Friday, April 24, 2015

5 Things Every Thriving Pregnant Mama Should Read

It's really amazing how much we don't know we don't know.

This couldn't be more true for me than the art of giving birth. I actually thought I was waaaaayyy ahead of the curve when I gave birth to BK, but knowing what I know NOW, I'm a little surprised I had the positive experience I did. Unfortunately, not all mamas are that lucky and it upsets me greatly. As a birth educator, doula, and all-around birth rights activist, it is my hope/desire that every woman look forward to birth and regard it as positive - regardless of their individual choices and how challenging the birth may be. I don't care if you want an epidural, decide a c-section is best, or want a natural birth at home. As long as you are provided all the necessary information to make an informed decision, that's all that matters - the problem is, our care providers aren't giving this to us so we must seek it out ourselves.

I find that many first time moms are hesitant to think about their births too early in their pregnancies, but I fear when they finally get around to it they haven't prepared enough and this can result in a disempowering experience. Unfortunately giving birth in the US in 2015 has become somewhat of a battle, that many women don't know they are waging under they are already in labor. All I want is for women to be educated and prepared for that fight.

Below are the top 5 articles/resources I think every newly pregnant woman should read in order to have a more positive and empowering birthing experience:

  1. Friedman’s Curve and Failure to Progress: A Leading Cause of Unplanned C-sections
  2. Frequently Asked Questions… that Other People have Already Answered!
  3. Induction, C-Section, & VBAC Facts
  4. You’re Not Allowed to Not Allow Me
  5. Evidence on Inducing Labor for going past your Due Date

Love this handy Facebook "button" from Evidence Based Birth!

As a bonus, below is a handy chart showing the disparity between standard maternal care in the US versus what the current scientific evidence shows is best. 

Please share these resources with anyone you know who is trying to conceive or already pregnant! Even if it's a second pregnancy, there is always more to learn. I of course have MANY more wonderful resources than this, so if you'd like to see more just let me know and I'll be happy to do a follow up post!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Mommy's Guilt...It's Gotta Go!

Being a new mommy means a lot of change, I repeat, a lot of change. You know how people say your life kind of ends when you have kids? Well, they are sort of right.  It isn't a bad end by any means, I think it is rather amazing, but it does take some adjusting to. The time you once had for a social life, leisurely walks through Target and watching a recorded show or two are gone. Your world now revolves around those little people in your life who depend on you for everything (especially if you are a breast feeding mommy like myself). With all that change comes a lot of different emotions...including guilt.

While I desperately wish I could stay home with my babies, it just isn't in the cards for my family at this time.  It is something we plan to work towards, but for now, I continue to work full time.  I am very lucky since my hours are short and the school year offers lots of time off (yay summer!). So, even though my heart wants to be with my boys, my glass is more than half full despite working. But for some reason, I still have a nagging guilt each day while I am away from them.

Before having kids I would often stay a bit after school and get some extra work done, hit the gym then run a few errands. Now, I am out the door and in my car as soon as possible, racing home to make it in time to nurse my boys for their afternoon nap. Once we have snuggled and I've put them down I get organized.  Just when thoughts of a quick solo run around the neighborhood or an efficient trip to Costco crosses my mind, they are up and ready to play.  Well, there goes that idea. I reassess my afternoon and build in my boys into all my activities. But sometimes, I need a little "me" time. Being at work doesn't really qualify. Yes, I am away from my angels, but I wouldn't quite qualify it as "me" time.

When I start to contemplate taking a bit of time for myself after work, I suddenly feel a huge tidal wave of guilt for even thinking it. I was away all day, how on Earth could I even think about leaving them for another 30 minutes?! The more I think about it the more guilt I feel. Suddenly, the mere thought of doing anything alone makes me feel sick. I start to feel guilty about going to teach my fitness classes. I feel guilty wanting to set up an appointment for my bi-monthly manicure. I feel guilty going wanting to make plans with friends...I just feel guilty all the time! I get practically nauseated at the thought of asking my wonderful Thriving Husband or Godsend of a Thriving Mommy to watch the boys while I sprint out to knock out an errand or two (as you know you can get a lot more done when you are alone). I do my best to work up the courage to ask if I can sneak away for a bit and suddenly, I feel the swell of guilt rise up inside me. You leave? Again? You just got home!

I am sure we all have felt like that at one time or another...I think my TH feels like this often, he is home a ton with the boys!
Why do I feel this crazy sense of guilt? Going to work is something that I have to do, so should I still get to do things I want to do? Well, my answer is a hesitant and questionable...yes? I think it should be YES. The guilt, well it. has. got. to. go. I in no way want to be galavanting out and about, but I do think it is appropriate for me (and all mommies) to have a little solo time. If you don't you are going to lose your mind.  To truly thrive you have to be able to put yourself first sometimes...and that is ok.  I also think that the Thriving Daddies and the Thriving Grand-Majesties deserve some solo time after a long baby filled day too. I am happy to take turns, but I think for everyone in the family to thrive there has got to be some time to ourselves...and again, that is ok.

When I start to feel those pesky feelings, I take a breath and remember that I am a dedicated mommy and it is ok to take care of myself and NOT feel guilty about it. It is ok to leave the boys for additional time after work and I shouldn't beat myself up about it...especially because it isn't all that often. But should I need that extra 30 minutes for a long run after a hard day at work, all will be fine.  If I want to sneak away to a meditation session for an hour on a Sunday evening...the world won't end and my TH won't hate me, all will be fine.  Mommies deserve a guilt free break too, so it is time to own it and enjoy it!

Do you feel guilty being away from your children? Is it work only or all the time?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Make Your Monday - April 20th

Em had a great weekend with her babies out and about. She started her Sunday with her cycle class and is ready to take on the last 42 days of the school year! Nic's family finally kicked the sickness plaguing their home and she felt so great she even made it to Em's class!

You can do anything you put your mind to. You want it, go get it. But as you work for your dreams, accept that you may have to give a little in other areas.  Sleep? "You" time? Exercise? Where are you going to let up to achieve your anything.  Because no matter how hard we try as Thriving Women, we may not be able to do everything...and that's ok.  Just do your best to stay healthy and happy and as always...strive to thrive!

Friday, April 17, 2015

"Meaty" Manicotti

As we all know I love a healthy, quick and easy recipe. This cutie came across my weekly recipe perusing and I decided to give it a try... especially since I had Tuscany Tuesday to prepare for!  I pulled the Cooking Light "meatless" manicotti recipe out of my cookbook and decided to add a little "meat". And by "meat" I mean sausage-less Italian sausage, yum!


  • 2 cups (8 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 (16 oz) carton (fat free or low fat) cottage cheese
  • 1 (10 oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed
  • 1/4 cup (1 oz) grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 (8 oz) package manicotti (14 shells)
  • 1 (26 oz) jar tomato-basil pasta sauce
  • cooking spray
  • 1 cup water
I then decided to get frisky and add...
  • 2 chopped "sausage-less" Italian sausage links
  • 1 finely chopped yellow onion, sautéed
Preheat oven to 375.

First, heat up some olive oil and toss in your onion. Once the onion has softened and grilled up a bit, add the non-sausage and cook on medium heat for five minutes. With your non-meat ready to go, get moving on your cheese mixture. Take the 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, cottage cheese, spinach, Parmesan, oregano, salt and pepper and mix in a large bowl.

Take the mixture and spoon about 3 tablespoons (just stuff those things reallllly full...I let some ooze out the ends too) of the cheese mixture into each uncooked manicotti shell.

Coat a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Then, pour one half of the jar of sauce into the pan. Arrange the stuffed shells in a single layer over the sauce and then top with the remaining sauce.

Next, pour your cup of water into the dish (I went for the corners) so those shells steam to perfection.

Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella evenly over the sauce.  Cover the pan tightly with foil and throw in the oven for one hour (or until the shells are tender).

Once cooked through, let it stand for 10 minutes...then (carefully) peel back your foil (G forbid you lose any cheese) and get ready to enjoy some serious goodness.  I accidentally ate two plates!

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