Sunday, August 21, 2016

Twin Skin and Tiger Stripes

Photo credit: Sarah Siler Photography
Before my struggle with infertility, I had a lot of anxiety about becoming pregnant, including some concerns about what it would do to my body. I wrote about some of those worries in my Blueberry Girl post. Knowing how hard I am on myself, I was worried that changes I could not control may wreak havoc on my body, which would cause a lot of personal dissatisfaction. Silly or not, these were some real concerns and although I was called out by some commenters for being selfish or vain to worry about such things, I still was quite worried.

Looking back I was bigger than I remember!
I mentioned before that my first body awareness after having the babies was noticing my immediately deflated belly as I lay on the operating room table. I felt a little unnerved seeing my once taut belly all soft and saggy. I started to wonder about the damage of what some call "twin skin."

Again, bigger than I realized!
I was stuck in bed and unable to move well enough to do much for days after the delivery. The first time I took a bath and saw myself in the mirror I was shocked. I couldn't believe how huge my hips looked. I figured it was because the size my lower body had grown was now grossly out of proportion without the large belly to match (I did gain at least 7" on my hips when I measured part way through my pregnancy). I managed to make it through my pregnancy with no stretch marks on my belly and a few small ones on my hips. Now, I have tiger stripes all along my outer hips and love handles that I attribute to the swelling from the IV fluids given to me in the hospital, partly to combat anemia after losing significant blood during the procedure, and realize now the large "hippy" appearance was also due partly to swelling.

Induction day edema

What happened to my knees?

Home post partum a few days later!
I don't know what I weighed in the hospital (close to 200 lbs) but I lost about 20 lb. by the time I got home 5 days later. One month later I had lost 47 lb! I attribute the bulk of this to water weight as I lost most once my knees and ankles were back to normal. I currently bounce about a pound below and a few pounds above my pre-baby weight, and about 5-10 pounds above my pre-IVF weight.

Induction day
13 days after delivery

13 days after delivery -- not hard to feel skinny after as big as I was!
Halloween, about 3 weeks after delivery

I have gone up a size or so in most of my clothes. I resized my wedding ring when it wouldn't come close to fitting over my knuckle. My feet seem to have mostly gone back to normal.

I didn't expect "The Mom" look to come so fast.
Maybe with two babies at once you accelerate along the path to Mom Bod that much faster.

I feel like I went over 30 years without looking like a mom. I had hoped to avoid looking like a mom. I wanted to always look young and hip, with flat, hard abs. (Not that that was true before kids!) Instead, I feel I look tired. I look older. I don't seem to know or understand many of the current fashion trends (leggings as pants, still an utter mystery to me!) and find myself continuing to wear my maternity clothes (baggy is in, right?). And my abs? Well, while they have never been flat, I somehow managed to avoid diastasis recti (separation of the abdominal muscles) but I still have a little extra sag. And as I mentioned before, the stretch marks.

But I couldn't be happier.

Okay that's an exaggeration. I could be more pleased if I looked like Heidi Klum after all her babies. It would be nice to fit into all of my clothes again. To have beautifully taut belly skin and supple unstretched hips. But...I still don't think I would be happier. So maybe I was right...

I couldn't be happier.

Because really, the way I look at my body has completely transformed. No longer do I look at my body as an ornament to dress and adorn. No longer is it an object to perfect or to use to seek admiration. It isn't something to be sexualized or even demonized.

It is a tool. It is an instrument. And an amazing one that has done amazing things. It has survived years of infertility. It has overcome hundred of shots and ravages on its system with synthetic hormones and mad scientist happenings. It has carried and delivered two healthy babies. It has provided much of their needed nutrition. All of this automatically, miraculously, without any input or feedback from me consciously.

***This is another post from my archives of works in progress. I wish I had finished it completely as I wonder exactly where I was going with it at the time, as it ends a bit abruptly. I contemplated adding another ending today but just didn't have the words. And it felt a bit fraudulent not to just ride the moment of the feelings I had then. 

I wish I could say that I have held on to this new found confidence completely since those early months post partum, but I think it is quite normal to have days where I begrudge my stretch marks! I haven't lost any more weight (although I am back in my old clothes), I continue to battle hormonal imbalances while nursing that cause skin issues, and I have more than my fair share of bad hair days but I find almost a year later I still place less scrutiny on the appearance of my body than before where every flaw and imperfection was something to improve, fuss over, or loathe. My main goal these days is to try to get healthy and back in shape. After exercise restrictions during my fertility treatments, a difficult pregnancy, and an overwhelmingly busy schedule with infant twins, exercise hasn't been much of a reality for over two years. As an athlete growing up, it is crazy to think I could ever go that long but I suppose life happens. 

Every day is a new day! I feel so lucky to have this wonderful body to live it with. ***

On the Go!

I started this post weeks ago. Here are some updates on what we've been up to instead of blogging.

The past few months have been a whirlwind of change...for the babies and for our family as a whole.

Meeting cousins for the first time: my twin sister and her family. 

Meeting another cousin, Uncle Colt,
and Uncle Colt's beard (kinda scary for the babies!)
Since May we took our first family vacation over Memorial Day. It was a quick tour of the Southwest starting with a few days to visit family in Utah, followed by job interviews in Tucson, AZ and Las Cruces, NM and passing through El Paso, TX. The babies were great traveling companions and learned they like the pool, especially Sister, at least at first. We really enjoyed our time in the SW and were pleasantly surprised. Maybe we will find our way back there? It did confirm my suspicion that I would like to live in a pueblo style house. And have a cactus or two in the yard.

White Sands National Park in NM

Of course, pueblo with hanging chilis.
Sister liked the spicy food!

First time in the pool A little tricky with two!

Always good sports! 
We also made a weekend trip to Minneapolis to meet my sister and her family who were there for a conference. The highlight of the trip was going to a Minnesota Twins baseball game. "Twins holding twins at a Twins game!" What could be better?

Can you tell who is who?

We will continue our job hunt here in the Midwest as well and make a few more interview trips. The babies have been great travel companions and make friends wherever we go. We have even been lucky to have family accompany us on some of these trips to help with babysitting and all of the logistics of our schedules.

Abe and I have also both had some job transitions. Abe finished his fourth year of residency by completing his most recent Head and Neck surgery block, and is beginning his fifth and final year of residency. I have never known Abe to not be in his training so this is such an unusual concept -- to see the light at the end of the tunnel so fast approaching after so many years in the dark. So far it has been an improvement already with shorter days at work much of the time.

While I had planned to stay at my current position in Burlington at least another year, I unexpectedly had a late change of plans and now cut my commute in half to work in Muscatine. While I am heartbroken to leave my staff and patients in Burlington, this will be an improvement in many ways! The biggest and best part is that I will be working part time with a shorter commute and thus home with Mister and Sister more than half of the week. I am really excited to join the team in Muscatine and look forward to meeting many more wonderful people along the way.

I have been busy finalizing things with my previous job and getting paperwork settled for the new position. In the meantime, I am home for a few weeks until my new position begins. My nanny is continuing to work her normal schedule with us so right now I am living a la "Real Housewives of Iowa" style-- at home while my full time nanny helps out. Needless to say, I am catching up on LIFE a little bit -- getting my house in order, starting up an exercise routine, playing with babies much more, and you know, getting my hair did or going grocery shopping alone whenever I want!

And then there are the babies. They are getting so big! We passed our "In and Out Day" last month -- a big deal in the "mom of multiples" community, when your babies have been out as long as they were in. We really wanted to celebrate at the restaurant In 'N' Out but there was none to be found in Iowa!

They are now nine months old and getting so big. No really, they are getting really big! It seems like they are bigger than all of the one year olds we meet. We are getting to the point that carrying them both in their carseats is a struggle. And we are starting the baby proofing progress as Sister learned to crawl and stand and get into everything and find power cords to chew on and get maimed or killed all within the last few days. AACK. Mister is not far behind, just starting to crawl and stand.

This guy sure loves his bottles!

First corn for this Iowa native!
We finally got some sleep training on board and they now go to bed consistently and sleep through the night most nights. What a relief after a major sleep regression.

So, it has been an incredibly busy and stressful time. But also a wonderful time. We are trying to enjoy all that life has to offer while making big changes and big decisions.