Love and the Postpartum Body

I love my stretch marks. I am not kidding around. I do. I love them. In fact, I would even go as far as saying I love yours too. I love stretch marks. I love the beauty in them, and it makes me sad that more people don’t see the beauty in them as well.
It makes me sad to hear you say that you wish you could get rid of them. It makes me sad to hear you say that you will never be able to show your tummy in public again. It makes me sad to see you so self conscious of them. It makes me sad that society tells us that stretch marks are imperfections. Blemishes. Seriously? How is the evidence of something so amazing a blemish?

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My belly right now, 4 months after giving birth to our fourth baby

It makes me sad when women are comparing their stretch marks and its a competition to see who has the ‘worst’ marks. Using words like bad, horrible, disgusting to describe stretch marks makes me see red. We should admire each others stretch marks the way we admire each others hairstyles. Everyone’s marks are as unique to them as their hair is.
Stretch marks are beautiful. Every single one of those lines on your body is beautiful. The ones on your arms, your boobs, your belly, hips, thighs, calves… Each and every one of them.

Stop fretting about getting your ‘pre baby body’ back. You won’t. You can’t. Your body, like your heart, will never ever be the same. You can lose the weight, you can tone the muscles, but your body will forever be changed. Forever. Embrace it. Accept it.

Those stretch marks are like laugh lines. They tell your story. They tell of the love that grew within you. Look at them and remember. Remember the wiggles, the kicks. The first time you heard that sweet sound of your babies heartbeat. Remember the first time you seen that little alien looking thing on the ultrasound screen.

Those marks tell of your body growing and accommodating a little human. They tell of the amazing thing your body created.
I beg you, please stop looking at your stretch marks in disgust. Stop viewing them as something to be hidden or modified. Stop searching the internet for ways to get rid of them. Stop viewing other women’s stretch marks enviously or in pity. Embrace the beauty. Please.

Love, hugs, and more to come later
Lynn

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An Amazing and Exciting Thing is Going to Happen

I have known about this amazing and exciting thing for a couple weeks. I just haven’t taken the time to write up a post about it yet! **Drum Roll**

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I am going to have a fourth birth story to write soon!!!! That’s right! T (you may remember her from my posts ‘Supporting T‘ focusing on supporting a breastfeeding Mom) is going to be having her baby at the end of this month and she has asked me to be one of her support people when she goes into labor! And more then that, she has given me permission to blog anything I want about the experience! Isn’t she awesome!?! (wait… you weren’t thinking that I was pregnant and going to be telling a birth story about me in labor again were you? 🙂 ) 

So of course, I am super excited to have this experience with her. It is an amazing honor that she trusts me enough to be there for her, and feels that I am going to be an asset to her experience. And of course, I am very excited to get to experience birth from the other side. Not to mention, getting to meet Baby L before the rest of the world. Eee! 

T and I have had a couple very good conversations about what she wants/needs from me as one of her support people, and how I can also support Mr. T. I feel very confident that I am going to be what T and her hubs need, and I hope that I can help contribute to a positive and happy experience. 

To T, I want you to know, that I am going to do everything I can to make this a positive empowering experience for you. Remember, the pain is natural, and your body knows what it’s doing! Soon, you and Mr. T are going to be holding Baby L and all this icky pregnancy business will be behind you. You’re strong, brave and awesome! 

Love, hugs and more to come later!

Lynn

Supporting T

Dear T,

 Over the last little while since you found out you were expecting Baby L, you and I have had a lot of conversations centering on pregnancy, labor, birth, parenting, diapering, anxiety, postpartum and feeding. Most of the things we discuss we are pretty much on the same page and I can offer you my experiences and thoughts. Except one. There is one choice you are making that I never did. And that’s to breastfeed. I don’t think there is anything wrong with it. In fact I fully one hundred million percent support you in that choice. And I want to see you succeed. I want to help you succeed. I want to be there for you when you are struggling, and I want you to be able to count on me for support in any and all circumstances.

At first I wasn’t sure how I could help you. I can’t relate to anything you are going to be experiencing and, in fact, I don’t even know what I can do that would be helpful vs what isn’t especially helpful. But then I realized, I started blogging back in January and so many of the blogs I read touch on breastfeeding! So, I turned to the wonderful women I have been reading about to give me (and you) some tips/pointers and share their experiences.

I hope to see you and Baby L have a happy feeding relationship, and I want to be there for you every step of the way. Over the next week or so I am going to be sharing the stories and tips that have been so graciously shared with me. I hope they help you on your journey.

To start today, I invite you to check out these posts:

Valerie over at Atlanta Mom of Three shared a post she had written with me. Her post is titled Breastfeeding ROCKS! And in it she shares her experiences with breastfeeding as well as numerous links to websites and blogs to help out in a number of situations.

The second post I really hope you check out was written by Shannon at A Game of Diapers. She wrote a post called Tips for How to Win at Breastfeeding: What the Books Don’t Tell You. It is a very well written post, that was dedicated to me, for this project.

 

I have received a large number of contributions to this project since I put it out that I was looking for help. And I plan to share each and every story that was (and may still be) shared with me. I hope you find information that helps you on your journey.

 

Love, hugs and more to come later!

Lynn

Looking for a guest post

I am looking for a breastfeeding Momma to help me out. I know there are a lot of you out there, so I am hoping one of you fine ladies wants to help me! (Or multiple of you and I can do a compilation of guest posts!)

As we all know, I am a formula feeding Momma. I didn’t even attempt breastfeeding. Now one of my closest and dearest friends is about to become a Momma. And she is planning on breastfeeding. I want to support her as best I can, but let’s face it, I have no sweet clue what the best way to support her in this journey are. 

This is where you come in. If you are interested in writing a post, or helping me compile a post of tidbits of advice, please please please email me at lynncollins10@gmail.com

Thanks in advance Mommas!

Love, hugs and more to come later!

Lynn

In Honor of ‘I Support You’

As part of World Breastfeeding Week, Suzanne Barstone of Fearless Formula Feeder, Kim Simon of Mama By The Bay and Jamie Lynne Grumet of I Am Not the Babysitter are encouraging all mom’s to stand up and say ‘I support you’ to all other moms regardless of their feeding choices.  

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The “I Support You” movement aims: 1) To bridge the gap between formula-feeding and breastfeeding parents by fostering friendships and interactions. 2) To dispel common myths and misperceptions about formula feeding and breastfeeding, by asking parents to share their stories, and really listening to the truth of their experiences. 3) To provide information and support to parents as they make decisions about how to feed their children. 4) To connect parents with local resources, mentors, and friends who are feeding their children in similar ways.

 

As part of the ‘I support you’ movement, these wonderful women are encourage fellow bloggers to interview their ‘opposites’ and participate in a blog hop.

As an exclusively formula-feeding momma, I chose to do two interviews. I chose to interview Elise of Persephone: Parent, an exclusively breast-feeding momma to Baby E and Jaclyn, a momma who breastfed her two daughters T and K for different lengths of time and had two different experiences.

This was my interview with Elise:

1) What was your original plan for feeding your child? How does that compare with how you are currently feeding your child?

I always planned to breastfeed. Or hoped to, anyway. It was a bit rocky in the first few weeks where I did give my son a few bottles of formula, but with the help of fellow bloggers I stuck it out!

2) What is the best part of how you feed your child? The worst?

Cynically, the best part is it’s free and easy now. I don’t have to remember to sterilise bottles, buy formula or take some with me when we go out. If I forget to buy dinner, we order a take away. I couldn’t do that for baby Elvis.

The worst part is sometimes finding places to feed. Just yesterday I went somewhere new in town on my own. I found some public toilets with a baby change room. The room was dirty and there was no lock, but it was too cold to do it outside. If I bottle fed, it would have been easier to find a place when I was alone without prying eyes!

Another bad thing is that apparently formula fed babies sleep longer overnight and sooner. I’d loooove more sleep!

3) What judgements on how you feed your child are the most hurtful?

I don’t think I’ve experienced anything really hurtful. Breastfeeding is very much encouraged in England. I did have a MIL ask if I was breastfeeding purely to lose weight. Uh, no!

4) Do you feel that you were supported in your choice?

Yes. Incredibly so. My husband made it clear he wanted me to breastfeed, but would have supported me if I had a true reason to give up. He knows exactly when to push me, when not to and we tend to both agree on many things.

My mum never breastfed me, but my cousin did her 3 boys and whilst we’re not exactly close I sent her plenty of tearful texts in the first few weeks which she responded to immediately!

5) What would help you to feel supported/understood in your choice?

I feel perfectly supported in my choice, but would have preferred different support in the hospital after I gave birth. I really didn’t enjoy my post natal hospital stay or the staff!

6) Think 20 years into the future. If you could give your child one message about how you chose to feed him, what would it be?

Now if I’d had a daughter I’d like to think I could be really supportive to her! I’ll tell him that, at the time (because professionals are always changing their mind!) breast milk was “the best” for him and that I stuck it out for as long as was best/I could. I tried to do my best for him from before even day one!

This was my interview with Jaclyn:

1) What was your original plan for feeding each of your children? How did that compare with how you fed them?

With both girls I had full intentions of breastfeeding both. Both pregnancies were induced and rough labours, second ending in a csection, both leading to a 5 day delay in my milk coming in. With my first I did for about 6 weeks at that point I switched her to formula as I felt she wasn’t getting enough and my milk supply was dwindling. With my second I was able to breastfeed no problem for 7 months.

2) What is the best part of how you fed each of your children? The worst?

The best part about formula feeding my first was that my husband was able to have a strong bond with her as we took turns doing night feeds. With my second her and I had a stronger bond as it was just me feeding her. The worst with my first was we didn’t have as strong of a mother daughter bond I had anticipated as dad was doing feeding just as much, with my second it was hard during the summer. She would cry from the being hungry but too hot to feed. Took a while but she was able to drink breastmilk from a bottle.

3) What judgements on each way of feeding were the most hurtful?

With both there wasn’t any personal judgement on formula or breastfeeding. The only judgement I received was from different facebook groups saying one was better than the other.

4) Do you feel that you were supported in your choices?

The only support I had in breastfeeding with my first was my husband and my family. With my second I had a lot more supportive friends around which was a huge encouragement and a big reason I feel my milk didn’t dwindle like the first time.

5) What would help you to feel supported/understood in your choices?

A way to help people feel supported in either formula or breastfeeding is to have an understanding that you are doing what’s best for your child. One of my closest friends personally didn’t like breastfeeding but she didn’t care that I did. She knew that’s what i preferred just like I knew she preferred formula. If there was a bigger acceptance of both that would be the best support.

6) Think 20 years into the future. If you could give your children one message about how you chose to feed them, what would it be?

My message to my girls in the future is to do what they feel most comfortable with. Seek help and understanding if they are not aware so they can make the best choice for them and their children.

It makes me happy that both of the women I chose to interview as my opposites had such a positive experience. To both of them I say ‘I support you.’ To all the moms out there who choose to breastfeed. I support you. To all the moms who choose formula. I support you. To all the moms out there who need to change their plan and find something new that works. I support you. I support all moms and all feeding choices. Why? Because ultimately as long as our babies are fed, loved, healthy and growing, there can be no wrong way.  

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I am lucky that I was also one of the lucky ones who didn’t face a lot of judgement for my choices. The people who did judge me for it, weren’t important in my life and for the most part it was easy to remember why I made the choices I did. Seeing my babies growing, thriving and healthy definitely helped me through that. I hope that all Moms can remember that we are all doing the best we can. I don’t know about the rest of you, but my babies didn’t come with a handbook. We need to continue encouraging and supporting one another. 

The best way to counteract hate is by drowning it in a sea of change. The tide is rising, and we can float above the negativity and fear; push down the us-versus-them bullshit and let it sink to the bottom, where it belongs; lure it to its death with a siren song of I support you, sung far and wide.

-Suzanne Barston

 

Love, hugs and more to come later

Lynn

*All interview answers appear exactly as they were given to me with no editing. The words are those of the moms I interviewed*

The Mommy Wars

I am very happy to say that today I noticed that my guest post was published on End the Mommy Wars blog. You can read my story on potty training here.

There is a reason that ending the mommy wars and stopping moms passing judgement on one another is very important.  There is a reason that I needed to sign the Mom Pledge.

I’ve never really explained my reasons. But today I am going to. Not because I feel like I need to defend myself. But because I want to.

I have stated in the past that I have been judged for my choices as a Mom. And I have stated before that I dealt with Postpartum depression and Anxiety after each of my children were born. It wasn’t bad after Alex and it hasn’t been too bad since having Zoey. But after Nick it was bad. Really super bad. I didn’t bond very well with him at first. Looking at us today you wouldn’t know that. But it has affected all the relationships in my household.

My husband bonded more with Nick than he did with the other kids, because he was making up for my lack of interest in him. I was more than willing to pass off all the feedings, diapers etc to him. I didn’t want to do any of that. If Alex needed me, I was there, if Nick needed me… it was harder to want to be there. I was still there. I tended to his needs. But there wasn’t the same emotional attachment to him. This affected how Hubs bonded to Zoey. Because I didn’t have the same problems bonding to her, he wasn’t as hands on with her and felt as though he wasn’t bonding to her at all. Thankfully, after him and I discussing this, he has realized this isn’t the case, he loves his little girl as much as he loves his little boys. I have no doubts about that.

When I decided to get pregnant with Zoey, the troubles I had with Nick played a big factor in that decision. I didn’t want to have another baby if I was going to have a hard time bonding to him/her. That wouldn’t be fair to me, the baby, the boys, or my husband. So I did some serious thinking about what contributed to those feelings. I figured it out pretty quick.

I realized that when I got pregnant with Nick, there were a lot of people who made negative comments and criticized that I would even keep the baby. (I know right.. imagine having someone tell you that you should’ve aborted your baby because your kids were to close together. Talk about mind boggling) There were comments about how I was being unfair to Alex by having another baby so soon. There were people who told me it was so so so hard and I would struggle with it. So few people said to me ‘You’re a good mom. You can so this. It’ll be tough, but you’ll figure it out’ The majority of it was ‘omg, you’re crazy.’  So I knew that I needed to get those people out of my life.

After I got the obviously negative people out, that left the more subtle people. Those people were harder to weed out. But by the time I had Zoey I had gotten rid of them. And you know what? My postpartum issues, were so so so minimal compared to what they were after Nick.

Part of me wishes that I could go back and not have the issues I did after I had Nick. But a bigger part of me cherishes the fact that I was able to build a strong bind with him in spite of our rough start. When his first word was Momma, my heart melted. And I am glad that those experiences gave me the voice I need to tell those negative people to shut up. I sincerely hope that my story can help even one mom not feel so alone. And realize that there are people out there who don’t just want to judge. I may not be the perfect mom, but I am perfect for my kids.

I encourage everyone to take the Mom Pledge and support one another instead of judging one another.

Love, hugs and more to come later!

Lynn

The Meaning of Being Supportive

With World Breastfeeding Week coming up, I have seen more and more on the internet in regards to feeding babies. I have seen two sides. I have seen the side that screams ‘Breast is best! If you don’t feed your baby breastmilk you are doing them a disservice’ Thankfully, those people seem to be less and less common. The other side I see is the side that says ‘Oh you feed your baby breastmilk? Cool. Oh hey, you feed you baby formula? Cool. You combo feed? Cool again.’

Normally I don’t pay too much attention to any of this stuff.  I see it, I let it go. I have been judged for how I feed the kids, but I let it go. Well, seeing it all over the internet/facebook/the news, it has been on my mind a little more.

Yesterday I was out with the kids. We took them to the mall. In the mall there is this cute little play place for the kids to play. Zoey was due for a feeding, so I figured the boys could play and hubs and I could sit on a bench and feed Zoey while we watch them. So I send the boys off to play, and sit down. A few feet to my left is a woman who apparently had the same thought as me. She sent her older child to go play while she breastfed her baby. Seeing her breastfeed bugged me a little bit. Not in the ‘ew that’s disgusting kind of way’ I don’t think breastfeeding is gross in any way, but in the way that I was about to whip out a bottle of water and some powder to mix up some formula for my baby. I was worried she was going to judge me. 

That way of thinking is not like me at all. I am normally the one daring people to judge me. I am normally the one willing to stand up for myself and others. But I was honestly fearful of what this woman that I had never met was going to think about me giving my baby formula. But Zoey was getting fussy so I had no choice but to mix her formula and give her her bottle. I couldn’t make the kids leave the play area. That wouldn’t be fair. Deep breath.

So I pulled out the stuff I needed to make her a bottle. And I prepped it. All while being super careful to avoid eye contact with breastfeeding Momma. Then I picked Zoey up and started feeding her, looking only at her and the boys. Still refusing to make eye contact. Then I hear a voice. ‘I love her headband. Did you make it?’ What?!? Breastfeeding Momma is making conversation with me.. well I can’t be rude… So I answered that I had indeed made it and we talked about crocheting and the different projects each of us had done. Then we talked about our kids. And you know what? It wasn’t awkward. Not even a little bit. It was perfectly fine. Neither of us cared that we were doing things differently. And that ladies and gents, is what being supportive is all about.

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This picture was uploaded onto the End the Mommy Wars group on Facebook by Annie Vorys and I think it is perfect!

Love, hugs and more to come later

Lynn