Themes, games that matched said theme, food galore and goodie bags all compliments of Oriental Trading were present at every party I can remember. Trust me when I say my mom didn't go to all this effort just to impress other moms! She did it because she loved seeing how excited us kids were and it was a way to remind us just how much she cared, not only for her own children but every child who attended the party.
It's for this reason that I view planning birthday parties as a BIG deal because I am my mother's daughter! I show love by acts of service and thoughtful gift giving, which doesn't always mean the biggest or most expensive gift but one that has meaning and thought behind it.
I've had the opportunity to plan two birthday parties already for my oldest son, a mustache bash and a construction party zone which I've been sharing the pictures of throughout this post. I know I'm an entire year late on posting this but I just had to share because the other day I got asked from a friend, "so what's the party theme this year?"
As I was putting the finishing touches on my hospital bags last night I realized I haven’t posted all that much about my second pregnancy on social media. Yes, I’ve shared a few baby bump pictures here and there along with some of the big milestones like our gender reveal party, Kellen’s curiosity of my belly and of course my nesting which has been in full swing lately. But that’s about it, so why have I been quiet? Two words: pregnancy shaming.
Yes, you read that correctly I said pregnancy shaming. You might be in disbelief that there is such a thing but let me tell you it’s very much alive just like body shaming of all shapes and sizes is in our world today. It doesn’t matter if you're overweight, underweight, have muscles or not, someone will always find something wrong with your body...even when you’re pregnant.
“Are you SURE your due date is correct?”
“Are you positive you're NOT having twins?”
“I can’t believe you got so BIG so fast!”
“How much WEIGHT have you gained?”
“You're not due for a few more months? Oh, you poor thing!”
Yes, those are all things that were said to me during my first pregnancy. So why am I bringing up the past? Because those words still ring in my ears and have my entire second pregnancy. Whether I wanted them to or not they have affected how I view my body when I’m doing one of the most miraculous things God created a woman to do, form life in her womb. I’ll never forget the things people said to me and the tears I shed, mainly out of disbelief that people actually had the nerve to say those things to anybody let alone a hormonal, pregnant woman!
Now I’ll admit my first pregnancy wasn’t the healthiest and I managed to gain 50 pounds between stopping working out due to fear of harming the baby, eating way too much junk and working numerous 12 hour nursing shifts in a row. Thankfully I was able to lose it all within 7 months when I adopted an even healthier lifestyle then prior to pregnancy but that’s a different story for a different day. Fast forward to finding out I was pregnant for the second time and one of the first things on my mind was I just can’t gain 50 pounds again. Not because I felt “big” during my first pregnancy or was scared of having to lose the weight but because I didn’t want to deal with the body shaming again. Especially now that sharing my health and fitness journey is something I do daily, out in the open for everyone to see. And then it happened…
The absolute first person I told at work that I was expecting again and this is what she had to say, “gosh I hope you don’t get so BIG and MISERABLE again!” Excuse me? I about fell off my chair that at only 8 weeks pregnant the shaming had already begun before I gained a single pound. I’ll be honest I had to simply walk away from the conversation out of fear I would say something I regretted and then it hit me. It doesn’t matter if I gain 5 or 500 pounds this pregnancy, people are still going to pick me apart because sadly that’s what negative, insecure people do and it's not about me, it's about them. In that moment I decided no matter what happened this pregnancy my focus would not be on the scale or what other's had to say about my changing body but on health, for both me and my growing baby!
Focusing on health this pregnancy has made it an absolute breeze and honestly I’m still in shock that I could go into labor at anytime because for the most part I feel pretty good but alas the shaming continues. “You still have another MONTH? Your BIGGER at 36 weeks than I was at 40.” And my personal favorite is when people just look at you with pity or disgust on their face. Thankfully, given my healthy outlook on pregnancy and the fact my faith has grown tenfold since my first pregnancy I can just smile and say, “I actually feel AMAZING all things considered and this little man can stay put until he’s ready!”
In closing, this post was not intended to be a rant or make you feel bad for me because of the hurtful things I’ve experienced. It was intended to simply remind you how deep words can hurt and impact others, whether they are pregnant or not. It honestly makes me cringe to think of how this negativity and shaming could cause serious harm to an expectant mother and her unborn child because I don’t know if you're aware but eating disorders and depression are very real even in pregnancy. So please next time you see a pregnant woman no matter what your thinking, flash her a smile and tell her just how beautiful she is because it may be the first time in a long time that she’s heard it!
This is a post I wrote on Facebook back in September 2014 and God has been putting it on my heart to share it again so please enjoy! There is no denying that in the past year Kellen and I have transformed physically. I not only lost the 50 pounds I gained when pregnant but another 12 on top of it! Kellen continues to grow like a weed and Chase well, he stayed the same good looking guy all throughout the process! This post wasn’t inspired by our physical transformation though it’s about the emotional, mental and heart transformation that I have gone through as a new mother the past year and it isn’t an easy story to tell.
After being awake for 48 hours straight and pushing through 18 hours of labor I can still remember sitting in my hospital bed looking at Kellen thinking “what have I done, do I really love this baby?” The moment those thoughts came into my mind I instantly felt like a bad mother. What was wrong with me? What kind of mom isn’t 100%, head over heels in love with her baby? So I pushed those feelings down and dove into my new title telling myself that “it just takes time to adjust.” Between diaper changes, breastfeeding, a baby who would only sleep in my arms and trying to heal from the birth of a 9 pounder, I was physically exhausted and so was Chase. I remember the night before my milk came in we were awake at 4 in the morning, crying because Kellen was screaming and we didn’t know what to do. Then those feelings snuck up on me again. Why isn’t my milk coming in, what’s wrong with me? How does so and so have a brand new baby who she manages to put in cute outfits everyday and take a million pictures of to post on Facebook? I’m not meant to be a mother.
I was tired, terrified, lonely and definitely had the baby blues. Which obviously I didn’t tell the doctor about or anybody else in fear that they too would think I was a bad mother or try to take Kellen away from me. Hmmm maybe I was a good mother after all? Over time all those feelings faded but I still couldn’t help but feel inadequate. Why? I’m not quite sure. Was it because I was still carrying around those last 10 lbs of baby weight or maybe because I wasn’t as “crunchy” as the mom next door? Regardless I knew I had to do something for me because clearly a part of myself had gotten lost along the journey of being a new mom. So I decided to become a coach. I lost all the baby weight, formed new friendships, dove into reading my bible more and started to realize I was perfect just the way God made me. The day I stopped comparing myself to others and accepted that I’m a perfectly, imperfect mother was the day God set me free. Free from the pressures that this world puts on new moms. You know the pressure to breastfeed or not, lose all the baby weight, feed your child organic foods, remove all toxic chemicals from your home, read to your child every night even though he’s kicking and screaming because he can’t sit still, be a working mom or a stay at home mom and the list goes on and on and on.
So mothers and fathers please listen. God made you and only you to parent your children! I can promise you that it won’t be easy, you’re going to mess up and you will be tired because what parent isn’t tired? The important thing is that you don’t doubt yourself, don’t compare yourself to others and most certainly don’t give up. Instead love your child unconditionally, be the best you can be, ask for your child’s forgiveness when you mess up and pray that God gives you the strength and guidance to do it all perfectly, imperfect!
For the record, Kellen is now 16 months and I love him more than life itself. He is making a mother out of me! A mother who is still breastfeeding, uses Clorox wipes, feeds him nonorganic goldfish crackers, quit cloth diapering for the ease of disposables and probably makes a million other parenting “mistakes” daily. But remember just like there is no perfect parent there is no perfect way to parent, so just be real!