I have been seeing a lot of posts on Facebook lately concerning about how other people view moms of multiple children, moms who gain weight after pregnancy, and women being married young. Or, you will find blogs that are opposite in nature and actually bash those carefree women who judge the young married, mother of three. You find blogs on two different ends of the spectrum; ones that are concerned about being young, wild, free, and single, and others that believe in having multiple children young is the only way to fulfill life. After reading the multiple posts, editorials, and blogs, I have been thinking about how people might view me, since I did get married at 22 and had a child at 23. Well, maybe I should tell my story first before I write this long blog…
I joined the Navy at 18 and met (my now husband) Chris right before my 20th birthday. I dated Chris for about two and half years before we found out that he would be headed to Guam for two years on orders. We had a great time while dating, we got along (for the most part, there were some lows as normal), we lived together for the majority of our relationship, and I was genuinely happy with him. He supported me greatly when I separated from the Navy and he helped me find new jobs and enroll into school for the first time. Although we joked about marriage, it didn’t make sense for us to make the final commitment if he would be living for the Pacific. And so he would leave for Guam and I would stay behind, hoping our relationship would work, but mostly just agreeing that when he returned in 2014 we would try it again. He was scheduled to leave in December 2011, however, we found out we were pregnant just two months before his big trip. It was a complete shock, and not something that either one of us saw coming. I was convinced that the stick was reading a mistake, but after making my first prenatal visit, and saw the little sack on the ultrasound screen, I knew that this was no mistake at all. To be able to accompany Chris overseas, and for him to raise his child, we needed to be married so I could travel to Guam with him. Now, some of you may be sitting at your computers judging me as a military wife, there is a lot of stigma that comes with being one. You may think that I latched onto him, or that I tricked him, but our pregnancy was truly a surprise and I was able to marry my best friend and my biggest support. And so, within just two months, we were married, pregnant, and headed to Guam. I am now 24, still married, with a toddler, and pretty damn happy.
With that being said, I wanted to first address the blog concerning the “23 Things to do Instead of Getting Engaged”. If you haven’t read that blog, here’s a quick link http://wanderonwards.com/2013/12/30/23-things-to-do-instead-of-getting-engaged-before-youre-23/. It basically talks about how women after college get married to hide behind a man rather than facing the real world. That we use our husbands as safety nets rather than throwing ourselves into things, but the worst part of her writing, was the list of actual things to do. This list consisted of getting a passport, getting a tattoo, finishing a pinterest project, building something, and eating an entire jar of nutella in one sitting. I really thought that with all her strong views of why women should not be married young that her list would have much better ideas than being naked in front of a window and being selfish (right after she wrote “join the peace corps”). I would never think to knock someone for NOT being married at a young age, and sometimes I am envious that they can do whoever and whatever, whenever they so choose. But I wasn’t mad enough to repost it with a small rant like some of my friends did, but I did find that maybe this is how some people view me, and many like me. I didn’t have the white dress at my wedding, and most people look at our marriage as a whim (I’m sure). So, I sat there afterwards feeling a little offended, but more concerned that I am not one of those women who stood behind someone because the real world was too much for me. In fact, I have seen the world, twice, and live overseas, and accomplished most of my goals BECAUSE Chris supported me and pushed me. For everything that I have conquered and accomplished, Chris was with me every step of the way, and there was nothing that I couldn’t do. So in response to the 23 things you should do before being engaged at 23, I wish she should would have written more compelling things to do for women in their early 20s. Because before the age of 24 I have..
Joined the navy, deployed twice, seen 7 countries, made incredible friends from all over the US, I have eaten way too much food in a sitting (although not nutella), I have had a passport for some time, I have snorkeled in the Pacific Ocean, Philippine Sea, and the Caribbean, I gave birth, I became a college graduate (and still going to school for another degree), I have adopted a dog, dyed my hair violet, gotten multiple tattoos, and I am in better shape now that I have ever been. Oh, and I got married.
I don’t want women who marry young to feel that their peers are better because they can run out and make mistakes because they are single. Married people make mistakes all the time; they just do it together.
Just as I have married friends, I have a lot of pregnant friends on Facebook as well. I have also seen a lot of my pregnant friends getting upset over their weight gain, and then dying to hit the gym 6 weeks post partum. Further, they begin to bash themselves for not hitting the gym and having a “disfigured” body, and it truly breaks my heart. Well, again, let me tell my story first…
I found out I was pregnant when I was 22, and our conception was more than likely after a drunken stupor and some animal noises. Finding out was a shock, and being so young, my first thought was “I’m gonna get fat!” I was petrified of the weight gain. I wasn’t ready; I finally was a size 5! What would this baby do to me? Yes, I was young and extremely vain, I know. However after the first heart beat ultrasound, everything turned to hoping for a healthy baby, and less about my weight. It was a steady gain, reaching ultimately 23 lbs gained with a 7 lb 11 oz child. I felt like a whale, I waddled around and my thighs could create a fire from all the rubbing. I was in Guam, with 90 degree heat and 100% humidity; and with women running around in bikinis while I sat like the beached whale in a cover up. I didn’t see my feet for two months, and getting up for the bathroom became the only cardio I wanted to do my last two weeks of pregnancy. In the end, I delivered the most healthy and happy baby, with no complications, and we were able to take her home within 48 hours. Even though my pregnancy overall went well, my body had changed a lot, and it was something I had denied. I envisioned that I would drop the weight, be in my pre-pregnancy jeans, and have a nice flat stomach. However, my hips had widened, making me a size 8 in jeans now and my ribs have been pushed and moved out as well because of Riley’s favorite habit of popping my ribs out with her bum while she was in the womb. My chest is not what it used to be; I am now a 34 DD and the girls need a little bit of help staying up. My lower stomach refuses to harden no matter how much I diet, run, lift, or concentrate on abs. This is just how my body is now.
So, I guess that means I am not the biggest supporter of the “shredded moms”, you know, the ones who hold up a poster saying “I’ve had three kids, in four years, with no excuses” as her children stare wild eyed into the camera and she is flexing her six pack with a large smile. As if this is the new norm. As if women are suppose to be so concentrated on their bodies, that if they are not, then they are making excuses. I don’t really have an excuse other than I have accepted my body after its changes, and I work to maintain my form and to be in better shape. I try to watch what I eat, but if there’s free pizza, I can’t help myself. I work out about 4 times a week whether it is lifting or running, and I try my hardest to pick fresh produce over processed food. I am still 142 lbs., a size 8, and a slow runner. It’s not the dream to some, but I am happy. I don’t like to use the excuse “it’s because I had child”, but sometimes, that is just the fact. I don’t hide behind having a kid, I do still push myself, but at the same time, there are some realities in this world that should not be avoided, especially by mothers.
My biggest piece of advice that I would want to give to new mothers is to stop trying to be back at your pre-pregnancy weight so bad that you lose focus oh how much your body has changed and produced in the last nine month. It took you nine months to make your baby, it may take just as much time to loose the weight. Don’t rush for that 6-week post partum work out and nearly kill yourself because “it’s what you used to be able to do in the gym.” Don’t starve yourself while breast-feeding, and please don’t put yourself down because you couldn’t make it to a work out. You just produced another human being, who is attached to you at all times, requires every ounce of your energy, stays up all night and naps in the most inconvenient times, and be honest, you don’t want to let them go, even if it is for 5 minutes. Enjoy being the new mom and enjoy your time of just sitting and marveling at your little peanut and all their glory. Maybe eat healthier and do small walks if you are allowed, but it honestly breaks my heart when I see new moms holding onto what they thought their body would look like. I wish I could just write to everyone, it’s okay not to rush to the gym, and it’s okay if it takes time to reach your weight and fitness goals.
I just wanted to remind my fellow young married mothers out there that I support you, even if you have never eaten an entire jar of nutella in one sitting, or if you don’t have six pack. I support you.