Monday, March 31, 2014

Happy first year of life Charlotte

Dear baby Charlotte,

I can't believe a year ago today you were born. I remember being up in the morning about this same time last year on Easter with contractions. I thought my stomach was just acting up until I realized the pain was lasting about a minute and was coming every 5 minutes or so. The day you were born is still so fresh in my mind I remember almost everything...

I remember the look on my doula Casey's face when she saw me hunched over the toilet in the bathroom. I remember rolling around on the exercise ball in the living room while your dad was trying to make breakfast for everyone. I remember when Casey deemed it time to head to the hospital and my mom trying to take a picture of us with her camera phone while I patiently tried to smile through the agony of a contraction before leaving the house.

I remember the triage of the hospital. How they made us wait alone in there until they realized that yes I was in labor and I could be admitted. No one even gave me a ride in a wheelchair up to the birthing room because I still don't think they were convinced entirely I was in labor. I remember getting into the bathtub where I immediately felt better because it was like a little cave I could hide in. No one else was in the room for awhile except me, Casey, Chad and our friend Kelsey who just happened to be working at the hospital that Sunday. They all sat outside the tub and watched me for hours. Your heart beat was like a sound machine for the room once they hooked up a monitor to me. I still remember that "thump thump" echo sound letting us know you were ok and would soon be here to great us.
with the midwife ann who delivered you

I remember getting out of the tub and trying to push when they said it was time. There was so much pain then but my motivation was to bring you earth side. I pushed on my side for awhile then on my back and I knew it wouldn't be long. There were times I wanted to give up because the pain was too great. I could feel everything and I know I shed a few tears and screamed so much my throat was sore for days afterwards. They told me to feel for your head as they thought that would motivate me. What a strange thing for you to be half earth side and half in utero for awhile there. Did you know what was happening? Did you know where you were going? Was it as hard for you as it was for me to make the journey to see each other for the first time?

Our 39 week journey together came to an end with the midwife saying, "reach down and grab your baby." I pulled you out and on to my chest where we both cried. I think it took a few minutes for me to get it together enough to hold you up and see what I already knew in my heart..that you were a girl.
You were my Charlotte. A name I had picked out before I ever even knew my desire to have you in my life. Eight hours was all it took to bring you into this world and I will never forget how happy I was to have one journey come to an end so a new chapter could begin.

I remember eating a plate full of strawberries after you were born. They told me I could order any food I wanted and that's what I ate. This weekend we had your first birthday party and that is the type of cake we had for you...strawberry. The irony is not lost on me. In a year I have watched you grow from a helpless infant to a stubborn, curious and watchful toddler. Your skin is no longer yellow with jaundice, but a beautiful pale white. You still have blue eyes and no hair that much has stayed the same. You are still watchful of everything around you and so strong and determined. You make me laugh and smile every day. You can wave, pull up on furniture, you have 4 teeth and you charm everyone you meet. You are our char char binks, our babylove, our llama, our Charlie, our Charlotte.

I remember so much from the day you were born and how aware and real it became that first night we spent together. Your cries and noises you made letting us know we'd never be alone again. A year later, you now sleep in your own room but I am always aware of your presence. I never sleep as hard or as long as I did before you.
with your doula Casey who helped bring you in this world

This weekend we celebrated you with a Charlotte's web themed party. Everyone was there to celebrate you and your life. Congratulations you made it a year on this earth.  You won't remember your party but that's ok....we and all our friends will remember it for you. I had everyone sign a copy of Charlotte's Web so years from now when we read it together you will see those signatures and well wishes and know you are just as loved as you were the day you were born. The party was all for you and created from a place of love. I hope you felt surrounded by it and know how many people are rooting for you as you grow.



As a parent my job is to be the keeper of your stories. To remember for you and create memories and moments for you. I hope I am doing a good job. I can't make every second wonderful but I will remember it all for you....the good an the bad and we will fill in the chapters of the story of your life for you. I will re-read them to you someday should you start to can reread them for me when I am old and do the same.

Happy first birthday my baby love. I cannot believe a year has already gone by. I am so thankful and proud to call you my daughter. Let's enjoy each day on this next journey together around the sun. Let's write the next chapter together and fill it with love...

first family photo

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The worst piece of advice given to mom's-to-be out there....

My final piece for our three part series on The Good, The Bad and The WTF advice soon-to-be parents receive can be filed under bad as well as wtf. This advice extends to expectant mothers and is given by everyone from authors, friends, strangers and family. It is, quite possibly the worst advice I have ever received while pregnant and the one that, personally has the greatest consequences.

"Don't work out. If you already are, stop working out."

You read that sentence right. Don't work out pregnant ladies.

I first encountered this advice when reading a horrible book passed on to me by a massage therapist called, "The Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy" by Vicki Lovine. The premise of the book is that the author has complied a list of everything your girlfriends should tell you about pregnancy and labor. I should have stopped reading at the chapter where the author suggested your husband should reward you with a push present for having the baby. I went on to read how the author suggested you not be a hero and "Just take the drugs." Great so the author is basically telling women to lie on their backs drugged up an await their diamond tennis bracelet for having their baby cut out of them. Where I put down the book in disgust however, was when the author suggested that pregnant women should stop working out. The author lists 8 main reasons:
To me the most insulting are numbers 3. You will get fat anyways and 8. Our compulsion to exercise when we are pregnant is a reflection of our inability to surrender and let nature run its course.

Why is this book in print and why did 78 out of 139 people give it five stars on Amazon? I thought this book was a joke but as I kept reading I could see the author was serious. You'll get fat anyways? First of all you aren't getting fat you are growing a baby. Working out while pregnant isn't about trying to have a six pack it's about maintaining a healthy lifestyle so you can be mentally and physically prepared for labor and the post partum period. Second of all wanting to exercise and be healthy doesn't mean you aren't letting nature run its course. This implies that being physically fit is somehow an anomaly and as humans we are supposed to sit on the couch and not move for nine months while we grow a baby. Do you think animals sit around while pregnant? If they did they would be vulnerable to predators and thus would be eaten pretty quickly.

As much as I'd like to believe other women aren't taking this advice, I see first hand that they do in fact believe this horrible advice. I have a third trimester pregnancy video (which you can watch here) which I filmed while about 37 weeks pregnant myself that focuses on toning and sculpting the butt and arms. In the video there is a five minute warm-up followed by 5 exercises intended to be done for 30seconds to 1 minute each. If you did the whole video at 1 minute per exercise you'd be looking at about a 20 minute at home work-out. While the video has almost 100,000 views and 500+ great reviews there are about 30 dislikes. A few women have commented on the video that they were looking for something more "mild" and the video was too hard for them. One woman went as far as to say I wasn't even really pregnant in the video to have maintained the pace I was. A few disliked the fact that I included bridge lifts at the end of the workout stating that one shouldn't be lying on their back that far along in the pregnancy. Let me clarify that the amount of time on your back (and you are doing bridge lifts so you are never fully on your back for an extended period of time) is approximately 30 seconds to 1 minute. The majority of  women (myself included) end up giving birth on their backs (which I do not recommend because it's working against gravity to push the baby out as opposed to squatting) and pushing for up to three hours. Even when you get a check up during your pregnancy you are laying on your back to be measured. It seems many women are opposed to working out and will come up with any excuse to avoid doing so.

Why are we discouraging other women from working out while pregnant? Why are we talking ourselves out of working out and using pregnancy as an excuse? As a fitness instructor of yoga, spin, kettlebells and barre I am someone who enjoys working out. I am passionate about working out because I found exercises that I enjoy and thus it doesn't feel like a chore to me. I knew gaining weight was inevitable while pregnant but that didn't mean my arms couldn't be toned, my legs couldn't be in shape and my butt couldn't be perky. I was not going to "give up" just because I was pregnant; I saw it as training for two and me being strong meant a strong healthy baby.

As your best friend, someone who has been through pregnancy and labor I must implore you to work out while pregnant. It isn't called labor for nothing, having a baby is a lot of work both mentally and physically. After Charlotte was born every single muscle in my body ached from the contractions and pushing her out. My labor was eight hours long which, all things considered is relatively short. The reason my exercises in my video were timed at one minute is because that is how long a contraction lasts. Once in active labor they will last for one minute and be spaced out about four minutes apart. The contractions start coming closer together as you get ready to push and if you must be induced and have an artificial stimulant like Pitocin your contractions will be erratic. If you cannot breath through an exercise for one minute than you are in for a rude awakening my friend. Having been through it I can tell you there is no burpee, plank, jumping jack, leg lift, box jump, pull up, sprint or push up that compares to the pain of a labor contraction. None. You know those blood pressure cuffs they have at the doctors office they put around your arm? It's like having one of those around your abdomen squeezing you until your eyes water then releasing. Just like an intense work out, labor has an end in sight and the reward is a beautiful baby. But you will work for that baby, yes you will. Unless you have resigned yourself to laying on a table drugged up, having your abdomen cut open while your arms are pinned down by your side awaiting someone else to pull your baby out and your diamond tennis bracelet push present....I suggest you prepare your body. Ask any woman who has had an involuntary's painful and it's not fun. More painful than a natural birth for sure and you can suffer years down the road because of it.

So ladies, best friends, can we make a promise? Can we please stop telling our friends not to work out while pregnant? That would be the equivalent to signing up for a Triathlon, not training and expecting to finish in one piece. Can we please stop recommending books to other women that tell them exercise won't help them in labor? With advice like this and such an aversion to working out it's no wonder the US has the highest unnecessary C-section and obesity rate.

I remember when I was pregnant I had so many women at the gym come up to me and tell me I inspired them. They saw me in class working hard and taking care of myself and they said it motived to work harder themselves. For all of you pregnant women out there taking classes, running, working out, please know you are not only doing the best thing you can for you and your baby you are inspiring those around you. Leading by example is powerful and when other women (and men!) see what you can do they will do the same for themselves.

Give others a reason to work out please...not an excuse.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Telluride Yoga + Hiking Retreat August 21-24th 2014. Elevating your yoga practice.

I am so thrilled to announce that this August 21-24th I will be guiding 13 adventurous spirits on a yoga and hiking retreat in Telluride, Colorado.

As a 200 hour RYT it has been my dream for awhile to host a yoga retreat. Summer's however, have largely been reserved for my other goal which is climbing all of Colorado's 58 peaks over 14,000 feet. The vision became clear to me this year that it doesn't have to be one or the other, why not combine both passions? So I have designed a retreat around yoga outdoors and pristine hiking amongst the wildflowers in one of the most remote parts of the state.

Telluride was the natural choice for its beauty, history and availability of hiking trails right off the deck of our lodging. Our accommodations will be at the Viking Lodge where I have reserved a 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom house that's complete with 9 beds plus a sleeper sofa. While it is shared accommodations, those who register for the trip first have pick of their sleeping situation although no one will be disappointed with this house:


The best feature is the 900 square foot wrap around deck that will be perfect for morning and evening yoga and meditation. There is also a pool and hot tub available as well as a gourmet kitchen where guests can treat themselves to whatever meal they chose. In order to make this trip budget friendly I have opted to only include a light snack (yogurt, coffee, tea, fruit, granola) for breakfast so that those who wish to explore the excellent choices of dining in town, only footsteps away, can.

This retreat is limited to 13 people to keep the feeling intimate and to be able to really get to know one another. So often at retreats there is a disconnect from the host and the attendees but not here! You can come solo or bring a friend and still feel right at home. Once at the retreat there is no need for a car as we are within walking distance to hiking, yoga and town so those who prefer to fly into Montrose or Telluride airport have that option. I can arrange a shuttle service for a fee from either airport for you or you may wish to drive from Denver. Carpooling can be arranged as well.

The tentative schedule is still in the works but you can expect meditation, journaling, twice daily yoga practices, one long hike and the option for an afternoon soak in the hot tub or siesta time. The hikes I will chose will be challenging enough for the intermediate hiker while not overwhelming for the novice. Blue Lake, Hope Lake, Bridal Veil Falls and Ajax Peak are all right outside our door and the exact hike will be revealed to you upon your arrival.

The early bird special extends through May 1st and is $350 per person. After May 1st the price goes up to $475 per person. This is one of the most affordable retreats on the market not to mention a bargain for staying in one of the most beautiful properties in Telluride right on the river.

For further questions please contact me at I would love to see you in Telluride in August!

Ready to commit? Sign up below!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

How you should really be prepping for baby

Welcome to part two of my three part series on the best and worst parenting advice you are likely to receive! Something about having a baby bump or baby on the hip opens you up to a variety of advice from everyone from your next door neighbor to the lady behind you at the grocery store. After talking with friends and family out there and receiving such a huge response to the question, "What's the worst and best advice you've ever received as a parent?" I decided to make this column a three part series. Last week's blog was my top ten of the good, the bad and the WTF unsolicited advice. This week I'm focusing on my parents-to-be out there and the best and worst advice I've received on preparing for the baby's arrival.

From apps that compare your baby to the size of a fruit as it grows, to the registry help desk at Babies R' Us, moms-to-be can become so focused on the birth, blankets and what mattress to buy that they forget about everything else. I was guilty of buying cute baby clothes and decorating the nursery and overlooked the fact I might perhaps need to find a pediatrician or buy a thermometer and humidifier for babies first cold. My maternity leave was 12 weeks and instead of researching daycares or interviewing nannies BEFORE the baby came I focused on non essentials (like what kind of rug should the nursery have) thus resulting in stressing and crying my last few weeks of leave to frantically find capable hands to watch my child.

Learn from my mistakes and the mistakes of other mom's out there and follow this great advice on prepping for a new baby and what you should be doing NOW:

1. Pick a Pediatrician - The hospital or birthing center where you give birth will want the name of the pediatrician you are seeing before they allow you to leave. Your baby will have a check-up two days after it is born so pick a place convenient to your house. Things to consider: do they have a separate wellness and sick area to keep kids that are sick away from ones getting check ups, what are their hours, do they have an Urgent care on site (always take your child to an urgent care that specializes in children), are they seeing new patients, does your insurance cover visits? Also think about vaccines. If you want to do a delayed vaccine schedule (as I chose to do) will they support you? Are they more holistic in their approach or do they dole out medicine like candy? Start searching today!

2. Pick a car seat and stroller that is practical for your life- Are you a runner or do you barely get down the block for a walk? Do not chose a stroller that is trendy, pick one that suits you and then get a used one and save yourself some money. Look for one you can fold down with one hand so that when you are by yourself you can do it with baby in hand. Practice before the baby is here because let me say from experience you don't want to be caught out in the elements trying to figure out how for the love of it you are going to get the stroller in the car (or out for that matter). We have three strollers and now that Charlotte is older you know the one I use the most? The $10 umbrella stroller from walmart. It's light weight, folds easy and I can maneuver it around the mall, restaurants and easily carry it up and down stairs. While you are at it, pick up the stroller you want to buy and see if that's something you can lift in and out of your car etc. Notice how many times a day you get in and out of your car and that will give you a good idea of how often you will take baby in and out. I recommend an infant seat that attaches to a base in the car then attaches to a stroller. Those infant to toddler seats might look appealing but then you have to take the baby in and out of the car seat every time you get out of the car. Not so appealing when you have a sleeping baby is it? Also you do not need two bases for the car seat as long as the car seat has a slot to slide the seat belt through which all of them do. They have to or you couldn't take them on an airplane. Pick the car that you use the most and leave the base in there. While you are at it, get a mirror to hang on the back of the seat so you can see your baby while driving plus a sun shade to go on the window to protect their face.

3. Buy things used - I get it, we all love new things. Having a new baby is the perfect excuse to buy, or have someone else buy, you all those cute clothes, strollers and the high chair of your dreams. Let me let you in on a secret, all that stuff does is become expensive plastic taking up space in your garage or closet. There is a chain of resale shops here in Colorado called Kid to Kid that my doula clued me in on when I had a panic attack because none of Charlotte's 0-3 month clothes fit when she was born. We made a trip over there and got bags of newborn clothing for $40. Since then we have bought our pack-n-play, exersaucer, activity mat, sleep sacks, coats, bows and just about anything else you could want from there. That swing and vibrating chair we wanted new? In the garage. Children outgrow their toys and clothing so fast it's just a waste of money to buy new. Most resale shops have gift cards so ask for one there and the best part is they will buy it all back when you are done! In fact the only things I recommend buying new are a car seat, diaper bag (it's your new purse!) and cloth diapers (the elastic tends to be worn out on the used ones). Maybe treat yourself to a crib if you like (which by the way you won't even use for about six months so try a bassinet or a rock-n-play instead). Save your money for daycare costs.

4. Figure out your childcare situation now - When you are pregnant you will get a lot of questions on what your plans are about returning to work. It's something I brushed aside until 3 weeks until I was supposed to return and I found myself in a panic to secure childcare. I alternate between using a daycare and a nanny and I can tell you both have their perks and their downfalls. You must sit down and financially figure out how much you can afford first and go from there. How many hours will you be working? What time does the daycare open and close? Is it close to your house or your work making easy access for you and your spouse? Some daycares, especially in-home require a minimum commitment to a number of days your child will be there. Others have waiting lists. I believe I was in such denial about returning to work that I didn't bother to think about what I would do. Daycare for infants is expensive! My best advice is whatever you decide to do a trial run before going back to work. Have the nanny or daycare watch the baby while you go out and run some errands or hit the gym. You will be amazed at the level of anxiety you will feel leaving your baby with a "stranger" the first time. If the first time happens to be when you go back to work all day you might not survive! Text or call and see how fast their response time is. Have a backup too. Daycares may be closed on holidays you still have to work and nannies get sick...remember that!

5. How will you feed your baby? - When I was in the hospital they gave me formula to take home which I wanted to instantly discard. "I'm breast feeding," I thought, "Why would they do that?" But my mom cautioned that I might become sick or have some scenario where it would come in handy to have so I kept the cans of formula. I am so glad I did! No one can prepare you for breastfeeding but yourself so purchase, "The Nursing Mother's Companion," line up a lactation consultant and even take a breastfeeding class. The fact is, you are going to have to feed your baby and whether that's on the breast or the bottle you need to be prepared. Silly me registered for several types of bottles not taking into consideration that maybe Charlotte wouldn't like certain nipples or wouldn't take a bottle at all. Babies may show a preference for certain brands of formula to so if that's the route you chose don't be discouraged if they won't take one kind because they may take another. Since I had to go back to work I knew I needed a pump which my insurance (and yours may too!) covered but I didn't think about how to store all the breast milk I'd be pumping. Fortunately a mom of two gave me a whole breast milk storage kit which I still use. If your baby will attend daycare you will have to bring in their milk in containers or bottles so look for something easy to label and transport. Also just know even if you plan to breast feed things may happen beyond your control - a tongue tied baby, premature birth, mastitis, clogged ducts, infections and more can occur that could derail your plans for breastfeeding. Are you OK with formula feeding if breast feeding doesn't work out? Have a backup plan because baby must eat!

When babies are first born what they need most is your love. You will give and give and give and it will be exhausting because you will not get anything in return. No smiles, no hugs, no's basically like trying to bond with a sea sponge. Know as the baby grows and becomes aware of the world around you they will start to engage with you and that's when all the hard work starts to pay off. As you start to prep for baby make sure you take into consideration the advice above which I've complied from moms who've been around the block a time or two! During the pregnancy it's easy to loose focus on what you need for baby rather than what is a want. A little prep work goes a long way for a life that's anything but the expected once your bundle of joy arrives!

What other advice would you give parents to be prepping for baby?