Monday, August 12, 2013

TIGER STRIPES

I really don't think I ever thought about how many kids I would actually have. I knew I always wanted to be a mom and when I was younger, really thought I would have a daughter. However, I came to realize that it didn't matter anymore if I had a boy or girl, just a healthy child.

What I did always think about is how cute I would look pregnant and how my body would just snap back the way it was before I had the baby. Of course, I thought this, because everything I had seen on television, in the movies, reading magazines, that's what happened.

So imagine my surprise when none of it did. I got pregnant on my honeymoon and all of a sudden something in my brain kicked in, and I thought it was just a free-for-all to eat everything I wanted that I had always restricted myself in the past.

And in turn, I gained 70 pounds. When Zachary was born, he was just a little over 6 pounds and I'm not kidding, when I tell you that the doctor made the nurses weigh him again because I think he couldn't figure out how such a big person could have such a little baby.

Right there it hit me. I wasn't that really cute pregnant woman that I had always dreamed of being. Being a first-time mom is an extraordinarily difficult job. I think it takes stress to an all new level. There's so much adopting to do that as much as you thought you could prepare for, you really couldn't.

So in the past if I was not at a comfortable weight, I would refocus on myself and get there. However I could no longer just focus on myself, I had a newborn to take care of. I did have an opportunity when Zachary was six months old to be part of a Discovery Health reality show called the Body Challenge. It was a four-month long shoot where I was followed by cameras at the gym and with a nutritionist. Zachary came with me to all my appointments. When the show ended, I felt confident again and that dream of my body bouncing back to the way it was for the most part become a reality.

In the years following, I had three miscarriages, so that alone took a toll on my what was weight-loss accomplishments. I was then blessed with my first set of identical twins...and gaining 50 pounds. Carrying twins makes being pregnant to a whole new level! While I was able to lose the weight after they were born, I was what I came to know as left with "roo".

My skin had been so stretched after all of these pregnancies and lastly being twins, that it didn't really matter how much weight I have lost, I had this enormous amount of excess skin that I had to tuck into everything I wore.

I told myself as soon as I was done having children, I would was determined to make a permanent parting with "roo". After two additional losses, I was again blessed with my second set of identical twins and had regained the 50 pounds that I had lost after my first set.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, with both sets of twins, I never was that cute pregnant woman! So here I was, the mother of five amazing beautiful little boys, but really just couldn't stop thinking about the 2 things that I had always dreamt about for myself really never came true.

I talked with Mike about my desire to say goodbye to “roo”. I made an appointment with the plastic surgeon, who in the consultation told me that I needed to wait until a year after the last birth before he wanted to do the procedure. A little over a year after my last babies were born, I underwent a tummy tuck. Here are my blogs regarding that time of my life:

What I remember about that is all of the people asking me if I was scared. I was so excited to be able to put on a pair of pants and not have to tuck in a massive amount of extra skin, that I never thought about being scared. I truly thought it wasn't about me being vain, just being able to live the rest of my life a little more comfortable.

That was four years ago and for 4 years my weight went up and down and up and down, until this last February when I met a wonderful nutritionist who helped me realize that what I thought was the right, healthy way to eat, was truly an unhealthy wrong way to eat. I believe that with her help and a few other therapists over the years who specialized in eating disorders, I am now at a place that I feel empowered.

Living in Southern California is hard. Body image is extraordinarily prevalent, and especially with girls, I believe begins at a very early age. While I no longer obsess about food and my weight, literally on an hourly basis, I'm was not 100% at a place where I am comfortable and content.

A few days ago my family and I had the opportunity to spend the day with some close friends at a beach house they rented that week. It was so awesome, relaxing and peaceful. My family spent the day in the sand digging holes, catching sand crabs, and burying each other in the sand. One of my 8 year old's asked to take a little walk and of course I obliged. I think we were talking about him starting the new school year soon, when he kind of stopped me by touching my arm and looked very inquisitively at my stomach. He said "Mommy, what those marks on your stomach"? I paused, looked at his sweet face and I said "these are from when I had you and your brothers and let's just call them my tiger stripes".

It was that moment that all the sudden I realized that I actually earned those stripes. I was so lucky to have them. I was beyond blessed that my body had a chance to get them. It was a life-changing question that my son asked me. He's too young to understand right now what gift he gave me but when he gets a little older, I can't wait to share with him what a difference a few little words meant.

Since that day, I have not been able to stop thinking about how for 42 1/2 years I thought I knew what is best for me and it took an 8 year old to help me really understand what was.



From here on out, I wear my tiger stripes proudly!

5 comments:

spielbee said...

great story mama tiger! Your tummy looks fantastic...stripes and all. look forward to hearing more about the nutritionist...

Karla said...

Loved this blog Jen. No mom should have to feel like her "tiger stripes" leave her body less than what it once was. Those stipes absolutely prove your body is that much more than it was before! Keep being awesome!

Susan Campbell Cross said...

Love that you tell it like it is Jen! I have tiger stripes too--no twins, just bad elasticity I guess! I think we are in the majority among moms. I know very few people who didn't at least end up with a few stripes. It's an outward sign of our inner ability to put priority on making a healthy baby--which is way more important than having flawless skin! :) xo

Michele the Trainer said...

Bravo to YOU Jen. You are amazing! Great Story! I have stripes from my weight loss and I've never been pregnant! Blessed to have those little tigers running all around you, and they are SUPER blessed to have YOU! If you need anything I'm here for you! xoxo

Jennifer Kainen said...

I wish more mother's could see it the way you do Jen. Kudos to you for working on yourself, and arriving at a place of loving acceptance. :)