Lessons Learned From My Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Journey With Trim Healthy Mama

Lessons Learned From My Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Journey with THM

My struggle with my weight and self image started young.

Even as a teenager, I remember looking in the mirror and mentally pointing out all of the areas that I was “fat”.

I’ve never been truly overweight, yet this struggle with how I perceived myself led to an eating disorder during my college years. I tried throwing up after every meal. I tried not eating at all. I wasn’t even sure how much I wanted to weigh–I just knew that it was less and that somehow that would help me feel more secure in myself.

Marrying my husband was the best thing (outside of my salvation) that ever happened to me. Brent kept me grounded, and his continual, unchanging, faithful love helped me tremendously. I stayed at a healthy weight and made many changes in my thoughts thanks to him.

Except for when I was pregnant.

I was still very conscious of “looking thin” and even though I wanted babies (lots and lots of babies!), I found pregnancy to be stressful because of the immense physical changes in my body and weight. Pregnancy meant getting weighed on the doctor’s scale month after month, and it brought huge anxiety to me every time. I knew I needed to gain weight for the baby, but there were still so many months that I cried through the weigh-in.  Watching my weight go up would literally cause me to feel panic. Even though I lost the weight after each baby, the whole process still brought me so much anxiety. 

I don’t remember when I first heard about Trim Healthy Mama…..somewhere on Facebook, I suppose. I was curious about a way of healthy eating that would work for pregnant and nursing mamas, too, because we had been hoping for another baby for several years.

At the beginning of our marriage, we had struggled with infertility for three years. We miraculously conceived our sweet Eliana in 2001, and three little boys came over the next few years. Then God called us to adopt and we brought home three girls from China in one year, bringing the total number of Bergey children to seven. 

Then the surprising struggle with secondary infertility.

By the time I began researching Trim Healthy Mama, in the fall of 2013, we had been hoping for one more biological baby for several years. Life was very full with our virtual triplets and four older children, so thankfully the desire to conceive wasn’t as all-consuming as it was the first time around. Still, those of you who have prayed earnestly for a baby know the pain of that vivid NO month after month. 

We had also begun traveling full-time (fundraising in preparation for our move to Africa) that previous summer, so I was struggling to make good eating choices with so much eating out, eating at people’s homes, and oh-my-the-church-potlucks. (where the dessert table is often the longest table!) So once I heard about THM, I spent several months perusing their Facebook page, trying to figure out what in the world this new language of  S, E, and FP stood for!

I will be honest and say that it was quite confusing in the beginning. I finally purchased the original book, and when it arrived, I was again overwhelmed  by the length and details. Nevertheless, I dug in and started trying to implement the plan. I only had a few pounds to lose (from all those dessert buffets!), but I was interested in the health benefits as well.

One of my favorite parts of THM is the three hour concept–no guilt– just try again with a healthy choice three hours later! I can’t begin to tell you how much peace this brings. No need to wait until Monday to “start again”. Just jump back in three hours. I love how I feel on plan.

After about two months completely on plan, I very joyfully found out I was pregnant with number eight!

I believe my hormones had shifted and settled into place due to the change in my eating. To say we were delighted at this little blessing would be an understatement. (To this day he is like waking up to Christmas morning for the entire family.)  

(Of course, we had just sold ALL our baby gear to prepare for our time on the road before our move to Africa. I love it when God gives us the desire of our hearts after we give up hoping and trying to plan it all ourselves.)

God began to do an amazing work in my heart with this baby. For the first time ever in pregnancy, I had peace with the process, allowing myself to enjoy and embrace every aspect! I could even step on the scale and smile, knowing my body was growing my baby and that was the most important thing for now. 

My very firm intentions of staying on the THM plan during my entire pregnancy went straight out the window around week 7, though, when the all-day-why-do-they-call-it-“morning”-sickness hit. The constant traveling we were doing didn’t help. I ate off plan carbs, and alot of them. 🙂

I remember one day, around 11 weeks, when I was hungry yet nothing “sounded” good. Brent took me into Walmart and we walked up and down every single aisle. He would offer a suggestion and I would nearly gag at the thought of whatever it was he was offering. We probably were quite comical to watch. Finally, we hit the chip aisle, and I suddenly knew what I wanted. Cheetos. Jalapeno flavored Cheetos. You know the kind–spicy and cheesy and crunchy. And full of junk, junk, junk. LOL. I grabbed two bags off the shelves, and greedily rushed to the check-out. That night, I laid in bed and ate almost an entire bag, slowly and deliberately, enjoying how calm my tummy was the whole time I was eating the junk. 

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Naturally, the constant eating led to weight gain! I know I hear of so many other women struggling with gaining weight in those early months. There’s such a fear in women’s hearts as we watch our bodies grow and change.

Eating frequently combats morning sickness and is what helps me feel normal enough to be a good mama, so eat I did. 🙂

I started the pregnancy at 136 pounds, and by 20 weeks, I was up to 156. That’s 20 pounds in the first half alone! I had been determined to enjoy this pregnancy, but I was really not wanting to be a whale by the end. 🙂

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18 Weeks–I can see all the places where I was gaining fat, not baby. 🙂 But I ate to survive and be able to balance the rest of my life during those weeks, and I was at peace.

I knew what I needed to do, and as soon as the morning sickness was gone, I made the decision to jump completely back on Trim Healthy Mama. No more I feel horrible excuses. 🙂 My weight gain nearly stopped altogether and as my baby and tummy grew bigger, those more stubborn areas stopped getting bigger (thankfully!) and even shrunk some. Yay!

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27 Weeks bathroom selfie
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32 Weeks
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38 Weeks (Photo Credit–my amazing sister, Lauren Zeigler)
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Final pregnancy picture–39 weeks, 2 days. Dilated to 9 and soon to give birth to my little boy.

From 20 weeks (when I got back on the THM plan) to the end of the pregnancy, I only gained 9 more pounds! Even though I had gained more in the first trimester than my other four pregnancies, I still ended the pregnancy with a smaller total gain of 29 pounds. I felt so much better eating the THM way and didn’t swell up at all, even though baby was born in the heat of a Virginia August.

These next two pictures were taken at our baby’s dedication, 7 days after his birth.

I had lost about 20 pounds already, but I love that you can still see my belly. With my other babies, I was so self-conscious of that swollen just-had-a-baby look, and I would put on support pantyhose to try to suck it all in–vainly desiring to “not look pregnant” as soon as baby was born–but the Lord did such a work in my heart while I was longing for and carrying this baby, that I was even thankful for the chubby tummy! I looked in the mirror, and instead of seeing fat or a lumpy body I finally saw the truth–I was this tiny little baby’s mother. 

Lumps and bumps and all.

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I’d love to say that I went right back on plan after his birth, but I didn’t. I went on and off throughout his first year, struggling to find the right combination of crossovers and carbs to keep my milk supply up. After a few times of trying and still finding I had a supply drop, Brent asked me to just wait to work on losing those last 10 pounds or so. We had alot of things going on in our lives (like the six weeks where 6 of our kiddos got chicken pox and strep throat, or the fact that we had meetings in 7 states before my baby turned 2 months!) and he encouraged me to just enjoy my baby. He knows my history well- the mental struggle with weight and such- so his encouragement was a blessing and I relaxed and truly enjoyed every minute with our new baby.

For the first time (out of five births), I didn’t lose all the weight in the first few weeks–and I didn’t even mind! 

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My 1 week-old treasure! I’m about 146 here.

Around the time my baby turned a year old, I was finally able to jump fully back on THM without a milk supply drop or a cranky baby! I  found I need an E every day in order to keep enough milk for baby to be happy–I eat alot of oatmeal lol–and every once in awhile, I just need an extra dose of carbs. I can feel it when that happens and I just eat whatever sounds reasonably good and get back on plan three hours later.

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Here’s my chubby treasure, at almost 11 months–you can see where all that good mommy milk was going! 🙂 I was still at 141.

I have slowly and gradually lost down below my pre-pregnancy weight (which was 136) since that time. I weighed in at 131 this morning! More importantly than some number on the scale, though, is the work God has done in my heart through this pregnancy, birth, and baby. I’m still breastfeeding my little guy (he’s 17 months now) and planning to do so as long as it’s mutually enjoyable. 🙂

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I have learned to fully embrace motherhood and all that comes with it (the sleepless nights, indigestion, stretch marks, morning sickness, exhaustion, and YES the weight gain) and no longer fight it. I’m able to see the blessing in the moment now, and to focus on the amazing work God performs in each mother’s heart as she nurtures another little life. I no longer look in the mirror and look for the fat on my body.

My true worth lies in who I am in Jesus, not in some pre-conceived notion of what I want to look like. I eat healthier now, although not always, and I’m at peace with that, too. 🙂

I’m thankful to Trim Healthy Mama, the support groups, and the encouragement towards God-honoring womanhood and healthy living that they have been in my life.

And I’m ever-so-thankful for this precious  little boy through which God brought about such peace and joy to my life.

Selina

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