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

They’re all against me.

A friend of mine just told me that she finally has her husband on board to try for baby number 3. Upon receiving her message, this is the conversation that went on in my home: 

M: Hey Honey, guess what?!?
H: What?
M: K just told me she got D on board for another baby.
H: Oh yea
M: Yea. We should have another one too, then K and I could be pregnant together again (She was pregnant when I was pregnant with Alex and Nick) 
H: No
M: (In a pretend whiny voice) But Honey, K is getting another baby, I want one toooooo!
H: K still needs to catch up to you. 
M: (I stick my tongue out at Hubs and turn to Alex) Hey Alex, do you want another baby?
A: No, Thank You. 
H: See, even the kids are on my side. 

Now, I should point out, that I don’t want to have anymore babies right now.  I am 100% happy and perfect with the three we have. I was joking around when I told Hubs we should have another one.  (Just so no one gets the wrong idea) But I have a feeling if K gets pregnant, baby fever is going to hit this Momma hard!

Love, hugs and more to come later!
Lynn

A bit of a Rant

First off, I know. I JUST posted. But I really wanted to finish up the Breastfeeding Project I start. And now I really just need a place to vent. And since I started this blog for me first, I feel safe venting here. If you don’t want to read it, I won’t be offended. 

Yesterday I decided to do a double workout. I did 2 one hour classes, back to back with a one hour break in between. It was insane!

The first was a Bellyfit class. In the first half hour of the class, burn mega calories, relieve stress and get the sweat flowing with fun, easy to learn cardio moves infused with the ancient and beautiful fundamentals of Belly Dance, Bollywood and African Dance. During the second half of the class, enjoy sculpting, toning and tightening with Pilates inspired core work, a deep yet relaxing Yoga inspired stretch and mindful Mudra Meditation. 

The second was a Zumba Class. Zumba involves dance and aerobic elements. Zumba’s choreography incorporates hip-hop, soca, samba, salsa, merengue, mambo, martial arts, and some Bollywood and belly dance moves. Squats and lunges are also included. 

It was pretty intense. Today my calf muscles are the only thing that hurts. But they hurt baaaaaad. I decided that I am probably going to commit to doing Zumba twice a week and not do the double workout anymore. At least not right now! 

Yesterday after I finished Zumba, I was talking to the instructor about the class and asking some questions (this is where the ranting part comes in) She asked me if I had enjoyed the class. I answered that yes, I had. I had been doing Zumba before I got pregnant and I was glad to be getting back into it. Of course this led to talking about the ages of our kids, and this is when a friend of mine, we’ll call her Z decided to involve herself in the conversation and state that I wouldn’t be doing Zumba long, as I would be pregnant before Christmas. 

I want to point out here, that based on the spacing of the three kids, if I was having a fourth, Christmas would be the right timing. 

I also want to point out, I have told this friend on more than one occasion we have decided we don’t want a fourth child. 

Than, I am going to point out, this isn’t the first or even the second time she has said something along these lines. It’s constant. 

It bugs me. It makes me feel invalidated and quite honestly, I am sick and tired of hearing peoples comments on the fact I have three kids. And I am tired of people asking me if I am going to have a fourth. And when I say no, I am sick of hearing ‘but don’t you want to have a second girl?’ Um… correct me if I am wrong, but the last time I checked, I don’t get to pick the gender of the baby. 

Maybe it’s just me. But I am seriously struggling with the the constant comments about people expecting me to be pregnant again before Christmas. And right now I am trying to find a diplomatic way to explain this to said friend. 

If you have any ideas, please please please share them! 

Love, hugs, and more to come later!
Lynn

All About Alex

I have decided that I want to document everything I remember about my pregnancies and labors. Obviously since I had three of them I am going to do it in three posts.  I want to do this while most of the memories are still fresh(ish) in my mind. I hope two things come from these posts. 1- I hope it serves as something the kids can look back on. And 2- I hope mom’s can read this and see how different every labor can be, so having a bad experience doesn’t make them extremely anxious about going through the process again. This is part one. All About Alex.

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On April 21st, 2010 I found out I was pregnant. Hubs and I were excited and shocked that we were already pregnant! We were so anxious to find out if we were going to be having a boy or a girl! Who the baby would be like, who he would look like. Our due date was December 25th. I couldn’t think of a better Christmas present.

The first trimester was ridden with morning sickness that was sometimes so bad I couldn’t even hold down water. Some smells set me off so so badly. Thankfully my Dr prescribed me some amazing pills (dicletic) that got rid of the morning sickness and nausea for me. After about week 12, I stopped taking them and the morning sickness had gone away.

Throughout my pregnancy I suffered from extreme hip pain as a result of a fracture that I got when I was 17. It hadn’t healed properly and being pregnant refractured it. NOT FUN. At all. By the time I was 18 weeks pregnant I was put on sick leave and couldn’t work anymore. Unfortunately I was short a few hours to qualify for Employment Insurance, and we suffered an income loss. We weren’t too stressed about it. We planned out how we were going to afford the baby, and second hand stuff is always great!!

Our ultrasound was scheduled for August 10. We were so excited! I was sure the baby was a boy, and we had already picked out our names. If we were having a boy it would be Alexander Mychael and a girl would be Madison Ann-Marie. Alexander is a family name on my husbands side, Mychael is the name of the person who introduced my husband and I, and Ann-Marie is from my mom’s name.

When August 10 finally rolled around, we were ecstatic to find out we were indeed going to be welcoming a little boy into our lives!

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ignore the timestamp on this picture. my camera liked to reset anytime I changed the batteries.

August rolled into September, and things were progressing normally. Alex’s heartbeat was constantly around 160 bpm and he moved around like crazy. Except one day in September, he wasn’t moving around. At all. I panicked (as any mom would) and called the labor and delivery unit. I was advised that I should eat something sweet, drink some juice and lie on my left side for an hour. And call them back if I hadn’t felt any movement. I did this. And still felt nothing. I went into the Labor and Delivery unit at the hospital and was hooked up to the monitor. Of course, as soon as I was, he moved around like crazy, and thank God, was perfectly fine.

September slipped into October and then into November and then finally it was December. My pregnancy had been progressing normally and we spent December walking, trying anything and everything we could to get labor going.

On December 28th at 3am I woke up with stomach pains. I honestly thought I was constipated. I went to the washroom. After a little while I realized that the pains seemed pretty evenly spaced. So I went back to bed and started timing them. They were 10 minutes apart. And then 8. And then 5. At 5 mins apart (about 530) I woke my husband up. He was up and dressed before I even threw back the covers. He was ready to rush to the hospital right then. But I was confident I had time to spare. I wanted breakfast. And to take the Christmas tree down. Once that was all done, Hubs and I argued over whether 6am was too early to vacuum. (We lived in an apartment, so I guess it was) We called our parents, I repacked and we headed down to the car. Of course there was a TON of snow. And it was still storming out. At 730am we arrived at the hospital. (a normal 20 minute drive took over an hour) My contractions were about 4 minutes apart and slowly getting stronger.

At noon I had my water broken. At 5 pitocin was started. My contractions were not staying regular and they were not getting stronger. It was obvious my body needed some help. At 7pm they started administering drugs. This is where things start getting a little foggy for me. I was given fentanyl, and the nurse was administering it too often (I didn’t find this out until much much later) At the time I thought it was normal. There are parts of my labor and delivery that are blank. Around 8 or so I got an epidural. At 915pm the nurse checked me and told me that I would be ready to start pushing when she was back from her break as I was 9.5 cm. When she came back from her break at 945 pm she had me start pushing. She did not check me again. At midnight,  after I had been pushing for over 2 hours, the Dr came in to check me. I wasn’t fully thinned out or dilated. Nothing had happened since she last checked me. Except that I was exhausted. And the Dr realized that the baby’s head seemed twisted and stuck. He wanted me prepped for a C Section.

I didn’t want a C section. At all. It scared me. I wanted to do it myself. I was given papers to sign my consent (I don’t remember signing them) and I was prepped for C section. I was rolled into the OR and the anesthesiologist who had heard me repeatedly state that I didn’t want a C section, told the nurse that instead of wasting the contractions, I should push through them and maybe avoid the C section. (I didn’t know it then, but she knew if I could get the baby down far enough a C section would no longer be an option, and she knew the only reason I was being prepped for a C section was that my blood pressure was sky rocketing and they were worried about me laboring for much longer, they weren’t concerned about the baby, he was perfect)

So I pushed. And pushed and pushed some more. After pushing for 4.5 hours, an episiotomy and a forcep assisted birth, Alex was born on December 29, 2010 at 2:14 am. He had the cord around his neck 3 times. But he was a perfect 7 lbs 13 oz and 21 3/4 inches long.

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After I had Alex I had a really bad bladder infection from the prolonged catheter use that was made necessary because I couldn’t pee on my own until 3 days after I had him. (Which was attributed to the swelling from the episiotomy) On January 1, 2011 I finally got to leave the hospital and bring my baby boy home.

Unfortunately, I didn’t heal properly from the episiotomy, but I didn’t know this until my 6 week check up. I thought the extreme pain was normal. Turns out that I had a really painful skin tag that needed to be burned off, By the time Alex was 8 weeks old, I felt normal again though. 🙂

That concludes Alex’s pregnancy/birth story. Nick and Zoey’s are coming soon!

Love, hugs, and more to come later!

Lynn

The Postpartum Life

This post is one I have been thinking about writing for a few days. I quite honestly don’t know where to start. After giving birth, your body changes. Fast. Drastically. In a big way. It’s overwhelming. It’s scary. It’s depressing. 

After I gave birth to Nick, Hubs went right back to work. He wasn’t going to take any parental leave. I could handle two kids on my own. It couldn’t be that different from having just Alex. I was wrong. Within a month Hubs was home with us. I couldn’t do it. (It takes a lot to admit this) Anytime the kids cried, I had anxiety attacks. If only one of them cried, no problem. But put them together and I shut down. Hubs came home one day to find the three of us sitting on the floor in the playroom crying. He’d noticed that there was something off with me since I had the baby, he just wasn’t sure what. He went on parental the next morning to give me the support I obviously needed at home, and sent me into my Dr to talk about what was happening. The Dr diagnosed me with mild postpartum depression and moderate postpartum anxiety. Hubs and I did some research, we talked, and we coped with it. I started taking birth control to help regulate my hormones. I started going out once a week to interact with people. I had an amazing photographer take boudoir photos of me (amazingly it helped. A lot. I started feeling better. Then we decided we wanted another baby.

When we made the decision to have a third baby, I was excited. I couldn’t wait. Things were going so great with our family, but I felt like something was missing in our lives. Once we made the decision we wanted another baby, we knew that we needed to talk about what we could do differently this time around to make the postpartum period easier. We talked for a long time about the circumstances around Nick’s birth. We realized we had a lot of negative people in our lives. I decided I needed to get those people out of my life. So I did. Anytime someone was super negative about our situation (for example, criticizing our choice to have a third baby) I removed them from my Facebook. I got my friends list down from over 200 people to 70 people. We were excited to be expecting Zoey and my pregnancy progressed.
Throughout my pregnancy, there were a few ‘episodes’ when I would have anxiety attacks, but overall I was controlling it well and I was optimistic that things were going to be better. I was over it. It went away. Turns out depression and anxiety don’t really just ‘go away’ they are always there. In the background. Watching. Waiting. For the opportunity to present itself. When I had Zoey, I felt great. The delivery was easy compared to the boys, my recovery was fast. But my body. It was so so so so so different. Even more different then when I had the boys. The stretch marks. The saggy-ness. It was depressing. I know that it won’t look like this forever, rationally. But my rational self is on a shelf that I can’t reach right now. Leaving me very irrational. Leaving me feeling anxious about things I shouldn’t feel anxious about. I know I don’t need to worry about what my body looks like. Stretch marks and saggy-ness is to be expecting after having a baby, especially after having 3 back to back babies. I mean, I’ve already lost 30 lbs. I am doing good for having just had Zoey 3 weeks ago.
My body isn’t the only thing causing me anxiety. There are other things too. Things that, rationally, I don’t need to be anxious about. But I can’t control it. At all. It consumes me. So it’s all I can think about. But I don’t doubt my parenting. I know I am a good Momma. I doubt how great of a wife I am being lately. I doubt a lot of things about myself. But never my role as a Mother. That’s gotta be an improvement right?
I am going to see the Dr later this week. I know there is something wrong and that I need help. Hubs and I have talked about it. And now I have made it even more real by writing it here. The reason I wanted to write this, is because after I had Nick and was going through this originally, I felt alone. Anxiety and depression seem to be taboo topics to talk about. They shouldn’t be. They are real. And the people who feel them are real too. And we all deserve to be listened to. I don’t feel so alone now, I have found a support system. And that helps. A lot.

Love, hugs, and more to come later

Lynn

Oh Pregnancy!

This pregnancy is making me miserable. Or maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s just life in general. I don’t know. What I do know right now is that I want to go curl up in my bed and stay there. For a really really really long time.
I feel huge. I mean, I guess that’s to be expected being 33.5 weeks pregnant with my third child, but I feel HUGE. Not like cute pregnant woman about to pop which is how I currently see every other pregnant woman I pass. But more of a ‘holy sh*t how many are in there’ sort of feeling. I am also really tired of people making comments about how busy I must be, and how my hands must be full, and ‘I can barely handle one kid!’ or my favorite ‘Wow where do you find time to make more babies?!?’
It might not all be the pregnancy making me miserable though. There is enough other stuff going on in this world to drive a person crazy. I am missing Winnipeg like crazy. I know I did the right thing, coming home to be here with Hubs when he needed me, but I am missing my family and kind of mourning the fact my mom won’t be with me when I have the baby the way I planned. I’m optimistic I’ll be living out west sooner, rather then later though!
I’m not trying to be bitter. I’m really not. I enjoy being pregnant and in fact I am the crazy one who was trying to convince my husband we should go for baby number 4. Although that was before my hips started locking up, the heartburn kicked in full force and I tried to wear my new sandals just to find that my feet are to swollen to get into them. Now I am more inclined to agree with him that this should be our last pregnancy and 3 babies is perfect. (Just don’t tell him that though. I might still change my mind again)
On the bright side though, the boys are officially moved into their big boy twin beds. And are sleeping awesomely I might add! It’s been two nights since I have had a little boy in my bed.. and to be honest, as much as I enjoy the extra sleep and being able to lie comfortable in bed… I miss it. I feel like, as much as I complained about them waking me up numerous times a night because I was falling off the bed, or couldn’t move at all, or had no blankets, or an elbow in my spine, I am missing out on something now.
I can’t believe in a few short weeks I am going to be welcoming another little baby into this world. To be honest, I am sh*t scared. I don’t know anything about little girls. I know they make lots of pretty little dresses for them (I have a nice collection of those). But in a lot of ways I feel like I am having my first baby all over again!! (I’m sure I’ll catch on pretty quick, a newborn is a newborn right?!?)
But this momma is done drinking her coffee and has a house to clean and two toddlers to play with (I am thinking we are going to make cupcakes today!)

Love hugs and more to come later!
Lynn

Boy oh Boy… The Adventure of parenting!

A pregnant friend recently found out she is expecting and asked me what it was like to go through pregnancy and the first couple years of parenthood. I told her it’s hard to explain and gave her a generic answer about how wonderful it is to have kids, and how much I love being a mom, and of course, she would love it too. Then I gave it some thought and realized I can come up with a much better answer then that. So here goes!

Going through pregnancy: Going through pregnancy is amazing… at times. When you focus only on the baby growing inside you, hearing their little heartbeat for the first time, feeling that first little flutter, seeing them on the ultrasound screen. It’s amazing. Absolutely breathtaking. I was just as awed the first time I experienced any of those things as I was every time after that. It amazed me that my body was able to create such a perfect little being. But then there is the other side of all that amazingness. There are aches, pains, morning (ALL DAY) sickness, getting a cold and not being able to take anything for it… you get the point. There are two sides of it. And my answer as to whether I enjoy being pregnant tends to change depending how I feel that day. Then of course as you get to the end of your pregnancy, there is the countdown to a day that your baby may or may not be born on. I don’t know why we even get due dates. We just just get an approximation of when the baby will be here, that’s all a due date is anyways. But that’s not the point here. At the end of your pregnancy, you feel like a waddling whale, you can’t bend over to tie your shoes and you can’t sleep. Then the most amazing thing happens… you go into labor. 

Labor is only amazing for the first few minutes when you realize that the baby is actually going to make an appearance, then you realize that you are in this for the long haul and all of a sudden it just hurts. Like nothing you have ever felt before. But we’ll fast forward through all that stuff and go straight to the point you can actually hold your newborn!

The first time you hold your newborn (once you have gotten past the pain and exhaustion) is amazing. Absolutely amazing. To think that this little creature grew inside of you for nine long, long months and now is looking up to you like you have all the answers… You do have them right? I didn’t. I guess my kids handbooks got lost on the way out. Or the nurses kept them. I didn’t get them that’s all I know. And so begins parenting. 

What’s it like being a parent? Hmm… let me see. It’s exhausting. And stressful. And you will quickly learn there are no right answers. Just a lot (and I mean a lot) of theories. Like a lot of them. And most of them won’t work for you, your spouse, or (most of the time) your child. You might as well just accept right off the hop that you are going to have to make it all up as you go along. But it’s also the most amazing thing I have ever done. It’s overwhelming and scary to be sure. To think that this little being is going to be shaped by me… I doubt myself all the time. I wonder all the time if I am making the right choices for my kids. Especially when they are picking on one another, not sharing, not sleeping through the night like all my friends kids are. I wonder what I am doing wrong. But then I hear people tell me how well behaved they think my toddler is when he can walk through a store holding onto the stroller and listening to me. I hear my 2 year old helping his little brother learn to walk, and reassuring him when he falls down that it was a ‘good try Nick’ and my heart melts. I realize that somewhere along the line, I am teaching my kids to care about one another. Somewhere in all the chaos of a house with two toddlers I am doing something right. 

My point? Going through parenting and raising kids is an adventure. Nothing is going to prepare you for it. There aren’t enough books in the world (and you definitely don’t have time to read them all anyways) to cover every single aspect to parenting there is. The best way to sum it up is Adventure. Buckle up and get ready, because my dear friend, nothing is going to be the same again. Ever. 

Love, hugs and more to come later

Lynn