9 months in vs. 9 months out — 180 lbs to 110 lbs

Before I got pregnant, I assume I was like many women–I imagined what it would be like to be pregnant. I visualized my belly rounding and expanding, and all of the terrifying and wonderful things that would come with growing a human inside of me. Even years of infertility couldn’t quell my great curiosity with pregnancy.

When we finally received our miracle pregnancy on our 5th attempt of IVF, I was filled with excitement and couldn’t wait to greet the changes to my body. I noticed some of them right away: clear, glowing skin, shiny, thicker hair, and a tiny belly bump that finally emerged in my second trimester.

5 months pregnant felt amazing! For three months I got to experience that “pregnant glow,” including great skin, hair, and energy!

But by 24 weeks, my pregnant glow started to diminish. Not only did my pregnancy become high risk from IUGR (intra-uterine growth restriction), but my weight gain soared. I had 2-3 checkups every week during my third trimester, and I steadily gained between 2-3 lbs each week. My doctors told me that this wasn’t anything to worry about and that all women carry babies differently … but it was not easy on my body or spirit to gain 60 lbs (and another 10 in fluids during my induction and eventual C-section). I had always envisioned myself as that “skinny” pregnant woman–the one who didn’t look pregnant at all until you saw her basketball belly from the side. I thought my active lifestyle would translate to my pregnancy and I would still be on my mat or at bootcamp up to the 40th week.

In my 8th month of pregnancy, I was hoping to keep up some kind of yoga practice, but my body was too uncomfortable and swollen to do much more than squats and push-ups at home

This was not the case. My weight gain made exercise (and movement of any kind) difficult. My arms and legs puffed up so much that I couldn’t sit down crosslegged or on my knees. A vinyasa yoga class was out of the question. I was just too uncomfortable. I still tried to do a nightly routine of squats, pushups, and some core, but my body was determined to get bigger all around.

A few days before my scheduled induction and weighing in at almost 170 lbs. I was extremely uncomfortable in any position for the last three weeks.

My induction was scheduled for 37 weeks, but my delivery didn’t go as planned (read: the induction completely failed). I was disappointed to learn that I would need a C-section. Beyond the obvious reasons (going through surgery, dealing with the recovery, being separated from my baby), I knew that C-sections required women to wait at least 6-8 weeks before beginning any exercise. I was hoping to jump right back into yoga after my delivery, but that was not going to be the case.

One day after Everly was born and feeling more bloated and pregnant than ever! It took nearly a month before the swelling in my hands and feet went away.

Since my induction went awry, I had been pumped with IV fluids for almost a week before giving birth. This had the unfortunate surprise of making my body extremely swollen for an entire month after giving birth. My hands, legs and feet were so puffy that I could barely lift them. Even after I came home from the hospital, I was wearing my husband’s shoes for weeks before the swelling went away. I refused to look in the mirror or let my husband take pictures of me. Of course, we were both so busy with our newborn baby girl that our physical appearances didn’t even register on the priority list!

9 days postpartum and in complete disbelief that I have a living, breathing baby in my arms. You can also get a glimpse of my monster feet!

I listened to my doctors and spent my first 6 weeks postpartum resting and healing from my incision. Even though I felt fine after two weeks, I had to keep reminding myself that I had had a major surgery and that my abdominal muscles needed to completely repair. But once I got the clearance to start exercising again, I eagerly got on my mat and started a home practice once again. I had no idea I’d lost so much strength. I couldn’t even do a pushup on my knees, and my first attempts at a chaturanga were very discouraging.

My body at one month postpartum — not ready for workouts but starting to fit into workout clothes!

What was interesting, however, is how much weight came off right away. I know that my experience is unique and that the postpartum journey is different for everyone. I learned that most of my weight gain had been water, and a lot of it seemingly “melted off” in the first three months. I know this was also a combination of stress and breastfeeding. By March, I had already lost 45 lbs.

3 months postpartum in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, weighing around 135 lbs

Baby Everly slept a tremendous amount as a newborn. In fact, we had to wake her up twice a night to feed her; otherwise, she would have slept through the night. Even during the day, she was a great sleeper for the first three months of her life. And so when I could finally start working out again, I had a decent amount of time to do so. I also took friends and family members up on their offers to watch Everly for me so that I could take a class. When I couldn’t find a sitter, I’d get my husband to watch her early in the morning or late at night so that I didn’t impinge on his work schedule.

Little by little, I noticed changes in my body. I had kept my biggest pair of jeans from before my pregnancy as a marker and a bit of a goal, but by five months postpartum, I still couldn’t fit into them. This didn’t get me down. Don’t get me wrong. My physical appearance has always been important to me and it was strange to be so much bigger than I was prior to my pregnancy. But I was also unceasingly busy with my baby that my fitness level and weight loss really took the back burner. Plus, on the rare occasion when I did find some free time, I was often exhausted and would choose a nap over anything else.

My first yoga shoot at 4 months postpartum. I was self-conscious of my body at this point, but I also really wanted to document my journey and honour where I was at, so I agreed to do this shoot even though I was uncomfortable and barely fitting into these clothes.

The last 25 lbs came from good, old fashioned hard work–in my case, hot yoga, bootcamp, and a home yoga practice. My core got stronger and I began to find more balance in my handstands. In some ways it was like learning my yoga poses all over again — many I hadn’t practiced in over a year. But this allowed me to have breakthroughs all over again, to celebrate what my body could once again do.

Near the end of May, I was invited to a photoshoot with one of my favourite brands, Free Label. I was still a little uncomfortable about my size here, but that all paled in comparison to how amazing it was to bring Everly to the shoot and even be able to nurse her for some of the shots!

I still have a soft tummy or “raisin belly” as one of my friends lovingly calls it. I don’t know if my body will ever look like it did before, and I’m totally happy about that. My experience really was a 9 months in, 9 months out journey. It took me 9 months to gain 70 lbs and almost exactly 9 months to lose 70 lbs! I never dieted or thought about what I ate. But there were definitely days where all I’d eat before dinner was toast and peanut butter — whatever was the easiest, fastest thing to make and scarf down while Baby slept. My diet, sleep, and wellness always came last, and were I to do it over again, I would make a much greater effort for self-care. I now understand how important it is for caregivers to care for themselves first!

By 6 months postpartum, I was beginning to see the results of some hard work. I was also teaching three yoga classes a week and doing my best to get to a hot class or bootcamp once a week.

The pictures that I have of my pregnancy continue to astound me, but so do the pictures of me today. I am still trying to come to terms with the past two years just on a physical level (the emotional and mental stuff is even harder). As I take the time to acknowledge my physical journey, I am struck by the new respect I have for my body. It has accomplished so much in what feels like a short amount of time, and it is continually teaching me how strong I really am.

7 months postpartum and seeing the results of a fit and active summer
When I saw this picture of me on our last day in Spain (9 months postpartum), I honestly couldn’t believe that this was my body.
A snapshot of an incredible 9-month journey