You and Your Body: Why Pregnancy Shouldn’t Make you Feel Ugly or Unwanted

I have had body issues since I gained weight. I was very small in high school and super athletic. So I guess you could say that i have backwards body morph-ism when in reality I am completely normal and healthy for an american woman. I went from a 0 to a 6-8 so completely normal. That’s the most you will know about my weight. Now some of you will read this and go “well why is she complaining about her size if she’s smaller than me or smaller than other woman?”

I’m not. I’m not saying that I am overweight or feel ‘fat’. Because I don’t. This is purely a post about how after having a baby, some woman fell like they are ‘fat’ or ‘ugly’ and I was one of them.

Pregnancy does a lot to your body. It completely gives it a make over and will definitely make you feel self conscious after you’ve had a baby. Now some women have so much self confidence that it doesn’t bug them. I, however, am not one of those women and I am here to tell you that it’s okay to feel this way.

When most women find out that they are pregnant, they’re might have been some tell tale signs already. Some gain weight almost immediately, others breasts’ might be painful. Some realize that they have a dislike of certain food while others will eat their pantry in one night. The cravings, the dislike of certain food, everything, of course points to pregnancy. It beats worshiping the toilet for hours but that happens to some as well.

As pregnancy progresses, weight gain is normal. Now most of this is water weight, and it really can’t be prevented. Some is fat, as your breasts and body are preparing to produce the sustenance that babies need, milk. Regardless, gaining weight will happen, (unless you’re one of those than work out a lot and have almost no belly, i envy you).

The hormones cause you to look at yourself in the mirror and feel like you’re fat. It doesn’t matter that you’re creating life, its something that our brains are hardwired to do. As women, how we look is central to how were perceived in society. I wish that wasn’t so but it is. Men rate our boobs, butt, stomach, face etc. Part of our sexuality is our curves, and shape.

After the baby comes, you may not feel so good about what you see in the mirror. Some women lose that weight super fast, others have to work at it. I looked at myself in the mirror and saw a woman, who was very uncomfortable with the skin on her body. I didn’t know what to think of myself anymore. Sexy? Curvy? Cute? Then there was the fact that my partner watched me push a baby out of my vagina. How on earth could he look at me and see anything sexy or anything that he would ever become excited about again? i mean he literally watched me push a football out of my vagina for heaven’s sake!

With my softer curves, breasts that aren’t near as perky anymore, hips that are much wider and a belly that is no longer tight, i would look at myself in the mirror and see just a mother. I didn’t see a woman, who still had a sexiness to her. I just saw a woman who had given birth. The weight continued to drop through out the months and a couple things happened that effected my hormones and the vision i had of myself.

I was diagnosed with Postpartum Depression a few weeks after birth. I have had issues with depression and anxiety since i was nineteen so it didn’t really come as a surprise to me that I had ‘baby Blues’. I, of course, had to stop breast feeding to begin medication to help with this. More on PPD in a later post. The constant feeling of depression mixed with my hormones basically killed any hope i had of gaining some self confidence. I was low and i turned to the one thing that i knew would make me feel better: Alcohol. Bad mommy. I know.

I continued this self hating phase for a couple of weeks. I didn’t see how my partner was eyeing my curves or looking me up and down out of the corner of his eye. I couldn’t see it because in my mind it wasn’t possible. I didn’t feel how he would let his hands linger on my hips when holding me or how he would gently move them down the sides of my belly. This is what i was blind to. The gentle signs of want. The arousal.

I actually ended up confronting him about it while i was in the bath. I literally asked him if we would ever have sex again. I was mortified that phrase had even come out of my mouth. Asking about sex, while isn’t a hard thing to do when you’ve been with someone for a while, but it isn’t easy when you have no confidence in your body. I’m pretty sure i turned a bright shade of pink after asking and i’m positive that it had nothing to do with a warm bath.

He reassured me that he was still physically attracted to me and i had nothing to worry about. This made me feel slightly better as i still looked in the mirror and didn’t like what reflected.

So i did something I’ve never had to do. I began to work out. Yes, i actually decided to pick up weights and a ball and begin training my body. I was surprised when something happened besides seeing physical results. Working out your body releases endorphins and serotonin in your brain. On top of the physical benefits of being active, mentally my mood began to improve. And so did my self confidence.  I began to become more confident, daring to wear the lacy panties or the short shorts to bed. I began to walk with a longer, stronger, stride and carry my head higher. Sure the physical benefits were great, flatter stomach, more defined arms, my muscle began to return to my legs, but man, feeling a weight lifted from my shoulders and carry my head high felt better than anything physical that i could have accomplished.

There is something about the way that woman feel after pregnancy. We lose a part of ourselves to our children, part of us that stays with them through out child hood. You no longer feel like you should do something for yourself, but rather all of your time, attention, your soul goes to them. I regained a small piece of mine. And having that piece back with me gives me more than what i could have done as a mother without it. I am slowly learning to love my softer edges, my pouch on the lower abdomen. It will take some time before i completely can look in the mirror and be okay with what i see. But every day i get a little closer. It’s okay to look at yourself in the mirror and not like what you see, but instead of saying that you’ll work out to lose weight, work out for your mental health because if you’re not happy and mentally put together, it makes raising a child so much more challenging than it already is.

A new mother is still learning, and we learn everyday. Sanity and little rewards, like a smile from your child, or perhaps a night with your partner, will keep you going.

So go ahead, look at your body and see what you think, but remember, those not so perfect soft curves are hiding a mother, a woman, who has the confidence to raise a child, and to go out in the world with the attitude that she can do it. You’re not ugly. You’re not unwanted. You’re absolutely perfect. You are a woman.

 

 

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Sleeplessness: Get Used to It

So here you are, delivery complete, the newborn fed and happy and you’re finally going to try to catch some z’s. Here’s hoping right? Well it really depends on what sleep actually means to you. Are you looking for a full night’s rest, seven to ten hours of sleep? Are you a person that can get by on a couple of hours? Regardless, your body has been through quite an ordeal and you’ll want to try to get some sleep.

Sleep is not something that you will get a whole lot of. Unfortunately that’s a fact. There isn’t much you can do about it. If you happened to have the unfortunate symptoms of insomnia, then you might actually welcome the next couple of months with your newborn; You might get more sleep.

Your sleep patterns as a new mother can really help keep your head together. Without that peaceful bliss at night, you and your loved ones will only feel pissed off. Discord will happen in your home (more than what a newborn can create) and resentfulness will set in. There are several stages of sleep that you must be aware of. As a new mother, you may not be fully prepared for the fluctuation in your life and your sanity. So let’s begin in the hospital where the interrupted sleep patterns begin.

 

HOSPITAL

So here you are, baby born, ready to get that rest that your body desires at this point, and yet, I hate to burst your bubble, you may not get a whole lot of rest the first two nights. Honestly you won’t get a whole lot of rest the first couple of months but hey, were starting at the beginning.

After moving to a Postpartum room, feeding your child, and hopefully by this point, you may have taken a shower, you’re ready to get some sleep. There are two different types of hospitals; ones with a nursery and a room in type. Both have their pros and cons. The type of nursery options depend entirely on the hospital which you give birth in.

If you have a hospital with a nursery, this is a great option for sleep. The nurse will take away your newborn for several hours a day, bringing it back only to feed. The ‘nursery’ type of hospital gives you time for your body to heal from the insanity of delivery.

If you have a room in type, which is what I gave birth in, you’re in for no sleep. The pros to having a child room in is that it kinda gives you an idea of what the nights ahead of you are going to be like. It begins to prepare your body for waking up whenever the baby cries and gets you used to hearing the sounds of your baby. However it’s not conducive to sleep at all. I had no sleep and actually had a mental break down in the middle of the night one night because I had no sleep. It didn’t help that my child wouldn’t actually suck on my breasts and that I had a bunch of visitors who wanted to see the newborn. SO if you have a room in type room, my advice to you is to limit your visitors and try to have a family member there that can watch the child so you can get a little bit of sleep.

Each hospital is different and it really just depends on where you want to give birth. Just be prepared to understand the differences that each option presents you and work out a plan with family members ahead of time.

 

FIRST WEEK HOME

So you’re now home and everyone is trying to settle into the routine and get used to the newest addition in the household, and it does take some getting used to. Most babies (I say most because every child is different) tend to eat every two to three hours for the first couple of months and it’s extremely important that they eat this way for the first week or so because the babies system is learning to function on its own without amniotic fluid. You are both learning and its rough. The first week is hard.

With the baby wanting to eat every two to three hours it’s almost impossible to function with catnaps supplying your shut eye. Making a pallet in their room or having a attachable bassinet on the side of your bed will help. Having an older family member who is experienced with babies also helps. My mother took a week off of work to help me with my child and having her their was the most helpful thing and the crutch I leaned on. Take naps when you can. Its hard when you’re on your own and their are other things to get done in the house. My other half pays for our household so i didn’t expect him to be awake with the baby in the middle of the night when he had to get ready for work at five in the morning.

Talk with your partner about how best to manage duties when regarding the baby. Obviously the first month your baby will be sleeping a lot as its growing, so maybe once your partner is home or available, see if they can’t watch the child for a few hours so you can catch up on some sleep.

 

SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT

Most of the time, your body is on hyper alert waiting hear the cries from your child. As the first couple months pass, your body will slowly want to sleep more and more, or at least this was the case with me. It becomes difficult to keep up the sleep pattern of every couple hours at night, since our bodies know that were supposed to be sleeping through it. As the child grows, he or she will sleep for longer periods of time at night, slowly working up to sleeping through the night.

Believe it or not, five to six hours of sleep is not that far away. Once my child hit about ten and a half pounds a magical switch flipped and i was sleeping through the night. Its amazing and a great time to catch up on that lack of sleep. Occasionally you will have nights where your child might wake up earlier or later and you need to be prepared for that, but a consistent schedule will help your child get used to the hours of sleep. Mine has his last feeding at 8, (he doesn’t nap too much through out the day) and he will usually be awake about 7 in the morning.

 

TOOLS TO HELP YOUR CHILD SLEEP

occasionally you have that one that is stubborn and think the world is much more interesting than you or him sleeping. Swaddling your child is a great way to help them feel more comfortable at night and until they can roll over its fantastic. Swaddle sacks from Halo mimic the feel of being in the womb, comfy, tight and snug. They are great until the child learns to roll, then you have to teach your child to sleep with his arms out of the swaddle.

A lavender essential oil diffuser works great for you and the child. It really helps one feel relaxed and peaceful. Also lavender body wash and lotion help as well.

 

 

really there is no magical button for more sleep when dealing with a young child. You, as a mom, have to realize that both of you are learning how to do this together. It’s not easy and it doesn’t come with a manual. I cannot stress how important sleep is to a new mother. You are going to be faced with situations that will test your patience and your mental health. You need to find some way to get some sleep.

There is no good way to say this, but honestly, sleep is just not something that you’re going to have a lot of. Get what you can, and use coffee for the moments when you’re awake.

 

 

 

 

 

Pregnancy: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

So Congratulations! You’re Pregnant! Is it a boy? Is it a Girl? Twins? There is a lot of excitement ahead for you! I’m sure you’re trying to figure out what you need to buy, how much everything will cost, etc. But what about pregnancy as a whole?

You’ve heard the statement ‘Pregnancy is Different for everyone’ and that’s true. You may have morning sickness and spend your morning cursing the unborn child in your belly for letting you worship the porcelain throne all morning. You could spend your afternoons taking a five-hour nap and then sleeping after two hours of being awake. It’s your pregnancy but here are some truths that are true for most women. I say most, because occasionally you get that one woman who loves being pregnant and none of this bugs her: There is possibly a screw loose in that one.

So here are some truths for pregnancy that strike true with MOST women.

  1. INSOMNIA WILL KICK IN
  2. RESTLESS LEG SYNDROME IS A BITCH
  3. YOU’RE NOT EATING FOR TWO AND WHAT YOU EAT MATTERS
  4. IF YOU GOT PREGNANT IN WINTER, SUMMER WILL SUCK
  5. SWELLING HAPPENS
  6. FARTS ARE GONNA HAPPEN, DON’T TRY TO HOLD THEM IN
  7. CRAVINGS ARE REAL AND YOU MUST FULFILL THEM
  8. MATERNITY CLOTHING IS NOT CUTE
  9. YOUR BOOBS WILL KILL YOU, DON’T WORRY IT’S NORMAL
  10. GIVING BIRTH IS NOT MAGICAL, IT’S HORRENDOUS

 

INSOMNIA WILL KICK IN

Enjoy your sleep while you can. Once your child is big enough to kick (believe me it won’t be long til they get there), they will be river dancing as much as possible. At all hours. The child doesn’t care nor does it understand that at night, you sleep. Not yet anyway. So besides the kicking keeping you up your will find that because you’re tired more that you will sleep during the day. guess what? this keeps you up at night because you’re not tired anymore. I got most of my energy in the evenings and it drove my boyfriend crazy. He hated the fact that i couldn’t sleep. Often it kept him up because that’s when i would clean the house and do laundry. Just be prepared to be frustrated and have moments where no matter what you do you can’t sleep.

Good news is you can take Unisom. So that’s something at least.

 

RESTLESS LEG SYNDROME IS A BITCH

Now this is pretty rare in pregnant woman. If you look it up on google only 15% of the pregnant women in the world actually get Restless Leg Syndrome. Let me tell you a little bit about RLS. Your legs will feel like they’re twitching. You will try to move them to more comfortable positions but you still feel like you have to move them in order to get comfy. Guess what? it won’t work. It will drive your partner nuts. By the end of my pregnancy, my partner was sleeping on the couch because I was moving my legs so much. It was crazy.

There are some things to help RLS but there is no cure per say. A hot bath tended to help, as did massaging my legs. Honestly just knock yourself out with Unisom. Take the Unisom before you actually get to bed because if you take it when you get in bed, you’ll sit there and wait for it to kick in. It’s annoying. A hot bath is my best recommendation for this.

 

YOU’RE NOT EATING FOR TWO AND WHAT YOU EAT MATTERS

So you know how most people will tell you to eat up because you’re “EATING FOR TWO”? Honey, that’s a damn lie. Your baby only needs 500 calories a day. Yep, that’s it. So while eating that extra Big Mac, or that extra slice of whatever looks great, it may not be the best thing for your baby. Think about that.

A Fetus needs less junk and more of those calories from healthy meats. You need to up your protein anyway. I think part of my issue with breastfeeding my own child is that i didn’t eat enough protein when I was pregnant. It didn’t help that meat made me throw up. (YEP LADIES IS HAPPENS). Now i’m not saying that having junk food occasionally isn’t bad. Because it’s not, just don’t make that your diet. PROTEIN! PROTEIN! PROTEIN!

If you’re like me and your kid has made you up chuck at the sight of meat, which is our biggest source of protein, protein shakes and cottage cheese will help keep that all in line.

 

IF YOU GET PREGNANT FROM NOVEMBER – JANUARY, SUMMER WILL SUCK!

So it’s summer and even though you’re pregnant, you want to go swim, or get some sun. Nobody likes to be a ghost when it’s beautiful outside right? Rethink that. Be a ghost.

Go get some men’s deodorant because ever one will smell you coming. The amount you sweat doubles. It’s gross but it happens. Rub that shit all over you, you’ll want it. You will sweat in places that you never knew you could. Heck, your vagina might sweat. It is what it is.

On top of it all, go get a bunch of the highest SPF sunscreen you can find. You’ll want this. Nobody may have told you this but during summer, with all that wonderful sun, your body is producing hormones that now makes you super sensitive to the sun. Congrats, if you don’t wear sunscreen, you will look like a fat pregnant lobster. Sexy right? So go stock up on that asap. It will save you from awful sunburns.

 

SWELLING HAPPENS

Okay, so near the end of your pregnancy you will begin to bloat and swell. don’t panic, it’s completely normal. well if you swell too much your doctor will put you on bed rest but for the most part swelling is normal. Your body retains water at this point, and a lot of salt will make it only retain more. Switch to Pink Himalayan salt, as it’s all natural, you’ll retain less. One of the joys about giving birth is that in the following days you will find yourself losing a lot of the pregnancy weight. Most of your pregnancy weight is WATER! YOU WILL NOT LOOK LIKE A BLOATED COW FOREVER, I PROMISE!

Some things that help the swelling go down is foot rubs! Make your partner give you some! If your partner is smart, they won’t argue with the pregnant person. Obviously they have to give you the foot rub because you can’t reach your ankles at this point. My partner had to put on my shoes for me. Don’t feel bad if you have to ask for help. It’s only for a couple more weeks at this point! You’re almost there.

 

FARTS ARE GONNA HAPPEN, DON’T BOTHER TO HOLD THEM IN

There is nothing more manly than letting one go. But in pregnancy you will have a ton of gas and frankly holding it in is impossible. People might give you awful looks but the release of that gas feels so good.

If you let one rip, and someone gives you a look, give them a look in return because you’re freaking pregnant! If they’re that bothered by your bodily function they can leave the area, and if they want to say something about it, well then they just look like the idiot for arguing with a pregnant woman. Who does that??

 

CRAVINGS ARE REAL AND YOU MUST FULFILL THEM

Everyone has a pregnancy story. The part everyone seems to be the most interested in, is what your craving of the month was. You could be one of those pickles and ice cream people, or a Chicken and frosting person. It doesn’t really matter in the long run. After you give birth you might think about what you eat, and then regret it, but when you are craving you, YOU WILL WANT IT!

I wasn’t a weird craving person. I really wanted salad and fruit. I had to have it. At any point during my pregnancy, you could open my fridge and find four or five bags of salad. Every single one was used by the expiration date. The only other thing I really wanted were pepperoncini peppers. You know, the ones that come with pizza? Like Papa Johns? Yeah one night I really wanted some and I was already ordering pizza for the boys, so I decided to add some extra so I would have lots to eat. I upped the number to 14 orders of pepperoncini peppers. Nothing like papa johns calling to clarify the order. Fourteen peppers or fourteen orders of peppers! FYI: one order of peppers from papa johns is for peppers. I definitely wanted fourteen orders of the those peppers. They had their own small pizza box when everything was delivered.

Don’t be afraid to fulfill your desires when you get that feeling in your stomach. There is something primal about how in order for a pregnant woman to be happy, her need for exactly what she wants (food wise that is…) has to be fulfilled. Doesn’t matter what time of day or night that you get them, you just have to have it. Don’t be afraid to go get that food or have it delivered.

 

MATERNITY CLOTHING IS NOT CUTE. IT’S NOT SEXY.

There is nothing cute about maternity clothing. Sadly as a woman who might be worried about her self-esteem, that does nothing to improve it. It’s also fairly expensive. The designers try, they really do. Its practical. So don’t be sad if you don’t feel super cute or feel like you should look better in something. Maternity clothing is literally just meant to accommodate your growing size and nothing more.

 

YOUR BOOBS WILL HURT AND ITS ABSOLUTELY AWFUL

So along with your growing belly, your breasts are also going to be growing. Early on in your pregnancy the breasts will be tender and possibly painful. It just depends on the person and the pain tolerance one is able to take.

A regular wire bra will begin to feel uncomfortable. The wires will poke, and prod. The band will begin to feel to tight and eventually you will just forgo the bra because bra-less is more comfortable. But bra-less is not the best option for your growing breasts.

A wire bra will have to be axed at a certain point in the pregnancy anyway. Some experts have said that the wire inhibits breast milk production. Wireless bras exist.

Try to find a wireless bra that can provide a lot of support. They do exist. Soma Intimates produces the enhancing wireless that provides a shape as well as support. That support will help keep your back from feeling like it’s holding the world up.

Breasts are just annoying during pregnancy but unfortunately they are necessary.

 

BIRTH IS NOT BEAUTIFUL, IT’S HORRENDOUS

So it’s the big day and you are ready to pop that child out! So many people have told you that its a magical thing, giving birth. That its the most amazing thing in the world. Well… Actually giving birth is not beautiful.

There is nothing magical about pushing a watermelon out of your vagina. The blood is not magical. It’s disgusting. The placenta following the child out of the birth canal… Yeah not magical… The people staring at your vagina… And God forbid if you tear…

But that moment that you get to hold your child for the first time, and connect with it, that is completely magical. At that point, nothing else matters in the world. Everything fades away. The pain, the sweat, the people in the room… everything completely fades away.

 

 

Everything leading up to giving birth is not fun. It’s biological but it’s not beautiful. What is beautiful is holding your child, watching him grow. Watching him learn sounds, crawl, sit up and explore the world. You went through all the bad for this massive dose of good. It’s honestly a true wonder to see that you carried a child around for nine months and that it will love you unconditionally.

Pregnancy is not easy. It’s not a train ride from point a to point b. But it is completely worth it.

 

 

The Beginning: How to Make it Through that Oh S**T Moment

Imagine this… A 24 year old girl who has a caring boyfriend. She has been with him for almost two years, even the marriage has been brought up and contemplated. She works in upper management at her retail job and is good at her job, loves interacting with her customers and fellow employees. Has a wonderful step son who enjoys her company and has been trying to be the best she can be.

Like all couples, this couple has fights and like most couples this couple makes up with some mind blowing make up sex (December 22nd to be exact). Now this 24 year old didn’t think anything of this amazing make up sex besides the fact that it was amazing. She has been on birth control for seven years so what on earth could happen, right?

Fast forward six weeks and everything changes. This young adult came to the rescue of a friend whose grandfather had just died and she needed someone to take her kids for the day. As she got into her car and began the journey to her friends house the smell of gasolien permeated the vents. She began to get nauseous. No big deal, its just a lot of gas and its a lot of fumes, who wouldn’t get neauseous, right? On she goes.

As the day goes on, the kids and her drive to Dallas to have lunch with her mother. This place, Jen’s Place in Addison, has amazing quiche and she couldn’t wait to have one. It was the best quiche she had ever had. Just amazing. It melted on her tongue. Seriously amazing quiche. If you’re ever in Dallas Texas, go get some.

While she figured it was just this urge to have quiche, she ignored the feeling and continued on with the day. She and the kiddos went to her local Kroger to get some snacks for the kids. While there she really really wanted some fruit. Cherries and berries to be precise. Now, if it had been just one of these events through out the day she would have ignored this nagging feeling at the back of her brain. So she took a quick detour to the family planning section and picked up two different brands of pregnancy tests, after all false positives happen.

Her roommate was home when they arrived and the kids began to watch TV. She slipped into her bedroom and did what all women hate doing which is peeing on that damn white stick. Lo and behold those two little pink lines appeared. Oh Shit.

Her roommate was gracious enough to watch the kids while she went her her doctors office. After all false positives can happen and she just had to make sure. After peeing in a cup and giving a small vial of blood, she sat and waited, praying that it was a false positive and that her world wasn’t going to turn up side down.

Twenty minutes later the receptionist gave her the results of the urine test. Positive. Only the blood test will tell for sure if she was pregnant and the extent of the pregnancy. Worse she had to tell her other half. As you can imagine, boys freak out a little when you tell them that you’re pregnant.

So how do you navigate that Oh Shit moment? You don’t. A thousand things begin to go through your brain. How am i going to afford this? Will the child love me? Will i love the child? Is it going to have two parents or one? Will i have to go to court at some point to get the support i need? what about my parents? Am i going to be disowned? Should i even keep it? what about adoption?

These are some of the things that went through my head when i saw the two little lines on the pregnancy test. The reality is you can’t navigate the oh shit moment. Its impossible. If you’re the most composed person in the world at the time, you will eventually loose your mind bottling up the moments. Someone in your life will be by your side, whether it is a friend, co worker, sister, brother, parent, significant other, someone will be there for you. The best way to get through the oh shit moment is to lean on that person. Cry, laugh and just let the emotions out before you go insane. There is no other way to get through it.

Don’t worry about the what ifs or what will bes. Just live that current moment. Cry if you need to (you’ll do plenty in the coming months).

You’re going to be a parent and no amount of preparing will help you over come the oh shit.