Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Goals for 2015

Today was a great day. There wasn't too much out of the ordinary in reality but it was my first time back to hip hop since having the baby. I was itching to burn off some energy and to get back to working out. I was a little apprehensive about all the new routines but it wasn't too bad. Martha went "easy" on me and there weren't too many songs that I didn't know. We did some lunges, lots of jumping jacks and when my body had it's fill of those I did some squats.

After class I felt invigorated. I had worked up a good sweat and my muscles were pulsing with the blood flow they had been lacking these past months. On my way home I got to thinking about how my routines will be once I go back to work. Henna is old enough to go with me but Reyna isn't. My cousin is our nanny and I don't want to overburden her with watching my baby over extended periods of time. Plus, after a full day at work I want that time with my babies and with my husband. It's a sad reality: there are ONLY 24 hours in a day. So many things I HAVE to do, followed by things I WANT to do. It's a tricky balance. Throw the constant meal planning that needs to be done for me to stay on track. Outlining my meals at the beginning of the day is crucial for me.

To reach my goal weight of 165 I have another 74 pounds to lose. My first goal is to reach my pre-baby weight. Ideally I would like to lose this by my birthday at the end of April. My pre-baby weight was 185 so that would be losing a total of 54 pounds over the course of 17 weeks. That would be an average of 3 pounds a week. Realistically I'm aiming for 1.5 - 2 pounds loss per week which would put me into July to reach that first goal and I would be okay with that.

I am using Jenny Craig but my goal is to continue to use the majority of what we call DOMO (Days on my own) where the food is no longer their packaged frozen food but a mixture of my own fresh cooked food and store bought meals.

In terms of fitness and activity, I plan on getting back to hip hop. I'm not sure logistically what my schedule will be. Prior to this pregnancy I was going just about every other day. I know that while Reyna is still less than a year old, this is not realistic. I can't expect Samantha to watch her after all day long of watching both girls. And aside from her, I don't really have many other FREE childcare options on that regular of a basis.

I hope to go, at least, once during the work week and then go on Saturday and Sunday. That way Moctar will be home to watch them. Then, once it starts to warm up outside I want to restart and complete the C25K running program. I plan on repeating the weeks as much as I need to until I get back to running like I did last year. I want to do at least two 5k races.

I am sure I will add more goals and activities as the year progresses.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Week 2 Weigh In

A holiday week can leave a lot to be desired for someone in the midst of a lifestyle change. Old habits are so fresh and so in grained that it can be easy to revert to them when you're in the celebration mood. Everyone else is eating what they want so why can't I? I started reading the Beck Diet Solution earlier this year and it examines the cognitive elements of changing your eating habits. The reason some people can seemingly eat whatever they want is because they intuitively eat less than someone who has a food addiction.

They don't spend time thinking about what they will eat next, they don't dream about food constantly, they don't gorge themselves, they can put the food down and not think another thought about it. They know when they are full and they stop eating at that time. I try my best to do these things but they take more effort for me than most people. It does get easier as time passes though.

Some challenges this week:
- My aunt came into town and we went to a semi un-planned lunch out on the town at City BBQ
- Christmas eve dinner at my grandpa's house - plenty of food and sweets
- Christmas morning lunch at my parent's house
- Stress with breastfeeding and general lack of sleep
- Not feeling hungry at regular times

I ate what I wanted at City BBQ and tracked everything. I had a quarter pound of brisket with BBQ sauce, 5 hush puppies, and roughly a cup of cheddar bacon fries. When I eat out I always do some research first to see if the nutritional information is available online and then I generally over estimate on my portion size to account for any discrepancies in size of my portion and caloric value.

For Christmas eve I had planned on taking an empty Jenny Craig tray and using that as my plate for the night, fill it once (not overfilling the tray) but of course, in the rush to get out the door, the tray was forgotten. I had some kettle corn, 1/2 cup of green olives, a few ounces of ham, 1 cup and a half of mashed potatoes, 1 cup of stuffing and I managed to stay away from ALL cookies.

Christmas morning I ate breakfast at home before we went to my parents to open gifts. I had a serving of miniature chocolates from my stocking and my parents filled it with bags of beef jerky as well. We had a chicken and rice casserole for lunch. I didn't measure but again, I estimated rather high for my calories. I took my dad out for a Christmas day movie and didn't get anything from the concessions.

This week I lost 2.1 pounds

Friday, December 19, 2014

Week 1 Weigh In

I restarted Jenny Craig last Saturday. I had only stopped in to show off baby Reyna but I am so glad I decided to start back BEFORE the holidays. It's easy to say, "I'll pick up later" but in reality the structure is exactly what I need going into the new year. I am restarting this journey weighing 249.7 pounds. I am glad that I didn't put back on ALL the weight that I've lost but I am disappointed that I let stress get the best of me and didn't stick to my pre-pregnancy eating habits.

Start picture:

This time around I am on the 1700 calorie menu as I am breastfeeding. I have many more fruit and lean meat servings but I haven't been at all hungry on plan. If anything, it was challenging to remember to get all my food in some days.

I did eat out at an Indian buffet one day for lunch but I was mindful of exactly how much I put on my plate. I had a few iced cappuccinos from Tim Horton's but I opted to have them made with milk rather than cream, shaving off over 100 calories from the drink.

This week I lost: 8.6 pounds

My first week I opted to follow the preplanned menu, with everything laid out for me. But with a new baby, I can't afford to pay for the Jenny Craig food each and every week. I love Jenny Craig and the food is an integral part of the plan. It serves as a visual guide to the portion size and nutritional balance that one should employ. Since I have been on Jenny Craig for over a year (even if in increments between pregnancies) I am confident that using this first week as a jumpstart that I can continue while using my own food.

The key will be preparation and continual monitoring. I use myfitnesspal to log my food and will continue to do that. I also keep a paper food log. Here's to a great second week! Christmas will not derail me.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Struggling for Routine

I tried to prepare myself mentally for the possibility that the new baby would be the complete opposite of Henna. But I think I still had an underlying, naive mentality that things would be just as easy. I am a fairly optimistic person so it only made sense to think like this.

In some ways, Reyna is easier than Henna was and in other ways she is more difficult. From the minute the doctor held her up over the drape I could see that Henna and Reyna share the same nose, ears and lips. Reyna has my eyes and was slightly darker than Henna was (although in the picture, the lighting makes this look different). Henna stayed in the nursery for the majority of my hospital stay and was brought to me to feed and visit where as Reyna stayed with me in my recovery room. It allowed me to nurse more often and for my milk supply to establish already infinitely better than it did when Henna was born.

Henna                        Reyna

Henna took to a pacifier right away where Reyna can't seem to keep it in her mouth. When she sucks on it it makes a smacking sound and falls out after 3 or 4 sucks. It's comical to see and hear. I remember being frustrated that Henna was given a pacifier so quickly but I hadn't specified and knowing what I know now, I wish Reyna could use her's more. But I am enjoying the extra soothing nursing snuggles that we are getting in.

From the beginning, Henna slept soundly through the night in the swinging, vibrating chair. She was a fussy baby but once we changed her formula that disappeared. Reyna does not fuss much (unless I can't change her diaper and get her nursing quickly enough) but she also hasn't fallen into a usual sleep pattern. Some nights she will sleep in her bassinet, other nights she will only sleep curled up on my chest. I have been supplementing with formula to try and get her back to her birth weight as my doctor recommended but I know she has more gas when she drinks her formula.

I am preparing to get back to my health and wellness routines but I worry that with as much fatigue as I have currently that I am going to drag on energy. But, I need to take the extra time to figure out my meals for the week, take the extra time to fill up my water bottles and stay hydrated and finally need to find a routine of taking care of myself. I vow to take an hour to myself to shower, get dressed in REAL clothes and to just relax.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Introducing Reyna

Reyna Elisa Yagi

Here I am again, ready to write and get down all my thoughts that I’ve been hoarding these last 3 months. The closer my due date got, the more worry started to gradually set in. I participated in an online forum for bereaved families but it’s been awhile since I’ve checked in. Everyone handles grief differently and it was too hard for me to read day in, day out all the pain out there. There were so many different stories and they only made me worry about all the infinite, scary things that could happen. I prefer to subscribe to positivity so I stayed away from that forum for awhile.

Was something wrong with me that I was not still in active grief from losing my son? In my heart I knew there was nothing wrong with my own experience. I mourned, I accepted and I actively choose each day to remember that there is a reason for everything, even if I can’t identify it.

Work was stressful and that in a sense was a blessing because it kept my busy constantly. Luckily, we found someone to bring into the office that I feel will be here for a good while. I got busy training her but my body was still over stressed. At each doctor visit I had slightly elevated blood pressure. I did a series of non stress tests and even a 24 hour urine catch and blood test which showed that I was free from pre-eclampsia.

My doctor still decided to move my c-section up an extra week to December 2nd.  There were no operating rooms available so up it moved again to Monday the first. I was so excited to know that I’d be meeting my baby girl in four days. I wasn’t sure how we would pull off the hospital stay. Moctar is working two jobs, my mom is covering for me at work, my brother was starting an art show and all my other friends either work or have kids of their own. Samantha was staying with Henna so it was unrealistic for her to then be up all night with me.

I knew this time I wanted the baby to room in with me so that I could really establish breastfeeding. But I also knew that with a c-section the first night is nearly impossible to get up independently due to the catheter and the foot compression machine. Shiree arranged to stay with me that first night and then Samantha stayed the other nights with me and we let Henna sleep over with my parents.

Moctar was with me during the c-section which took painstakingly long … in my head, that is, not in reality. I was nearly holding my breath waiting to hear that first cry. Well, she didn’t disappoint. Her little gargling cries were so strong, much louder than Henna had been. She looked so much like Henna but so different at the same time. Moctar got to stay with Reyna as they cleaned her up and closed me up. Then he came back over and sat next to my head with our baby girl in his arms. This time around they brought her to me immediately and let me nurse and hold her on my chest. They didn’t take her to the nursery until much later.

Reyna Elisa Yagi was born Monday December 1st at 9:48 am weighing 8 pounds 1 oz and measuring at 20 and a quarter inches.

We received many visits in the hospital and got in many a snuggle with our new baby girl. But my favorite memory was seeing Henna's reaction to her baby sister.

"Mommy, I can't see her"

Friday, October 3, 2014

Please Help my Go Fund Me Campaign

We found out at 3:00 PM on Friday Oct. 3rd that Moctar's younger brother, Issa was killed in an attack in Mali. Moctar needs to get home to assist his family but we have some challenges. 

First, Moctar's passport is expired, second he has just started a new job and doesn't have income until Oct. 15th. All my income is currently going to paying our bills and has been used preparing for our daughter's arrival in December. I have just barely enough to use my credit card and buy plane tickets as soon as we find out when he can get his passport but, not knowing if/when Moctar will be able to keep his current job if he goes to Niger, the financials are our hurdle. Also, I can't send him without cash to handle his family affairs when he arrives in Niger.

Even if it's $1 or $5 please know that anything would be helpful and I pray that I can return the favor anyway possible.

A Message From Moctar:

My brother Issa who is a soldier from Niger on mission for the United Nations in Mali was killed in an ambush by suspected terrorists.
"The measure of a man: not how he died, but how he lived ... Not what did he gain, but what did he give... these are the units to measure the worth of a man."
Issa was such a close, great brother to me. Death brings a pain that only time can heal. No words could ease what we truly feel but with God his joy is eternally sealed. Cherish his memories that not even death can steal. We live on in our memories and we will live on forever. All my prayers are with you. Rest in Peace.
<<Mon frère Issa qui est un soldat du Niger en mission pour l' Organisation des Nations Unies au Mali a été tué dans une embuscade tendue par des terroristes présumés .
" La mesure d'un homme : pas comment il est mort , mais comment il a vécu ... Pas ce que ce qu'il a gagné , mais qu'est-ce qu'il donne ... ce sont les unités de mesure de la valeur d'un homme . "
Issa était un très bon frère a moi et si proche. La mort apporte une douleur que seul le temps peut guérir . Pas de mots pourraient faciliter ce que nous ressentons vraiment , mais avec Dieu sa joie est éternellement scellés . Chérir ses souvenirs que même la mort ne peut voler . Nous vivons dans nos mémoires éternellement . Toutes mes prières sont avec toi . Repose en paix. Amin. >>

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Catching Up - Week 27

It has been much too long since I have written. I’ve started many different posts in my head, all to lose my train of thought or to not really feel like finishing the thoughts that started. I try to keep my stresses off of Facebook because I don’t want to complain about pregnancy. I love being pregnant with all its idiosyncrasies but there are uncomfortable realities. As a mother who has lost a baby too soon, I know how hurtful it is to hear women having healthy pregnancies complain. It feels like a slap in the face no matter how much I know that it is not personal or meant to be insensitive.

This pregnancy has been a highly emotional experience for me. I don’t know if the extra emotion is due to having lost Alhassan or if my hormones are just raging more than they did with my other two pregnancies. I am certain that losing my regular routine has played a part into feeling so tired and weepy.

Every day I was so in control of my eating and my body. I would go to hip hop every other if not every day. At the beginning of my pregnancy I was nervous to do so much activity since we really had no definitive answers as to why my body couldn’t support my baby boy last year. I didn’t want to take any chances. But, after my cerclage I felt more comfortable and with my doctor’s blessing I went back to hip hop, albeit with much less impact than previously.

But now my fatigue gets the best of me. I don’t sleep well at night due to a case of pregnancy induced carpal tunnel. My (mostly) right arm will go numb if I’m not laying on my back, propped up … which is a horrible position for a tummy-sleeper. I even got used to sleeping on my side early on this pregnancy but that makes my arm go numb so easily. So, a cycle starts … go to sleep propped up like in a chair, migrate to my side, wake up with horrible pain and numbness, walk around until the feeling comes back (luckily this usually coincides with a potty break) and then get back into bed and repeat.

I went for weeks on the verge of tears… it felt like anything happy, sad, romantic, depression, or even inspirational could make me bust out crying. It was hard at work when I’d just tear up and have to be the first person to greet our patients as they came in. I decided that I would take an hour and leave early on Wednesdays to rest extra and just have down time.

Before I did that I was feeling so insecure and fragile but now taking that extra time for myself and for getting back to hip hop I’m starting to feel strong again. I never imagined (especially considering how overweight I was during Henna’s pregnancy) that I’d be that mom snapping belly shots and wearing formfitting tops. But, I have embraced my bump and I feel so comfortable.

My husband has been going through his own form of nesting and he’s starting to make our house nicer and nicer. He’s opening up storage space and helping me declutter. He even fixed our master bathroom which we haven’t been able to use in months because the shower and toilet when in use would spill water into our basement. We were quoted over $3000 to fix it but he managed to fix it for under $50! It’s the little things these days that I am pushing myself to focus on. His culture is so different when it comes to how emotion and appreciation are shown that sometimes, in my heightened sensitivity I start to feel as if I am not adequate. But, I realize that him being here, helping improve our “nest” is all part of how much he cares.

It’s still a daily effort to not rely on others in order to feel good about myself. I have to build myself up. I turn my concerns upwards and push my stress downward.

P.S. … Henna was right … we’re having a girl!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Flashback to Twenty

Here I am again... 20 weeks. It's bittersweet. October 26th 2013, I was 20 weeks pregnant and it's when I went into labor, much too early. I whispered hello and goodbye to my sweet baby boy and went home empty handed but somehow, my heart was still full. Full of hope and full of love.

For any couple that has lost a baby, there are many scenarios that can play out in the aftermath. I imagine that type of loss has quite the capacity to drive a wedge between two people. Especially two people who come from much different cultures. But, I am lucky. My husband is silent but patient and faithful. He grieved our son much differently but he was always there for me and we rallied together even when it was difficult.

After much debate about timing, healing, money, etc. we decided in early 2014 to try again and as before I was pregnant less than a month later. This pregnancy has been no different than my previous two... free of morning sickness, full of fatigue in the beginning but serene. I got my cerclage at week 14 for peace of mind and haven't had any problems following the procedure.

But as week twenty dawns on me so do small worries, intricate dreams, and many prayers. Part of me looks each morning to make sure there are no signs of something wrong. I take it easy to be extra careful but then the other part of me feels so good I wonder why I can't just relax. I know this is normal but I just want to breathe a sigh of relief. Next week we go to find out what we're having. Granted, I won't actually find out until the following week when we hold our gender reveal but I think that will help me get over these feelings. I was one week away from finding out Alhassan's gender when I went into labor. Getting to experience this milestone will be therapeutic. I've been listening to him/her every few days with a handheld doppler I bought from another mother to an angel baby.

The fast, smooth whirring of the baby's heartbeat calms me down and makes me smile. So here's what's going on otherwise in week 20:

Due date:  12/13/14 (I saw 12/7/14 on paperwork so c-section date, maybe?)

How far along: 19 weeks 6 days

How big is baby? Zucchini

Gender:  All will be revealed Aug. 9th

Maternity clothes:  Broke in 2 maternity work pants but my shirts still fit (for the most part)

Sleep: Peeing 2x a night and bothering Moctar with my pregnancy induced snoring

Food cravings:  rice and gyros

Symptoms:  Pregnancy brain (destroyed the office microwave by severely burning popcorn), very emotional! Crazy dreams

Movement:  This baby moves but is more chill... Davida is about 80% sure she felt a kick from the outside yesterday

What I miss:  HIP HOP... My doctor said I could go but I haven't had time

What I'm loving: Movement

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My cervical cerclage went really well. I actually was really lucky. I was in the general OR and everyone started showing up for processing at 5:30 AM... there were so many people, many different procedures. Well, right at 7:25 as the ORs became available they were all put on hold. There was a problem with the AC and the rooms had gotten to over 100º and the humidity caused too many problems. So, once they had fixed the AC then they had to deep clean all the rooms. 

At about ten AM I got news that they could move me upstairs to labor and delivery to use their OR for my cerclage. The team from the other OR accompanied my doctor and I was given my spinal. Man that was some fast working medicine. My doctor was amazing. He held my hand, rubbed my shoulder and was so encouraging. After Peace Corps, shots seem like nothing anymore and I think the spinal was actually easier than my previous epidurals. The anesthesiologist was great... not too quick, talked me through each step and did everything painlessly -- despite the little sting of the numbing medication but no one can avoid that.

It was funny when I got back down to the regular recovery room. It was a ghost town and everyone cheered as they wheeled me down because they were so bored with no patients. I started laying down and was trying so hard to move my legs but to no avail. It was funny... I could almost feel my brain working overdrive sending messages but my legs not being able to do anything. I've never been that in tune with my brain I guess.

My numbness wore off a lot faster than they expected because, man, was I determined to get home! I was so hungry from not having eaten and the surgery being delayed. By the time I left (approx. 8 hours after arriving) they had only opened 5 of their 30 ORs. So, I feel blessed that I was the first one to get to go. A cerclage is not necessarily something you can wait on. But thankfully I wasn't at all dilated and I even got to hear baby's heartbeat again...

Friday, June 13, 2014

Week 13/14

My last post I was about ten weeks pregnant. I was so tired but I was also eating horribly. I had let all my hard work go to the wayside and I indulged. The next weekend I went to Weight Watchers with my mom. I went as a support system for her but it did me good to sit with all the people and hear about all the struggles I've dealt with and to hear their encouragement. That next week I got my eating back on track and have been maintaining my weight around 200.

So, now I want to keep everyone updated on how I'm doing each week during my pregnancy, although I can't wait to be back on the fast track to my goal weight in 2015. My due date is 12/13/14 which would be AWESOME if baby was born that day but, alas, I will most likely be having a c-section as I did with Henna so it will be scheduled at least a week before that date.

Due date:  12/13/14

How far along: 13 weeks 6 days

How big is baby? Lemon

Gender:  Don't know yet -- Henna started talking about her sister before I told her we were having a baby? So, very interested to see...

Maternity clothes:  None -- wearing my size 16 stretch jeans from torrid and sundresses!

Sleep: I've taken to sleeping on my side easily this pregnancy and get really great sleep but I wake up like clockwork to pee at 4:30 every day

Food cravings:  Chipotle and white rice with soy sauce

Symptoms:  sore boobs, weepiness, severe pregnancy brain (and possible still residual pregnancy brain from my other 2 pregnancies, haha)

Movement:  I've been feeling movement since last week -- feels like bubbles but can't feel anything externally

What I miss:  dirty martinis

What I'm loving: having my energy back

Monday I am going in to have a cerclage. I lost my son at 20 weeks due to incompetent cervix but in my medical history, there was no real reason for me to have experienced this. So, we decided as a preventative measure this would be the best course of action.

Monday I will go into the OR and have an epidural. Then they will put a stitch in my cervix and close it until about week 37. Then the stitch will be removed and nature will take it's course from there. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous. There's going to be even more lifestyle changes in things I can and can't do after the cerclage is in place. My doctor is rather conservative and I'm okay with that... obviously, or he wouldn't be my doctor.

Monday and Tuesday I will be down for the count. Moctar has taken Monday off to take me to and from the hospital and Henna will be staying with my parents Sunday night through at least Wednesday morning. I'm hoping that my recovery will be relatively easy and no side effects. So, please say a prayer or keep me in your thoughts.

I look forward to coming back each week and going over how my pregnancy is progressing.