The Un-Fit Mom: When Your Prenatal Fitness Plans Don’t Pan Out

Hey guys! I’m posting today on the Knoxville Moms Blog about a journey I have been on for the last 9 months… Really, for the last 7 1/2 years. It hasn’t always been pretty, definitely not easy, but it’s my body, so you know I’m gonna love it. Click the link at the bottom to read the full post!

A few years ago, my friend from high school posted a video on Facebook of her teaching Zumba at 9 months pregnant. It was the most incredible (and admittedly bizarre) thing to watch, and I was incredibly impressed not only with her commitment to staying fit and active, but dang she’s got moves! I remember at the time thinking, “I wish I could do that,” and I remember reflecting on it when I found out I was pregnant, thinking, “I am going to do that!”

But you know what they say about the best laid plans…

The Un-Fit Mom

Many moons ago, I was a young, first-time expectant mom with absolutely zero clue what I was doing. My vast experience in prenatal health consisted mostly of “say no to drugs” and popular TV/movie jokes about pregnant moms eating whatever they wanted. The “What to Expect” diet was so far from what I was used to eating that I blew it off and went with my gut (pun always intended): bring on the Oreos and Toaster Streudels!

Sixty-five naive pounds later, I gave birth to an extremely healthy 9 lb. 15 oz. baby girl and kept eating whatever I wanted while nursing because that’s supposed to make you skinny, right?? I was shocked and devastated that I hung on to every one of those pounds, less the actual weight of the baby. Add in 2 more kids over the next 3 years, and I was one overweight, unhappy mama.

After my 3rd child was born, I decided to stop hating my body for what it didn’t look like and start loving it for what it could do. I ate nutritious foods and swore off sweets and sodas. I hit the gym hard 5-6 days a week. Over the next 2 years, I lost nearly 75 lbs. and looked and felt better than when I was 16.

I kept up the workouts and kept off the weight through post-partum depression, a challenging year of personal/family issues, and two miscarriages. When I finally got pregnant again, I was determined to not repeat the mistakes of my past. I would eat right, drink tons of water, and work out every day. I would be… FIT MOM.

…Then reality hit.

Click here to read the full post on the Knoxville Moms Blog! Let me hear your thoughts in the comments!


To the Wannabe Mom on the Elevator…

Wannabe Mom

Last week I went to my obstetrician for a routine pre-natal visit. (Summary of findings: baby is healthy, mommy is gaining entirely too much weight. You’re welcome for the update.) As usual, I was running late and did not have time for insignificant, time-sapping trivialities like “make-up” and “non-yoga pants.” As I rushed my already-waddling self through the late-Spring Tennessee heat and into the building, I had already begun to sweat. Thankfully a kind soul held the elevator for me even as the doors were closing, because I was already late and definitely was not feeling a 5-flight hike up the stairs.

As I caught my panting breath on the elevator, I couldn’t help noticing the woman standing next to me. She was tall, thin, and very attractive. I looked down at my swollen belly and suddenly could feel the extra padding on my hips and thighs. Her hair was about the same length as mine, but hers was perfectly styled in those loose curls I can never seem to master. I thought about my barely-brushed ponytail that I pretend is there because of my hurry, but really I wear it like that every day. Her polished, professional attire suggested she would be heading back to an office after this, and, based on her shoes, I imagine it is a pretty well-paying office. I tugged at my yoga pants that will never fit quite right while I’m pregnant and pulled my husband’s t-shirt down over my stomach. My feet were already swelling in my now-tight sandals. I wonder when I’ll be able to wear real clothes again? I thought. I started mentally counting the weeks until delivery, plus 6 weeks post-surgery until I’m cleared for physical activity, plus however long I will be nursing before I can start cutting calories, plus… how long did it take me to lose those first 20 lbs? Plus 40 more lbs… It was starting to feel like forever before I would be myself again…

My pity-party-train-of-thought was abruptly interrupted as the third passenger exited the elevator. Now it was just me and Beauty Queen for one more floor, and this enviously beautiful woman turned to me and smiled. “You look gorgeous,” she said sweetly.

I couldn’t help but chuckle. “Thanks,” I replied, “I was just thinking how I feel like a whale.”

She smiled again. “No, you look beautiful. I’m not just saying that. Really, you just have that glow.”

I thanked her again as the doors opened to the 5th floor. Quietly we both walked down the hallway and, sure enough, through the same door to the OB-GYN. I took a seat by my husband, who, of course, was on time, while she went to the corner alone. She could have been there for routine care or any kind of visit, but after our conversation in the elevator and the heartfelt way she looked into my eyes when she spoke, suddenly I recognized her. Eleven months ago, that was me.

Last May I learned I was pregnant again, just 6 weeks after miscarrying my 4th child. A few days later I learned that my bloodwork indicated another miscarriage was impending, so I went to the doctor every other day for blood and urine samples until the loss was confirmed.

Every other day, I walked into that office and took my seat in a waiting room full of pregnant women. Every other day, I overheard whispered conversations with husbands about where they should put the crib and what color to paint the nursery. Every other day, I watched women drink that awful orange juice for the glucose tolerance test and complain about how long this would take. Every other day, I observed exasperated moms wrestle with bored toddlers while simultaneously soothing their fussy newborns. Every other day, I sat with expectant teen girls as they flipped through parenting magazines, not really reading the words, anxiety written across their young faces.

Every other day, I sat surrounded by babies while I waited for my own child to die.

There’s really not a way to explain the pain of that juxtaposition, feeling the weight of my broken womb sitting among the healthy ones. After a while the phlebotomist who drew my blood every other day stopped trying to make lighthearted conversation and would simply insert the needle into my familiar left vein while I looked the other way, eyes filled with tears. When she was done, we nodded to each other, and I walked wordlessly from the office to my car, where I could let out my emotions.

Being around pregnant women remained difficult for months following my 2nd miscarriage, which finally happened naturally at not-quite-9 weeks gestation. Like this mom said, “A single miscarriage felt like a fluke; a second consecutive miscarriage felt like the deepest blow and left me weary and wounded, both physically and emotionally.” When I did see expectant mothers, it was all I could do not to approach them with love and encouragement and just a tinge of jealousy, reassuring them that they are beautiful and so, so very blessed with that little life inside. (My husband informed me this was weird, so I held my tongue… usually.)

So to the beautiful woman on the elevator, I see you. You may be here at the doctor for another fertility consultation, because after months or years of trying, you just aren’t getting pregnant. You could be here for bloodwork – again – unsure if this time will be good news or bad. You could be consulting the doctor about whether a DNC is necessary. You might be here for that dreaded follow-up appointment – the one where you have to sit in the same place where your dreams were just crushed and see the words “non-maternity” on your chart, knowing hope is officially lost.

My friend, I have been there. I see you, and I feel your pain. My wounds are yet fresh, and your kind remarks and longing glances are not lost on this still-grieving mother’s heart.

Friend, I promise to joy in this pregnancy as much as possible. I promise to delight in each kick and surprise trip to the bathroom, knowing my active baby is a healthy one. I promise to breathe deeply and allow my body to do its thing (with a little help from the anti-clotting medications I take every day), accepting my current status as life-giving vessel, whatever toll that takes on the bathroom scale. I promise to remember that the gift in my womb is greater than the price my body will pay for it. And I will remember that this precious child has 3 others at home, anxious to hold him in their arms as well as mine, and that’s 4 times the heartburn, aching joints, sleepless nights, and endless love you may have experienced.

I will do this for you, because I have been there. I will not take this pregnancy for granted, because I know firsthand it is not. I will not compare myself to others any more than you wish to compare your toned, flat abdomen to my swollen and flabby and full one. Because I know you would give anything to trade places. My friend, I am sorry. I’m sorry for my pity-party in the elevator, and I am sorry for your wounded spirit. I won’t offer you blithe condolences that don’t really help, but I will assure you that you’re not alone.

You are not alone.

Gender Reveal!

gender teaser

I know you only clicked on this because you are ever so curious if baby #4 will be a girl – to even out our family (2 girls and 2 boys) – or a boy – to… give us 3 rambunctious boys. But you know I’m all about that bass those teasers!

From the moment I learned I was pregnant with my first child, I knew she was a girl. I don’t know why, I was just so sure. All my dreams were of little girls, and it seemed every baby commercial I saw included a little girl. I just knew it, and I was right. When time came for #2, my pregnancy was so characteristically different, I was 80% sure it was a boy. Sure enough, Sweet Prince turned out as expected. With my 3rd, I kinda thought it would be a girl, but I didn’t really have a clear idea. I really only thought that because I couldn’t come up with any good boy names, so I hoped for a girl to make it easier. Little Man turned out to be a little man, and thus we have our family.

I always imagined we would have another girl, and maybe we did. I miscarried two children in 2014, and either one of them could have been a girl. We will never know this side of heaven. Broken and bruised from those losses, I had all but given up on that dream. My husband and I discussed permanent measures to prevent pregnancy (and, in my mind, miscarriage), and we contacted DCS about becoming foster parents.

But GodHere we are expecting a healthy baby in August!

After my Little Man was born in 2011, I committed to losing the weight I gained and kept through all 3 pregnancies, and – hallelujah! – I did! Having been fairly sedentary even before having our first child, I was in the best shape of my life. I was strong, thin-ish (I have to be realistic on this one), and more in touch with my body than ever. Even with an incredibly easy 3rd pregnancy, I was convinced this would be my best one yet. I have been through a lot both physically and emotionally this year, so maybe I wasn’t as prepared as I wanted to be, but I was still doing great. When I found out I was pregnant again, I was prepared for an active, healthy 9 months, gaining 20-30 pounds I can easily lose post-partum.

Then reality hit.

As it turns out, every pregnancy is different. And sometimes they are hard. The first trimester of my 6th pregnancy was characterized by constant, wish-I-could-throw-up-but-can’t nausea and wicked insomnia for weeks at a time, which led me to a very zombie-like state of fatigue. Although the nausea mostly subsided by week 13-14 and the insomnia has become infrequent, that second-trimester burst of energy I was counting on never showed up. I am not quite halfway through this pregnancy, and I’ve already gained 25 lbs. While my attitude is great, I admit it is really hard to look and feel like I did at my unhealthiest.

I keep telling myself, You are pregnant. You are pregnant. You are pregnant. The way I feel (and the weight I have gained) is so much like my first pregnancy, I have been quite certain this baby is a girl. My husband felt the same way. Last week we went for our fetal anatomy ultrasound to be sure. As the ultrasound tech moved around, we joked about how after all these children we should know what we were looking at. I was able to pick out “some organ” that turned out to be a kidney and a couple of limbs in varying positions, but when we got to a shot between the legs, my husband and I both audibly gasped. The tech said, “Well, I guess you know what that is!”

I’ll spare you our possibly-NSFW ultrasound photo and give it to you straight:

It's a boy!

We are thrilled to be adding another baby boy to our family! As much as I dread trying to come up with another name that sounds decent with “Unthank,” Sweet Prince and Little Man can’t wait to teach him how to run and play and climb on everything. Princess took a little convincing, but once she realized she will forever be queen of the castle, she warmed up to the idea of another boy in the family. I am most excited for my Little Man. He has always had these “youngest child” tendencies, and it drove me crazy because I knew he was not intended to be the youngest. It just doesn’t suit him! He needed a younger sibling to really come into his own. We are almost as happy as he is to “take care da baby” in just a few months.

So there you have it! We’re having a baby boy early in August! Name suggestions are welcome, so long as you are not offended by blatant rejection. 😉 Have a great week!

Baby Bump

Well, it seems the next logical step after announcing one’s pregnancy is to start taking pictures, right? I’ve actually been taking pictures for a while, despite the early stage of my pregnancy. It seems that after 3 normal pregnancies, one’s body recognizes those hormones and says, “Hey! We know how to do this! Alright, organs, lets moooooove on up!”

I like to imagine my stomach saying that to my lungs. Because they have been next-door neighbors since about week 8. 

Feeling pregnant has been sort of an ambiguous mash-up of a huge range of emotions. My husband (bless his heart) often asks me to explain how I am feeling, to which I generally reply, “Ya know, I mean, I dunno, just like… I dunno.”

First, there’s excitement. Of course there is. Then, pretty much immediately following comes the anxiety. The oh-God-I-can’t-bear-another-loss feeling of what if. The first few weeks were a big, beautiful/ugly mess of both of those. The doctors gave a confusing combination of “looks good” and “we don’t really know” for several weeks. I kept praying to throw up.

Pregnancy following a miscarriage is probably the only time in a woman’s life she will beg God for morning sickness.

Hallelujah, it came. It came with discomfort and general body changes and wicked insomnia (that one’s a new symptom for me).

Then came my belly. Seriously, already?! I wasn’t entirely sure if it was a combination of my lack of gym time (from the sickness and insomnia) and “safety” eating (for the baby, of course), or if I could honestly be showing so soon. Then I overheard that pesky conversation between my stomach and lungs, and I realized they were just doing their job waaaayyy sooner than necessary. At least they’ll already be in place when baby starts kicking, right?

Check me out at 9 weeks pregnant. Yes, I said NINE. Good grief.

Check me out at 9 weeks pregnant. Yes, I said NINE. Good grief.

Aaaand here I am at 11 weeks. Unable to wear normal pants.

Aaaand here I am at 11 weeks. Unable to wear normal pants.

Strange realization about pregnancy after loss… You feel SUPER guilty for not being SUPER excited all the time. Can I please just be honest with you and admit that I am not SUPER excited to have a gigantic belly again? After several years of literally working my butt off and losing 60+ pounds, it is a huge mental challenge to get used to a growing belly (and hips — thanks for that, lack of gym time and “safety” eating).

My husband and I went to a conference that weekend when I was 11 weeks. I had to leave early one night to run to Target for maternity pants because I was so uncomfortable. (I ended up with leggings. Maybe I’ll save that conversation for a post that I want to go viral. Ha!) Thankfully my friend gave me a belly band I was able to use with my normal pants for a few more weeks.

…Until now. As of Wednesday I am 14 weeks pregnant, so a little over 3 months for those of you who don’t like math. Last weekend I bought the one pair of maternity pants-pants that I will be wearing until there are holes in them or it is warm enough to wear my leftover spring/summer maternity clothes from 4 years ago. So, don’t judge me for wearing the same pants every time you see me. I promise I am wearing a rotation of sweats, yoga pants and leggings at home.

I’m sure I will post more about my crazy emotions in the coming weeks, but I know you all are only here for the belly pics. So, now being into the 2nd trimester and fully adjusted to comfortable maternity wear, behold: I give you today’s abdominal engorgement…

14 glorious weeks of swole.. and look! I put on makeup!

14 glorious weeks of swole.. and look! I put on makeup!

Hope you enjoy! Have a happy Friday, everyone!