Friday, August 16, 2013

Postpartum Truth!

I grew up in an environment that did not put a big value on self image. I thought that having a good self image was being vain, selfish, or narcissistic. I thought I was supposed to put others above myself ALWAYS and that self sacrifice was a wonderful thing (and in can be, so long as it doesn't make you a fatigued, depressed, miserable individual).

Over the past few years I've been learning to take care of myself and to love myself. Not in a "I'm better than everyone" sort of way, but in a "I like myself just the way I am" and reaching an attitude of self acceptance. Ironic because I remember learning we should accept our "unchangables" but I never learned to love and appreciate myself and my body.

WHY do I think it's important to love and appreciate oneself? It makes you a better person. A better parent. A better spouse. A better employee. Just- better. If you really want to be able to give all you can to those around you (or if you don't!) either way- being in a good place YOURSELF is the first step.

Having a baby is a pretty traumatic thing for your body and your self image. Your body goes through so many changes- some of which are permanent and not exactly pretty. I am fortunate to have a good metabolism and to enjoy exercise and being active. But that doesn't make me invincible to all the changes pregnancy causes! So here's the truth- here's me baring it all (nearly).

Recovery from a pregnancy takes a while! Probably one of the most noticeable postpartum ailments is the stretched out puffy tummy.

Here's pics of me the day before I went into labor with my 2nd child, 36 hours after and 1 week after:

This is withOUT exercise (only walking). One of the benefits of breast feeding is that it caused the uterus to cramp down and return to it's normal size much quicker that not breast feeding. So I attribute this change to breast feeding :-) I do look at the 36 hours after picture and think WOW I was still so big! But after being pregnant I felt so skinny! Perspective changes everything!
Unfortunately I haven't been able to exercise a whole lot yet, but I have a little. I've also been using coconut oil to help reduce the appearance of my stretch marks (perhaps a placebo, but who cares!):

This is the day after he was born- they really aren't that bad and are already small and white. My belly button was still an outie for about 3 weeks after giving birth. Most of these (perhaps all?) were from my 1st pregnancy.

The skin over my stomach is still loose and a bit puffy. Nothing some looser/gathered clothing can't hide for the time being. I definitely recommend buying new clothes after having a baby. Even if you get back to a good weight right away, give yourself time and realize maybe you WON'T fit back in your regular clothes- oh well. Just an excuse to buy more! Stick with looser tops and go up a few sizes from what you regularly wear. If you try to shove yourself into pre-pregnancy clothes or shop for your pre-pregnancy size you will only make yourself feel bad, so don't even bother. Enjoy being able to wear styles that perhaps weren't flattering on you before, but now are. Be creative! Try on something you might never have considered before! have fun!

I would probably look even better if I had time to exercise more, but I'm not going to be upset over it. I'm doing what I can and that's what matters. I'm thankful that I missed out on the last 3-5 weeks of pregnancy and only gained 22 lbs the entire time. A higher weight gain (I gained 35 lbs with my 1st) takes a bit longer to recover from and also causes more skin stretching. I'm lucky that both my children were early and healthy and that my weight gain was healthy and very minimal!

My advice to all pregnant/postpartum mothers:

Your body may never be the same, but be patient. Enjoy your baby and know that gradually you will recover. Even a small amount of activity is enough to make a difference- just walking 15 minutes a day can help a lot. Experiment with different lotions and skin treatments and find one that makes you feel good and works for you. Even if it's only a placebo affect, it's worth it!

When I had my first child I was in so much shock over my new body that I found myself pretty depressed and sad. 4 years later the "scars" of my pregnancy and faded quite drastically (Thanks to my youth, exercise, and my metabolism). Knowing this, it was easier this time to accept and love my body during and after pregnancy. Have faith that you are beautiful- even with the permanent "scars". Do what you can to make yourself feel good during and after pregnancy. Remember that every little bit counts! You will be a better, happier person- and mother for it. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Happy childhood memories

I would like to share some of my happy childhood memories because, despite having grown up in an independent fundamentalist baptist church and with the homeschool teachings of Bill Gothard, Vision Forum, Michael and Debi Pearl- I do have a lot of happy memories that I cherish. You see I really did have great parents who wanted what EVERY parent wants: happy, healthy children. Unfortunately the sources I listed above preyed upon the desires of many parents by promising them happy, healthy, GODLY children. In reality the teachings ended up causing more damage than good. I am one of many who grew up under these teachings and I am no where close to being the first to write about my experiences with them. Here are some of my favorite blogs if you would like to read more about these teachings and their harm:

Recovering Grace

Defeating the Dragons

Darcy's Heart Stirrings

And my very favorite blog which is probably closest to my current line of thinking:

Love Joy Feminism

Alright, on to the good part:

Book reading

My favorite part of being homeschooled and also of the leisure reading my mother provided for us- BOOKS! My parents had an ample supply of books for us kids and that's something I ALWAYS loved. Part of our schooling involved reading together, out loud. I always enjoyed this (although I will whole heartedly admit I did NOT enjoy 6am bible/wisdom book readings- seriously worst idea ever!). My mom would also spend a great deal of time reading aloud to us for leisure every evening. My favorite memories are of her reading many classic books to us- The Little Princess, Robin Hood, etc. I'm sure there are many who would say reading such secular materiel to us was "damaging" but I'm glad my parents ignored that nonsense and read these great stories to us anyway!

Trips to the zoo

I grew up close to one of the nations top zoos and so we made regular trips there over the years when I was growing up- being homeschooled we were often able to go when it was quiet and we would practically have the entire zoo to ourselves! Sometimes we would go with other homeschooled friends, sometimes just our family would go. Either way it was always a great time and to this day I LOVE visiting that zoo. 


Having grown up in a large family we never took expensive or exotic vacations- but that didn't stop my parents from getting us out and into nature! I remember camping trips from a very young age and it was my favorite part of our summers! We usually camped with friends and would either hike or visit local attractions. We visited many campgrounds in the state we lived in and neighboring states and enjoyed a variety of scenery as well as great times with our friends! I loved helping set up our tents and camper and the entire experience, it was great.


Aside from camping sometimes we would take day trips to go on hikes at state parks near where we lived. We hiked bluffs, saw water falls, or simply walked through forests- I enjoyed this equally as much as camping and often we would camp near areas that we could go on day hikes from which was the best of both worlds for me! 

Playing outdoors

I had a very vivid imagination as a child and loved playing- especially outdoors. Growing up in an area that experiences all 4 seasons in full swing- I spent the winters building snow forts and sledding and the summers swimming and running around like a maniac! We often played with friends in the neighborhood or other homeschooled friends and it was always a grand time!

Bike rides

My parent would take us for family bike rides- I always enjoyed it but I am extra grateful now that they kept us active and healthy on a regular basis. I've enjoyed the benefits of that to this day!!

Old movies

My dad used to rent his favorite movies for us- all the old disney classics and other classic movies. I love that I know who Steve McQueen was and get a lot of funny references in newer movies that others don't get. Also, I've seen a lot of original sci-fi movies that have been remade now. I loved watching these old movies with my family!

Star Trek with dad

I get my sci-fi nerdness from my dad, most definitely. I have many happy memories of watching Star Trek with him at night and I was also so fascinated by all the aliens and crazy adventures that happened. To this day I absolutely LOVE sci-fi and would consider it my favorite genre!

Trips to California 

When I was 15 my mom took me to California- just me and her. Since it wasn't exactly affordable to take 7 kids all at once on a 4,000 mile round trip she took each of us by ourselves each year. I absolutely LOVED my trip to California! I got to develop relationships with my cousins and aunts and uncles- see the ocean for the first time- go to disneyland- the WORKS. I cried when our plane took off back to Minnesota- I knew I wanted to live in California some day already.

A few years later we were able to drive out there for Christmas. We had a fabulous time with all our family together and made some really great memories. I hope we can all be together again for christmas one day soon! (Which is quite a feat with 3 living on the east coast, 11 in Minnesota, 1 in New Zealand and the rest here in Cali!)