The Conversation that Changed my Pregnancy: Or how I became a badass big bellied rockstar of a pregnant woman

“How much weight have you gained?”

1 (8)
Badass pregnant women take bathroom selfies. I think?

“Pardon? Did you just ask me how much weight I’ve gained? Screw you.” Then I gave him the middle finger and walked away.

That was word for word a conversation I had with a male acquaintance at work when I was pregnant. I had never really talked to this guy before, “hi’s” and “how are you’s” in the hallway – that’s about it. So I was pretty damn taken aback when this dude asked me how much weight I’d gained. Sticking your middle finger up at someone at work is probably not the best thing to do… but it was just my gut reaction. That and punching him in the face but I was able to stop myself from doing that. Lucky for him.

What was most shocking to me, is this kind of dialogue happened ALL THE TIME throughout my entire pregnancy.

Suddenly it was okay for everyone to talk about my body. MY body.

As a woman, I’ve had my host of body image issues. But I’ve tried to rise above those and be happy and healthy. If inspirational quotes have taught me anything, it’s that I should be strong not skinny – or whatever BS skinny bitches are trying to tell me. That and to “eat dessert first.” I definitely take that one pretty literally.

Aaaaanyway, I digress.

1 (11)
Dogs say “the bigger the belly, the better the pillow, we like it!”

The funny thing about my colleague’s question was that I didn’t have the answer. Yes, I was a pregnant woman in my third trimester… BUT I had no idea how much weight I’d gained… isn’t that weird? I couldn’t even guess what I weighed.

Why? Well let me tell you.

I was around 5 months pregnant, I went into the doctor’s office for a checkup. I was feeling fabulous! The extreme morning sickness I’d had for months prior had worn off and I’d even started running daily again. I felt good. Then the doctor’s assistant called me in and told me to jump on the scale, one of those old fashioned metal ones that only doctors offices still have. As she was sliding that stupid bar up and up, my anxiety started to skyrocket and my confidence plummeted. She wrote down the number. I cringed.

I walked (waddled) into the little room and waited for the doctor. How could this happen? How had I gained so much more weight than I thought? When the doc came in I told how angry I was at her stupid giant scale and my stupid giant belly that was weighing it down. Then she said the most freeing words to me I’d heard my whole pregnancy…

“Then stop getting weighed.”

What? I could do that?!?!? How was this not relayed to me as an option earlier?

1 (10)
The only thing better than not being weighed at the doctor is going to get ice cream after the doctor.

The doctor elaborated, “Of course. I refused to get weighed when I was pregnant. As long as your baby is getting bigger and you’re both healthy, it doesn’t matter what you weigh. Just say no next time.”

Say no. I could say no!!! By golly gosh.

Flash forward a month, at my next doctor’s appointment. I was sitting in the waiting area… preparing. I could say no. I will say no. I can say no. I will say no. Why the heck was this such a big deal? I’ve been taught my whole life to be a strong, confident woman and I can’t say no to a 25 year old sitting behind a desk. Then the moment came.

“Alright Alex, let’s get you weighed.”

“NO!!” (shit, I think I said that a little loud. So I cleared my throat, ahem) “No thanks! I’m not going to get weighed anymore this pregnancy.” “……The doctor said it’s okay!!!!” I added for good measure.

Then the best thing ever happened… she put a big cross through the area where my weight was supposed to be recorded for the remaining of my pregnancy.

 

I DID IT!!!!

 

So, flash forward to when that colleague of mine (who probably just had no idea what to say when he bumped into me while getting coffee) asked how much weight I’d gained, I truly didn’t know.

When you’re a pregnant woman, your body suddenly becomes public property. People touch you, they ask very personal questions and often, the focus is on YOUR body.

1 (7)
Croptops -perfect for big, pregnant bellies.

It’s up to YOU to take the (negative) focus off. Your body is taking on the GIANT task of growing a human, so give it a break and give yourself a break. Focus on the beauty of what you’re doing and the absolute blessing of what’s growing inside that big belly.

The next time someone asks about your belly or size, throw it back at them!! Be your body’s advocate. “Gosh I’m tired of talking about my size, can you ask about the baby instead?!” Or if you’re a little bit direct and rude like I am, saying “screw you” and giving someone the middle finger seems to get the point across too.

Whatever. Just be a badass big bellied rockstar of a pregnant woman. It’s much more fun anyway.

1 (9)
Badass pregnant women use pugs as accessories.
Advertisements

Whose Body is This?

I took this picture six days after my baby was born. I took it after I had a shower (ah, glorious shower). I’d been so tired from my newborn baby and so sore from my c-section that I hadn’t showered since I was in the hospital.

I looked down.

Whose body is this?

Knees still weak from 24 hours of labour.
A terribly sore midsection from my resulting c-section.
On closer inspection, an incision line still raw, cut, so my perfect baby boy could be pulled out safely.
These bruises, where did they come from?
This squishy tummy with no baby inside.
Bits of tape left all over my body from the IV and epidural that had been strapped to me.
Blood running down my leg from the mass exodus my uterine lining was making – no baby left to cushion.
My breasts, huge, veiny and engorged. Leaking milk.

Whose body is this?

Eventually, I had to pry my eyes away. Oh my eyes, burning from sleep deprivation. And my mind, desperate to go over what happened this last week but not one ounce of energy to think about myself.

All I could muster up the energy to do was take a picture. I needed to remember this moment. Little did I know it would forever be burned in my memory.

Along with the question.

Whose body is this?

9 months later, I stare in the same mirror. The bruises: gone, the incision: faded. But the question remains.

Whose body is this?

Cellulite, oh the cellulite.
Will these stretch marks ever go away?
Breasts, still leaking milk but no longer so swollen and sore.
Were my nipples this big before?! Will they ever go back to normal?
My bulging tummy gone but a flabby one remaining.
Hello abs, are you still in there?
My back so sore from hauling around a giant baby.

I whisper something to myself, the same thing I told myself yesterday the day before, “It’s okay Alex. One day this body will feel like yours again.”

But for now, the question burns through.

Whose body is this?

 

 

 

 

For the Struggling Mom

“You are NOT alone. You are NOT a bad mother.”

A baby boy will grow up without his mother, a husband without his wife, because a new mom didn’t feel like she was good enough.

Florence Leung’s husband is speaking out about his wife’s battle with PPD.

“For all the new moms experiencing low mood or anxiety, please seek help and talk about your feelings. You are Not alone. You are Not a bad mother.”

Women feel so much pressure to be perfect. This pressure is magnified when a woman becomes a mother. Mere questions, feel like attacks…

“Tell me about your birth story!”
“How much weight did you gain?”
“Are you breastfeeding? Breast is best!”
“Are you cosleeping?”
“Have you started solids?”

To one person it’s conversation, to another, someone who is disappointed with how things went, someone who’s sad about who she’s become as a mother, each question is a small dagger to the dream of who they thought they’d be.

So, struggling moms, I need you to stop right now.

I need you to take a big, deep breath.

Now, one more.

Seriously, take those deep breaths.

Everything will be okay.

Say it with me, everything will be okay.

You probably don’t think that’s true, but it is.

This is not you and it’s not your forever.

Depression and anxiety can take over your life. It consumes you. It sucks you in so you can’t see anything else.

What sucks about depression and anxiety is you often don’t realize how bad it has become, until you’re out.

But how do you get out?

You talk, you share, you shake off the fog. Shake off the guilt. Shake off the feeling of inadequacy.

Because it’s okay.

You’re okay.

Whether you’re breastfeeding, formula feeding, co sleeping, sleep training, getting out, staying in, pacifying, crying it out… whatever it is you’re doing…

It’s perfect.

Because only YOU are the perfect mom for your little one.

1

The Miracle of Life: The love-hate relationship with my body

img_7537

Decide to get pregnant: the wonder! The amazing! I can’t wait!

Negative pregnancy test: WHY have you failed me?!

Positive pregnancy test: Tears of joy! Thank you!! Thaaaaank you!!!

Morning sick and exhaustion: Are you freaking kidding me?

2nd trimester glow: I’m amazing. There’s a lemon inside me!

3rd trimester grow: I’m huge. GAHHHHH.

End of pregnancy: I can’t believe my body has grown a human.

Labour: GET THIS HUMAN OUT OF ME.

Post labour: Like, I seriously made a human.

Milk hasn’t come in yet: Why are you trying to starve my little human?!

Milk comes in: I made a person AND I make food. I’m a superhero.

Boobs engorged, nipples cracked: WHYYYYY.

Baby gains weight: I DID THIS *holds up baby, Lion King style*

Period comes back (with a vengeance): Screw you. SCREW EVERYONE.

Some semblance of normal: My baaaaby. I want another. This was such a magical experience.

Unsolicited Advice for My Pregnant Friends

When I was pregnant, I found the people that actually had the best advice for pregnancy and early days with a baby, were the newbs. Yes, that’s right. People like me that have just gone through it. The seasoned vets, the moms who had done it all, had successful, grown kids… weren’t much help. Why? Usually they couldn’t remember what they did. Which, I thought was ridiculous. How can you have three kids and not offer me any useful advice? Well now that my baby is almost six months old, I literally have to sit down and think to remember what the hell has happened in the last year and a half. Everything is a jumble. So years into motherhood, I can completely understand how these mums have no clue what they did when their kids were babies. So those that have just been through it, are really the only ones that can remember it.

img_1906

I have about half a dozen girlfriends who are pregnant right now and I find myself desperately wanting to give them my (unsolicited) advice. After all, I have JUST been through it and I’m still alive (and sometimes, even smiling). So here it is, my newbie mom advice:

  • Give yourself a break.
    img_1102You’re pregnant. You’re tired. You’re frustrated that you don’t know exactly what’s wrong… but you just don’t feel like yourself. Whether you’re feeling like a pile of poo emotionally, physically or a combo of both, just give yourself a break. Sit down, eat a chocolate bar and mourn the loss of the days when you didn’t have a little peanut sucking every ounce of life out of you.
  • Find things that make you feel good.
    You need to find both little and big things that will make you feel good. For me, I would have a long shower almost every day. I would sit down in the tub and just let the shower spray me down. After a long day of work, coming home to my shower made me feel good. Going for prenatal massages, made me feel amazing. So, once a month I would treat myself and get a massage.
img_1356
Ice cream… and a lot of it… made me feel good during pregnancy.
  • Nonalcoholic wine sucks.
    The best thing you’ll find is nonalcoholic champagne/sparkling white. The bubbles cover up the lack of alcohol and weird taste, HA! Also, the President’s Choice sparkling waters (blue cans) are the best.
  • Seek out help NOW.
    Go see a chiropractor now before you can’t walk because baby is now sitting on a nerve. If you’re planning on breastfeeding, join your local La Leche League and go to a meeting while pregnant. Find a lactation consultant that can come to your house when the baby is a few days old. Find local mom Facebook groups. Find local Facebook groups or forums on babywearing, carseats, sleep training. Get all the help you can now because when you have a new baby, you’ll be too exhausted to figure out where the help is.
  • Outsource.
    Have a dog? Hire a dog walker now so when the baby comes, someone who knows your dog can come take your pooch out. Hate cleaning? Hire a cleaner. Hate cooking? Find a meal service. These things can add up so think about them now. What are you okay paying someone else to do? What can you give up to afford the help? Sometimes it’s even cheaper in the long run. For example, finding an affordable meal service would be cheaper than getting takeout all the time when baby’s here. Don’t think you’ll need the help? HAHAHA. You’re cute. And naïve. And a bit of an idiot. You’ll need help. Think very realistically about the challenges in your life and what you can do to help yourself.
  • Take prenatal classes.
    I did A LOT of my own pregnancy/delivery/baby research so to be honest, I didn’t really learn much new information from prenatal classes… BUT I met other couples expecting babies right around the same time. The other mums I met from those classes, have been my saviors. I talk to some of them almost every single day. They’ll be on mat leave at the same time as you and going through the same baby shit (literally) as you. So take classes that are local and take the ones that span over several weeks, so you have time to get to know the other people. And make sure to add all of them on Facebook or even create a Facebook group before the classes are over!
  • Listen to everyone’s advice, but only take what works for you.
    There are a zillion ways to do everything. It can be totally overwhelming. Other moms love to give advice (cough, cough, I don’t know anything about that) and sometimes it’s annoying but it can also be very helpful. Listen to the advice, think about it, then do what your gut says is best.
  • Biased opinions are great… but biased.
    Think about where information is coming from. If you’re talking to someone from a La Leche group, the advice is going to be very pro breastfeeding. If you’re talking to a chiropractor, the advice is going to be pro bodywork. You get the point. Once again, listen to what someone has to say… but do your own research and trust your gut.
  • Don’t waste your time reading every baby book.
    Don’t go crazy reading every pregnancy and baby book under the sun. You’ll get overwhelmed with all the different methods and frankly, it’s just a waste of time. Talk to a few moms that are similar to you about their favourite book and try that out first. For me, it was Baby Whisperer. Although some of the information was a little dated (what she says about hind vs fore milk) or unrealistic (who the hell has their newborn on a schedule?!) overall, it was super helpful.
  • Build your village.
    img_2255
    The best friends bring over flowers AND dinner when you have a newborn!!

    Oh goodness. What I would I have done without my village?! I have no clue. I had my close friends that came over and brought dinners and chatted with me in those early days while my boobs were hanging out and my hair was sticking up. Moms that watched my boy so I could take my first steps out of the house without him. Dads that trimmed our trees and mowed our lawn. Neighbours that took out our garbage cans when we forgot it was garbage day. Other new moms that knew exactly what I was going through and would discuss in no fewer than 40 texts, the smell, frequency and texture of my baby’s poop. Your village will be your everything.

  • Don’t overthink the delivery.
    The day (and days leading up to) your baby is born, is crazy. It’s pretty damn out of your control and it might not go as planned. Actually, it probably won’t go as planned. Educate yourself, find out all the drug options, think about different labour positions, talk to your doctor/midwife about your concerns…. then, try not to think about it beyond that. Your labour could last a few days but then you’ll have a child for the rest of your life. So if your labour doesn’t go as planned, LET IT GOOOOOOO. Don’t overthink. Don’t obsess.
  • Talk to professionals.
    Weird rash on your baby’s tummy? If you’re here in BC, call the nurses line at 811. Also on staff there are dieticians and pediatric dieticians – they can help you out when baby’s starting solids. Trouble breastfeeding? Seek the advice of a lactation consultant or go to a breastfeeding clinic. Call your local health agency, usually you can see someone for free. Having a hard time emotionally? Talk to your doctor about seeing a counselor. Asking other moms or friends can be useful, but ultimately, seeking the help of a professional might be better.
  • Your body will have a mind of its own.
    Pregnancy hormones are crazy, changes in your body post delivery are crazy, breastfeeding does insane things to your body, the return of your period could hit you hard. All of this is frustrating and exhausting so once again, give yourself a break. It’ll take a looooong time for you to feel “normal” again, and that’s okay. You’ll get there eventually.

 

 

A Rough Week

So, my little boy just finished nursing and looked up at me with a big, milky grin. I’ve had a rough week, but it’s moments like this that remind me why it’s all worth it.

img_6629This last week my boy has been going through a growth spurt (I assume). He’s been fussy, seemingly starving and not sleeping great. My husband has been working long hours and family has been busy (tis the season) so I haven’t had much help. I found myself unintentionally jealous of my formula feeding friends. They could easily see how much their baby was eating and increase when needed and… they have FREEDOM. They’re not tied to their baby because their baby isn’t tied to their boob.

Even though I’ve had an oversupply since my wee one was born, with this growth spurt, I felt like he wasn’t getting enough, wasn’t satisfied (not helping… how extremely distracted he’s been during feedings). I also got my period back which I’m sure didn’t help my supply… and my emotions too.

But then… BAM! Despite my internal struggles my body knew what to do and kicked into gear. Now my boobs are exploding with milk 24/7. They’re aching, they’re leaking… and I’m so grateful.

So today, as my little boy looks up at me post feed in satisfaction and I kiss his milky mouth… I’m so grateful for this intense but powerful and amazing stage. I’m thankful for my milk and the big strong boy it’s nourishing.

Now please excuse me while I pour myself another cup of coffee.

Packing Your Hospital Bag

I loved packing my hospital bag. Is that ridiculous? We were moving around my due date so I couldn’t set up the nursery… but I NEEDED to nest. So I packed and repacked and repacked our hospital bag. Ended up being a great thing because we had exactly what we needed. The only thing we could have used was smaller clothes… Little Man was just over 7 pounds… a perfect baby size… but none of his 0-3 month clothes fit. Ultimately, you really don’t need many clothes for you or baby because you’ll want to do as much skin to skin contact as possible, to promote breastfeeding and bonding.

Everyone’s hospital experience is so different but here’s what I packed and a few add ons I wish I had.

img_1979

Pre birth bag:

  • Whatever you want to labour in – I was happy to be in a hospital gown… what I was wearing (or sometimes not wearing at all!) was the last thing on my mind.
  • A bathing suit, if desired – the tub felt amazing for me when I was in labour… I had no problem going in naked but you might feel more comfortable in a bathing suit.
  • Bathing suit for your partner – you might what your partner in the shower or tub with you… and the hospital staff certainly don’t want them naked.
  • Food – see extras below.
  • Phone charger.
  • iPod/phone with music and speakers – I was soooo grateful to have music while in labour. I made a few playlists beforehand. One I made with music that calms me down (Joni Mitchell, Jack Johnson, etc) and one with music that pumps me up (Spice Girls and other silly pop – it was so much fun!). At one point Spice Girls was pumping and we were known as the “party room” – that of course was after this magical thing called an epidural. Ha.
  • A water bottle – this comes in handy after the birth too… you want to drink as much water as you can!
  • Hair ties – I also brought one of those sock bun thingys (wearing it in the pic) because I knew I wouldn’t want to spend any time styling my hair… but knew I’d also like one pic where my hair wasn’t a giant mess.
  • Camera – Pack an extra battery and SD card too!

Baby’s Bag:

I used most of these clothes for the trip home and when people were visiting. Otherwise, baby and I were naked, doing skin to skin.

  • Two newborn sleepers – in case baby is smaller
  • Two 0-3 month sleepers – in case baby is bigger
  • A newborn onesie
  • A 0-3 month onesie
  • A newborn hat
  • Newborn socks
  • Muslin blanket
  • Warm blanket
  • Scratch mittens – I didn’t like using these. I’d get the nurses to help cut babes’ nails if they’re too long.

Post birth bag:

  • Comfy undies – Get high waisted ones just in case you end up having a c section. There’s nothing worse than a waistband sitting on your incision. The hospital will have the big, weird undies for you.. and those are great. But bring a pair of your own, just in case.
  • Loose PJ bottoms – Once again, get ones that are high waisted and would sit above the incision line.
  • Nightie – Make sure it’s nursing friendly.
  • Robe – For when you need to not be naked, haha.
  • Nursing bra – Get one that’s stretchy with no padding or wire… something that’ll stretch out if your boobs get way bigger than you expected!!
  • Going home clothes – Layers work the best. I found one of the weird things about the days following delivery, my temperature was all over the place. Make sure your bottoms sit high (just in case of c section) and are pretty baggy (just in case of a painful vaginal delivery).
  • Clothes for hubby – Include a button down shirt so he can easily do skin to skin if he wants (without having to take his shirt off).
  • Pillows – I HATE sleeping with a shitty pillow. We brought one for hubby and one for me. I was so grateful! Put pillowcases that you don’t care about on because you have no idea what’s going to end up on them.
  • Slippers or Flip Flops – Something easy to slide on.
  • Toiletries – Nothing feels better than a shower and brushing your teeth after hours of labour. NOTHING!! Remember your partner’s toiletries too!

Extras:

  • Nursing pillow – You’ll be exhausted after the birth, it’s so much easier to have the pillow to help hold baby’s weight. Especially as you and babes are just learning how to do it!
  • Champagne – We popped this the evening Little Man was born when our family was all in the room. I only had a sip or two but it was fun passing the bottle around the room and stopping for a moment to take in the craziness that just happened. (Just don’t let the nurses see!!)
  • Food – I packed tons of food for the hospital and it was a godsend. A week or two before my due date I filled up a collapsable freezer bag with non perishables. I put in things like tuna snacks, candy, granola bars and trail mix. Then I made a bunch of burritos, muffins and other baked goods and put all of that in a plastic bag in the freezer. Hubby was under strict orders that when we were on the way to the hospital, the freezer bag was to be pulled out and added to the cooler to bring. Since I was induced, I wasn’t allowed to eat but it was so nice for hubby not to have to leave the room or wait in line at the cafeteria for food… trust me… you won’t want your partner to leave. I also offered up the baked goods and candy to all the hospital staff… it’s a good way to become the favourite patient!! The food was also great for after babes was born… I was starving and the hospital food wasn’t enough.

 

Anything I’m missing? Anything you wish you brought to the hospital but didn’t?