Thursday, March 26

Why getting married the first of your friends is a rip off

I am dictating this post aloud via Siri and intend to edit it afterward though if there are a few hilarious mistakes I might just leave them (Siri really stinks at taking direct quotes--she kind of has a mind of her own). Anyway, that's my disclaimer in case there are several grammatical errors in this post.

Remember back in elementary school when being first in line was such a big deal? Or maybe you remember when you would come in first at Mario Kart for Nintendo and your friends would suddenly realize that Toad is the best? Remember being first in state with your varsity tennis team in high school and scoring some sweet Northface jackets? Let's face it, in general, being first rocks.  

You've been conditioned to believe this your whole life and then…

You're the first one of your friends to get married. 

When you're engaged it's not a big deal because you and your honey are so into each other that nothing in the world matters. Friends? What friends? My fiancĂ© is my best friend. But as soon as your vows are spoken, BOOM, you're looking at a different animal. 

Suddenly your friends seem to have vanished into thin air. Half of them are the opposite gender so they're really gone because it just gets weird when you try and stay in touch. The other half of your friends are either happy for you but wanting to give you space or fiercely jealous (but happy for you, too). It's not really their fault...who wants to hang around lovey dovey newly weds who are constantly gazing longingly into each other's eyes and sharing secretive Mona Lisa smiles across the table? No one, that's who. 

But losing your friends is temporary. A year or two later you'll be out of the newlywed phase and slowly your friends will by one. But then there's the matter of conversation. What do you talk about now? Gone are the days of talking about who's hot. They've been replaced with conversations of married life vs. single life. That may not be so bad, until your single friend is consistently having rotten luck with dating and then what are you to do? You really are rooting for them but at this point it just seems like you're jinxing them with your happiness. You start to believe it might be better if you don't offer any dating advice at all because it clearly isn't panning out like you assured them it would.

When your friends are finally comfortable around you again, you want to have a humorous conversation about married life and how fun and awesome and weird it is, but your friends can't relate to that and you don't want to rub your joy in their face. So you talk about the latest
shows you've been binge-watching or about something you can both relate to. Like food. 

Pretty soon, you're pregnant. It's awesome and you're so happy, but now you're really concerned about your friend's marital status (or lack thereof). You grew up dreaming about how your kids would grow up together and also be best friends but now you're starting to get concerned about the age differences. You do the math. If your friend meets someone now and dates them
for six months, then gets engaged for three, then they want to wait a year before trying for kids, then you have to hope they get lucky and get pregnant right away...nine months later...three years apart isn't so bad right?? Hmm. Nothing makes you feel young like realizing your children are going to be teenagers when your friends start having children. You realize it's hopeless. Especially once you get pregnant with number two. You're not getting any younger, and you resign yourself to the fact that your kids are going to be entering college when your friends' kids are in elementary school.
I guess they can babysit them...

Then there is the matter of your siblings.
They aren't even close to dating someone, let alone marrying or having kids. Apparently, your children's cousins are going to basically be like nieces and nephews to your kids. Nice. 

There are other perks, too. You're the first of your friends to buy a home. Your friends think they're jealous, but you miss not paying $300 in utilities or shoveling your driveway. You also are the first to make huge mistakes such as getting a boat or investing in a timeshare. Unfortunately, none of your friends were able to warn you about those particular mistakes. They don't even have a boyfriend yet!!! 

Basically, you and your spouse are the trial couple, and without meaning to, you've become the wise, rational, advice-giving Dumbledore of your friends. You'd rather be Sirius or James but you decided to embrace adulthood alone (well, not totally alone--but your spouse doesn't count). At least they can learn from your mistakes. 

Okay so getting married first isn't that terrible. Yes, it's kind of a rip off and you have to be incredibly patient, but it will work out in the end. You know that. Slowly, your friends and acquaintances from your younger years are trickling into the marriage pool. You wish you could just push them all in at once but it's out of your hands. And truly, you want them to take their time and find a great guy who your husband will ideally become best friends with. Fingers crossed. 

I'm kidding about a lot of this stuff in case that was not apparent. I am impatient for my friends to get married and have kids, but it'll happen when it's supposed to happen. And when it does, I'll be ready to be the best bridesmaid, er...matron of honor...ever. And don't worry, I'm saving all my baby books and will have ample advice on parenting to offer you. Just be ready for me to be pressuring you to start having kids ASAP because time's a-wastin'! 

Were you the first of your group/high school class/siblings to get married? Was it hard for you at first? Can you think of any other inconveniences to getting married first? 

Sunday, March 22

Declan and Me

Taken from our Sunday walk today. Tenley is 19 months, Declan is 7 weeks. My two little loves. 
Declan's life up to this point has been so tremendously different than Tenley's was by this age, it's crazy. But it's been the best time of my life having two incredibly cute children to hug and teach me to love more purely.

Tenley is so much fun at 19 months. It's seriously awesome how much fun I get to have with her. She is curious and excited about everything. She has the best personality--it's so happy and infectious. She really makes the greatest little companion and best friend right now. We share so many giggles during the day and she is always happy to snuggle with me or hold my hand. She is more helpful than I ever imagined a one year old could be--she always tells me when Declan spits up and runs to get a burp cloth without any prompting. She is quick to recover his dropped pacifier and replace it in his mouth. She knows the difference between her diapers and Declan's and will (almost) always fetch a diaper and wipe for me when I need them. She is amazingly helpful and now I absolutely understand why Heavenly Father gave me a daughter first--specifically my little Tenley. I am cherishing these tender moments with her so intensely because I know that they will soon become scarce. 

Then there's my angelic little Declan. He is somehow seven weeks old even though I swear I had him a few days ago. Declan is (like Tenley was) as easy as they come. I'm not sure if I'm getting set up for some stinker teenagers but for now, I'm going to stay optimistic because my kids are wonderful. Declan is right now like a little extension of my body. Either I'm wearing him against my chest, balancing him on my shoulder, cradling him in one arm, nursing him, or sleeping next to him--he's either with me or napping on the couch (or rocking with dad, but he's not home as often as we'd all like). I am usually chasing Tenley around so Declan is hearing me praise and scold his sister all day long, but I feel as though he has a patient personality. He's more patient than me anyway. My favorite moments with him consist of snuggling up next to each other during the night and in the morning as he nurses back to sleep, also cuddling him against me in the shower (he loves showers and I infinitely prefer showering with my babies when they're this little to bathing them), and our dozens of moments during the day where he's nursing in my arms and soon falls asleep against me. Then I cuddle him against my chest and rest with him there as long as he (or Tenley...) will permit. I already can see with great clarity how fleeting this time with my little ones is--Ten is growing up in a second and I simultaneously love and hate it. I can't even imagine Declan being Tenley's age. And right now I just want him to be my little fresh-smelling newborn, with the tiniest of cowlicks, forever. I want him to continue grasping my fingers as tight as he can and clinging to my shirt and chest as I nurse him. There is nothing like those tiny fingers stroking your skin and those big blue eyes gazing into yours in wonder as your baby nurses to teach you about how to love. I love that bond. It means more to me than I can put into words. It also makes all the leaks and inconveniences worth it;-) I am very grateful to be able to have that experience. 

Anyhow, enough gushing--I love those babies of mine and am sorry I overload on photos on the lilgunnellfam Instagram. It's hard when your kids are your world (and your full-time job) to have interest in much else. At this point, I don't really want to be distracted by anything else. I'm trying to teach myself to relax a little more. To play with my babies more. To not waste time getting upset with them for little accidents. I want my children to love their childhood and look back and be grateful for the kind of mother I am. And that requires a conscious effort on my part to let loose and just play

Well, it's late and I have to feed Declan soon so he can last through the night for me. Maybe I'll sneak in a shower (showering by myself has officially become a luxury) before bed...we'll see how much energy I have...


Monday, March 16

8 Ways for Newborn Mothers to Feel More Rested

Our sleepy little duckling, Declan :-)
I've come to terms with something. Tiredness is just a part of life now. I can't even remember the last time I couldn't describe myself as "tired." Because of this, it's far more impressive when I describe myself as exhausted, which wouldn't even be an exaggeration on most days. But truthfully, I don't feel as though being tired is something I can justify complaining about. I guess in my mind, there are people who have it much worse--like nurses who work the night shift and not only have to be awake but remain coherent. I could never do that. Or the people who work at 24-hour grocers or gas stations. Without a doubt, I'd rather be at home, groggily snuggling a fussy baby in my bed than dealing with the odd people who buy groceries at 3am.

I have said before that I have easy babies. I don't technically know if this is true since I have no other babies to compare them to apart from the stories I hear other mothers tell. I realize that not all babies--very few in fact--are good sleepers. But I can't help but wonder if my babies are actually great sleepers, or if I've just adapted to their schedules, or if I'm doing certain things that make it so I can get a lot more sleep than most moms.

I've already shared with you Tenley's fairly strict bedtime routine (which is a piece of cake now--I love that she knows just what to expect at night--it makes it so easy peasy on me) and though Declan doesn't really have a set routine at this time, he sleeps at least six hours every night. I was thinking about why (apart from he probably just loves sleeping more than other babies) and came up with a few ideas for those moms who are only getting scattered moments of rest during the night.

1. Go to bed at a decent hour. I have not been taking this advice lately, solely because I had an essay I've been trying to finish (for months now...) and I can only concentrate on it once the kids--namely Tenley--are asleep. But now that I have finished it (hallelujah!) I am going to get back to my routine. Tenley's bedtime is about 8pm. Once she's down, it's wonderful to be able to accomplish those things around the house that a toddler just makes impossible. It's also nice to be able to relax and enjoy some of my hobbies that I can't easily do when she is awake (such as painting, reading peacefully, etc.). It can be tempting to stay up until midnight making up for lost time--don't do it. If it is a choice between getting chores done and leisure time, I would say do one major chore (such as folding laundry which is super challenging with a mobile child) and one leisure activity and tell yourself you must be finished by ten o'clock. Try combining them if you can (for example, folding laundry while watching a movie or listening to a book on tape). By giving yourself a deadline, you'll be more productive and when ten o'clock rolls around, you can do a quick sweep of the house and leisurely prepare for bed. By ten-thirty or eleven, you'll be in bed with the lights out. Put off your tasks until tomorrow. It might seem counterproductive, but once you do that for a night or two, you'll have more energy during the day to get them done faster and more efficiently.

2. Once you're in bed, go to sleep. Don't pull out a book or sit on your laptop and troll, just turn the lights out. If you do those things, you are much more likely to get distracted and stay up forever. Soon it's one in the morning and you wish you could take back the time. Read, write in your journal, use the computer--whatever you have to do--before you get in bed.

3. Feed your baby right before bed. For obvious reasons, if you do this, your little guy won't be waking you up moments after you've fallen asleep. Declan is usually asleep on the couch or in his bouncer before bed. I wake him up if I have to. I nurse him back to sleep and set him next to me. He could go the whole night without food (he doesn't wake up until morning) except that I need him to nurse in the middle of the night (which means I have to wake him up usually) or there might be a milk explosion.

4. Have everything you might need at night prepared and handy. Getting out of bed several times during the night is partially what makes moms so tired. To avoid that, I have a little container on our bed near our headboard which holds a few diapers, wipes, nursing pads, burp cloths, a pacifier, a bulb syringe, small flashlights, and my glasses. I don't have to get out of bed in the middle of the night because I have everything handy. If I accidentally get soaked, I just toss my clothes and wet burp cloths off the bed to deal with in the morning, and grab some fresh ones so I can go right back to sleep. If I had to supplement with formula, I'd probably keep a pre-filled bottle of water next to me and a little container of formula so I could just scoop it in and be good to go.

5. Have your baby sleep close to you. I know this isn't always possible if you or your baby are noisy sleepers, but I definitely think it's the way to go if you want more sleep because it's a time and energy-saver. Your baby is a few inches away if you need to nurse. You need only help him latch and you both can fall back to sleep. If noise is the reason you can't have your baby near you, I would try using a sound machine (or just an app on your phone) that drones out the little huffs and snores that babies make. Or just wait until you adapt. I feel like I instantly became a light sleeper once I had children. Also, just for background, I personally co-sleep with our babies because I do not feel safe with them far away. Tenley slept between Dalin and I until she was about six months. With Declan, we bought a changing pad mattress with a soft cover and we have that against the wall next to me. That way, he's a few inches off of our mattress, but close enough that I can sleep with my arm around him and grab him with ease when he needs to eat. Most of the night he ends up next to me on the bed anyway because of the next suggestion.

6. If you're nursing, learn to nurse laying down (side nurse). This is literally my favorite way to nurse. It's hands free, comfortable, and I can do something while the baby nurses (like read, type, text, etc) or I can just fall asleep. Plus I love snuggling up against my baby's body. I really feel like it helps us bond. It came naturally to both of my newborns, possibly because I started doing it from day one. I would definitely recommend learning to side nurse if you haven't yet.

7. Take mornings slow. Don't plan appointments or activities in the morning. Just sleep in as long as your children will permit and then feed them, eat something yourself, and then let the plans and errands begin. If you keep your mornings free, it gives you that freedom to sleep in without worrying about missing an obligation.

8. Start a routine. I mentioned that we don't have a routine for Declan yet. That is mainly because it has not been necessary since he sleeps all the time anyway. With Tenley, we began a routine once we moved her to her room at six months, then added to it more and more before she turned one. Her routine helps her to know that bedtime is coming. Her body tells her she's tired because she knows she goes to sleep after brushing teeth, reading scripture, and praying. Similar little triggers can help your little one, too. Babies don't necessarily understand the difference between day and night so it's important that you help them learn. As evening approaches, use dimmer lighting or fewer lights. Talk a little quieter. Do things in the same order (for instance, give a bath, change their diaper, swaddle--if you do those things). Once babies are a few months old, you really can let them cry it out to teach them to fall asleep on their own. It took three days of letting Tenley cry it out with times ranging from fifteen to thirty minutes before she learned that when we set her in her bed, she goes to sleep. It was not easy letting her cry it out. I would usually cry, too, and would have to do something loud like wash the dishes to drown out the sound. Fortunately, it gets easier, and it's a great feeling when you realize your child is okay and you've taught him or her how to go to sleep.

These things have clearly worked like magic for us, but like I said before, we might just have great sleepers. Still, these little tips have definitely helped keep them that way!

Good luck, moms! Wishing you much more relaxing and snuggly nights.

Thursday, March 5

15 Spring-Summer Activities to Do With A Young Toddler in Utah County

Sometimes it's a challenge to think of activities to do with a young toddler! Either they're barely walking or else they're running all over and it's difficult to find inexpensive distractions that are fun for both of you (especially because there are a lot of boring toddler activities that adults tire of very quickly). So here are some fun suggestions for Utah County locals and especially moms who just NEED to get out of the house (I know I do...). Not all of these are free, but if it's on here, it's been kid-tested and is probably worth a trip (at least once!), and ALL of them are within a 30-minute drive from Provo. 

1. Bean Museum
This museum of stuffed animals is fun for walking around with little children and teaching them about animals of all forms. They have everything from giraffes and elephants to deer, bears, birds of all varieties, butterflies, and more. They also have a small play area with a slide and cave for kids to play in. Live animal shows are performed on certain days and can be scheduled for private showings! The museum also has a cute gift shop with lots of little animal figurines and books. 

~Open Monday-Friday, 10am to 9pm & Saturday, 10am to 5pm

FREE for all, donations optional

2. Paleontology Museum
This fun little museum just off across from the BYU stadium has many models of dinosaur bones and skeletons. You could look at it all in 20 minutes or stay for an hour! 


FREE for all, donations optional 

3. BYU Botany (or Duck) Pond on 800 N
This little grassy park has an enclosed pond with ducks and turtles. It's fun for children to play near and watch or feed the ducks. It is also a good place for photos. 

4. Indoor Playground at University Mall
This play area at the north end of the mall has a little treehouse with a slide, a log tunnel, and fake dinosaur bones for kids to play around. It is a fun place to make a trip to or just stop at during your shopping trip. 

5. Indoor Playground at Provo Towne Center
Located on the lower level near Sears, this woodland play area has a slide and climbing features and is a good place to take a break from shopping.

6. Outdoor Splash Fountains at The Riverwoods
During warmer months, the Riverwoods turns on their play fountains for children to run through. You will definitely want to bring a swimsuit or change of clothes. You can stop at Blickenstaff's after for a sweet treat or to browse the toys, or get one of many varieties of caramel apples at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. 

7. Trafalga
Generally thought to be more for older children or young adults, Trafalga does have a few opportunities for young children. The indoor blacklight mini golf is fun to let toddlers play around while you and your husband (or whoever) play a quick round of mini golf (quick because you'll probably be chasing said toddler). The course is a fun obstacle course for a toddler and he or she will love chasing your ball or fetching it for you. They also sell Dippin' Dots and have a few games (like Ice Ball) that kids can participate in. If you win a few tickets, they can choose some small prizes. 

~Open Monday-Thursday 3pm to 9pm, Friday 3pm to 11pm, & Saturday 12pm to 11pm

Mini golf:
Free with Pass of All Passes
Free for under 3
$6 for 4+

8. Draper, UT IKEA
Fun to explore for adults and children who can play with the display toys and learn the names for things throughout the rest of the store. There is a kids area for potty-trained children when you enter the store, and a small TV area for kids both in the entryway and in the food court. Kids eat free on Tuesdays so that's a good day to check it out! 

~Open Monday-Saturday, 10am to 9pm

9. Pet Stores
Pet stores are like mini zoos for children and a fun little activity if you need something free and easy. There is a pet store on Center Street in Provo with a variety of lizards, rodents, fish, and birds. If you happen to be at or near Wal-Mart, bring your little one to the fish center to look for a little while. Easy peasy entertainment. 

10. Nielson's Grove Park
This park located a little ways behind Orem Wal-Mart has a pond with a variety of ducks and fish which you can catch with a fishing pole (as long as you toss them back). It's fun to feed the birds and there is a lot of room for kids to run and play. There are also swings and picnic tables. It's worth visiting at least once in the summer! 

11. Scera Pool in Orem
This place has a variety of pools including one which has a sloped surface (kind of like a beach) so children can walk in the pool and not go deeper than they're comfortable. There are also several fountains and places for children to splash and get splashed. 

~Open Monday-Saturday, 10am to one hour before dusk

Free for under 1 (swim diaper and liner required)
$1.50 for 1-3 (swim diaper and liner required)
$5 for 4-13
$6 for 14+

12. Thanksgiving Point Gardens
These gardens are fun to walk around and explore. There are waterfalls and fountains, lots of statues, a koi pond (where you can feed the zillions of koi for $0.25), a secret garden, a cave, and of course, lots of flowers. For the best flowers, try to go during peak season which is in April. It's also a great photo opportunity. 

~Open Monday-Saturday, 9am to 8pm

Free for 2 and under 
$12 for 3-12
$15 for 13+

13. Springville Splash Pad
This place has (of course) a splash pad, an interactive water path or "river" (2.5 inches deep), and various spray features for little kids to play in. 

~Open Monday-Saturday, 10am to dusk 

FREE for all!

14. The Museum of Natural Curiosity 
This museum has a little of everything from interactive science areas, to a water play area, a mini town for pretend play, a climbing area, and an outdoor water area (bring a swimsuit!). It also has an outdoor maze, jungle gym, cafeteria, and gift shop. It is a lot of fun and one could easily spend the day here! 

~Open Monday-Saturday, 10am to 8pm

Free for 2 and under
$12 for children 3-12
$15 for 13+

15. The Living Planet Aquarium
The aquarium has its share of marine animals, but it also has South American creatures, and even a section devoted to Utah animals. There are lots of little play areas to explore and a fun gift shop. 

~Open daily, 10am to 6pm

Free for 2 and under
$12.95 for 3-12 
$14.95 for 13-17 and college students with ID card
$17.95 for adults

What other activities are there in Utah County that you have found are toddler (and mom)-tested and approved?
Have you done any of these things? (Or will you go this summer?)

Hooray for spring and summer!

Tuesday, March 3

A Typical Day in my Current Life

A zillion years ago, I started this 30 Things My Kids Should Know About Me list just for a fun way to preserve some things about myself for my children.

I haven't worked on it in a long time, but I decided to take a crack at it again.

My days are pretty hectic as a mom with a newborn and an independent 18-month old. There are things that are scheduled and happen daily and then a huge chunk of time that varies depending on Dalin's schedule, the kids' moods, and my mood--especially mine. 

The mornings start anywhere between 6 and 8am are a blur of nursing, spit up (lots and lots of it), fetching a sippy cup of milk, and blind diaper changes (blind because I don't have my contacts in by that point). 

When Tenley annoys begs me enough from the gate in our doorway, I finally get out of bed and pop my contact lenses in before setting her in the high chair and slicing up a grapefruit for her breakfast. If it's a bad day or we're short on time, she just has dry cereal. If it's a good day, I try to make her bacon and eggs. 

By then, Declan needs me and if I haven't grabbed him already, I get him and prop him on the couch in my nursing pillow or in his bouncer with a pacifier. His pacifier will fall out at least fifty times before I finish making Tenley's breakfast. He will probably lose some milk with it 10% of those times. 

By 9am, I already smell like old milk and am sticky from spit up and cleaning Tenley up from breakfast. I think about showering, then I'm like, yeah right. 

I turn on PBS for Tenley after she says "Elmo...I said Elmo" at me enough times. Sesame Street is never on, so she watches Curious George or Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood or Dinosaur Train. She watches for about five minutes then wanders off. I watch the entire episode and learn about making maple syrup or sharing with friends or pteranodon diets. I also know all of the theme songs (and songs sung during the show) by heart. 

While Tenley wanders around pulling her shoes out of the box where they've been neatly paired, folded burp clothes from their basket, and thirty-five wipes from the container before I catch her, I feed Declan who immediately spits everything up afterward as I lift him onto my shoulder. He also poops for good measure because, why not? I change my shirt and possibly my bra and pants. 

I change Declan. I change Tenley. We try out the potty but there is nothing left to go. One of them poops again right away. If Dalin is home, I make him change that child before I have a mental breakdown. 

It is probably only like 10am. If Dalin is at work, I think this is the longest day ever. If he isn't, I feel like we have to go out and do something or the day will be wasted. 

When Dalin is working, the middle of the day is generally a mixture of playing, picking up, changing diapers, offering snacks, and trying to have something that resembles lunch. Tenley has usually been put in timeout in her room like five times for hitting Declan on the head. 

If I have the car, I am running an errand or two then either picking Dalin up or dropping him off at work around 3pm. By the second errand I'm too exhausted (from yanking the giant double stroller out of the trunk) or too hungry to do anything else. We also have probably gone to a doctor's appointment for either me, Tenley, or Declan (we have lived there lately--the ladies behind the desk know my name). 

In the evening, I'm usually home with the babies watching one of our shows, trying to figure out a dinner that will work for all of us, nursing Declan, picking up the living room, washing dishes, cleaning the kitchen--that kind of thing. 

Between 7 and 8pm, we have family scripture study and family prayer (if Dalin is at work, we do a shorter version over the phone), then Tenley gets pajamas on and her teeth brushed. She kisses daddy goodnight, then I bring her to bed. 

We do personal scripture study and prayer, read a fun book, snuggle, then I leave and Tenley goes to sleep. 

I feed and snuggle Declan, go on the computer, write in my journal, maybe blog, try to do some schoolwork (but am usually conveniently distracted by a mess that needs to be picked up), and relax with Dalin. 

I am usually asleep by 11pm. 

So those are our days lately. They are busy and sometimes long, but I love my little family so much and couldn't imagine life without my babies. The only thing that would make it better would be living in a house in or near the woods, and close to the ocean;)

But seriously, life is wonderful. I'm so grateful for family.

Now I'm looking forward to some fun activities and trips that our family will be making over the next few months...I bet you'll hear all about them;)

Monday, March 2

My Postpartum Body and Recovery: Weeks 1-4

The human body is pretty amazing and nothing is greater evidence of that in my opinion than watching a woman's body go from carrying and growing a human for 9 months to shrinking back to what once was "normal." 

Not all women can successfully breastfeed and even many who can find that it does little to speed up the healing process. I got very lucky in both respects. Breastfeeding has been incredible at helping me shrink my uterus back to size and thus allowing me to feel pretty much like my old self (though with no muscle whatsoever...) in no time flat. 

This post is not intended as a way for me to brag about or show off my body in any way (clearly, because I'd work out if I cared about what my body looks like--hence the flab you'll see in several pics) but to show those of you who are considering giving up breastfeeding how much more quickly it can potentially help heal your body! It's also a reference for me to keep track of my recovery progress so I can remember for future pregnancies. 

To start, I thought I'd share with you a little photo of my original self. Pre-babies. Pre-stretch marks. Pre-flab. 

Pretty small, right? Not that that matters. But I am 5'0" and normally fairly small. Here's another photo:

This was taken three months before I got pregnant with Tenley. My body back then had no idea what it was in for (nor did I!). 

Now for the recent stuff. Sadly I only thought to write this post/work up the motivation to take these postpartum pictures after a week, but at least I have that. So at about a week after delivery, my body looked like this:

I know, it looks like a 20 week belly, right? The good news is that every woman looks pretty much the same after giving birth (meaning we all look like we're in our second trimester again) so the appearance of your body after birthing a child is nothing to be ashamed of. You just pushed an actual person out of you for goodness' sake!

Our recoveries may vary greatly however. Mine was surprisingly not bad at all with Tenley (my bleeding slowed to almost nothing after only a week and a half or so) and this time my bleeding stopped entirely after a week and a half. My stitches bothered me more at first, but not as long as they did with Tenley. By two weeks, I felt amazing--a little softer around the mid-section, but I was climbing into the backseat of our car between two car seats like it was nothing, and my stitches and bleeding were no longer an issue. 

At two weeks postpartum I looked like this:

My belly doesn't look too pretty this time around--I definitely have stretch marks on the front of my belly that I had not had with Tenley--but I feel fantastic overall. I can hardly believe I had a baby a few weeks ago actually. 

At three weeks postpartum, my belly looked like this: 

Basically, three weeks postpartum me is almost the same size as regular me after eating a ton of garbage and not exercising for a few months. I'm not a fan of the muffin top look (who is actually?) but I definitely feel like I can see a huge difference in progress from the recovery of my last pregnancy to now. 

Here's a photo (that I love--other than me being in it) from about 2-3 weeks postpartum with Tenley:

You can see that my face is a lot fuller, my arms were flabby and my stomach was clearly wider. I would not recommend having a summer baby if you don't like the water weight look. I had a lot of water weight from the epidural and IV. Plus in the summer heat, you just swell. 

Thankfully, by six months (still without exercising I'm kind of embarrassed to admit because I haven't exercised in like two and a half years...) I looked like this, which is my original size, but with wider hips and less muscle: 

But back to the present--now, at one month postpartum, I look like this: 

Clearly lots of stretched out skin. And you can't really see my stretch marks from this angle--the ones you can see are mostly from Tenley. 
Breastfeeding is pretty great, huh? As much as I detest exercise, I really want to get some tone in my arms at the very least, so I'll probably start lifting some wimpy weights pretty soon. Sigh. I guess the way I've looked at it is I'm just going to get pregnant again so what's the point of exercising now? How about I exercise when I'm done having four five seven kids? I don't know. I'll have to ask my husband about that... ;)

Side note: I feel like my body looks pretty good in these pictures considering I don't work out but I probably should have taken and included pics of me sitting down, too, because sitting/slouching certainly does that flabby tummy no favors haha.

Other side note: You can see I'm still wearing my maternity pants (the belly panel is folded down). That's because I like how the stretchy panel helps cover and hide my tummy flab rather than emphasize it like tight normal jeans would. Plus, I feel like it has helped my stomach appear more toned. I mean, it's not toned, but compared to week one it appears that way. Tricky. Also, my maternity jeans are sooo comfortable, it's hardly like wearing denim at all.

For those of you recovering from pregnancy/delivery out there, how has your recovery been? 
Has breastfeeding helped your body recover more quickly than you expected? 
Anyone agree with me about not vigorously exercising between children? I mean if I'm going to get fat again, why bother right? ;)

I hope you are all recovering beautifully and that nursing--if it hasn't been a breeze for you thus far--becomes a lot easier. 

Your mom friend,