Love Your Body

Let me just start by saying, the female body is one incredible machine. I didn’t understand how amazing my body was until I carried a child. There are some days I want to rip this body apart with what I think is wrong with it but I’ve put my foot down. I have no reason to look at myself and be upset with what I see because I know what it has done.

Let me take a few steps back. I was an early bloomer. I wore a size 8 shoe when I was in the 3rd grade. I reached my full height by the time I was 12 and I was taller than half of the boys in my grade. I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb because on top of that I was also heavier. A middle schoolers nightmare! I didn’t have boyfriends or boys that were interested in me until high school and even high school was rough. I decided to lose 10 pounds over Christmas break one year so everyone would stop looking at me as the chubby girl and when I came back to school instead of, “Wow you look amazing!” I was greeted with, “Do you have an eating disorder?” Seriously, I couldn’t win. So my body image has always been skewed.

I’ve yo-yoed in the past and even into adulthood, as recently as 2 years ago. Before I got pregnant I was actually trying to lost about 20 pounds, I was the heaviest weight I had ever been and next thing you know, I’m pregnant. I was terrified. I instantly thought OMG, I’m not going to be a cute pregnant girl, I’m going to be a fat pregnant girl. Terrible, terrible! I wish I could go back in time. But I was about to learn a lot about me and my body.

I was anxious to have a bump, but also terrified because that meant I was growing in size. Once I started to show with Kennedy, I was SO excited. For the first time, I was okay with my body growing and gaining weight. I knew there was a reason for it. I was elated!

Once it got closer to my due date, all anybody could ask was, “Do you plan to breastfeed?” (which BTW…can we add this to the list of questions you don’t ask a pregnant woman?) I always responded with, “That’s the plan!” of course I was then greeted with the, “Good! It’s great for the baby, plus it’ll help you drop your baby weight. ” My next thought was great, a way to get rid of the weight I gained, I’ll be golden! Until I wasn’t.

If you’ve been following along on my blog here, you’ll know that breastfeeding didn’t work out for us. Throw that out the window and my next thought was, how on earth am I going to lose this weight? I started walking in hopes to drop the weight and I felt like I had to lose the weight fast, that’s just what you’re supposed to do…according to social media and other news outlets. I made the mistake of looking at these models or fitness gals that had babies and how quick they snapped back after having their babies and thought wow, I have no wiggle room, society expects us to go back to our prebaby bodies and fast. Again, I wish I could go back in time.

I was borderline depressed when I wasn’t losing any weight. I’d never been this heavy before. I didn’t feel like myself in my own body. My clothes didn’t fit and pregnancy clothes looked silly and I didn’t want to wear them. I cried. I cried a lot. I said I hated my body and I hated who I was in it.

I had to decide to do something about it though. I knew I had to get healthier physically but I was seriously concerned about my mental views on my body. I avoided mirrors. I didn’t try to get myself together if we went anywhere. I just didn’t care. I honestly don’t think I started to care until Kennedy got a little bit older and she was more aware of who Mom and Dad were and that she could count on us.

Knowing she counted on me is what made my brain transform on accepting and loving my postpartum body. This little girl loves me because she can count on me, she knows my scent, we have our way of cuddling where I know where to hold her just right and she knows where she can nestle her head and she can only do that with me, in my arms, on my chest, on my body. She grabs my face, my nose, my cheeks, anything, and she loves doing that. Knowing that she loves me and every single little bit of me has helped me accept where I’m at with my postpartum body and she doesn’t even know it yet.

I also have to give kudos to my husband, he was the first to remind me all my body has gone through to have Kennedy. He’s proud of me and what my body has done and has told me I should be proud of me too. So now, I am.

Just as everyone loves to remind us women how different every single baby is, we have to remember that every single woman is different. How you bounce back from having a child is going to be different than the women around you. No two bodies are the same. Comparing yourself to those around you will get you nowhere but down in the dumps. I admire the women that bounced back so well and quickly. I know those are the same women that worked out while they were pregnant and I wish that could of been me but my preeclampsia didn’t allow it. Which I will also say, sometimes what you want to have happen while you’re pregnant and what actually happens are two different things…I didn’t think I would have physical limitations while pregnant but did! The physical sacrifices made were so incredibly worth it to have my happy and healthy baby girl.

Whether you’re thinking about having babies, currently pregnant, recently delivered, a year or several postpartum, don’t ever stop loving the body that you have that carried those babies. Every single day remember to love yourself for the amazing things that you physically have done. Those little babies of yours think the world of you and won’t even know what physical insecurities you may have because to them, you are perfect.

 

“The Working Mom”

I always thought I’d be, “The Working Mom” and I had people ask me ALL the time, “Are you sure?” “You really think you’ll be able to do it?” I always looked at them like they were nuts and thought, duh, that’s what people have to do.

Did I ever think to myself, gosh, staying home would be amazing? Of course I did, but it was merely a thought. My entire pregnancy I figured I would enjoy maternity leave and the one on one time I had with my baby but at its end, I’d be ready to return to the workforce.

Um…I was so incredibly wrong.

As I’ve mentioned Kennedy was 3 weeks early and I was placed on bedrest 2.5 weeks prior to her arrival. I started my actual maternity leave a lot sooner than I anticipated. I remember the second or third night Anthony and I were home with Kennedy and I turned at looked at him and said, “I have absolutely no idea how I’m supposed to go back to work, I have an aching and longing need to be around her 24/7.” I cried immediately because I just wanted to be around her and only her and my little family unit that had gone from 2 to 3 just days earlier. The next morning we both figured I was hormonal and I was just feeling all the emotions that come with being a new mom, which is pretty standard for all.

I got 10.5 weeks of time with my little girl before it was time for me to return to work. I was a mess. I cried the two weeks leading up to my first day of work and was doing everything imaginable to try and slow time down. I woke up at 2:30 AM that Monday and started crying. Anthony took off for work and I was alone waiting for the princess to wake up. I remember sitting in her room drinking my coffee and watching her sleep in her crib and I sobbed and sobbed. She woke up and in typical Kennedy fashion batted her perfectly curled eyelashes at me and smiled her big gummy smile. I stopped crying at that moment because nothing is cuter than that little face.

I dropped her off at daycare (which by the way, Jen, you’re the best and we are so happy you are the one taking care of our little girl) and I held it together until I started driving down the road. I called Anthony and burst into tears and cried the entire way to my office. My co-workers were kind enough to get me a welcome back gift and it was super sweet and appreciated by getting through the day was SO. HARD. The stroke of 3:30 I was out of there and off to pick up my girl.

It’s been exactly 4 months since I’ve returned back to work and it’s the hardest thing I have to do every weekday morning. As someone that’s always been very focused on my education and having a career, I have multiple times been ready to throw it all away to just focus and be with my child. I am longing for the ability to be with her as much as possible but as much as I want that, I have to keep reminding myself that right now in this season, that isn’t in the cards.

So what do you do in this situation? I spend as much quality time with Kennedy as I can. I get up early and get myself fully ready and leave 45 minutes to get her up and ready for the day and spend time with her before we walk out the door. When I get to work, I work and I get all of it done in the office so when the day is over, I walk out the door and go back to mommy mode. I pick Kennedy up and I get 2-2.5 hours of her being awake before it’s bedtime and I make the most of out if as I possibly can. No phone, playtime in her room, reading, bath time, all of that, I literally treasure every possible second. The weekends, oh they are my absolute favorite, more so than ever before. I take that little girl with me EVERYWHERE. I never knew that becoming a mother would change me as much as it has especially with my focus on work and what my heart’s desire is.

I totally understand now how women are torn and have to make decisions like staying home with babies or go back to work. It’s the hardest choice to make and right now in this season my husband (you rock!) and I are trying to figure out what exactly will it take for us to ensure one of us is home more with our daughter. 2017 is going to be an interesting year for us as we work toward a goal of making that a reality. For now I’m just trying to keep it together although some days I have no clue how the heck I’m going to get through! I do actually know though, it’s that cute little one that I pick up each day around 4:00 PM that keeps me going!

I want to say to all moms, working or stay at home, all moms have struggles they have to face in both of these paths and you’re doing an amazing job no matter what struggles you’re facing. We will all get through these things and it’ll be easier if we can lean on each other! Major kudos to my September Mamas, I’m pretty sure I would of fallen off the deep end multiple times without your kind words and support, you guys are EVERYTHING in this motherhood journey!

My first Mommy lesson

There’s a lot about being a mom that I anticipated, and things I never would of imagined. What I’ve found is there are a lot of things that are typical, but ultimately what it comes down to, each little baby is different and you just kind of learn how they operate as you go. Also, there’s going to be a lot of “Mommy lessons” and I define these as things that you thought you’d do one way or can only be done one way, but find there is an alternative that works better for your baby and/or you and your family. Yes…this is my own phrase and definition but just keep that in mind while reading.

Am I an expert on childrearing? Noooo. But in 7 weeks and some odd days, I can tell you I know my baby pretty darn well already. Her different cries. What position she’ll sleep the best in, roughly what time she’s going to be hungry, so on and so forth.

I know what really made a difference super early on with Kennedy. I wanted to try to breastfeed and I said while pregnant, we will try it and if it works, then great, and if it doesn’t then there are alternatives, our little one will not go hungry.

Well, being an expectant mother I was reading a lot online trying to prepare myself (HA! Here’s my first little nugget of knowledge, you can read for hours and hours about a topic and your child can throw you a curveball). You read everywhere nurse as soon as possible in the hospital, feed them every 2-3 hours, don’t give them a pacifier, don’t use bottles right away, so on and so forth. First curveball…my child has a gnarly tongue tie AND a cheek tie. Two for the price of one. So without you Googling what either one of those are if you don’t know, it’s a teeny tiny piece of skin under her tongue that attaches her tongue to her lower jaw, therefore making sticking out her tongue difficult, causing issues when she tries to latch. The doctors said get it cut, but it may not fix the problem, but it might! But they didn’t do it at the hospital so it would be a week or so before I could even get it done, so that didn’t help me then. Thank goodness for a number of very patient nurses that helped me while in the hospital. I thought we figured it out despite our little set back.

We left the hospital on a Sunday afternoon and our first doctor’s appointment was scheduled for Tuesday. We wanted to see our little lady start to gain weight at this appointment and when they weighed her, she maintained her weight from when she left the hospital. Not terrible but we needed to move in the positive direction, not a standstill. The doctor mentioned supplementing with formula (OH MY THE FORBIDDEN F WORD). I had such a negative view of formula because right now, breastfeeding is all the rage. As it is to be expected, it’s the natural way and it’s created to fit the baby’s exact needs. I had forgotten the whole trying to breastfeed notion and that I ever said I’d do formula if I had to. I did what the doctor said, I tried to feed her more. My little baby was so grumpy! When she’d wake up she would be almost inconsolable and at the time I couldn’t tell that anything was wrong. I just thought this was how she was.

Back we went to the doctor on Friday…she lost 4 ounces. Cue the tears. I was ready to take the worst mother of the year award and I felt like such a failure. My poor husband didn’t know what to do, but I wouldn’t stop crying. It was obvious Kennedy and I weren’t working well in the breastfeeding department. The doctor’s advice was well keep feeding her every 2-3 hours and after you feed, pump and make sure you make an appointment with a lactation consultant. I went home and was on the computer forever researching how to make this work. I did what the doctor said and I still had my little grumpy baby.

I remember that night, she started to cry at 1 AM and I was ready to start crying with her. Anthony said in a half asleep voice, “Erin, give her the formula!” I caved. I grabbed one of the several sample containers we received and chose to use the supplementing formula. This little lady sucked that 2 oz bottle down like it was nothing and proceeded to pass out in my arms all in 2 minutes time. I was stunned. She fell asleep so easily and stayed asleep for so long!

The next morning we decided that I would pump and supplement with formula. Kennedy’s whole demeanor changed and she turned into this sweet loving little baby that was so happy all of the time. I still tried to pump, but my supply wasn’t there. I’m guessing due to the stress and the lack of her demand due to poor latch, it just never came in like it was supposed to. But that’s okay! At the end of the day, you know what’s best? Fed. A fed baby and a happy mommy. This is a joint effort and she can feel my energy and I can feel hers. When feeding time came around and both of us were in distress, it wasn’t going to be good news for either one of us. Through this I’ve still bonded with my little girl. She knows mama is going to feed her and I can tell when she’s hungry. Daddy also get to join in the feeding process which honestly was one part of breastfeeding I wasn’t looking forward too. I felt like I was robbing him of his time too!

Ultimately, so far in this nearly 8 week journey, I know that making sure my baby is happy, is my number one priority. You can read the books, articles and meet with other mommies but ultimately you take bits and pieces from all of those resources and you figure out what makes your family function. I call this Mommy lesson number one and the center for our little family of three.

One thing I will promise to do/be as I continue figuring all of this out is to be open minded and help others who may need encouragement. Being a mom is not easy, and having support is so important. So I support happy babies, happy mommies,  and happy families, whatever it takes to have all of those, you do you <3.