Postpartum body update: love it or hate it?

It could be that it’s bathing suit season and we have a pool. Or perhaps it’s because my pre-pregnancy clothes are not of the loose or baggy variety. Likely it’s a combination of both that is making me realize that I’m not a big fan of my body these days.

I had a pretty decent body before I had kids. Sure it wasn’t perfect, but at 5’6″ and 130lbs, I looked ok.

I gained about 30 lbs with my first pregnancy and lost it all (and more) pretty quickly after giving birth. I was more fit than I’d ever been in my life during my maternity leave and felt pretty good about how I looked once I went back to work.

My body hasn’t been so forgiving this time around. I gained an extra 10 lbs with this pregnancy and it’s those 10 lbs that are being stubborn. Besides my breasts, which have to be storing some of the weight, I seem to have a rather unsightly bulge in my tummy area. I can fit into most of my clothes, but my muffin-top looks unattractive when I wear any of my more fitted tops.

I’m doing a weekly fitness class and going on tons of walks with the stroller, but my pre-baby body alludes me.

I am trying, I really am, but it seems that I’m losing the battle against my sweet tooth. In fact, as I type this, I’m waiting for some chocolate chip cookies to bake. You see, breastfeeding makes me crave sugar. I mean, I need it. Like ALL THE TIME.

Since I don’t think I’ll be able to stop myself from eating treats right now, I’m just going to try to do it in moderation. That’s the best I can hope for right now! (Does 6 chocolate chip cookies count as moderation?  They’re small.  Really small.)

In an attempt to motivate myself to move more, I bought myself a fitbit.  I’ve been using it for about a month now. It definitely helps, although it frustrates me because I don’t think it’s totally accurate. I bought the fitbit flex, which you wear on your wrist. I thought this was the best option for me because I can keep it on all the time. I’ve used pedometers in the past but wouldn’t always remember to clip them on before heading out. With the wrist version, it’s always on me.

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The problem I’ve discovered? My stroller. I don’t think the fitbit flex tracks my steps accurately when I’m pushing my stroller. My mom and I have gone on a few walks together and she always ends up with a lot more steps than me, even though we walk the same distance and would have similar strides. It’s annoying, although I suppose it’s better to underestimate rather than overestimate my step count.

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That being said, I generally really like it.  Some of the things I enjoy are:

  • It’s always on my wrist, so no fear of forgetting it or running it through the wash (although it is water resistant!)
  • It tracks sleep, so it’s interesting to see how shitty I’m sleeping these days (as if I don’t already know!).  I think I’ll like this feature better once Bo stops waking so much in the night.
  • The ability to have friends (who I secretly compete with).  I only have my mom and my brother-in-law right now, but I sure love it when my weekly step count is higher than theirs!  I’m terribly competitive so this helps motivate me, for sure.
  • The fitbit app, which lets me check my steps and distance on my iphone.  I’ve been known to do laps of my main floor when I’m close to 10,000 steps so that I can hit my goal before I go to bed.
  • The fact that it vibrates to let me know that I’ve reached my goal. There is nothing more satisfying than a little buzz on my wrist to remind me of how far I’ve walked (ok, maybe chocolate chip cookies are a little more satisfying!)

As I strolled through the neighborhood this afternoon, I ended up walking behind three teenage girls. They all had long, lean legs clad in tiny jean shorts. They had minuscule waists. There was barely an ounce of fat on any of them, and they certainly didn’t have belly flab or love handles.

I used to look like that. About 20 years ago. But still.

As my fitbit buzzed to tell me I’d walked my 10,000 steps, I thought to myself, would I like to trade with them? Would I give up my flabby belly, and all that goes along with it, for a body like that? I looked at my baby, asleep in his stroller, and I knew the answer. This belly gave me my two amazing boys. It might not look as good as it used to, but I refuse to hate it. This body, muffin top and all, has done amazing things.

I know there is a good chance that I’ll never look the way I did before. I may never love my body. And I know it certainly won’t happen while I keep eating sugary treats. So for now, I will try my best to eat better and work out more, while quietly thanking the fashion gods that loose flowy tops seem to be in style right now.

12 weeks old and enjoying the warmth!

Where does the time go?  It feels like just yesterday that we were freezing our buns off in the midst of a miserable winter and I was sending my mom out to buy Bo more newborn sleepers.  Now, it’s hot and humid (no complaints here!) and I’m frantically digging out Littleman’s summer baby clothes so Bo doesn’t have to sweat it out in his pants and long-sleeved onesies!

Baby Bo is almost 12 weeks old.  I’m feeling really good and, while we don’t quite have a schedule or routine going, we still manage to be pretty busy during the day.

Now that the weather is nice, I’m walking a ton.  I love my stroller and can walk happily for hours.  Bo is (usually) just as happy as I am to be out with the stroller.  It’s a good way for me to get some exercise while he gets some napping.  Win win!

After one of our walks yesterday, Bo was still asleep so I decided to plant some of the flowers that we bought for our front garden.  We had just walked home from our mommy and baby fitness class, so I figured I might as well get even more dirty and sweaty before I showered.  I sure am feeling it today!  I’m not sure what hurt me more – the exercise class or the gardening!  Either way, my poor body is very sore and I am very tired.  I’m using today’s rain as a nice excuse to stay inside and play with my baby boy while I rest my aching muscles.

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Getting my body back (or at least trying to)

So, I’ve officially started exercising again.  Not just walking around the neighbourhood (although I do a ton of that too) but full on, intense exercising.

When I was on maternity leave with Littleman, I found a mommy and baby fitness class to join.  I’ve always preferred classes to exercising on my own because I need the motivation of someone telling me what to do (and, since I tend to be a teeny bit competitive, I work much harder when there are other people around!)

I ended up loving the class and did it a couple of times a week for the majority of my time at home.  I met some great friends, spent time with my baby AND worked out.  By the end of my maternity leave, I was in the best shape of my life.

I was super excited to start taking the classes again this time around and it didn’t disappoint.  The same instructor still teaches the class and it is just a hard as I remember.  I was pretty much dying after the warm-up but I kept reminding myself that it would be worth it.

I’m back in my pre-pregnancy pants but I still have some unsightly belly flab and extra weight to lose.  Breastfeeding makes me starving (and causes me to crave sweets!) so I know I need to find a way to balance it all out.

Once the weather gets more consistently nice, I plan to join a strollerfit class as well.  Nothing like running up a hill pushing a 14lb baby in a stroller to make you sweat (and hopefully help shed those pounds!)

I don’t expect my results to be as good as they were the first time around… I’m not totally delusional!  But I hope that, by working hard, I can get a little bit closer to having my old, pre-pregnancy body back.

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!

My postpartum body

I’m struggling a bit with my body these days.  It seems that it’s taking a bit longer to bounce back the second time around and I’m not feeling very good about myself.

Last week, I attempted to put on a pair of my regular, non-maternity jeans.  Big mistake.  I remember fitting into them two weeks after I gave birth to Littleman.  That certainly isn’t the case this time.  I couldn’t get them over my hips.

And then there are my boobs.  They are definitely bigger than they were last time.  My old nursing bras are too tight.  My nursing tank tops are too tight.  I have a couple of barely supportive nursing sleep bras that sort of fit, so I’m using those right now.  I’m avoiding buying anything new for a while until I feel like my body has settled into a consistent size.

The boobs are also causing issues with tops.  Most things are too tight on the bust, which feels especially bad because my breasts are still a bit sore sometimes. My maternity tops work, for the most part, but then they are super-loose on my stomach.  I feel sloppy when I wear them.

I don’t know the total amount of weight I gained with this pregnancy, but I know that it’s more than I gained the first time around.  I’m going to guess that it was close to 40 lbs (I gained 30 lbs with Littleman).  I still have about 12-15 lbs to lose to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight.

I know it’s still really early – I’m less than four weeks postpartum – but I have to wonder if I’ll be able to do it.  Will my hips ever fit in those jeans again?  Am I going to have to buy an entire new wardrobe to manage my breasts this year?  (Later on, I fully expect my boobs to shrink back to the deflated pancakes that they became after I weaned my first son.  Ugh.)

I’m sure things will get a bit better once I start moving more again.  I feel like it’s been way too long since I’ve been able to work out. When the weather gets better, I intend to get out walking with the baby as much as I can (in fact, we went for our first walk today!). And I plan to do mommy/baby exercise classes with Bo, as I did with his brother.  Until then, I guess I’ll just get used to looking a bit awkward and hope that this won’t last forever!

My body: working out

A while ago, I wrote about my feelings about my boobs – pre-baby, during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and post-baby.  While I’ve come to accept that my breasts may never be what I’d like them to be, I know that the rest of my body is something that I can have a little more control over.

I’ve always been a relatively slim person.  I’m 5’6” and, at my heaviest, was around 135lbs.  Going into this pregnancy, I was a little under 130 lbs.

As a teenager and in my early twenties, I never really thought about what I ate and I certainly never considered exercising.  I was lucky to have some good genes.

Around the time that I turned 25, I finally started to notice that I couldn’t eat lying down and expect not to gain any weight.  I was also a couple of years into working and I realized that spending my days at a desk and my evenings on the couch could be a recipe for disaster.  I finally got up the courage to join a gym and started doing some exercise classes.  Turns out, I actually enjoyed it!

A couple of years later, I started taking spinning classes with a friend from work and I loved it.  I’ve never been good at pushing myself hard enough when I exercise on my own.  I’m a fairly competitive person and I prefer having an instructor at the front of the room motivating us (or yelling at us) to keep going.  I definitely work way harder when I know I’m being watched.

Then I got pregnant.  After trying to conceive for over a year, I was nervous to do anything to jeopardize the pregnancy.  So I stopped going to classes for the first couple of weeks, planning to go back when I got more comfortable with the idea that I was pregnant.  Then morning (all day) sickness hit and forget it.  I could barely stand up at the end of the day, let alone jump on a bike for an hour.

By the end of my pregnancy with Littleman, I had gained 30lbs.  I know that isn’t terrible – in fact it was right on target for my starting weight – but I felt huge.  Luckily I lost a lot of the weight quite quickly.  And, although breastfeeding made me starving (and caused me to crave sweets like you wouldn’t believe!) it also helped me to shed some of those pregnancy pounds.

But even though I was lucky enough to lose a lot of the weight fairly easily, I still felt like something was missing.  I knew that I needed to find a way to start working out again.   Then, I somehow stumbled across the perfect solution during some iPhone web surfing while middle-of-the-night breasfeeding.  Mommy and Baby Fitness! 

I loved the idea that there was a class I could do with Littleman, rather than dropping him off in a gym daycare or having to arrange for a babysitter.  I also really wanted to meet some other new moms, but wasn’t super keen on the whole “mom’s group” idea of sitting around chatting about whose baby was sleeping through the night or who was eating solids.  This seemed like the perfect combination of both.

I signed up and started taking the classes when Littleman was three months old.  It turned out to be even better than I had hoped.  I met some great friends and got to do some pretty tough exercising too!  The majority of the class was meant for the mommies, while the babies hung out on blankets on the floor.  Then, at the end, we grabbed the babies for songs and games.  As Littleman got older, he loved it.  He had a great time with his new little buddies, who were exactly his age.  And I loved getting to know some other moms while getting fit at the same time.

By the end of my maternity leave, I was doing the classes three times a week and was fitter than I’d ever been in my life.  I felt great about my body (boobs notwithstanding) and knew that I was heading back to work in great shape.

Then the “back to work” happened.  I knew that working out in the evenings, like I did pre-pregnancy, wasn’t going to work with our schedule.  So, naively, I brought my gym bag to the office with plans to work out during lunch.  Mwahahahaha.  Good one.  That bag sat in my cubicle for 18 months, until I finally decided I could use that extra pair of yoga pants for chilling out at home. 

We all know what happened next.  Pregnancy, miscarriage,  D&C, pregnancy again.  That brings us to right now, where I can once again say that I haven’t worked out at all during this pregnancy.  This time, though, I know exactly what I plan do once the baby gets here.  And as I get closer to my due date, I find myself getting excited for this part of my maternity leave.   Only this time I’ll have to come up with a better plan for exercising when I go back to work.  But we’ll think about that one later…