This is us, Clinton and Brandi, just seven months before we found out we were having a baby. We'd always talked about having kids, but other things were higher on our agenda. It seemed like Robotics was always in full swing, and that we were volunteering to help with every FIRST event in the state of Michigan, so it was never a good time to start a family.
On the evening of Cinco De Mayo 2010, I took an at-home pregnancy test that turned positive faster than I could blink! At that moment, I knew my life would never be the same. I felt like all of my freedom had been whisked away, and that I'd never be able to experience a day of fun again. But in the days and months following, Clinton and I continued working, coaching Robotics, and being as involved as we had been previously.
I tried to live the same life, with some simple modifications to account for my pregnancy. I couldn't lift as much, had to give up my high-heels, and eat more balanced meals. Aside from the negative side effects of being pregnant, life went on as normal.
Throughout my pregnancy and since having Lucas, I discovered a very useful bit of information: you can't give up on yourself when you become a mom. Whether you're staying at home, or going back to work, it's okay (and even good!) for you to occasionally spend a little bit of time on yourself. Whether it's taking a bubble bath, painting your nails, buying a new top, or asking someone to watch the baby so you can sleep in, doing something to make yourself happy directly influences the happiness of those around you.
Say "No Thank You" to the mom Jean...
No matter how bad you think your body looks after pregnancy, no one looks good in a mom jean. Just put them down, and walk away. You don't have to completely give up on your appearance just because you have a kid.
I don't know about anyone else, but my body changed after pregnancy. I lost nearly all of my baby weight, nearly 35 pounds, within 4 weeks of having Lucas, but I still couldn't fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes. I used to carry a lot of my excess weight in my butt, but after having a kid, it seemed to magically transfer to my belly. It was frustrating because everyone was telling me how awesome I looked, but I still felt absolutely terrible about my appearance.
Because I nurse Lucas, my weight fluctuates by a couple pounds from day to day, making it even more difficult to find clothes that fit. I would have a mini-breakdown almost every day because I just wanted my old body back! Clinton did what he could do to support me, but it wasn't making me feel any better. So one day, he decided that I needed to go shopping for new clothes. He spent hours at the mall with me, as I tried on outfit after outfit. He's a very honest person when it comes to my appearance, so it was good to have him there to critique the clothes and help make choices.
I was completely amazed at the difference in my level of happiness once I had clothes that made me feel good. Even though I only got a couple of new tops, and a dress or two, I knew that I had some things that looked good in. I started wearing my heels again, and invested in some new makeup, I made it a point to do my hair and makeup every day for a week straight, and wear something nice. By the end of the week, I was beginning to feel a little better about myself, and Lucas was no worse for the wear.
The Snooze Blues...
I like my sleep. Ask anyone I know, and they'll tell you that before I had Lucas, my minimum sleep requirement (even with a half pot of coffee) was an uninterrupted eight hours. I can say that it is true that you have less opportunities to sleep after you have a baby, but your body naturally prepares you for this throughout your pregnancy.
In the beginning of my pregnancy, I had no trouble sleeping or waking up. The problem is that I was sleeping on the bathroom floor, and waking up to put my head in the toilet. As Lucas grew, so did the number of trips that I had to take to the bathroom... morning, noon and night. Eventually my belly got so big that I couldn't even get in-and-out of bed, let alone fall asleep in it! I got a Boppy Total Body Pillow, which made a significant difference, but I was still waking up several times a night to pee. Not to mention the fact that I had become such a light sleeper! Noises outside that normally wouldn't bother me started waking me up from a dead sleep.
Little did I know that this was my body's 40-week long acclimation to the sleep deprivation I'd experience after Lucas was born. After we brought Lucas home, he would wake up every 2 to 3 hours to nurse. I was forced to haul myself out of bed, get the baby, and feed him while my Husband sawed logs in the next room. having to wake up in the middle of the night frustrated me to no end in the beginning, but I soon realized that Lucas had to be fed, and I was the only one who could do it. So I sucked it up, and carried on.
To my utter surprise, when the mornings rolled around, I wasn't as tired as I thought I would be. I was able to function semi-normally, and with the help of cat-naps throughout the day, I somehow managed. When Clinton would get home from work, he would watch Lucas for an hour so I could take a nap, and that really seemed to help. At about seven weeks, Lucas started sleeping through the night, but I still had to wake up once or twice to pump, to avoid a reduction in my milk supply. My not-so-convenient switch to becoming a light sleeper has aided me in waking up when I hear Lucas crying in the next room.
So the skinny is that I haven't slept more than 6 consecutive hours in well over a year, but I survive. In hindsight, pregnancy has a way of preparing you for what lays ahead. All of the sleepless nights, bathroom trips, and tossing and turning have a purpose, you just have to dig up your determination and decide if you can handle it.
Pregnancy is Not an excuse to get "fat"...
Everybody gains weight when they get pregnant. Let's face it, you have to! That's how your baby grows. The distinction needs to be made between gaining a healthy amount of weight, and using pregnancy as an excuse to gain weight. So many people say, "I'm pregnant, I have the right to get fat!" but then complain when they've gained 75 or 100 pounds. The fact of the matter is simple, if you want to have weight to take off, don't put it on.
This is me at 35 weeks. I gained about 35 to 40 pounds with my pregnancy. My belly was absolutely huge by my 40th week. Friends and family kept telling me that I was too skinny, and needed to put on some pounds, while my doctor told me that I was gaining the perfect amount of weight - about a pound per week.
All throughout my pregnancy I watched what I ate. I avoided crappy snacks that I knew were bad for me (and my baby!), and chose healthy options instead. I carried around a 32 ounce Nalgene filled with water, refilling it at least 2 or 3 times per day. My job kept me physically active, and I avoided too much lounging for as long as I could.
As it turned out, Lucas was 8 pounds and 6 ounces, and I was in the 80th percentile for amniotic fluid (yes, that's a lot!), so I left the hospital about 16 pounds lighter than when I walked in. Throughout the four weeks following, I was very careful to eat healthy, and be as active as I could be without tearing the stitches from my forceps delivery. I began exercising (Zumba!) as soon as I was cleared by my doctor. With all of the hard work I was putting in, I managed to return to my pre-pregnancy weight about six weeks after Lucas was born.