Top Posts of 2018

The top blog posts of 2018 for the Courtney Kramer Blog. This past year a lot of my writing centred on being a mom. My writing has evolved over the years as my life has changed.

 

First of all, thank you for reading my blog! I appreciate every comment, view and share of my posts more than you know. I started this blog back in 2013 because I had so many thoughts floating around in my head that I wanted to share with others. I have always been into journaling so blogging was a natural extension of my love of writing.

Continue reading “Top Posts of 2018”

How Do You Know You’re Ready to Have a Baby?

Deciding to try for a baby is a big decision for any newlywed couple. Although there is no perfect time there are better times to try for a child.

There is no perfect time to have a baby but there are better times. This post is by no means a checklist of things to have in place before having a baby. Rather it’s a list of things a couple may find helpful to discuss before starting their family. As I note at the end only God is the one who gives life and each life is a precious gift. 

Full disclosure we got pregnant nine months after our wedding while I was in my last semester of university. Looking back I wouldn’t reccommend being pregnant while in school because it was very stressful. However, it can be done and I did have the benefit of a very flexible schedule to accommodate all my appointments. 

Continue reading “How Do You Know You’re Ready to Have a Baby?”

Letting Go of Unmet Expectations in Marriage

Unmet Expectations Lead to Dissatisfaction

A lot of the time life can feel unfair. Part of this feeling comes from expectations in marriage being unmet. I certainly expected my present circumstances to be different. I thought I’d work before having a baby, that I’d be in my own home, that I’d live near my family and friends. However, that’s not how life turned out. At times I feel jaded, sad and to be honest angry. I want control of my life.

Lately, I’ve been wrestling with this idea of control over my life. It doesn’t seem fair at times that the expectations of my current reality are unmet. I want to call the shots and know where my future is headed.

Continue reading “Letting Go of Unmet Expectations in Marriage”

Everything No One Told Me About Postpartum

Lyla is six weeks old and I finally feel like I’m emerging from the postpartum fog. I expected birthing her to be hard but I was not prepared for the unique and unexpected trials of postpartum life. Of course, I’m so happy to have my sweet daughter but I’m not enjoying the challenges postpartum has brought to me personally. Everyone’s recovery and experiences are different but I want to share my experience in the hope that if you are pregnant or postpartum we can support each other in our journeys.

Continue reading “Everything No One Told Me About Postpartum”

Baby K’s Baby Shower

I’m currently 39 weeks pregnant which means we are one week from my due date of October 17! I can’t believe how fast this pregnancy has flown by after the beginning stages feeling like they lasted forever. Alas, we are all ready for Baby K (thanks in part to the generosity of my baby shower) and are so anxious to meet her and introduce her to everyone.

Our wonderful church family hosted the most beautiful shower

22136976_10155971035530942_3016043708011807960_o.jpg
Me, my mom, sister and grandma’s <3

Baby shower for Baby K hosted by church. Learning to trust God in the midst of major life changes like moving to a new city with a newborn.
Such a beautiful and well-planned shower hosted by our church family! Baby K got spoiled <3

Baby shower for Baby K hosted by church. Learning to trust God in the midst of major life changes like moving to a new city with a newborn.
I can’t even handle the cuteness of this coat!

I’m also set to officially graduate on October 27! Currently, I’m unsure if I will be able to attend the ceremony. Yet I am going to try my best not to miss this monumental moment. Upon graduating and having Baby K I plan to take some time off. Although in the interim I would like to volunteer within my field, attend some networking events and a Home Economics conference in March.

Baby K is not the only change to our lives this fall, as Michael has started a new transportation job in a steel factory and as a result, we are moving. Although all these changes are good for us I’m also sad to be closing a chapter of our lives.

On the one hand, I appreciate that upon moving we will be less than 20 minutes from Mike’s work rather than an hour and he won’t have to traverse snowy, deer infested backroads anymore. Although moving is not fun, packing up our apartment has helped me pass the time while waiting for Baby K. Furthermore we will be closer to Mike’s family and still within an hour of my family.

However leaving our quaint small town, possibly our church and an area that I’ve lived in my whole life to move to the outskirts of a large city with a newborn is not the easiest transition. That being said we did only move to our current location to allow me to finish University and knew that eventually, we would be relocating. Nonetheless, I will miss the walkability of our neighbourhood, our late night McDonald’s runs and the charming rural atmosphere of our community. Our first tiny apartment and wonderful town we’ve called home for the past year and a half will always hold many special memories for us.

To be honest, as I think about these changes I can often get wrapped up in my emotions. I want things to stay the same although I know that’s not the best for us. I wonder if we will be able to find the same community we experience now with our church, whether I’ll meet other young moms and make friends and how long we will live in this next location.

I can at times get too consumed with worrying and certainly hearing others concerns also makes me worry more.  Yet, at the end of the day, I quell my fears by trusting that a lot of what’s happening in my life is not in my hands. We prayed for God to open up this opportunity for a better position for Michael and he proceeded through the hiring process fairly quickly. Furthermore, He provided a larger place for us to live that we could move into not long after the baby comes. Plus Michael only has to commute a long distance for a limited time. Certainly, there are upsides to relocating and I don’t need to worry about the future.

I have to put my trust not in man, or my husband or other people but in God. I know that no matter what happens or where we move He will watch over me and protect me. The best thing I can do when I feel uncertain or overwhelmed is to pray about the situation. Only God can change hearts, or direct others steps. I may have an influence but God has the power to effect His will in our lives.

A man’s heart devises his way: but the LORD directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9

I have to leave my anxieties, worries, and questions with God. I have to trust my husband and know that these next steps are what is best for us as a family, although it’s not easy for us, it’s good. As a wife, I want to be supportive of my husband.

 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Phillipians 4:6

I’m not perfect at espousing these truths and sometimes my pregnancy hormones make me cry when I think about all the coming adjustments. Most of the time I am excited and look forward to the future but other times I feel uncertain of this new chapter. I will have family close by so that is a huge blessing for sure.

However, my deepest desire and comfort rests not in man but in trusting God through prayer and dwelling on His word.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
    my hope comes from Him.
Truly He is my rock and my salvation;
    He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
    He is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in Him at all times, you people;
    pour out your hearts to Him,
    for God is our refuge.

Psalms 62:5-8

3rd Trimester Update

In lieu of being 37 weeks tomorrow (third trimester) and officially early term over preterm, I thought it was time to give one last pregnancy update.

21459945_10155911629345942_984243098_o

I was thinking about my third trimester experiences compared to previous trimesters and I think this trimester just may be my favourite. Although at times I feel really uncomfortable, hot, tired and don’t sleep through the night because I’m up to pee around five times a night, I am sort of loving third trimester.

A few reasons why the third trimester has been my favourite are:

I finally look pregnant.

At my last appointment, the midwife noted I have a long torso and therefore I carry pretty small. Yet I’m still within the normal range of measurements at each appointment so there is nothing to worry about. Nonetheless, people have only started recently commenting that I’m finally showing in an obvious way. While I appreciate their comments I’m not bothered that I tend to carry small. As long as my midwife is not worried and I’m continuing to gain weight I’m happy with my bump.

On the plus side, I can still wear most of my pre-pregnancy clothes and don’t have too much trouble maneuvering around. Although sometimes when I lean forward to grab something my stomach hits the spacebar on my laptop and pauses Netflix :p

We’re almost ready for Baby K to come

In the last few weeks, we’ve set up our crib, stroller and installed the car seat. Plus we’re all registered at the hospital and I completed my breastfeeding class (which I highly recommend, it was so helpful having proper breastfeeding techniques explained and being able to ask questions of the public health nurse). Seeing all these visible reminders that soon there is going to be a baby here with us is a bit surreal!

20543971_10155829834800942_7160822037605010499_o

I still have to wash all of her clothes, we need blankets and newborn diapers but other than that we have lots of wipes, diaper cream, her bath, baby soap, and lotion among other essentials. I’m feeling mostly ready but I’m waiting till after our shower to see if there are any last minute things we might need.

21981842_10155957634515942_853386676_o
Shoutout to my mom for washing Baby K’s clothes for me <3

I can feel big movements from Baby K

In previous trimesters I felt little kicks, jabs, and somersaults from Baby K. Now I can feel her pushing against my stomach. Sometimes I can feel her little foot poking my right side. At other times she makes my whole stomach move almost in waves. It’s so cool knowing she’s growing bigger each day and is almost ready to come out.

Overall this third trimester has gone fairly well, especially considered to the first trimester, I really am feeling pretty good.

20157561_10155790535140942_4715236810843896340_o

I’m getting really excited to finally meet Baby K but at the same time, I’m anticipating some big changes. At times life feels a little daunting and overwhelming. I know that all these changes are good and definitely things to be thankful for.

Nonetheless having a baby for the first time is daunting because I’ve never done this before. However, I’m thankful to have a lot of support from family and friends.

If you have any tips for being a new mom please leave me a comment below. I am very open to any advice people want to give me, because I am very new at this and want to be prepared as best I can. 

I was thinking about my third trimester experiences compared to previous trimesters and I think this trimester just may be my favourite. Although at times I feel really uncomfortable, hot, tired and don't sleep through the night I am sort of loving third trimester.


For more on my pregnancy and postpartum journey read:
1st Trimester Update
2nd Trimester Update (21W2D)
3rd Trimester Update
Everything No One Tells You About Your First Pregnancy (Part 1)
Everything No One Tells You About You’re First Pregnancy (Part 2)
Baby K’s Birth Story + Baby K’s Birth Story Part 2
Everything No One Told Me About Postpartum
What to Eat While Breastfeeding

Healthy Pregnancy Snacks

In a previous post, I mentioned a few of the foods that are helping me get through my pregnancy, stay healthy and keep me filled between meals. As a nutrition student about to graduate and become a PHEc, I have some knowledge on the nutrition requirements during pregnancy and what constitutes a healthy snack. Today I wanted to share a few of my favourite snack ideas and why they are a great choice during pregnancy!

Healthy Pregnancy Snacks

First, I want to note some important nutrients to consume during pregnancy and why you need them.

Iron

Health Canada recommends taking a multivitamin that contains 16-20 mg of Iron (along with 400 mcg of folic acid). Although some women may require more, be sure to consult your doctor.

One’s diet should also contain iron from a variety of sources.

There are 2 types of iron: heme and non-heme.

Heme iron is available in meat, poultry, and fish and is more bioavailable to the body. Whereas non-heme iron is found in eggs, plants, legumes, vegetables, grains, and nuts.

To better absorb iron from non-heme sources consume inhibitor foods along with the non-heme foods. For example, vitamin C (found in broccoli, potatoes, or sweet peppers) greatly increases absorption along with calcium over 300 mg or phytate (found in breakfast cereals or legumes) or heme sources of iron (poultry). Be sure to avoid consuming caffeine within one hour of eating iron-rich foods as it decreases the amount of iron able to be absorbed.

Why do I need iron?

Iron is an essential part of proteins such as enzymes and hemoglobin.

Hemoglobin moves oxygen to our cells to facilitate metabolism, so basically, oxygen provides energy for our cells to function.

During pregnancy the amount of blood in a woman greatly increases to support the developing baby, therefore more iron is needed daily.

Once the baby is born it has a 6 month supply of iron, that is why at 6 months of age it is recommended by dieticians to feed your baby iron-rich foods.

How do I get more iron in pregnancy?

Aside from obvious sources of iron like red meat, iron can also be found in legumes and vegetables which are a great way to save money and increase your fibre and vitamin intake.

For example:

lentils: 3/4 C contains up to 4.9 mg

chickpeas: 3/4 C contains 2.4 mg

spinach: 1/2 C cooked, contains up to 3.4 mg (also a source of vitamin C which aids in iron absorption)

For a more complete list of foods that contain iron click here.

To increase my iron intake I like to make the following salad. It’s great to store in the fridge for a quick lunch or as a side to supper (pairs great with salmon). It also contains cheese to aid in calcium consumption.

Savory Lentil Salad:

Ingredients:

1 cup lentils, black beans, or chickpeas

2 cups spinach, chopped (or substitute frozen)

2 cups carrots, grated

1/3 cup raisins

1/3 cup sunflower seeds

2 tablespoons sodium reduced soy sauce or tamari sauce

1-2 teaspoons ginger, chopped

1 clove garlic

1 cup diced cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, Havarti or gouda, I typically use what I have on hand)

Preparation:

Drain beans thoroughly under cold running water or cook according to stove top instructions on package.

Mix remaining ingredients in a large bowl.

Toss beans with mixed ingredients to cover in dressing.

Adapted from: All You Need is Cheese, Spring 2012

Folate

As I noted above it’s imperative to take a prenatal vitamin prior to conception in order to supply your body with adequate folate (400mg). Also, ensure your prenatal vitamin contains B12.

Why do I need folate?

Folate is a B vitamin essential for cell division, spinal cord development and synthesizing nucleic acids like DNA and amino acids. Furthermore, folate also prevents the risk of developing a neural tube defect such as spina bifida or anencephaly.

A neural tube defect (which can occur in the first 3-4 weeks of pregnancy, often before a woman knows she is pregnant) is when the neural tube does not close properly.

How do I get more folate in pregnancy?

In light of folates important role for fetal development, the Canadian government has mandated fortifying white flour, enriched pasta, and enriched cornmeal.

However, Health Canada recommends that in addition to taking a prenatal vitamin pregnant women also consume folate from their diet. Some sources of folate include:

  • lentils 175 mL
  • black beans 175 mL
  • okra 125 mL
  • asparagus and spinach, cooked 125 mL
  • orange juice from concentrate 125 mL
  • eggs 2 large
  • corn 125 mL
  • kiwifruit 1 large
  • clementine 1 fruit

A great tool to use to ensure your eating is on track is the My Food Guide Servings Tracker or the website or app eaTracker. The eaTracker app helps with meal planning, setting goals, analyzing your food intake and tracking activity.

My Favourite Pregnancy Snacks + Why They are a Healthy Choice

  • veggies (cucumbers, carrots, peppers) + hummus
    • the vegetables provide fibre which is important to help combat constipation during pregnancy and the hummus is a great source of folate, iron, protein, and fibre
  • bagel with peanut butter
    • a whole wheat bagel contains fibre and is fortified with folate, plus 2 T of peanut butter contains 8 g of protein
    • try to buy all natural peanut butter because it contains just peanuts without added sugar, be sure to store it in the refrigerator after opening to prevent the oils from separating
  • plain yogurt with 1 tsp honey, berries + ground flaxseed or chia seeds
    • plain yogurt is a source of calcium and contains no added sugar, plus 1 C contains 8.5 grams of protein and yogurt contains probiotics essential for digestion
    • the berries are a source of antioxidants
    • the flaxseed + chia seeds both contain omega-3 fats needed for brain and eye development
  • overnight oats
    • oats provide soluble fibre which aids in digestion and controlling cholesterol levels, plus it helps you feel full and avoid snacking on less nutritious foods
  • smoothie with 4 T peanut butter, 1 banana, 1/2 C oats, 1 C plain yogurt, 1/2 t cinnamon, 1/2 C liquid (almond beverage, milk)
    • the peanut butter contains 16 g of protein
    • calcium is provided in the yogurt which aids in heart, nerve and muscle growth along with bone and teeth development
  • pancakes
    • these pancakes include both protein and fibre to keep you feeling full and energized all day long
    • I like to make a batch of pancakes and then snack on them when I’m feeling hungry
    • this recipe is a high protein mix, you can save money instead of buying the store version, plus it’s a lot healthier!
  • sliced apple with cheese + whole grain crackers
    • the apple with skin on contains fibre + vitamin C
    • the cheese contains protein and calcium
    • a whole grain cracker provides fibre
  • popcorn
    • not only is this snack cost effective, it’s low in calories (without butter), and this whole grain provides fibre
  • oatmeal bites
    • besides the source of fibre, these bites contain protein from the peanut butter or chia seeds and omega-3 fats from adding ground flax seed or chia seeds
    • These are so easy to make and are great to snack on when you have a craving for something sweet!

Remember you are growing a baby and as you progress through pregnancy and even as you breastfeed your caloric intake is higher than before pregnancy. The dieticians from Eat Right, recommend the following calorie intake each trimester:

1st trimester-no increase

2nd trimester-an additional 350 calories per day

3rd trimester-and additional 450 calories per day

Try to include foods such as lean meats, whole grains, dairy, vegetables, and fruit to ensure you are getting adequate nutrients.

Pregnancy is a lot of work! Eating healthy, nutritious foods will only make your experience better and give your baby the best chance of thriving.

What are/were some of your favourite pregnancy snacks?


Sources:

Canada, H. (2013). Prenatal Nutrition Guidelines for Health Professionals – Folate Contributes to a Healthy Pregnancy – Canada.caCanada.ca. Retrieved 8 September 2017, from https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-nutrition/reports-publications/nutrition-healthy-eating/prenatal-nutrition-guidelines-health-professionals-folate-contributes-healthy-pregnancy-2009.html

Eating for a healthy pregnancy – Eat Right Ontario . (2017). Eatrightontario.ca. Retrieved 11 September 2017, from https://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/Articles/Pregnancy/Eating-for-a-healthy-pregnancy.aspx

Food Sources of Iron. (2016). Dietitians of Canada. Retrieved 13 July 2017, from https://www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Nutrition-A-Z/Minerals/Food-Sources-of-Iron.aspx

Healthy Weight during Pregnancy. (2017). www.eatright.org. Retrieved 8 September 2017, from http://www.eatright.org/resource/health/pregnancy/prenatal-wellness/healthy-weight-during-pregnancy

Thinking About Having a Baby. (2017). Dietitians of Canada. Retrieved 13 July 2017, from https://www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Nutrition-A-Z/Pregnancy/Thinking-of-having-a-Baby.aspx

Prenatal Nutrition Guidelines for Health Professionals: Iron Contributes to a Healthy Pregnancy [Health Canada, 2009]. (2017). Hc-sc.gc.ca. Retrieved 5 April 2017, from http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/pubs/nutrition/iron-fer-eng.php


To read more pregnancy updates check out the following posts:

2nd Trimester Update (21W2D)
3rd Trimester Update
Everything No One Tells You About Your First Pregnancy (Part 1)
Everything No One Tells You About You’re First Pregnancy (Part 2)
Baby K’s Birth Story + Baby K’s Birth Story Part 2
Everything No One Told Me About Postpartum
What to Eat While Breastfeeding

Baby K Gender Reveal!

We are having a GIRL!

 

Paintball Gender Reveal

We are so excited to welcome our little girl this October!

We didn’t paint this tree stump. While looking for parks to host our party we first visited this park. As we took a walk around Mike noticed a message on this tree stump. We walked over and could not believe what it said! This was before we had found out we were having a girl. Immediately we knew God was confirming our intuition and that this was the park for the party. 


Almost from the beginning of my pregnancy, I knew we were having a girl. I was 99% sure, even Michael had an inkling our baby was a girl. We even bought a pink snowsuit on clearance back in February because I was so certain. Now I cannot wait to see our babe in her soft, cuddly snowsuit this winter! <3 I’m also excited to buy tons of bows! If you know of any good Etsy shops (that ship to Canada) please leave a comment! I just adore baby’s in bows.

We also decided early on to host a gender reveal party and we knew we wanted to involve paintball in the reveal. Originally we were going to shoot blue or pink paintballs but it’s nearly impossible to find those colours. Instead, we filled various balloons with pink paint and shot at them with our guns (be sure to watch the video below to see how we did this).

19264725_10155689290625942_3378044763539415370_o
The grandpa’s with their t-shirts

My  father-in-law’s wife made up t-shirts for the grandpa’s to have as a keepsake since fathers day was the next day. I know the shirts look various colours but that is due to the colour of paintballs we used. Since the paint is water based it will wash out but the pink paint is fabric paint and permanent.

Prior to the party, we had our 20-week ultrasound at the hospital, unfortunately, their policy includes not revealing the gender during the appointment. Following that extremely disappointing day, we had to wait another week and a half to find out from our midwife that we were indeed having a girl.

We were both thrilled to finally find out our baby was a little girl. Especially because we had absolutely no boy names chosen and only a couple girl names we both liked. With that being said, we have chosen to keep our baby’s name a secret until she is born.

After we found out the gender we began to plan for the party. June 17 was the perfect day to gather with family and close friends at an outdoor local park to celebrate. I made strawberry cupcakes with cream cheese frosting (adapted from this cake recipe, just cook for 15-20 minutes), and we had hamburgers and sausage along with other snacks brought by our guests.

Another fun thing we did was have our guests wear the colour they predicted of the gender. Surprisingly we had a pretty even split between blue and pink.

Following the reveal, we played some minute to win it games, which are always a hit!

The first game we played involved solving a simple 9 piece puzzle blindfolded with assistance from a partner using limited words. The second game involved blowing up a balloon, placing it under one’s shirt, holding a ping pong ball between the legs and waddling over to a cup and dropping the ball in. This was so hilarious to watch! Finally, we played a game called bottle to bottle where two baby bottles (or 2L pop bottles filled with gum balls) are taped at the opening but a divider is placed using tape and skittles have to be shaken from one side to the other. It’s a lot harder than it looks!

Overall despite getting rained on at the beginning, we had a wonderful gender reveal for Baby K. To see how we executed our gender reveal or to see a demonstration of the games we played be sure to check out our Vlog below!

Paintbale.png


To read more pregnancy updates check out the following posts:

2nd Trimester Update (21W2D)
3rd Trimester Update
Everything No One Tells You About Your First Pregnancy (Part 1)
Everything No One Tells You About You’re First Pregnancy (Part 2)
Baby K’s Birth Story + Baby K’s Birth Story Part 2
Everything No One Told Me About Postpartum
What to Eat While Breastfeeding