Postpartum body update: one year in

As I scarf a rather large, white bagel with cream cheese, I thought it might be appropriate to take a look at my body and where I stand almost a year after giving birth.  As I mentioned a few months ago, I seemed to be struggling to get rid of the final 10 lbs after this pregnancy.  I had expected it to melt off while breastfeeding like it did with my first son, but, sadly, that wasn’t meant to be.  I decided not to let it get me down and, instead, continued to work out while still eating what I needed/wanted to sustain my milk production.

Here’s an update on what’s going on with my body these days:

Exercise

On top of my weekly mommy and baby fitness class, I took up running in the summer and ran my first 5K in the fall.  I (unexpectedly!) really enjoyed it and I know it’s something that I’d like to continue.  Unfortunately, the frigid winter weather has kept me from running outside for the past few months and I don’t have access to a treadmill, so I’ll have to start over again this spring.

I also haven’t been able to get nearly as much walking in as I was doing before.  In the summer and fall, I could get close to 20,000 steps per day on a good day and 12-15,000 on a bad day.  Now, a good day is 5,000.  It felt amazing to be in Florida and get out walking again.  This is something I’m going to have to make a point of doing when I go back to work.  Sitting at a desk all day is not good for me so I’ll need to be creative in order to get more daily steps.

Weight

I’m 5’6″ tall and my typical weight is around 135 lbs.  I seemed to get stuck at 140 for a while after Bo was born but I’m pleased to report that I hit 130.2 lbs this morning!  It will be interesting to see what happens once Bo is weaned.  He’s still nursing a fair bit, although it’s already slowing down this week with his longer days at daycare.  I don’t expect to lose any more and I know I’ll have to be careful to adjust my diet once he’s done breastfeeding.  I still crave sweets and carbs a lot but I won’t have Bo as an excuse to eat them as frequently much longer!

Birth control

In January, I finally bit the bullet and got an IUD inserted.  I regretted it almost immediately as it caused me to bleed for about six weeks.  I finally stopped bleeding about a week ago and hope that’s the end of that.  My OB said that it’s pretty normal for non-breastfeeding women to bleed for a couple of months after having it inserted but that it’s uncommon for nursing women.  I appear to be an exception to the rule.  Lucky me. Other than that, I haven’t noticed any other side effects to date.

I was totally certain because of all the bleeding, but I don’t think I’ve had an actual period yet.  I’m curious to see if/when I’ll get one and hope that it will be light and easy.

Breasts

I’m in that tricky phase where my breasts are either full and massive or empty and deflated.  Bo is going much longer between feeds right now so my body is still trying to adjust.  While my weight is down and I am fitting into my smaller clothes right now, my breasts still make me feel a bit awkward in my clothes.  I know this will likely get worse before it gets better because I refuse to buy any new bras until I’m totally finished breastfeeding.  This means that there will be some gaping or overflowage, depending on what bra I choose to wear.

So, there we go.  I’ll check in again after I’m back at work and no longer breastfeeding.

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Bodily frustrations

I find women’s bodies to be both fascinating and infuriating.

On one hand, it’s pretty amazing what our bodies are (sometimes) capable of doing.  Pregnancy, as frustrating and challenging as it can be, totally blows my mind.  I somehow managed to grow two humans.  Then, if that wasn’t enough, my body allowed me to feed these tiny humans.  Crazy!

On the other hand, though, is the uncertainty that comes along with having this miraculous body.

I got an IUD inserted two weeks ago at 10 months postpartum.  I am still breastfeeding and, until that moment, I had not had any bleeding or even any menstrual symptoms since before getting pregnant.  I had a bit of spotting for two days after the IUD was put in, which I’m told is normal.  Then it stopped.  Five days later it started again, but this time I had the familiar cramping that always comes along with my periods.  WTF?  Can it really be back?  Nonononononoooooo!  It’s now a week later and I’m still bleeding.  Argh!

I had an ultrasound a couple of days ago to confirm that the IUD is in the correct position.  It is.  Everything is normal.  So, it appears that my period has miraculously returned.  What irks me is that one of the selling features of this IUD is that periods can be lighter than normal or disappear altogether.  That sounded pretty great to me but apparently I’m the exception to that rule.  So far, mine is twice as long as normal!

I hope this is just a fluke or my body is just sorting itself out after all that time being pregnant and nursing.  Because what the hell’s the point of having this stupid IUD if I’m feeling too gross to have sex?  I know some people don’t mind getting down to business while having their period but I’m not one of those people.

Testing, testing, 1-2-3

I took a pregnancy test yesterday.

I woke up at 7am, needing to pee, and stumbled into the bathroom.  As I’ve done countless other times, I reached into the cupboard and fumbled around in the dark for my (dollar store – no sense in wasting big bucks) test and the empty cup that I’d stashed there the night before.  I peed in the cup and used the dropper to add the required amount of urine to the test.  And then I waited.

No, I didn’t think I was pregnant.  In fact, I knew the chances were slim to none.  But, my OB required me to take one before he would insert my new IUD.

Over the past six years, I’ve done the whole pee-on-a-stick routine a lot.  Each and every time, my heart pounded in my chest as I waited with hope for the second line to appear.  I’ve never taken a pregnancy test hoping that it was negative.  And, crazily enough, this time was no exception.  I knew, for practical reasons, that it wouldn’t be good if I was pregnant again.  Financially, it would be bad for us.  Work wise, it would be bad for me.  But knowing I was about to take measures to prevent pregnancy for the forseeable future, I had a brief moment of wanting to be pregnant again.  The test, of course, was negative.

The logical side of me was relieved.  Of course I couldn’t be pregnant.  We don’t have enough space!  We don’t make enough money!  I wouldn’t be back at work long enough to be eligible for a mat leave top-up again!  The emotional side of me felt a bit disappointed, though.  My baby is getting so big!  He’s going to be going off to daycare soon!  He’ll wean from the breast before I know it!

As planned, my OB inserted the IUD that afternoon.  It hurt like a mofo and I bled a little bit afterwards.  I have to get an ultrasound in a couple of weeks to confirm that it’s in the proper place.  And then, after that, we won’t have to worry about birth control anymore.

I know this is a good thing.  Although I’m not totally ready to accept it, I know we don’t plan to have more children.  I don’t expect that our family plans will change but at least I can take some comfort in knowing that we haven’t done anything permanent.  Maybe one day our situation will be different and we will try to have another child.  Likely not.  But, either way, that option is open to us.  For now.

Preventative measures

About five-and-a-half years ago, I tossed out my birth control pills as we prepared to begin trying to start a family.  It took longer than expected to conceive our first son and, knowing that it could take a while again, I didn’t go back on birth control between pregnancies.  After a miscarriage and then another successful pregnancy, we are pretty certain that our family is now complete.

At my eight-weeks-postpartum check-up (way back in May!), my OB asked me what my birth control plans were.  He went through all the options and recommended Mirena (an intrauterine system).  I accepted the prescription from him, figuring I’d think about and talk to my husband and then make the appointment to get it inserted.

Then I procrastinated.

It feels weird.  After all these years of thinking about having babies, planning for babies, trying for babies, being pregnant with babies, losing a baby, birthing babies and nursing babies, it feels really, really weird to be focusing on not having babies.

While we don’t intend to have any more children, I still don’t feel 100% ready to make a permanent commitment to being finished.  D is a little more certain (OK, a lot more certain).  We both agree, though, that having another child just doesn’t make sense for us financially.  Daycare is expensive.  Our house is too small.  If we were to win the lottery, then, sure, we’d likely have a larger family.  But, given our current situation, our family of four is just right.

So, that leaves us needing birth control.  I’m still breastfeeding and my period hasn’t returned, although I know that doesn’t mean I can’t get pregnant.  We’ve been using condoms since Bo was born, but that’s not our favourite solution.  I really don’t want to go on the pill again, after being off it for so long.  Plus, after two kids, my memory isn’t what it used to be.  I don’t love the idea of having to remember to take it everyday (something I was excellent at before having kids!)

I had coffee with a friend this week who is having her second baby by a scheduled c-section a few days from now.  She’s trying to decide if she should get her tubes tied at the same time.  That wasn’t an option for me, having a vaginal delivery, but it made me wonder what I would have chosen to do if I was in her situation.

We’ve talked about D having a vasectomy and it is something we’ll probably look at more seriously in the future but, for now, I bit the bullet and called the OB.  I scheduled an appointment to have the Mirena inserted.  I have an appointment for January.  When the receptionist was booking the appointment, she told me that I’ll need to take a pregnancy test the morning of my appointment to ensure I’m not pregnant.  Just the thought of that makes me feel strange.  I’ve never taken a pregnancy test hoping it would be negative.

For many reasons, I know that I’ll need that test to be negative. But, I also know that a little part of me will feel disappointed to see only one line.

 

Postpartum check-up

I had my postpartum check-up with my OB last week. It always feels a bit weird to be back at that office and NOT be pregnant. I noticed that none of the other patients in the waiting room were noticeably pregnant, so I’m guessing the gynecological appointments are scheduled on a separate day. Makes sense, I guess. After my miscarriage, I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to see a bunch of pregnant ladies at the doctor’s office…

Although I’m happy to not be pregnant anymore, the one part I used to love about my regular pre-natal check ups was listening to the heartbeat. So, I think I’ll kind of miss this stuff:

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Anyway, back to my appointment. Everything checked out just fine and I got the “all clear” to resume exercising and sexual activity. Good thing, because Bo and I have signed up for mommy and baby fitness, which starts tomorrow! (And the sex. Of course, there’s that. Maybe when I’m not so tired. Or flabby. Huh.)

We talked about my birth control options going forward. D and I don’t plan to have anymore kids and we’ve discussed vasectomy at some point, but we just aren’t really there yet. I’m not super keen on going back on the pill at this point in my life so I’m considering IUS (Mirena). My doc gave me a prescription to fill whenever I feel ready and then I can make an appointment to have it inserted. It sounds like the best option for me right now but I’ll probably do a bit more research before I make a decision.

I’m glad that everything checked out ok and that I’m feeling good physically. I’m pumped to be ready to start working out again because it feels like ages since I’ve done so. I was in the best shape of my life during my last mat leave so hoping I can get close to that again!