Saturday, November 7, 2015

Craedyn Esther {Story and Meaning of Her Name}

Whispers at a stoplight.
Pictures on Facebook.
I don't know how many times I saw an It Works team mate share this specific image when telling how
God was using their business to do some amazing things in their lives!
And Instagram.

Friends sharing inspirational quotes or Bible verses or something from a book they read.

Veggie Tales DVDs.

Lawrence needed something to write on the other night at church and reached for something on the table.
This DVD is what he grabbed randomly.
What didn't God use to let us know all throughout my pregnancy that we were having a GIRL and that her middle name would be ESTHER?

Granted, I've never audibly heard God's voice, but I can assure you He was speaking to me over and over and over again during the last nearly 40 weeks I was carrying Craedyn inside me and watching my tummy grow.

From the VERY beginning of her existence, God was letting us know WHO this little girl was going to be.  Before we even knew for sure she was there, Lawrence had a dream about her.  One Wednesday morning as we were getting ready for the day, he announces out of nowhere, "So, I had a dream that we had another baby."

"Oh really?!" My heart immediately did a little flip because I had been wanting to be pregnant for quite some time at that point.  However, I wasn't even sure if I could get pregnant since Kyiah was still nursing and my cycle hadn't even returned yet.  Still, I was praying for God to give us another baby.  When I heard Lawrence share his dream, I got a tad excited.

"Did you see if the baby was a boy or a girl in your dream?" I prodded for more information.
"Definitely a girl," was his sigh of a reply.  

Well then...

Not wanting to think too much about the possibility of truly being pregnant (even though I had several very real indications that I might be - being wiped after the WARM UP of a work out, my clothes starting to feel tight), I tried to go with my day.  God, however, apparently had different plans.

As I pulled up to the stoplight at Flintlock and 291, I sat staring at 3 Gables, the girls chatting in the backseat.  We were on our way home from the library, but before I could think about what I was going to quickly throw together for lunch, God whispered in my ear, "Esther."  My immediate thought was, "That's definitely a girl name, God."  

"Yes, and just like Queen Esther she will be bold and courageous.  She will be born for such a time as this - to make Me known, to defend the Truth and stand up for what is Right and Good, to show others how to passionately and purposefully live for Me, to inspire others to be who I have made them to be."

Nothing like a clear vision of who your unborn child is going to be.
And so I tucked that precious promise in the depths of my heart, sharing it only with Lawrence later that night after we got home from church - me with a positive pregnancy test in hand.  It was our little secret for the next almost 40 weeks.

People would ask us if we thought we were having a boy or girl (since we decided NOT to find out the gender but keep it a surprise until the baby arrived).  I usually smiled and answered that I was 99% sure we were having another girl.  Sometimes I was even so confident as to laugh and inform the person the baby WAS a girl - like a sure thing.  Stastically, we did have a 50% chance of having a boy (as a person always does), but I "knew" our baby would be girl #4.  

We make cute girls.
And if you're good at something, why switch things up?
If it's not broke, don't fix it.
I think that's how it goes...

Since the middle name was settled, all we had to do was agree on the FIRST name.  Prepare yourselves, I am going to share one of our boy names that we have NEVER gotten to use, but have always had ready "just in case."  KREYDON.  With a little adjustment, we easily made it more feminine and liked the sound of Craedyn Esther.  And just like that, our little girl had a name.

The name KREYDON developed several years ago while we were watching college basketball.  Creighton was one of the teams playing, and at the same time both Lawrence and I expressed how that would be a good C name if we ever needed something for a BOY.  Of course, we had to switch it up and make it our own.  Hence, Kreydon...

Not only was it unique (a solid requirement for us), but it had DEPTH.  I looked up on Google what Creighton meant and found on one of the hundreds of baby name websites that it was Scottish/Irish and referred to a Crag-town, a town near or on the rocks.  Immediately, my mind made the connection with the verses in Matthew where Jesus speaks about believers being a CITY ON A HILL.

You are the light of the world - like a CITY ON A HILLTOP THAT CANNOT BE HIDDEN.  No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

I also think about a light house showing the way for the ships as they come to shore.
Again, a very strong calling for our unborn child.
But we don't play small in the Young house.
Not when it comes to character at least.
What we lack in size we make up for in heart.
We are stubborn, passionate, determined, adventurous, courageous, and fierce.
Don't believe me?
Come be a fly on my wall for a day.  Watch my girls explore with excitement, read and learn with eagerness, work on craft projects with creativity and flair, play with unbridled imagination, laugh and shriek with great delight.  You'll also see them test the limits - climbing on counters, jumping on and off couches, wading in the creek in search of some treasure, covering themselves in mud, climbing trees, and racing their bikes down the street.  These sweet precious girls who love all things pink and princessy will also fearlessly hike through the woods and search for bugs and get as dirty as any boys I've seen.  And as hard as it may seem to accept, these kind, sweet, tender-hearted angels have little devils hiding inside.  They can pull hair, bite, scream, punch, kick, and fight to the death.  In the blink of an eye these girls can change their tune...

Drives me absolutely crazy.
Yet, at the same time, I see something positive in their moments of rage.
They are not going to get walked over or taken advantage of or pushed aside easily.
They will stand up for themselves. 
And hopefully for each other too.
They will be strong, confident, bold women who defend the truth and do what's right even when no one else is.  They will remain the course, steady and constant, even when the world around them is shifting and changing based on the latest trends.  They will be ambassadors of hope, sharing the message of God's love and grace amidst the chaos and pain in our lost, hurting world.

At least that is my prayer.

For Coralyn Ruth, our inquistive one who loves to learn, remembers everything, and is faithfully loyal to her family and friends.

For Kellah Grace, our sensitive and compassionate soul who has a fierceness that is NOT to be questioned despite her small stature.

For Kyiah Hesed, our daring and fearless tag-along who won't be left behind on any adventure but also isn't afraid to make her voice and presence known from the start.

And now for Craedyn Esther.

May she be a BRIGHT LIGHT for everyone to see, pointing the way to Jesus, drawing others to Him, inviting them into His powerful yet peaceful presence.  May she recognize she was "BORN FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS," and boldly live out her calling with confidence, not backing down or letting any fear or doubt stop her from doing what God has asked her to do because she understands the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work inside of her to overcome any obstacle she may face.  May she know WHO she is and to WHOM she belongs, declaring victory in Christ as she dreams big and pursues Jesus with reckless abandon, following Him on the incredible journey He has prepared in advance for her.  And as she does, may she show everyone that God always finishes the good work He begins, going above and beyond our expecations to make the impossible possible as He uses US to build His kingdom here on earth.

Well, there you have it.
The story behind the name.
Once again, we are beyond delighted that Craedyn Esther is here and we can finally share with you who our little girl is!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Craedyn Esther {Birth Story}

We waited 39 weeks, 6 days for her to arrive.
Didn't even have to wait the whole 40.
Or go past my "due date," like 2 of her 3 older sisters made us do.

You would think, then, that this little girl is all about being prompt.
Fast, quick, in a hurry.
Quite the opposite, actually.

She OBVIOUSLY didn't get the memo that each baby is "supposed to come faster than the ones before."  Or if she did see it, she CHOSE to ignore it and go with her own plan.

I envision her little mind working something like this:
"I'm Mommy's last baby so I'm going to change things up a bit.  I'm going to throw her for a loop.  Instead of coming super fast, I'm going to take my time.  I'm going to drag this thing out for all it's worth.  After all, this will be the last time Mommy gets to experience labor, and I would hate for her to miss out on anything."

And so, my Thursday began earlier than I expected.
My bladder signaled me to get up at 4:30 and the discomfort in my back wouldn't let me go back to sleep, so I went ahead and got up for the day.  Was encouraged and challenged by my If Equip Bible study on Ruth.  Caught up on messages from teamies and friends on Facebook.  Went for a walk - going back and forth, up and down our street for fear that I would end up going into labor, have my water break, and not be able to make it back home before I had to crawl up by a tree and deliver my baby in the dark by myself...

Needless to say, baby did NOT make her appearance on my walk.
Heck, contractions didn't even start like I was hoping they would.
Instead, I sat on the porch, scrolled through Instagram and had some precious prayer time with Jesus.  I soaked up the quiet moments, knowing that all too soon the girls would be up and needing me, whining and fighting, demanding my attention, and making me want to pull my hair out...

Wishing I could enjoy the solitude for longer, I headed back inside the house to make breakfast so I could at least eat without interruption.  Somehow Kyiah figured out my plans to continue the morning in peace and decided to wake up a bit sooner than I would have liked.  I took my shower with her crying at the door - so relaxing. :)

Once I was dressed, we got Coralyn and Kellah up to get ready for the day.  Seeing as how we had 30 extra minutes on our hands, we were able to take our time.  Somehow, I even managed to fold and put away the THREE baskets of clean clothes in the girls' room before we went downstairs to finish reading Junie B. Jones "Handsome Warren" before heading out the door to take Coralyn to school.

With nothing else on the agenda until lunch when we would head back to Kellybrook per Coralyn's request to eat with her, we made a visit to the library for Storytime.

While Kellah and Kyiah had fun reading books, dancing, popping bubbles, playing with puppets, doing puzzles, coloring pictures, and all the other wonderful activities the library has to offer, I was having very random "contractions."  Having NEVER experienced Braxton Hicks contractions or even "warm up labor" before, I wasn't sure what to make of the tightening in my stomach that was wrapping around to my back.  As a childbirth instructor, I KNOW that is a sign of a "true" contraction, but these didn't seem to be consistent or do anything other than make me a tad uncomfortable.  So, I tried not to think about them or get excited about anything happening.  After all, my due date wasn't for another couple days, and that was my "early" due date.

Since we found out so early on about our pregnancy, my first sonogram was of a yolk sak!!!  Yep, at 4 weeks, I was already showing and needing to break out the maternity clothes.  I was SURE that I was at least 8 weeks along.  Or carrying twins.  Wrong on both accounts.  4 weeks.  ONE baby.  Just my body reminding me that it had done this 3 previous times and was excited to get started again.  Welp, given the size of the yolk sak, my estimated due date was November 19.

Kyiah's 2nd birthday.
MORE craziness at the end of the year.
We already have October, November, and December birthdays.
Not to mention Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's.
Why not have another baby in there?!

I was, of course, excited when we went back for a 2nd sonogram and saw a 10 week baby (instead of the 8 week baby we were expecting) and my due date was "moved up" to November 7.  That would at least spread out the November babies.  I hoped and prayed they would NOT share a birthday - with each other or a holiday.

BUT, at the same time, I knew my track record.
Going LATE.
Kellah came at 41 weeks, 1 day (the average length of a typical pregnancy believe it or not).
Kyiah came at 42 weeks+ weeks (I gave up hope and stopped counting the days).

I assumed this baby would continue that trend and come at 43 weeks!
But, like I said at the beginning, Craedyn Esther seems to have a mind of her own.
She likes to do things HER way, keeping me on my toes.
And I really kind of like that about her.
Shows me that she's not going to just go with the flow or let others tell her what to do.  She's going to stand up for herself and be her own person.  Bold and courageous, like her name implies.  But that's for another blog post...

Back to the story of her birth! :)

After spending about 2 hours at the library, I gathered up the girls and drove to Hy-Vee as they shouted, "Sushi!  Sushi!  Sushi!" over and over and over again in the car the whole way there.  We picked up lunch and made our way back to Coralyn's school.  I'm fairly certain EVERY single teacher and staff member who saw us asked me when I was due, usually throwing in, "Couldn't it be any day now?!"  To which my response was, "Yep, or it could be a couple more weeks."

Seriously, in my mind I was doing my best to mentally prepare to go 2 weeks past my November 19 due date.  In case you haven't looked at a calendar recently, that would have put the birth on December 3!  I did NOT want to wait that long.  2 November babies was going to "bad" enough, but I really didn't know if I could handle 2 December babies!

God heard my silent cries of desperation...

We waited in the hallway for Coralyn's class to come down to the lunchroom.  When they finally appeared (we arrived a bit early in our enthusiasm to see her and eat sushi together), we got in line and found a seat at the table with her classmates.  The boy sitting next to me very aptly observed that I had a baby in my tummy and even asked if it would be coming out soon.  I assured him the baby was going to stay in my tummy and would NOT make an appearance at lunch.  Little did I know how accurate his words were though...

After saying goodbye to Coralyn, we walked down to Lawrence's classroom to say hi and surprise him.  We didn't stay too long though, as his students came back from Specials about the same time we reached his room.  Ironically, he asked me how I was doing, not having any idea that I was still having "random contractions" and feeling more and more discomfort each time.

We got back home and I promptly turned on "Justin Time" for Kellah and Kyiah to watch.  I had some things I needed to get done and knew that Netflix would give me about 25 minutes of uninterrupted work.  When Justin's adventure with Olive and Squiggy was over, I took Kyiah upstairs to lay down for a nap.  I switched out the laundry, put away the clean towels AND the clothes waiting for me in my bedroom.  Feeling accomplished, I made my way back downstairs to prep supper.

By this time (around 3), I was having "contractions" more often, but still nothing consistent.  Kellah wanted to read books, so we did.  Every single one we had checked out from the library that morning.  Then, she wanted to go outside, so we did.  And she searched for sticks and bugs in the front yard, then played in the backyard, and finally settled on exploring down by the creek.

I was sure Kyiah would be waking up soon, so we went back inside to check on her.  She was snoozing away, so Kellah had yet another snack before making a beautiful "nest" from rose petals and leaves.  Once Kyiah finally got up, we read some more books and finished up supper.  At some point I had texted our midwife Amber to let her know that "something" might be happening today.  She called me an hour or so later to check in on me.  I still wasn't too excited about a baby coming, but did want to keep my word to update her when I had "my first contraction," given that she totally missed Kyiah's speedy birth!

Trying to cover all my bases, just in case something WERE to happen, I messaged my team mate Kila to see if she would be "on call" to take over our team online party that started that evening at 8:30.  I was REALLY hoping she would need to run it, given that I would be holding a new baby in my arms by then.  I mean, it was already 5 pm and my contractions were getting somewhat consistent at this point...

I assumed Lawrence would come home right after school and didn't bother to call or email or text him.  Until 5:30.  Even then I just asked if he was on his way soon so we could eat supper :)  Which we did.  And I let him know I was having a contraction as we ate.  That sent him into "I need to get everything done" mode.  He changed the furnace filter, helped clean up after supper, and put away all the random stuff that had been on the trunk and dresser and closet in our bedroom.  My contractions were starting to get a bit stronger and closer together, so we put Buck Denver on for the girls to watch.  And once again, I truly had my hopes up that this baby would make his/her appearance before the 30 minute show was over.  Nothing like having high expectations for labor! :)

Welp, that didn't happen.
So we put the girls to bed and I texted Amber to let her know that I had actually had 3 more contractions since I last checked in with her (right before the "What's in the Bible" theme song).  She let me know she could come up whenever I was ready.  By this point, though, I was beginning to think this labor wasn't going anywhere and the contractions weren't doing anything.  However, I didn't want to be wrong and Amber to miss out again.  So, we agreed she would be on her way.

She arrived in the middle of me doing my online party.  I was posting away about our amazing protein powder, having contractions every 8ish minutes or so, and listening to her tell me about 2 or 3 other mamas in labor at the same time!!! Not sure what was in the air last night, but apparently it was the NIGHT to have babies!

As soon as I did the last post for the party, I told her, "Okay, NOW I can have this baby."  I wasn't letting myself miss out on helping my team.  Crazy how labor is such a mental thing!

I really believe I had to GET OVER myself during this labor.  I went in TRYING to be prepared for a long, drawn-out ordeal, but honestly I was hoping for a new record.  Under 2 hours was my goal.  Definitely "failed" there.  Did I mention Craedyn seems to have a mind of her own?! :)

I felt AWFUL when Amber's other client's water broke and was indeed having a fast labor (she was welcoming baby #7 who apparently got the memo about each baby coming quicker than the one before).  Amber couldn't be in 2 places at once and had to miss that birth - don't worry, she sent her back up midwife and someone was there to help that precious mama!

By 10:30 I was seriously beginning to question what was wrong with me.
By 11:30, I was finally beginning to accept that I was going to have a different labor - a "long" one so I could sympathize with my childbirth students and assure them that they really can have a natural birth, even if labor lasts longer than 9 hours (my previous longest).
By 12:30, I told everyone this baby was a boy because he was stubborn and the birth was NOTHING like any of the girls.

I was going between the bed and the closet and the tub and the bathroom and everywhere in between during this labor.  I would walk, squat, rub my back and ankles with Clary Sage, try laying down...anything and everything to get this baby to COME.  I found myself on the toilet quite a bit, having to pee every 2 seconds it seemed. At one point Amber even joked that she wasn't going to keep track of every time I made a bathroom trip.

Around 1:30 or so, I got back into the birth tub, thinking I *HAD* to be close to having this baby by now.  My contractions were STRONG, but "weird" in that they were more intense in the front than in my back.  I was feeling pressure and just wanted my water to go ahead and break. With all 3 of the girls as soon at that happened, baby came...

Well, I got in the water and contractions were starting to get super close, running into each other really.  I was doing my best to relax through the pain and breathe through the pressure.  I KNEW that would help and that this baby WOULD come sooner if I did.  Thankfully, Craedyn decided not to make me wait much longer.

I didn't really ever push so to speak, but I definitely started breathing down to help release the increasing pressure I was feeling.  As I did, I also knew the pressure would get stronger as baby came out! :)  My water broke RIGHT BEFORE Craedyn made her entrance at 2:11 am - head with one contraction and the rest of her body with the next.

The next part was kind of scary actually.  I reached down to pull the baby up out of the water and to my chest.  I saw a head full of hair, a body COVERED in vernix (the white cheesy like lotion that protects baby's skin the womb), and PURPLE.  I wasn't too concerned though.  Babies aren't exactly pink/peachy the moment they're born, so I lifted a leg to confirm we had GIRL #4.  Craedyn STILL wasn't crying or doing much at this point, though.  I started to get concerned.  I told her to go ahead and cry.  Amber rubbed her back.  NOTHING.  She got the cord away from her neck (nuchal cords are actually SUPER common - happening in about 50% of births, hospital or home or anywhere).  And still Craedyn wasn't showing us the power of her lungs.  She WAS breathing.  Amber checked her heart tones and they were good.  Craedyn simply didn't want to cry out or really show us that she was excited to be in the big wide world.  Did I mention this girl seems to have a mind of her own?

Amber gave her a breath and placed her back on my chest.  She did a tiny little cry, but still nothing too impressive.  We waited.  We talked to her.  Kissed her.  Loved on her, told her how delighted we were to meet her.  NOTHING on her end.  So, Amber gave her another breath.  Finally, Craedyn realized NOW might be a good time to stop making her mommy worry.  I don't know how many times I asked Amber if she was okay.  She was.  All along.  Just took her time letting us know it.

We rested in the tub a bit, then slowly moved to the bed.
Eventually the placenta came and I officially wasn't pregnant anymore.
Bittersweet really.
We plan on Craedyn being our last baby to have in this fashion, so never again will I experience the joys of pregnancy, or labor and delivery.

Maybe that's why Craedyn wanted to make this a memorable experience, totally different from any of her sisters' births.

And after that initial scare, she really has been the sweetest little thing!
Little she is!
Smallest baby yet!
Well, the longest measuring at 19.5 inches.
BUT, the lightest weighing in at just 6 pounds, 10 ounces.

I thought she looked tiny and commented on her petite size when she was born, but both Amber and her assistant assured us she was about 8 pounds.  NOPE.  Not even close.  And that 6 pounds, 10 ounces was AFTER nursing for a good hour or so!

Once Amber had Craedyn's measurements and she checked out for reflex and muscle tone and heartbeat and all those standard things, we enjoyed some blueberry coffee cake to celebrate a happy BIRTHday!

Totally different than what I had played out in my mind.
But totally wonderful in its own way.

As Craedyn lays next to me and I watch her sleep right now, I am overcome with emotions of every kind.  My heart is full and overflowing.  I am blessed beyond measure.

And I look forward to the next days, weeks, months, and YEARS of getting to know this precious daughter God has graciously given to me to raise until His return.

Craedyn Esther, we are sooooo excited you are here!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Deal with It

I'm at home watching the Kansas City Royals World Series Championship Parade.  We thought about braving the crowds and being there in person to celebrate our team's historic victory, but decided that fighting for a spot among half a million people with 3 small children would not be the most fun.  As we see all the throngs of people, we are confident we made the right choice!

As we take in this special day and watch the joy and excitement, I can't help but struggle with a heavy heart.  Why am I so bothered?

Maybe it's the fact that I am 39 weeks pregnant and a hormonal mess.
Maybe it's because I am a mom of 3 young girls and KNOW that I will be dealing with so many issues related to body image and appearance and weight and buying clothes and fitting in and feeling beautiful and wanting to be accepted/popular.
Maybe it's my own personal history with these HARD battles.

Whatever the case, my heart is troubled.

Yesterday, I was on one of the MOM pages I am part of on Facebook.  A friend shared how she is dealing with her opinion of herself, her body post-baby.  She is NOT alone.  Oh no, so many of us feel the exact same way, or at least share very similar frustrations.  Having a baby is a BEAUTIFUL thing.  Miraculous.  I LOVE being a mom.  I am proud of that accomplishment and what my body has done.  That, however, does NOT change the reality that having a baby totally and completely changed my body - FOREVER.

Yes, I lost my baby weight after #3 was born.   Then proceeded to get pregnant yet again with #4, who is due any day now.

And I know that I can do it again, BUT it will take time.  LOTS of time.  I am NOT one of those "lucky" women who can breastfeed and watch the baby weight fall off and wear my skinny jeans 2 weeks post-partum.

Health is a passion of mine.  I watch what I eat very closely.  I work out, HARD on a regular basis (like 5 times a week).  I do all the "right things," but it is still VERY hard for me to lose weight, to get the tone I want (because I'm not about being skinny, but rather healthy and STRONG).

So, when I see another mama battling LIES when she looks in the mirror, I am quick to want to rush to her side, to hug her, to speak TRUTH to her.

And I can tell her lots of nice things:
*You're beautiful just the way you are.
*Your body is strong and reflects how you brought life into this world.
*Give yourself grace, and time.
*Your kids don't care what size jeans you wear.  They love you for the MOM you are.
*Beauty is only skin deep.  Your heart is what really matters.  And you have a gorgeous heart.
*Don't be so hard on yourself.
*Be proud of your tiger stripes.
*Loose skin isn't the end of the world.  Saggy skin doesn't define you.
*No one is perfect.  Don't judge youself by what those pictures you see in the magazines.  That's a ridiculous expectation.  No one can do that.
*Focus on the positive and find things you do like about yourself.

I could go on and on.
And get madder every second.

We can't just go on.
We can't just deal with it.
This is a REAL battle.
And it's HARD.
And so many of us fight it DAILY.
Multiple times a day - every time you walk by a mirror, every time you see another woman and compare yourself to her, every time you get dressed or undressed, every time you see a bilboard, every time you watch a TV comerical, every time you wait in line at the grocery store and have to stare at the magazine beauties, every time you think about your body before kids....

Yeah, just move on.
Get over it.
Deal with it.

No, no, no.

Instead, let's be REAL.
Let's be HONEST.
Let's FACE the issue head on and deal with it that way.

Yes, our bodies are changed after having babies.
Some of us more than others.
Be it our hips, thighs, butt, stretch marks, loose skin, c-section scars, saggy boobs once we're done nursing, post-partum hair loss, skin/acne issues because of the change in hormones, or whatever else we may encounter in our jouney of motherhood.

Becoming a mom changes us in so many ways.
The physical aspect is just ONE.
But it truly does affect SO MUCH more.
Our emotions.
Our heart.
Our mind.
The way we parent.
The way we interact with our spouse or significant other.
The way we act around friends.
The way we act around strangers.
The way we think.
The way we LIVE.

When I was about 30 pounds (or more) overweight, I was not only fighting a bulging waistline, but a true sinking feeling of depression.  I hated getting dressed each morning.  I hated going out in public.  I hated being around people.  I was so focused on how I looked, what people were thinking of me, how disappointed I was in myself, how I began to believe that if I couldn't take charge of my health how could I be good at anything.  All I wanted to do was stay inside and hide.  Seclude myself.  Be invisible.

Yeah, tell me again that didn't affect the ministry I was supposed to be doing.

Hence, when I see anyone struggling and trying to "deal with it" and "just move on" or "get over it," I have to stand up and speak my heart.

Seriously, if you are NOT happy about your body, then let's work together to get you where you DO want to be.  Let's be realistic and understand it's going to take time and be a process.  But let's also be positive and KNOW that change can happen.

You CAN lose weight.  One pound at a time.  BUT do remember the scale is NOT the whole story.  NOT at all.  Feeling good in your skin, and clothes, matters so much more!

You CAN make healthy choices. It's okay to start small.  Baby steps.  But you HAVE to take that first step.  Thinking the journey is too long and hard to even start gets you nowhere.  BUT take that first step and progress CAN be made.

You CAN repair that loose, saggy skin in a SAFE, natural, HEALTHY way (thanks, It Works, once more for the wrap and other skin care products!).

You CAN be confident.
You CAN appreciate your new body.
You CAN be strong.

You CAN take time to take care of yourself and invest in yourself.  In deed, you NEED to do this so you can pour youself into those you love and give them your best.  You are NOT being selfish to take time to work out, to buy healthy food that may cost a little more, to spend some money on wraps or supplements to help you reach your goals.  As you become the person physically you want to be, I promise your mind and heart and perspective on life and attitude and EVERYTHING will change too.  You will only be BETTER because of it. You will INSPIRE OTHERS to set goals, to dream big, to believe in themselves.  You will change the world.  Really, you will!

You CAN be proud of your accomplishments.

How much better does THAT sound then, "Deal with it."
Or "get over it."
Or the idea that it's not that big of a deal and we should just move on and feel so amazing about our stretch marks becasue they mean we brought a beautiful child into this world.

I would rather help a mama pour into herself and her health so she can TRULY feel confident when she looks in the mirror.  And that woman she sees is a stronger woman in SO many ways as a result.  That woman has shown her family and friends what truly living means and looks like day in and day out - amongst the diapers and piles of laundry and toys cluttering the house.
That woman is my hero.

I am not that woman yet.
But I am working on it.
Every day.

And as I do, I invite ANY and EVERY mama to join me on this journey.
May we travel this HARD path together.
Encouraging and supporting each other every step of the way.
Helping each other up when we stumble or fall.
Celebrating with each other as we reach various milestones.
No judging.
Just loving.
And rallying around each other.

Seems like a much better way to "deal with it."
But maybe that's just my raging hormones talking...