Thursday, January 2, 2014

Post-Pregnancy Resolution.

In what comes as news to exactly no one, pregnancy messes with your body, big time. I've read so many pregnancy advice blogs that I can't even backtrack or credit where I obtained this philosophy, but I noticed that there seems to be a common, resounding theme that "it takes nine months to get that way, so expect it to take at least another nine months to get back".

Ever since my college days, I've struggled with weight - and shortly before becoming pregnant I had actually made some significant strides in a direction that pleased me. Many of the changes I made (like avoiding diet soda and exercising frequently) were well-timed, as I became pregnant shortly after adopting those new practices. But then my belly started to grow inversely to my lung capacity, and by the end of the second trimester I would become out of breath simply from climbing a flight of stairs, so exercise got put on the back burner. And really, aside from carrying that adorable, cooing 16-pound weight around with me, I haven't brought exercise back into the equation yet.

What seems most interesting to me is that pregnancy was maybe the first time in quite a while that I felt good about how I looked. The stretchy clothes probably helped, but to me, my body was finally doing what it was supposed to do and I didn't feel guilty or ashamed of what size I became. My size felt purposeful - perhaps the most significant difference - and pregnancy allowed me to feel a bit of the "normal" I'm not used to enjoying. Weight gain? Awesome! Stretchy clothing? You bet! People often remark on your body when you're pregnant (which, in itself, can be a good or bad thing), and for a change, I could accept those compliments as geniune and true. Why yes, I do look gorgeous today. My belly; I know! Isn't it great?

But once that little fluffy-tailed Rabbit left the premises, that purposefulness left with her. My stomach deflated like a tiger-striped balloon, if you will, and the process of regaining my abdominal strength after a c-section was hard, and continues to be.

I'm now five months post-pregnancy and wondering how in the world I'm going to get back anywhere close to where I was, health and body-wise. (Is it normal to take much longer than nine months to "get back"? Is there really even any "getting back", or just "getting close"?) The surgery left a part of my stomach right above the incision site numb to the touch; advice told me that feeling would come back, but it hasn't fully, and I'm wondering if it ever will. For days, and even weeks, after my surgery even sitting up out of bed was a struggle, as my stomach muscles sloooowly mended themselves - I had to press myself up with my arms to a sitting position, because my stomach couldn't help me do it.  Laying on my stomach feels uncomfortable still in a way that causes me to avoid doing it. Getting up from a sitting position on the floor is something to see (please don't watch, ever). Things just aren't back to where they should be, yet.

Part of me thinks this should be expected, and that I should be patient and forgiving of myself - you made a friggin' person, for crying out loud! But there's another part - the one who watches those around her seem to bounce back so quickly, the one who refuses to buy all new pants, but can't feel good about still having to wear some maternity clothes, the one who wonders, is this just how I'm going to look, now? - that's frustrated and knows that this extra weight and inactivity are contributing in some way to the lackluster results in my diabetes data, too.

I think I'm starting to feel what a few people experience as it relates to the DOC: they come in with a not-the-norm view, and they sometimes find that the sharing social media promotes becomes a negative instead of a positive - a reminder, each time they see a post, of how different they are, instead of hearing that "me too" that we all long for. Instead of feeling happy for my friends and their successes in bouncing back post-baby, I find myself feeling... resentful. It makes no sense, and I don't want to feel that way, but I seem to do so anyway.

And here's the rub: every time I see someone talk about what's working for them in terms of attaining a healthy weight, I feel myself push away. I feel almost angry that this is so hard for me when others seem to find it so easy, yet I don't seem open to new ideas on how to achieve anything there.

I may not yet know how resolution will develop here - getting things done for myself with baby in tow proves a challenge - but I know that it's a place I need to focus on, and soon. I can't afford to let the negativity mope around much longer.






15 comments:

  1. I TOTALLY get that pushing away you are talking about when others talk about things going well. It's one of the things I wish I could change about myself the most, and yet it sticks around. I'm not the platitudes type, but I will say I appreciate your honesty and you writing about this.

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    1. Whooooosh! It's out in the open! That in itself is freeing and feels better.

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  2. Well, it took me a long time to "bounce back" and I mean like, years. Having a baby I kind of went underwater for awhile, all about her needs and schedule and put mine aside. That does come back, but 5 months? She's still so wee! Be gentle with yourself :) Small steps...healthy eating, walks around the neighborhood, let yourself buy some clothes you feel good in. Nothing radical and I kept reminding myself that who I am is more than what I weigh.

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  3. It took a whole year or more for my c-section scar area to not feel "funny".
    While I lost every bit and more of my baby weight after I had E, I've gained it all back and 15 lbs more. After I stopped breastfeeding, it all started to pile back on. I'm now struggling to lose even back down to what I was pre-pregnancy. Don't be so hard on yourself. She's only 5 months old. Work on losing it how you feel able to do it, and if it takes you longer, that's okay.

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    1. Thank you, Sarah. It helps to know that I'm not alone, despite so many unique variables to the journey I'm on.

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  4. Josie just turned 5 months on Sunday and I am SOOOO with you! Realizing my body will never be the same is HARD. But I saw this blog post (not to promote another blog on yours) but it's a good reminder...http://weseekjoy.blogspot.com/2013/12/babies-ruin-bodies.html?m=1
    I've read it daily to remind me!!! You are beautiful and created a beautiful human being. But I feel your pain about getting back to where you are. Good luck and let me know if you find the secret!!

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    1. I shouldn't have clicked over at work - that made me tear up! Thank you for sharing it. Part of me still pushed away from that, though, even - I don't even mind the stretch marks or the floppy skin, so much as it bothers me to be in the "clinically obese" category, which the author of that post obviously is not (thanks to the photos she shared). I don't even long for where or what I was, so much as I want to be some version of healthy, which I know I'm currently not.

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  5. Kim, my kiddo is now 18 months old and I wanted you to know that your blog post just resonates with me. I can honestly say that I feel the same way...often! I too teared up when I read that other blog post (above). A good friend sent me a quote today and I wanted to share it with you (and everyone) because I think it really makes sense. Of course it's always easier said than done...even when things are true.
    "Comparison is the thief of joy" - Theodore Roosevelt

    I have this quote now on a post-it note at my desk at work and I really want to try to remember it. Just as I remind myself that "I made a baby for goodness sake! That alone is a hell of an accomplishment.

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  6. My Bird will be four in April and my body is still weird in so many places, and in so many ways. It's very hard to believe the tickertape I'm trying to run through my mind all the time - "These marks are the marks of motherhood, and I'm effing proud." - but it does help. Bouncing back from pregnancy doesn't mean bouncing back to PRECISELY the way you were before. And that's okay. You are better in so many other ways that stretch marks can't take from you. A million hugs, because I feel a version of how you feel.

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  7. You know what will be awesome? When the Rabbit is old enough to do the Dance Central with you. I bet she can beat my high score even now!

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  8. As someone who had/has body image issues, the time being pregnant was like being released from a cage. My body was free! Grow! Run! (OK, waddle!) Be free! I loved looking down and not seeing my feet and being squishy for.a.reason.
    After she was born, I realized that I was going to be squishy for a while and wore my maternity clothing until I felt like I could focus on myself instead of her all the time. Five months post-pregnancy is still well within being not ready for prime time and it's totally OK. It took me several months before I got into a pair of pre-pregnancy jeans and I don't think I breathed deeply for that entire hour. Two and a half years later, I'm where I want to be and back to my previously scheduled body issues.
    (And the numbness from the scar… it took almost 10 months until I had feeling around it.)

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  9. Hey there new momma - I think its ok to give yourself a break and a pat on the back - you brought a lovely little gal into the world! My gal is 14 months old and it wasn't until 6 months post-pregnancy that I felt ready for some sort of exercise routine. Even now - my body is different than it was pre-pregnancy. Things just didn't bounce back like a rubber band after being stretched out that way. Be patient with yourself,ease back into things. I've started looking at being healthy and fit as a feeling rather than how I look to others and that change in perspective has helped me. I started exercising again because I didn't want to be winded carrying the little gal up the stairs. I started eating better because high BGs just make me feel like absolute crap.

    Maybe a visit with a physical therapist can help with rebuilding the abdominal strength? I had a c-section as well and the physio recommended laying on my back with knees bent, feet on the floor and raising my pelvis as an easy-does-it-way to regain abdominal strength. Also getting on all fours, totally relaxing the abdomen and then focusing on bringing the belly button towards the spine was another exercise that helped me.

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  10. I hope that writing about it helps. And I can see from the comments that you're definitely not alone. And I hope that helps too.

    Be gentle with yourself, my friend. Love you!

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  11. For the record, I was 18 months pp when I got pregnant with #2. I was still 7 pounds from my pre-L pregnancy weight, my scar area was still numb, my stomach was still not back to normal. Just like diabetes is different for everyone and pregnancy is different for everyone, postpartum is different for everyone. Do NOT do the comparisons - you're where you're meant to be. Try to focus on that little rabbit of yours, and do what you can to feel healthy...and do that while knowing you're doing what you can, when you can.

    xox

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