10 Fourth Trimester Life-Savers

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Back when Wyatt was just a bump in my belly, I shared a few favorite firstsecond and third trimester essentials that helped us make our way through pregnancy together.

But have you heard of the fourth trimester? It’s the concept that the first three months after birth are quite literally an extension of life in the womb for baby.

And I’m not gonna lie: At times, it can be a rocky transition for everyone involved. Not only does baby need lots of attention, but mama also deserves extra TLC during recovery and those sleepless nights and days spent getting to know the newest family member.

As always, everyone’s experience will be a bit different, but these are just a few of the things that I found helpful for easing into motherhood. And by ‘easing in’ I mean jumping with both feet into the deep end. 

1. Nursing Tanks

If you’re nursing or pumping, not only will you need quick access, but you’ll also need something pretty forgiving as you change size throughout the day. Consider the Gilligan & O’Malley Nursing Cotton Camis part of your new mom uniform; at $20 a pop, they’re as budget-friendly as they are baby-friendly.

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2. Support Tights

Another staple in your new mom wardrobe? A pair of tummy-friendly tights, which are both comfortable and versatile as your body shape-shifts in the first few months postpartum. One of my favorites were Blanqi’s Highwaist Support Leggings, which not only help provide some extra core support but also come in handy when you’re between sizes.

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3. Nipple Butter

Whether you use it for nursing or as a lube with your breast pump, Earth Mama Angel Baby’s Natural Nipple Butter is the best stuff out there — period. It’s from a local company, it’s all-natural and it works, so do yourself a favor and stockpile this stuff by the case before baby comes.

earth-mama-angel-baby-natural-nipple-butter4. Breast Pump

Speaking of your ‘ladies,’ if you’re thinking of breastfeeding and/or pumping you’ll want something to get the job done without too much…collateral damage, shall we say? After trying the Medela Freestyle, which was awesomely small and portable, I ultimately settled on the Spectra Baby S1. It came highly recommended from a girlfriend, and I found it to be just as effective, but a lot gentler.

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5. Pumping Bra

If you’re a woman, you’re no stranger to multitasking. And if you’re a breastfeeding mom, you’re no stranger to multitasking while pumping. Enter the Simple Wishes D*Lite Hands-Free Pumping Bra, which is adjustable in size to sustain a perfect fit over time as a nursing mother’s size changes. Brilliant!

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6. Nursing Pads

And while we’re on the subject of milk, when it comes in you’ll want to be prepared with some disposable nursing pads to keep from leaking through your shirts, on the sheets…you get the point. But after your supply evens out, I’ve found these washable breast pads to be more comfortable and better at wicking away moisture.

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7. Robe & Comfy PJ’s

One of the best maternity investments I made in terms of cost-per-wear was this robe and nightgown set. I can’t say enough about how handy a lightweight cotton robe with pockets can be for keeping you warm when you’re up at all hours, as well as having handy pockets to stack bottles, pacifiers, burp-cloths, etc.

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8. Amazon Prime

Another invaluable investment? An Amazon Prime subscription, which is worth it’s weight in gold. From diapers to developmental toys and everything else in between, it’s a necessity in those early days when you need something — stat! — and can’t get out to the store. Simply search, click and it’ll be on your doorstep in two days.

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9. Meals

I cooked exactly two freezer meals and one batch of lactation cookies before Wyatt came, thinking that’d tide us over until I get back on my feet and had time to get in the kitchen again. HA! Little did I know we’d come to rely heavily on frozen foods, take-out, meal delivery services and the kindness of friends and family in those first few months. Have a friend with a new baby and want to know how you can help? Bring over a warm meal, and they’ll be forever indebted to you.

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10. Thank You Cards

I’m old-school and believe that any gift you receive deserves a nice handwritten thank-you. Save time — and your sanity — by stamping and putting your return address on a bunch of cards before baby arrives. That way you can write them as you go, ensuring you’ll get ’em out the door in a timely manner and also remember who sent what when the time comes.

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*Bonus: Netflix Subscription

Finally, no list of postpartum must-haves would be complete without the mother of all necessities during those first few months: a Netflix subscription. When you’re up at all hours night after night, it’s either stare at the ceiling while feeding or immerse yourself in a season — or three — of your favorite show (my choice was Orange is the New Black). So sink into the couch together and enjoy some quality cuddle time!

Mamas, what were your fourth trimester must-haves? 

How I Run: Team LUNA Chix PDX’s Alex Schrimp

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In honor of our second Team LUNA Chix Portland Run season, I’ll be introducing our new team members via this interview series throughout the next few months…get to know these impressive ladies, and come join us for a run Monday nights from 6:30-7:30 pm in Portland! 

Next up, meet Alex Schrimp! She’s a Senior Research Assistant by day at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital and has been a runner for a little more than three years now.

But after finding herself losing steam with workouts last summer, Alex needed some help staying motivated and holding herself accountable towards her goals. Enter Team LUNA Chix: One workout, and she was hooked.

Fast forward to this season — Alex is one of our rockstar team leaders, and is excited to help others find their fitness grooves again. Whether you’re looking for an upcoming race or ideas for how to spend your non-running time in Portland (hit her up for ideas on where to find the city’s best food, drinks and hikes…as well as what happened on this weeks’ episode of The Bachelorette), she’s your gal!

1. What’s your favorite route? I love to run from my house down to Tom McCall Waterfront Park, across the Steel Bridge, down Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade, across Tilikum Crossing and home. It’s about a six-mile loop. It’s great on a clear, sunny day, but I also love it on those cloudy, rainy Portland mornings.

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2. What shoes do you wear? I’m currently running in Brooks Glycerin 13 and Hoka One One Clifton 2.

3. What other run gear can’t you live without? I love my Garmin GPS watch and my hydration belt! I have to have hydration and fuel with me at all times.

4. What’s your best time-saver or “runhack?” One of the best ways I’ve found to get my training in while still seeing my friends is to run into downtown to meet friends for a drink or dinner in the evening. I get my sweat on and still get to see everyone!

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5. What running-related thing are you better at than anyone else? I’m not sure I’m better at anything than anyone else is; that’s not why I run. I just like to get out there, relieve some stress and push myself.

6. What do you listen to while running? I listen to all kinds of music depending on what type of run (easy vs hard) I’m doing and the weather. I’ll usually listen to country music on easy runs and some top hits when I’m really pushing myself.

7. What are you currently training for? My goal for 2016 is to run one race/month and average a 9-min/mile.

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8. What are your recovery & sleep routines like? I usually increase my water/electrolyte intake and try to eat within an hour of finishing a long or intense run. As for sleep, I shoot for eight hours every night!

9. What’s the best running advice you’ve ever received? Listen to your body. I think that’s the golden rule in running. It’ll tell you all that you need to know.

10. What’s your favorite running-related memory? Finishing my first half marathon with my sister!

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Thanks, Alex! We’re thrilled to have you as part of the team this year, and we’re excited to cheer you on as you run down those race and pace goals this season. 

Friends, if you’re interested in being featured here (all levels & abilities welcome), please drop me a line at info(at)kineticfix(dot)com.

June Goal Check-In

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If you’re around a new parent, inevitably, the conversation turns to sleep. As in, how much the baby is doing it or how little the parents are getting of it.

Because, as we’ve found out the hard way these past four months, sleep — or the lack thereof — is quite literally the linchpin of being able to resume any semblance of your former (read: pre-baby) life.

To paraphrase my recent conversation with our pediatrician: “On the spectrum of good sleepers to not-so-great sleepers…Wyatt is…closer to the latter.” At this point I like to think that he just prefers our company to the comfort of his crib.

But being up every two hours for feedings (and sometimes for stretches in between) means that we are still squarely in the survival-mode-holding-pattern of the “fourth trimester.” Which also means that goals are being chipped away at much more slowly that I’d originally anticipated. Such is the luck of the draw when it comes to babies!

So if you happen to bump into a new parent, try to refrain from asking them about their mounting sleep deficit. And maybe just offer to buy them a cup of coffee!

Read more about the five goals toward which I’m working in 2016.

Here’s where things stand currently:

1. Health & Fitness

These days, I’m lucky when I can squeeze in some movement, but I’ve learned that the trick is being able to work out with your baby whenever possible. Thank goodness for Stroller Strides and Body 401K; not only are these great resources for getting strong and breaking a sweat, but they also offer a community aspect that’s much appreciated when you’re feeling apartment-bound.

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Another tip? Sign up for something — anything — whether it’s a gym membership, a package of classes or ClassPass. They’re great for motivation, but more so accountability; if you’re shelling out a few bucks every month for classes, you’re less likely to skip out on scheduling workouts.

2. Training

Tell me, does one run per week technically count as “marathon training?” Hm, I didn’t think so…

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Yes, I’m going against my two decades of running experience (and, let’s face it, my better judgment) by assuming I can swing 26.2 after logging such little mileage. But I’m determined to make it work and am slowly building up my base for that October event despite little sleep, less time, some travel and a move later this summer.

3. Community

One of the nights I most look forward to each week is Mondays with Team LUNA Chix Portland Run. We’re thrilled to see a few new faces each week, along with our regulars who are crushing it this season and never cease to amaze me.

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In addition to the weekly workouts, we’ve got some exciting events in the works for the second half of the season — from fundraisers and clinics to scavenger hunts and social hours. Follow us on Facebook for details, and check out our Instagram and Twitter updates for the scoop on what we’re up to.

4. Career

My self-imposed maternity leave from Pulse Creative officially ended this month. Wyatt will always be priority numero uno…but, I’ve gotta say, it feels so good to get back in the game and flex those mental muscles again.

Helping my clients communicate not just what they do but why they do it and connect with their audience continues to be both fulfilling and rewarding. And going back to my journalism roots with a few freelance pieces (be sure to grab the October issue of SELF magazine!) has also been fun.

5. Life

Finally, as I mentioned last month, life hasn’t been without its lessons since Wyatt came along. The latest of which is:

Sometimes all the hard work in the world won’t produce the results you want. 

You see, I was raised under the belief that anything’s possible if you put in enough work. That’s how I developed grittiness (some would call it stubbornness?) when it comes to going after goals.

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I still believe that a certain amount of that is good. But after experiences to the contrary during pregnancy, childbirth and parenting (more on that in another post), I’ve learned the difference between sheer tenacity and blind perseverance.

Another lesson? The really hard — and really amazing — part of parenting is that it’s less about trying to live up to an unattainable standard and more about being open to what works for your family.

After all, to quote another conversation with my pediatrician: “Happy families make happy babies.” And who doesn’t have that as a goal for their offspring?

How are your 2016 goals coming along? 

Feel the Burn: 4th of July Firecracker Plyo Workout

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This past Monday we did a themed workout at Team LUNA Chix Portland Run practice in honor of the upcoming holiday. And there’s no way to pay better tribute to the explosive power of all those 4th of July fireworks shows than with plyometrics, of course!

Plyometric workouts are great for runners because this type of training helps produce greater power and efficiency through the recruitment of more muscle fibers. In layman’s terms: When you train your muscles to contract more quickly and forcefully, you can really amp up your strength and speed.

Hint: If you’re not familiar with some of the moves listed, simply Google the term, and you’ll be able to find a description or video of it in action.

And, as always, remember to go at your own pace and use proper form. Think quality over quantity when it comes to this workout!

Do you utilize plyometrics in your training?

StitchFix Shipment No. 10 Review

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StitchFix no. nine landed me a comfy-yet-cute sweater (read about it here) after I tasked my stylist with finding belly-friendly items to fit an eight-plus-months pregnant lady but also be versatile enough to be used postpartum.

For my tenth installment, I waited until three months after giving birth to try to avoid too much transitional clothing. Although I’m just about back in my old sizes, things don’t quite fit the same yet; I’m still carrying a bit of extra weight, and it’s distributed a bit differently nowadays (hello, boobs!).

For this particular fix, I told my stylist I was looking for mom-friendly (read: cute, but easy-care and easy-fit) items that would work for summer. And since we’ve got a wedding coming up in August, I also asked for a breezy-yet-bright dress option that would flatter my new-found “mombod.”

New to StitchFix? Read all about how it works here

Let’s take a peek at what came in this month’s box, shall we?

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First up was the Kut from the Kloth Kate Distressed Boyfriend Jean ($78). The big bummer? I was sent these in a previous fix!

But the good news is that I kept the previous pair because I liked the fit, so I decided to give these another chance. Not only was the wash darker, but my stylist said they’re perfect for summer with flats or sandals.

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Next was the Loveappella Jono Mixed Print Top ($48). It was love at first sight; the cut and color were right up my alley.

My stylist thought it was a great option for summer, especially with white jeans or denim shorts. Although the material is pretty thin, I thought the asymmetrical print at the collar was a nice touch.

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Third was the Mystree Chamberlin Striped Drape Front Cardigan ($78). Horizontal stripes, though? This one would really have to wow me.

The neutral tones are pretty, and I love having the option of something to throw on when it inevitably gets chilly on Portland summer nights. My stylist clearly thought the same, and likely figured the draping would be flattering on a still-shifting shape.

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After that was the Donna Morgan Lideea Dress ($158). My stylist called this one a “show-stopper romantic dress.”

Sure enough, the floral print is perfect for a summer wedding, and the A-line shape is one of my favorites. I particularly liked the extra details at the bust and hem, however this style seemed to run large even though the numerical size was correct.

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And, finally, came the Loveappella Olivier Crochet Yoke Knit Top ($54). Light and airy, this sweater looked like the perfect summer layering piece.

According to my stylist, it should be worn with the jeans and flats as an easygoing outfit. I liked how the crochet detail up top broadened my shoulders, although the fit was a little looser than I usually wear.

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So what did I end up keeping?

In the end, second time was a charm for the Kut from the Kloth jeans. Although I was disappointed to not have a whole new style to try, my previous pair has been getting a lot of use so I figured it’d be good to have a backup (baby spit-up, anyone?).

I felt like I was swimming in both of the sweaters, and the dress would have to be take in and hemmed to fit properly, as well (I’m holding it in the back in the picture to cinch it). And I just couldn’t justify spending nearly $50 on the coral top because the material was super thin, even though the color and style were on point.

My next fix is scheduled for August, and I’m requesting some trend-driven pieces for fall because I’m hoping to be a tad closer to pre-baby shape by then and I love layering up as the temperatures drop! So stay tuned to see what kind of magic my stylist works for StitchFix no. 11…

Want to try StitchFix? Use my referral link to fill out your style profile and get started.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. I simply love the service and think it’s fun to share my experience. I pay for Stitch Fix on my own. If you sign up using my referral link, I’ll get a credit…so thanks in advance for fueling my next fix! 

How I Run: Team LUNA Chix PDX’s Madeline Rhoades

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In honor of our second Team LUNA Chix Portland Run season, I’ll be introducing our new team members via this interview series throughout the next few months…get to know these impressive ladies, and come join us for a run Monday nights from 6:30-7:30 pm in Portland! 

First up, meet Madeline Rhoades: She’s a self-described “fairly new” runner who joined us last season thinking she wouldn’t even be able to make it a mile…but ended up pleasantly surprising herself at our last workout by running a four-miler. Like a boss.

Not only did Madeline recruit a number of friends to join in on our weekly mayhem workouts, but she also happened to be our top fundraiser for last year’s spin-a-thon (seriously, people simply cannot say no to this woman!), so inviting her to join the team for our 2016 season was a total no-brainer.

Her hope for this year is to be able to be an example to other women who never thought they would grow to love running. Mission accomplished, Madeline — not only have you come into your own as a runner, but you’re inspiring others to do the same every week!

1. What’s your favorite route? I’m a big fan of nature running routes. If I get the chance to get out of the city and onto a (fairly flat) trail, it’s where I find my zen place. I used to frequent Ridge Trail in Forest Park when I first started running. It’s steep but is a great way to work your way up in intervals, (walk the steep parts and run what you can). Not to mention it’s gorgeous.

2. What shoes do you wear? I’m still experimenting. I think I might be too new to running to know what shoes work best for me. I like a lot of arch support but have not found “the ones” yet. I’m currently breaking in some Nike trail running shoes and loving them, they’re super supportive and cute. I can’t go wrong with Nike for style, at the very least!

3. What other run gear can’t you live without? Reflective everything. I usually run after work, and during the winter it’s dark. I want to be as visible as possible.

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4. What’s your best time-saver or “runhack?” I am the best at making excuses, so a great “runhack” I use is bringing socks and shoes with me in my car — always. If it’s beautiful outside and I’m prepared, there are no excuses!

5. What running-related thing are you better at than anyone else? I believe one of my biggest strengths in running is that I’m willing to learn. If a fellow runner gives me any tips or tricks, I’m up to try them. I love learning better ways of running, and when you’re open-minded to what more experienced runners have to say, it helps a lot.

6. What do you listen to while running? I don’t usually listen to anything other than my surroundings on runs. Especially if I’m in nature, I love the sound of what’s going on around me.

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7. What are you currently training for? I recently completed the Bridge to Brews 10k as my first race ever! I figured I would be slightly more motivated if there were craft beers at the finish line.

8. What are your recovery & sleep routines like? I think I’m like every other human on the planet– I try to get eight hours of sleep a night. It’s not always possible, but I always feel so much better and more motivated when I get a full night’s sleep. A lot of the time I use an easy yoga routine to help me recover, to help me stretch all of the muscles that I use in running. I’m working on getting better at both sleeping and stretching!

9. What’s the best running advice you’ve ever received? You’ll never be “good at running” unless you start running. I had always considered myself a non-runner up until this point, and after I received this advice, I wasn’t so hard on myself for not being fast. I felt like it was less about the destination and more about the run. It’s impossible to be good at something unless you jump in!

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10. What’s your favorite running-related memory? Any time I push through something that I didn’t think I would be able to finish, I feel amazing. Whether it’s big or small, it’s great to look back and think, “I ran that extra mile even though I didn’t think I would be able to, I can finish this next mile too!” These memories keep me going through challenges.

11. Fill in the blank: I’d love to go on a run with __________. The Luna Chix! (Does that count?! I don’t really have any running idols.)

12. Anything else you want to add? Don’t let your mind hold your body back! You’re much stronger than you might think.

Thanks, Madeline! We’re so happy to have you as part of the team this year, and I can’t wait to watch you crush more of your running goals this season. 

Friends, if you’re interested in being featured here (all levels & abilities welcome), please drop me a line at info(at)kineticfix(dot)com.

May Goal Check-In

 

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You know how when you start running, it can be pretty uncomfortable, discouraging and fill you with self-doubt? Well, that’s also how the initial few months with your first baby can feel.

Am I doing this correctly? I have no clue. Is this normal? Who knows. Is he happy? I sure hope so. 

But then you push through, eventually hit your stride, and that’s when things finally start to click. That’s exactly how this past month felt.

Not that we’ve got everything figured out — far from it! But we’ve started to get into a good rhythm as a family and find some semblance of a life outside of diapers, naps, bottles and mountains of laundry.

Read more about the five goals toward which I’m working in 2016.

Here’s where things stand currently:

1. Health & Fitness

After last month’s initial excitement of being cleared to work out again, my goal for May was to address any weaknesses from the last year of bodily changes, as well as help protect myself against future issues — i.e. “mommy slump” from feedings or back pain from picking up a rapidly-growing kiddo.

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Enter the wonderful Angi McClure, who runs a program here in Portland call Body401k. She’s not about quick fixes; her work focuses on in vesting in body longevity because, let’s face it, we’re in ’em for the long haul, so the least we can do is take good care of ’em.

I worked out with Angi while I was pregnant, and I know a lot of the work we did helped me stay strong while carrying Wyatt and recover quickly after. So now that I’m getting back into my fitness routine, I’ve resumed sessions because it’s one thing to be cleared to work out and it’s quite another to proceed properly while learning how to navigate the ‘new normal’ of your body.

Another awesome component of postnatal fitness? Stroller Strides.

If all goes to hell, at least I can count on this workout each week. Not only do I get to bring Wyatt along to a butt-kicker of a workout, but it’s also a fantastic way to commiserate connect with other moms in the area.

2. Training

My first official post-baby race (Wanderlust 108‘s 5k) is under my belt, and what can I say? It was rainy, it was cold, the course was hilly and I was huffing and puffing the whole time.

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But thanks to the encouragement of several of my Team LUNA Chix Portland Run teammates, I got it done. No PR’s, no course records — just the satisfaction of knowing I finished, I have a baseline from which to work, and things can only get better from here.

That said, my grand plans to start building mileage this month in an effort to work into training for this fall’s Portland Marathon was an epic fail. I did manage to get a few miles in each week, but I’m currently thinking I’ll have to re-set expectations when it comes to that race.

3. Community

We had a busy but successful month with Team LUNA Chix Portland Run, thanks to our inaugural “Community Week” in which we teamed up with other local businesses and groups to highlight all the great things going on here in PDX.

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We ran, we yoga’d, we bootcamped, we shopped and we volunteered, all in the name of helping to get the word out about what we do, as well as show some love for a few of the great stores, studios and charities in the area.

Up next? In addition to our weekly workouts (Mondays, 6:30 pm at Duniway track), we’re working on organizing a scavenger hunt, as well as more events with our favorite people and places in the fitness community.

Check out our Facebook page for details, and follow us on Instagram and Twitter for updates on what we’ve got going on each week.

4. Career

As I mentioned last month, I ended up extending my maternity leave from my company, Pulse Creative, through May. Mama intuition told me that Wyatt needed a full three months of being my sole focus, and I’m fortunate enough to have clients who are very understanding when it comes to balancing family with work.

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Having my Wanderlust gig, however, did allow me to ease back into things by leading the warm-up at the event’s 5K. And I even squeezed in a few client calls and informal proposals to get a few things in the queue for when I start to ramp back up in June.

5. Life

I’m pretty sure having a child is going to teach me many life lessons, the first of which are:

  1. You cannot control everything.
  2. You cannot do it all.

The way in which Wyatt was born did a pretty good job teaching me no. 1, and life with a baby is schooling me no. 2…every. single. day.

I’ve learned that there are two keys to surviving the first few months with an infant: delegation and outsourcing. Family and friends have been literal lifesavers for me and Ben, whether they’ve dropped off food, stopped by for a visit, shared war stories, helped with a feeding or stayed up practically all night to help us get a few hours of sleep (thanks, MOP!).

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But it’s other little luxuries like having someone come in to tidy up your looks-like-a-bomb-went-off apartment every few weeks or a few precious hours here and there with an extra pair of hands, thanks to this awesome flexible childcare service, that help make a job that’s 24/7 — with no breaks, sick days or vacation — a little more sustainable.

Which leads me to the third, and perhaps the most important, life lesson I’ve learned so far from Wyatt’s past few months on this planet:

Happy moms make happy babies. 

My pediatrician told me this early on, but it wasn’t until recently that I fully understood what he meant — i.e. it’s important to be able to take a step back once in a while and make a little time for myself to regroup.

Not only does this give me better perspective as a mom, but also does wonders for me as a person when I have those oh-my-God-what-did-I-get-myself-into moments where I feel totally overwhelmed and impossibly unprepared.

Because, as I’m learning from my more seasoned parent friends, that feeling never quite goes away!

How are your 2016 goals coming along?