38 years old
5 pregnancies/4 live births/2 miscarriages
7.5 year old daughter, 6 year old son, 2.5 year old boy/girl twins
30 months postpartum
My story is long. It spans more than a decade. When my husband and I got married we didn’t mind if we got pregnant right away. Well, 5 months into our marriage we did find out we were pregnant! We were very excited, as were our families. But, unfortunately we lost our baby due to a miscarriage. I was 10 weeks along when I found out but the baby died at 8 weeks. We did an ultrasound and they could see the embryo but no heartbeat. Well, a month and a half after we lost our baby we had another tragedy, one that I’m still dealing with to this day. We had just gotten back from a surprise visit to our families (both sides) 5oo miles away when we found out that my sister-in-law and her 4 oldest children were murdered. Her 2 youngest children survived. We also found out she was pregnant and was due about a month after our baby would’ve been due. I’m not going to go into more detail other than this it was the most horrible time of my life. Well, we decided to keep trying to have a baby. We thought we’d try to do Natural Family Planning to figure out when I was ovulating. I am blessed to have normal periods. We tried for a couple years. We kept getting a negative pregnancy test. It was a very stressful time. We were living in student housing at the university my husband was getting his Master’s. They didn’t allow pets. My husband wrote the people at the head of the housing dept. and told them our situation (including our tragedy.) Our therapist that I had been seeing for awhile also wrote telling them how it would help me. Well, when we got word that it was Okayed to get a pet the date was September 12th. 2001. It was around this same time or shortly after that our Dr. gave us 3 more months to try before we would do other tests to figure out what was going on. I found out about the Ovulation Predictor Tests and did that 2-3 times. It really does work. But the thing that really worked was getting kittens!! We decided on 2 since they would keep each other company. We found we were pregnant right after the 3rd month ended. My husband gives all the credit to the kittens! I was really blessed to have an easy pregnancy. I was heavy when I got pregnant. I’m only 5 feet. When we got married I was 135. But I was about 170 when I got pregnant the 2nd time. I got up to about 198 when I delivered our first daughter. I had heard about Bradley Natural Childbirth through my sister-in-law. So we went the classes and were very convinced to how important it is about no drugs, etc. I was determined to have a natural birth. My due date came and went and then my Dr. went on vacation. She made an appt. for me to see the ObGyn the following Monday. That Dr. took an ultrasound of our baby (who was thankfully head down! But nothing going on that indicated labor was starting soon.) She hardly saw any fluid around our baby’s head. She told us to go home and get our stuff that I needed to be induced that day. She said she couldn’t guarantee that our baby would be alive in 3 days if we waited. Talk about a scare tactic!! I was so afraid I would end up needing an epidural and having a c-section. I wanted to be able to labor at home!!! We called our families to let them know, got our stuff and went back. I was admitted around 1pm Oct. 21st and they used a quarter of a pill Citotec to get my cervix started. To make a long story short I was able to get a natural birth. The only thing I took was a sleeping pill around 1am to help me sleep a few hours. They punctured my water bags (that left a tiny scratch on my daughters’ head! ) at around 3cm at 8am. That really scared me thinking she did it too soon. Even though they wanted me in bed they did allow me to walk around the boring small hall ways and also sit in a chair. I did find that my body worked better when I was moving. The pushing stage was extremely long, 3 hours or more. But at 11:15pm (34 hours after I was induced) our beautiful daughter was born weighing 8 pounds! She was 10 days overdue!! I nursed her for 11 months when I found out that my milk had dried up and tasted salty. My daughter’s only way of telling me was to bite me and I endured that 3 days! before I found out why. I was sure dreading nursing at that time. I felt so bad for her when I found out why. I was 3 months pregnant with our oldest son at the time. My pregnancy was the same with him very easy. He actually came on his own and right on time! I went into labor 7pm March 20th and labored all night and into the next day. I was determined to labor at home. I went to the hospital once at 1am and they sent me home (fine with me! ) at 1cm. I had a Doula come over to our house (and our daughter went to stay at a friend’s house) and she helped me while my husband rested. I also had a different doula with my daughter’s birth. I believe they do help and are important to have! But I didn’t rest. I found out the hard way how important it is NOT to get exhausted. I finally went to the hospital around 1-2pm March 21st. Everyone was surprised I was 8cm!! But the next 3 hours almost made me not want to have any more kids. My Dr. (who was our original Dr. from the start) gave me the choice of her breaking my water bags. I let her do that and it wasn’t long after that I had nonstop labor pains that were HORRIBLY hard to relax through. Even when I was finally able to push I had no break. At first they had me flat on my back and I didn’t want that. That’s the worse pushing position!!! They realized I didn’t want that and put me on my side. But I didn’t want that either! I couldn’t tell them that I wanted to sit up (like I did with my daughter!) Well, at 5:53 pm our handsome son came screaming into the world. It’s funny he actually got better apgar scores than our daughter. She didn’t cry but was VERY alert looking around right after she got out. Our son weighed 8 pounds and 3.5 ounces. I nursed him until he was 21 months old. I ended up weaning him suddenly because I was pregnant again. I didn’t want to tandem nurse. But we lost our baby around 8 weeks again. This baby was also due when our first baby was due (August). Our daughter was 3 and she was heartbroken when we had to tell her. For awhile we had decided not to have anymore. I was down to 160 lbs. which was still too heavy for my height. (I had also gotten up to about 200 lbs. with my sons pregnancy.) I had always wanted 4 children (2 boys and 2 girls). So we decided to try again. It’s funny when I got pregnant again my sister-in-law (my husband’s sister) had a dream (one before and 2 after we were pregnant) that I was having twins! My mother-in-law was positive I was having twins because I looked so big. But I was heavy to begin with so I didn’t believe it!! When I was 20 weeks along we went to have my first ultrasound and immediately we saw 2 heads!!! What a shock!! I was 100% sure I wasn’t having twins!! We were having one of each! So my dream came true!! So did my sister-in-laws! I still had an easy pregnancy even though it was hard to breath at times. I ended up having a c-section (twin A our son was butt breach and twin B our daughter was transverse laying comfortably across my stomach.) I was really scared to have a c-section and to have to have an epidural. I have scoliosis so that was part of my fear. But everything went beautifully. They were born Dec. 13th 9:14 and 9:15am at Son: 6 lbs. 9 ozs and Daughter: 6 lbs. 3 ozs. I was 39 weeks along. If I wasn’t already scheduled for a c-section I would’ve had the babies anyway that day. I had already started going into labor waiting for them to take me to surgery. I weighed around 208lbs! My heaviest ever!! Even though I really wanted them naturally I was also relieved to have a c-section. I have such long labors and I didn’t think I would be able to physically go through labor even if they were both head down. I have scoliosis so I really feared having the epidural. I made sure the Anesthesiologist knew I had scoliosis. I had no problems with the epidural or the c-section. Everything went perfectly. I only got to see my babies for just a minute and then my husband went off with them. It seemed forever (with the sewing up and recovery) before I got to see them again. (Maybe 2 hours.) My little girl was starting to fall asleep when I got to hold her for the first time. So needless to say she didn’t nurse well in the beginning. My little boy was more awake and nursed better. But I have large nipples and they have small mouths. They were almost 2 pounds smaller than my older children (who had no problem nursing.) When we got home (3 days later) I wasn’t nursing them well. I was sore and bleeding and dreaded nursing. Late that night my husband talked me into to giving one of the formula samples to our son. He was so hungry he practically drank it down quick! I felt so bad that he had been that hungry. So I ended up pumping breast milk and also feeding them with a bottle formula. My kids were thrilled to get to feed them. My husband’s family also helped who lived next door to us. It was a reality check. I was so against the formula and I wanted to nurse my twins so bad that I purposely left most of the formula samples at the hospital. When we explained the situation we were able to get even more than if we had taken all the samples they gave us home. I gave myself a couple of weeks to heal. Then one day I laid my babies on our bed and was getting ready to pump. I had gone to the Lactation Consultant the day before and also had read about correct latch on. So I thought I would try to nurse again. They were growing and maybe their mouths were bigger now. (They might’ve been closer to a month old when I did this.) So I took my baby boy first and tried nursing him. At first he didn’t latch on right and I had to take him off and get him to open wider. After that he did perfectly and I didn’t have anymore problems nursing him. My little girl had a more difficult time nursing. But I kept it up with her too. But I did continue pumping to give them mostly breast milk and also some formula. I was afraid I wasn’t making enough milk for them so I also took Fenugreek to increase my milk supply, and did it ever. My husband loved it! J I think by the time they were 5-6 months old or so I was able to exclusively breastfeed them for a solid 2 months or so before I started giving them solids. My baby girl was always 2-3 pounds lighter than my baby boy from 2-3 months on. I nursed them just until this past March (until they were 27 months old.) I enjoyed it most of the time (99% of the time it was both of them nursing at the same time, which was not always an easy feat!) But I do miss nursing them and the cuddling we did.
I have 2 hernias. One is a belly button hernia that I got when I was halfway through my oldest daughters pregnancy. My second hernia is an incisional hernia. I got it when my twins were about a week old. I was given a stomach girdle to wear after my c-section. If I had known how important it was to wear it I would never have taken it off. But it was uncomfortable and the nurse let me take it off. I wore it at home but not regularly. The day before I was to get my stitches out I wasn’t wearing it and I was sitting on the toilet and I blew my nose. I felt something rip but I didn’t feel any pain. When I stood up one side of my flabby belly was farther down than the other. That really freaked me out. I was afraid that I was going to have to have more surgery to correct (I was thinking like right away). I had the stitches out the next day and the Dr. said I had developed a hernia there in the incision site. I can’t remember what else he said about it but at least it wasn’t an emergency like I was afraid it was going to be. So now I have a double hernia. I was going to get them fixed but Medicaid would not cover it. But it did cover me having the procedure done Essure which is permanent birth control. I would’ve had my tubes tied during the c-section. But I waited too long to get the surgery set up. Medicaid here wants the c-section set up a month in advance and then they will pay for tube tying. Otherwise you would have to pay for ENTIRE thing!! (C-section and all). So when my twins were around 6 months old I had the Essure procedure done. I recommend it to anyone who wants to have a nonsurgical way of permanent birth control.
Anyway I am now 2 and a half years postpartum and I have gained about 10 pounds. I’m around 180. I need to lose weight. My husband is so amazing and supportive. He loves my body but he also wants me healthy. Sometimes I have a hard time breathing at night. I need to figure out a good exercise regime that won’t make my hernias worse. I know I need to walk more. We have a treadmill and are starting to use it more. Sometimes my stomach hurts and I know it’s my hernias. I have these movements in my stomach (lower left area) that feel like a baby kicking. Sometimes you can even see my belly moving like a baby kicked! It’s weird. One time I even took a pregnancy test just to be sure even though I knew it was next to impossible. It was negative, of course. I do miss being pregnant. But 4 is enough for me. I love my children and wouldn’t change things for the world. I know I do need to work on getting my belly smaller and maybe my hernias wouldn’t look so bad. I also need to be healthier for my family and me.
My pictures were taken June, 2010. I was 30 months postpartum, 180 pounds at 5 feet tall.