39.5 weeks – Birth Eve

29 weeks 2

#realpregnancy #nofluff #noBS #ALLthefeels #atonetime

I don’t know that I had any expectations of how I would feel today, but definitely didn’t expect to be this overwhelmed and anxious. I’ve spent the entire morning analyzing where to start in getting “ready” for tomorrow (I will be admitted tomorrow night for induction). In my mind, there is so much to do and I will never have enough time or energy to do it! There are floors to sweep and mop, rugs to vacuum, last minute nursery details, food to prepare for when we come home…(should I make freezer meals or go ahead and cook things)…. EVERYTHING needs to be sanitized before I bring her home!! (insert crazy eyes here), I have to get Moose ready for his vacation with Aunt Michele, do I have everything I need in my hospital bag, is the car seat installed correctly, am I even qualified to drive her home in a couple days….OMG!!! My brain is on overdrive and I can’t shut it off! I don’t know how much of it is hormones and how much of it is just my OCD.

But today is hard. Today is very hard. And, I’m exhausted.

I wonder what’s going to change after tomorrow….I mean, probably EVERYTHING. How will this affect my relationship with my husband, will I have the “instincts” that everyone keeps telling me will come naturally, will I be a good mom, how is Moose going to react and will he still know how much I love him, how are we going to balance running businesses and a new baby, is my mother going to make me lose my freaking mind, how will we make meetings, how is Joe going to continue with his crazy training schedule, how do you eat when you breastfeed, will I even be able to breastfeed, when can I work out, how long does baby weight stick around….it’s crazy how something so tiny can affect our entire world.

I say all that to say this….I struggle with control. I struggle with powerlessness and the fact that I have zero control over what is about to happen in my life. I try to feel the false illusion of control by controlling the list of things above and making lists and plans and working through all of these questions in my head….but deep down I realize that at the end of the day I am powerless. Birth is not something that can be controlled or cataloged. Bringing home a new baby is not something that has a manual and step-by-step instructions. Fear is a huge part of this journey, and the ability to walk through fear is making me grow exponentially….and I get that.

I’m learning about trust….something I have struggled with for most of my life. I’m learning to trust my gut, my doctor’s expertise, my body’s readiness to do this, my husbands willingness and ability to coach me through and support me, my mother and father in law and their love for us and their new grandbaby, my program and my tribe of women who will help and guide me through becoming a new mom, the growth that has happened in the relationship with my family-of-origin over the course of my pregnancy….I’m surrounded by infinite support and love, but trust has never come easy for me….especially when I am not in control and feel I could fail or not live up to expectations I have set for myself or that (I think) others have set for me.

So….that’s today, almost at the end of this part of our journey. So much fear…yet so much excitement and joy to finally meet this tiny miracle. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in fear and anxiety that I forget what a blessing I will be bringing into this world. I forget that God chose ME to be her mother, and that I never imagined I would be so blessed. I never wanted to be a mom….but now, I can’t imagine anything greater. A tiny piece of perfection, made with love, and forever to change our hearts and lives. T-1 till we #makewayforLillyK.

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39wk bumpdate – Adventures in Pregnancy

We made it to 39 WEEKS! Depending on which app I open, she is either the size of a Watermelon or a Pumpkin….either one is much too big to be hanging out in my belly (rib cage) for too much longer! The aches and pains are getting to the point where I’m just DONE….DONE being pregnant and ready for her to do all of this wiggling, jabbing, kicking and rolling and midnight hiccuping outside of my body. But, we are so close! Everything is much more difficult these days….from tying my shoes to shaving my legs or just trying to get in and out of the truck or roll over at night to find a more comfortable position (which is impossible at this stage, let me tell you)….but in all that bitching and whining, I can’t help but smile. My body is creating a LIFE, a tiny miracle that will become the center of our whole world. Although it is definitely difficult on some days, she is 100% worth every second, every ache and pain, every sleepless night….and I can’t wait to meet her!

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Ever since my stitch removal 2 weeks ago, I am able to do things that I have been restricted from for over 6 months. I’ve been walking a lot more, and usually get in about 4 miles a day for the past week or so. It feels so good to be active again. Even though it’s just walking, it is a big deal for me right now! Just walking a few miles a day absolutely exhausts me, but makes me feel so good.

The closer I get day by day to labor and delivery, the more anxious I get. I think it’s only natural. I mean, I’ve never done this before, I’m not sure exactly what to expect, and I know it will hurt. I’ve read all the books and apps and listened to all the stories from my lady friends….but I can’t help but still feel a little anxious and scared about it. I have a very loose birth plan, and have made it clear to my doctor that my only real “Plan” is to get the baby out safely and as easily as possible. Outside of that, I’m pretty flexible. I have girlfriends who have come into the delivery room with high expectations and firm birth plans only to be disappointed and realize that birth is messy and not something that goes according to our plans all the time.

The other point of extreme anxiety in my life today is my journey through the post-partum period. As someone who is in long-term recovery from a severe eating disorder and exercise addiction, I can’t help but plan ahead to make sure that I have a healthy idea of what to expect from my body, my mind, and from the experience. If I’ve learned anything in recovery it is that any experience is what you make it. It can be good or bad all dependent on my perspective. I do worry about losing the baby weight, I do worry about what “bouncing back” will look like and feel like, and I do worry about having unrealistic expectations of myself and relying on old behavior to solve my fear and anxiety, I do worry that I will push myself to do too much too fast, or that I’ll become depressed over my weight and appearance…BUT, I also realize that by being open and honest about my fears, it gives them less power. I know that I will have to practice grace with myself, and do what is best not only for me….but for this little miracle. I want to breastfeed for as long as possible. In order to do that, I will have to take excellent care of myself to provide her with the best. I also know that as she continues to grow up, I will become an example to her of how she should think about her body….and I can’t hate my body and teach her to love hers. Doesn’t work that way!

It’s still incredible to me that I have created a life inside of my body. That she will become a beautiful, brave, and wild creature of her own…I can’t wait to meet you Lilly Kate.

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ED Recovery and the mom-bod

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I went to my very first yoga class yesterday. I can’t say that I was ready for the emotional experience that happened on that mat. In one class, one practice, one hour….so much happened that I’m still struggling to understand and explain. We were guided by the instructor to quiet our minds, to shut out the sounds and noise, to breathe deeply and look inward. Concentrate on our breathing and notice any thoughts that keep coming to our minds, dismiss them and concentrate on our breathing. I never thought I was a bully until that moment, realizing how much I was judging my new growing body. It’s the first time in months that I’ve worn “active wear” in public… and of course nothing feels or fits right at 7 months pregnant. But it’s also the first time in months that I have quieted my mind long enough to see that I was really hardcore hating on my body. I found myself judging my body in comparison to the other ladies in the room, I was flooded with fear that they were judging me too (talk about selfish and self-centered). I was judging my body based on what I “thought” it should look, feel, and act like, the things I thought it should be able to do…I was judging my body because the smallest movements and actions make me feel out of breath and winded. Hell, getting up and down off the mat was a challenge! Almost 5 years into recovery, I realize that my eating disorder is still alive and well inside of me whether I am acting on it or not.

(sidenote: Pre-pregnancy I was training for a marathon, working out daily if not several times a day, and working on developing a killer bod (and ego to go with it)….This pregnancy has brought with it several periods of modified bed-rest, activity restrictions, and I’m not allowed to work out at all, or do any strenuous lifting.)

Now imagine all of that running through my mind in the span of a couple minutes. Talk about exhausting!

Now don’t get me wrong….I believe that the miracle of growing a baby inside of my body is just that….a miracle. I am incredibly grateful that after decades of abusing my body, I have been blessed with the opportunity to carry a child of my own. I do not for a second take for granted the beautiful process that is happening within me everyday. So, don’t get it twisted.

As a woman living in long-term recovery, I feel obligated to keep it real. It is hard. It is harder than I ever imagined it would be. Eating disorders are all about control, and pregnancy is complete absence of that control.  My body seems to change everyday, sometimes I feel like if I sit still enough, I can actually see it changing. Of course there is the belly bump, but there is so many other changes that I wasn’t prepared for. My boobs, the expansion of my hips, my butt has lost the cute little perk it had in my running days, my knees and legs swelling, swollen hands and feet, puffy face and breakouts!  For years, my security, my worth, my entire world centered around my body and how it looked (or how I thought it looked). My self-worth was completely performance based and had nothing to do with who I was as a person.

 

So, I decided it was time to acknowledge this new mom-bod. To honor it and to be reminded of the growing miracle inside of me. I decided it was time to really dig into the fear and find out what I was really afraid of. I spent some time in silent meditation today, and really have no more answers than I did yesterday…but I’m digging. I’d love to say I figured it all out, but I don’t think it works that way. Just like any addict, I believe that I don’t just choose recovery and become cured one time….I have to continue to choose recovery every day. So, I’ve started by telling on myself…by becoming vulnerable and honest, secondly I’m seeking…seeking the truth underneath all the bullshit that I cover it up with.

Now, something else I feel I should mention….I am surrounded by amazing people, including my husband and family who remind me on a daily basis that I’m beautiful, that I’m “glowing”, that I’m right where I’m supposed to be. I do not lack for affirmations, for support, or for love. Just needed to add that

I think my biggest fear is the expectation of “bouncing back” after this pregnancy. I have so many expectations of myself and how that process “should” go. I set really high standards, and I’m terrified that it just won’t happen the way I want it to, or will take longer than I think it should. I actually calculate in my mind how much weight I’ve gained and approximate how long it will take me to lose it. I get lost in the thought that all this bed-rest has stripped me of all the gains, stamina, and work that I did pre-pregnancy….talk about control issues!  My mind has focused so much on how my body will respond after childbirth, that sometimes I forget that I will have a beautiful baby girl and that I will be her mom!!!….I forget that that’s what this is all about! It’s not all about me!

I think that the reality of raising a daughter has brought it to the forefront of my mind that I want to find a level of peace and serenity with my body. I know that she will learn how to judge and treat her body by the example that I set for her. She will watch the way that I judge myself and copy that behavior. She will follow my footsteps in exercise and nutrition by what I teach her. I want her to be confident, I want her to be healthy and strong, I never want her to feel what I felt when I was trapped inside an eating disorder. I want to teach her confidence and strength by example. I want to teach her how to be healthy by being healthy. I’m grateful that I have to opportunity to teach her that her worth is on the inside and that her character will define her. I’m grateful that I’m learning more about balance every day so that I can teach her that balance. I’m also terrified that I might mess up….but I know I will do the very best to teach her self-love and self-respect.

I will continue to trudge, to seek and to be honest. I’m actually really excited as much as I am terrified about this journey and what I will learn along the way.  I can’t wait to meet this little miracle and be her mom. I know it won’t be easy, it isn’t supposed to be…but I know it will all be worth it.

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The adventures of Baby Felz, Cerclage edition

So…whoever came up with the MEDICAL term “Incompetent Cervix” has absolutely no idea how sensitive and hormotional pregnancy makes you. When the doc first told me that my cervix was apparently “incompetent”, I had mixed emotions. Half of me was terrified and the other half wanted to punch him in the face for insulting my innocent cervix. I quickly got over my anger as he began to explain that my baby was in trouble. I had been bleeding heavily and passing tennis ball size clots for almost 4 days at this point, so I knew something was terribly wrong.

So, what is an incompetent cervix? Well, the Mayo clinic says it like this...”An incompetent cervix, also called a cervical insufficiency, is a condition that occurs when weak cervical tissue causes or contributes to premature birth or the loss of an otherwise healthy pregnancy.” Basically the weakened cervix begins to open, which triggers pre-term labor and the baby is at a huge risk for miscarriage since it is still not developed enough to survive outside of my body. Here is my story through my cerclage procedure and maybe it will help someone.

Within 10 minutes of the doctor doing a pelvic exam, I was being admitted to the hospital. They started me immediately on 2 antibiotics and a medication that helped stop the pre-term labor called Toradol. The high-risk pregnancy specialists and surgeons came by my room and explained my options. Surgery to stitch together my cervix (called a cerclage) or daily progesterone with weekly ultrasounds.  I cried a lot that first night, I didn’t know what the right decision was, but I knew what my gut said. It was more difficult because this decision was not just for me, it was for my baby girl. The doctors told me that if I did not do the surgery in a timely fashion, there was a chance that they could not perform it as a later date as my cervix was continuing to shorten with each ultrasound. The surgery had some definite risks, but it had the most concrete results and the best chance of prolonging my pregnancy until my sweet baby girl was able to survive on her own. I decided on the cerclage surgery after consulting with my OB (not the surgeon) and my family.

What is a CERCLAGE? Again, according to the internets…“Cervical cerclage, also known as a cervical stitch, is a treatment for cervical incompetence or insufficiency, when the cervix starts to shorten and open too early during a pregnancy causing either a late miscarriage or preterm birth.”

The next day, the surgery was scheduled. During my hospital stay, they checked on my baby’s heartbeat every 2 hours. It made me so happy each time I got to hear her little heart beating. I knew she was still ok. The surgery was difficult to say the least. The doctors did everything they could to assure me and make me as comfortable as possible. I couldn’t help think of how close to my sweet baby they were operating, and it was absolutely terrifying. My surgeon explained the procedure to me and made sure that I understood everything before they got started. She was wonderful. The anesthesiologist was also great, explaining everything that would happen over the course of the surgery. Since I am pregnant, they gave me spinal anesthesia, which is a nasty, terrible, horrible procedure. I wasn’t numb the first time they tried to administer the anesthesia and I can’t put that amount of pain into words. I was blinded and have never in my life felt anything like it. Finally, they got me numb and I was unable to move or feel anything below my waist. The procedure itself was uncomfortable (since I was tilted backwards, spread wide open, and couldn’t move my body), but not terrible. I was not a big fan of being completely awake and aware during the surgery, but I was happy that the anesthesia was safe for me and the little one. I did not experience any pain during the procedure but felt pressure as they worked. It was over relatively quickly. Again, the surgeons told me everything they were doing as they did it, and I felt like I was in good hands…..literally. They finished up, sent me to recovery, and after regaining feeling in my legs I was returned to my room for another night of observation and checks every 2 (FREAKING 2) hours.

The surgeons explained to me the next day that during the procedure they had found a polyp. They suspect that the polyp was causing the insane amount of bleeding that I had been having for the better part of 4 days. HERE IS THE MIRACLE…Had I not had that polyp, there is a very high probability that I would have miscarried. Incompetent cervix has very few symptoms and most of them are so mild that women believe they are normal pregnancy symptoms. Light cramping, light spotting, back pain….none of which are alarming. Had I not had the bleeding polyp, I would likely have never gone in to have it checked out, and my cervix could have opened more. Had I progressed into full labor, they could not have stopped it and I could have lost her. I believe that God has a special reason for us to have this baby….that has been evident through the conception and the pregnancy. He is definitely in charge and knows the plan for us.

Post-op I will follow up with the surgeon every other week and with my OB every other week alternating. They will check on my stitches and make sure this little wiggle worm stays put. There is also the option to add progesterone therapy at a later date if they believe it is necessary. The prognosis is good, and they hope that with they help of this procedure I can carry this sweet thing to full term or until she is able to survive on her own. If everything goes well, they will remove the stitches a month before my estimated delivery date so that she can be born. If I do go into labor early, the cerclage will give her an extra 2-3 weeks to bake before they have to remove the stitches and let her out.

I am not thrilled that i had to go through this procedure, I have been a basket case and an emotional wreck for the better part of a week….BUT, I am incredibly grateful and would do it a million times over. I am blessed, my daughter is blessed, and I am in love with the life that God has given me today. Promises coming true over and over again. I have faith that He is protecting her and giving me peace. This journey has strengthened my faith and my assurance that I am truly never alone. It has also taught me that I am NEVER in control of my life. She is my baby, but she is also HIS baby. I am learning to let go of control and let go of anxiety.

I’m grateful to my husband, my family and our baby’s Godfather. Thanks to them I was never alone throughout my hospitalization. I always had someone to talk to, someone to cry with me, and someone there just to be there. I’m very blessed. I get to do life with some pretty amazing people.

Ask me again in a week or so how grateful I am…..even “modified” bedrest is not going to be a good look on me.

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ED recovery and pregnancy

I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that one of the first things that crossed my mind when I found out I was pregnant wasn’t JOY or GRATITUDE….it was pure self centered fear about how this is going to affect my body. That is the reality of recovery from a life-threatening eating disorder. The disease doesn’t just go away while I’m out living a beautiful life of recovery….Even 5 years later, it is always there, waiting. The difference today is that it does not have the power that it once had, in fact….it has very little power at all. Although these thoughts still frequently cross my mind…I’m not controlled by them. My actions are the actions of someone who loves her body, who respects her body, and someone who honors her body. That is the gift of recovery. I do not have to act on every feeling of inadequacy or insecurity. My actions are healthy, my actions are strong, and my actions keep me from falling back through the mirror into a world of fear and dispair.

Now, am I a little nervous about how my recovery will be affected by gaining normal pregnancy weight….yeah, I am. But that is where all these years of working a program kicks in. I’m in an amazing place right now where I can be honest about being afraid, that I can discuss my fears with the women in my life that know my struggle, and I can take suggestions and hear amazing feedback from the people that love me the most. I’m not in this alone. I have a small army of recovery soldiers that are constantly surrounding me to remind me of my strength, my beauty, and the miracle that is happening inside of my body.

Speaking of MIRACLE!!!! I would have never believed in a million years that my body would be the home of a small miracle. The diseases of anorexia and bulimia abused and wrecked this body past the point of recognition, to the point of organ failure…I hated the vessel that I was forced to live in and treated it like garbage….what in the world did I do to deserve this GIFT of a tiny life growing inside my body? It blows my mind and reminds me of GRACE. It’s not something I can earn or work hard enough to receive…it is not something I can fully wrap my head around, but this baby is just one example of the power of Grace in my life today.

As much as I’ve talked about fear, I’m actually really excited about this journey that I’m on. I’m blessed to have the ability to care for my body today in a way that has never been possible for me. I’m excited to care for myself (physically, emotionally, spiritually) and this tiny life as we grow together. I’m so grateful to my program of recovery, my higher power, and my small army of women…without these things in my life I would not be the woman of worth that I am today. I’m also excited to share this journey with others as I know I am not the first woman in recovery to journey through pregnancy with fears and doubts.

I plan on continuing to workout until my baby tells me that I need to rest, I plan on continuing to eat the way that I have learned is best for my body….no matter what crazy cravings I have. I’ve found a way of life that works for me, and it has set me up to have a wonderful, fit and healthy pregnancy. My God works in mysterious ways and sent this little surprise to us at the perfect time, and I’m so thankful.

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