns out, there’s research to support this:

According to Stanford researchers, “People who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information do not pay attention, control their memory or switch from one job to another as well as those who prefer to complete one task at a time.” And I’ve definitely found this to be true in my life.

Beyond being less efficient and productive overall, I’ve been finding it increasingly difficult to be present with my husband and son, the two most important people in my life! And as the most important people in my life, they deserve more of me. As I’ve started to prioritize my tasks, completing them one at a time as they’ve needed to be done, I’ve actually felt more productive and therefore less preoccupied during my family time. Plus, I’m seeing more of my family and less of my phone, which feels insanely wonderful.

  1. Getting out of the house on the regular. In the past I’ve had more of a tendency to  hide out when I get stressed out. But, what I had hoped had been the result has more often been the opposite. Don’t get me wrong, I highly value alone time. And especially as a mom that opportunity seldom arises, so to take advantage of it is key. But, I’ve also found great solace and support in leaning in on my friends and family.

And so, I spend regular time with others outside of the house. Sometimes this involves my son and sometimes is doesn’t, but either way, spending time in a different environment with someone who “gets” me always leaves me feeling heard and refreshed.

On the other hand, if I’m feeling stressed and family/friend time is not an option, another way I get out of the house on the regular is just getting outside! Going to the park and going for a walk does wonders for the soul. And even if I don’t actually speak to another person while I stroll, just being connected by nature always does the trick.

Stress is an unavoidable part of life. It’s one of the ways that we grow and develop resilience! But, letting stress take hold of your life in a way that feels constant and defeating can lead to some heavy feelings of anxiety and depression. It can even raise your blood pressure and weaken your immune system!

This is where self care comes in (we’re talking A LOT about this in our Making Time for Mom Challenge)As moms we are constantly doing everything for everyone else and things can become a real grind. I want to challenge you to not be afraid to be a little selfish! Take some time for yourself to exercise, to be in the moment and to spend time outdoors or with others, or to de-stress the way that you know you’ll enjoy! You’re just as worthy of time and attention as everyone else, and I’m certain you’ll thank yourself for it.

Jill

P.S. If exercise is part of your self care game, we’d love to have you come try a training session! Check out our list of services and class schedule here. Or, if you’re not local, check out our online option as well. Ready to get started? Email us at info@movementduets.com.

The Best Exercises For An Amazing Sex Life

Sex is important.

 

It is.

 

Even if you are a mom…ESPECIALLY if you are a mom!

 

Sex can help you stay connected with your partner. It can help you feel a little less like a woman covered in baby spit and yoga pants and more like a woman-hear-me-roar!

 

On a physical level sex can be really beneficial for moms. Sex…more specifically, orgasms, can help strengthen the pelvic floor. A strong pelvic floor is important for avoiding incontinence, something that will affect about 30% of women at some point in their lives. Good sex is like a workout for your pelvic floor muscles. When you have an orgasm, it causes contractions in those muscles, which strengthens them.

 

Sex can also actually boost your immune system! According to sex expert Dr. Yvonne K. Fullbright, people who are sexually active take fewer sick days. Sex boosts antibodies in our body that fight against germs, viruses and other intruders.

 

Sex has also been found to lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease. Sex also can increase libido! The more you have, the more you want. And feeling sexy can be really important to many moms who might be feeling a little like strangers in their changing bodies.

 

Exercise can actually help you have a mind-blowing-health-enhancing sex life. And this is not because exercise will make you thin! It actually has nothing to do with aesthetics. In fact, one study actually found that people who do long bouts of exercise actually have a lower sex drive than people who don’t.

 

So, the type of exercise is really important!

 

Here are the exercises that we recommend to boost your sex drive and your sex life.

 

Leisure Walks

 

Leisure walks, especially walking outside can improve your sex life. Leisure walking has nothing to do with burning calories, but everything to do with balancing your hormones. Leisure walks help lower your stress, which helps to lower the stress hormone cortisol. This not only helps you stay more relaxed, but it also opens the door for more feel good, libido boosting hormones to flood your body.

 

HIIT

 

A recent study showed that short, high intensity workouts can boost your sex drive and improve your sex life. When the intensity is high, remember to keep the duration short. 20 minutes or less is what you are looking for. These workouts should include short bursts of activity, then at least that same amount of rest and recovery. For example, if you sprint up a hill for 30 seconds, you would want to take at least 30 seconds to walk back down the hill slowly to recover.

 

Mobility Exercises

 

Sex is best when we have the option of play. We tend to feel the sexiest when we can do all the things we want to do in the bedroom and out! Sex after baby can be like discovering sex again for the first time. Your body is different. You might have new time constraints. Things that you used to love might not get you going. Or you might want to try new things with your new body!

 

However, many new moms have very tight hips. Postural changes due to pregnancy can contribute to this. Try these three hip mobility exercises to open up your…options in the bedroom.

 

CARs for hips

90/90 PAILS/RAILS

 

 

Shin Box

 Want more information about how to train for a strong body and a healthy sex life? Come see us!

If you’re local to our area, attend one of our pelvic floor workshops! We’re having one at MidValley Birthing Services on March 18th at 10:00 a.m. Get more info about the event and sign up here.

And last, but not least, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it! So often women are too embarrassed to talk about the symptoms that they are experiencing. Let’s normalize talking about the vagina, sex, leaking and whatever else our bodies do so that we can access important information and live our lives with the strength and confidence that we deserve!

 

I’m Done with Trying to Be a Perfect Mom

Perfectionism and I go way, WAY back. Certainly way earlier than when I became a mother almost two years ago. I remember moving back home one summer in between semesters of college and getting bent out of shape because my boyfriend at the time had turned a box the “wrong way.” I mean, it was bad.

I’ve made a lot of progress on breaking up with perfectionism over the past couple of years. I’ve stopped beating myself up for making mistakes. I’ve stopped feeling guilty for changing or skipping parts of my workouts. I’ve even relinquished control over how the dishwasher “should” be loaded….which my husband is thankful for.

And if I’ve learned anything in my 22 months of being a mother it’s this: Let go of perfectionism, or you’re going to be one miserable woman.

I’m not just talking about the way that I do things myself, I’m also talking about letting go of being perfect for everyone else, which I’m also an expert at. In my family system I was always “the good one,” and I did it well. I didn’t speak up when I had problems. I hid my mistakes (or at least I think I did. I should ask my mother). I flew under the radar. I tried not to rock the boat in any way that would bring attention to myself. I was always “fine” and I was constantly seeking the approval of others.

And when it comes to motherhood, I can feel my perfectionist tendencies creeping in, too. The first few months of Jack’s life were really tough on me. I had a hard time adjusting to this new life and as much as I love my son, I was seriously depressed. But, it took me weeks to tell anyone or talk about it because I thought that if I admitted it, that that would mean that I wasn’t a good mother or that people would think that I didn’t enjoy being a mother.

Isn’t that seriously ridiculous? Everybody struggles, but for some reason, I was unwilling to admit it. It took bending until I broke and becoming vulnerable enough to allow others in to get the love and support that I needed so desperately.

And while I’ve made some serious progress on letting others in, I still have some work to do when it comes to allowing others’ perception of me to dictate my actions. Awhile back, I went to a baby shower and took Jack with me. We had to park on the street a couple of houses down from where the party was. I thought about just grabbing the blanket I brought, wrapping it around him and taking him inside….but it had been in the 20s, and honestly, I was afraid of being judged for walking in without having a coat on my kid.

So, I grabbed his coat and there we wrestled on the sidewalk for 5 minutes trying to get it on him and to grab his diaper bag, my purse and the present I brought.

Seriously….it would have taken me like 30 seconds to get him inside where it was warm, but, instead we both stood there freezing our butts off for 5 minutes trying to get his coat on.

Why do we do this? Why we do care so much what other people think? I know that if I would have just scooped him up and went inside that he would have been fine, but I was so worried that someone would say, “Where’s his coat?! You didn’t put a coat on him?!” that I went against my better judgement. And you know what? Someone probably would have said something. But, who cares?? As long as I know that he’s safe and taken care of, who cares what anyone else thinks?

Motherhood is already riddled with self imposed insecurities and guilt. Why should I allow other people’s perception or even what I think other people’s perceptions are affect how I live my life? There is no such thing as a perfect mother, and I’m done trying to be. And I’ll do my part by giving other mamas grace and love instead of judgement. And if I don’t think that my son needs a jacket for the 30 second walk from the car to a house, I won’t put one on him, and I won’t feel one ounce of guilt about it.  

Jill

P.S. A judgement-free and supportive environment where you can show up as you are is exactly what Cara and I foster in our tribe. To get weekly workout tips, recipe ideas, mindset advice and parenting stories make sure you get on our newsletter list. This is where we give out our best information. Not on the list yet? You can join the tribe here.