Wednesday, August 31, 2016

When Your Birth Story is Different Than You Had Hoped

If you ask me, "how many kids do you have?" I will tell you that I have three.  I can see the look in your eye as you wonder, three? Where is the third?  How old are they? Boy or girl?  I've seen the look countless times, enough to admit, that sometimes I will say two because I don't want to explain.  But when it comes down to it all, I have three children.

And with those three children come different birth stories, some things overlap, but they are all very different from each other.  Even more so, they are all different than what I was wanting and hoping for.  Beyond that, the thoughts and feelings I've been left with after each has loaded me down and weighed heavily on my shoulders.

It is a load I am tired of carrying.  Take a moment and think, do you have a heavy load to lay down, open up about, leave it down and take a new step forward feeling lighter and filled with more understanding and acceptance.

I've felt for so long that I have failed because of how each story turned out.  Some, because it didn't go the way I had hoped.  Some, because of how other people responded.  And some, because I kept replaying it over and over in my mind, seeing the negatives and blaming my body for failing me. I had heard others stories and successes, and that is what I wanted for my stories.

But you see, every pregnancy is different...every child is different...every birth is different.  Sure, there are things that are similar.  However, when things don't go the way we hope, we sometimes dwell on it and when the time comes to try again we want ever so much to change what had happened.

You see, I've delivered three children.  One natural, One c-section, and One trying natural but ending in a c-section.   Not one of them went the way I had hoped.

Our daughter I had to deliver naturally at seventeen weeks because we lost her to Turner's Syndrome.  What ended in a miscarriage, still left me having to go through the contractions and deliver her.  She was born, but never gave a breath.  I've learned so much about life from loosing her.

My oldest son decided to come a week early.  I was counting down the days and was ready to have things be different.  I knew he was healthy.  I knew I wanted to deliver naturally.  However, due to his size, he ran out of room and my water broke.  Yet, after 24 hours, he was not ready to come out and my body didn't make it all the way to 10 centimeters.  For a brief moment, I was disappointed that I was only left with having to have a c section.  I was more scared of what a c section was going to be like as the thought of having one never crossed my mind.  But, as I lay there anxiously awaiting, all I wanted to hear was his cry.  To know he was okay and was going to be staying in my arms.

My youngest son came quickly.  I had contractions starting in the morning and by noon, I was on my way to the hospital.  This time, I thought, things would be different.  Not that I have a problem with having another c section, it was more about to change the story and allowing my body to what it could naturally.  As well as being able to keep up with my older son once we were all home.  As time progressed, I found that my body was not designed for a natural delivery.  The bones in my pelvis rubbed against my son's head.  He was only going to come out via c section.  I will admit...I cried while being prepped.  I knew what it was like to go through this, but I didn't want to and I was beyond scared to go through it again.  He was born healthy and happy.  His cry was a beautiful sound.

Initially, I hadn't thought much of it all.  But as time passed and I was up in the middle of the night nursing, my mind began to wonder.  I was trying to figure out where things went wrong.  Why I was made this way.  I would beat myself up over it.  Even though the doctor had told me that I put forth a good effort and I didn't fail, I just couldn't shake the feeling.

I am blessed to have my two sons to hold onto, to snuggle, to see grow up.  With time, I am accepting that this is the way I was made.  I may not be able to deliver kids naturally, but I can at least deliver kids that are healthy and happy. 

As moms, we sometimes put too much emphasis on the places we go wrong, the mistakes we made, the failures of our body.  But when it comes down to it, our bodies can do amazing things and it shows.  No matter how your birth stories went, you are strong and courageous.  It may not have gone how you hoped, but lay down the negatives and step forward looking at the positives from it.  In the end, you are an amazing mom.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Exercise, Health, and Finding Success

I've tried on and off to get healthy for years.  Eat better, exercise more, weight loss challenges.  I got better at it and more consistent after I had our first son.  When it came time to model healthy behaviors for my son, I did find myself stumbling some still, but managed to do better.  Especially keeping up with him as he grew and became more active.

But I fell into a rut, complacent really.  I knew I weighed more than I should and didn't exercise as much as I could.  And kept telling myself, it's not a big deal to have a bowl of ice cream at the end of the day, every day...filled to the brim :).

After having my second son, weight wise, I was in much better a place to begin with than I had been in years.  Having got inspired by my sister in law, I decided I could do this.  It also helped to because my son was dairy intolerant, which meant I gave up dairy to make things easier.  So no more giant bowls of ice cream.

But now, I can eat pretty much whatever I want, whenever (having to keep in mind I have to share with my youngest if he is nearby).  So, I am back to some old habits again.  I've also realized and accepted recently, that I am emotional eater.  This comes into play even more when my emotions run high and I am stressed.  One cookie quickly turns into five or six.  And I always go for the sweets.  It has been and still is a coping mechanism for me.

I've noticed recently that the number on the scale doesn't seem to be changing.  I began to feel defeated and I wasn't meeting the weight loss goals I set for myself.  I exercised less, ate more, over did sweets every day.

But then I realized, that success doesn't have to be found only on in the numbers on the scale.  It goes much deeper than that.  There are the physical changes to our bodies.  While the number on the scale hasn't changed much, the inches around my arms, midsection, and legs has changed.  Beyond the inches, there is the emotion side of it.

How does it affect our moods? How does it change our outlook? How do we feel? What else has changed?

This is why dieting doesn't work and neither does extreme exercising.  Short term, yes it may, but long term it doesn't set up a very good foundation to go off of.  You need to have a balance between it all and a bigger outlook on it.  Changing your health through exercise and diet, changes you in all areas and creates a greater success.

Now, going forward, I am adding more to my mini goals in order to achieve an even bigger picture.  My success will come in the form of the number on the scale, the physical changes of my body through the loss of inches and the toning of muscle, the emotion well being, and my own perception of who I am, what I look like, and how I feel.

In the end, my ultimate goal is to not just say I am beautiful, but know that I am beautiful and truly feel believe it.

What is your ultimate goal?  How do you know you've been successful?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Bond Between a Mother and Her Children

There is a bond that begins to form between a mother and her child from the moment she finds out that she is pregnant.  For some, this bond grows and despite all the fears and nerves, it forms from the beginning.  For some, it takes time to form and grow.  Each person is different, each pregnancy is different, each child is different.  The bond grows, changes, strengthens, and falls apart sometimes.  But it is still there.

After having T, our bond grew tighter and stronger easily each day.  I will admit, it is a bond that there are days now that I wish was still the same way it was last Summer.  But things have changed in our lives.  He is dealing with having a brother, wanting to be more independent, and having to share me. The strong bond that I had with T did break down some as he and I navigated all this new territory.  However, it continues to grow and change as we grow and change. 

Now, I have to admit, the hard truth.  I love A, with all my heart, but our bond has taken much longer to grow strong and tighter.  You see, with the addition of another child, I became split.  I was learning how to be a mom to two kiddos.  Some days I did a better job at maintaining a balance between them  Other days, not so much.

With the addition of A, my bond with T changed.  I wanted so hard and tried so hard, to keep things the way they were.  But the reality of it was that our lives had changed.  With change, bonds change.  In the long run, they end up growing much deeper.  But they need the time to figure out a new normal.

Ten months in, A and I have grown a strong bond.  My bond with T, has deepened and become more like it was. As we move forward, as we grow, things will continue to change.  Once we accept that and accept where we are at in the moment, things seem to balance out.

It takes time.  Time we need to invest.  Not only that, we need to let others have the time to invest and to bond with our children.  Let your children grow, change, but also let the bond deepen and strengthen as you move forward.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Why I need a clean house

Well, cleanish anyways.  There are messes here and there, dusting hasn't been done very often and if it weren't for my oldest loving to mop, it would fall into the wayside as well.

I came to the conclusion, more recently, that I need to have my house somewhat clean.  Why?  Because it causes less stress.  I've heard the phrase that once you have kids you never have a clean house.  My thought is, why?  Why can't I have a clean house and have kids at the same time?

It seems to make the day start out better and run more smoothly when I can come down the stairs and have a clean common area.  I just wish that I could keep up with the kitchen.  No sooner do I get it caught up, than it looks like my cupboards threw up all over the counters.  I hate to admit, that sometimes when it gets that way, I walk in, look at it, and walk away.  Sometimes, it's too much and it stresses me out more.

I sneak in quick bathroom wipe downs when I can, like while waiting for the shower to be ready or while my oldest brushes his teeth or while I wait to make sure my youngest has truly fallen asleep.  It's been an expectation that toys are cleaned up at the end of the day before bed.  It is something that started with my oldest when he was little and didn't understand the concept of picking them up. With time, we can now tell him to clean them up and it gets done.  That's not to say that sometimes, toys are left out.  Like after he has been working hard to build with Legos or we've created a really cool train track (which usually stay out for a few days).  But overall, it's picked up most of the time.

I will admit, I love the look of a freshly vacuumed floor.  Don't know why, maybe because while waiting for my first son to arrive I would vacuum every day just to give myself something to do.  But I love it.  I love to vacuum.

Now that my oldest is three, we are starting to get him involved more in helping with the cleaning.  Like I said, he loves to mop, always has.  In fact, when he was around a year and half we shortened the swifer just so he could do it.  Now, he will get it from the stairwell and just mop, sometimes with a cloth and sometimes not.  We are also getting him to help with the dishwasher, loading it and unloading it.  These are a part of his chores (more on that in a later post).  At some point we will add in cleaning other areas.  He likes to help, so while he does I am running with it and letting him help out as much as he is willing.

I remember a conversation that happened between some other moms and me a few years ago.  The topic of having a clean house came up.  Some of them said that they had just given up.  To them, it didn't seem worth trying to clean, just to have their kids destroy it all again and yet were frustrated that it wasn't clean.  Keep in mind all our kids were about one and a half at the time.  That was their perspective.  If they didn't want to try, that was fine.  I still wanted to have a relatively clean house and could manage it most days.  However, what got me the most, was when one made the comment, "if your house is clean, than you aren't taking care of your child and ignoring them".

Whoa, wait a minute...if I have a clean house, then my child isn't being taken care of?  Normally, someone saying stuff like that doesn't bother me.  But this time, it really made me mad.  I can have a clean house and a child who is well taken care of.  Not only taken care of, gets the attention needed and is thriving..

There is nothing stopping us from letting our kids join in.  I remember that when T was little, I would dust while he played.  Sometimes he would stop and want to dust too, so I would give him a cloth and just let him go.  In fact, it's important for them to take responsibility in the place they live.  They help make the messes, they can help clean it up.

With time and consistency, letting our kids join in while cleaning they will get the hang of it and may end up enjoying it as well.  So you see, you can have happy, thriving kids and have a relatively clean house.

For me, I feel more at ease and comfortable when things are relatively clean and least in the common rooms.  In the long run, it works better for everyone's mood when you think about it.  And through it all, my kids are happy and thriving.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Going From One Kid to Two

I don't think anything can truly prepare a person for the role of parenting.  Parenting is a delicate balance of learning how to be a parent, figuring out and working with your child's personality, transitioning between the stages, letting your child be the person that God designed them to be, and acceptance.

It took a bit for me to learn how to be a parent after T was born.  But rather quickly, we fell into a routine and a new normal.  Together we found a balance that worked.

Nine months ago we went from one kid to two.  I will admit, I am still learning.  Both kids are changing stages so quickly that I can barely keep up.  No sooner do I begin to get any headway and understanding, than things begin to change and I am back at square one.

Today, I had a good friend ask me, how do you do manage two kids?  To be honest, it's not always easy.  I've made a lot of of mistakes and yes, even after nine months, I am still learning.  Some days are better than others, heck some hours are better than others.  But I manage, we manage.  Slowly, I am beginning to figure things out better.

To be honest, as I begin to figure myself out and my role of parenting two, the more confident I am and less mistakes are made. We are beginning to fall into a routine again, a new normal. 

Am I going to make mistakes going forward?  Yeah, probably.  Do I still have a lot of learning to do?  Yup.  But at least for now, I can take the things I learned, the failures I've had, the mistakes made, and use the successes to move us forward.

There will be good days and rough days.  Things will continue to change.  But together we will figure each other out and navigate the twist and turns of our journey.  So, how do I manage?  Not sure, I just do. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Beyond the Number on the Scale

This time around, I knew that I wanted to get to a healthier weight.  Fortunately, after my third pregnancy, I was starting out at a number that was one of the lowest it had been in nearly 10 years.  I had additional reasons for wanting to get healthier.  I wanted the boost in energy, confidence, mood, and balance.

It took me several tries to get going and to keep with it.  Over the past nine months I took many breaks.  I found that when I missed one day, it led to missing two, then three, and then it became weeks.  When I missed a day I truly began to miss the workout.  Why?  Because I felt better afterward.  It was a release for me and it gave me the energy to face the rest of the day.

I will admit, more often than not, I would get focused on the number on the scale.  I would try so hard to meet my weight loss goals...usually five pounds over the course of the month.  Totally doable, if I stuck with it.  But I began to plateau for weeks at a time.  The number on the scale didn't change, I would get frustrated, then choose to eat unhealthy and in excess.  I have learned that when I am stressed or filled with emotion, I eat (usually something sugary) and I eat in multiples (not one or two cookies, think like five or six, multiple times in a day).  Not so bad every now and then.  But daily, not so good.

These last two months I have remained at the same number, 165.  Still a good number considering 9 months ago I was at 183.  But I had made an overall goal that by the time my youngest turns one, I would be down to 155.  I haven't been there since I got married 11 years ago.

Because I got so focused on the number changing, I was stressing myself out, which is counterproductive.  Not to mention, if I looked at my diet and lack of exercise it told a lot more of the story.

But even beyond that, I began to realize really where I was at truly.  You see, I have a shirt that I love to wear for bed.  It's really comfy and it makes nursing easier.  However, the shirt that I wear for bed, I used to wear right after my son was born.  When I used to wear it, it was tight and probably not real attractive.  Now, it's probably two sizes too big and slides off my shoulders.  This means that my body shape has begun to change.

Even more so, I went shopping for shorts this Summer.  You are probably thinking big deal, shorts for Summer.  Well for me, I am typically not a fan of shorts.  I never felt comfortable in them and never thought my legs looked good enough.  Most Summers I wear capri shorts if I am going anywhere.  But this Summer, I finally have the confidence to wear shorts and I love it.  Looking more at shorts, I recently got a pair that are a size 9.  A size 9!  I've not been able to wear a size 9 since, high school maybe even middle school.  That means I am loosing inches.

Luckily, during one of the times when I was on a plateau for my weight loss, I decided to take my measurements.  Because when it comes down to it, those numbers can be even more telling.  In four months I've lost 2 inches around my waist (belly button area), 1 inch in the area between my hips and butt, 1 inch around my hips, 1 inch around each arm, and 2 1/2 inches around each leg.  To me, these numbers are even more telling than what is on the scale.

While it's good to see the number on the scale change, the inches around areas can really do more.  I am able to fit in sizes, both shirts and shorts, I've not fit in for well over a decade.  Beyond the inches and numbers, I find my energy level is better, my mood is lighter and more balanced, I have more confidence (not only in what I can do, but how I look and feel), and as long as my kids sleep well, so do I.

Getting healthier is a lifestyle change.  When we stumble, sometimes we snowball.  But keeping a bigger goal in mind is what it takes for us to keep going.  Sure, I have a goal weight that I want to get to.  But beyond that, the outcome of the lifestyle change far outweighs any number than can show up on the scale.  The boost in confidence, energy, mood, perspective.  For the first time, in a long time, I truly feel beautiful.  Not because the number on the scale, but because how I feel and the long term perspective.

I encourage you to look beyond the number on the scale, especially when it isn't going the direction you are hoping for.  How do you feel compared to when you started? What is your mood like now?  What are your measurements? How do you feel: mind, body, spirit?  These are some things to think about.  But above all, remember that you are beautiful, strong, and confident.