The stunning Emily Way Sizer, Brendan (5), Courtney (3.5), Lyra (16 months).
Emily always knew she was meant to be a mother and she and her husband both wanted a big family. They got pregnant on their honeymoon, which wasn't planned, but they were elated. Unfortunately, she miscarried this pregnancy but was able to conceive again very soon after.
Her first trimester with Brendan was difficult, morning sickness caused her to lose quite a bit of weight but once she was in the second trimester she felt much better and loved being pregnant. "I loved my glow and knowing I was creating another human being". Around 32 weeks, her mother threw her a baby shower and she started getting very swollen and had headaches most of the weekend. They traveled home and she still wasn't feeling well so she took the day off work to recover from the long weekend.
At a doctor appointment the following day they found protein in her urine, her blood pressure was high and her swelling was very bad. Doctors feared preeclampsia and after a 24 hour urine test she was officially diagnosed and told the goal was to get to 34 weeks with a required delivery by 37 weeks. She was put on bedrest and was soon diagnosed with polyhydramnios as well, measuring far ahead of her 32 weeks. "I had a very hard time after the diagnosis, I cried a lot wondering what I did wrong to cause this".
At her 35 week appointment, swelling was so bad and she was seeing spots and stars, her doctor decided it was time for induction. They were told it would take a long time but she had no idea it would be 70 hours before their son was born. "I was confined to the hospital bed the entire time due to the medications I was on. I had to get an epidural since I was unable to move. I pushed for about 90 minutes, all back labor. Brendan was sunny-side up and the doctor had to manually turn him. When he was finally born it was 36 weeks on the dot. He was handed to the NICU team right away as everyone was prepared for him to need some time there. I remember we waited and waited for him to cry, when he finally did it was the first sigh of relief with many more to come".
Brendan had an APGAR score of 1 and needed to spend 18 days in NICU. He came home healthy but struggled with severe reflux and colic. She was able to nurse and loved every minuted of. Having had to take so much time off work for bed rest she had to return to work when he was just two months old. "Going back to work was one of the hardest things I think I've ever done, leaving him again was hard for me. I worried about our nursing relationship. I ended up doing well with nursing and working full-time, I nursed him until he was 11 months old despite being 3 months pregnant with our second child!"
Emily quit her job at this point so that she could stay at home. Her pregnancy with Courtney was much better but during her first trimester she very sick again. She ended up at labor and delivery several times for fluids because she couldn't keep anything down. Courtney was born at 40 weeks, 1 day. She went to the hospital early in the morning after experiencing contractions for weeks, thankfully she was 4cm and able to stay. She got an epidural shortly after being admitted and slept the whole day. At 5pm it was time to push, she too was sunny side up and much more stubborn. Emily wasn't making much progress and they mentioned a possible cesarean but she was able to get her out soon after. Unfortunately, the cord was around her neck so they took Courtney away for a moment before they were able to see and hold her. Nursing went well and they were able to continue until Courtney was 19 months old.
Emily learned she was pregnant again and soon after, Brendan was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism, Anxiety and Sensory Processing Disorder. "I immediately felt guilty about having another child knowing he was going to need more therapies than he was already getting. It took me some time but soon I realized that maybe a new sibling would help him...which it did". This pregnancy went much better in the beginning and continued smoothly until she was 33 weeks when she began to exhibit signs of preeclampsia. She carried to 37.5 weeks before being sent for induction. After 20 hours of labor, Emily requested an epidural. She was able to relax for an hour before she woke up to doctors and nurses rushing in to give her oxygen and 20 minutes later she felt the urge to push. Two pushes later, Lyra was out and into her arms.
Emily had lots of trouble nursing Lyra, she had lip and tongue ties which weren't properly taken care of until she was 5 months old. She went though a pretty dark time after her birth and felt no connection to her at all. She finally sat down to talk to her husband about it one night and he said he had already known but didn't know how to approach the topic with out upsetting her. She got help and finally started feeling like a better person and mom.
"I have always struggled with body image. Even when I was in high school and honestly underweight, I felt overweight. After high school my weight went up and didn't stop. Now, the person I see in the mirror is not how I feel on the inside. I have given life to 3 wonderful children and I see stretch marks from each birth reminding me that I carried them and brought them into this world. There isn't anything I wouldn't do for my children. I want my son to respect women and I want my girls to not just think they are pretty, but that they are smart and beautiful on the inside. I am doing this movement to help empower and encourage other women who may struggle with their body image, even if its just a little bit."