Second time around…

I’ve realised that I haven’t written anything about being pregnant this time around, (who am I kidding, I’m not writing anything about anything really, blame the nesting!) so thought it was time I did! I’m well into my third trimester and I’m not going to lie, pregnancy has really taken it out of me this time. In all honesty last time I can say that I barely noticed I was pregnant. This time has been so much harder and I’m sure that 90% of that is going through it with a toddler thrown into the mix too. I became pregnant about a month before Bea turned 2 and whilst it’s a lovely and fun age, it’s certainly one you could do with being on your toes for!

Third trimester! #babybump #thirdtrimester #icarriedawatermelon #bigsister

A photo posted by Rebecca Norris (@rebecca_norris) on

Physically, I feel the same as with Bea. I had very little nausea, and a problem free first trimester for which I still feel very lucky! I definitely ‘popped out’ earlier – I think it was only by about 20 weeks I had a is-she, isn’t-she type bump last time and this time it was fairly convincing at least a month earlier. I blame the lack of effort I put into core exercises last time… nothing to do with the cake. ;) Seriously speaking though, this time around I have definitely put less weight on. I haven’t given myself quite the same license to eat EVERYTHING as I did last time, though I’m by no means resisting much! I actually haven’t been as hungry I think and I have certainly reached the feeling ‘full of baby’ stage much earlier.

26 weeks and feeling massive! I'm sure I wasn't this big with Bea! #26weeks

A photo posted by Rebecca Norris (@rebecca_norris) on

Last time I never experienced any braxton hicks (practice contractions when the womb gets tight and hard briefly) and this time they started around 20 weeks. It actually took me a few weeks to work out what was going on then I’ve had a good few weeks with none again and now they are back. Hopefully it’s all getting my body ready for labour as I plan to try and have a natural delivery this time (Bea was a planned C-Section as she was Breech.) Unfortunately the main thing that has bothered me has been my back and pelvis. My back has always been a bit iffy if I don’t take care of it and I do tend to over do things. Towards the end of my last pregnancy my sacro-iliac joints (lower back) were a bit sore but I blamed too much DIY as we were completing work on our kitchen and guest room. In all honesty it never really recovered as I think the pregnancy hormone relaxin affected me quite a lot, then it’s effects were perpetuated by breast feeding for so long – I only stopped when I was pregnant again this time. Going straight into another pregnancy clearly hasn’t helped and picking Bea up a lot still really takes its toll. Added to that I’ve had some very strange Pelvic Girdle Pain (the new name for what was formerly known as SPD or Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction) which has been really unpleasant at times. Thankfully it seems to come and go without warning and has mainly cleared up but I’ve had to take a massive reality check on what its sensible for me to keep doing.

27weeks: having 'cuddles on the sofa' with 'my baby'. Me too Bea, me too.

A photo posted by Rebecca Norris (@rebecca_norris) on

The funny thing about this pregnancy has been that it is at once more real and more distant than last time. This time around I’m excited and desperate to meet this baby in a way I never was with Bea because I had no idea how amazing it was going to be. My placenta is at the back this time which means I’ve had loads of fun with amazing big movements and many a happy hour with Pete talking about the future whilst we feel our next little love wriggling in there. But at the same time it’s flown by with barely a thought towards preparation or time to think much about ‘being pregnant’. The weeks blur into months and compared to my weekly bump watch last time I have about a handful of photos this time – I keep having to remind myself to take one! Its bittersweet too. Bea is so excited about ‘the baby’ but I’m starting to really worry how she will cope with sharing me. I know she will gain so much from having a sibling but I don’t think there’s any denying she will find it tough for a while first. And it will break my heart I know.

I’d love to hear from any of you readers who are preparing for a second baby or who have already crossed that bridge. Was it the same for you?

Love, Rebecca.

The post baby body…

Now Bea is 12 months old I finally feel in a position to comment on my body. And honestly, it’s still changing, but I feel I can write this from a position of reasonable experience and with a realistic outlook. Before I start, please don’t anyone take any of this as a reflection or judgement on their body or decisions regarding it. This is purely my own personal experience and not meant to make anyone else scrutinise themselves, mother or not.

When I became pregnant, I was 10 and a half stone. To put that into context I’m about 5ft 7inches. It was the heaviest I have ever been and ironically I feel I got there because I was planning to get pregnant. My state of mind about starting a family was so messed up on reflection that I was constantly refusing to deny myself anything… if I had a pound for all the times I ordered something less than healthy or thought ‘to hell with it, I’ll have another drink…‘ because I thought I wouldn’t be able to eat/drink it during pregnancy, I’d be treating myself to something very fancy. I’d say my ‘happy weight’ i.e. the place where I feel good in my clothes but don’t have to really do much to maintain my weight is around 10 stone or just under, so I was at least half a stone heavier than I should be.

I weighed myself obsessively in pregnancy – not out of any concern for what I gained – I always assumed I’d get it off afterwards, but because I was fascinated by how much my body was changing. I won’t say I wasn’t keeping an eye on things, but I was eating everything in sight and so I made a mental note that if my weight ballooned I’d have to start being a bit more healthy. However, normal and healthy weight gain in pregnancy is 1 and a half to 2 and a half stone and watching my weight creep slowly up I never felt the need to cut back. In the end I gained exactly 2 stone, weighing in at 12 and a half stone the morning of my C-section. And I felt like a Goddess – I honestly can’t stress that enough. I LOVED my pregnant body.

You know how everyone tells stories about how they lost ‘a stone in the 24 hours after delivery,‘? Well, I had high hopes. I had a 6 and a half pound bundle, and had shed a placenta, a load of amniotic fluid and a bit of blood… I couldn’t wait to get on those scales with morbid fascination! Imagine my surprise when I had lost a measly 6 pounds! My flipping baby was heavier than that!


Of course, I didn’t care. My ‘baby bump’ took at least 3 weeks to subside and I accepted that it can take a bit longer post c-section. And in fact for many weeks or months afterwards my tummy was round and quite solid. It slowly started to settle but it was at a snails pace. I was (and still am,) breastfeeding but to say that breastfeeding makes you lose weight is the biggest myth in town… I’m sure it does, but if you’re eating for England, nothing can help you! – I took my milk production very seriously and after an astonishing conversation with a midwife early on who clearly thought I was trying to get my figure back at 10 days in when Bea was weighed and hadn’t gained anything, I was told to eat 3 square meals a day with pudding and snacks and to take food to bed too for the night feeds! And I did. Granted I didn’t gain any weight, but I think the breastfeeding mother typically loses weight because of being pinned under a constantly feeding baby and neglecting her own needs – I’m grateful to say that wasn’t me, I was well looked after by Pete – far too well! ;)

As the months went on my weight plateaued then would drop a fraction, then plateau again. Sometimes it bothered me, but on the whole I really didn’t care. I wasn’t desperately concerned with staring in the mirror before I had Bea, and afterward, well, I spent all my time just staring at her instead. When it did bother me I set myself targets, saying ‘I’ll start exercising at 6 months,‘ which became 9 months and ‘next month’. In truth, looking back, I just didn’t want to at all. My head wasn’t in a space that prioritised me or my needs and wants and rather than resenting or regretting that, I just didn’t even think about it. I’m not going to lie though, it was tough walking round in a bikini on holiday before she was even 4 months old.

Reading this back, I just realised I’ve talked almost exclusively about my weight, rather than my shape. That’s partly because its only recently as my weight has gone down a little bit more again that I’ve started to dislike what I see more. I’m still breastfeeding, so my boobs aren’t what they were, but they aren’t totally deflated yet either. ;) Honestly, I don’t really care about them. It did take a whole new perspective when I finally went bra shopping as the shapes and styles I’d normally reach for weren’t working for me at all, but I can’t complain.

I think the part of me that has changed the most is my stomach. It’s the area I have always gained weight in but this is different, I really feel that no matter what I do now, the skin isn’t going to recover its elasticity and go smooth again. A lot of people complain about C-section scars causing a ‘pouch’ of skin, but I don’t think it’s anything to do with that, the skin just stretched so much it can’t recover. I hope I find I’m wrong but I guess it’s just reality that skin that was so stretched won’t be the same afterwards. That said, everybody is different! One positive is that I did get stretch marks when I was pregnant… quite a lot of them and early on – I remember being quite devastated when one appeared at 35 weeks and I still thought I had 7 weeks to go! They were all under my bump but I’m pleased to report that like the ones I got in my teens they are all invisible now unless you scrutinise my skin. So that’s a plus! What bugs me is when you can see that skin and roll of fat through my clothes. Not pretty and really motivating me now to work on getting my shape back.

As I write, with Bea approaching 13 months I’m 5lbs heavier than I was at conception, having done absolutely nothing to shift any weight. I’ve finally had a change of mindset and feel ready to make a concerted effort to get back into shape and work on my waistline, but I’ll save that for another post.

Right now I’d love to hear your thoughts on your body post baby – what has changed and how do you feel about it?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS
What I thought about post-baby bodies before I had a baby…

Bump Watch

It’s fair to say that I have always been fascinated with pregnancy, even when I wasn’t keen on having children myself yet. It is an amazing feat that the human body creates a whole tiny human from a single cell, supporting and growing it then expelling a baby into the world. Like so many other things these days, pregnancy has now become the object of cosmetic scrutiny too, from bump watch features of celebrities and their ‘baby bumps’ before even a decent 12 weeks has elapsed, to comments on their weight gain, it seems the pressure is on to not only grow a human, but look good whilst doing it.

On a personal level, I didn’t expect to gain tons of weight in pregnancy as that’s not my natural predisposition anyway but I also didn’t want to. This wasn’t from a vanity perspective, but a health one. Women who gain a lot of weight in pregnancy (in case you’re wondering, the normal range is about 1.5-2.5 stone) are at risk of gestational diabetes and at higher risk of complications in labour and postpartum. That’s not to mention the difficulty of losing it afterwards. Aside from these thoughts, it is a huge shift in your body image and whilst I have loved seeing my baby belly emerge and swell, I still catch sight of myself sideways in shop windows and am surprised at how different I look.


(A selection of bump shots from readers around 20 weeks)

Added to all of those things are the constant comments people feel inclined to make about your changing shape, that you may or may not feel so confident sporting. Anyone who is pregnant or has been will know that they range from the complimentary, ‘You are so neat!’ or ‘It’s all baby, you haven’t gained any weight!’ to the unintentionally panic inducing ‘Look at the size of you!’ and everything in between. I have tried to take them all in my stride – I want to grow a healthy baby, who is gaining weight normally and keep myself healthy enough to breast feed easily afterwards. Comparison is also the thief of joy – my best friend is 6 weeks less pregnant than me and although quite a way off when you compare a 20 and 26 week bump for example, she has also been carrying a completely different way to me, not popping out a bump until much later. At one point I felt like a house by comparison, but I know I was desperate for my bump to pop out and now at term, it all feels like par for the course as I realise I haven’t actually morphed into a baby elephant as it sometimes felt like I would!


(A selection of bump shots from readers around 28-31 weeks)

Lastly, there’s the power of the pregnant blogger (I don’t count myself among). I know before I was pregnant and during, I have looked at my favourite bloggers sporting a neat and fashionably dressed bump with no weight gain and then snapping back to shape almost instantaneously it seems on social media. Whilst I know the reality is not always presented, it’s hard to remember that when fashionable maternity clothes are few and far between and you just can’t stretch that non-maternity dress over your bump anymore!


(A selection of bump shots from readers around term – 37w+)

All this made me think, women carry so differently and look so different in pregnancy, why not make a montage of women, all at the same stage of pregnancy and here are the results. I want to thank each and every one of you that sent in your pictures – I’m so grateful and I loved looking at so many happy, proud, glowing faces. Funny snaps in the booze aisle at the supermarket, holiday pictures, excited dads getting in on the act, post waters breaking grins, and a generally fab time in your lives. This is the real shape of pregnancy, and every single picture is beautiful. Thank you so much!

Love,
Rebecca
xo