Body image after baby

For the vast majority of my life I have struggled with body image issues.I despised my body and the way it looked at times and felt disgusted when I looked in the mirror.

Before I got pregnant I was in the best state of mind I had ever been in regarding my body. I was confident, comfortable and happy with how I looked, my body no longer felt like my enemy but I embraced it.

When I was pregnant, at first I wasn’t bothered with how I looked. I didn’t even begin showing until around 16 weeks and I carried so small and neatly that many people were shocked that I was having twins. I went on holiday to Italy and I confidently strutted my stuff in my bikini, yes I probably looked a little further a long than I was but other than that I felt pretty good! However, one thing that made me less confident whilst pregnant was the fact that I couldn’t wear stylish clothes and I felt like I constantly looked like a sack of potatoes.

As I got further along with my pregnancy I began to grow larger and larger and felt more and more unhappy in my body. My stomach stretched massively and was covered in stretch marks – by 30 weeks I was the size of a full term pregnant woman and I only got bigger and bigger. I began to pack the pounds on and retain so much water; everything from my legs, arms, face to my lips were completely swollen! By the end of my pregnancy I could barely  move and I felt so grossed out by my body! I couldn’t even fit in to maternity clothes anymore!

When the girls were first born, I felt shocked at how little my body changed. From the cesarean/ IV etc. I was completely swollen and I could not fit in to any of the clothes I’d brought with me. Josh had to go out and get me size 18 clothes to wear. I felt so uncomfortable in my own skin (which was incredibly loose) and I didn’t want any photos to be taken!

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Josh took this photo of me 1 week postpartum. It was the first time I felt comfortable enough for a photo to be taken. Just look at my swollen feet!

I am now six months postpartum. My body should now be fully recovered yet it looks nothing like I thought it would. I guess I knew I wouldn’t look exactly the same but this wasn’t really what I was expecting.

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I am now below the weight I was before I was pregnant – thanks to breastfeeding! Feeding one baby burns 500 calories a day so its more than likely that breastfeeding twins burns 1000! I don’t get out much to do exercise, except for a few speed walks with the pram and the 100s of times a day I run up and down the stairs to put dummies back in etc.! So lets just say my body is not exactly toned. My body looks pretty normal now, thankfully I am back in to my pre-pregnancy clothes – I was grateful for this fact because I couldn’t afford to buy a whole new wardrobe! My stomach, however, is my biggest bug bear. It carried to fairly large babies and stretched beyond belief – lets be honest a woman’s body is designed to carry one baby, not two! My belly now has loose skin, stretch marks and yes a bit of fat on there too! I prefer to keep my stomach covered – so I decided to bare it for the world to see. My body isn’t magazine perfection but it has done something incredible that many people would never be able to do.

If I’m honest, I still struggle with my body. I’d desperately like to feel confident and awesome in myself but I’m not there yet. Some days I look in the mirror and feel proud of what I see, other days I feel a bit grossed out! I am a bridesmaid twice this year and of course that in itself brings trepidation – people looking at you etc! Although I’m sure the brides will be much more interesting. But when you are wearing the same dress as other women you can’t help but feel like you will be compared!

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I guess having a baby, especially two at once changes your body. Of course it will, you have grown human beings inside you. I was three people at once, now I’m back to being one. My body isn’t what it was before, and it never will be again… but I have to accept that. I am me, my body is beautiful. A few months a go, someone on the telly said “having a baby ruins your body” and Josh turned to me and said “I don’t think that is true, your body isn’t ruined!” and that made me stop and think. My body isn’t ruined. My body isn’t something to be upset by, it should be celebrated. I may not be there just yet but one day I  hope I will be!

 

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I hope you enjoyed this post.

Kate-Sig-1

I’ve got a surprise for you…

I found out I was having twins a year a go today. I realised I’d never written an account of how it happened so I decided to write it now!

I was just over 13 weeks pregnant. Our scan was on a Friday morning, so Josh and I decided to go for breakfast beforehand – my morning sickness was starting to ebb away by this point and I could actually keep some food down. As I’ve written about before, finding out about our pregnancy was a struggle. It took me almost three months  to begin coming to terms with the fact that we were going to have a squishy little baby. It was going to be hard work but it was doable. We had planned on taking our little baby on adventures and moulding it in to a mini adventurer. I was convinced we were having a boy!

We walked in to the room where we spoke to a really nice lady. I was desperate for a wee as you have to make sure you drink lots of water beforehand! I lay down on the chair and she squeezed the jelly on to my stomach, it wasn’t cold. I was expecting it to be very cold but they apparently warm it before now! It was dark and Josh and I sat holding hands. The lady turned the screen around to us and put the monitor on my stomach. We saw our baby, she showed us its head, heartbeat and umbilical chord. We looked at each other and tears started to fill our eyes. This little baby was growing inside my tummy! I wasn’t even showing yet and yet there it was kicking and squirming around. The sonographer turned the screen around and started doing lots of clicking and typing. At first we thought it was normal and she was just doing checks, then we started to worry. We started to worry that maybe there was something wrong with the baby and were looking at each other nervously.

After what felt like ages she broke the silence and said “I’ve got a surprise for you….” my heart sank, I suddenly felt this rush of love and nerves all at once. She turned the screen around and said “its twins!”. My reply was “oh sh*t!” – I think that is one of those times when swear words are the only things that are appropriate! We started at each other and laughed in disbelief and the sonographer then began showing us the other baby’s little heartbeat etc. and we were just so shocked! After a little while we walked back in to the waiting room and all we could say was “I can’t believe it, I can’t believe it!”. She brought us out our photos and then we walked out of the hospital in a complete daze, we rang our families and they were so excited and happy! Of course everyone was completely shocked but that was natural.

I’m so thankful for that wonderful day now! Being a twin mum is amazing, crazy, hard, wonderful, incredible!

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Kate-Sig-1

 

For my girls on your dedication 

Today my beautiful daughters are getting dedicated in church. If you don’t know what a dedication is, it’s similar to a christening. Instead of baptising as babies we believe you should have your own choice to be baptised when you’re ready. A dedication is a commitment from the parents to bring their children up in God’s ways and be an example of a Godly person to them. With that in mind I wanted to write a post to my girls on this special day. 

Dorothy and Margot, 

Today is a special day for you although you don’t yet know it. Today is your dedication and we’re so excited! You have gorgeous little outfits and a cake with your picture on. Your extended family are coming from far and wide.. from Cornwall, Kent, Bath and Wales among many other places. 

You’re three months old and right now everything about the world is new and exciting for you. Every day I watch you learn new things and take in more and more. At the moment the world is fun and there’s no sadness apart from when you’ve gone a few hours without milk. 

For your dedication the church leaders asked us to think about our dreams and desires for our children’s lives. Of course there are so many things we desire for you… health, safety, kindness etc. But  my biggest dream for you is that you will be adventurers all your lives. I want you to see all the continents of the world, swim in warm oceans, be close to wild animals and eat exotic food. I hope we can adventure together and travel as a family but I also hope you’ll experience some of it by yourself.  I also hope you’ll find adventure the mundane, the daily life; in school and swimming clubs and kids parties. But I truly hope that your biggest adventure will be your relationship with God and all that brings you.  I pray you will find God exciting and let him guide your lives and futures.

Life isn’t always fun an exciting. It can be hard sometimes and sometimes you will need someone to lean on. I pray that God will be your biggest source of comfort when you’re in pain and  the one who gives you strength. I pray that in the difficult times you will draw close to him. 

As you grow up I’d love you to be clever, creative, funny and talented. But most of all I want you to know the importance of being kind and loving others. I want you to see that as the most important thing you can do and your highest calling. I want you to love people fiercely regardless of their situation, their gender, class, religion, race or sexual orientation.  I pray that you will have room for everyone in your heart.

I pray you will be fierce women of God, not content to sit on the sidelines but wanting to get stuck in. I pray you’ll be strong willed and know your own mind but also adaptable and able to compromise. I pray you’ll be generous and selfless like your Daddy and put other people before you.

I don’t know how our lives are going to work out .. it’s a mystery. But I hope your Daddy and I can be examples to you of Godly people. I hope we can bring you up to know and love Jesus and one day you will make your own decisions to follow Him. 

I want you to know that whatever you do we will be your biggest supporters and we will always be cheering you on. 

I love you; my precious daughters. 

Love always, 

Your mummy xxxx 

“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born in set you apart.” Jeremiah 1:5

“Train a child up in the way they should go and when they are older they will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 

Being mum: newborn 

I have decided to start a new series on my blog called “being mum” which is going to be about my take on motherhood at each different stage of the girls’ lives. I guess they will be quite small age gaps as the girls are young and changing so much but eventually will become yearly! 

The first stage is newborn… to me this is 0-2 months, mainly because they are 2 months now! This stage has been particularly challenging… in fact the most challenging so far (haha). The first few weeks were all about getting used to them and healing from my c section. I was never alone with the girls, I always had Josh with me for the first nearly three weeks. They fed frequently in the early days as their tummies were so small and breast feeding started so well. I really enjoyed bonding with them although the night feeds were hard. 

Everyone says you just instantly fall in love with your baby/ babies but for me this wasn’t the case. Don’t get me wrong I loved them, but it was a kind of raw, primal love which was focused on their needs and keeping them alive rather than the rosy, I want to stare at you all day kinda love. I’m sure many mums feel like that but their arrival was quite traumatic which you can read about here. I was in a bit of shock I’d say and if I’m honest I was quite scared of them and the huge responsibility they were going to be! I also was incredibly weak from my section so I didn’t really feel able to pick them up or move around much which made it more challenging. 

Eventually as I grew stronger so did our bond. I credit so much of this to breast feeding which established a deep connection between us. My love for these girls grows deeper with every pooey nappy, sleepless night and projectile vomit. The first 6 weeks were basically recovery for me… from my surgery, from the shock and trauma and from the transition from one way of life to another. Now it’s getting more fun… the smiles are there, the personalities are developing and they are a lot less sleepy. This first 2 months has been a lot of breastfeeding and bring glued to the sofa and of course a lot of interest from passers by! 

 

Dotty at 2 months old ❤
She is definitely still the more chilled of the two & she loves her dummy for comfort. She is bursting out of 0-1 month clothing but 0-3 is still a bit baggy. This month we have started a bedtime routine where they’re both in bed for 8… however Dotty likes to have a long nap at 6pm just to be difficult! She also often decides that 4am is party time! She absolutely loves staring at people and studying their faces. She pulls really funny faces whilst she’s asleep. And of course this month she learned to smile! Her cry is more high pitched and blood curdling and she loves snuggling like a little koala bear. She only likes bath time when she’s not hungry and when she comes out her hair looks so funny! she doesn’t mind getting punched in the face by Margot although she still takes very little interest in her. She feeds on average 13 times a day & Daddy gives her a bottle of expressed milk every night before bed. She can easily polish off 5oz and still be hungry!

Margot at 2 months! 

Either smiling or screaming her head off. She loves doing a little “my life is so hard” sigh in the middle of crying. Her neck is so strong probably cos she is so feisty. She’s never not hungry and always wants to be sitting up. She already knows her own mind – what Margot wants she gets… little diva!! She’s a drama queen and acts like the world is ending if you aren’t looking at her for 30 seconds! She loves white noise and sleeping on her tummy when she can. We think she kinda looks like a teenage mutant ninja turtle! She has a beautiful smile & hates sleeping as it gets in the way of learning about the world. She loves being in her sling and hates her carry cot and she’s very interested in staring at her sister. She feeds on average 15 times a day and does the loudest burps ever!
Hope you enjoy these posts!

Mum guilt is real

Whilst I was pregnant I was reading a few blogs by mums and heard about this concept called “mum guilt”. It essentially meant when you’re a mum and you feel guilty because you don’t feel like your child is getting the best. It can be if you buy something for yourself and you feel guilty for not spending the money on your child or simply when your child falls over and you feel guilty.

I never thought I’d suffer with this being that I’m not a particularly maternal person. I didn’t think having babies would affect me so strongly. However I can tell you now that mum guilt is definitely real and hitting me quite hard!

Right now I don’t feel guilty about spending a bit of money on myself as I know the girls have more than everything they need. I don’t feel guilty for taking an hour away from them if I know they’re well looked after.

The guilt I feel should be renamed twin guilt. I feel guilty that I have to split myself down the middle and yet someone always ends up getting less. As I write this I’m feeding Margot and I can hear Dotty getting grizzly. She’s just filled her nappy and is probably a bit uncomfy. There’s nothing I can do right now because I’m giving Margot what she needs! It’s worse when I’m home alone and seeing to one of the girls and the other starts screaming the house down and I can’t do a thing about it. As I imagine happens with all twins… one of my girls is much easier though I won’t name names on the Internet! But because of that I often feel the other will get so much more of my attention and precious bonding time. Then again I sometimes think I favour the easier twin simply because she is easier.

Either way I seem to be stuck in an endless cycle of feeling guilty. It’s probably something I’m going to be experiencing for the rest of my life. I’m sure things will change as they grow up buy I suspect the guilt will never go away!

When things don’t go to (birth) plan

I don’t know how long it will take me to write this post since I have 2 newborn babies, am recovering from major surgery and find the whole thing troubling emotionally to go over in my mind. 

When I found out I was pregnant it was a huge shock, when I found out it was twins I was in shock again. Over the 37 weeks of my pregnancy my feelings changed so much from sheer terror and sadness to excitement and joy. One thing I desperately wanted to avoid was having a cesarean section. I knew twin births very often were c sections but I was desperate to do it naturally. The main obstacle would be the twins position, if they were both head down we could go natural and if not they would likely plan a section. 

Josh and I prayed and prayed that they would be head down and when we went to our 32 week scan we were elated to find they both were! It seemed perfect.

My induction was booked for Wednesday 10th August however from Saturday evening I began to start what is called “slow labour” and felt contractions on and off. It got to the point where they became regular and we went in to hospital in the early hours of Tuesday morning, only to be told we were only 1cm dilated. 

The next day was the day. We anxiously journeyed to the hospital knowing that when we left we’d have babies. We were told the induction process could take days… however when they checked me over they found I was already 5cm dilated by myself! It was a miracle and we were so happy knowing that my body had started the process itself. My waters were broken in the hospital and I was left on a monitor for an hour to measure my contractions. The gas and air didn’t help the pain at all and just made me feel dizzy.

Since I was having twins I wasn’t allowed to get up and move around in order to make labour more bearable as I was strapped up to a monitor. I couldn’t even roll on to my side to take the pressure off my back because one heartbeat kept getting lost when I did so. My midwife told me they wanted to start me on a drip to speed up my contractions and advised me to get an epidural. In my birth plan I had been so against an epidural… I wanted to be so natural but by this point I was in so much pain and unable to move to help myself naturally and so I decided to get the stab!

Let me tell you it was not enjoyable. Of course having a huge needle inserted in to your spine wasn’t going to be… but unfortunately for me the cord was placed wrongly twice which resulted in searing pain and me fearing I’d be paralysed! Eventually the epidural was in and the pain was beginning to ease. 

My contractions began to come more quickly and more intense and by 10pm I was fully dilated. Twin 1’s head was in a sideways position so they left me for an hour for it to change. At around midnight I began pushing and we were so excited.

I pushed with everything in me but unfortunately her head wasn’t moving. The Midwife called the doctor in and she said the words I had dreaded hearing “we will have to do a c section”. Immediately I was protesting, crying inconsolably. I felt so devastated that I’d worked so hard but I was also terrified at having surgery… terrified I was going to feel it and not cope. 

Very quickly they brought me through to the theatre… Josh was not with me but was going to be allowed in when all was ready. They put a big sheet up so I couldn’t see what was going on and various people tried and failed to keep me calm. Josh came through and talked to me whilst holding my hand…

They say you don’t feel anything but what they mean is you don’t feel pain. You feel everything… all the pulling and tugging and this weird suction sensation. And then just like that, within a few minutes we heard our baby’s beautiful cry. We looked at each other in disbelief. Is that our baby crying?! They confirmed that twin 1 was born at 2.22am and moments later we heard the next heart filling cry. They were brought round the curtain to us in towels and Josh got to hold them. I kissed their heads. It didn’t feel real. I was just lying there and one second they weren’t there and then they were. We gave them their names; Twin 1 was Dorothy and Twin 2 was Margot.

They took the babies to be weighed and suddenly I started to feel pain in the top of my abdomen. They checked a few times and the pain was still there so they decided to put me to sleep to finish off. 

The next thing I know I’m waking up in a strange room with people all around me. Completely groggy and for a minute I forget everything that just happened. Eventually they wheel me back through to my squeaky new family and my babies are put in to my arms. I’m drowsy and confused but glad to be back with them. I’d already missed so much of their first moments.

Not long after I was lying looking at my babies and a doctor came in and told me they had to be taken to special care. I was devastated that I’d only just seen my babies and they were going to be taken away again. Josh and I got some rest whist they were gone and a couple of hours later Dorothy  was brought back through but no Margot. We felt so incomplete without her but glad to have Dorothy back. She took to breast feeding without any problem and I was so glad. It was early afternoon by the time we finally got Margot back but we were so glad to be whole again. 

The recovery for me was horrible. I could barely walk, was completely swollen and had a very sore throat. I thought I’d never get better and my arms were like pin cushions from all the tests. 

I didn’t want cesarean. Nothing went to plan. Sometimes I look back on those moments when I was desperately trying to push naturally and I feel so much grief. I can’t help thinking that I did something wrong but I know that wasn’t the case. 

Sometimes things don’t go to plan. You can sit and cry about it and ask God why and feel angry and cheated by him or you can accept it and move on. Currently I’m in between the two. I can’t say I’m fully there yet but I’m on the way. We know that God works all things together for good and if I have faith in Him I must have faith that this was the right outcome for me.

I have 2 beautiful babies who are now one month old and I am so blessed!

Sorry this post was a bit long and rambly but I wanted to remember everything so I have it all documented for myself.

What to expect when you’re not expecting to be expecting…

Bit of a tongue twister isn’t it?! I have been pretty quiet on my blog lately… mainly because I have one secret thing consuming my every thought. I am going to be a mum. I am pregnant. But not just pregnant, pregnant with TWINS.  I am growing two humans inside me, and after I go through the traumatic experience of birthing said humans I am going to be responsible (along with my husband, of course) for keeping them alive, looking after them and fashioning them in to somewhat decent human beings.

The problem is I was never planning on being a mum. I guess I knew it would happen, but it always seemed a fairly abstract, far-off eventuality that a future version of myself would have to deal with. I always thought that future version of myself would be ready, she would have planned this, she would have thought it through. She would have experience with other people’s babies, she’d probably be an auntie and she’d just simply know what to do.

The moment I found out I was pregnant was one of the most crazy moments of my life. Unfortunately it wasn’t joy that filled my heart and soul at that moment… more fear, disappointment, confusion, sadness and tears. I always imagined the moment I found out I was pregnant for  the first time would be a moment of elation for me, but that wasn’t this moment.

Before I go on, let me first say that a child is always a gift. There are many in the world who so desperately desire to have a baby and it doesn’t happen for them, or their journey is riddled with pain and anguish and so what I say now I intend to say with the greatest sensitivity to those still trying or indeed those who have given up hope. I was not trying to have a baby, in fact I was actively trying not to have a baby. I had dreams of travelling the world and being a career woman before I even thought about becoming a mum. So when I found out I was pregnant it was not met with joy but week after week of tears and depression.

I think the world sells us this image of a happy little family but we don’t see what goes on behind closed doors. Unplanned pregnancy isn’t necessarily made easier because you are married or in a relationship. Unplanned pregnancy is a shock which can hit you at any stage or any age in your life. I felt guilty because I thought I should feel a certain way and I didn’t, which I think made me even more depressed. But now I’ve come to the realisation that it’s okay not to get those butterflies and feelings of elation when you find out you’re pregnant, it doesn’t mean you’re going to be a bad parent and it doesn’t mean you’re ungrateful for the gift that you have been given.

I thought people would judge me for getting pregnant so young. In all honesty I didn’t want to live up to the stereotype of getting married young and settling down. I was afraid of what people thought of me. I was afraid people my age would look at me and feel sorry for me, they’d think to themselves “well that’s good for them but I am so glad it’s not me”. Well the truth is out now and I don’t know if people are thinking those things… if they are I don’t blame them. But I have no plans to settle down, not when I got married and not now I’m having kids. I am still going to see the world, it just might be in a different format to the way I’d originally planned. I’m still going to have a career, only now I have a couple more years to decide what I actually want to do with my life.

I wouldn’t be any sort of Christian if I didn’t believe everything happens for a reason. I believe God has a plan for my life and sometimes that plan doesn’t necessarily match up to my own. God works all things together for good, He sees the big picture but he only reveals to us what we need to see right now. These babies may not have been planned by Josh and me but they were planned and purposed by God. He is knitting them together in my womb as I type this. He guides my path and always will. I put all my trust and faith in Him because I know that He is always faithful to me.

I’m 17 weeks pregnant now and in all honesty I still have my ups and downs. I have days of sheer excitement and I have days when I cry for the life I thought I was going to have. When people say congratulations sometimes I find it hard to play the beaming mum-to-be but I appreciate all the love and support we have received. I wanted people to know our story, to understand how we came to be where we are. But most of all I want people to see that even when your plans don’t fall in to place the way you’d expect, God is still working.

 

Have faith!

Kate-Sig-1