Adjust, Adapt, Accept.

I’m still mentally and physically adjusting to my body post birth..

I yo-yo between loving and hating my stretch marks. In one light, they are a badge of honour. A medal I’ll wear forever after creating life and nurturing my boys inside my womb for 37 weeks. In another light, it’s an eternal reminder of the trauma I went through getting my boys into the world alive and well, and honestly sometimes I just hate the way they look. I have the same feelings regarding my cesarean scar.

All things considered, I’ve had quite a strong and speedy recovery. I had major surgery. Skin and organ all sliced clean through, stretched then glued back together, muscle moved up and out the way then put back in place.

I managed my first snails pace walk with little assistance at the end of day 1. Walking around my room by day 3, still painfully slow, but independently and with slight more ease. By day 7 I could move about and lift my boys, although I still felt my wound with every move.

By week 2 I had the boys in a sling carrying them both close to me as we enjoyed the tail end of good weather, and rarely took many pain meds, just a few paracetamol for the first 2 weeks. Physically I've recovered well.

Me and the boys took seamlessly to breastfeeding, which has played a large part in losing a lot of my post-pregnancy weight. Now in place of a lot of water weight and some fat post birth, I have a little pouch which, in all honesty I believe is purely emphasised thanks to my scar taking in the skin. If I didn't have that scar causing it, I probably would look very close to how I was pre-pregnancy.

One of the biggest body issues I've had to deal with since giving birth is learning to coupe with the temporary aftermath of pre-eclampsia and HELLP, which I developed during labour.

I was kept in hospital for 4 days while they monitored me (yet again), continuously, adjusting medication and waiting for improvements and for my observations to stabilise so I could be discharged. Once I was FINALLY out of the hospital I was still on meds. In fact I've only just recently finished most of my medication save iron which I'm on for another month and a half as I'm slightly anaemic. Oh and just an FYI for any breastfeeding new mums out there, it's recommended you and your baby take vitamin D supplements.

I remember finding myself breaking down and crying on a few occasions. It felt like my body was failing. After stepping up my training regiment and getting on top of my diet before the New Year, to having a mostly uneventful and smooth pregnancy, it just felt like my body decided it couldn't coupe anymore. I couldn't understand it and despite everyone, Jordan, my family and friends, even the nurses, midwives and doctors, telling me how well I was recovering.. I couldn't shift that feeling of failure.

I had to adjust my mentality. I had to come to terms with the state my body was now in, and visualise my recovery, realistically plot out a journey to grow once more into a strong warrior ready to fight and strive to be winning those gold medals again. Because this state I was in, my body needing medicated help to keep me going, my body needing long periods of rest in order to build up strength day by day, it wasn't going to last. It would not be my remaining state for the rest of my life.

It started small, mostly making sure I was up and moving every single day. Then taking the boys out in the sling on my own for a 45min walk outside. Finding time between cluster feeds and changing dirty nappies for some yoga, some meditation, a moment to start sketching again, to organise this very website, even to type out a paragraph for my blog.

I don't know if anyone has ever educated you in the upbringing of newborns, but it is greatly time consuming. Of course it is, I hear you scoff. However, you may not be aware to the extent! After all we're told most newborns sleep up to 18 hours a day for the first however long it is. Wow, amazing! Think of all you can do while they're asleep!

The truth is, for that first month or more, the most you can do is catch a tiny bit of shut eye, have a flannel wash, grab a snack to eat, maybe change your clothes... put the dishes into the sink and maybe clean about half of your load. Because for the first month or so, your newborn has no schedule. Their stomach is not very big and if you are breast feeding then cluster feeding in order to encourage your milk production is a great experience. Where your baby will feed for maybe 5 minutes, take a 3-5 minute break and then be back on boob. And this can repeat for hours! Between feeding and nappy changing you find yourself melting as you silently watch your newborn sleep. Ahh they look so peaceful and beautiful like this don't they.. The next thing you know 40 minutes has passed, and that one thing you wanted to do when you had chance is now forefit as within the next 3 minutes without fail your baby will be rooting and fussing ready for their next feed.

It is a massive adjustment to make - becoming a mother to a newborn. I honestly don't think anyone is really prepared for it. You just have to go with the flow.

I feel I'm quite lucky in my attitude towards this new life.. I do my best not to hold any expectations. I feed on demand, so my boys will get what they need when they need. If that means the best made plans are laid to waste, then so be it. We have lots of skin on skin cuddles, in fact in the few days it's taken me to write this blog I've had both boys on me. They do settle well off me but how can I deny myself such love? Skin on skin is not just good for our developing relationship as mother to son(s), but it promotes healing for me, cements their safe place connection in me and has so many more benefits.

People ask me about routine, about how long will I breastfeed for. The honest answer is I don't know, I just take each day as it comes. Of course in terms of routine I do my best to keep the boys in sync where possible. We have a somewhat stable midnight to morning routine that's developing. And when it comes to going out, I plan as best I can. But it will be a while before an actual routine can be established.

As we travel down our paths in life, twisting and turning, looping and forking hither and dither, it's important to have an open mind and a willingness to adjust, adapt and to accept the way things are in the moment. We can always get back to where we want to be, and it's ok for that place to change. Life isn't black and white in terms of where you should or shouldn't be, and that's part of the great adventure of it all!

So wake up every day. Rise to the occasion. Focus your mind, and kick ass.

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