Sari Miller (35), Gunnar (4), and Maximus (3 months)
Seattle, WA | Portland, OR
Sari shares -
"For the majority of my life I, like most women, have struggled with body image. I was "the fat kid" for most of childhood, and then suffered disordered eating and exercising in high school. It wasn't until I had my first child that those issues truly started to fade into the background. I now had a new motivation--my child--that somehow helped all of those body and food obsessions seem less of a priority.
I became pregnant quickly after stopping birth control, and remember feeling so overwhelmed by the responsibility I had to grow this person inside of me. I am an avid CrossFitter, and suddenly exercise became about the both of us instead of just me and my body. I wanted my child to feel and experience the importance of movement in the womb. It suddenly became something we were experiencing together. I had terrible acne and pubic symphysis dysfunction. Prior to pregnancy these would have been problems I would have obsessed over, but they somehow became background noise rather than hindrances.
After this pregnancy I developed rheumatoid arthritis. I remember feeling like I was fighting against my body. Movement and even holding my son sometimes felt impossible. I had to learn to love my body despite this foreign invading auto-immune disease. This required a kind of strength that I had never had to muster. A functional body was suddenly out of reach, and I had to do whatever it took to gain it back for my husband and child. After 1 year of naturopathic care and significant lifestyle and diet changes, I went into full remission and remain there today.
After my second child, my former self who fears her own body seems a distant memory. I still struggle with my body image, and my body issues still rear their ugly head at times, but I feel now that I have the strength to fight against them that I never had before.
Both of my labors were fast and furious. My first was 6 hours, and I remember feeling scared during the process. I was in a hospital, under all these bright lights, and did not have the support I needed. I had a retained placenta and lost a lot of blood during attempted manual removal. Postpartum I felt lost. 6 weeks in, after continued bleeding, they finally discovered that a piece of placenta had been left behind and I had to have a D and C. I remember worrying that the epidural I got during my panicked labor had caused my retained placenta and somehow it was my fault.
I returned to work on night shift when my son was 11 weeks. It was one of the hardest times of my life. I was getting no sleep, I felt like my hormones were still out of whack, and I was just surviving. I put pressure on myself to be this quintessential superwoman. I didn't know how to ask for help. It made it challenging to maintain a bond with my son, and I still feel guilt about this today. My rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis made me seriously reevaluate my priorities and my own self care.
I vowed my second labor and postpartum would be different. We hired a midwife and had a doula, and I had an amazing, fast (90 minutes!), unmedicated labor with my second son. I still had a retained placenta, which alleviated some of the guilt I felt about the epidural I got with my first. This was addressed quickly after labor, and although I still lost a significant amount of blood, I received a D and C immediately and recovered much more quickly than with my first.
I've taken the time to enjoy this postpartum period. My body is still healing and my stomach is still soft. I still have to remind myself every day to accept the process.