My First 6 Weeks of Motherhood

Noah & Mom (2 of 2)

Many thanks for all of your kind words on the birth of our Baby Noah. We’ve been cherishing our family time together and are happy to report we have a very healthy, happy and alert little boy!

The past six weeks have been marked with lots of firsts for our little guy. Noah cracked his first smile, shed his first tear (man was that heartbreaking!) and cooed with excitement for the very first time. He took his first stroll around the neighborhood, celebrated his first Christmas, went on his first hike and is currently on his very first road trip with mom and dad. (We thought a change of scenery would be good for everyone so we packed up the car and headed to our friend’s home in beautiful Santa Barbara for the week!)

At his one month check-up Noah weighed 10 pounds 12 ounces (up 1 pound 6 ounces from birth) and had grown half an inch, measuring 21.5 inches long. He’s proving to be a great little grower! Fortunately nursing came pretty easy to both of us, though we did meet with a lactation consultant early on to address some minor hiccups–no pun intended. Fortunately for us, he seemed to understand the difference between day and night from the get-go and by some small miracle we’ve really only had a few long, fussy nights so far. Noah’s even started to give us some pretty long stretches of sleep at night, sometimes 5+ hours at a time. Last night he only woke us up one time to nurse–another first to celebrate!

My first six weeks of motherhood have been nothing short of amazing, albeit overwhelmingly emotional. I was not someone who always knew they wanted to become a mother so the fact that I’ve fallen in love with being a mom so quickly and taken to it with relative ease has been a very welcome surprise. Thankfully my doctor warned me about the spike in progesterone that happens after birth and the emotional roller coaster that ensues, because no one else ever did! I’m thankful for those emotions though because never before has my heart felt so full. Needless to say I cried a lot in the early weeks, partly out of joy, love and sheer exhaustion, but mostly out of relief: relief for having a healthy baby, an uncomplicated delivery, and to finally be holding our little boy after nearly 10 months of waiting.

Hubs and I know we lucked out with little Noah but adjusting to my new role as a mom hasn’t come without some challenges. The two things I’ve struggled with most since giving birth have been coping with the physical recovery from those 12 grueling hours and adjusting to the new, around-the-clock responsibility I now have for this tiny human.

Noah was a big boy and getting him out was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Whoever says giving birth is like running a marathon is straight up lying to your face. Giving birth is arguably the most traumatic event a body can go through, there’s even research to prove it. I’m just wondering why nobody ever tells you this before you get pregnant! Running an ultra marathon uphill, backwards, barefoot (naked, actually) through two feet of snow would still be easier in my opinion.

Before having Noah, I was under the impression that I’d be ready to start running again after those initial 4-6 weeks of recovery. After all, that is when doctors tell you you can “resume exercising”, right? Wow was I misinformed. Needless to say the recovery process has been slow–much slower than I ever anticipated. This might be TMI but, up until a couple of weeks ago, it honestly felt like I had been hit with a baseball bat a thousand times down there. Strolling to Starbucks for a decaf latte felt like an olympic event.

Lately I’ve managed to get out for a couple of short hikes with the boys but these days my workouts mostly consist of leisurely walking and gentle yoga–not quite the intense, endorphin-releasing activities my body has come to crave. As someone who loves nothing more than a tough workout to relieve stress, not being able to exercise at the level and intensity I’m used to has definitely made it tougher to cope with the challenges of being a new mom some days, especially since we’re sleeping decently well and I actually have energy to exercise. I know this will improve with time but wish I could just get on with it already!

The other big challenge I’ve come to face is the continuous obligation I have to little Noah. Being the kid’s sole food source not only makes it tough to get anything done but turns even the slightest errand a major event. My day literally revolves around when Noah ate last and when he’ll need to eat again. Whereas I used to mentally map out my entire day the night before (i.e. workout/shower 7-9AM, work 9-5PM, commute/run errands 5-7PM, dinner/relax 7:30-10PM), I now operate in 2 hour increments and consider the day a success if I scratch even one thing off my to-do list before falling into bed each night. Some days I have all I can do just to empty the dishwasher or throw a load of laundry in between feedings. I have hundreds of emails in my inbox that need replies, a dozen or so phone calls I’ve yet to return and sat down no less than ten times to write this blog post. The hubs actually took the little man to an art museum yesterday (yes, we’re starting him young!) so I could finish it.

I knew having a newborn was going to be all-consuming but I’ll admit, it’s definitely worn on me at times. It hit me hard when Noah was putting up a fuss about taking a bottle from the hubs a few weeks ago. I turned to my husband with tears rolling down my face and said, “I’ve fed Noah every 2 hours for 3 weeks straight. I’m just really tired. I need a break.”

Things are starting to get a bit easier, though. After trying a couple of different bottles, Noah has made slow but sure progress with bottle feedings recently which means I get a little bit more freedom on occasion. It’s not a lot of time but, when the hubs can cover a feeding now and then, I’m able to step out of the “mom” role to go to yoga, do some writing, or even sip a glass of wine (ok, two) after dinner some nights.

So, the adventure continues. As demanding and overwhelming as being a new mom can be, it has been more amazing, rewarding, and come more naturally to me than I ever expected, which is all I could ever ask for.


Welcome, Baby Noah!

Noah Newborn Photos (76 of 88)

It’s hard to believe that one month ago today we welcomed this beautiful little boy into the world. Our son, Noah DuBois Penner, was born at 6:24am on Saturday, November 21st. A robust 9 pounds 6 ounces and 21 inches long, hubs and I are still baffled by Noah’s size but attribute some of his heft to the fact that he arrived nearly two weeks past his due date. The anticipation we all felt during those 13 extra days was almost too much to bear at times but, looking back, Noah had it timed perfectly as made his grand entrance into the world on his own terms just 90 minutes before his scheduled induction. Clearly the boy wanted to prove he can procrastinate and still meet a deadline.

Noah Newborn Photos (83 of 88)

I didn’t intend to take an entire month off from blogging or to wait so long before announcing the good news but somehow it happened. Needless to say this past month has been the most intense and amazing thirty days of our entire lives and we’ve been cherishing every moment of it.

More baby blogs to come but I’m happy to report that we’re all doing great and are adjusting to our new roles with relative ease. Noah is an absolute dream of a baby and has been living up to his name which means “restful” or “repose”–most of the time at least!

Noah Newborn Photos (73 of 88)


Spiced Sweetpotato Cauliflower Mash

A super simple, deceivingly healthy side dish worthy of any holiday feast |
When it comes to planning our Thanksgiving feast, or any holiday meal for that matter, I’ll be the first to admit I can get a little carried away. I mean, Pinterest. Need I say more?

With our little one due to arrive any minute now, this Thanksgiving already feels more special than ever. While the party planner in me wants to go all out creating eye-catching centerpieces, and specialty cocktails for our friends and family, deep down I know the hubs and I will have our hands full––with dirty diapers, burp cloths and of course, the baby. From what I’ve been told, I’ll be lucky if I can manage to take a shower and put a little bit of makeup on before the turkey is served.

Since our friends and family will likely end up doing the majority of the cooking and party prep this year, I’m trying to dial this back and keep things on the simple side this year.

Speaking of simple side…

A super simple, deceivingly healthy side dish worthy of any holiday feast |

Let us have a moment for this delicious Spiced Sweetpotato Cauliflower Mash, a lighter yet satisfyingly sweet alternative to the classic, marshmallow-covered sweetpotato casserole. Like it’s casserole cousin, this mash is packed with healthy nutrients like fiber, potassium and Vitamin  A but takes less time and absolutely zero room in the oven. It also contains a lot less sugar which basically means you’re entitled to eat more dessert.

A super simple, deceivingly healthy side dish worthy of any holiday feast | accordingtoelle.comNow, when the time comes to pick your potatoes, I highly recommend either the Jewell (the all-familiar orange-skinned one) or the reddish-skinned Garnet. Both are super sweet by nature but the Garnet might be my personal favorite for this dish. The deep orange flesh of the Garnet makes one beautiful mash, doesn’t it?

A super simple, deceivingly healthy side dish worthy of any holiday feast |

You know, we have it pretty good here in California. Besides having some of the most beautiful coastline in the country and wineries galore, our generous sunshine and warm, dry climate provide the perfect growing conditions for sweetpotoates.  California sweetpotatoes are unique in that they’re grown in the fertile sand (rather than dirt) of the San Joaquin Valley, and are cured in the ground before harvest rather than being picked first and then cured in sheds. Their beautiful shapes and skin texture are made possible by hand-planting, selecting, sorting, sizing and packing.

If you’re looking for a lighter sweetpotato side that’s both delicious and simple, this absolutely deserves a spot on your Thanksgiving table this year. I mean, with color like that there’s no chance this beautiful side dish will be overlooked.

A super simple, deceivingly healthy side dish worthy of any holiday feast |

A special thanks to my friends at California Sweetpotatoes for sponsoring this delicious recipe, and to you lovely readers for supporting the sponsors that allow me to create new and special dishes like this for the blog. As always, the thoughts and opinions expressed on According to Elle are my own.