Author Archives: Gabrielle Calhoun

Stolen Saturdays

This past Sunday I ran a marathon. It was a super big deal and I’m so very proud of it. After the race, we went out to lunch to celebrate. We joked about how I had to run 26.2 miles to get five hours to myself. We laughed because it’s funny, but also because it’s incredibly true.

As a mother, you find yourself hard pressed for alone time. You don’t get sick days, and you certainly don’t get lazy Saturdays.

I’m grateful- oh so insanely grateful- for my three beautiful, adorable, sweet kids. But there are days that they suck every last ounce of patience and energy straight out of me. Today is one of those days, which is what prompted this post, I suppose. You see, I know I’m not the only mom that feels this way. Or dad. Or nanny. Or grandparent. Etc.

Just a friendly reminder that it is not only okay, but it is NECESSARY for you to steal some Saturday-like moments to yourself. Sometimes that looks like a cup of coffee and a good devo. Perhaps it’s a babysitter and a scurry to the salon.

On this rainy day, for me, it’s getting all the kids down for nap, scooping up a mug full of ice cream, turning on the tv, lighting a candle and getting cozy under a blanket for a stolen Saturday.

Feels just like I remember it.

Grocery Delivery For The Mom Life Win

I’m going to lay it all out there: I’m obsessed with getting my groceries delivered.

There. I said it.

Now I’m going to tell you why.

I have been a Shipt customer for about seven months now and it has been one of the best decisions I could have made for our family and for myself.

  1. I don’t have to drag all three kids to the grocery store with me, distracting me while I’m trying to remember everything I need and taking up cart space.
  2. I don’t have to wait until my husband comes home so I can go alone.
  3. I don’t have to have HIM stop on his way home from work. This is a big one.
  4. This is sort of a combination of points 2 and 3, but it gives us SO MUCH time back. That time is directly turned back into time we can spend as a family.
  5. I can stick to a budget better- because I can see my cart total and don’t have to keep track in my head as I shop, it’s easier to adjust as needed.
  6. Also relating to a budget- I have a few different store options I can choose from, and have, on occasion, shopped from two in one day. This allowed me to get the better deals and selection I wanted.
  7. It’s easier for me to keep track of what I need to pick up. If my husband says, “babe we’re out of toothpaste”, I can literally go to the app and add it to my cart right away for my next order so I don’t forget. Same goes for any food item I don’t buy weekly and might otherwise forget.
  8. For the items I do buy regularly, I can “favorite” them and it makes my shopping that much quicker so I don’t have to search for my preferred brands every time!
  9. I’m able to shop more frequently. With a Shipt membership, there’s no delivery fee as long as your order is at least $35 or more. That being said, I don’t necessarily need to do a “big” haul. I tend to do 2-3 smaller orders every week. That way I can easily replenish things like milk, fruit and unexpectedly needed household items and save space in my pantry and fridge. (*household items: today I was doing laundry and my tiny kids basket was overflowing. By the time I dried the laundry I had a brand new, bigger laundry basket. HELLO convenience!)
  10. Meal planning made easier. Let’s say you want to try some new recipes. Being able to type in the ingredients you need rather than search the store for something you may not typically buy makes it 10x easier.

So how does it work? With Shipt, you pay an annual membership fee of $99, or you can sign up for $49 with my discount code: mWSZv.

How does it differ from Instacart? Well. They’re pretty similar actually. I don’t have anything against Instacart and have used it a few times. The major points are these:

  • Instacart doesn’t require a membership… but does have a membership option of $149.
  • Shipt DOES require a membership of $99.
  • Both offer free delivery on orders $35 or more with their memberships.
  • They carry different store options, which will vary by zip code.

For my personal preferences and budget, Shipt was the better option.

So there you have it!! Grocery delivery is amazing, and quite frankly, a total game-changer for this stay at home mom. ❤️

CLICK HERE and enter discount code mWSZv at checkout for $50 off your annual membership!

*this is not an affiliate/sponsored post. All opinions are 100% my own and completely sincere. If you use my code to sign up for Shipt at the discounted rate, I do receive a discount on a future order. This does not influence my opinions.

Diastasis Recti 

As I recover from the pregnancy and delivery of my third (adorable) child, I find the process slow but sure. Each time it seems to take a little bit longer, but I’m certain there is a new normal in sight.

I love that I get to share this phase with many friends and fellow mothers who are going through the same things that I am. I feel so lucky that we get to lean on each other and help each other through all of the highs and lows, learning from each other along the way!

One topic I find that I’m consistently sharing on is how to close the diastasis recti gap.

With some help and advice from my sister in law (a personal trainer certified in postnatal fitness), I was able to close the gap after my second pregnancy and in turn, get into the best shape of my life.

Now it’s time to pay it forward!!

FIRST THINGS FIRST

What is it?

Diastasis recti is a separation of the abs that commonly occurs with pregnancy; most likely to occur after multiple pregnancies and pregnancies of multiples (but that doesn’t mean you can’t get it after just one). A majority of moms have diastasis recti a few months postpartum, and roughly 1/3 of women who have given birth will still have diastasis recti at a year postpartum. It is a major contributor to “the mom pooch”.

How do I know if I have it?

Lay down flat on your back, with your knees up and feet on the floor. Do a small crunch and use your finger tips to feel for a gap above your belly button. You can check your entire torso for the separation; a gap of more than 2 finger tips wide indicates you do have it, and will require physical therapy to close, with some rare cases requiring surgery.

Why should I close it?

Don’t be fooled; closing the gap is a good idea for many reasons, not just to avoid a mom pooch (though that’s a perk for sure!). For one, a very wide gap can leave many organs vulnerable as they aren’t as protected by your muscles. Another important note to remember is that the separation equals a weak core and pelvic floor. This can lead to any number of issues with posture, back pain, incontinence, etc.

In my own experience, correcting diastasis recti and strengthening that inner core made my regular work outs even more productive. I ran faster, I felt stronger, and I was less sore. My core was stronger, so I also experienced far less back pain if I held my children for extended periods of time.

It’s easier to start early, but never too late to start!!

OKAY! LETS CORRECT IT!

Correcting diastasis recti is a slow but worthwhile process. The first thing I would suggest is looking up Lindsay Brin. She is the master of this topic! From there you can glean great information and workouts to close the gap and improve overall postpartum fitness.

For those interested, this is my personal process and how I got from a little over 3 finger tips to 1:

  • THIS Lindsay Brin video for 3 weeks, no other work outs.
  • I then add some of her other videos with low impact workouts.
  • I DO NOT do lunges, squats, planks, push ups, crunches or sit ups until the gap is closed (or less than 2 finger tips).
  • I DO keep my core tight and pulled in while doing other workouts, making sure I’m not pushing my abs OUT.
  • I DO NOT run or do any other higher impact workout until my gap is at 2 finger tips or less.
  • When I do any type of workout or heavy lifting (picking up my children, included), I check my belly button. Pulling it in and up and standing up straight engages the inner core and prevents me from pushing those ab muscles out and apart, essentially undoing all my hard work.
  • Any time I feel that my core needs a tune up, I come back to that first video. Those small movements make a big difference!
  • Patience. Patience with the process and what I want my body to do. Listening to how I feel when doing the workouts. This is so hard! Getting the green light to work out at 6 weeks postpartum but waiting until 8-10 weeks to go for a much desired run is SO HARD for me.. but I’m better and stronger for waiting.

I hope this helps you as much as it has helped me. Let’s get STRONG, mama!

*The above photos are my 12 month post-baby #2 photos.. and my ultimate goal- STRONG! Below, you will find my 7 weeks post-baby #3 photos. I’m so proud of this body and what it has accomplished, but let me tell you- it FEELS weak and a bit beat up from pregnancy and delivery. I’m ready to get STRONG again. We’re in this together! ❤️

Xander’s Birth Story

Throughout my pregnancy, my midwife kept telling me the third baby was the curveball; I’m pretty sure she reminded me of this at every single appointment. With this information, on top of the note that it had been my easiest pregnancy (after two already relatively easy pregnancies- I’ve been so lucky!), I made the assumption that this baby was going to come early and fast. I had been crazy busy and active at home- certainly all my trips up and down the stairs would make the baby drop nice and low very early. The other two kids were 1-4 days overdue too, so curveball equals early, right?

Wrong.

I had mentally prepared for the possibility of going a little overdue. It has been my tendency, after all. But as each day passed, I lost a little more control over my hormones. They were strong, and I wasn’t prepared for it.

I went to a 41 week appointment to be sure that everything still looked good so I could hopefully wait as long as possible for baby to come on his/her own. We passed the non stress test (NST), I was a little over 2cm dilated, had a membrane sweep, and was approved to have the if needed induction date set to Saturday, December 1st. I had to follow up with an ultrasound the next day and a second NST on Thursday.

On Tuesday, Nov 27 at 4:00pm on the dot I had a notable contraction. I texted David this fact and didn’t think too much of it since I had SO MUCH prodromal labor and plenty of stray, painful contractions. I continued to get the contractions 15-20 minutes apart for the next few hours. At 6:45pm I had my ultrasound. Fluid levels were great and baby looked great; but baby was measuring FOUR weeks behind. The ultrasound tech wanted to call the midwife on call to confirm I was okay to leave. The midwife asked to talk to me and said she wanted to discuss the size issue with the OB and other midwife on call, but might have me come in sooner to be induced. I let her know that I had been having contractions and was hopefully going into labor on my own but would wait for her call.

I was allowed to leave the clinic at this point and stopped at Target on my way home (8pm or so) to pick up milk and other essentials. At this point I noticed the contractions pick up in intensity a notch, and I note that they’re now about 10-15 minutes apart. Just before checking out I have a contraction that makes me stop and lean on the cart. Just a small scene made 😉

When I got home, I bounced on my yoga ball and watched Friends. Ironically, I happened to be at the point where Rachel is 8 days overdue. This is extra entertaining for me.

Around 10:30 I decide to try and get some sleep between contractions. When I laid down the intensity went up again. On a scale from 1-10, the pain is at about 7.

Will, who usually sleeps GREAT, fusses and cries on the monitor beside me. (He had a cold). Not making it easy for me to rest between contractions. Finally, David gets up and gets him some Tylenol. He’s finally quiet but my labor continues to progress, so I’m not getting any sleep. At 11:50pm, my contractions move to my back and thighs- 3/3 labors that turned into back labor. Oh joy. I go downstairs and cope through contractions on the yoga ball.

By 1am I decide to give it the old prodromal/real labor test: I hop into the bathtub for a warm bath.

The contractions keep coming, though slower, and I decide this is the real deal. Pain level when I get out is at an 8.

1:45am I call the midwife on call. I get a nurse, who says the midwife will call me back. Luckily she calls back quickly, and in the middle of a contraction. She’s convinced I’m ready to come in and tells me they’ll be ready for me. I hang up and call my parents in law to come watch the kids, and go wake up David. I asked him if he wants to go meet our baby today. He says “ughhhhhh” Lol.

3am we leave for the hospital.

3:30am we get to skip triage since I’m supposed to be induced later today anyway, so if this happens to fizzle out they’ll just keep me checked in and get things going again. We got settled into our room and I’m checked out by the midwife- only 3-4cm dilated and cervix slightly posterior. I’m discouraged by this information since my pain level/contraction strength has been equal to what I was at 6-7cm with the other two.

•photo: all checked in but already looking sleepy•

I was group b strep positive, so I’m hooked up to antibiotics via IV. It wasn’t the best IV I’ve ever had and was pretty uncomfortable throughout the rest of my labor.

Started getting the shakes as intensity level reaches more of a solid 8. Found out I’m actually having contractions 3-6 min apart, just more mild in between the big ones. Because of these things, the nurse thinks things might progress quicker. She sets up the delivery tools just in case.

At 6am I’m checked again and am 4-5cm dilated. Progressing, but not super fast. At this point I realize this is not going to be a fast and furious labor by any definition. I’m also a little more scared at this point to do it without medication since it’s been painful for so long already. I firmly believe that my fear inhibited the pace of my labor and is what made labor so slow.

I ordered breakfast and labored on the birthing ball. I had eggs and English muffin- I’ve had good luck in the past by eating bland protein and carbs.

My friend Vanessa arrived (sort of a faux doula!), and after I finished my breakfast we walked halls for a bit. There was construction at the hospital so we got a kick out of me awkwardly trying to hide my face and moaning from the construction workers when I had to pause for a contraction. (And actually the construction was super distracting during the entire labor). Eventually we made our way back to the ball.

*another funny side note- we had the TV on in my hospital room and there was a Friends marathon on. It HAPPENED to be the same season/episodes I had been on the night before, with Rachel overdue/giving birth. WHAT ARE THE CHANCES?! lol. —also, we watched Friends at the hospital during early labor when I had Ellavie. That time, it happened to be Phoebe in labor. So weird!

11:30am I’m checked again. 5-6cm. Feels slow but steady. Contractions are an 8-9 intensity, but not on top of each other so I’m getting solid recovery breaks.

From roughly 12-1pm I sat in the bath. This really took the edge off of back labor; it removed burning from hips and legs. I didn’t think I was going to like the bath, but I did not want to get out. Was eventually forced to because I had drank so much water to keep cool in the tub that my bladder couldn’t take it anymore. Toward the end of my bath, contractions were getting very strong feeling again and I knew a shift was happening.

I moved to the bed and got some Tylenol for a mild headache. I think it was fatigue and lack of caffeine related. I was a little hungry but dealing with indigestion, so I snacked on some toast. (Also snacked on cheddar peanut butter crackers, gummy bears, and Gatorade through out day to keep my energy up).

1:30-45ish I got up to pee and stayed on toilet through a few contractions. Nurse checked to see how I was doing and I said I didn’t feel like moving and was happy there. Midwife came in and had me sit facing backward on toilet. She grabbed a stool to sit by me. Two nurses sat on edge of tub. Vanessa and David joined us in the large bathroom too.

This was my favorite part of the day. We all hung out and joked between my contractions. We came up with Kohler toilet ads, joked about having a water birth in the river behind the hospital, and about the adrenaline rush of giving birth. I talk about how it’s such a privilege because you only get to experience this specific rush so many times. It’s not like skydiving or something where pretty much anyone can do it, and you can do it as many times as you want. It’s a limited experience. It was a lighthearted and fun time. I felt so grateful to have such a fun and supportive team behind me.

•photo: sitting on toilet. Happy between contractions!•

I was starting to get pretty sleepy… I had some peppermint oil on a cotton ball and smelling it gave me surprisingly large boosts of energy and calm.

At 2:30.. maybe 45? I comment that it feels like my butt is dilating lol. Moved to ball again and leaned on bed. I held David’s hands tightly through contractions. After a few I commented the fatigue was hitting me hard. I had been up all night, after all. I would close my eyes during contractions and was having a hard time opening them back up after because I was so sleepy. The midwife suggested I lay on my side and try to sleep a few minutes between contractions. My midwife and nurses step out while I rest.

I’m NOT having an easy time coping with contractions on my side.. I can hear the change in my tone when I moan through the pain, but am still able to doze for a few minutes in-between.

Right at 3:00, after maybe 4-5 contraction/sleep intervals, I suddenly feel a lot of pressure. It doesn’t feel like pushing pressure, though. More like building gas about to sneak out against my will.. I feel a “pop” and for a second wonder if I pooped, but then immediately felt tons of warm liquid gushing out of me. I yell “omg my water just broke!!” And we immediately page the nurses.

At this point I’m very emotional. Panicked, even. I knew I was in transition, I was tired, and I was terrified I wasn’t ready for what was next. I forget everything I’ve read, watched, and experienced in past births. I start shaking uncontrollably.

When the nurses come I say I feel like I need to pee really bad. They want midwife to check me before allowing me to get up.

The midwife arrives seconds later and she checks me on my side.. she says I’m complete and ready to push and asks for a practice push. I struggle in pain from the check and contractions and trying to hold my bladder. She asks if the check hurts, or if I’m having a contraction. I scream I don’t know and that it just hurts.

She says she thinks I could do it but trying is torturing me and they help me to the bathroom to pee. We come back to the bed at 3:12pm and they ask me how I’d like to push. (**thank goodness for Vanessa taking pictures with time stamps so I know exactly what time/how long everything was!)

I decide to start by getting on the bed on hands and knees with my arms and head leaning on the back of the bed and bear down. I’m screaming louder than I knew I could into a pillow. Ironically I overhear someone comment that I’m following prompts from the midwife and nurses to change my tone and focus my energy so well, and that when she screamed in HER labor, people could hear her across the hall. And I’m thinking “are you kidding?! People can probably hear me in WI!”

•photo: first pushing attempt•

After two or three pushes in this position, it’s clear it’s not super efficient for me, though I could it feel it bringing him down.

My midwife asks if I’d like to try on my back since my body already knows how to do it that way from my epidural births. It might be more instinctual for me. I say yes but that I’m terrified to move. The nurses reassure me they will help me.

I get on to my back and they roll a mirror over for me to watch my progress (I had one with Will and found it super helpful). Within a push or two we can see the top of the head (I wasn’t really watching yet because I’m closing my eyes through pushing so hard). My midwife instructs me to look at the mirror, to hold my breath, try not make noise and bear down. She says to pretend I’m skydiving and to ride the adrenaline.

I see hemorrhoids and for some reason (unlike in the past) it makes me scared that I’m just doing more damage and I hold back a bit for a push. All I can do is scream in pain.

I try again and see the head crowning. His head is almost out. The midwife holds my cervix open around the top of his head and we wait for the next contraction to start as I gather my energy.

•photo: David’s face as head is crowning. Personal favorite•

The contraction starts and I’m able to push his head out. One more smaller push immediately after and his body slides out easily. 3:29pm he is finally born after 23 hours of labor, and 17 minutes of pushing. David gets to announce “its a boy” as Alexander is placed on my chest. We’re both so surprised as most people started to lean toward girl in the past weeks.

•photo: sweet relief!•

I’m instantly relieved but still shaking quite a bit from all of the adrenaline.

The placenta came out easily with hardly a push and David cut the cord. He almost cuts on the wrong side of the clamp and the midwife says no not there! And he says “ what do I know I’m a realtor!” -everyone laughs.

Alexander and I had a few min of skin to skin but he wasn’t very pink so they took him over to the heat lamp to look him over while I was checked over. I find out I have zero tearing!!

Alexander is fine so they return him to me for skin to skin.

My midwife asked how I feel and I answer that I feel like the next one will be an epidural. Haha!

Within 24 hours though, my memory of the pain already starts to fade and I decide that next time I would go in open minded to either way.. I loved my epidurals, but feel confident I could do it again unmedicated, and more prepared mentally for transition and pushing.

I’m so incredibly proud of my body and humbled by God’s grace and plan through this birth. I feel so grateful that I was able to experience it for all of its raw beauty without enduring an induction, and that in the end, I have a handsome, easy going and joyful son; the most perfect addition to our family.

*one final note: I was able to deliver exactly one minute before shift change- so my nurses were able to be present for the birth after all those hours of labor. They were amazing so I was super happy about that 🙂

I’ve been writing this post for over a year.

After lots of consideration and even more prayer, I’ve made the sad decision to walk away from The Modern Homemaker and leave it on a shelf.

I cannot speak to whether or not it will be forever. I honestly have no idea. What I do know is that for the past year+ I’ve found myself scraping for content, inspiration, and motivation to write. Every so often I did find myself inspired and would get excited about it again; only for it to fizzle out again shortly after. This was never something I wanted to force. It is not my “side hustle” or my “business”, but a hobby and outlet.

Raising my children is a full time job, and while many women successfully rock at holding down full time jobs and being kick-butt moms at the same time, that was never for me. I’m easily distracted, easily consumed. Writing and promoting, quite frankly, takes a lot of time. And despite some exciting successes this past year, it’s just not something I find enriching for my life during this season.

Did you know that in iPhone settings you can look at your battery usage and see how much time you’ve spent on screen in each of your apps in the last 24 hours AND the last 7 days? I’m not here to make comparisons or make anyone feel bad, so I won’t reveal my amounts. What I can tell you is that seeing those numbers stirred a fire in my heart. I didn’t see a drop in the bucket- I saw hours that I could have spent pouring into my children, my husband, and myself.  I saw projects I have yet to finish, books I want to read, and time that I cannot get back.

There have been times I decided to stick with it based solely on the encouragements and messages from some of you, my readers. I’m so thankful for your support and humbled that you care about what I have to say. So, thank you. You’ve been wonderful.

I will leave my blog open. If one of those fires starts burning and I feel the need to put pen to paper (or hands to keyboard), I just might surprise you with a post. But I won’t advertise it so feel free to sign up to receive email notifications if you like. Plus, many of my posts have been written for my own sake (what was that one recipe again?) so for that reason as well, the site will not go offline.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your support over the past SIX years! It’s been fun. ❤️