Sara Topping (37), Twin Boys, Wyatt and Tanner (4.5) and Gardiner (2)
Sara shares -
“I have had three pregnancies. One abortion, one multiple pregnancy with di/di twins, and one singleton pregnancy. With my twin pregnancy we were planning a home birth and I had opted out of getting a sonogram with my midwife. We didn't find out (officially) that I was carrying twins until I was 28 weeks pregnant when I got my first sonogram. We were terrified, excited, shocked, disappointed all at the same time. I feel like it's a feeling that doesn't have a name for it in the English language. I ended up birthing my twins at a local hospital with a midwifery group and my singleton at home.
How has parenthood impacted your body image?
To say parenthood has flipped my body image on its head is an understatement. I remember laying in my bathtub when I was in the first trimester of my pregnancy with my twins and thinking to my self 'Wow, I don't even recognize this body anymore.' I have always been hyper aware of my body. Not necessarily in a negative way but my natural physique has always drawn attention. My family has a very muscular disposition, so my body, especially my biceps, were and are typically a topic of conversation.
I have always been an athlete and have loved sports of all kinds so I felt strong and ready to birth my twins. I, however, never was prepared for the physical changes my body would sustain after having them. I grew big, glorious, 40 week babies at 8 pounds 7 ounces and 6 pound 14 ounces, of which I am very proud. I remember the pain of my abdominal muscles separating at 24 weeks and I remember the giant floppy belly mass of my postpartum that made me look all stages of pregnant for the next 2 years and dropping 35 pounds immediately upon release from the hospital after my babies were born. I was in a lot of physical discomfort for a long time with a 4 finger diastasis recti and an overlooked abdominal hernia.
I didn't feel comfortable until after my last postpartum where I was able to give my body extra attention and knew to be more gracious and gentle with myself. Then there are also my breasts! I have exclusively breastfed my twins and my singleton but battled with over active let down, DMER and debilitating migraines that have sent me to the ER and Urgent Care more than once for dehydration. I went from a size A to a D and back down to a skin filled A. I love my body for what it has done and I love the marks that have been left. All my different shapes and marks and flaps feel like stories. And they are the most profound stories I have ever told.
What was your postpartum experience?
I have birthed three children, but have only had two postpartum’s. The postpartum with my twins was a giant blur where I would move from my bed to the couch and get handed babies to breastfeed every 45 minutes. I had lost a lot of blood during the birth and had stitches that ended up tearing out. It was slow and difficult. I think that I can speak from both my husband and I when I say we were in shock. We were going through the motions of caring for two infants at once, but when I think back on it now it feels like a blur and like we were barely hanging on but some how survived. I read an article once that described parenting twins as feeling like a "slow emergency" and that is the best description I have heard, although I think that can be the case for parenting any number of children.
My breastfeeding journey was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I feel lucky that I didn't know any better because I thought it was all normal. But in truth I was thrown a lot of curve balls along the way that I just took in the stride of normalcy. I feel like I received a giant 9 pound 4 ounce gift when I was able to birth my last baby at home, with only my husband and my dear friend who had just graduated midwifery school. My hired midwife didn't make it. Having a postpartum where I barely lost any blood and was swooning my sweet babe in a glorious golden summer sunlit bedroom in my home was truly a healing gift to me. Having Gardiner after our twins, Tanner and Wyatt, made me feel like as parents we could finally exhale. Entering into a parenting journey with confidence, grace and a smile on my face was more than I could have ever asked for.
What is your truth?
My truth is that right now I live every day without a plan for the next day. I take bits of parenting advice and stories I hear from other parents and patchwork it into the quilt of the family I am sewing. I feel raw and unnerved most of the time and I am ok with that. I would tell my former self or a new parent to try to be ok with that. And that kids grow and adjust and so will you.
Why did you choose to participate in this movement and share your story?
I love bodies in all their shapes and forms. I have studied and cared for bodies as a massage therapist and I will always hold a deep love and respect for the human form and its majestic function. I wish that people were more comfortable showing their bodies, because they are all so beautiful in their differences. I am part of this movement because I hope that by seeing my body and hearing my story someone might not feel so alone in their body and in their story.