TWO MONTHS WITH ARI

I'll spare you the, "WOW, I can't believe it's been two who months!" (even though I can't believe it, so I guess I didn't spare you that) and a baby likes/dislikes list. I'm sorry, but every one I read is nearly identical. ("Little Susie loves to eat and hates having her diaper changed! Hee hee!") I love my baby but don't believe she's wildly different from other two month olds. I can't promise to keep the list to myself once she's a bit older with more of a personality, though! 

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Convertible gown, baby socks, bouncy chair, toy bar attachment (she LOVES this!)

The most questions I've gotten from all of you over the past month or so is about Ari's schedule. After many moms recommended it to me, I read 12 Hours Sleep by 12 Weeks Old and I really like her philosophies - regimented but not too strict. I wouldn't say we've kicked it into high gear yet, but so far, so good. I've come to realize not everyone understands or agrees with sleep training, but so many moms have reached out to me to say something along the lines of, "teaching your child to sleep through the night is the best gift you can give them," AND I COULD NOT AGREE MORE. As a personal trainer (and really, a human) I believe that quality sleep is paramount to living a happy and healthy life, no matter your age!

Ari actually dropped her "middle of the night" (2/3am) bottle on her own at 7 weeks and hasn't had one since. We heard her crying at 3am and Ben went downstairs to make her a bottle. By the time he got back, she'd fallen back asleep and slept until 6am. The following night, she slept from 9:30pm-6am. After that, I was determined not to go backwards, and we haven't. Currently, she takes bottles around 7am, 11am, 3pm, and 7pm. I fully admit I'm anal about her schedule because I think it will pay off in the future, but I try not too be too militant about it. 

Ari was sleeping well in her zippered swaddles until she was about a month old, and then she began to cry every time we tried to put her in one. Our baby nurse switched her to a standard blanket swaddle, but I noticed she was breaking out of that too easily. An Instagram friend of mine sent me this "escape-proof swaddle technique" video, which has been a really good alternative for us, though I wouldn't call it 100% escape-proof. (Ari's good.) However, it's definitely the best option for us. When Ari doesn't kick out of her swaddle and wake herself up, she sleeps 9-11 hours each night. The past few nights, it's been closer to 10-11 hours.

The best investment we've made in the past month is far and away the bouncy chair and toy bar attachment pictured above. Now that Ari's awake more during the day, this is a great place for her to hang out, and it's ideal for when I'm eating, doing dishes, etc. so that I can interact with her. I'm trying not to buy everything at once, and I was deciding between this and a playard. I think we'll buy one to keep in my dad's place in Miami to act as a travel crib and changing station, but I'm not convinced we need one in our house quite yet. I keep our borrowed (thanks, Mal!) Rock n Play in our bathroom so she can hang there while I'm showering and/or getting ready. We use our Jonathan Adler play mat for tummy time and she also lies on her back and swats at the toys with her hands! 

Her nursery is still kind of a mess but I hope to take nice photos and dedicate a post to it in the next month or so. 

Other products we're currently loving...

Boogie Baby blanket. This was a gift from some of our cousins in Chicago and I fell in love with it from the minute I pulled it out of the box - I'm not sure how to explain it, but this blanket has a "cool to the touch" feel that is so soothing. I lay it out on the floor of Ari's nursery for her to lay on, or we snuggle up with it on her rocker. Several of you have asked me for baby gift ideas, and this is always on the list.

Boogie Baby burp cloths. We have lots of different burp cloths, but I'm always excited when these are fresh from the wash. YES I GET EXCITED ABOUT BURP CLOTHS. The material is soft AND durable and they're easy to tuck under her chin.

Munchkin disposable changing pads. Our baby nurse turned me onto this and they've been a laundry lifesaver. I have these changing pad covers but let's just say if I didn't layer the disposable ones on top, I'd be washing the cotton ones a LOT more of ten.

Munchkin bottle drying rack. I have this next to our bottle sterilizer. Before, we were just using paper towels; this is a MUCH better system.

Skip Hop Sling Tub. I didn't really understand what a "sling" tub is until the first time we used this. It has a little seat (sling?) for her to sit in and I can't stand how damn cute she looks in it. Easy to use and since her bathroom is white and gray with a whale-print shower curtain, a gray whale-shaped tub doesn't look at all out of place. I also have the knee pad

Now that it's getting warmer out, I've made a few fun new additions to Ari's wardrobe: this eyelet & seersucker romper; this polo dress (with matching socks); these bow ballet flats and of course, her first pair of Jack Rogers, to match me! (Thanks, Dad!)

Ari, you are the light of our lives and I can't wait to see where the next month takes us. And to all of you reading, a huge thanks for your continued support and love!

FROM FESTIVAL FASHION TO MOM STYLE WITH FOREVER 21

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Wearing: Selfie Leslie Off The Shoulder RomperVintage Havana Espadrille MulesGem Beaded Fringe Drop Earrings

When Forever 21 asked me if they could send me some clothing to feature in a spring fashion-inspired post, I couldn't say "YES!" fast enough. Not only was it continued motivation to lose the baby weight, I've been shopping at Forever 21 for over half my life - 17 years, to be exact! Yes, Forever 21 has been around for that long and yes, I am that old!

Fun backstory: my mom and I discovered Forever 21 at the Collin Creek mall (just outside of Dallas) when I was 16. In high school, my style was half "preppy" (I wore a LOT of Abercrombie & Fitch) and half trendy. We were blown away by the huge selection and great prices and I walked away with a shopping bag full of goodies. I took my love of the store with me to college (my best friend Alyson and I spent MANY hours shopping for sorority parties at the Millenia store) and of course, when I lived in Manhattan I stopped in the Union Square store often for cute "going out" tops and dresses. Now that I live in the suburbs, I'm no longer near one of their store locations but quite honestly, these days I'm not the hearty, scrappy shopper that I once was. I was MORE than happy to sit down with a giant cup of coffee and peruse their website for spring fashions.

My challenge was to create an outfit inspired by spring colors and festival fashion, and also put something together that felt flattering on my current physique and appropriate for my new lifestyle. This felt like a tall order, so I started off by looking around the web and instagram to see what the kids are wearing to music festivals these days. The answer: a LOT of crop tops. And since my abs aren't quite there yet, I was thrilled to see that rompers are also a staple on the scene. I fell in love with this off-the-shoulder style as it's modest yet fun. The shorts aren't too short and the tie waist gives me some shape. Bare shoulders deserve a great pair of statement earrings - I've found some of my best pairs at Forever 21. I liked that the peach tones in this pair sort of echo the shades of the romper and the shoes.

Speaking of shoes: I'd been DYING for a pair of fun mules and knew I had to make these mine the moment I laid eyes on them. Every single thing about them - the blush color, the pearl and gem details, the espadrille bottom - screams spring. (They also give me serious Miu Miu vibes.)

What are you most excited to wear this spring? For me, it's pastel colors, any tie or bow detail, and I'm probably most looking forward to wearing and feeling confident in more fitted styles as I inch my way back toward my pre-baby body. Thank you to Forever 21 for the duds and for keeping my "I'm not like a regular mom, I'm a cool mom!" style on point.

P.S. I really wanted to include Ari in some of the photos but she Was. NOT. Having. It. See below. Hashtag Mom Life?

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WHEN MOTHER'S DAY IS BITTERSWEET

This is that time of year when you start seeing gift guides, advertisements and marketing aimed at Mother’s Day. And I know I can’t be the one who cringes every time they come across one of these ad campaigns or the drugstore greeting card section.

If you've been partly dreading this weekend and holiday, please know that it's okay. Personally, I'm struggling with the fact that I should be thrilled that it's my first Mother's Day as a mom, and yet... I'm so deeply saddened that it's also my first Mother's Day without both my mom and my nana. So many firsts...and lots of conflicting emotions.

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My mom loved Mother’s Day. She loved any excuse to celebrate anything! The last Mother’s Day we spent together was before she was sick and it was my favorite of all. I cooked a big brunch for her, my dad and Perri. She was so happy and complimentary and we had the best time. That memory warms my heart this time of year.

After my mom passed away, I was even more grateful for and dependent on the relationship I had with my Nana. I couldn't believe how ironic it all was - I stayed up in bed so many nights wondering and praying that Nana would live to see me get married, and in the end, it was my mom who died first. 

This Sunday is also a tough reminder that Mother’s Day last year was the last time I saw Nana. She was already sick and in pretty bad shape, and it was a really, really hard weekend for all of us.

When I found out I was pregnant in July, I decided to give Nana the good news in person, in September when we planned to visit for the Jewish holidays. I knew she was sick and her memory was going, but I couldn't wait to see the look on her face when I told her she was going to have another great-grandchild. Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse pretty quickly and she died on August 4th. I was 8 weeks pregnant. I never got to tell her.

In the days after I had Ari, it hit me like a ton of bricks that this is going to be my first Mother’s Day without my mom or my nana. Before the baby was born I told Ben that we could host a Mother’s Day brunch at our house for both of our families. But in those first few weeks postpartum, I felt like I had a dark cloud over me. I told him we needed to cancel the brunch because I couldn't handle it. I didn’t want to celebrate. It was just too hard.

Around the time Ari turned a month old, the clouds separated and I started to see glimpses of sunlight again. I gave it some thought and realized I was being horribly selfish and that I wasn’t being fair to Ari, to Ben, or to either of our families. This is also Perri's first year without a mother figure in her life on Mother's Day, not to mention my dad's first Mother's Day without his own mom. 

Something I've thought about since having Ari is that no one comes by motherhood easily. Whether you gave birth, adopted, are a stepmother, etc. - the truth is that some may call it a silly Hallmark holiday but I truly believe that all mother figures deserve this day to be celebrated.

At the same time, many of us are suffering. Maybe you're like me - a daughter who can't be with your mom. Maybe you're a mother who can't be with your child. Maybe you're struggling to become a mother and the last thing you need or want is another reminder.

If Mother's Day this year is tough for you too, whoever you are and whatever your circumstances may be, know that you're not alone and I'm sending you love. 

After my mom died, I made a list of the lessons she taught me. I want to share five of my favorite with you:

1. Surround yourself with things you love to look at. 

2. Be your own best advocate - never expect or depend on anyone else to.

3. Be tough, but not unreasonable. 

4. Less is more with criticism and perfume, but never with jewelry. 

5. Don't sweat the small stuff.

ONE MONTH WITH ARI

If you follow me on Instagram, look at my photos and/or watch my stories, you know I've been fairly open about motherhood so far. It's hard to believe it's already been a month since my life changed forever and for the better. In the interest of staying organized and somewhat concise, I'm just going to answer the questions I've been asked frequently. (Note that most of the questions I received were more about my experience with birth/postpartum rather than about Ari herself, which is, I think, to be expected. She's only 1 month old, after all!)

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How are you feeling?

Like shit! No, I'm kidding. Sort of. Emotionally, I'm feeling overjoyed to have Ari as a part of our family. Mentally and physically, it's been a rocky road but I'm feeling a little more like myself each day. I will write more about my recovery once I'm a bit further away from it. Stay tuned.

What was in your hospital bag? Anything you wish you'd packed or were really glad you had?

Ben and I joked about what ameteurs we were because we ABSOLUTELY overpacked. The thing is, we live in Westchester and had the baby in Manhattan, so I knew we were going to overpack (since we couldn't just run home for something we'd forgotten) and I was totally fine with it. When we got to the hospital it looked like we were headed on a three-week European vacation. The one thing I packed that I absolutely DID NOT NEED was maternity underwear. (I brought these, which I love and am now living in, for the record. I also have and like these.) I learned quickly that after the baby is born you pretty much live in mesh undies. However, I was very glad I packed these pajama pants, these camisoles and this robe. I wore this set home from the hospital, which is pricey but worth it. I still wear all of those pieces at least once a week.

What surprised you the most about labor & delivery? Is there anything you wish you'd known ahead of time?

I've given a lot of though to this because my immediate reaction was, "Yes, I wish someone had told me I was going to be birthing a near-nine pound baby." I gave birth to Ari the morning of my scheduled 40-week appointment, and so the last time I'd seen my doctor (at my 39-week appointment a week earlier) she'd given me no indication that the baby was going to be bigger than her prediction (in the 7lb range if I gave birth on time, about 8lbs if I went past my due date). But the truth is, no, I don't wish I knew how much she was going to weigh ahead of time. It wouldn't have changed anything. 

What I do I WISH I'd been made aware of is how the pain sets in when the epidural wears off. This sounds so incredibly obvious, but I was in such baby bliss staring at and holding Ari that I never once considered what the pain would be like until I was faced with it. A nurse offered me Motrin when we got to our recovery room and I refused it. In hindsight that was a mistake. I don't know if it would've made a HUGE difference, but it might have at least taken the edge off.

Birthing a baby is an amazing feat and quite frankly I think we're all fucking superheroes - whether you give or gave birth naturally, vaginally, via C-section, and/or with or without medical intervention. I don't feel women will EVER get the credit we are due. But, I also feel that giving birth IS a trauma to the body and I wish more people were open about what the process is truly like.

How much weight did you gain and what does your current diet look like?

I gained 40 pounds, which was about 15 pounds more than I was expecting to gain. For the record, I was at my personal best body composition (fat to muscle ratio) two weeks before I became pregnant. I had 19.5% body fat, which is considered to be in the "athlete" category for women. I had 59 pounds of muscle, which was about 44% of my total body weight. 

Most medical professionals say that a woman who was an "average" weight before pregnancy should expect to gain between 25-35 pounds after becoming pregnant. These numbers HAUNTED me after I hit 25 pounds and knew the scale wasn't going to stop there. But at some point - around 30 weeks - I decided to stop letting the scale rule my life, and it was such a weight (pun intended) off my shoulders. Towards the end of my pregnancy, my doctor asked if I could, "slow down the weight loss." I looked at her and said, "I eat well, I walk my dog over two miles most days and I'm strength training at the gym 3-4 times a week. How do you suggest I slow it down?" She was dumbfounded and said, "I guess there's not much else you can do."

I share this in hopes that maybe at least one of you will ease up on yourself about weight gain during pregnancy. Every woman and every pregnancy is unique. I had an extra lobe of placenta and I gave birth to a big baby. I lost close to half the weight I gained almost immediately after giving birth. The delivering doctor even said, "I can't believe how much your belly has gone down!" while she was stitching me up. (I had a second degree tear.)

The second half has obviously been slower to come off. The first two weeks after pregnancy, I gave myself permission to eat how I wanted. I was still attempting to breastfeed and pump, and I had a big appetite. Once that all quieted down, I decided to eliminate grains from my diet. In the past when I've done this, I've noticed a huge change in my overall lifestyle: sharper mindset, better quality sleep, lessened joint pain, fewer cravings and weight loss. Ben is also "grain-free" (and looks even more amazing than usual, might I add) which certainly makes my life easier in terms of cooking dinner, eating together, etc. I weigh myself every Friday morning. I'm focused, but I'm not obsessed. At the time of publishing this post I'm about 14 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight. 

Do you *really* think staying in shape during pregnancy helped you during Labor & Delivery?

No. I KNOW staying in shape helped me during Labor & Delivery. Look, I was in labor for just over 24 hours and it was the longest day of my life. I was NOT expecting to actively push for 3 hours. Ben commented afterward that even though it was rigorous and he knew I must've been tired, I never once said, "NO," or, "I need a break," when the doctors and nurses asked me to keep going. The delivering doctor told me multiple times that she was impressed by my strength and mobility throughout the process. I know my lifestyle is to thank for getting me through that! 

Do you have help?

We have an amazing baby nurse who is invaluable to our family. I am utterly thankful for her. Of course, my dad has also been incredible. He comes over a few times a week to spend time with us and he's also unbelievably helpful. He walks Winnie, feeds Ari, comes to the grocery store with me, etc. He will truly never know how grateful I am.

How is Winnie doing with the new baby?

Winnie is still a little bit confused by the tiny human who is now calling the shots. The first thing my dad did when Ben and I got home from the hospital with Ari was install this gate he'd purchased right after I gave birth. (Have I mentioned/you gathered that my dad is an absolute mensch/saint???) He literally came over, installed it in our upstairs hallway (so it blocks Winnie off from all of the rooms upstairs except ours - where she has free reign/sleeps at night) and then went to go pick up her from the boarder's. It's been so great because not only does it provide her with a physical barrier, it's taught her a bit of patience, too. 

Ari doesn't cry too often, but when she does, if Winnie is nearby, she'll start to cry, too. It's painful. If Ari is on my lap and Winnie is nearby, she'll come over, sniff and lick her a bit, and then goes back to what she's doing. Truth be told Winnie is an absolute diva who went from a life of what we imagine to be turmoil (we think she was ripped from her mother too soon/neglected/possibly abused) to the sweet life. I think it's going to take her awhile to get used to being second banana. I know people think I spoil her too much, and the truth is that I owe her a debt of gratitude. We moved out to the suburbs halfway through my pregnancy - a place where I didn't (and still don't) know a soul. We left Manhattan, I left my job and my day-to-day lifestyle changed immediately and intensely. Pregnancy on its own can be extremely isolating and I had these added factors of being by myself in a brand new town. Winnie was my only friend and she was amazing company. Yes, she's a handful and often annoys the living daylights out of me. But I forgive her a lot because I'm forever grateful for her.

What's Ari's schedule like?

Well, we don't really have her on one yet. Per many of your suggestions (THANK YOU) Ben and I recently read 12 Hours By 12 Weeks and will start implementing those strategies once our baby nurse leaves. I will be sure to keep you all posted on how that's going.

What products are you using/loving?

This list will change and grow over time, I'm sure, but here's what's currently on it:

Boppy Nursing Pillow. Even though I'm no longer nursing, I still use this daily to feed and hold Ari. I love the leverage it gives me. (My dad also got us an extra slipcover.)

Baby Brezza Formula Pro. This was a gift from our registry and makes prepping bottles a snap. It's a total luxury and therefore maybe not something we would've purchased ourselves, but we're definitely grateful we have it.

Moba Moses Baby Basket. This was a(n amazing) gift from my best friend, Alyson. I bought the stand to go with it, and we keep it next to the couch in our family room. I grew up in a house with two designers (my parents!) and I'm really trying to take their lead as we settle into our new home. Can I be honest with you - there's a lot of hideous baby gear out there. I LOVE how sleek and chic this is. Since Ari's a little monkey (always moving) she's able to gently rock herself. She really enjoys being in this! If you're looking for a really nice baby gift to give someone, I believe any stylish new mom would be thrilled to receive it! (The picture above is from a few days ago - we just started using this Rock N Play on loan to us!)

Love To Dream Swaddle Up. I forget who recommended these to me, but THANK YOU. We noticed within 24 hours of Ari's birth that she liked to break out of her hospital blanket swaddles.  Somehow I'd anticipated this might happen and had thought to order a zipper-up swaddle that I'd heard somebody rave about. And sure enough, I've purchased several more since! It's so easy to use (no wrapping) and gives us peace of mind that she's safe & snug as a bug in a rug.

Samsung BabyView Dual Mode Digital Baby Camera/Monitor. I was overwhelmed by all of the different baby monitors out there but we have (and love) all Samsung TVs in our home so I knew I felt good about the brand. I brought it home for Ben to check out and he did the research legwork and gave it a thumbs up. This is one of the pricier options out there, but we LOVE it. The picture and sound quality are beautiful, and I love that we're also able to turn our iPhones into baby monitors via the BabyView app.

Kissy Kissy bodysuits. This was another gift from Alyson! The fabric is so soft and I love that the bottom has two snaps instead of three (sounds so silly, but makes a difference when you're trying to get this on or off a fussy baby). 

Monica + Andy hats. I treated Ari (and myself) to a Monica + Andy layette to bring to the hospital. After she was born, we quickly realized she takes after her mom and has a big ol' head, and the hospital hats were really struggling to stay on. We put her in the top knot cap from the layette box and that seemed to do the trick! I've ordered several more since.

WubbaNub pacifiers. Thus far Ari only gets a pacifier if she's fussing while lying down (in her crib or Moba) and these are definitely her favorite!

Jonathan Adler by Fisher Price Sensory Gym. I love anything Jonathan Adler because my mom did - she actually purchased his ceramic vases at Barney's way back when he first started selling his designs. (I have several JA items in Ari's nursery* - this pillow and this sculpture, and lots more of his pieces sprinkled around our house because it helps me keep my mom's memory alive.) Ari loves to lie on her back and looks up at the toys or looks at herself in the mirror. We'll definitely get a lot of mileage out of this!

Beyond Yoga Postnatal Tummy Tightener Legging. These are the leggings I've talked about many times on Instagram. Many of you have asked me and no, I didn't get any belly bands or anything for after pregnancy, so I can't speak to those. I wear these at least twice a week. I bought these in my pre-pregnancy size (XS) and the first time I put them on (1 week postpartum) it took me about 5 full minutes to pull them all the way up. That was a bit frustrating but totally worth it. They're super compressive and I love how supportive they are. 

I'm so grateful to you all for coming along on this journey for me. I'll have more posts like this in the future so be sure to send me any questions you may have and stay tuned!

*I've gotten TONS of questions about Ari's nursery and I hope to get a post up about it in the next few months, so stay tuned!

P.S. Ari is wearing this "footie" in the photo above - it uses magnetic closures rather than snaps or zips!

ARI'S BIRTH STORY

This month marks 10 years that I've been blogging. My life has changed so much over the past decade: heartbreak, love, the loss of a parent, marriage, career change, adopting a dog, leaving Manhattan and having a child. Back in the beginning of my blog I always dreamed of sharing my wedding plans, but children seemed SO far off. Here we are, ten years later... and I'm a mom.

This post was easy to write but hard to publish, because it's difficult to know where to draw the line. I've always prided myself on being an open book, but the experience of birthing a baby is so unbelievably personal.  I want to be as candid as possible but I also don’t want to get TOO detailed. So I did my best, and here we go.

Wow, where to begin. My labor, delivery and hospital experience was nothing like I expected it would be. As I was going through it, I thought to myself - I’ve got to write this all down.

My whole pregnancy, I had a feeling I’d have the baby on her due date. So when it passed, I felt a little flustered and frustrated. But then I thought, “She’s fashionably late and things will be crazy enough soon.” I tried to go with the flow.

A few days past my due date, I woke up around 4am pretty disoriented. I couldn’t figure out if I’d had several contractions, or if I’d had a dream about having contractions. Typical Teddi move - I’ve always had very vivid dreams! Once I was awake for long enough, I realized it was actually happening. I told Ben and we decided that he’d sleep a bit more and I’d head downstairs to make myself breakfast (I was starving and wanted a good meal in case I really was going into labor). I made breakfast, emptied the dishwasher and headed back upstairs to time my contractions. From 6-7am they were consistently 5 minuets apart, though some were stronger than others. Ben walked Winnie while I called my doctor. She said give it another hour to see if they were consistently strong. I had Ben bring Winnie to daycare while I sat on the couch and continued timing my contractions. They were definitely getting stronger but I felt oddly calm even through the pain. One thing I really didn’t want happening was driving all the way to Manhattan only to be told, “You’re not far enough along yet,” and be sent home. But once Ben got back home, I told him to shower and get dressed so we could head to the hospital. I had a feeling it was time.

We got in the car at 9 on the dot and got to the hospital just before 10. I had some strong contractions in the car and was pretty confident we’d get admitted. We walked into an empty L&D floor (or so we thought - more on that later) and they actually said, “What brings you here today?” Um... A BABY?

After giving some info and signing some paperwork, Ben and I were admitted into a triage room. This was the worst, hardest part of my labor. I was examined around 10:30 and told, “You’re 4cm dilated - you’re staying.” Relief! The midwife asked me if I wanted my epidural yet and I was surprised; I said no because my contractions were tough but manageable. Ben and I wound up staying in that triage room for about 3 hours total and my contractions quickly got worse. It turned out the waiting room was empty when we’d arrived but there were actually quite a few women in labor and delivering. Ben and I were mostly alone from 10:30-1 and despite trying to be tough, I cried through pretty much every contraction. They were about 5 minutes apart and quite painful. Around 1, a new nurse came in during a bad contraction, locked eyes with me and helped me get through it. I told her it was time for the epidural and she assured me I’d have it soon and that a L&D room was being prepped for us.

We walked over to the room and the nurse told me my dad was downstairs and that she’d let him up to visit once my epidural was in. This was totally unexpected and such a nice surprise. The anesthesiologists were lovely and getting the epidural was fairly seamless. I got settled into bed and my dad and sister came to visit from 2-4pm! This was by far the best part of the day. The nurse said I could eat (I was starving) so I snacked while we chatted. After a frustrating, painful few hours, the epidural really calmed me down and it was so great having company.

I was examined again around 4pm and told I was 6cm dilated and 100% effaced. The doctors said they’d come back to check me again around 6pm and thought I might have my baby by midnight. Ben and I were convinced we’d have her by 7. Joke was on us...

We chatted with our nurse and watched TV and because the doctors were so busy, they didn’t check on me again until, 8, at which point I was 8cm dilated. Midnight was beginning to look more realistic. Ben went to get himself dinner as we had no real concept of when I’d actually begin to push. I also encouraged him to sleep for the same reason. The upside was that our L&D room was spacious and gorgeous and a great place to be stuck in so to speak. I watched a LOT of TV that night.

In the early evening, I started to feel a lot of sharp pain in my right hip crease every time I had a contraction. I mentioned it to the nurse and she had the anesthesiologist come to check on me. The epidural had moved 1cm, and I guess when that happens all of your pain can be localized to one spot. Luckily they were able to fix this fairly quickly without removing and reinserting the epidural needle, and for that I was grateful.

The doctors checked on me again around 10:40pm and I was 9.5cm dilated. I thought, "I may actually have this baby by midnight." However, this was also when the doctors told me that I was progressing well and they wanted me to hold off on pushing for as long as possible as they hoped it would mean less physical work for me and the baby. Spoiler alert: it didn't.

The next few hours felt like they were moving in slow-mo. Ben slept and I was starting to doze off because I was tired, but I was unable to truly relax. My nurse kept telling me a doctor was coming back to check on me... and they finally did, at 1:40am. I was 10cm and ready to go. Ben woke up and sat by my side. I texted my dad that I was getting ready to push and would text him again when the baby was here. He wrote back immediately and it warmed my heart to know he was awake and with me in spirit.

Throughout my last month of pregnancy, my doctor told me that the baby's head was “very low.” The doctors and nurses commented on this several times throughout my first 20 or so hours of labor as well. I'm no medical expert but I took this to mean that I’d have less active pushing time. The nurse warned me that most new moms push for 30 minutes to 2 hours and that while baby’s head was indeed nice and low, I had some work ahead of me. Meaning, I could very well push for up to two hours.

Ben and I had agreed ahead of time that throughout the end of labor (pushing) he’d sit next to me and that neither of us would watch the baby coming out of me. Ignorance is bliss, people. So when the nurse asked him if he was going to sit by the bottom of my bed and hold my right leg up while I pushed, I shook my head adamantly no. I immediately realized this meant more work for me (holding up my own leg rather than having him do it for me) but I didn’t care. The pushing position was almost like a horizontal squat: spine on the bed and knees over hips with my hands pressed against the back of my thighs to hold them in place. Take a big, deep breath in, chin to chest and bear down and push while exhaling for 10 seconds. Repeat 2x per contraction.

At this point I started to cry as I realized we didn’t take any childbirthing classes or anything and I had no idea what I was doing. The head doctor came in and said, “How’s my star student?” And I cried to her that I didn’t know what I was doing and I was afraid I'd be bad at pushing. I guess reaffirmations are my love language, because I REALLY just needed to hear someone say, "No, you'll be great at pushing!" We did some practice pushes and she reassured me that I was doing everything right. I looked at Ben and said, “2 hours of this? I hope not...”

The first few pushes were sort of terrifying as they felt like unknown territory. But after the third or fourth round, I gave myself a little pep talk in my head. I decided to look at pushing like a workout with an unknown amount of sets. I love a challenge. I was going to give every push my all and make it my best. Having a goal in mind always helps me. From then on, I felt strong, capable and determined rather than scared.

For some reason (TV/movies?) I expected a lot of people to be in the room but for awhile it was just the 3 of us: Ben, me, and our wonderful L&D nurse, Allison. (Also my best friend's name. Also my original middle name that my parents changed to my mom's maiden name when I was 3 years old. But my birth announcements indeed read, "Teddi Allison.") Eventually the doctor came in and measured me while I as pushing, which was encouraging, but she was also in the middle of another delivery so for awhile she was switching back and forth between rooms. She complimented me on my strength and mobility throughout the pushing process which made me feel good.

At 3:43am I looked at Ben and said, “Let’s make a goal to meet her by 5am,” and he nodded. I couldn’t believe I’d almost been pushing for two hours already. My nurse put an oxygen mask on me because the baby’s heart rate was starting to dip a bit. We were both doing a lot of work and I still can’t believe all the pushing she required for her head having been "so low..."

The closer we got to 5am, the harder things got. I started to get really emotional and kept saying, “I just want to be strong for her.” I made each push stronger than the next and realized I could actually feel her head. That was a BIZARRE couple of minutes let me tell you. By this point there were quite a few more people in the room and I heard someone say, “Let’s break the bed.”

Everyone scurried to rearrange the setup. Again, I guess I watch too much tv but I was expecting to hear, “Okay Teddi, one last push!” What I did hear was the nurse say, “You’re very close and her heart rate is a little low. We’re going to have a pediatrician come in to make sure everything’s okay." That’s when I thought, “Okay, this baby’s coming out NOW.” On their cue I pushed as hard as I could and sobbed as Ari was placed on my chest. She started crying almost immediately and I was later told that the pediatrician took a quick glance at her and deemed her totally fine. Our nurse cleaned her off as I held her and cried. It was so surreal that this little sea monkey who'd been swimming around in my tummy for the last 9+ months was now a human in the real world with the rest of us. She was born at 4:59 in the morning. We made my "meet her by 5am" goal by the skin of our (MY) teeth.

Our Ari Morgan was finally here!

After we laid skin to skin for a bit, it was time to get her APGAR score (9 and 9, whattup!) and weight. I almost rolled off of the bed when the nurse told me she was 8 pounds 10 ounces. I was confident that I was having an eight pound baby AT MOST (based on what my doctor had told me) and couldn’t believe she was almost nine pounds. I made them double and triple check that number. All of the sudden it made sense that it took 3 hours of pushing to have her and that the doctors and nurses wanted to me to wait as long as possible to start pushing. HA! Ironic that our nurse told us, "it could take up to two hours," and it was almost three. Ari has a big head (like me) and broad shoulders (like me). Our pediatrician later told me she was shocked that they never once suggested a C-Section might be a possibility, given her size. 

Shortly after Ari was born, an old friend from high school reached out to me and said something along the lines of, "Doesn't this mom shit make pregnancy seem like a breeze?" In a word: YES. I was lucky to have a fairly uncomplicated pregnancy, and I think my labor and delivery would have felt like much more of a challenge if I hadn't stayed so active right up until the very end. 

My whole life, I've dreamed of being a mom, and it's so bittersweet to have this experience without MY mom here. When we got home from the hospital and my dad and Perri came over, I was overcome by her absence. I sat next to Winnie and cried into her fur. I know they would've been just as close as Nana and I were. Ari was named in honor of my mom: "A" for her maiden name and "Ari" because my mom loved boy's names for girls. She and I both always said we loved the name "Morgan," so there you go.

It feels so hard not having her here with me for this. Hard, and unfair. 

That being said... I know I'm still luckier than most. I had a mostly scare-free pregnancy and carried a big, healthy baby to term. I have an incredible husband, an amazing family, and really wonderful friends. It takes a village, and I'm so grateful for mine. These past ten days haven't been all roses, but it's a rollercoaster ride that I am very, very, VERY grateful to be on.

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Thank you all for your love and support. I adore you all and I'm glad you're still along for the ride, ten years, many life changes and one baby later.

5 THINGS TO (ALWAYS) KEEP IN MIND AT THE GYM

Happy Monday! So I know everyone is thrilled that January is over, but honestly, February is when and where so many of our goals and resolutions go to die. Let's face it: flu season is worse than ever, the damn groundhog saw his shadow, and in general this is that time of year when it's truly tough to see that light at the end of the tunnel we call, "Spring!"

I know a lot of personal trainers and fitness instructors will motivate you to workout now because summer will be here before you know it. I understand this tactic doesn't work for everyone, but even if you don't give a shit about "tank top arms," here's what I DO know - you give a shit about SOMETHING. 

Your reasons for living a happy, healthy life may shift over time. In fact, they should! What currently motivates you to want to be BETTER? To work harder, to sleep more, to eat better? Is it an event or a timeline? Is it an overall feeling? Is it something you're still striving to define?

I dare you to look at yourself in the mirror today and say, "What's keeping me motivated? How am I holding myself accountable?"

Here's my current list:

- First and foremost I want to be my happiest, healthiest, best and most energetic self for my baby girl (due in just over 5 weeks). 

- I miss my pre-baby body. I want it back.

- We have a baby naming, two weddings and a family beach vacation planned for the summer and fall. I want to be comfortable in my own skin at these events and not feel like I have to hide under cardigans and cover-ups.

Now, a lot of this will be accomplished by sleep and nutrition, without a doubt. But for me, I'm at my happiest and healthiest when I'm making my workouts a priority 5-6 times a week. The gym is my happy place, and even if it isn't yours yet, I challenge you to keep these five things in mind during your next trip there. I think you'll be surprised by how much better it all feels when you do.

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1. Just because someone else is doing it doesn't mean you should. I can't tell you how many times I've seen a member or colleague I admire performing a specific exercise and thought "Cool! I wanna do that!" but the truth is that not every move is right for everyone. And what's more, tempting as it may be to try something new, we all have different strengths, goals and limitations. I love watching other people box jump, but after breaking my ankle last year, I don't know that I'll ever truly feel comfortable doing those again. If you're truly interested or curious about an exercise you saw that you think might be relevant to your own programming, do some research or talk to a pro first!

2. If it doesn't feel right, don't do it. DO NOT FORCE SOMETHING that feels painful or wrong.  I don't live by that old motto, "No pain, no gain." Soreness after a workout is one thing... pain during it is quite another. Listen to your gut!      

3. Not every workout will be your best. And while that may sound depressing now, it'll keep you coming back for more. There are days when a barbell feels light as a feather and other days when I feel like I'm moving through quicksand and can't believe how heavy everything seems. After most workouts I leave the gym feeling pretty good or at least decent, but once in awhile I walk away totally victorious - or completely defeated. Not every day be - or should be - a slam dunk. Revel in the wins and let the tough times humble you. 

4. You're stronger than you think you are. I'm not telling you to lift 100 pounds over your head right outta the gate. But I do want you to be really mindful and thoughtful of your strength throughout your workout. If you're breezing through sets with 15lb dumbbells in each hand, why not try the 17.5lbs?

5. Rome wasn't built in a day (and neither were you). It sort of boggles my mind to think that my daughter has been in my tummy for a good 8 months (and she's still cooking!) Good things TAKE TIME. One thing I always stress to my clients is to BE KIND TO YOURSELF! Crash diets are called just that for a reason; you may see results quickly but history shows us they're almost always temporary. Patience is key here. Your body will not change overnight or over a week. The best way to create long-lasting change is to find the right healthy lifestyle for YOU and stick to it!

So I'll ask again. What's motivating you?

Photo taken by DAG Photography.

WHAT I ATE AT 34 WEEKS PREGNANT

Honestly, yesterday was a bit of a boring day food-wise as you'll see below, but it IS fun to think about looking back on these posts someday when this pregnancy is far behind me in the rearview mirror, I have my abs back and I'm no longer mindlessly eating Girl Scout cookies. 

Yesterday started earlier than usual! We were all up by 5:20 and Ben was out of the house before 6. Winnie ran downstairs to watch him leave through the front window, and I tried to coax her back upstairs and into bed a few times, but no go. She parked herself on the couch in our living room and was quietly howling at the men shoveling snow down the block. As a kid, I always wanted my very own, real life Snoopy...hey, I was young and failed to realize that actual dogs don't play shortstop, hang out with little birdies, hand out Easter eggs, etc... but I will say that Winnie's howl sounds just like Snoopy's. So even though it can get a little annoying, it sure is a cute little sound. I finally dragged a pillow and some blankets to the couch and we both fell back asleep. Once she was up, I walked her, fed her and then made myself a bowl of yogurt with my favorite granola and blackberries. Iced coffee and water on the side.

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Afterward, I got some more stuff done around the house, walked Winnie once more and drove to the gym to do a 30 minute upper body workout. When I was in the locker room, a woman came up to me and said, "Oh my God, you can't even tell you're pregnant from the back!" I said, "That's so sweet. Thank you!" And then I wondered if it was meant to be a compliment, and if it was weird that I thanked her. And then SECONDS later, another woman looked at me and just said, "WHOA!!!" really loudly. I didn't say anything because I honestly had no idea how to react to that.

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{Wearing an old Lululemon top, Align pants, Edge Lux sneaks and carrying my Lifefactory bottle. Oh, and some of my favorite no show socks!}

I drove back home, grabbed an apple, leashed Winnie up and took her on a two mile walk. It wasn't as cold as I thought it would be, which was a nice surprise, but Winnie dragged a bit on the way home (which is uphill) so that was less than pleasant. 

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We got back home and I saw we'd gotten both our Plated delivery and our Chewy delivery, so I carried those inside and felt a wave of exhaustion wash over me. Lunch time! After I got Winnie settled, I threw together roasted butternut squash and rice (both cooked Monday so I could have them for lunch throughout the week) with baby kale, balsamic vinaigrette and dried cranberries.

After lunch, I got some writing done and FaceTimed with my dad while Winnie napped. I had a glass of whole milk and some frozen Girl Scout Thin Mints. 

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We got three Plated meals this week so I decided to make the coconut-crusted flounder with curried rice first. OMG. This was so, so, SO good!

That just about does it! I'm happy to have prepared and ate all of my meals at home which is par for the course these days. I do wonder if I should start making and freezing dinners for when the baby comes. If anyone has thoughts or tips on that, I'm all ears...

P.S. All the Plated links in this post are affiliate and will get you $25 off your first two orders (for a total of $50 off)!