Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Measuring Success: January 2019

I wasn't planning on doing a Measuring Success update for January. It was a short blog month and I didn't want it to feel like it was all about my weight. But then I got Carter's first birthday photos back and then I listened to this amazing sermon on Sunday and had an 'a ha!' moment. So, you get a Measuring Success post.

Back in early January, I shared that I'm now pre-diabetic and am eating a low(er) carb diet to help control my weight and A1C number. It's been a month since I started that journey and I'm down 5 pounds. That's a modest weight loss for a month, but that's a really good number for me. In the past, that would have taken two to three months. I'm really proud of it. But that's not what makes me want to share.

We did Carter's first birthday photos a few weekends ago. The fact that we've even done them and that we're almost to a year is crazy and a whole other post. But, we got back those photos. And I love every single one of them. But I really love this one of me and my boy.

Photo by Linsley Schneider Photography
This is a woman that is beaming with love for her little boy. She's proud to be his mom. She's not worried about how fat she looks. Don't get me wrong, I totally adjusted my shirt a few times during that session, but mostly, I was having fun with Carter and Aaron. Those photos were about my little man and us as a family, not just me. But we also took them so that I would have a few photos of me with Carter that a) aren't a selfie and b) aren't horribly unflattering because husbands have an uncanny ability to take the most horrific photo of you. There are entire memes about this, so I know it's not just me. But that day, I felt pretty. I wasn't awkward, I didn't mind being in front of the camera. I wasn't sure how those photos were going to come out and that was okay.

But they came out beautifully. And all I see is how much I love that kid. Five pounds isn't a huge number, but feeling like I can do this, like it's something that can be handled and not this overwhelming scary thing is huge.

And then I sat in church on Sunday. And one of the campus pastors was preaching about feeling hopeless. He read some twitter posts with #hopeless. They were pretty funny. He then asked us to write down what we felt hopeless about. And I thought. And I thought. And I honestly couldn't come up with something. Usually, it would be my weight or my size. My health. But, it's not hopeless. Part of that is because I've learned that I can do this in my own way. But it's also because after I spoke with my doctor, I gave it all to God. I decided what I would do, but I also put it in his hands. And I left it.

So here I am. Not hopeless. So proud of how beautiful I feel looking at this photo and so very, very proud of this amazing little man. He keeps me on my toes, but he is the sweetest. He's also teaching more about myself than I ever thought possible. Mostly, he's teaching me to love myself a little more, trust God and that it's going to be okay.

And don't worry, you'll get to see the rest of his photos soon. He turns one this month and I can't wait to show him off!


Friday, January 18, 2019

Low(er) Carb Me: Why and How it Looks for My Life

Over the course of my life, I've done multiple diets. I've done Weight Watchers (twice), Whole Thirty (twice, modified) and Paleo.  It's always been weight related, but more along the lines of "I want to lose weight to look better" not "I need to lose weight to deal with some health issues," which is where I am today.  And, thanks to my doctor, I'm now going low(er) carb.


How I Got Here
I've always avoided low carbohydrate diets because, hello, I'm southern. Sweet tea. Cupcakes. Pasta. All the good things in life.  For the most part, I assumed that if I ate fairly decent and worked out a lot, it would all take care of itself. And, for the most part, it did. I did really well with Weight Watchers, losing 50 lbs in college and keeping most of it off until about four to five years ago. You can read all about that hereI tackled it again with working out like crazy and mostly eating okay. That time I struggled big time to lose weight. It wasn't until I did Whole 30 and Paleo (ahem, low or no carb) that I actually lost a good amount of the weight. That should have been a big clue, but that sweet tea. It's part of my soul. 

So, February 2016. When I had Carter, I was a really ugly number that I won't say. But I will say that I gained 50 lbs while pregnant with him. And I worked out up until 34 weeks. Let that sink in. 50 lbs while still working out 3 times a week up until essentially the last month. I had pre-eclampsia with him and was basically put on blood pressure medication to even be able to leave the hospital. 


31 weeks and still going strong!
Those five days we spent in the hospital were mostly about my blood pressure.  The pre-eclampsia. The magnesium I was on that he subsequently got some of and caused sleepiness, delayed hunger and jaundice. My crazy blood pressure spikes. Those five days were on me. And it was hard, made me a little crazy, but we were able to leave and we went on with life. 

I started working out again when I was cleared. I lost about 30 lbs of my baby weight within the first month or two, but the rest just hung on for dear life. But trying to breastfeed and do a diet weren't working so I didn't even think about working on my weight until after I weaned from pumping at 6 months. 


1 week post partum vs. 3 months
Fast forward to about two weeks ago. I had my annual physical and my six month check-in since the last time I saw my doctor. My triglycerides were high. My weight was high. And my A1C was 5.9. Pre-diabetic is 5.7. My doctor gave me homework to work on my weight, but mostly, to reduce my carbohydrates. So, here we are. 

What it Means for Me
Before I had Carter, I was healthy. Or at least I thought I was. I had an OB/GYN, but that was it. Now I have a General Practitioner I see every 6 months, a cardiologist and an OB/GYN. It's kind of crazy, but I also feel lucky that I get a chance to fix this before it gets worse.

Part of this means I don't get to say "oh the scale doesn't matter" any more. Now the scale matters a heck of a lot. It's still not the end all be all and I know that some weeks will be worse and some will be better, but I also know that the number on the scale has to go down. I can't dismiss it and say, "oh I'm losing inches" anymore. The number has to go down or I stay on blood pressure meds and I go from pre-diabetic to diabetic. That's kind of terrifying, by the way.

It also means a life style change. If you've fought your weight your whole life, or even a few years, you know that diets don't really work. At some point, you stop them and then you gain the bad habits back and the weight that went with them. That's why I liked Weight Watchers - it taught you a new lifestyle. So I've been working to find a low(er) carb lifestyle that works for me.

What it Looks Like
I didn't go total low carb. I'm not doing keto, because I like to be realistic. I work full time and have a baby. Things need to be easy. And I also need to want to eat whatever it is we're having for dinner or else I'm real quick to suggest a Cookout or Taco Bell run. And the hubs rarely says no to either of those. I also know that high blood pressure and diabetes is genetic for me, so these changes need to be things I can stick to. Not something that I can brush off with "Oh, I'm going to do this until I lose weight and then go back." Nope. Not an option. These changes need to be for good, because I'm fairly certain it doesn't get easier as you get older.

Here are the biggest changes I've made:

I only drink my coffee in the morning and then no more sugary drinks.  This hurts my heart. Big time. But I was drinking way to much sugar! This means no more sweet tea, no Diet Mountain Dew, no extra Starbucks runs. Sigh. How this looks in real life is drinking water in the morning on the way to an appointment instead of my coffee because I know I'm going to get Starbucks afterwards.  And to be clear, coffee by itself isn't bad. It's the sugars in how you make the coffee (ie - my lattes with syrups) that are bad. I do still allow myself a glass of wine, but only when I have extra calories at the end of the day.

I changed my snacks at work to good fats and protein. We've been pretty lazy about choosing good snacks lately. Apparently most people do their snacking at night, I do mine during the day at my desk.  I was doing a lot of crackers, chips, cookies, etc. Now I've graduated to 100 calorie nut packs (portion control!), wheat thins with Laughing Cow cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese. I've even eaten lunch meat and a slice of cheese as a snack when I was out of carbs for the day. I still allow myself Milano cookies for my lunch dessert and the occasional Hershey's kiss. So far, this has worked out really well for me. I don't really miss my old snacks and I'm not wasting precious carbohydrates on snacks when I could use them on a better dinner.

I changed my macros. I use MyFitness Pal to track what I eat. I've used it for a few years now and it works well for me. I load everything in that morning that I plan to eat that day. I meal plan on the weekends, so I pretty much always know what I'm eating for lunch (leftovers from the night before) and dinner. My macros were 50% carbs, 30% fat and 20% protein. I did some research to find out what low carb was (25% carbs) and then found somewhere I was more comfortable. I'm doing 35% carbs, 35% protein and 30% fat. And I'm finding it pretty easy to stick to those ratios (or somewhere close) just doing my changes.

We cook most nights and only eat out twice a week. This was a big change. I'd gotten really lax the last few months about cooking. It was so much easier to just to get take out somewhere than me try and cook a meal. We'd already talked about this before the doctor's visit because hello January credit card bill. It was scary. But I also know that it's easier for me to make better choices at home than out. I got an Instant Pot and the new SkinnyTaste One and Done cookbook for Christmas and I've been wearing them out! I've simplified the meals I make and I try to choose ones that are better for us, have more protein and, if they have carbs, they're good ones. Like fruits, vegetables, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, etc.


I focus on better choices. My ultimate goal is to lose weight. I have weight goals in mind, some I've even voiced to Aaron. I might even publish them soon, who knows. The next goal is to reduce the number of carbohydrates that I eat and, when I do eat them, to choose better ones. So I've focused on better choices. This past Sunday, we went to my niece's birthday party. I ate two cookies and a cupcake. But those carbs were worth it! My better choices that day were: I didn't eat the chips at Jason's Deli, I brought my own drink to the party and drank that instead (Crystal Light Lemon Tea), I ordered a salad at Wendy's that night for dinner and drank water instead of getting a diet soda. I did eat more carbs than I should have, but those better choices added up to a lot of carbs that I didn't eat. And that's what I'm focusing on. At least one better choice a day. A salad instead of a burger. Drinking water instead of coffee at home so I can drink a Starbucks. Saying no to the donuts in the break room and not even looking at them. Getting water instead of sweet tea at a restaurant.

And it's working. Because I've been doing this for two weeks and I've lost 2.8 lbs. I've had co-workers ask me if I'm losing baby weight.


I was working on the same 2-3 lbs from July until December, if that tells you anything.  I'll be posting some recipes I've found that we really, really like and other stuff that works for me and this new lifestyle. You can also follow more on my instagram @thezinnlifeblog.

What are some good choices you've made lately?

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Hello 2019! Challenges and Goals for the Year

We've been in 2019 for two weeks! I'm starting this year off right - I've been riding my Peloton and cooking! I started writing this post two weeks ago and am just now posting it, so new year, still same me.  Also, as of today, I have an 11-month old. Whoa!


Last year, I chose a word for the year and set three goals. I chose 'grace' knowing that 2018 was going to be a big year and a bunch of life changes and boy was it!


Carter Hollon joined our family February 16. He was two weeks early thanks to pre-eclampsia. Being a mom has the been the best and hardest part of my life. In a matter of seconds, everything you once knew is gone and this whole new world takes over. Over the past year, I've struggled with identity loss, finding balance, finally realizing, and accepting, that rarely is there total balance.  Choosing 'grace' as my word was huge for me. It released me from so many expectations that I would have put on myself, making those struggles that much harder. Whenever I felt like I failed, I remembered to give myself some grace. And for the most part, it worked. Crying and buying things also helped.  

My three goals were to survive (which we did!), keep blogging (which I kinda did?) and to be healthy. If you take into account all that grace above, I'd say I did okay!

I've been thinking about my word for this year and I'm going with 'intentional'. I want to be intentional with my time and focus on family and relationships. I want to be intentional with Carter and what we do with the little time we have with him, his toys, the books we read, etc. I want to be intentional with our money and save more and spend less on Cookout and Taco Bell. I want to spend our money on experiences with my family. Finally, I want to be intentional with myself.

That's a big one.

So, if you follow this blog, you know that I've struggled with my weight and getting healthy. It's pretty much why this blog exists.  Turns out having a baby pretty much kills your body. I've been on blood pressure medication since Carter was born. I wasn't able to leave the hospital without it. Now, I'm also pre-diabetic. Both of those are hereditary for me, but also have everything to do with my current weight. The good news is that both of those are easily controlled by diet and exercise. The bad news, is that my diet now actually plays a role. RIP sweet tea and lovely carbs. But I need to take care of me, so I will.

In keeping with my 2019 word 'intentional,' these are the challenges and goals I've set for this year:

1. Do something athletic or to move every day. I'm not saying do a full-blown workout everyday, but rather, something that gets me moving. This is actually the winter challenge for Peloton. They've challenged their members to do a class every day from January 7 - February 5. It can be a full blown class or just a 5 minute stretch. And with the Peloton, I have no excuses. I can do a ride, yoga, a 10 minute core or arms workout, or 5 minute stretch. But doing something that gets me moving every day makes me focus on my health much more than I ever have before.  So far, I've only missed one day since starting this challenge on the 5th!

2. Eat out twice a week or less. I started this challenge for January with Aaron. We eat out WAY too much. My credit card bill in January was a clear indication of that. And it's not even that great - it's a bunch of dirty chinese (you know, the places in the strip mall), Cookout and Taco Bell. If we only eat out twice a week, we are going to choose better places. And I'm going to eat a lot better!  Do I think this will always happen? No, that's why it's a challenge!

3. Do date night/date day monthly. Ya'll, I love my doctor. I never had a general practitioner (GP) before Carter because I never got sick (that had nothing to do with my immune system and everything to do with not having a kid!), but now I have one and she is amazing. She also has five kids and understands the working mom struggle. She suggested we do date "days" and let daycare do the babysitting. We've done it a few times, but I want to make sure we do it or a date night at least monthly.

4. Do a family day once a month. I was writing out these challenges and goals and I thought about the fact that I had nothing for Carter! I don't really want to emphasize things like "no screen time" or other things that just make me feel like a bad parent. Instead, I want to focus on things we can do together. Our weekends tend to be full of errands and social gatherings, etc. I want to focus more on the three of us and do something as a family once a month. That could be going to one of the museums in the Triangle, going to the park, a day trip somewhere, etc. But a day or afternoon that is just about us being together.

5. Be better about blogging. I kind of fell off the face of the earth blog-wise after Carter. It's hard. I work full time, mom and wife full time. So I don't always have time. But I'm forever thinking about things I could blog about and then forget to sit down and actually do it. So, this is me, intentionally stating that I'm going to do better at this. Will I? Who knows. Hopefully! 


So, this is me in the beginning of 2019. Starting my journey to a healthy me all over again, mom to an almost one year old, community development professional (you know, my real job) and, hopefully, still a blogger. Let's do this guys! 

Friday, November 30, 2018

Fave Target Finds - November 2018 Edition

I've always loved Target, but I don't think I really understood that basic white girl Target love until I became a mom. Now, Target is my place! I get to say that I'm grocery shopping (cause I am), while also looking at fun things. And mine now has a Starbucks. What more could this basic white mama want?!

I've had lots of good finds at Target lately and wanted to share them with you. I'm not being compensated for these in anyway, I'm just sharing some of my favorites. These could be great gifts or treat yo'self gifts!

Fashion

Universal Thread Dylan MicroSuede Perforation Zipper Bootie - $34.99

Photo courtesy Target.com
I found these with my mom. They didn't have them in my size at the Target near my house, but I hit another up later in the week and found them! I'm so glad they did. These are great with leggings and with jeans. I love the zipper detail and they are super comfy with some no-show socks. I've worn them at least twice a week since buying them and that's saying a lot from a girl with a wall of shoes!

A New Day Stone Casting Earrings - $9.99

Photo courtesy Target.com
I am loving all the jewelry at Target - especially the Sugar Fix by BaubleBar! These earrings aren't from that line, but I literally live in these colors during the fall and winter, so I treated myself to this pair.

Sweater: Honeypunch by StitchFix/Top: LulaRoe Irma/Pants: WhoWhatWear/Earrings: Target (see above)
I actually wore them on Monday with a LulaRoe top and these pants, also found at Target! These pants have an elastic waistband and are great if you're trying to lose that baby (or any!) weight.

Christmas!

Ornaments
Target has some of the best ornaments right now! I normally don't venture very far into the Christmas decoration section at Target (too many people), but I went with my best friend when she was visiting and I'm so glad I did! Target has a bunch of character ornaments as well as the glass style ornaments. Here are some of the ones I've picked up:

Photo courtesy Target.com
I could only find Spiderman and Black Panther online, but there are a ton more in store! I picked up Batman and Thor for Aaron.



I picked up this ornament for my little boy. Carter's nickname since birth has been burrito. One of our nurses in the delivery room called him a Carter Burrito and it stuck! Seemed only right to give him a burrito for his first ornament!

Home Decorations
We don't have a ton of storage space, so I have to be pretty picky about my decorations. But I've found some great ones this year!

Falala Stocking Holder



Peace and Joy Pillow

Photo courtesy Target.com
I was really happy to find something not so Christmas-y for decorations. That sounds counter-intuitive, but sometimes you want something a little different. This matches the colors in my house and I love the simple message, peace and joy.



Friday, November 16, 2018

Back in the Saddle Again and It Feels So Good!

In my last post, I mentioned that we had ordered the Peloton Bike.  If you aren't sure what that is, it's a stationary bike with a giant screen where you can stream classes. It arrived this past Saturday and I did my first ride Tuesday morning. My bike is in my hallway because we haven't moved the bookshelf out of the guest room yet and my stroller fan is attached to the bike so I won't die. I got up at 5 am because Aaron went to work early and did an Advanced Beginner ride.  I am so out of shape, but I did it. And then I did two more rides this past week and an arms segment. And it felt amazing.



How We Got Here
So if you've been around here for a while, then you know that I started this blog because I was starting my fitness journey. I was trying to get healthy and lose some weight after gaining a ton at my old job. I found a gym, a tribe, that I loved and I found strength I never knew I had. I finally found confidence. Then we got pregnant with Carter. I worked out through most of my pregnancy, only stopping around 33 weeks. I slowly started working out again after I was cleared by my doctor and then my gym closed. And I kinda lost all my momentum.

Why Peloton?
My tribe has continued. The instructors stepped up big time and continued to offer classes in the park and one even started her own studio, which I hope to attend some. But working full time and having an extremely cute baby makes it hard to work out. I feel like I'm choosing between them. And my tribe is now in a location that doesn't work for me during the week. 

But with the Peloton, I don't have to choose between time with Carter or working out. Peloton has live classes all day and then those classes are archived, so I can literally do a class any time of day. I mostly did prerecorded classes this week and was still able to see other people working out with me. I did my classes at 5 am, which worked for me, and then had time to shower and put on my make-up before getting Carter up for breakfast. Aaron's also able to work out on his own profile whenever he's available.

Post second ride!
It literally costs the same as it did for just my membership to Burn. Don't get me wrong, that membership was worth every penny. And if Burn was still open, I'd still be going. But that season is over. So we found a solution that we both can use and the cost is the same. Actually, half since we both get to use it. Boom!

Also, that bike is gorgeous. It's super smooth. I did dent my wall trying to unclip, but that just means I'm not going to fall out in a crazy standing sprint, right?

But Your Tribe?
I still hope to be able to do some in person classes. I love the social aspect and still want to see my people. Plus, I like other classes too like yoga, barre and HIIT. But that's going to be on the side, not my main workout.

This is just my first week with the bike. And it's going to live in the hallway for a little bit. Cause that's how we roll right now. But I'm going to give it a month, then I'm going to do a full review. And all of this is my own opinion. I don't get anything for writing this review.  It's just one mom trying to keep herself healthy in ways that work for her and her family. My goal is to use the app five days a week. They have floor classes as well as rides, so that gives me some options.

My first ride was amazing. The music wasn't my favorite. And I'm so out of shape it's not even funny. The advanced beginner ride kicked my butt. But I literally just randomly chose that class. And it was my first since July. And the next two classes I took, I got better at picking my music and instructors. What was most amazing, though, was getting back into it. Knowing that I have options again and I'm working to get rid of this baby weight. I might even get to come off my blood pressure medication if my weight comes back down. But I have options again and it. is. amazing. And, even more so, I don't sacrifice any time with this little boy. And that's the best part of all.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Zinn Life Update or I'm Still Alive

Do you know how many posts I've started and not finished? Thought about blogging and then didn't do it? A lot. More than I can count. But I figured the easiest way to get back into it is to just update you guys on our life. Cause it's been a while.

If you follow me on Instagram, then you're probably familiar with some of these happenings, but not all.

Carter is 8 months!
Guys, this is crazy. I have an 8 month old. Who is also in 12 month clothing and it fits him. People tell you that the time goes by quickly, but you never realize it until you're here.



I feel like he's grown so much in the past month.  For the longest time he hated solids. He'd eat them at daycare, but not really for us. Something switched recently, though, and you can't get the food in his mouth quick enough! It's crazy! He's super curious about the world around him. He loves to be free on the floor and really, really doesn't like to be contained. He's not crawling yet, but you'd be surprised how far those little arms can take him!

My breakfast nook is now Carter land.
Things you say before you have kids: "My house will not be taken over by kid stuff! It will be pretty!"

Things you do after you have a kid:



This has always been the plan in the back of my mind, but it's been a while in the making. We have a beautiful dining room space, so we made the breakfast nook area, which is accessible from the kitchen and the living room, Carter's space. We got a LOT of the foam puzzle piece flooring and Aaron even cut it to fit the room. We have baby gates ready, too, but I'm not putting those up until we have to.

My fitness has tanked. Real bad.
My beloved Burn Athletic closed in July. And I've tried a bunch of different things to try and keep going what I had, but it's been hard! One of the instructors is opening a studio and I'm hoping to be able to be part of that, but we've also officially ordered the Peloton bike! I'm so excited!  We can work out at home, we can both use it, and I still get to do "classes" for the same price that I paid for my membership alone at Burn. I still plan to do some in-person classes, but for the most part, Peloton is going to be my new gym.

We have paid off massive debt!
We've been working really hard to pay off some debt. We've stuck to a pretty tight budget since before Carter was born and we've finally hit some of our major goals! We paid of Carter's birth sometime in May or June, but we've mostly been tackling our credit card debt, which includes Carter's nursery furniture and our couch and ottoman. We are down to just the Mazda, my student loans and our mortgage for debt. And it feels FABULOUS! And we did this paying $1,150 a month in daycare costs. You can do it!

Our next house project is painting.
When Beazer built our house, they used flat paint. Flat paint is disgusting, so we're looking at painting all of downstairs.  We're also going to be painting our master bathroom. We replaced the wall o' mirror with two framed mirrors and we're going to paint the room green.  I can't wait to show it to you once it's complete!

Blogging is going to continue!
I can't make any promises about how often it will happen. I'm trying really hard for once a week. But I'm not going to lie, if it's between blogging and time with my little or big man, I'm choosing them. But I miss this and I miss my people. So thanks for still being here andvstay tuned!





Tuesday, August 7, 2018

All the Things I Need to Say: Ramblings of a Working Mom Six Months In

I've tried to write all these blog posts lately and I never seem to finish them. To be honest, I think it's because I just don't have the heart. I'm trying to be lighthearted and put on a good face and be upbeat, but it's just not there. So here's all the things that I've been trying not to say, but I think I need to say.


This is hard. Being a mom is hard. Being a working mom and keeping your ish together is freaking hard. This is nothing against a stay at home mom, our struggles are different, but I've accepted the fact that I'm losing the battle at keeping things together. I've been pumping full time, working full time, mom-ing full time and half you-know-what-ing the rest.

I hate the term "little one." I can't say it, it makes me want to gag because I feel like someone completely not me when I say it and it makes me crazy. Maybe it's my hormones? I don't know.

Daycare is not raising my kid. Someone said that to me while I was pregnant, that they wanted to stop working before they had children because they didn't want someone else raising their child. That's great that you feel that way. That you have the ability to do that, but not everyone does. Daycare isn't raising Carter. They are taking care of him and building on what he learns at home. We are his parents, we are raising him.

I like that he's in daycare. I grew up in daycare. I wasn't traumatized, I don't need therapy. He gets to play with other kids, have other adults love on him. And he's going to have one amazing immune system when he's done.

God did not make me to be a stay-at-home-mom and that's okay. I've always known that. Maternity leave just reinforced it. And it's okay. I'm still a good mom, I still love my baby more than anything. And I hope that growing up with a mom that works, that has a career that she's really good at, teaches him respect for strong women and to not be scared of them.

Don't make a face at me when I tell you the above. You don't get it, it's cool. But I still love my baby and that's all you need to know.

Breastfeeding is hard, full-time pumping is harder. I breastfed for two weeks and have pumped ever since. I've made it six months. In the beginning, two months was my goal and then I changed it to six. And, as only a mom will understand, while I'm almost completely weaned, there's still a part of me that feels bad for not continuing. Even though I know he's healthy and fine on formula and, honestly, has been more formula than not for a while, I still feel guilty for choosing me and my sanity over continuing to pump full time.

Mom guilt is real. Period.

I hate my postpartum body, but I hate it a little less every day. There are blogs out there about how women love their bodies because it gave life to their babies, but I'm going to be real and tell you that I hate this body. In a way, I'm in awe of it. It went through some crazy crap to have Carter. Pre-eclampsia, cardiac issues, etc. I'm still on blood pressure medication six months later. But I also hate it. I worked so, so hard to lose weight. To be okay with where I was and here I am, back at square one. I've slowly started to shed the remaining 20ish pounds, but it's slow going. And until then, I'm lumpy and feel about as unattractive as I can get. But each day, I make a little more progress and I hate it a little less.

I sometimes don't know who I am anymore. I don't think there is enough talk about loss of identity when you have a baby. No one tells you that while you will love that baby more than anything, you'll also mourn a part of yourself. Some women grow up dreaming about being wives and mothers. That wasn't me. I wasn't even sure I wanted kids. I was, and still am, fiercely independent. Aaron and I were at the, "If it happens, great, if not, great" point. And in one fell swoop, two weeks early, my entire world changed. As the mom, you are the end all, be all. You no longer matter. This tiny person becomes your everything, your master. I taught my body how to go hours without eating or, alternatively, how to subsist on fruit snacks. I learned how to pee holding a screaming, wiggling baby. Your husband can help to a point, but there are some things he can't do. And he can't help what switched in you. My entire personality altered. When Carter screams, I literally feel like someone is pulling my heart out of my chest. I can't explain that to someone that has not birthed a baby. Now world events that have nothing to do with me freak me out in a way I can't explain. There are days that I honestly have no idea who I am.

Carter is the best thing I've ever done. I say all of the above because it's true. And yet, despite all of those feelings, he is truly the best thing I've ever done. It's so fascinating to watch his little personality grow and change. To watch him learn how to do things. To find the parts of Aaron and I in him and the things that are all him. And that smile when he sees me in the morning or when I come home after work is the best part of every day. My cousin once posted that parenthood can be summed up as, "I can't wait to see who you become, but slow down a little." I've never heard truer words.

We're all just trying to do the best by our kids. Social media is wrong - most moms feel your pain and want to help you. They don't want to judge you. They might not get you (see the part about not wanting to stay at home), but most moms just want to help. We've all survived those first few crazy, exhaustion blurred months. We've had people give us things and we want to pass those on to you (and clean out our houses). I've met some of the best women and have found rest and support from people in a way I never would have imagined since joining the mom club.

At the same time, my secret favorite thing to do before bed is read all the comments on the Facebook click-bait baby, breast feeding and first-time-mom articles. Those women are crazy and I love it. It's a train wreck and makes me feel like a better person. It's okay to judge me for this.    

Being a mom is hard. Being a working mom is the hardest thing I've ever done. And I'm saying all these things on the off-chance that there's another mama out there that feels even one of them. Because everyone wants to say the nice, pretty things. But those don't help you when the walls are closing in. And they do, I've felt them more than once.  But they also open back up and you find your footing. I've found that this crazy, exhausting time is one big paradox.  Because while it's the hardest thing I've ever done, it's also the best. And for every time I think I'm going to lose it, I'm given at least three more reason why I'm not. 

You've got this mama.  And, if you don't, go read some click-bait article comments. You'll feel a lot better.