The Shape I’m In

I’m 4 weeks postpartum.  I gained more weight this pregnancy than I ever have.  I am down over 30 pounds, but when you’ve gained 60, that feels like a drop in the bucket.  I’m actually below my pre-pregnancy weight from my last baby, but I had high hopes this time I would get a lot of the weight off quickly.

But, if I was being honest with myself and all of you, I would have to say that I always feel this way about this time postpartum.

When Your Postpartum Shape is Discouraging | RaisingArrows.net

I start thinking I need a whole new wardrobe because I have nothing to wear; or better yet, I need to drop 30 pounds overnight so I can wear all my old clothes.  Then I think maybe some new makeup or a brand new hairdo would make me feel better.  I start reading diet books, cut my hair way too short, buy a bunch of clothes I really don’t like (because I don’t want to spend money on clothes that won’t fit me after I’ve slimmed down), and cry myself a river every time I have to leave the house because I’m just not satisfied with anything.

But guess what…

No diet book, new wardrobe, or new hairdo will fix what I’m feeling.

It’s a little bit of head, a little bit of heart, and a whole lot of hormones telling me that the shape I’m in is something to cry over.

Now, I can tell myself a million times over that it took 9 months to get this way, so why in the world would I think a few weeks would be sufficient to get back to the way I looked before, but I’m one of those people who needs more than some overused adage to feel better.  I’m a practical, give-me-something-I-can-hang-onto kind of person.

Here is what I’ve finally learned that is worth hanging on to…

Learn to see weight loss (especially postpartum weight loss) as a journey | RaisingArrows.net

For years, I saw a healthy weight as an end point.  I would journey until I got there and then forget the journey and do something else.  And during those years when I couldn’t seem to reach the end point, I begrudged every step on the path because I never seemed to be getting anywhere.  That was because I wanted the journey to end.  I didn’t want to be on this diet-focused path forever.

I also saw pregnancy as a time to completely turn tail and run head long into my obsession with food.  When you consider I’ve been pregnant 13 times and birthed 9 full-term babies, some of those with barely a year between, you can imagine how discouraged I became after every baby, wondering if I would ever reach my goal, my end point.

It’s taking me some time to wrap my brain around HEALTHY being a way of life, but now that my husband and my son have maintained their weight losses for over a year, I have a better grasp of what healthy looks like in the long term sense of the word.

Reaching a healthy weight is sort of like birthing a baby.  There is a long journey to get to the place where you hold that precious little one in your arms, but the journey doesn’t end there.  You keep taking steps on down the path of motherhood.

I won’t be at my pre-pregnancy weight by my 6 week checkup, but that’s because I started a lot lower than most of my other pregnancies.  I know I have a lot to learn, and I’m going to need a lot of determination and motivation to stay focused and make this journey part of my life and not just something I do for a little while.

The shape I’m in isn’t something to be discouraged by because it’s just part of my journey.  It’s the place I am now.  I am choosing to be a fit mama even when the shape I’m in feels far from it because I am choosing to live healthy!

Introducing…

Baby Aspen

Aspen Emelia
born 12/19
8# 10.5 oz
21″

Note:  The following is Aspen’s birth story, which includes a photo that may make some people squeamish.  Don’t scroll down if you are one of those people.

The morning of the 19th, I awoke to a contraction and what felt like a very painful kick.  As I laid there, I wondered if there was any chance it was my water breaking…something that NEVER happens to me.  I finally got the courage to get out of bed, and sure enough…GUSH!

Ty was 2.5 hours from the hospital at our new home, and I was 45 minutes from the hospital, staying at my mom’s house.  My mom took me in and Ty started his trek up to the hospital.

I could barely feel my contractions, and the one harder one I had, I watched as baby’s heart rate fell.  The next time I had a stronger contraction, I avoided looking at the monitor and just practiced my breathing.  After a while, it became apparent something was not right.  My OB came in to talk to me.  I told her I felt like something was wrong and that I needed a c-section.  She said she agreed, but she was afraid I was going to fight her on it because of how hard I had worked to VBAC and then VBA2C.  But, I knew in my heart, something wasn’t right.

The nurses and doctors worked quickly to get me prepped and back to the OR.  I was very nervous.  Ty kept tabs on baby’s heart rate while I prayed I wouldn’t have any more contractions.

It was very difficult to get baby out, but finally, our little one came into this world, and Ty announced baby was a

! ! !
G I R L
! ! !

She was my smallest full-term baby.  She could actually fit in the newborn diapers and outfits!  She has a smattering of darkish hair, and long feet, fingers, and toes!

After surgery, Dr. let us know what the trouble had been.  (here’s the squeamish part…)

knot in cord

Aspen’s cord was a big twisted mess.  It was near her head and was being compressed even with the small contractions.  Potentially, the cord would have come first or pulled and tightened up, cutting off her oxygen.  The strangeness I was feeling was God-given mother’s intuition.

There are other aspects to this story that I will share along the way, but I wanted to end this post with the story of how Aspen got her name.

We knew if it was a girl, the middle name would be Emelia.  Emelia was Ty’s paternal great-grandmother’s name (an old world German name meaning hard-working – just like our Emily’s name).  The spelling included our little Emily’s name as well as our daughter Melia’s name.  The really neat part about this was that while the name did not include any part of our only other daughter’s name (Megan), little Aspen was born on Megan’s 14th birthday!

As for the first name…as a family, we have always been drawn to Aspen trees.  The beautiful wood, the way the leaves shimmer in the light as they change color in the fall, the fact that a forest of Aspen trees is all on one root system, intertwined; separate, yet part of a whole all reminded us of a beauty only God could create.  It seemed a fitting name for a much-longed-for little girl.

So, if you are looking for me, you’ll find me smiling and staring at this tiny little beauty.  We are all feeling so very blessed!

39 Week Pregnancy Update

baby development Can you believe we are here? The final (at least that’s the plan) week of gestating!  One of my friends just had her baby, another will be induced this coming Monday, and I am trying to wait patiently for this little one to make his or her appearance.

At my 39 week appointment on Monday, my OB surprised us by telling us I was dilated to a 3.5 and 70% effaced.  I didn’t think the contractions I had been having were doing that much!  She had me set an appointment for 40 weeks, but says she really doesn’t think I’ll be there.  Of course, I hate to get my hopes up, but that was some awesome news!  She also made sure baby was indeed head down – thankfully, yes!

My doctor has asked me to come straight to the hospital even if I just *think* I’m in labor and even if they have to send me home.  That’s not something I like to do (the going home part), but after the last couple of births going so much quicker, she just wants to make sure I make the drive without too much trouble.  And frankly, I’m kind of hoping for a more “leisurely” birth.  (don’t laugh!)

Many of you know I travel quite a way to give birth in a hospital and with a doctor that is VBA2C (Vaginal Birth After 2 C-sections) friendly.  The hospital is about 45 minutes from my mom’s house, so I am currently staying with her, which is why this week’s update is a photo of my belly and her dog…

Bailey Dog & 39 week belly | RaisingArrows.net

Bailey has decided I am his new best friend and my belly makes the perfect perch!

So…here we go!  Anxious to see what this week brings!

When Baby Isn’t the Gender You Had Hoped For

What do you do when baby doesn't turn out to be the gender you had hoped for?  A candid discussion with Amy @ RaisingArrows.netPerhaps you’ve had your hopes and dreams set on having a little girl, but God hasn’t given you one.  Or maybe He’s given you girls, followed by a string of boys.  Or maybe it’s the other way around and you’ve only had girls and really would like the joy of raising a little rough and tumble boy to carry on the family name.

And you feel guilty.

You know you should feel blessed by the gender God has given you, but you can’t help but feel disappointed when it doesn’t turn out the way you had hoped.  Sure you love those babies with all your heart, but deep in your heart you wonder if you’ll ever get your wish.

I know this because I’ve lived it.

My story probably isn’t the same as yours, but I know what it feels like to wish baby was the opposite gender.  I know what the longing feels like.  I know what the guilty disappointment feels like.

When Emily passed away in 2008, I desperately wanted another girl.  Not that I wanted to replace her, but because I wanted to regain a little of what I had lost.  Instead, I had a blond haired boy on New Year’s Day of 2009 whom we named Micah.

When Baby isn't the Gender You Had Hoped For | RaisingArrows.net

I remember my OB saying she felt it was probably best I did have a boy following Emily’s death, and I quickly came to the place where I agreed with her.  He was a delight, and I was not sorry he was a boy for long.

When Micah turned 1, I found out I was pregnant again.  This became a pivotal point for me.  In my mind, I had “done my time.”  I had birthed a boy child following my daughter’s death, and I “deserved” a girl.  I became very wrapped up in wanting a girl.  In fact, going into the sonogram, I was nearly sick to my stomach with anxiety.  Because we never let the sonographer tell us what we are having, but we always look for ourselves, it leaves a shadow of a doubt we carry with us into the delivery room.  However, looking at the sonogram that day, I was pretty sure I saw a boy.

And I cried.

All the way home.

And many days after that.

I compared sonogram photos of my other babies, hoping to be wrong.  Hoping the little one I was carrying was not another boy.

But, he was…

When Baby isn't the Gender You Had Hoped For | RaisingArrows.net

Little Garin had colic and I had postpartum depression – both of these were firsts for our family.  However, as Garin grew, and both the colic and PPD subsided, I began to see what an amazing gift the Lord had given me in this child.  Garin was and is an absolute joy to raise.  I realized I had squandered a lot of time wishing for him to be something other than what he was.  I had not been enjoying my little boys because I was too busy wishing for another little girl.

When Baby isn't the Gender You Had Hoped For | RaisingArrows.nerWhen I became pregnant with our next child, I vowed NOT to waste time wishing for a girl.  I threw myself into preparing for a new baby no matter the gender.  We came up with a boy name we loved.  I decorated in blues and yellows.  And I began to ENJOY the boys God had given me.

Including the little boy named Creed born January 2013.

When Baby isn't the Gender You Had Hoped For | RaisingArrows.netHe was my third boy in a row, and I was thrilled!

I now have 5 boys.  They are rowdy and rambunctious, but wholeheartedly devoted to their mama.  In fact, I’ve come to a place where I’ve wondered if this baby is a girl, do I even remember how to be a baby girl mama again?  It’s been 7 years since I had a little girl, and with Emily gone, my next girl in age is 10.  My girls are at a very different stage in life than my little boys.  My house is no longer filled with girly toys, but rather Legos and cars.  Wrestling is a daily occurrence, and the words, “Don’t hurt your brother,” are said multiple times a day.  This zoo of boys is my norm.  In fact, the 4 youngest boys have taken on the collective term “little boys.”  As in, “My little boys are all wearing red,” or, “Little boys, come here!”

Do I still wish for a girl?  I don’t know if WISH is the right word.  I would love to have the chance to raise another girl.  Yet, I know in my heart it would be scary because of my circumstances – having had my last little girl pass away at the age of 7 months.

Do I feel I NEED another little girl.  No, not anymore.  I have learned to celebrate each precious life – boy or girl.

But, it wasn’t easy.  It was a God thing.

When Baby isn't the Gender You Had Hoped For | RaisingArrows.net

I would like to offer you some suggestions on how to learn to celebrate each baby no matter the gender because I’m a practical person who likes to have tangible ways to help me work through difficult circumstances.  These are not meant to be “band-aid” solutions or ways to just “get by.”  These are ways to start training your brain to see your babies as blessings and gifts from God in exactly the gender package God intended.

*Enjoy the children you have.  One thing I wasn’t truly doing was enjoying my little guys.  I was looking toward the next pregnancy as the one that would bring me another chance at a girl.  This is not how God intends for you to parent.  Enjoy the babies you have!  Find good things about having a string of boys (or girls)!  Revel in the fact that these little ones were given to you and learn to cherish that!

*If you find out gender ahead of time, take that knowledge and make it special.  Buy or make something special just for that baby.  Celebrate – and I don’t necessarily mean a “Reveal Party” because that could backfire on you if well-meaning friends and family are disappointed and say so.  Take time to enjoy your pregnancy and prepare for the new baby in a special way.  Come up with a name you love.  Take time to ponder who the new baby will look like.  Thank the Lord for this new life and the privilege to carry this child.

*Don’t let others feel sorry for you.  Even if you are feeling sorry for you, don’t allow others to do the same as that will only perpetuate your feelings of disappointment.  You can be honest with those you love, but if you are going to learn to be content, you have to learn to be outwardly blessed by the gender of children the Lord has given you.  You don’t have to quote Scripture to exude thankfulness.  You need only to offer a smile and an appreciation for the children you have.

*Make having a lot of one gender special.  This is where it gets fun!  Dress them alike.  Plan parties and outings and homeschool projects that cater to their gender.  Be a boy or girl mom full force!

*Be joyful and count your blessings – but give yourself grace.  Once upon a time, I had more girls than boys.  In the blink of an eye, that changed.  Of all people, I should have been thankful.  I should have counted my blessings.  But, in my humanness, I wanted what I did not have.  Learning to see my boys as something other than stepping stones on my way to the girl I felt I deserved took time, humility, and an entire change of heart.  I needed grace to get past the guilt and disappointment.


Do you have a story to share about your own disappointment?  Perhaps you have an encouraging word for mamas traveling this same road.  Please, feel free to share your thoughts and comments below so that others may be encouraged and blessed!

38 Week Pregnancy Update

baby development Most of the time my due date is pretty close to the date I deliver. I’ve had 2 babies go rather overdue, but there were extenuating circumstances that I firmly believed caused that to happen.  That being said, sometime in the next 2ish weeks, this little one should be making his or her appearance!

At my 38 week OB appointment yesterday, I was dilated to a 2.  Baby is head down, but floating (as is typical for me – my babies do not engage until further into the labor process).  No effacing at this time, but I am starting a regimen of Evening Primrose Oil to help with that.  I also need to get on my Red Raspberry Leaf tea which helps to strengthen my uterus.  And I am Group B Strep positive for the 3rd time in 9 babies.  Boo.

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On the home front, most of the baby stuff is ready, except I can’t find the inside cushion of my Snugabunny. :(  I also need to make sure the car seat is ready and in the van, and my hospital bag is packed (good thing I have a list!)

The contractions have definitely picked up.  Yesterday alone, I’d say I had 8 or more.  My OB gave me a copy of my records just in case I have to go to a closer hospital where they don’t know me and she’s not there to deliver me.  That is seriously not something I want to think about, but better safe than not.

Because of the extra contracting, my sciatica is acting up and the heating pad continues to be my friend.  I am trying to only do what I need to do and let the rest go, but with all that has taken place in our lives in the past couple of months, there is much that seems to be vying for my time.  I also have Christmas and my soon-to-be 14 year old daughter’s birthday to think about.  At this point, I’d like to delay Christmas celebrations until baby comes home, but I’m not sure anyone else agrees with me. ;)

So, here we are…2 weeks out.  By this time next week, I’ll be in that countdown watch-and-wait phase.  It’s an exciting, and somewhat nerve-wracking time, but I am so excited to meet this newest blessing!

37 Week Pregnancy Update

37 Week Pregnancy Update | RaisingArrows.net

It’s official – these last 3 weeks will be spent in cotton knit pants and comfy shirts!

I don’t have an OB appointment this week.  Most women have to go every week at the end of pregnancy, but my doctor is really easy-going, and she figures this isn’t my first rodeo. ( ;) )  I’m guessing I’ll have 2 more appointments before this little one makes its appearance.

Baby has the hiccups a lot.  Baby hiccups crack me up.  I was in college when I had my oldest, and he always had the hiccups during my Religion class – like clockwork.  They are also a good way to tell what baby’s position is.  I’ve had a little harder time telling baby’s position this time for some reason.  Need to brush up on my Spinning Babies knowledge!  I will tell you the one time baby turned breech and then back again a few weeks ago was excruciating!  Not sure I would miss that.

So, perhaps you are wondering how I’ll spend these next 3 weeks besides wearing comfy clothes…

I’m going to continue to get the house ready for Christmas and baby, learn my new city, get my Christmas shopping finished up, and try to take it as easy as I can.  How about you?