Thursday, July 24, 2014

Why I Love My Body

via

I kind of can't believe I'm writing this. If you've been reading for a long time, you know I've struggled to lose weight and have a positive body image. Also, it feels weird to admit that I love my body. As women, I feel like we're almost trained to hate our bodies, and to say otherwise would make us conceited. But I think we all just need to love our bodies a little bit more!

It all started when I became pregnant with Grayson. At first, I worried that I might gain too much weight (okay, I worried about it pretty much the whole time!). But as the weeks went by and Grayson grew and my body changed, I started feeling differently about my body. I no longer thought of my body as this thing I'm trapped inside, this curse of extra flesh and ripples and folds and any other number of imperfections that may or may not really be there. I started to see my body as this miraculous thing. I started to appreciate just how amazing my body is!

My body was specially designed, not only for me, but to grow my baby as well. The intricacies of it are nothing short of spectacular. My body housed this tiny ball of cells as it grew and developed into a little person! My body fed Grayson and gave him the nutrients he needed to form a skeleton, a nervous system, and each and every finger and toe. The skin on my tummy stretched and expanded as my uterus grew along with Grayson. My legs grew stronger as I supported the weight of my ever-growing belly. And even with its aches and pains as I progressed in my pregnancy, I had a newfound respect for this body of mine.

Then, as if that weren't awesome enough, my body birthed that baby it had spent all that precious time growing! The process of labor is so perfect. I'm surprised anyone can think it's anything short of a meticulously planned design by an all-powerful creator. I think as an American culture, in general, we've really shorted our bodies in the respect and honor they deserve when it comes to labor and delivery. We fear labor and see it as a terrible, painful process that should be dreaded. We work to numb the pain with epidurals and other medications and unnecessary interventions just to make it less scary and "easier." Meanwhile, we're not experiencing the full wonder of what our bodies are doing! When you lay flat on your back and are numb to the pain, I'm sure it's easy to lose sight of just how incredible the process is. But when you're pacing the floors, rocking on exercise balls, and sitting in hot showers while you literally feel your body urging your baby further and further down, and when you're pushing with all your might to give your baby that final push into the world, you can't help but notice how much work your body is doing!

I have never felt stronger in my life than I did after having Grayson naturally. I mean, physically in that moment, I felt exhausted, but I imagine it's similar to completing any other physically taxing challenge. You may feel tired and sore and completely worn out, but you also feel a surge of pride in what you've accomplished.

I spent the next several weeks caring for my frazzled, torn, and swollen body. I was so grateful to my body for giving me Grayson, I began to give myself more grace. It was okay that my belly had loose flesh where a tight, round bump used to be. How could I hate something that did so much for me?

My body didn't stop there. It continued to feed Grayson, and still does, through breastfeeding. For the first 6 months of his life, he did not eat or drink a single thing other than my milk, made from my body. Again, I was able to sustain the life of another with just this body God has given me. Not only was I providing nourishment, but also building his immune system with antibodies. I was his every meal, his multi-vitamin, and his cough syrup...all in one. These breasts that I spent years and years padding or pushing up or squeezing together, all in an attempt to make them appear bigger, were now giving life! Now, at times they're bigger than others, and sometimes they are lop-sided, but I love them still. How could I not? They feed my precious baby!

Now I know, I know, what you're thinking. Sure, it's easy to love your body when you're fitter and thinner than you have been in years. I'm not bragging; it would be naive of me not to admit this in this post. Yes, it's true. It's easier to love my body when I'm at my ideal weight and pleased with how I look. I like to think I would still feel this way even if I still had some stubborn baby weight hanging around or massive stretch marks across my belly, but it's probably easier to love myself in my current state. That said, I don't think I love myself BECAUSE I'm healthier. I think I'm healthier BECAUSE I learned to love myself more.

As my respect for my body grew during pregnancy, so did my efforts to take better care of it. I worked out throughout my entire pregnancy. I paid more attention to what I put in my body. Yes, I still eat ice cream every night (seriously!), but I'm also more intentional about eating lots of healthy foods. I also knew that I would need to be in shape to pull off a natural labor, so I kept myself busy with prenatal yoga, pilates, and other workouts.

Even now, I try to be a healthier version of myself. I limit processed foods and eat more fresh foods. I've traded frozen low-calorie (but high sodium!) lunches for homemade sandwiches with fresh ingredients like grilled chicken, hummus, avocado, tomatoes, spinach, etc (thanks to Scott for making my lunch every day!). :) I limit sodas and other sugary drinks and drink plenty of water instead. And when given the choice, I almost always choose to take the stairs and walk across campus to my destination rather than drive. This has been especially helpful during SOAR season when I'm walking back and forth across campus several times a day!

I also would be remiss if I didn't note that some of my body type and shape is just genetic. Some women have a harder time recovering a healthy body after pregnancy than others. I also breastfeed which burns a ton of calories, helping with the weight issue.

But that is not the point. The point is, my body is awesome because of what it was designed to do! And I LOVE it for that. And because of that love, I want to take better care of it. I just believe that if you truly love yourself first, you're going to feel better about yourself, and have an easier time living a healthier lifestyle. We're reading a book called The Happiness Advantage in my office book club, and the author discusses that many of us strive to get to a certain place in life, whether it be weight, career, family, etc, so that we can be happy. We think, if I can just do this then I'll be happy. But the truth is, those who are already happy and have positive attitudes are the ones who achieve more. Happiness isn't something to earn, you have to find happiness where you are, and then you'll move forward. I think it's true with body image too. You can't work your butt off with exercises and diets so that you can finally love your body. Chances are, your hatred of your body will cause you to grow frustrated and give up. Or, even if you become healthier, you'll probably still find reasons not to be content with your body. You have to love your body first! 

My body's ability to grow, deliver, and feed a baby is just one example of the amazing things our bodies can do. There are women who cannot or choose not to have children, and their bodies are no less worthy of love. Same goes for men. Taking a moment to just revel in the intricate design of our bodies to think, move, and pump blood to all our organs is enough to grow reverence and respect.

Take a moment. Just a moment! Think about your body. Think about what it accomplishes on a day to day basis, and maybe what it's capable of that it hasn't yet accomplished (whether that be childbirth or running a marathon or climbing a mountain...). How can you not love it?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Lately....

 Praying for:
+ friends and family battling cancer (3 on my prayer list currently)
+ a dear friend who is undergoing extensive pain management treatments to help with pain in one leg and phantom pain from his amputated leg, all stemming from a motorcycle accident three years ago. 
+ peace for a friend who is feeling confused and lost
+ new mommy friends! (Mallorie Morris and Kinsley Baker!)
+ pregnant friends (Kim Simpson, Stephanie Shirley, my step-sister Shannon, and one more I found out about today!!!)

Working on:
+ an unrealistic summer to-do list that involves spending a lot of money on updating things in our house, among other things!
+ reviewing student files who are expecting to graduate in December
+ wrapping up the final few SOAR sessions of the summer
+ developing a syllabus and other materials for my First-Year Seminar orientation class!

Hoping for:
+ Grayson sleeping more at night (didn't I hope for that last time?? Yes. Yep.)
+ More dedication to working out... eek!
+ An awesome visit with friends this weekend
+ Revamping the mom group I host so that more mamas can commit to participating. 

Recently:
+ We spent 4th of July week at St. George Island with Scott's parents and sister. We had a great time lazing about at the beach, hanging out in the house, eating good food, and laughing!
+ Had a really fun "make your own sushi night" with friends last week. So fun and tasty! :)

Reading:
+ The Bible - just finished Joshua and started Hebrews today
+ Home Front by Kristin Hannah
+ The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor for my office book club
+ This sweet blog post - a letter to future daughter-in-law
+ This awesome post about why readers are the best people to fall in love with! (I have to agree!)

Watching:
+ This amazing testimony video from a woman in our church. Have the tissues ready for this powerful story!
+ just watched the most recent X-Men movie - The Wolverine (just how many of these movies are they going to make?!?!)
+ just finished the most recent season of Parenthood
+ The Good Wife season 2
+ the most recent season of So You Think You Can Dance
+VeggieTales with Grayson

Listening to:
+ Pandora on shuffle still...recently added a Paramoure station

Laughing About:
+ This picture I drew of my dad, after Scott challenged me, his mom, and his aunt to draw pictures of our dads (coming off a conversation about the talented drawers his mom has in her kindergarten class!)
I'm quite the artist, no?

What are YOU up to lately? :-)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

You Know You're a Parent When... {Part 2}

{Part 1}

+ Your child spills a ton of Gerber Puffs on the carpet and you decide to wait and see how many he'll eat before you clean it up.

+ Your spouse takes the kids to give you some alone time, and you feel so accomplished for having time to actually do your makeup that you feel compelled to take selfies...(how has "selfies" made it into both of these parent posts?!?)


+ You realize that you're right on time in your morning routine and you understand this means you will most definitely be late because...

+ You are late two days in a row because you're cleaning up poop when you should be driving to your destination.

+ Going to the beach involves a tent, 5 umbrellas, a baby pool, toys, chairs, blankets, a pacifier and a backup pacifier, extra diapers, extra sunscreen, a broom to sweep sand out of the tent, a cooler with drinks and a sippy cup of water, a baby hat, and maybe some sort of raft or floatation device for the baby/kids. Thank goodness for small beach towns where you can leave most of your stuff on the beach for your whole vacation!

playing in the sand! :)


+ Nap times must be considered when making any and all plans.

+ You expend most of your energy running back and forth, removing your child from dangerous or inappropriate activities --and that is in areas you have baby-proofed. This is doubled in a location without outlet covers, baby gates, and blankets covering fireplace hearths.

+ Any and everything your child does is worthy of a picture...including holding a sippy cup in his high chair. :)







Until next time...happy parenting! :)

Monday, July 14, 2014

9 months!

Hard to believe my little bean is already 9 months old!

This was at the beach on the 4th of July. I haven't taken many pictures of him lately b/c he doesn't sit still long enough! Plus, we're too busy having fun to stop and take pictures! :)

Sweet baby! Watching his daddy sweep the kitchen floor. :)
We won't have his 9-month checkup until later this month, so I'll have to update you on his weight and height later. But I don't need a doctor to tell me he's grown a TON since he was 6 months!

Sizes:
  • He's wearing mostly 12 months clothes now, but he still can fit into some 6 and 9 month things, depending on the brand, and he wears some 18 month clothes to bed.
  • We just moved him up to a size 4 diaper b/c he was peeing through his size 3 diapers 1-2 times a night! 
 Doing:
  • Still crawling and pulling up like a champ! So fast!
  •  He can stand with just one hand on a piece of furniture, he can take a few steps to the side while holding on, and he can ease himself down without plopping or falling. He also likes to climb us. :)
  • We are drowning in big, wet, amazing, open-mouthed kisses! Love it!
  • He points to things and loves pointing at and grabbing my nose and lips.
  • No new words, but still babbles a lot. Still waiting on "mama!" He DOES make a new, really weird sound that I can't even imitate:

video
  • Eating SO much better! He'll willingly open up for things (if he's in the mood and likes the taste...) and he can pincer grasp small pieces of food and put them in his mouth.
  • Drinking from a sippy cup with no problems!
  • Loves reading books and pointing at things on each page 
  • He can sit up in the front of the shopping cart now! (okay, he could probably do this earlier, but his parents are a little neurotic about germs and injuries...)
Favorite Toys:
  • still loving his puzzle
  • the stackable rings. He can't put them back on the stick yet, but he loves playing with them!
  • I hear he likes the toy piano at school
  • coasters and any other non-toy he can get his hands on!

Favorite Songs:
  • This Old Man (he starts holding up fingers to count along (not necessarily the right ones) and claps as for knick-knack-paddy-whack)
  • The Ants Go Marching One-by-One
  • This Little Light of Mine (bedtime)
  • Chim Chimerie from Mary Poppins (bedtime)
  • Baby Mine from Dumbo (bedtime)
  • The Itsy-Bitsy Spider
  • listening to Disney Pandora (or maybe that's just us!)
 Favorite Books:
  • Mostly the same ones from before, though he has added the following:
  • Hippos Go Beserk!
  • A to Z
Favorite Shows:
  • VeggieTales
  • Sesame Street (those are basically the only ones we watch with him)
Favorite Foods:
  • Gerber's Puffs, especially the peach flavor
  • bananas
  • green smoothies (frozen and eaten with mesh feeder, or slightly melty and fed with a spoon)
  • hummus
  • black beans! He will pick them up one-by-one and eat a TON of them!
  • baked beans
  • most jarred baby foods (so far). We don't eat them often, but sometimes they are more convenient for traveling. They are loaded with sugar, so it's no surprise that he likes them.
  • squash
  • pasta, bread, crackers, toast, pizza crust...he likes his carbs!
Other Updates:
  • Still only has 2 teeth, but it really seemed like his gums were bothering him last night. We'll see if he cuts another one soon!
  • Still not sleeping through the night (he's done it a total of 3 times, ever). He usually wakes up 1-2 times a night to nurse. Sometimes we just have to put him in bed with us to get more sleep. This doesn't bother me. I look forward to the day he starts sleeping through the night, but I'm not rushing it. I get enough sleep, and I actually cherish the moments of snuggling and soothing him.
  • We went to the beach for a week and he did awesome! We had quite the set-up with a half-dome tent, umbrellas, and a baby pool with toys. He enjoyed splashing in the baby pool, crawling around the tent, playing in (and trying to eat!) the sand, and getting in the ocean and the big pool. I was so proud of him! :)
Yes, this is the only picture I got of him in his swim suit...shameful!

  • He has started showing separation anxiety when we drop him off at church and school. Usually at school he's okay b/c he's really comfortable with his teacher and he's interested in all the big kids and their toys (they are all together first thing in the morning). But when his teacher was out one day, he had a really hard time settling down, and he struggles through church every Sunday with different volunteers in the nursery each week. :(
  • We have started researching his next carseat and plan to make that purchase in the next couple months. He still has probably 5-10 pounds to go in his current seat, but he's definitely outgrowing it quickly!
  • Still breastfeeding in addition to eating solids. We're not weaning or dropping feedings. I'm a firm believer in "food before 1 is just for fun" and that breastmilk should continue to be his main source of nutrition until then. Therefore, it doesn't make sense to drop feedings. 
  • He has started testing boundaries and understands when he shouldn't be doing something. This is no fun for me! The biggest things are the wall outlet in the hallway and the fireplace. He knows they are both no-no's (the outlet is covered, but I don't like him playing with it. The hearth is covered with blankets, but I don't like him climbing on it and trying to get IN the fireplace!). He will crawl towards them and turn back to see if I'm watching. He'll smile at me and when I tell him "no," he'll smile and turn and do it anyway (just faster!). Little stinker!! We're trying to make decisions about discipline now. We redirect and firmly say "no," but so far none of that is helping. I've tried popping him a few times, but I can't bring myself to do it hard enough for him to even notice! ha! It's a work in progress, figuring out what works best for all three of us. We'll get there!
  • He'll reach for you when he wants you to hold him. Melts.my.heart! :)
in baby jail! :)

Each week I find myself having more and more fun with Grayson. He's so interactive and has such a great sense of humor. I love to hear him laugh! He's still snuggly and sweet, but also very active and interested in everything! It's always an adventure with this one! :)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Rational Fear

Notice the bruise on his forehead from hitting it on shelf that he was trying to crawl under at school...
Being a mom is possibly the single most terrifying thing I've done. From the moment I found out I was pregnant, the fear of the unknown and the what-ifs started flooding in. What if I have a miscarriage? What if I have a still-birth? What if he has a birth defect? What if he has some sort of severe disorder or a chronic or terminal illness?

Then I had my beautiful, perfect little boy, with all his fingers and toes and other appropriate appendages. But the what-ifs didn't stop there. What if he dies of SIDS? What if I wake up and find him laying, cold in his crib? It's horrible and morbid, but I've thought it many times. The first night that Grayson slept at home, I woke up in the middle of the night to check on him because he hadn't been up in a few hours. For a split second I thought he looked purple. I freaked out and reached out to him, only to find him warm and snuggly. Apparently it was just the lighting playing tricks on my eyes. I cried while I waited for my pulse to slow down.

Each new stage brings with it new fears. What if he chokes on his food? What if he falls and hits his head? Like...hits his head hard? What if we take him to a check-up and think he's perfectly fine only to discover he has some terrible condition? What if he gets cancer? What if he gets bit by a poisonous spider?

A couple weeks ago I was reading a lot about babies being accidentally left in hot cars and dying while their parents are at work. When I first read about it, I thought it was ridiculous. Who could forget their child is in the car? Then I read more stories of people who did this and how it really was an accident, and I suddenly realized...this could happen to me. Granted, I don't want to believe that I could forget Grayson, but I realized how given the right circumstances, it could happen. The very thought of that terrified me. I had nightmares. I would think about it and feel sick to my stomach. I would get nervous walking out to the car, thinking about how awful it would be to look in the back seat and see my baby in his carseat...forgotten all day long.

Now that Grayson is more mobile, accidents are inevitable. He has gotten a few scratches, bumps, and bruises from taking a tumble while pulling up or crawling around. The sound of him crying in pain is the worst sound! I scoop him up and snuggle him and kiss him and try to calmly soothe him, but my heart is breaking as he cries. He fell backwards at a friend's house and hit his head on a metal vent on the floor. I didn't even see it coming because he tumbles often and never gets hurt. I didn't even think about the vent on the floor. The sound of his head hitting metal stuck with me for days. He was fine. It didn't even leave a mark. But I felt guilty, and that nagging feeling made me realize how terrible it would be if something really, really bad happened on my watch. I would be a mess!

Through all of this, I've come to two realizations.

One -- these are not irrational fears. They are completely rational. It would be irrational for me to be afraid that dinosaurs will eat my baby, but being afraid that he might get hurt or sick, or that I might make a mistake that has awful consequences is actually not far-fetched. Life is fragile and we never know what might happen next. People get sick. Accidents happen. And babies are going to bonk their heads. 

Two -- while the fears are perfectly rational, I cannot and should not let them consume me. In fact, God commands multiple times in the Bible, that I do not let fear reign in my life. Because I really am living in a promise. Not a promise that life will be perfect. Not a promise that terrible things won't happen (on the contrary, Jesus tells us that they WILL happen!). I live in a promise that God is in control. That He will work things together for our good. And even when terrible things happen, God promises eternal life for those who love and serve him. He promises comfort and joy, despite the fallen circumstances of the world. There is no guarantee that my fears will not come true. But I can rest in the security of the guarantee that Jesus is with us. He is our Lord and salvation. Whom shall we fear? (Psalm 27:1)

And with that in mind, I'm able to push aside my fears (most of the time!) and focus on the wonderful reality of the present. Not the "what-ifs." Not the bridges that God may never intend for me to cross. But on the happy, healthy, little boy who stands up in his crib and smiles at me when I come get him in the morning. And I focus on thanking God for His blessings and showering my sweet baby with love.

Do you ever struggle with fear in parenting, or other areas of life? What has God shown you about fear in your life?

~Christy~
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