My belly, the first home of my biggest blessings… far from flawless, but I love it anyway. (Julie)

-24 years old
-6 pregnancies, 5 children. (1 loss at 9 weeks gestation.)
-J, 7 years old. P, 6 years old. K, 5 years old. G, 3.5 years old. L, 2 years old.

– Hello ladies! Thank you for allowing me the oppeortunity to share my own story. :)

My husband and I found out we were expecting 6 months before we planned to marry. Our relationship is a little unique. He is 5 years older than I, we have been together since I was 14 and lived in our own home since I was 15 & he was 20. I was 16 when we found out I was pregnant, April 20th 2004. We had been planning to wed, with the blessings of my parents, October 16th 2004. 2 months after my 17th birthday. When we found out we were expecting.. I was 5’1, very lean and toned, and weighed 112 pounds. We did indeed wed on October 17th, with our daughter present in utero. :) My pregnancy with her was for the most part uneventful once I got past the first trimester. The first 13 weeks I suffered from Hypermesis Gravidarum and before I was finally prescribed Zofran for it, I vomited all day, every day, and felt awful. I frequently landed myself in the ER because of dehydration. I got down to 108lbs, and that is when they decided to prescribe the Zofran. Later in pregnancy, I developed what they call “polyhydramnious.” This meant I had a lot of extra fluid, for unexplained reasons. Because of this, my stomach grew rapidly and I experienced very sudden weight gain the last few weeks. My last weight before giving birth was 162lbs. Going off 108, I gained 54 pounds. J was born at 38 weeks on December 21st, beautiful and healthy, weighing 7lbs 1oz.

My husband and I knew from the get-go, even being young parents and newly weds, that we wanted a large family. We are both from large families and we wanted the same. So we decided to let go with “not trying, not preventing” as far as our sexual relationship went. Coincedently, I found out I was pregnant for the 2nd time, AGAIN on April 20th, 2005. The EDD was the same as J’s, as well! We were shocked given the circumstances & the fact their dates were exact, but we were ELATED! J was 1 day shy of 4mos old, and I still had a lot of work that needed to be done to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight. Obviously, that was going to have to be put on hold. The next month consisted of a lot of blood work, a lot of doctor visits, and a lot of ultrasounds. Unfortunately on May 26th, 2005.. after a month of no growth or change in the embryo, including no heartbeat… we realized the pregnancy was not viable. My midwife scheduled a D&C with the OBGYN at the clinic I went to. On May 27th, 2005, we said goodbye to our Angel that wasn’t mean for this world. We were obviously heartbroken, disappointed, sad, etc. But we had J to keep us busy and we focused on what we had been blessed with, each other and our beautiful daughter.

And then just a few weeks later, mid July, we found out for the third time we were expecting AGAIN! Obviously we were very nervous because of the miscarriage, but thankfully the pregnancy progressed and everything went well. Our 2nd child, a beautiful baby boy, was born also at 38 weeks on April 10th 2006 after an uneventful pregnancy. He weighed 8lbs 1oz and like his sister, was healthy as can be. J was 15 months old when she became a big sister.

Now if I continue to give the run down on all my pregnancies, my story will get ridiculously long… LOL! So I’ll just share the bare minimum from here on out.

#3, our 2nd son, was born on June 24th of 2007. I had polyhydramnios with him as well and gained a massive amount of weight. Because of the severe PH, my water broke at 36 weeks. Even so, K weighed 7lbs 2ozs and other than some jaundice from his premature liver, he was healthy as can be. At the time of his birth, J was 2.5 years old and P was 14mos old.

#4, our 3rd son, was born at 38 weeks gestation on December 18th 2008. G was another uneventful pregnancy, born healthy weighing 8lbs 10ozs. At the time of G’s birth, J was just shy of her 4th birthday, P was 2.5 years old, and K was a week shy of 18 months old.

#5, our 2nd girl, was born at 38 weeks gestation on April 19th 2010. With L, I had what my midwife called “borderline gestational diabetes.” I failed my 1hr Glucose test with her, just as I did with G, but with him I went on the pass the 3hr. With L, I failed by just a few points. I was RIGHT under the “normal” range. Because of this, I had to monitor my blood sugar during my pregnancy and eat a semi-diabetic diet. At 2 weeks early, L was born weighed 8lbs 15ozs.. 1 oz shy of 9lbs.. and that is AFTER she took a nice pee on me just seconds after she was born. I think it’s safe to say she would have weighed at least 9lbs even if she had been weighed before peeing. They tested her blood sugar shortly after her birth since she was such a good sized baby even 2 weeks early, which is a sign of macrosomia… large baby caused by gestational diabetes. Her blood sugar was absolutely fine… she was just a healthy girl. At the time of her birth J was 5yrs old, P was 4, K was 2 mos shy of his 3rd birthday, and G was 16mos old.

A grand total of 5 pregnancies, 1 loss, and 5 healthy blessings in 5 years and 4 months time. The grand total of the baby weight my uterus held comes to 39lbs, 15ozs! That’s just the weight of the babies.. not to mention the fluid, blood, placenta, etc. Obviously with only 4-8 months between each pregnancy… I didn’t have a lot of time to lose the baby weight, and instead it just kept piling on. I breastfed, but unfortunately I was not one of the lucky mamas who shed the pounds with the help of nursing.

I grew more and more uncomfortable in my own skin as the years went on… and for some reason, I lacked the will power and confidence to get back in shape. Around the time of my daughters 2nd birthday.. I finally became fed up. She hadn’t nursed for quite some time, and I knew it was time to take control of my life and get back to a point whre I could be comfortable with myself. So I got serious, and I decided to make a lifestyle change. At that time, my starting weight was 195lbs. At 5’2. I was morbidly obese. The girl who was always “naturally slender,” was morbidly obese. I know you ladies can imagine how I felt. I visited my family physician, we set up a weight loss plan complete with my goals, and he prescribed me a weight loss aid to help me along. My goal is not to become skinny. My goal is to become HEALTHY and be COMFORTABLE with my body. The body that has done AMAZING things for me and kept the 5 most important people in my life HEALTHY until it was time for them to be born. 12 weeks later I have managed to lose 45 pounds, 13 combined inches (waist, hips, thighs) and 2, ALMOST 3 pant sizes. I am 15lbs from my goal weight, and granted my weight loss has slowed down significantly from what it was in the beginning.. I am still working hard to get there so I can be healthy and feel good about myself… and I can honestly say I grow more and more comfortable with my body each week! The stretch marks do not bother me. The loose skin does not bother me. As I said, my body did the most amazing thing for me… FIVE times. The weight gain, the struggle to lose it… it has all been MORE than worth it. I will never have that tight, perfectly toned, flawless body I had before kids and that is perfectly fine with me. That’s not my goal. I am so proud of myself and my confidence, the way I feel about myself, is better than it has ever been. I am proud of my body regardless of the fact I still have 15lbs to go to my goal (which by the way is on the heigher end of “normal” given me height. But like I said, I’m not trying to get skinny.) and a LOT of toning to do. Fitness and exercise have become an every day part of my life, and it will be even after I hit my goal. It’s something my family and I can do together, and it makes us feel good. The weight loss has been a blessing.. but the biggest blessing of all is my children and I will forever be greatful for the body that carried them and kept them safe during their gestational period…. MY body. <3 Oh, and for the inquiring minds.... no, neither my husband or I got any permanent sterilization. We are using precautions and plan to for a while longer.. but we do intend to welcome at least one more child into our family sometime in the future, assuming it is meant to be and we are blessed again. Just taking a break for now. :) Thanks again for allowing me the opportunity to share my story. :) If you made it through the novel, kudos to you and thanks for reading! (My progress pictures are ready to be updated with the 12th week photos. This is start, 3 weeks, 6 weeks, and 9 weeks. I have lost 5 more pounds since the 9th week photo.) [gallery]

5 Months PP and struggling with PPD and body image (MB)

Age: 25
Number of births: 1
Months PP: 5

I am 25 years old and a stay at home mom and wife. I had Hyperemesis during the entirety of my pregnancy and only gained 5 lbs, but seeing as I was already “obese” at 196 lbs when I found out I was expecting my OB said not to worry (easy for them to say, they should try puking 6-14 times a day for 9 months straight!). I delivered my baby 5 months ago via emergency c-section after 18 hours of labor. (I cried so hard when they prepped me for surgery I puked. Last thing I wanted to do at the time).

I am 5’4″ and the last time I was weighed I was 195 (1 month PP) although I feel I’ve lost a few more lbs. I weighed 225 lbs before delivery of my son. Although my hips, thighs, butt and tummy grew, the only part that bothers me is the extra skin hanging down over the bulge left on my belly. Cute bras and panties can cover sagging breasts and big lumpy butts, but hiding a deflated, shriveled belly is harder. I’ve always been short with broad shoulders and wide hips, but my waist has always been tiny giving me an exaggerated hour glass shape that I loved.
I struggled to breastfeed even when doctors told me to give up and just accept formula. My son had a shallow latch and I was not producing milk so he would get frustrated and suckle furiously leaving blisters and broken skin. I had to switch to pumping and refused to give up (I had one episode where I broke down in hysterics because I pumped blood, lovely right?). Through internet research I have found out that I have hyperlastic tuberous breasts and therefore lack a significant amount of breast tissue. After finding out the reason for my lack of milk production and I am overjoyed to announce that I finally am able to almost exclusively breastfeed with only one 4 oz bottle of formula given a day! I no longer blame myself for poor milk production, its a common birth defect and I overcame it in the best way I could.

I am struggling with my body and how ruined it is as well as pp depression (which isn’t helping things). My husband insists that he loves my new body (He went nuts when he discovered how big my butt was getting during the pregnancy) but it’s hard to believe a man who turns down his wife’s advances when the baby is put to bed only to masturbate to porn after she too goes to bed (sobbing). I struggled late in the pregnancy as well because he had been watching “pregnant porn” and barely touching me all the while I was feeling friskier than ever. Why other look at pregnant women and not the one right in front of him? I thought it was just fear of hurting the baby, but he hasn’t stopped. This has also attributed to my lack of confidence. I’ve tried hard to talk to him about it but he gets defensive and angry and tells me “Its just what guys do” and that “I wasn’t giving him what he needed” (this was 4 weeks after surgery while I was hemorrhaging and was in pain) In all other aspects he’s an amazing husband and father, always going out of his way to do what’s best for our son and me.

I am now trying to stop focusing on my belly and focus on the tiny boy who loves to lay on it.

The first pic is of my 5 month pp belly. You can see where a stretch mark popped outwards into a little bubble. 2nd is a side view where you can see the “mother’s apron”

I Finally Feel Sexy Again (Babs)

Original entries here, here, here and here.

This was my fourth pregnancy and birth, and both were extremely difficult. I suffered with moderate hyperemesis gravaridum throughout (, lost a significant amount of weight, muscle and nutrients and was on the edge of hospitalization and IV feeds throughout (even with extensive medicating). I also suffer with a spinal disease called ankylosing spondylitis which caused my vertebrae to fuse together from my coccyx up to my mid-back; it also causes very painful nerve damage in my hip joints and legs due to those bundles of nerves being trapped in the fusions.

The way my body changed over the course of this pregnancy felt very different than the other times: I was tired, and in a lot of pain and very sick. Toward the end I was mostly bedridden and had to push myself hard to get in a short walk a few times a week. I felt like I was falling apart, and was beginning to really hate my body: it was big and awkward, desperately sick and so, so painful. Through the last months of pregnancy I had to walk with a cane, which left me feeling very self-conscious and extremely unattractive. I felt like this pregnancy had stripped me of my femininity and sex appeal… and for the first time in my life, even with a disability diagnosis for years, I really felt disabled. On top of that, I’d had a relapse of an eating disorder shortly before becoming pregnant and was struggling hard with maintaining positive body image even before all that crap. As a result of that, I requested to not be weighed throughout my pregnancy, nor have weight used as a judgment of my health since it was such a fresh trigger. (Numbers alone are not a good, accurate diagnostic tool: your health is a big picture, and can’t be judged by a flawed BMI calculator or tiny range of “healthy pounds”. Big or small, your overall health is what is important to take care of and there is so much more to it than standing on a scale! Even with the diagnosis of hyperemesis, being weighed on a regular basis was not necessary to monitor my health and nutrition. You may have to argue with your care provider a little, but if scales and numbers are a trigger for you during pregnancy, you CAN avoid them so you can stay strong and supported).

Just three days ago now, 9 days past my due date, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. My hard and fast (two hour!) labour was very difficult with the spinal fusions, and very painful, but I made it through with the wonderful support of my midwife, doula and my husband. With their love and care I was able to achieve a second home VBAC, even with my disabilities. I have to say, waterbirth helps a TON for moms with chronic pain, or spinal disabilities!! I don’t now if I’d have been able to do it without the pool.

The night after giving birth I was laying in bed with my husband watching TV shows on my laptop with our new baby sleeping between us. I was laying there, mostly naked, and looked down over my new postpartum body all squishy and deflated and realized that… I felt really good. More than that, I felt sexy! This pregnancy that was so hard on my body and made me feel stripped bare, this birth that was so hard to get through and had me screaming at the top of my lungs, they’ve both been such huge challenges but by making it out the other side I feel strong and capable and SEXY! When I went out in public earlier I didn’t feel like sucking in my stomach and hiding my middle in loose-fitting clothes. I even went out wearing a form-fitting top, proudly showing off my squishy new postpartum body so I can proclaim to everyone, “THIS is beautiful!”. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to look at my body in such a truly positive way. Even with a disability, with a history of struggling with an eating disorder, with severe illness and a very hard year that left me with a very changed body… I can be sensual and feminine and amazing. Four babies have passed through this body and left their footprints on it with stretch marks, cesarean scars, milky breasts, love handles, cellulite and weight gain… but today, just three days postpartum after my fourth birth, I feel sexier than I ever have.

I’ve posted to this site before, several times, but I never thought I’d ever have the guts to submit any images of myself fully nude. Even while I took these images through pregnancy, hoping that I’d eventually find the courage to submit (anonymously, maybe with my head cut off and my tattoo obscured! PS. that’s why my head is cut off in a bunch of these!) I didn’t really believe I’d be able to, so it brings me a lot of joy to post these (albeit still a little nervous…) and say, “I FEEL GREAT!”. Now I feel like encouraging everyone to do the same thing. Take pictures of your body, and not just any old pictures – put aside some time and experiment with taking some really nice photos. Go get some boudoir photos done if you don’t want to or can’t take your own, but whatever you do don’t neglect capturing some of your beauty… even if you feel crappy about yourself.

Despite I felt like absolute hell and hating my body through most of my pregnancy, I’m really grateful to myself that I pushed through to document my changes. I think it’s in us all to learn how to appreciate how amazing our bodies are in all their power. Just look at the incredible things they can do! Thanks to this site I found the motivation to nurture that, and I’m really glad I stuck to it.

(As a note: I’m a professional photographer, so these were taken by me with professional gear. Even though you can’t see them very well there are stretch marks and scars there, though I don’t have the type of genes that get a lot. Good quality, even lighting makes a big difference in how your skin appears in pictures. For anyone curious to experiment with their own lighting, I included a “behind the scenes” photo to show how everything was set up to take these. I used a Nikon SB800 flash mounted on a stand with a home-made beauty dish made out of a planter and some spare parts for about $12 total (instructions here:, and a desk lamp pointed at the corner of the wall behind me to reduce some of the shadows. From there just experiment with the settings until you find something that looks good! I triggered my light with a radio controlled device called a Pocket Wizard, but you can just use a sync cord or one of many other inexpensive options and get the exact same results. You also don’t have to use a big fancy flash either, any will work including the cheap Vivitar 285V which runs about $90. :)

A Hard Road, but Worth Every Second (Anonymous)

I have struggled with an eating disorder in various forms since I was 15, and cannot remember a time when I didn’t feel fat. During a period of relative sanity I had my son, at 19 (maybe that’s not very sane, in retrospect). The pregnancy was great and he is a wonderful nearly-8-year-old, but after… I was huge. And by huge I mean a size 8… Yeesh. I was actually a bit chubby- I’m a tiny person by nature, I’m a size 2 and have been eating normally for almost 3 years- but at 5’2 I’m healthy. Anyway, after I had my son I had about a 5 year blur or starving, binging, and purging- which was something I had never done before. I lost a job because of it (apparently eating disorders are terribly obvious to medical personnel; nursing work might have been a dumb idea…), and at one point I almost lost my husband, who I have been with since I was 15. One morning in early 2007, I physically could not get out of bed. I had purged ANYTHING I ate for an entire week prior- no nutrition at all for 7 days. I decided I HAD to stop, because being an invalid was not what I had set out to do… 2 months or so later, I got my period back… and the next month I became pregnant with my daughter. I was thrilled and terrified. I HAD to eat normally, I couldn’t live with myself if harmed my baby! And so I did. I had terrible morning sickness, and couldn’t wait for 12 weeks to come around. But twelve weeks got here and it only got worse. I’m not sure I went one day without vomiting. In some strange Irony, the one time I was TRYING to keep everything down, I couldn’t! At that time, I had a part time, weekend job at a music store where, aside from the owner, I was the only employee. At 15 weeks, I was going about my duties when I got sick. Nothing too unusual. So I tried to drink some water to settle my poor tummy.. and couldn’t stop throwing up. I had to call the store owner, close the store, and wait for my best friend to come pick me up- no way I could drive, my husband was on a job about 2 hours away. I get to the hospital, where I am just vomiting spit. They wouldn’t listen to anything I said. ‘Are you bleeding’ noooo… ‘we think you have a tubal pregnancy’ but Im 15 weeks- something would have ruptured long ago if that were true. ‘I’m pretty sure you aren’t 15 weeks’ JUST DO A FREAKIN’ ULTRASOUND ALREADY!!! all the while I’m STILL puking! finally, they do the ultrasound, and what do ya’ know, I’m right. No tubal pregnancy- just a perfectly healthy, squirmy 15 week old fetus. They gave me some IV fluids and anti-emetics, and sent me on my way, assuring me I was having a ‘rough pregnancy’ and this probably wouldn’t happen again. I was still puking nearly daily, but I was ok, save for my hubby’s birthday when we found out her sex, went out for a celebratory dinner where I destroyed the bathroom… It was tolerable for a few more weeks when I had a repeat of the ER incident, at least this time they gave me prescriptions for anti-emetics and painkillers. About 3 weeks before she was born, it happened again, only my Promethazine had stopped working and they had to give me some sort of cocktail of drugs normally given to people with cancer. I apparently had NO immune system left after all this and developed the worst bronchitis ever. Between the puking and coughing there were times I thought I might die and almost didn’t care. I have never felt that awful before or since. While I was waiting on my prescription to be filled, I went into labor. AT THE STORE! The Dr. knew my last labor was 4 hours, so I was scheduled to be induced… the next day! I didn’t have a phone with me, so I drove home. We drove like crazy and 15 minutes after we got to the hospital I was holding the sweetest baby girl! Suffice it to say, I have had no desire to vomit since then, and I have been eating normally ever since. She just turned 2 and is giving me kisses as I write this. I have never been happier!!!

both my sweet babies
the finished product!
me at 7 months- I never made it into maternity pants
me today- still small, but not skeletal!

13 mos PP, and 18 lbs to go… (Anonymous)

Age: 28
Pregnancies: 3
PP: 13 months

Well, I just figured I would share with you a pic of my belly, since I have looked at most of yours. I am looking for some honest feedback about my body. With both of my pregnancies I gained a lot of wait in my 6- 7th month. I had horrible morning sickness that couldn’t be controlled without medication. I ended up in the ER with my second for severe dehydration from the vomitting. I would have to drive with a plastic bag handy because it would just keep coming and coming. Very horrible experience. But once I got the meds i was in heaven and able to enjoy the pregnancy. With my first I didnt get any stretch marks until the 7th month and it was a little little one above my belly ring. Then from 8 months to birth I got quite a bit on my belly. It took me about a year and a half to lose all the weight. I was 175 before preggo, trying to lose weight and 220 at delivery. Yea I was a chunker, lol. It took be about a year and a half to lose the weight, I lost 20 lbs immediately after birth, then the rest just gradually came off. I hit a plateau at year 1 and then I started the gym and the rest came off. I was at 155 before I got preggo with number 2 and gained 5 lbs up until month 7, then I sky rocketed to 215 at birth. I didnt get any new stretch marks which was good, but they were a little pink from being re-wounded so to speak. They are all pretty much faded now. I weigh 173 and have hit my famous plateau. My gorgeous son just turned 1 on Dec 11th. So now I have about 18 lbs to go to be pre preggo weight and am struggling. I eat very very well, protein, nuts, berries, fruit, special k, whole wheat/grain, and I exercise about 4-5 days a week now, but nothing is coming off! I lost 1 lb. a little depressing but I’m sticking to it. These are my pics, and be honest!


New Body – Courtesy of Two Miracles (Danni)

Both of my pregnancies were an up and down battle. My pre-pregnancy weight before my first daughter was a beautiful 140 pounds that I was very proud of being only 5’5″. I thought I was beautiful and had curves in all of the right places. A little younger than 18 when I found out I was pregnant, I thought that my world was over, not even realizing that the most trying period would be during my pregnancy. I was only 11 weeks pregnant when the “morning” sickness came; constant throwing up and unable to eat anything resulted in me losing an almost whopping 40 pounds. It wasn’t until later that I was told my OB should have put me on medications to help with the extreme sickness. My daughter was born May 13, 2008 and I weighed 112 pounds before I gave birth. She only weighed 5 pounds 13 oz but I was back down to 98 pounds at my 6 weeks check-up. I absolutely hate my body after… I had no stretch marks but I felt all stick and bones, I looked and felt sick all day, every day.

When I got pregnant with my second daughter, I had gotten up to 115 pounds; I still didn’t feel beautiful like I use to but I was content with my body. Again, the same problem occurred with the sickness, except this time I had a midwife that helped me with medication and even some herbal remedies that were suppose to help. By week 39 I had gained a wonderful 50 pounds… probably alot to anyone that started at their regular weight but I was overjoyed that I had been able to gain my weight back plus some! I gave birth December 17, 2009 to my daughter who weighed 6 pounds 13 oz. With a few stretch marks to add I have fallen in love with my body all over again. I’m now a very proud 135 pound mommy to two and couldn’t be happier!

Age: 20
Number of pregnancies and births: 2
Age of children: 20 months and 1 month

27 weeks pregnant (Justine)

My body has been though alot in this past year, Dec 19th 2008 i found out i was pregnant i started to gain weight right away and knew it something wasnt right i wasnt suppost to have a gut at a month and a half!!, at 6 weeks i went in and there were 2 tiny little heartbeats on the screen, we were having twins!! we were so excited but 4 weeks later i had heavy bleeding and clotting and miscarried the babies, after i lost the twins the weight i put on just never went away, Charlie took it really hard and said he didnt want to try for any more kids for a few more years, i went back on my nuvaring and we started used spermicide to prevent another pregnancy, but April of 2009 i my period didnt come, and took a test and it came up saying “pregnant” i couldnt believe it to be honest,It wasnt the right time, it was right before charlie deployed and we honestly were at the verge of calling it quits, My (ex)husband Charlie wanted me to have a abortion and since i wouldnt we have decided to get divorced and are now legally seperated and the divorce will be final in november, he wants nothing to do with his daughter. But back to this pregnancy, I had severe hyperemesis for the first 5 months of my pregnancy i was admitted 4 times, had over 40 IVs in, at my worst i was down 27 lbs from my prepregnancy weight, i was taking about 15 pills a day just to be able to fuction. But at 23 weeks along the hyperemesis just went away, and i have gained 20 lbs since, (still down 7 from pregnancy weight) but my daughter is a healthy baby girl and is due december 19th, which is the one year mark from when i found out i was pregnant with her siblings, its pretty bittersweet that her due date marks that day. i have 2 light purple stretch marks and my timer has popped, my breasts went from a 32DD to now a 32G so i think about 5 lbs of my weight gain is in my boobs,they have gotten quiet saggy since i found out i was pregnant i was scheuduled to get a breast reduction in june and that is on standby until i stop breastfeeding, but it will still be done!

~Your Age: 19
~Number of pregnancies and births: 2nd pregnancy, 2 angel babies and 1 still in the womb

on my photos first one is prepregnancy, second is 21 weeks suffering from hyperemesis, 3rd and 4th are at 27 weeks pregnant.

More Changes (Sarah)

Since I submitted my story and pictures all that time ago I have been pregnant another two times. The first of those was stillborn in the middle trimester and recovering some sense of my body not being broken is very hard! I’m now pregnant again (my 6th pregnancy) and not far off due.

So much has changed, and changes day to day, it’s hard to know where to begin. But right now, I’m so grateful for all of the good – even though I still have hyperemesis through my pregnancies, even after losing three children, after *everything*. My two girls are amazing (they are four and two years old respectively). I’m looking forward to tandem nursing. And I love this bump, stretch marks and all. :)

Perfection (Caurie)

Becoming a mother saved my life. Before I became pregnant with my first son my focus in life was my body. I had anorexia and exercise bulimia for years. In the pursuit of a “perfect” body my body was like an old woman’s. I had osteopenia, the enamel on my teeth was eroded, my heart had palpitations, and I had a seizure. I was 27 years old! I got pregnant on Valentine’s Day 2003 and immediately my whole focus in life changed. I fell in love with the little bean inside me instantly. At just five weeks pregnant, though, my body turned on me (who could blame it!?) I started throwing up and it would not stop. After passing out from dehydration and being taken to the hospital I found out I had Hyperemesis Gravidarum– a pregnancy complication marked by extreme vomiting, nausea, and weight loss. Basically it is like having the worst case of morning sickness 24-7. During my first trimester I lost 20 pounds and was hospitalized five times for IV hydration and nutrition. The IVs kept my baby alive as I could not even hold down water. I worried every minute that my baby was going to die. For the first time in my life I WANTED to gain weight, but I could not. The lowest point in my Hyperemesis came when a hospital physician suggested I was making myself sick because I didn’t want to gain weight. At around 24 weeks the vomiting stopped thanks to anti-emetic medicines used for chemotherapy patients. I slowly began to gain weight and look pregnant. I LOVED the rest of my pregnancy and embraced the roundness of my body, fullness of my breasts, and widening of my hips. Brice was born on November 4 and it was truly the best day of my life. Because of the Hyperemesis I did not plan to get pregnant again, but my husband and I were surprised with a souvenir from a vacation in May 2006! The day I found out I was pregnant again my OB started me on the same medications that helped my Hyperemesis with Brice. I am happy to report that I had an excellent pregnancy with Brady – the medications worked and I only had to be hospitalized once – when I delivered him. Although he had some breathing difficulty at birth, he is now a healthy, happy, and rotund baby. January 12 marks one year postpartum. I have had such a journey with my body over the past several years. At this point I no longer view my body with negativity, but with respect. I admire it not for what it looks like, but for what its achieved — two pregnancies, two births, and the nourishment of two babies through its milk. Unlike how it looked when I was anorexic – bony, gaunt, and child like – my body is now curvy, fleshy, and womanly. I have accepted it. Sure there are moments when I do not exactly embrace it, but thinness is no longer the focus of my life. My focus is my sons. How can I hate a body which gave me such precious gifts? In this sense, my body is finally “perfect.

Photos: Photos: 1) 34 weeks pregnant with my first in yoga pose 2) 34 weeks pregnant with my second 3) Breastfeeding 4) My boys and I

Courtesy of photographer Sara Matlik