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Uncomfortable in My Skin (Kel)

March 11, 2013

Age: 34
Pregnancies/Births: 5/3
Time PP: 25months
Ages of Children: 5 1/2 years, 4 years and 25motnhs

I am an Aussie stay at home mum of three beautiful bright, perfect and healthy children. They light up my life and I adore them all. I also have an amazing husband. We have been with each other for almost 15 years. He rocks my world.

Our journey to parenthood began unexpectedly. Four months after being with my (then boyfriend, now my hubby!), I accidentally fell pregnant at 19 when the condom broke and he didn’t tell me, because he wasn’t aware of the morning after pill! I didn’t find out I was pregnant until I was about 12 weeks along (my hubby was away in the armed forces during this time), because I had been having spotting and cramps like I was having a light period.

My boyfriend came home after 12 weeks deployment, and I was still spotting and cramping. I thought it wasn’t normal and I told him I was worried something was wrong with me. He then told me what happened and I could be pregnant. So I did a test, and hey presto, I was expecting! I had cramping and bleeding on and off for the duration of the pregnancy and as a result, I quit my course I was studying because it was our testing and assessment period at the time and to try to be a bit more relaxed and to help my baby grow I thought it best to quit. Sadly, our baby was not to be, and at 17 weeks we found out we had lost our little boy, who we named Joshua. I was terribly devastated, despite this pregnancy being such a surprise, I was desperate to be a mum, and have wanted to be one since I was tiny myself.

After being induced and giving birth, I was fairly sick. I ended up hemorrhaging badly around 3 weeks after giving birth, due to retained products of pregnancy, I had several blood transfusions but I was still weak. I was very sick and was in hospital for the first time in my life, without my partner, who was once again overseas on deployment. I was young and scared and broken. I was (what I now realise), suffering with Post Natal Depression (PND). I gained some weight, about 7-ish kilos (15 pounds). I was sick for a long time after losing so much blood, and had to had iron infusions and just couldn’t do things because I was so weak. Working and school just weren’t options. I slowly got well again, with the support of my partner and mum.

After our first loss, my partner and I were much stronger as a couple. We got married and moved in together and lived a wonderful life doing the things young people do, whilst we were young and before we really started trying to have a family. When we were 27 (after being together for 8 years and married for 4), we decided it was the time in our life to start a family, so we started trying for a baby. I was a little worried and stressed out about it, and terrified of losing another baby. We fell pregnant after about 4 months of trying. We were ecstatic but cautious. Work was stressful for me at this time. I was also studying at university and we were looking at buying a home. My partner was only working part time and also studying at university.

Sadly again, this baby was not meant to be. At 11 weeks we found out I had lost the baby again. Another little boy. All testing and medicals came back as being normal, there was no explanation as to why I was losing our babies. After this we put off trying for another baby for several months. But it consumed me. All I wanted was a child with my husband. I was so sad and down. Through my depression, yet again I gained some more weight (and hadn’t lost the weight I gained before) about another 5-6 kilos (12 pounds) was added to my little 164 cm (5’4”) frame.

Six months or so passed, and hubby and I decided we would try again. We didn’t fall pregnant for about 6 months. I was so petrified I would not be able to have children. When we finally did fall pregnant again, I was scared. Particularly when I started spotting again. I was fraught with fear of losing my baby again. At work I took on a lesser position with less stress. I put my uni course on hold and just tried to relax in general. I had early ultra sounds and tests every few weeks to make sure my hormones were doing what they should when pregnant.

And they did. Thank goodness, this baby was a sticky one. My belly grew and I loved being pregnant. I didn’t suffer from the worse types of pregnancy ailments. No morning sickness or other illnesses. Just a bit of heartburn and pain in my back, I enjoyed this pregnancy. Finally I had my beautiful rainbow baby and she was stunning. The most beautiful little girl I had ever seen. We were smitten. But she was a difficult baby. I had a bit of birth trauma after a long, induced birth, as well as having post postpartum hemorrhage and needing blood transfusions. I had difficulty breastfeeding. I now suspect my daughter had reflux. She didn’t sleep much, woke often and was hard to settle. She was partially breastfed and bottle fed, and I was pumping and doing bottles, and trying desperately to get her fully breast fed, though that never happened. There were lots of tears from both of us through the first 6 months of her life.

I was having issues with how my body had changed with pregnancy. My husband and I were going through a lot within our marriage trying to sort out how to be a family of 3. I hadn’t gained much weight during pregnancy and actually weighed less after birth than I did pre pregnancy. But now I was gaining more weight I was now around 80kg (176 pounds). I hated myself, I wasn’t as good at being a mum as I thought I would be. I was doing it tough, and again, in hind sight I realise I was suffering with PND.

It was around Christmas time, 7 months after I gave birth to our gorgeous daughter. I would be returning to part time work and University in the new year. Then I found out I was pregnant. Merry Christmas!! Whist my husband and I wanted more children, we were planning on waiting until I had finished uni and he had settled into his new job and just when life was more settled in general. But clearly the universe had other plans for us.

This pregnancy was easy early on. I had none of the bleeding or cramping I had with my previous pregnancies. Which was great, since I had to throw myself back into work and studying, as well as now being a mummy. Our daughter was becoming easier to care for. She was sleeping better, and was becoming an absolute joy to parent. Until about 6 months into the pregnancy, that is.

Sadly, I started really struggling within myself again. A doctor diagnosed AND/PND (ante natal/post natal depression) he told me I needed to sleep better and relax more. What a laugh that was!! Things were getting tough to deal with again. I failed a subject at uni. Work was getting harder due to my size with the pregnancy (I am an early childhood teacher). I was huge this time. I had minor polyhydramniosis (excess fluid around the baby), plus he was a big baby, always measuring large at doctor appointments. I had back and pelvic issues (SPD and sciatica), I have severe reflux and later on got pretty bad odema (swelling) in my hands and feet.

Finally the time came to give birth again. I was determined to do it naturally this time, we hired a doula and I researched a lot. He was born at 4.2kg and 56.5cm long ( about 9p 4o, and 22 1/4 in), totally naturally. I had done it all by myself to day I was proud would be an understatement. His birth was amazing. He breastfed like a champion. This was all so much easier than when I had my daughter.

Unfortunately I was still suffering with depression. Our son was a very frequent feeder around 2 hourly day and night, and our daughter still woke 2-3 times a night. Though he wasn’t a difficult baby, feeding him 12+ times through the day and night as well as having a young toddler was taking it’s toll. My husband did odd hours at work, often working 12 + hours thought the night, then trying to sleep through the day. I wasn’t getting any support from family unless I literally begged them to take the kids. I was finding it hard to see anything in my life as being enjoyable. I gained more weight (another 5-6kg) and hated my body even more because of what another pregnancy with a lager baby did to me. My back and pelvis still ached even after giving birth and I had even more stretch marks, from my ribs down to my pubic bone. I have excess skin which will not go away even if I lose the weight.

When my son was 5 months old I had to return to part time. Finances were very tight. Life was a blur for me. I don’t remember a lot of my sons baby hood because I was struggling so much. I often wanted to just get away, driving in the car to work, I would fantasise about just keeping driving. Not stopping at work, or to pick up the kids. Just to drive into the sunset. There were a few moments during this time that I considered suicide. It was just all too much. So overwhelming.

My suicidal moments were fleeting, and usually when I had only had 3-4 hours sleep for weeks on end. But they were there. That was all in my head. I look back now and I am amazed how my husband and I did it. We did it together. There were times when we fought like cat and dog. When it was hard to support each other through it all because we were both suffering and struggling, but we did it. Through our hardest times and darkest hours we made it through. But we could see something had to change. This would be our life, struggling through every thing, only just making it week to week and not really enjoying anything, if we didn’t make a big change.

We decided we would go and live in the bush for a while with hubby’s job. We also talked about having another baby. With moving to the bush, we would be able to have another bub, and I would be a stay at home mum. So that is what we did. About 4 months after discussing it, I was pregnant and we were moving to a remote country town. Life got easier. For a while.

We moved 900km (a 9-ish hour drive) away from our loved ones and the familiarity of home. To a town 3 hour drive from any kind of civilisation, with around 3500 people. It was like a foreign country to us.

I started struggling again with the pregnancy. My back and pelvis started to play up fairly early on. By now, I was about 90kg (198pounds). So mixing being overweight, with being pregnant with another big baby boy and I was struggling to move very much at all. I had no friends and my children were bored and frustrated at home. During my last few months, I couldn’t do a lot with them, besides read books and watch movies. Thankfully I managed to get a place in childcare for one day a week.

I gave birth to another gorgeous little (big!) boy, again naturally and with my wonderful doula and hubby at my side. Unfortunately, I hemorrhaged again and required blood transfusions. My son ended up in special care nursery too, with intestinal issues. Breast feeding wasn’t off to a very good start this time. Thankfully, his tummy issues resolved themselves, and we managed to get breastfeeding fully again.

I had another frequent feeder, and again in hind sight, I think he also had silent reflux like his big sister. He was hard to settle at night in particular and it wasn’t unusual for me to be up with him for hours rocking and burping and trying desperately to settle him. My first son and daughter were also still waking at night, so yet again I was working on 4 or so hours of sleep a night. My husband was (and is!) wonderful and would often deal with the older children, though still had to work as well, so I tried my best to do it myself. Still suffering with PND, it was still tough, though I don’t think it ever got as hard as it did when son #1 was born.

I am happy to say now, that I am depression free. I still have bad days, but I can cope with that! My children are turning into wonderful, bright little people and my hasband and I are still going strong. I have started studying at uni again this year and hope to finally finish off my degree! I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have made amazing friends living out in the bush and have experienced a life I would never have had otherwise.

I still struggle with how I look though. I have never had a good body image. Sadly, I have always had an issue with myself. Sadly, because I was always fairly fit and healthy when I was younger. Now I have let myself go (far beyond the limits of what is ‘normal’) I am about 35-40 kilos (65-90-ish pounds) overweight. Before children I was around 63 kg (139 pounds), now I am about 97kg (214 pounds). Now I really do hate how I look. Now I realise how beautiful I really was. I have stretch marks from my ribs down to my pubic bone and around to my sides, I have over hanging skin. I also still have issues with my back, which I put down to being so over weight, unfit and inflexible. I am now trying to lose the weight. Slowly, but surely it will come off again. When it does, I plan on having plastic surgery to correct the skin issues. It will never go away on its own, I think it will just look even worse with the more weight I lose. I want to like how I look. One day I will.

Photos

1. After my first pregnancy (miscarriage at 17 weeks)
2. Around 6 months pregnant with each child
3. My babies
4. After son #1
5. Now

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6 Responses to “Uncomfortable in My Skin (Kel)”

  1. Sara Says:
    March 11th, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    Oh Honey! I know how you feel. I truly do. There are days when I feel okay about my body and then there are those days that it feels like I’m wearing a Halloween costume that I cannot get off! I know what it’s like to look in the mirror and cry. You’ve been through a lot. You can get to where you want to be. You’ve already won because you know that you can and that you will.

  2. Justina Says:
    March 11th, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    Mama! Your belly looks like mine! I got boobs to pubes stretchmarks during my first pregnancy at 19 years of age, and even at my best weight still have over hanging skin. I am now 39 years old and pregnant with #3, after having two VERY BIG boys, also, and one miscarriage. I have also struggled with my belly’s appearance, but I try to be graceful about it. I know it is the natural course of some women’s bodies to stretch out and never be the same, and I try to believe that it doesn’t make me any less beautiful. But I truly understand your struggle. I hope you find peace with your body and reach the best size for your physical and emotional well-being. You have worked so hard, you deserve to be happy! Many blessings!

  3. Natalie Says:
    March 12th, 2013 at 6:45 am

    Your story is amazing in how you overcame your struggles, and your marriage did not fall apart. That is something to celebrate! About your body – if you put time and effort into weight loss you will get to a place where you love your body. You can do it. Remember, baby steps first. Any activity/ workout that increases your heart rate is burning calories. Start small and work your way up as your body can tolerate it. Blessings to you and your family.

  4. Sandy Says:
    March 13th, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    Hi there, that’s a huge journey you’ve had, and are processing. I suffered from chronic back pain for years after a car accident and it’s so hard on your body and your life – it drains your energy and makes everything seem way harder than it ought to be. I found the website of a Dr who got herself up out of a wheelchair after being told she’d never walk again. She did it twice, after two accidents that literally crippled her! I was so inspired by reading her story and then her very different take on back pain – just ten minutes of doing her subtly different stretches made a massive difference for my back pain, even my chiro can’t believe the difference in my back. I now go all day with no pain, if my back does start to play up I notice my posture and make a subtle adjustment – back pain goes away. Her name is Jolie Bookspan, she does have some books you can buy but there is loads of free help on her website, http://www.drbookspan.com/BackPainArticle.html. Her info is so worth a try… best of luck to you lovely lady. ~Sandy in Brisbane

  5. Kel Says:
    March 13th, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    Thank you everyone.

    It’s a little bit surreal to read my own story here! I have been reading women’s stories here for a few years now, trying to make sense of how I am feeling about my poor, worn, stretched body.

    I posted it on a whim, didn’t truly think about it. I was just having a terrible few days or so with how I was seeing myself and thought it would be good for others to read about. Maybe help someone out a little in some way. Because I know that feeling like that is so heart wrenching and soul destroying.

    Reading it back, with my whole story all there in one place, it lets me see that I have actually been through quite a lot since having children. It really has been a huge change and challenge. And I suppose I can justify how terrible I have felt, how I feel, in knowing that. I can see that hubby and I have overcome some pretty serious hurdles through our parenting journey so far.

    I am wholey enjoying parenting now. I love my life and am relishing in it. The only thing I don’t like is how I look. But I think about it less these days. I guess as I get older, I realise it doesn’t matter so much. I am relatively healthy and have healthy, wonderful children and a loyal, devoted husband. I really do cherish that. I hope I can truly reconcile how I feel about my body, and see it for what it has done, can do, and not only for how it looks.

    Thank you to you all for taking the time to read and respond to my story. I appreciate it. And I feel more empowered and validated by your kind and encouraging words.

  6. missy Says:
    March 25th, 2013 at 9:12 am

    I think you are beautiful and an amazing mom who has overcome so much. I have learned that when I look in the mirror all I see is my scars and stretchmarks but when my husband looks at me he still sees beauty. And that is truly all that matters, even if I do not feel happy in the mirror he loves me and thinks I am amazing. I have also discovered that my breasts and tummy have softened to become pillows for my kids when they are sick or need reassurance from a nightmare. My cats also love to make biscuits on my squishy tummy, lol. I wish you much love and luck as you strive to change your body to how you want it to be :) blessed be!

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