Migraines and Diastasis

A better title for this post might have been "Is my body falling apart?", but questions don't necessarily make the best blog post titles. I am writing this almost six weeks into my diastasis recovery process (read all about that here) and two months into my migraine homeopathic recovery process. Yes, that's a whole lot of self-care going on. If you know me at all, you probably know that self-care is my biggest challenge. I love working out and drink a lot of water daily, but anything beyond that (sleep, food, stress, etc) I struggle. This and my last post have been possibly some of my hardest to write. I'm not exactly an "open book" kind of person, but part of the process of taking care of yourself is being open about your needs and sharing with others, so here goes.

I think my migraines started four years ago. They became a monthly occurrence, and eventually, I started tracking when they started, what I ate and drank, how much I had slept, how stressed I was, etc. I met with various doctors, neurologists, had x-rays and cat scans done, tried various prescription medications, most of which barely helped. I was told by three doctors that the birth control pill can cause migraines, and since we wanted to have a kid, I got off of it. And sometime later, got pregnant. I hadn't had a migraine since, until six months ago. Migraines with a toddler at home are a sick joke. Parents have enough to deal with, without migraines. Ugh. So, so bad.

Anyway, I started the research and elimination process again, but here's the thing, I don't drink alcohol anymore, I sleep a little more now than I used to, and I'm just as stressed as I've ever been. So why now? Hormones, I guess. Hormones suck. I wasn't about to go back to a neurologist as I didn't find them particularly helpful last time, and I didn't like the migraine medications. So I started doing research in homeopathic migraine treatments. I had heard positive things about acupuncture, so I started there, which led me to craniosacral therapy (read more about that here). I had never heard of that treatment before, but I'd had really great experiences with Slope Wellness in the past and am open to trying new things (especially in the Year of Firsts).

So, my First for last month was (obviously) going to my first Craniosacral Therapy session. I went one week before I am most prone to migraines and a second appointment two days before. And it totally seemed to help! Instead of my typical waves of aura, then nausea, then pain, I only experienced little flashes of pain and light behind my eyes for a few hours. I have my third appointment tomorrow, but yesterday I started experiencing the migraine nausea. It never went beyond that though, and I used some Saje Peppermint Halo oil around my hairline, on my neck and shoulders, which significantly decreased the nausea. I had a little bit again this morning, reapplied the essential oil and it immediately went away. Pretty exciting! The massage therapist also has me lightly rolling the back of my head and neck with a foam roller, which I'm trying to remember to do daily, and that seems to help mainly with the tension that builds up there. 

EDIT: Shortly after finishing this post, I took a long hot bath and wound up staying up until 11 PM watching the final episode of Outlander on our iPad. Bad move during a migraine week. I woke up the next morning with increased nausea and light head pangs. By 11 AM, my migraine was in full swing, but thankfully Keith was home for this one. He took over with Adeline and I took two ice packs to the bedroom, turned off all the lights, blocked out the noise with earplugs and placed the ice packs on my head and back of my neck. I wound up napping off and on for three hours. Keith brought me chamomile tea and oatmeal, both of which I barely touched. I was able to get out of bed around 4 PM, prep for a fitness class I was teaching, taught around 7:30 PM, came home and went right back to bed with more ice packs. I'm feeling better today but definitely learned my lesson on scheduling my craniosacral appointments later and how important it is to stay off the computer and phone during a migraine week.

On another health-related note, I'm heading into week six of my diastasis treatment program and am so completely over this splint. I've finally gotten to a point where I don't feel like my guts are going to fall out whenever I take it off to change or shower. Yes, that's seriously how it felt in the beginning. I feel stronger and have very little to no back or hip pain like I had been experiencing before. But honestly, feeling better also makes me feel more ready to toss it aside and start exercising again, which is tough as I don't have my next check-up until next week. The good news is at my last check-up two weeks ago, I had moved from a deep diastasis to shallow-medium and from 4 fingers wide to 2 / 2.5. If you have no idea what that means, go back and read my last post!

I'll end this note on a slightly more fun kick and tell you my last First for this year - we're driving to Wisconsin with Adeline for the first time ever! Yes, we're going to take our time. Yes, it's a long drive. Yes, there might be snow on the roads. Yes, our daughter sometimes gets carsick. Yes, we're a little bit crazy. Wish us luck!

p.s. I promise apartment photos and updates post-holidays once the tree is gone and decor has been put away again. Stay tuned!

Thirty-One Weeks in the Making

This post has been several weeks in the making, or 31 weeks in the making, depending on how you look at it. It's a hard one to write, there are a lot of emotional aspects, but I'll try my best to not over-dramatize. About a month ago, I invited a Physical Therapist (that specializes in pelvic floor and Diastasis Recti) to my Our Village playgroup that happens after Stroller Strides. These are both areas not spoken enough about in the postpartum arena, and my clients had expressed a lot of interest. The PT offered to check all my clients for Diastasis, there was certainly a range of levels and depths, but I almost didn't bother to have her check me. I have been experiencing back and joint pain, particularly when trying to run beyond 4-5 miles, but I thought "surely I'm fine". 

I was the last one to get checked, and apparently had the deepest and widest gap of anyone. If you don't know what that means, here is a visual representation to show how your ab muscles should be, to properly support you and keep your organs in place. And next to it is what happens during pregnancy and childbirth. I've read a lot of articles, researched a lot of treatments since then. I decided to get a second Physical Therapist's opinion and she actually expressed surprise that I wasn't having more issues for how weak and deep my separation and muscles are. As a prenatal / postnatal Fitness Instructor, that was probably the lowest point for me. 

My immediate reaction were feelings of shame, regret, anxiety, and mostly guilt. I felt irresponsible, like I had steered my early postnatal clients in the wrong direction. If I didn't know how to prevent and properly heal Diastasis, then who was I to be talking to them about pelvic floor, engaging their cores, belly breaths, proper form, etc during fitness classes? 

When I went to my first physical therapy appointment, the Physical Therapist talked about their program, the Tupler Technique, took my measurements, before photos for comparison, taught me how to put on the splint and explained that it had to be worn 24/7 for 6 weeks (except to shower). Then she told me no exercise outside of the PT ones. My heart fell. No exercise for 6 weeks?!? I started to tear up. Not only do I love to exercise, but it also helps me naturally manage my depression that flares up from time to time, helps me sleep better, and keeps my energy high and mood swings low. I pushed those emotional responses down, reminded myself how important self-care is and of my end goal to be able to run another Half Marathon eventually with no back pain. Then I asked the hard question. 

Was this my fault? 

Did I push myself too hard? Too soon? Too fast? Did I do too much? Not enough? Did I gain too much weight? Had I not lost it quickly enough? Had I done this to myself? 

She gently assured me that I didn't do anything wrong. Of course there are always things we could do differently. I could have gone to a Physical Therapist during pregnancy. I could have worn the splint with extenders and learned how to properly breathe and gently pull my belly button up and in, my ribs gently toward one another. I could have done this throughout pregnancy and continued immediately after giving birth. I shouldn't have been doing burpees, front planks, push-ups, crunches. I could have learned to get up and down from a bed, the floor, a chair correctly. But I didn't know any of this during or right after my pregnancy. My obgyn never mentioned a thing during, immediately after or at my 6-week postpartum check-up. Most obgyn's don't even know how to check for Diastasis and don't specialize in Pelvic Floor recovery. I learned about these things during my Fit4Mom training, and at that point, I assumed I had properly healed and those concerns no longer applied directly to me. 

I have gradually started sharing with my clients of my diagnosis, as it does make teaching certain moves more challenging. I've been showing less intense options, explaining how to increase intensity, and then helping correct form and technique. I've asked more advanced and experienced clients, or even my instructors sometimes, to demonstrate core moves for the rest of the class. The last clients I've started sharing this with take Stroller Strides, my earlier postnatal mamas. I still feel shame. I still worry they will look at me differently, question my postnatal knowledge. This sits with me daily and some days weighs me down more than even this awful, uncomfortable splint.

The splint makes a lot of my daily life more challenging. It makes it hard to bend side to side and bend down to pick up things. It makes sitting for stretches of time very uncomfortable. It digs into my ribs, cuts into my hips, presses on my bladder, catches on my clothing. The velcro comes apart throughout the day and rubs together when I walk. Dogs can probably hear me coming from a mile away. I'm on week three of the treatment and even called the PT the other day to check if I should be having so many issues. She said unfortunately that bringing your ab muscles gradually back together is an uncomfortable process, and wearing a tank top both beneath and over the splint may help with some of rubbing issues. Thank goodness it's cold here so layering isn't a problem. I just feel like a stuffed bird now with two tanks, a splint, and at least one additional layer on top of those three. 

Okay, so maybe this post is starting to go off the deep end a bit. Week three has been hard. I'm worried it won't work. I'm worried I might need surgery. I'm worried I'll go through all this and never run past 5 miles. And I miss working out with a deep, dull, constant ache. I miss running the most. 

If you're wondering at this point why I'm doing this at all if it's so dang miserable, this is why. I want to believe I can improve this. I want so badly for my entire body to not ache regularly. I want to set a good example for my clients. I want to set a good example for my daughter that it's important to take care of yourself. I want to prioritize self-care. I want to start off the New Year feeling stronger than ever. I can't wait to put on my running shoes again, go for a light 3-mile run, and my lower back to not slowly tense as I push myself up that large hill on the eastern portion of Prospect Park. 

Unicorn Apartment, Design Scheme

You didn't think I would be too busy to come up with an entire design plan for our new apartment, did you? If you read my last post then you know that we're moving into a new apartment in October. And we're totally calling it the "unicorn apartment", because we seriously cannot believe we got this place and we're still a little bit waiting for something to go wrong. It just seems to dang good to be true. Here's the rundown on our new place: it's an actual 2/1 (vs 1 1/2 we currently rent = closet off the 1-bedroom), it's in a larger apartment building and about 60% of the apartments are owned (including ours by the couple renting it to us). There's a gym, laundry room, stroller lobby parking, storage lockers and a bike room. The apartment has a big open living/dining room, a beautiful kitchen, and gorgeous original hardwood floors. While you wait anxiously for actual photos of the space (soon!), here is my design inspiration for the new apartment: 

Unicorn Apt 1.jpg

I've been pretty in love with navy and grays for a while. There are a lot of blues, yellow, and gray in our current apartment decor so thankfully that will all tie in well with the new place (and keep new purchase costs down). Since I don't currently have photos to share, I thought I'd show you the floor plan instead.

IMG_8962.PNG

When you walk into the apartment, that long hallway has really pretty built-in bookshelves and a shoe storage bench plus a hallway coat and utility closet. The larger bedroom, which will be Adeline's room, is just off the hallway and nearest to the bathroom. You walk under an arched doorway to enter what will be the living/dining/my office area and the kitchen is just off of that room. The smaller of the two bedrooms, which will be our master is also off that large room and it's placement was our decision behind it being our bedroom. We went back and forth on this, but after I used Pottery Barn's room planning tool, we realized it was still enough space for our queen bed, dresser and Keith's desk. Our room will be much more sparse than it currently is, but that's all we really need and it will challenge us to be more creative with side tables and storage. 

To give you an idea of what we plan to take to the new place, here is what our living room currently looks like:

Living Room.jpg

The majority of the new purchases will be in our largest room, the living/dining/office combo. You can see the basic layout plan for this room in the bottom left corner of the below design board (these were all created with Pottery Barn's room planning tool). We plan to keep our gray Ikea loveseat in the picture above, but would also love to buy a modern, comfortable fold-out couch for the new much larger living room. We'll also keep our black tv stand, those pouffes above, the side storage table, and rug. Here's the current design inspiration for the living room and office area: 

Living Room Board.jpg

I love our current living room rug, but it'll definitely be too small for the new living room. I'd like to keep it and use it in our dining room area, so I plan to start rug shopping as soon as we're in the new place. I really like the idea of adding more touches of coral and navy to the new apartment, so I'd love to find a rug similar to the one in that bottom right corner above. Also, I haven't sat on that navy couch yet, but can you believe that is a fold-out couch? Major swoon. Next up, the dining area that shares the living room/office space: 

Dining Room Board.jpg

We recently bought that Ikea table for more dining space, and Keith painted the legs and base a deep greenish-gray last weekend. He plans to stain the top this weekend, and I'm excited to move the finished piece to our new place. We both like the idea of chairs on one side of the table and a bench on the other, and since we don't have one yet, this is a piece I'll be starting to shop around for as well. I'd kind of like something soft and upholstered, but I don't know if that's a terrible idea with sticky kid fingers. The same goes for the chairs. I don't love our current white and pine chairs, and that blue West Elm one above is really calling to me. New dining chairs aren't really in the budget for this year though, but maybe next year. 

Next up in the design plan, is the master bedroom. This is the smaller of the two bedrooms, but it's just off the living room and we didn't want to worry about keeping up Adeline when we're watching a movie, I'm working late in the office area, or we have guests visiting and sleeping on our fold-out couch. Here is what our current bedroom looks like: 

Master.JPG

We love this storage bed, so we definitely plan to bring it to the new space, but our room will be a bit tight for that giant storage headboard we have on the right side of the bed. We plan to sell that and buy a regular queen-sized headboard to serve as an actual headboard (see below). We also probably won't be able to use our current side tables (at the back of the room under the window), but might hold onto them temporarily as we actually hacked those about five years ago for our Austin house and still really like them. We'll definitely be bringing that dark blue dresser (bottom left corner) and are hoping to use that gray chair (right corner) in either Adeline's new bedroom or the living room. I don't know if that rug will work with the new design plan I'm envisioning, but we have an office rug we might swap out. Here's the master bedroom design board: 

Master Bedroom Board.jpg

This is a pretty small space that will serve as both our bedroom and Keith's office space, so we're cramming a lot of function into this room. As I mentioned above, we plan to swap out the headboard and buy a smaller one that goes behind the bed. Thankfully we have those giant bookshelves in the hallway of the new place, so all our books currently in the office bookcase and that side headboard storage, will be moved to the hallway in the new apartment. In the living room/dining room, I think I'd like the walls painted white, but in our master, I kind of want to go dark and moody. I love that inspiration photo in the bottom left above from Old Home Love with 70% of the wall painted a deep navy and the top 30% white. Our new landlords are allowing us to paint, so I'm excited to start looking for the right shade of navy that will still pop against our navy dresser. We'll be using most of our current bedroom art in this space, but one new piece I may add is a tapestry hanging on the wall from a rod above the headboard. I can't decide if it should be a graphic black and white pattern or a soft watercolor-esque look. I'll keep you posted. 

Adeline's room has changed a few times in the last twenty or so months since I finished it. Here's what it currently looks like:  

Nursery.JPG

I plan to re-use most of the art and decor in the new space and while I'd love to use the rug, it may also be too small for her new much larger room. I'm wondering if it might work in the kitchen or even bathroom hallway though. I'm actually most excited about designing this room, because I feel like I get to design an actual bedroom for her vs a tiny closet. Here's my current design plan for Adeline's huge new room: 

Adeline's Room Board.jpg

This all totally stemmed from that graphic navy, coral, orange, white wallpaper in the bottom left corner. I love the colors and pattern, though it may be a bit too loud for this space. I'm thinking about seeing if the owners will allow me to come in once they are moved out and paint this room's accent wall myself. I'm picturing a similar color scheme but taped off in a larger pattern. We'll be reusing all of her current furniture, but plan to bring our gray armchair into this room for bedtime readings, maybe add a small kid chair for her, and are discussing hacking an Ikea play kitchen for her Christmas gift this year. The only other purchase I might make for this space are one new set of bedsheets, because those navy and yellow flowered ones are just too dang sweet. 

I am so excited to get moved into the new apartment and start actually laying out all of our furniture in this space. Packing and moving with a toddler are going to be rough, but I just know it will be totally worth it for our family in the long run. Stay tuned for apartment photos and further details soon! 

Sources: Unicorn Apartment #2 - Images from Pinterest, Anthropologie, Magnet Street, Grey Likes Baby, and The Turquoise Home. Living Room / Office Combo - Images from Advice from a Twenty Something, Bigger than the Three of Us, Pinterest, and West Elm. Dining Room - Images from West Elm, Ikea, Black Band Designs, Coco Kelley, and Pinterest. Master Bedroom - Images from Etsy seller Julia Bars, Ikea, Urban Outfitters, Country Living, Old Home Love, and Pinterest. Adeline's Bedroom - Images from Etsy seller Wallpaperie, Bloglovin, Etsy seller Babiease, Project Nursery, Jenny Collier, and Pinterest.  

Unicorn Apartment, Round Two

When we initially got back from Los Angeles in March, I was completely over our tiny railroad apartment. I desperately wanted an actual two-bedroom (where our daughter's room wasn't basically a closet off our room) and a bathtub. I wanted a little more space for us to grow into as Adeline continues to grow, and an apartment we could really see ourselves being in for at least five years. Before Keith got back from L.A., I easily looked at between 50-60 apartments. I even put in an application on one. Aside from that one, none were right and it was overall a pretty frustrating, exhausting process. 

Once Keith got back, we looked at a few more apartments, applied for another one we didn't get, and decided to take a break. We had started to get used to our tiny apartment again, it felt homey and comfortable, and we thought that maybe we could see ourselves there another year, or at least until we got the energy up to start looking again. Well, the rug kind of got pulled out from under us when we found out just three weeks ago that our landlord was selling the entire three-apartment brownstone that we live in. We were initially pretty frustrated, anxious and sad. But we tried to approach it in a calm manner, told ourselves it can take a while for things to sell here, and we started to slowly look at a few options over the next two weekends. 

We looked at brand-new complexes, older brownstones, condos, coops, etc. Nothing felt quite right, but we still weren't too worried. Then mid-last week, Keith showed me a listing on 8th Avenue and my heart almost exploded. The photos were amazing, the location was amazing, it all seemed way too good to be true. Plus, if it weren't too good to be true, it would definitely not stay on the market long. I emailed the broker that night and then called him (maybe twice) the next day to schedule a time to see it. I was a bit frantic after having waited too long in the past to see apartments and having to watch them disappear within a few days. Thankfully I was able to get in the very next afternoon to see it. And it was the first place I've looked at that may have actually been even prettier than the photos. Also, please note that for the first time ever, I was so excited that I forgot to take photos hence the lack of images in this post. Sorry! 

Okay, you get the gist. I was smitten. And that evening, within about two and a half hours after having seen it, and with Keith's approval though he still hadn't seen it, I submitted the application along with a personal letter from us. It wasn't as easy as if we found out the next morning or anything. About 2 1/2 days later, the broker said the owners liked our application and wanted to meet with us. First win! So we scheduled a meeting with them two days later, and our little family of three went back to the apartment (Keith to see it for the first time) to meet the owners and see if it seemed like a good fit for all of us. They were absolutely lovely, eased any concerns we had about being in a larger building (super family friendly and quiet) and having a super in the building for issues (very prompt and nice). Second win! Thankfully Keith was completely smitten with the apartment as well and we walked out on cloud nine, but nervous as all heck that they would choose the other applicants they were also meeting.

Obviously they chose us! And we're SO SO SO dang excited. We signed the paperwork and turned over the deposits today. We move in early October, and I can't wait to share this process with you. I realized the other day that this will be the eighth place I've lived in (and sixth we've lived in) in the nine years we've been together - including our initial sublet and L.A. rental. I'm very much looking forward to this being our sixth home together for far longer than all the others. And I promise photos soon. 

A Very Big First

I've been wanting to talk more about this big new change in my life for the past two months, but until it was official and much further along in the process, I mostly held my tongue and waited. Now that my LLC application has been processed, my EIN has been created, and my business bank account has been opened, it's pretty dang official. Last month, the current owner of Fit4Mom Brooklyn made a big announcement - she's moving on from her role as owner and passing on the baton to me (!!!). Before I go further into the logistics and how this came to be, I wanted to go back to the very beginning and thank one person who I will always hold in the highest regard for introducing me to the Fit4Mom village in the first place. Jessica, this post is for you.

Way back in college, my younger brother dated this sweet, quiet, young woman briefly and I met her for a millisecond at some event. I believe it was the following year long after their parting (though my timeline could be skewed after however many years + marriage + jobs + mom brain) that she joined the same design program I was enrolled in and that was how I got to know her a little better. Needless to say, we became Facebook friends, eventually she moved to Houston, we each got married, and she had two precious little girls. She regularly posts on Instagram and Facebook about this fitness program she's part of, Stroller Strides, and I took note before even getting pregnant.

From here we'll move even further back into my fitness journey and how this all ties together. I was raised in a very active, athletic household and grew up playing soccer, tennis, golf, and taking Taekwondo and ballet. I enjoyed being outdoors, hiking, and always remained active through high school and into college. In college, I worked out with a personal trainer several times and used to bring the moves they taught me back to my friends and plan our workouts together (Lauren & Coele!). Once I got married, I basically just continued that with my husband, Keith. I also convinced him to try out running 5-6 years ago and still remember how difficult that first mile run/walk was (before we learned proper breathing or how to pace ourselves). Since then, we've trained for and run several Half Marathons, 10-Mile races, 10Ks and 5Ks (and thankfully our breathing and pacing has improved too).

Basically, fitness and health has always been a big part of my life, but honestly, never one I thought I would do much with. Here's where Fit4Mom and Stroller Strides ties back in. While I was pregnant, and moving cross country to Brooklyn, I thought back on Jessica's posts and decided to check if there was anything remotely like that in the area we were moving. Turns out, there were classes in the park, less than a 10 minute walk from our apartment! I had no idea it was a franchise until I googled it. Once Adeline was born, I started slowly walking around the neighborhood, took my time with stretches, some low-impact doctor-approved exercises, and getting comfortable with my postpartum body. But as soon as I got the 6-week go ahead, I signed up for my first free class. And that is where this new journey officially began!

At some point, in one of the Stroller Strides classes I was attending, the instructor mentioned that they were hiring new instructors and asked if anyone would be interested. I may have raised my hand like I was in high school again, I was so excited by the idea. We chatted after the class, she connected me with the owner, we talked off and on about the idea for about a month, then Keith got the job in Los Angeles for the winter. Thankfully Fit4Mom is based out of offices just outside San Diego, so while we were in LA, I got certified to teach, continued taking Fit4Mom classes in LA, and did some practice teaching there as well.

We kicked off our spring session back here in mid-March and in mid-May, the current owner mentioned the idea of selling and asked if I might have any interest in buying the franchise. Thankfully when I went home and shared the conversation with Keith, he was just as excited as I was. We are in the final stages of the process now, all clients and the other instructor have been notified, and sometime in the next few weeks it will be 100% official. For the first time, I will be a business owner. As someone who used to plan every single aspect of my life, I love that two years ago I never would have guessed this is where I would be. I can't imagine anything more perfect.