I know that, even as I write this, I am in the midst of life's greatest season of transformation: motherhood. Still, I am amazed at how very much I have already been transformed in nearly five short years. I have come such a long way from that season of shiny, timid new motherhood.
When Leah was just a few days old, we attempted her very first bath at home in our bathroom sink.
There she was. Our tiny, seven pound sweetheart in the bath we had painstakingly prepared for her, complete with thermometer to ensure that the water was the perfect temperature. Sweet thing that she was, she did wonderfully in the bath!
And then, it came time to pull her out. All ready to receive her was the adorable pink Pooh bathrobe that a sweet friend had given us for our baby shower. The one I had lovingly selected while registering, dreaming of the day I'd have a tiny body to wrap in that little robe. We pulled her out of that perfectly heated water...
...and discovered that it is really, really difficult to navigate a tiny pink robe with a wiggly, screaming baby who resents being wet and cold. She resisted it. Her arm got stuck. Her tiny legs throbbed and kicked. I couldn't seem to get her warm or dry enough.
And then her little lips began to turn blue, and I was convinced I'd killed her. Given her hypothermia. I cried and sobbed along with her. I was supposed to be her mother, yet I had found a way to mess up her very first bath at home. Surely, this was evidence of my failings as a mother. I must be awful!
It's okay, Mama. Just breathe.
I sweat every decision. Agonized over every call.
Read each choice as an opportunity to fail and destroy my new daughter's life.
That's some kind of pressure to put on myself.
I vividly remember feeling a kinship to this song and wondering if I was wise enough and good enough and smart enough to deserve the opportunity to have my heart's greatest desire.
Still... through the doubt, through the worry, through the hard, I will forever remember that first year of Leah's life as one of the sweetest, most tender and wonderful of mine. I was so happy to be her mommy!
Now, as I reflect on motherhood nearly five years later... oh how much has changed. I thought being a first time mommy was hard. Then we welcomed Logan, and I was so overwhelmed.
We had the new house, the new baby who never slept, the perfectionist mother who couldn't divide her time well and the physical recovery. Oh my.
Thankfully sometimes, they do not last forever.
I learned. I grew. I got better. The juggling got - not easier, but more familiar. More doable. The joy and beauty of it all returned.
Casey is gone this month. All month. On the heels of being gone pretty much since September.
I won't lie to you and tell you that everything is sunshine and roses here all the time. There are three small children and no reinforcements, which often makes for one worn out, weary Mom. There is laughter and arguing and hugs and time outs and school and high-fives and tears and tickles... but the one thing there is not is a mother who measures and finds herself lacking. Where once I shed tears, certain that God must sigh and roll His eyes at all my faults, I am now sure that He looks at me and says, "Well done, my good and faithful child."
It's not because I'm perfect. Because... well, I'm so far from perfect we don't even have time to discuss it.
It's because I see what I didn't before: The beauty of this motherhood gig isn't in perfection. The beauty of motherhood lies in the choices we make in the midst of imperfection.
I don't have it all together. I never will. There will never be enough of me to be perfect all the time. But where I once saw that as failing, I now see it as opportunity for me to play my role, and to let God play His.
His calling isn't for my perfection. His calling isn't that I raise perfect children. His calling is for me to make my life my offering, and let Him fill in the places I can't reach.
Having three is my favorite season.
I am better. I am gentler. More patient and compassionate. More ready to go first and disciple my children.
Why? Because to mother three little ones, I can no longer lean on me. I must lean on God. And somehow, as I lean in to God to be refreshed, to gain wisdom and strength and be reminded of my need for grace, as I give Him my heart, I am better equipped to win my children's hearts in love and understanding.
I don't need to be perfect, because I can rest in the assurance that when I follow after Him, God sees my efforts. And He wastes nothing.
It's probably a little stereotypic to start the year off with a post about weight.
I'm not really a resolutions kind of person. It's just not my thing. Mostly because I think the New Year is a wholly unattainable time to swear that this time, really, you're going to get your stuff together.
Yeah... you and the rest of the world are suddenly going to reform all bad habits because another new day rolled around on the calendar.
Here's the thing, though: for me, it is time to do something on the weight front. My journey with weight has been such a roller coaster over the last five years, it's a little crazy.
When I got pregnant in 2009, I was at my lowest weight since high school. Within just a few pounds, in fact. Beyond just the superficial, I was healthy. I was strong. I was a version of myself that I was extremely happy with.
Hormones, though, are absolutely not my friend. The second I got pregnant, before I could even schedule my doctor's appointment and about thirty seconds after the pregnancy test had dried, I gained five pounds. No big deal...
Confession? I gained sixty five pounds during my pregnancy with Leah. Yup. And although I would never in a million years tell you that it wasn't worth it, sixty five pounds is a ton.
Because of my miscarriage risk, I am always advised to be on the "walking and swimming only" exercise plan during pregnancy and, although my diet wasn't perfect, I suspected at the time that my weight gain had a lot more to do with hormones and genetics. My mom gained 80 pounds during her pregnancies. My grandma talked about gaining 100. Even my sister, who is extremely health-conscious, gained 65 during her pregnancy. So, it was what it was.
After Leah was born, I tried to get my body back. I wasn't overly worried about it, as I knew that I wanted to turn around and get pregnant again, but I gave it a shot. I joined a gym and spent about 6 months really working on it. I lost most of the baby weight, but my body stubbornly stuck at 20 pounds up from where I'd been pre-pregnancy. No matter how much I worked, I couldn't get rid of that extra 20 pounds. The truth is that, even 20 pounds up I was still in a healthy BMI range (if that tells you how skinny I'd been before getting pregnant!) and felt pretty okay about myself, so I let it go.
Then, when Leah was one year old and I stopped nursing, 10 pounds fell off literally all by themselves. I did nothing different except stop nursing, and within like 2 weeks, I was down 10 pounds. No, hormones certainly have nothing to do with my weight gain or loss...
When I got pregnant with Logan, I was still 10 pounds up from where I'd been when I got pregnant with Leah. Weight wasn't the end of the story, though. My body. Whew. Even though I was only 10 pounds up from the skinniest I'd ever been, pregnancy had warped my body.
When the weight came, it came fast and furious. I ended my pregnancy at virtually the same weight I'd been with Leah (within about three pounds), but the way it looked on me the second time through was completely different.
This time, I had a horrible time getting the weight off. Partly because I was a) so broken for so many months, b) so very, very tired and worn out from dealing with sweet baby Logan and c) because instead of giving birth in spring with summer and warm temperatures to contend with, I had a fall baby and jumped immediately into the holidays when I'm naturally less likely to exercise and eat well.
Over the next summer, I gave losing the baby weight a shot. I was about 15 pounds up from my pre-Logan weight (25 pounds up from my original pre-pregnancy weight). The first thing that happened was I very quickly gained five pounds, at which point I got discouraged and gave up until I stopped nursing, hoping I could repeat the success I'd had after I stopped nursing Leah.
I stopped nursing Logan in September, but the weight didn't instantly come off. I began a diet and exercise routine, and by October I'd lost about 8 pounds. I was proud of my success... but at the beginning of November, I found out I was pregnant with Olivia. Just like I had when I got pregnant with Leah, the first thing that happened was that I gained five pounds. Boom.
So... here I was. 20 pounds up overall and pregnant again.
There was a brief few weeks when I was the heaviest I've ever been in any pregnancy - at like week 34, no less. Then, for whatever reason completely unbeknownst to me, I ended up losing weight at the end of my pregnancy to put me at exactly the same weight I always reach. My body, evidently, knows the weight it wants, and it doesn't matter if I eat kale or cheeseburgers, I am going to reach that weight regardless.
I am not one to have issues about my body, whether I'm "thin" or not. How could I? It has made three pretty wonderful little humans, and I've always felt that this season is temporary. That being said, going to Hawaii was pretty humbling.
Holy Moly... that's a heck of a picture of me.
My pant size has gone up immediately after having my babies - after Leah, I was an 8. After Logan, a 10. After Olivia, a 12 - even though my weight has been practically identical in all three pregnancies. In fact, I was a pound down on Olivia's d-day from where I was on Logan's.
People, it's time. Enough is enough.
It's not a vanity thing. Not mostly, anyway. At my core, I just miss being me. I miss feeling like somebody I recognize, that somebody who was athletic and fit and strong. I deeply miss having a place on the long list of important things that take up my time.
So, I am committing to a 90 exercise program. It's about 20 minutes six days a week, and I am absolutely carving out that 20 minutes for myself come heck or high water. With Casey gone and homeschool and everything, there is no way I'd be able to squeeze in trips to the gym. But this? This I can do.
Heaven help me, I'm posting my before pictures. I am keeping track of my weight loss through measurements - but I am not stepping on the scale. Based on my previous experiences, I have a really tough time losing weight while nursing, so odds are good that I either won't lose or may even gain weight, which I know will totally de-rail me.
In case you were wondering, this is what my body looks like five months post-partum after three bebes. I wouldn't change where I've been for the world... but still, I am very excited about where I'm going!
Not to mention, Casey is out of town until February. I'm eager to see what changes he might come home to!