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One Year After a Cesarean–Update (Colleen)

August 26, 2010

Previous posts here and here.

~Age: 26
~Number of pregnancies and births:one pregnancy, one birth
~The age of your children, or how far postpartum you are: 1 year post-partum

When I did my first post at 3 weeks postpartum, I figured I’d wait to do another when my daughter was a year old and I had made some progress. Her birthday’s was two weeks ago and very little progress has been made (at least physically—daily life got in the way!), but here it goes anyway.

I fluctuated between 138 and 142ish before I got pregnant, and was 176 pounds the morning I delivered. By 3 weeks postpartum, I was down to 155—and still am. While I don’t mind that much, it’s frustrating because I’ve actually GAINED some weight back in the last month or so. I had been at 150 for a while. I think that as my little one eats more food and nurses less, I’m just not burning as many calories, and haven’t adjusted my food intake accordingly.

I have wanted to work out. I want to be in shape and have energy and not get tired doing the simplest tasks. The universe (and money) seem to be against me in this. We do not have the money to join a gym. It seems simple enough to take walks outside with the baby in a stroller, but first we had an abnormally snowy winter, and now we’re having an abnormally hot summer (we broke 5 heat records in the month of June alone). The nearest mall is 25 minutes away. Jogging is out of the question because I can’t afford a specialty-sized sports bra (which I need). Finally I discovered that if I squeeze myself into two of my old sports bras they’re supportive enough, and I bought a pilates DVD. I have yet to try it, but I’m excited to finally be doing SOMETHING.

What I haven’t done physically I have made up in thinking in the past year…about body image, about childbirth and what makes a birth “perfect” or not. Seventeen of my friends have had babies since my daughter was born. Many of them are less-than-satisfied with their mommy bodies. I find myself repeating the “9 months on, 9 months off” mantra at least once a week. It really makes me wonder why we seem to think that our bodies HAVE to look the same after having a baby. Why is the stick-thin non-curvy teenage figure so desirable? Why do so many women reject the changes that their babies have wrought on them? When, exactly, did the ability to wear a bikini become the measure by which we judge our attractiveness? And why are only “perfect” women allowed to wear bikinis? So few people have that body, so why do we look askance at the REAL women who dare to bare it all (er…most of it)?

Somewhere along the line I developed an amazing sense of self confidence. I am happy with my body, extra belly fat and jiggly butt included, about 98% of the time. I find myself looking in the mirror sometimes and admiring my figure. My husband helps; he still finds me irresistible. There are moments, though, when I am disgusted by the fat that didn’t used to be there. I tend to get down a lot when I’m around my sisters. They both have a completely different body type than I (long legs and very slender vs. long torso and curvy), and are obsessed with fitness and eating well. I compare my size 10 H-cup self to a 2 and a 4 A/B-cup and end up feeling like a big tub of lard. I realize I’m not big but it’s easy to feel that way around them. I’m hoping the pilates will help.

What I find myself wondering, though, is if my self-confidence is truly a belief that I am beautiful, or is born of the fact that my body bounced back really well? If I was carrying an extra 40 pounds and covered in stretch marks, would I feel this well? I don’t know. I will have to wait and see what happens in subsequent pregnancies to find out. I hope that I can continue to feel good about myself no matter what happens.

When my daughter was 6 months old, a friend of mine had an emergency cesarean at 27 weeks, and her son died 2 ½ hours later. It rocked me to the core. It made me realize how lucky I am to have a happy, healthy baby, despite complications and despite her method of arrival. It made me appreciate how very lucky I am to HAVE the option of a VBAC, because my friend had a vertical internal incision and will now never be allowed to go into labor. She gave me the idea of becoming a birth doula to help other women to achieve their desired births. I’m still considering it (it’s probably not feasible with my current circumstances), but I really like the idea.

Not a day goes by that I am not utterly amazed at this tiny little person that my body grew and nourished (IS nourishing). She was exclusively breastfed until 6 months and never got formula. We just put her on whole milk a week ago, and I’m in the process of weaning her. She is happy and healthy and full of life. Often times my husband and I find ourselves sitting with her between us just talking about how much we love her. I am looking for a full-time job and it breaks my heart to think of leaving my sweet baby with a stranger all day long. She is worth the stretch marks on my butt and the saggy mess that my breasts are going to be in a month or two. She’s worth the two extra pants sizes and the difficulty with finding shirts that fit. She’s even worth the cesarean scar. I cannot wait to do it all again (except hopefully without the cesarean the next time).

Pictures:
1. The night before my cesarean (what you can’t see is that my shirt was laying on the ground next to me because I had an IV in my other arm, and couldn’t get the shirt off over the IV pole!)
2-5. One year and two weeks post-partum.
6. The joy of my life.

Updated here.

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16 Responses to “One Year After a Cesarean–Update (Colleen)”

  1. Laura Says:
    August 26th, 2010 at 10:06 am

    Hi, Colleen. Thanks for sharing! I just wanted to say that I am with you on the difficulties of exercising post-baby. When I had my daughter in late August, then recovered enough to exercise, it was already too cold in upstate NY to do even short walks outside with her. After about 9 months I finally had the time and ability to do some kind of workout, and I found that doing at-home DVDs was helpful for me. I just wanted to encourage you to do what you can, when you can, because it will eventually pay off. As you get more fit you can possibly discover other means of working out that you couldn’t do before, so soon after your daughter’s birth. Good luck!

  2. jen Says:
    August 26th, 2010 at 10:25 am

    it’s all about the stretch marks for me. without them i can honestly say i’d be pretty darn happy with my body. i never pick apart the other changes(and there are a lot: the droopiest boobs ever, saggy tummy skin etc.)but knowing i can never get rid of them is so frustrating. i’m in the best shape of my life but it will never be the same. i can never show it off. you, on the other hand, look amazing! how did your boobs get so large and you still avoided the dreaded stretchies?! so lucky! ps: pilates is how i lost my 50 lbs of baby weight. it’s amazing!! good luck!!

  3. Shannon Says:
    August 26th, 2010 at 11:49 am

    I LOVE what you said about the bikini! So many people post on here “…I will never be able to wear a bikini again…”. Who cares?? Also, we CAN wear whatever we want. Just because we have some extra fat, stretch marks, and loose skin, does not mean we cannot wear a bikini :) Very well put…all of it! Oh, and great job nursing! I am still nursing my son, and he is almost 17 months old :)

  4. bree Says:
    August 26th, 2010 at 11:51 am

    Hi I think you look great.
    This is what I did to lose weight, start dancing in your room with an ipod it will MELT the pounds away, eat healthy,lots of milk and lots of oranges! this was my trick and I am 5 9 and 125 pounds, but healthy and fit. I have had 2 kids and no the secret to getting slim again, trust me on this…btw you look pretty good as is. :)

  5. Brittany Says:
    August 26th, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    You have an absolutely perfect body. Look at those curves! I envy your breasts.
    And you’re right, our bodies don’t ‘Have’ to look the way they did before babies. They’re not supposed to. My body went through some MAJOR size changes. I’m stand at almost 5’3″ and before my two boys I was a small 32C weighing in at 100lbs on a heavy day. Now I have a soft, slighly saggy 34D and weigh 122lbs. I went from a size 0 to a size 7 [have to wear junior sizes, too short for womens sizes lol] I say we should all celebrate our mommy bodies, no matter what shape or size they’ve become. They did after all produce the miracle of life :)

  6. Larissa Says:
    August 26th, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Oh my god, I honestly have to say, I adore your shape!! You got such a tiny waist and adorable curves! I hope to look like that after having delivered cause you rock!

  7. Mikki UK Says:
    August 27th, 2010 at 7:42 am

    Colleen you look great but more than that you have a beautiful mind and soul.
    It is so easy to fall into the trap the media lay for us, that unless we are whip thin and nut brown we don’t deserve a place in the gene pool. Humanity doesn’t boil down to that.
    It’s about the people we are, the people we want to be. And I want to be just like you. Lets hope I get there someday.x

  8. Mikki UK Says:
    August 27th, 2010 at 7:43 am

    BTW I nursed until 18 months – and even then it was a wrench to give up!!My son is now 29mths and I find weight loss a lot easier now the feeding hormones are settling down.x

  9. Sarah P. Says:
    August 27th, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    You look gorgeous! I think you have a lovely body and beautiful (!!!) skin! Lucky lady! I loved nursing my daughter. She never had formula, either. I nursed her for 2 years. It was a wonderful time in my life and our relationship. It certainly made my relationship with my husband stronger, too. Your sweet little girl is so beautiful! What a blessing! :)

  10. Colleen Says:
    August 27th, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    Jen, I started pregnancy at a 32F, and they grew to that size gradually. I also put the same cream on my boobs as I did on my belly, so I don’t know if that helped at all.

    Shannon, any luck with cups yet?

    Thank you everybody for the kind words :)

  11. proud mom Says:
    August 28th, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    where’s your scar??? Its so well done that it is almost invisible… I’m 1year and a week pp and my scar shows bulky and deep pink…

  12. Colleen Says:
    August 31st, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    Proud Mom: I don’t know if it was the vitamin E oil or the fact that I left the glue on for about five weeks (or both), but it healed really well. The last close-up picture I took of it is posted here: http://www.cesareanscar.com/home/2010/4/23/colleen.html, if you’d care to see. Since then it’s faded to flesh color completely, but it’s still a little numb when I touch it sometimes.

    I found out in April my doctor is switching hospitals, and when I told my husband I couldn’t decide if I wanted to stay with her or stay with the hospital where my daughter was born, he said “go with the doctor–that scar looks awesome!”

  13. Carolyn Says:
    September 2nd, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    I love my mommy body! Sure sometimes I miss my old ‘teenage’ body when I see younger girls (or ones who don’t have babies) but I have more confidence now then I did before. I think it’s more of a mindset, I bounced back well too (well, I’d say so) but even when I weighed 20 lbs more I still felt more comfortable in my own skin then pre pregnancy. I held on to 20 extra lbs 9 months post partum, now I’m 19 months pp and the same as I was before I was pregnant, but I’d have to say my confidence is the same. Sure now I dress my body differently but I didn’t feel bad about it before…I just wore things to bring attention to my big breastfeeding boobs and away from my poochy tummy, haha. Now you can find me and my stretch marked tattoo in a two piece ;)

  14. bethany actually Says:
    September 6th, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    Sometimes I’m very thankful that I never had the “typical” long, slender teenage figure, especially when I listen to my friends who DID have that figure lament their loss of that body as they became mothers and entered their mid-30s. I’ve always been short and curvy, and now that I’m a 35-year-old mom with extra pounds, I just feel like a slightly larger, curvier version of my old self. :-) Colleen, I think you have a great attitude about your post-baby body and that you are absolutely right that your beautiful daughter is worth every last stretch mark, pound, and scar!

  15. Krystle Says:
    September 7th, 2010 at 10:55 am

    1) I think you have a beautiful post-baby body! You skin is so supple looking! My tummy is saggy and the stretch marks still show.

    2) I still wear a bikini when I go swimming. I say to myself, “who says I can only wear a bikini if I look like a model? And why do I feel I have to look like one anyways”

  16. Emilia Says:
    September 13th, 2011 at 8:02 am

    Did your breasts end up being a ‘saggy mess’ when you weaned? Just wondering because mine didn’t, but then again, they didn’t seem to grow an inch either when I was pregnant or when I breastfed (which I did for two and a half years). I suppose every woman’s experience is different…

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