My Postpartum Body

letters-to-a-yogaBefore I got pregnant I thought I was leading a healthy lifestyle. In reality I was eating a low-carbs diet,  exercising a little bit too much and being way too conscious about the foods I was eating.
The thing is – obsessing over what you eat and being a health-freak doesn’t really make you a  healthy living being. But it wasn’t until I conceived that I finally got in terms with that that and began to really care for my body and treat it with respect.
I learned that eating less is far more worse than eating small portions but often. I grasped that exercising a few times a week is enough and there is no need for me to hit the gym every single day.letters-to-a-sport1You can find amazing sportswear at Nelly.com (here) and Misguided (here). I got my Nike’s from their official website (here), in coral, of course – the more aggressive colour my trainers – the better!

When Sofia was 4 weeks old, I felt the urge to get back in shape. Dieting wasn’t an option – I was breastfeeding and my understanding of ‘being healthy’ had also changed a lot.
I had gotten into the habit of eating regularly and didn’t feel like doing cardio sessions all the time. I began doing pilates, yoga, and toning exercises all by myself at home while Sofia-Malou was asleep. Believe it or not – my body responds much better to the toning exercises I do on the matt than to the hard core HIIT cardio workouts I was obsessed with back in my pre-pregnancy days.
My favourite online pilates teacher is Boho Beautiful so make sure to check her out. Now I don’t exercise to be skinny. I exercise to get in tune with my chi and boost my energy that I need to have for when Sofia-Malou wakes up from her nap. If you’re also a newbie mommy, you’re probably also aware of the nasty side effects the sleep deprivation has on your psyche. So rather than beat yourself up over the fact that you have no time for going to the gym or your favourite class – grab a mat, a glass of water, and use the 15 spare minutes you have (while your little one is asleep) for doing some pilates . There is no excuse to giving yourself and your body what it deserves.
xoxox
A.

Happy Children’s Day, Sofia-Malou!

letters-to-a-sofia-eti12 You’re a little bit over 8 months, Sofia. And quite frankly, that’s the biggest milestone you’ve reached so far. We’ve been inseparable since the day you came into my life. And that’s exactly the reason why I often fail to notice the extent to which you’re changing every single day. But here you are, only a few months away from turning 1 and already giving me kisses, copying different sounds and standing up all by yourself. You’re also kinda crawling, something I thought you’d skip and go straight to walking. The first time you gave it a go was a few days ago, when I was performing the Downward dog. You did almost the same in your attempt to get on your feet – and without any doubt that was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.letters-to-a-philip-eti112   T-Shirt by minimum (here) // Watch by Abbott & Mosley (here) // Skirt by minimum (here) // Sunglasses by Quay Australia (here) // Baby Dress Le Chic (here) // Baby Summer Hats by babyshop.dk (hereletters-to-a-malou111You jumped from using a bottle straight to drinking from a cup and straw… and your favourite drink is still my milk. You have your ways and you’re quite independent. Your favourite activity is to lay on the ground and move around all by yourself – chasing toys and exploring the mundane surroundings that you probably see in a pretty whimsical way. So much is happening every single day and I’m mesmerised every time you wave at me Hello or clap your hands at the sight of our little yorkie running around.letters-to-a-sofia-malou1letters-to-a-malou-auntletters-to-a-sofia23 letters-to-a-sofia1111
Happy First International Children’s Day, my girl!
A.

A Letter to Sofia’s 16-Year-Old Self

letters-to-a-teenage-daughter No you weren’t upset that day, despite that little grumpy face. You were just responding to the change of your surroundings. Was it the fact that the flat felt bigger (with the furniture getting fewer), or was it the way your dad and I behaved?

I asked your dad to freeze the moment with a photo of us two. Our last photo in our first home! Your first home!

Now you are no longer that baby girl fully dependent on us (though you’re still OUR baby). You are on the verge of becoming an adult and I thought to drop you a line to then put in a time capsule.

You have probably wondered why we took the decision to move from Denmark when you were only 7 months… and the odds are that now we live neither in Copenhagen nor in Sofia.

The day we decided to move was the day we started on crafting the biggest gift you were to one day receive.
Today.

In 2017 I was yet to experience parenthood in its purest sense. And what I was quite anxious about was giving you ‘the right advice’ about things I’ve never tried.

Around the time we took that photo we daydreamed which profession you were to choose one day. Were you gonna do something artistic or become a genius in math?

A calling. I guess we call it that way because often we are too busy paying attention to the advice of everyone around that we fail to hear the phone that rings in our heart. And if we chose to be a notch more aware, we would pick up the phone and hear the voice of our truest self.

I was on another line once. And so was your dad.

I was moving from one country to another, hoping to find my place under the sky, completely oblivious to the fact that it wasn’t the place that mattered, but what was taking place in my heart.

Prior to our move your dad had chosen to embark on an already made path by his dad. He had no time to dream big. He was way too busy making money to sit and reflect on how he truly felt.

We both ended up justifying our heavy heart with ‘it is what it is’… we had you in our arms and were determined to give you the world. Only that we’d formulated our goal and means to achieved in a wrong way.

Making sure that you have great opportunities in life wasn’t enough. You deserved more. You deserve more.

We were going through a rough patch and as much as we were trying to repress our emotions, they eventually came out. It was all or nothing.

We went all in.
We chose to go through the woods and pave our own path.
It was time  that we said ‘SH!’ and tuned into the right station.
We owned it to ourselves as human beings and to you as our daughter.

You might feel that life gets the best of your from time to time – and believe it or not I’ve also been there – a teenager slamming the doors and daydreaming about the day I was gonna be unleashed.

Life happens and rolls on.

And the truth is – you can’t stop it…or slow down its course. You have no control over that. What you do have control over is how you choose to spend your days, whom you spend them with, and what on.

We didn’t REALLY decide to MOVE.
We just chose to GET GOING.
Get going with our lives and setting up the right example for you.

We couldn’t afford to be HYPOCRITES – to end up talking about ‘freedom’ and motivating you to pursue your dreams if we were never bold enough to do that ourselves.

But we did it. And, yes, Sofia, you can craft your life exactly as you please. In 2017 we kissed out first home goodbye, we sold everything, and left.

And for what it’s worth, we were damn happy to do it. Because we were also packing the gift that you are receiving today.

Spread your wings and grab your life by the horns.
Only YOU can conquer it!
Your mom,
A.

Still Breastfeeding While Gradually Introducing Solids

sofia-introducing-solidsI can’t believe that my baby girl is already eating solids with a a spoon, while sitting on a chair! If you’re a mommy you can probably understand my excitement and if not – one day you will.

It was a struggle for me to decide how to handle the transition from full-time breastfeeding to breastfeeding and cooking for my little one.

I was aiming for the 6 months milestone before introducing solids to Sofia’s diet, but then I realised that what works for other babies doesn’t necessarily mean that it would work for my own.

The thing is – in Denmark babies are almost exclusively breastfed and most moms start with the solids around month 4.
In Bulgaria most babies are formula fed. Most moms start with the solids around month 6.

I have the feeling that the reason for that is that the formula milk is thicker, hence keep the babies full for longer, which is why they can go without solids until later..
Conversely, the breastfed babies get hungrier more often (and sleep for shorter amount of time), which is why by the time they get 4-5 months old they need more than their mommies milk. Some choose a bottle before bed (Sofia refused it completely) others skip it and go straight to solids.

letters-to-a-solids-baby-copy

Sofia was around 5 months when she had her first gluten-free porridge from millet with a little bit of butter. Sofia had no problem swallowing the food and she did sleep better. I could feel that she was ready for the transition. For a few weeks she was eating gluten-free porridges (millet, rice, corn), before I began introducing fruits and veggies.

I wasn’t following the 3 day rule – one vegetable for three days and I refused to follow the rule of giving one vegetable until my baby eats x amount of it to only then move on to the next one. Instead, I was paying attention to how her belly reacted to the veggies, introducing one and then adding another to it. I waited with the fruits and it was after she turned 6 months that she had some apples, pears and plums, and then mango, bananas, avocado and strawberries. Interestingly, she is keener on savoury than sweet!!!

She is almost 7 months now and only a few days ago I have her gluten for the first time – we began with spelt porridge and oatmeal. The reason to do it now was because her belly was getting harder from the rice and bananas and she needed some fibre. The spelt porridge with a little bit of plums did help a lot!

I’m definitely not exemplary mommy. I do things my own way. I guess I’m somewhere in between a Bulgarian and a Danish mother – and believe me they are polar opposites.

Generally (I underline generally) in Bulgaria we tend to obsess over trends – if gluten-free diet (or vegan) is the thing to be – many people will go gluten-free and advocate it is as the only right lifestyle to lead. My mom and I had a lot of discussions on the subject, because if in Eastern Europe gluten is introduced quite late (8-9 months) in Denmark most moms start on it when their baby is 4 months old.

I thought both ways were somewhat extreme – 4 months was way too early and 8 months way too late. In fact, the research proposes that if you give your little one gluten way too early there’s a risk of developing autoimmune disease (in addition to other factors that should be present), but if it’s too late the baby can develop gluten intolerance. So here I’m playing it safe and choosing the middle grounds. hehe.

In Eastern Europe the babies are treated as incredibly fragile – they should be dressed with at least one more layer of clothing, they should eat only Ghee (conventional butter? No way!), and drink spring water, while at the same time, and quite paradoxically the system encourages mommies to go for the bottle, refusing to promote the benefits of breastfeeding.

In Scandinavia – you give your baby meat around 6 months, use water from the tap (and after 4 months you don’t even boil it), and noone’s afraid to let their baby drink from their own glass (including me). Most of the babies here have also tasted human food – I mean meatballs and all that – by the time they turn 7 months. Extreme, eh? But then the mommies keep breastfeeding in-between until the little one is almost 1 year… and cooking from scratch everything they give.

I chose to breastfeed and be both cautious and experimental in regards to how I feed Sofia. I weigh the opinions I hear and then do additional research myself. There is so many sources available online you can use in order to develop your own routine.

Today, Sofia had also breakfast for the first time (until now it was only lunch and dinner), while the frequency breastfeeding… well, it hasn’t really changed. I nurse her in-between the feedings, be it for comfort or just because she wants some milk, so I can’t really say that my breastfeeding experience is getting easier. But at least it’s exciting… to see how she frowns at the taste of something sour, and how she asks for more when I give her a veggie that she likes.
sofia-baby-food-copySteam the veggies, blend them and then thin the puree until you get the right consistency (it varies from baby to baby) and then add the oil of your choice.

What about you and your baby? How are you approaching the introduction of solids?

xoxo
A

3 Things I See Differently Since I Became A Mother

letters-to-antoinetteMy experience as a newbie mommy has changed me a lot – not only in the way I do things, but also in the way I think of and understand life and all that’s happening around me. I catch myself reacting in ways that used to be far from typical for me and for the first time I managed to set my priorities straight. So let’s talk three things that my experience as a newbie mom has changed for me.

The Way I Choose To Spend My Time

If you know me, you’re probably aware that I’m a social butterfly. Being surrounded by people, constantly communicating be it face-to-face or over the phone charges me with so much energy, I end up feeling that I can conquer the world. I believED. Today, I’m much more selective in how I choose to spend my time and whom I choose to spend it with. Sofia-Malou and I are inseparable, which means that I’ve spent a lot of time contemplating on my priorities and drawing conclusions. Family comes first – something that back in the day I never understood. It was always and all about my friends, with my family coming second. The curse of social-buttefly-ing? That’s the fear of missing out. You get so carried away that at a certain point you fail to clearly see what’s wasting your time and what’s worth investing it in. Those days are in the past and with that a lot of stress has lifted off my shoulders. It doesn’t bother me that I can’t join my friends to a wild party and drink a little too much.  I’d much rather go and have a lovely dinner with my closest ones, rather than spend an evening surrounded by many, but yet being utterly alone in the crowd.

Healthy living – Nothing excessive 

My healthy living habits, now I realise, was on the verge of being orthorexic. I used to skip lunch and eat a vegan cake instead. I was having way too much soy milk (thankfully I quit drinking it after getting my period a few times a month due its high level of estrogen), veggies and fruits, and way too little nutritious meals. Things have changed a lot and skipping a meal in oder to indulge in a cake is no longer an option. I’d just have both. I have reached the conclusion that if I don’t look after myself and provide my body with the nutrients it needs, I can end up very unwell, which would also have massive repercussions for my baby girl. Plus, if I’m obsessing over what I eat, she could end up doing so too – and that’s a risk I’m not willing to take. So now I exercise less, eat more, make sure that my body produces more milk to satisfy Sofia’s needs, and ultimately, do things in moderation. Yes, it’s all about that.

My Understanding of Breastfeeding 

Only a month before getting pregnant, I would have just raised an eyebrow in response to your question where I’d be willing to breastfeed one day. Me – the upbeat city girl? You kidding, me right?  I didn’t understand it, I couldn’t even look at mommies that were breastfeeding their babies. I wouldn’t even notice them and if I did – I just found it disturbing.
And then I got pregnant.
From day 1 I knew I wanted to give everything I could for my little one. Philip and I discussed that there is only one thing that you cannot buy for your baby – and that’s its mommy’s milk. Of course, you can supply it from other nursing moms, but it’s not the same. I invest a lot of energy and effort in eating well in order to ensure that my milk is fat enough to meet Sofia’s needs.
It’s so time consuming and exhausting to prepare meals, nurse, and wake up countless times a night – but the moment this little one latches on and strokes me with her little hands – it’s all freakin’ worth it. Then neither the tiredness, nor the never-ending dedication seem in any way relevant. I refuse to pump out milk just yet – which many people have advised me to do in order to be able to go out and enjoy a few hours off my mommy duty. Because it works both ways – me nursing her and providing for her needs (both physically and emotionally) and also feeling the satisfaction of being able to do so – because yes, I love breastfeeding. And I have no problems breastfeeding everywhere I go, because if you want to do it, you can always do it without drawing any attention. I have actually managed to breastfeed without my friends even realising that I’ve fed my little one in their presence. With that said – I’ve become a milky mommy and I’m more than proud to say it, but I also get it if you don’t.

What has changed for you since you became a mommy?

More about my BF experience – here
On becoming a mommy – here

xoxo
A.