Redemption of My Body

Over the past several months, I have been walking through a fear of mine that has been running in the back of my head for years. Since I was in middle school, I have dealt with body image issues, lack of confidence, and jealousy of other females and what ‘they had’.

Feeling too fat and not accepting my curves as beautiful, I fought to keep the athletic shape my sporting efforts created. Tirelessly working out well beyond a healthy level, I let fear be my motivation.

Fear of being too fat.Image result for body scale"

Within this struggle was the question as to what my body would look like if I became pregnant and how it would be transformed after I delivered.

One of the reasons I was okay not getting pregnant was because of the way my body would be forced to change, stretch, disfigure.

Fears of the gaining weight and even more so the stretching of the skin and not being in control of how my body would be after I delivered was an ongoing torment in my life.

Through my fertility struggles, one way that I coped with the disappointment after each ‘try’ was saying to myself, “well, at least you have a flat stomach”. My desperate attempt for acceptance.

This pregnancy was a miracle within itself.

I housed this perfect little peanut inside of me and nourished it with good, healthy, nutrient foods to help her grow.

My body grew too.

Grateful to have only gained the appropriate weight for growing a baby, I felt healthy and strong in my skin.

Days leading up to delivery-

“The feet are swollen. The fingers look like mini sausages. The bladder feels constantly full. The weight on the scale is reaching scary numbers*.”

This has been a journey towards redemption for me.

Letting go of what my body needed to do to continue to grow this miracle, trusting that my body was responding the way it was supposed to.

I released my fears and let God control my weight, my aches, my sore muscles, and my mind.

*Scary numbers to me were back to the highest numbers I have ever seen on the scale.

Days after delivery-

“The feet are still swollen. My body hurt, my back aches and it’s hard for me to stand up straight. It hurts to sit and lay on my side feels weird as I still have a weird drooping sensation of my stomach that pulls my skin down to the mattress.”

The days following my delivery, I was amazed at how much weight I had lost in such a short amount of time. My body felt so worn down and used and my limbs flopped like a rag doll. The core center of my body (stomach and back) was depleted of strength from the delivery and I could not imagine doing much more with myself than sitting, sleeping, and minimal walking to the kitchen. My stomach was still round (although it had gone down a lot), and I wondered what my body was going to look like.

Weeks after delivery-

“The feet are no longer swollen. My body isn’t hurting, thank you, God! I still have a pouch in my stomach area, when is this going to go away?”

My midwife confirms that although I do not have diastasis recti above my belly button, I certainly have it below. My stomach muscles are about 2.5 inches apart and when I push down my stomach is all squishy.

She gives the okay to start mild exercises to help bring the muscles back together.

My weight is closer to my normal range, but I still feel ‘blah’.

Two months after delivery-

My body has returned to the weight it was before becoming pregnant. How in the world is this possible? I attribute it to healthy eating and a balanced approach to pregnancy and after delivery.

Nope, no exercise either! What a gift to not be chained to that insanity of trying to make my body respond a certain way. Instead, I have just let my body heal and with it is a healthier lifestyle.

I feel gratitude for the support I receive from people around me who have been through pregnancy in a healthy way.

While there is still a bulge in my midsection, like a little squishy pouch, I am fitting into my regular skinny jeans and will trust that my body will look exactly as it’s supposed to.

It probably won’t look like it had before, but I did carry a human in there for 10 months.

Acceptance around what is, exactly as it is today.

I am healthy. My baby is healthy. My body is meant to bear children. I am perfectly created by God and so is my body.

Redemption of my body… and my mind around my image.

Little Princess Arrives!

She’s here! Our Little Princess arrived on August 25th and we are overjoyed to have her in our arms.

The story of how she came into this world is not what we thought it would be and we are so very grateful that all are now healthy and healing.

Here’s a general outline:

  • Developed late-pregnancy preeclampsia which put me into the hospital at 39 weeks 2 days.
  • Induced that night
  • Put on a magnesium citrate IV (because of high blood pressure/preeclampsia)
  • Dr broke my water
  • Began Pitocin
  • Labored 15 hours- no epidural
  • Pushed for just over an hour- recalling 3 big pushes that popped her out.
  • Tore my cervix
  • Tore down the birth canal
  • Tore my perineal (2nd degree)
  • Tore my labia
  • Uterus wouldn’t contract to stop bleeding
  • Lost 3 liters of blood
  • Placenta didn’t deliver- Dr had to use her hand to scrape it out
  • The placenta was not completely removed
  • Went to OR for a DNC to get the remainder of the placenta out
  • Discovered I had Placenta Accreta– which can be more common for pregnancies resulting from IVF. It is sometimes caused when the lining is too thin upon conception. Although it’s not said to happen with every pregnancy I have, it is a possibility of recurring in the future and therefore my pregnancies moving forward with be considered higher risk.
  • Dr inserted a water-filled balloon into uterus plus 5 feet of gauze to help with bleeding
  • Received 4 bags of blood (transfusions)
  • Spent 36 hours in ICU
  • Reunited with family and began producing milk! A shock to all since I lost so much blood
  • Little Princess latched wonderfully and feeds well
  • Released from hospital after 48 hours in regular postpartum care

What I can say is WOW! What an incredible experience.

Aside from the scare of the after birth- laboring without an epidural was such a cool experience (that I may never do again) and am grateful to have been able to live through.

Feeling her move through my body with every contraction.

Praying for God to help me through the pain and beliving this is what my body has been created to do.

Being fully present with my thoughts and my feelings as I was experiencing this transition from pregnancy to birth.

Although it did not go according to my “Birth Wishes”, I can see God’s hand in every step of the way.

Hubby was an incredible support and stayed with me through every contraction.

What I thought would be a sweaty, exhausting experience was more of an endurance race for my body… no sweat at all! Not like how they show it in the movies 🙂

My lower back muscles fired with every contraction.

My arms clenched to the side of the bed with each bracing of pain.

My abs and whatever other muscles are down in that area moved naturally to push this baby down into position for birthing.

When the pushing began, I had no control over my body.

It took over and it was my sole job to focus my energy from the loud cry to a deep groan and then into a holding of energy to push fully downward.

A capturing of energy from outward to inward and downward.

Such a beautiful science.

What people didn’t tell me:

  • My expectations (even unconscious ones) held me back from seeing the good in the journey and led me to more discouragement.
  • “She is coming ‘soon’”, does not mean in the next 10 minutes or the next hour, it may mean in the next 4-6 hours. I grew to not like the word ‘soon’ as it was too misleading and discouraging.
  • Having a meal during heavy contractions may not be the best idea. I threw it up within the next hour.
  • Ice chips were a lifesaver in the heavy contraction stage!
  • Dilation takes a longer time than I expected. I was hoping to be in active labor when I was still 4 cm dilated.
  • The pain of childbirth is unlike any other pain I have experienced. It’s ongoing, tiring, repetitive, painful.
  • Hours seem long and patience goes out the window when you don’t know how long you’ll be in that state of pain.

The joys certainly outweigh all the hardship– this is a true statement.

Little Princess was and is worth it!

She is perfect.

Arriving into this world weighing 7lbs 6oz, 20 inches long, full head of brown hair and a perfectly round head. I think I pushed so quickly that it didn’t give her head time to reform as it was moving through the birth canal. Her eyes are grey/blue and I’m hoping they stay on the blue side (Hubby has blue eyes) but am ok if she is a brown-eyed girl (like her mama).

I’m not going to say I won’t birth another child. Maybe next time I’ll go the route of the epidural. Part of the reason I wanted to go without was to be able to A) fully experience the feeling of her moving through my body (which I did and it was amazing!) and B) so I could be fully alert with her afterward.

Given that I didn’t get to live out the second half of that desire and still be okay with my bonding and connection shows that in the future, it might be okay to have the pain relief.

Swedish Hospital was an incredible place to have this traumatic delivery. I was amazed at the care and attention of each of the nurses and staff to me, Hubby and Little Princess. I felt completely taken care of and seen as a person, not just another patient.

Huge shout outs to the following nurses: Mackenzie, Becky, Allison, Mel, Callie, (there were 2 in the ICU that I had that I was too foggy to remember), Kelly, Terri, Mandy, Dani, and the lactation consultant Dotti.

Our journey is not over, as it’s simply just beginning.

I am amazed at how in love with this little peanut I am.

Years of wanting her. Desiring a little one and scared of letting go of my independent, self-centered lifestyle.

One thing I know for sure- the writing of my fertility journey may be over for the time being, but my thoughts and struggles, experiences and trials of being a selfless, caring, discerning, trusting mom are just beginning.

For those of you who have read this blog looking for connection in the fertility journey, I do hope you have felt understood. I certainly have not been alone as I have walked this road and found the more open I have been about my own struggles and emotions, the more connection I have felt.

To those still on the journey- know that it is worth it. Each poke of the needle, pop of a pill, inconvenient Dr. appointment, etc… it’s all worth it to have a little tiny human in your arms, loving and needing you.

We are not sure what our future holds with more children. We would like to have another or more but know that it might look more in the form of adoption than another IVF journey. Hey, we are even open to conceiving all-natural! 🙂 We will see what God has in store for us. For now, we are grateful to have this little one.