Saturday, February 18, 2012

Post Pregnancy Body Image

I just read a great post from one of my favorite blogs, FITori.  She inspired me to reflect on my body image post pregnancy.

If you've been a follower of this blog at all you know I've struggled with my weight, body image, eating disorder, etc.  I'm not someone who has ever thought about food as JUST nutrition.  Food has been my friend when I'm upset, my comfort when I'm happy/sad, my enemy when I watched my weight rise and rise and rise.  I've had very poor body image for as long as I can remember.  About 2 years ago I got myself on track for the first time in my life.  I came to terms with my issues and worked through them.  It was the hardest thing I'd ever been through, but worth every tear that was shed.
My husband and I were married 5.5 years before we got pregnant.  I'd used the excuse "When I get to this weight we can have a baby, but I don't want to get pregnant weighing ___".  I said that to him for years... years.  He was ready far sooner than I was and I kept buying time by blaming it on my weight.  I was terrified of getting pregnant because I knew my body would never be the same. 
God had a different plan though and last February I got pregnant by total surprise.  I remember looking at the number on the scale and knowing that it was only going to go up.  I was at least 40 pounds heavier than I wanted to be before getting pregnant, but I knew that God had given us this blessing and I was going to embrace it and not focus on the number on the scale.  So, I didn't for 9 months.  I gained 38 pounds during my pregnancy and though I was tired from carrying the extra weight  I wasn't about to sabotage the life that was growing inside of me for a stupid number on the scale.  I ate when I was hungry, slept when I was tired and relaxed when I wanted to.  I wasn't going to be a total basketcase about my weight, I was letting my baby tell me what he needed.
In November I had our little boy.  Being a Mother is the greatest blessing God has ever given me.  I had no idea how much this sweet precious baby would fulfill a desire in my heart I never really knew I had.  For the first time in my life my body image is postive...without even trying.  I have lost about 20 lbs since having my son, and my goal is to lose 60 more.  I want to get to the weight I know my body is "comfortable" at.  A weight where I can still enjoy life without having to starve myself or workout for hours a day. 
My body does not look the way it used to.  I'll never wear a bikini again and I'm sure I'll have some loose skin after the weight is off.  But, when I look at my son he is worth every stretch mark.  He is worth the c-section scar that I'll forever have marking my belly.  Those are my battle scars.  They are proof to myself that I am STRONG. 
When I look at myself in the mirror there are lots of flaws that I could point out but all that really matters to me is that I have a loving husband who loved me before, and loves me even more after having our child and I have a son who is the light of my life.  I'll get this weight off, and I'll be a healthy role model for my son, not because of what our society believes or because I think I have to... but because I want  to. 


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Good Reads 2011

Photo Credit
Last year I did a post on all the books I read in 2010, so I thought I'd share the books that I read in 2011 as well.  I love book recommendations, so if you have any books you couldn't put down in 2011 please share!  I think it's funny that I read 22 books in 2010, and also in 2011.  My goal for 2012 is 25.  So far I'm not off to a very good start but I'm giving myself a break since I have a newborn occupying most of my time... he's way more fun than reading anyways:)

Must Reads in Pink
Good Reads in Blue
Wouldn't Recommend in Orange
If it's in black then I didn't love or hate it!

  1. Fearless- Max Lucado
  2. The Glass Castle- Jeannette Walls
  3. Made to Crave- Lysa TerKeurst
  4. The One that I Want- Allison Winn Scotch
  5. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt- Beth Hoffman
  6. Water for Elephants- Sara Gruen
  7. The Girl Who Fell From the Sky- Heidi Durrow
  8. Life is What You Make It- Peter Buffett
  9. City of Thieves- David Benioff
  10. Wench- Dolen Perkins-Valdez
  11. The Likeness- Tana French
  12. Pictures of You- Caroline Leavitt
  13. In the Woods- Tana French
  14. You Know When the Men are Gone- Siobhan Fallon
  15. Faithful Place- Tana French
  16. Heaven is for Real- Todd Burpo
  17. Origins- Annie Murphy Paul
  18. Unbearable Lightness- Portia de Rossi
  19. Lamb- Christopher Moore
  20. Bossypants- Tina Fey
  21. One Day- David Nicholls
  22. Divergent- Veronica Roth
What's on your reading list for 2012?


Friday, January 27, 2012

Breastfeeding & Why I Exclusively Pump

During my pregnancy there were lots of things to worry about.  Like any pregnant woman I feared what was to come.  Was my baby going to be ok?  Would I have a difficult labor?  Will I be a good Mother?  Will I miss my "old' life?  While all of these questions turned in my head it was never a question for me whether or not I would breastfeed.  That's what you do when you have a baby, right?  After the delivery your baby will be placed on your chest and you'll begin breastfeeding.  They'll know exactly what to do and it will be a beautiful thing. 
Boy, was I living in a fantasy land.  Some women are lucky enough to have that experience, but I have to say that my experience wasn't quite that easy. 
After my c-section I wasn't quite with it.  I think they gave me a little too much in my spinal so I was very dizzy and nauseous.  I can remember laying in the recovery room and the nurse bringing me my son.  I was in total awe of how perfect he was.  Then she began to help me nurse him for the first time.  Now, while I was pregnant I knew I would breastfeed but I was also pretty nervous about it.  I didn't know how I was going to feel about having a baby on my breast.  It was something I was hoping would just come naturally after he was here, and thankfully it did.  He latched right on and it never felt "weird" or "awkward"... it was what I had to do to feed my child.  I breastfed him for the first day and then they weighed him on our 2nd day there.  He had dropped 9% in weight since birth.  They expect babies to drop between 7-8% by the time they go home, but 9% after 1 day was higher than what they felt comfortable with.  So, I fed him a little more often and a lactation consultant came in and got me started pumping to help my milk come in and she also assisted me with getting him latched.  Part of the reason he wasn't gaining was because he didn't have a good latch.  That would also explain why I was in a lot of pain.  Forget the c-section, I couldn't get past how badly my nipples felt! They lactation consultant told me he hadn't had a good latch since we'd begun which is why he'd dropped weight and I was in so much pain. 
Seriously?  He was feeding every 2 hours for 30-45 minutes and he wasn't getting anything?  SO frustrating.  I'd never heard of anyone having this kind of trouble with their newborn so I felt like I was already failing at something that my body was supposed to just "know" how to do.
That night they weighed him again (our 3rd day there) and he was down 12% since birth.  I remember laying there feeling utterly helpless.  I felt like I was doing everything they were telling me to do and it wasn't working.  The nurse that night came in and said "You HAVE to do something.  He is STARVING."  I wanted to scream at her and tell her "I am doing everything you are telling me to do!  Do not make me feel like a bad mother!"  I asked what else I could do and she said "You need to give him formula, he has to put on weight, this is becoming a great concern".  That was it, I lost it. 
I knew we had to do what Grant needed but I did not want to give my newborn formula. 
I'd done research and had made the decision to give him breast milk.  I know many women give their babies formula and as a Mother we are all entitled to make our own decisions so I am not judging any Mother who gives their child formula.  But my preference was to feed him breast milk, not only for the many health benefits but also because my body produces everything he needs for free.  Paying for formula wasn't something I wanted to do, especially since I had quit my job to be a stay at home mom. 
I told her that was fine (after having a complete meltdown).  I felt like I'd failed.  Once again I felt like my idea of what was supposed to happen got thrown out the window.  I had a total pity party for myself... then I was determined to get his birth weight up and begin feeding him breast milk again. 
I didn't want him to have nipple confusion so the nurses helped us with a feeding solution.  I would nurse him for 20 minutes, then I would pump, then I would finger feed him formula and/or breast milk through a tube syringe.  The entire process took about an hour, and we were told to feed him every 2 hours.  After a day of this we were exhausted.  We only had about a 45 minute "break" between feedings and that time was spent changing his diaper, washing the pump parts, etc.  We were wondering how in the world we were going to keep this up at home.  Finally a nurse came in and told us that Kevin needed to do the tube feeding while I was pumping... duh, why didn't we think of that?!  Blame it on no sleep I guess! 
So, that was our new system and it lasted about a day as well.  When we got home I was so overwhelmed with nursing.  I needed a break.  I was committed to giving Grant breast milk but I couldn't bear the thought of him nursing anymore.  I was in so much pain and was blistered, bleeding and when it was time to feed him I got so anxious cause it was so painful.  So, I began pumping and Kevin would bottle feed him.  I finally felt like we were getting somewhere.  My baby was still getting breast milk which was the most important thing to me and I had to let go of him nursing for a while.
The lactation consultant believed that Grant was also born slightly tongue tied.  Which means the frenulum (the band of tissue that connects the bottom of the tongue to the floor of the mouth) is too short and tight, causing the movement of the tongue to be restricted.  This was why he couldn't get a good latch.  Most babies get the frenulum cut, allowing the tongue to move more freely, but as Grant has gotten older it's healed itself and the doctor doesn't believe there is enough there to cut.  This is great news now, but it didn't help with nursing at the time.  After we'd been home about a week I attempted to nurse him again and once again I ended up blistered and bleeding.  I finally had to accept the fact that I wasn't going to nurse this child and I would have to find an alternative to give him breast milk.  That's when I decided to exclusively pump.  Exclusively pumping is when you use a breast pump to extract the milk and then feed your baby with a bottle.  It's a little more work, but it was a better solution, in my opinion, than feeding my baby formula when my body was producing milk and he could get better nutrition from breast milk.
The reason I wanted to share this was because before having Grant I was under the impression that all women breastfed and it was "easy".  I learned the hard way that it is NOT easy.  It can be very frustrating and overwhelming and I can see why so many women give up on it.  Since we had such a difficult time breastfeeding and getting him back to his birth weight I knew I wanted to bring light to this topic so other people wouldn't feel helpless like I did.  Breastfeeding is not easy, but it is possible if you are committed.  Exclusively pumping is still considered breastfeeding.
I now exclusively pump to feed Grant.  In the beginning it was exhausting and I wondered how I was going to keep up.  I was pumping every 3 hours... so on average 8 times a day.  I wanted to breastfeed for the first year and in the beginning I couldn't imagine doing this for a year.  Now, after 11 weeks I am committed to this process and hope that my body will keep producing milk so I can give him breast milk for his first year of life.

Here is what I want mothers out there to know that are not successful at breastfeeding.  Just because your baby cannot latch well, or if you just don't want to nurse... you can still give your baby the most nutrient rich food... YOUR milk!  Exclusive Pumping is an option!  We were not successful at nursing, but I am still breastfeeding my baby with breast milk.  This is what works for us and I am confident with our decision to do this so he can continue to receive breast milk.
I got a ton of advice from a friend of mine who also exclusively pumps.  She was an amazing resource for me in the beginning and I owe my success to her.  (Thanks Meghann) 
Here are a couple tips for Mommy's who want to Exclusively Pump...
  • In the beginning pump every 3 hours.  Do not skip a pumping session and pump through the night.  Yes, this is exhausting... but it will build up your milk supply and tell your body to create milk.  I did this and it was a great help to make enough milk for Grant and also start storing milk in the freezer.  He's 11 weeks now and I have at least 3 weeks of milk stocked in the freezer.
  • Drink lots of water.  Every time you sit down to pump drink water.  If you are dehydrated you won't produce as much milk.
  • Get some sleep.  This is hard with a baby but it's so important.  If you are exhausted your body goes into survival mode.  You have to take care of yourself and get some rest... that means sleep when your baby is sleeping.  I know it's hard to do, but do not feel guilty about this.  I am not the best at sleeping when Grant is sleeping, but I try!
  • Eat!  For the first time in your life do not feel guilty about eating!  I had never experienced hunger like I did in the beginning... it was insane!  I was a bottomless pit that could not get enough to eat.  But I listened to my body and still do.  I am working on getting the baby weight off but it's also important to me to produce breast milk so I am finding the balance in between so I can be successful at both.  It is possible.
  • The best advice I can give is to invest in a good pump.  I bought the Medela Freestyle and LOVE it.  It allows me to walk around while pumping so I'm not confined to a plug in.  For Moms on the go this is much more compact and doesn't take up as much space as the other Medela pumps. 
  • Last but not least, be proud of the fact that you are still breastfeeding your baby.  It may not be the easiest way but what you are doing is still so beneficial to your little one.  It took me a few weeks to get over myself and realize that exclusively pumping is still breastfeeding and to let go of the dream of breastfeeding. It just didn't work for us and that's ok.
I hope I helped someone with this post. My husband and I have had many talks about breastfeeding and pumping and how we felt uninformed before having Grant.  We even went to the breastfeeding class and I felt confident it would work for us.  No one took the time to explain other options if my baby couldn't latch well.  Again I'm so thankful to my friend for helping me become successful at pumping, and I hope I can pay it forward and help someone as well.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Hello Grant- Birth Story

I can't believe my little boy is 11 weeks old.  It seems like yesterday that we were preparing for his birth.  I spent a lot of time researching and preparing for the natural labor I wanted... yes, drugs.  Some may call me crazy but the more research I did the more I knew that a natural labor was exactly what I wanted.
Lots of people tell you to not waste your time on a birth plan, it'll just be thrown out the window the second you arrive at the hospital.  Well, mine got thrown out around 32 weeks.  I had been measuring 2 weeks big since I was 20 weeks or so, so at 32 weeks my doctor suggested we do an ultrasound to check on our little boy and make sure he wasn't too big.  I was worried about size, little did I know I would soon be worried about something much different.  He was perfectly healthy, all his major organs  functioning, he had all his fingers and toes... but he was frank breech.  Frank breech is when the baby's head and feet are at the top the uterus and his bottom was in my pelvis.  It is nearly impossible to turn a frank breech baby... but I tried!  I had been seeing a Chiropractor who specializes in Pregnancy/Babies since I was 8 weeks pregnant and she did the Webster Method.  The Webster Method is usually very effective in turning breech babies, if they are "traditional" breech.  We tried anyways and I did inversions at home, pressure points, walking, etc... nothing worked.  At 37 weeks we scheduled a c-section for 2 weeks later...
I was devastated. 
I was scared. 
I was excited to meet my son but I was "armed" for a natural birth, and my husband and I were ready to take on that challenge.  We knew that we would never be "prepared" for labor, but we were not anticipating a c-section, and the idea of having a surgery was terrifying for me.  I'd never had surgery, never been in an operating room... so this was a whole new kind of scary.  I spent the next month worrying about it, but trying not to spend too much time focusing on the surgery.  I kept having to remind myself I'M HAVING A BABY... as scary as a c-section was for me I had to remind myself that I was going to end up holding my precious baby boy, and all the fear would be worth it.  Two days before surgery I finally let it all go, I cried and cried and cried.  I told my husband everything I was afraid of, and once I did it's like I set my fears free.  I was able to breathe again, and I was finally refocused on the precious life that had been growing inside of me... and I was about to meet him. 
The night before...SO ready to meet this baby!
We had to be at the hospital at 5:30am on Monday morning, November 7, 2011.  I didn't sleep at all the night before.  I went to the bathroom every 20-30 minutes (no exaggeration) so I wasn't able to sleep soundly.  I was nervous and excited and for the first time I felt ready
Ready for the c-section.
Ready for the unknown.
Ready to become a Mother.
When we got to the hospital we were taken to our room and we waited.  It seemed like forever but finally the nurses came in and got the "party" started.  They got my IV started and I was put in a gown and then the OB who would be doing my c-section came in to make sure my son was still breech.  I can remember thinking to myself, he'd better still be breech!  I'm here now, I'm all hooked up and ready to go... we're having this baby today via c-section whether he's breech or not cause that's what I am prepared for!!  He was still breech, I had no doubt.
Last picture of me pregnant.  I was so ready to meet him.
Kevin waiting to join me in the operating room.  Mom & Dad ready to meet their grandson.
Two hours later it was time.  Time for my life to change forever.  Time to leave our family of 2 & become a family of 3.  I felt very calm, I was nervous, but excited and ready to hold my baby.  I was taken back by myself to get my spinal.  That's what I was so nervous about and it was the only part my husband couldn't be in there for.  There was a student nurse who held my hand and I can remember gripping her so tightly I apologized... I was trying to relax everything in my body but I was holding on for dear life as they were doing the spinal.  Within seconds of getting it I was NUMB.  They told me I'd feel my legs getting warm and they barely got that sentence out and they were warm and I had no feeling.  They laid me back and my entire body was warm and numb.  Weirdest feeling ever.  I think they gave me a little too much... I couldn't feel my cheeks and was very dizzy.  I can remember feeling like I was on a roller coaster but I was very calm, almost like I was drunk.  There was a point I got scared because I knew I didn't look right and my husband wasn't in the room yet.  I kept thinking "pull yourself together so you don't scare Kevin".... yeah right.  There was no "pulling myself together"... I was super drugged up:(  Kevin was finally allowed to come in and they began the c-section.  We prayed (Kevin prayed) for a safe delivery and asked God to be with us.  Within a few moments I heard the most beautiful sound...
MY baby crying... MY baby. 
I was now a mother... and I will never be the same.

Grant Thomas was born at 7:50am.  He weighed 8 lbs 8 oz and was 19 inches long.
An incredible miracle!  But no way was he turning with his legs like that!
Our new family!
Kevin went over to be with our son while they completed the c-section.  I don't remember a lot from that day but I do remember Kevin coming over SO excited to tell me that our son had a dimple:)  I couldn't wait to see it! 
I was taken to recovery where I was able to spend the first moments with both of my boys as a family.  I fell in love with my husband all over again that day.  I couldn't believe our love for each other created such a perfect and precious life.  I was soaking it all in... I couldn't believe that this miracle was living inside of me... and now he was here, in my arms.  I have never felt so blessed.
SO much love for him... I cannot believe I'm a Mother.
The two loves of my life!
Isn't he cute?:)
The first day I didn't feel well at all.  I had to stay laying down all day and couldn't eat anything except ice chips (you can't eat anything after a c-section until you have a bowel movement).  The ice chips were even making me nauseous so I finally had to eat just a few at a time cause I was so thirsty and my mouth was dry.  That evening I got up on the side of the bed, I had to push myself to do that but I had been told by friends who have had c-sections that the sooner you get up and around the better off you'll be so I made myself sit up. The following morning I was able to shower (yes!) and they also took off my bandage.  It felt awesome to shower and eat some breakfast!
We were in the hospital for 4 days.  I know a lot of people are ready to leave but I found it comforting to be there.  I loved one of the nurses I had and she was so helpful and supportive I wanted to bring her home with us!  Grant had dropped 12% in weight so leaving was a little scary for us hoping that we'd be able to get him back to his birth weight soon. (I'll write a post on this soon)
Ready to go home!
It seems like yesterday that we were awaiting his arrival.  Everyday he amazes me more and more and I can't imagine my life without him. 
He has given me purpose. 
He has given me more joy and happiness than I ever dreamed I could feel. 
He is the greatest "accident" that's ever happened to me.  God knew exactly what He was doing, and it was no "accident" that I became a Mother. 
Before Grant came along I wondered if I was meant to be a Mother.  There is no doubt in my mind I was.  There is nowhere else I'd rather be and nothing else I'd rather be doing right now.  My life is so blessed and I thank God everyday for the miracle of our baby boy.

*Thank you to Tara, our Doula, for the awesome pictures from that day.  You captured moments we never could have.