Category Archives: UpWORD (Beauty)

The Body Issue

I think we can all agree that pregnancy is, primarily, all about the baby it produces.  However, once the baby has arrived and the dust settles, you come face to face with the little spaceship your baby arrived in, otherwise known as your body.

All of my adult life, and even some of my teenage years, I’ve feared what shape pregnancy would leave me in.  Not in an obsessive way, but when I felt like I was in good shape, I’d have this reactive thought: “Well that’s easy for you now; wait until you’ve had a baby and then we’ll talk about how hard it is to get in shape.”  I’m not sure where this fear came from; no one I know has transformed into a beast postpartum, not my mother or grandmothers, no close friends.  I suppose it’s just a natural anxiety most women have; pretty-young-thing before, overweight-Mama-Bear-from-the-Celestial-Seasonings-box after.

So when I became pregnant, I thought about what would happen afterward — but not nearly as much as I expected I would, because a twin pregnancy was as far ahead as I could focus.  I hoped that I’d be small-ish again someday, but I didn’t want to psych myself out about it in case the resulting body was completely unrecognizable.  I’d say, “You carried two people!” to let myself off the hook if I didn’t snap back in a socially acceptable time frame.

Luckily, the Lord made our bodies to be elastic.  It’s actually shocking to think that I was this size, and now I’m not.

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That was four days before I was induced.  Thirty-eight weeks pregnant.  Waddling.  Swelling.  Ready not to be pregnant anymore.

The day after the twins were born, my stomach shrunk considerably.  I was still enormous, but so much smaller than before.  I completely avoided touching my belly because it felt strange and separate from my body — squishy, empty, loose.  It was an eerie sensation so I pretended it wasn’t there.  This worked well until the nurses came around every day to push my belly in to ensure my uterus was shrinking back to its original size.  File under: Things No One Tells You.

Three days after giving birth, my feet were still giant canoes attached to my swollen legs.  The doctor came in and did an assessment on my recovery, and I was like yeah, yeah what about my FEET and ANKLES?  I tried to sound professional.  I might have said, “Doctor, my feet and ankles are still quite swollen…when should I expect them to return to normal?  Tomorrow?”  He interrupted me, “Yeah, those are cankles.  It’s gonna take about a week.”

1.  My doctor said “cankles.”

2.  A WEEK?

Other than that, I didn’t give my figure another thought, and how could I?  I was recovering from surgery, bonding with my babies, learning to breastfeed and pump, seeing visitors, and trying to sleep whenever possible.  The idea of worrying about losing weight was absurd.

The day after Henry was released from the NICU (babies were 18 days old), Mike and I visited the Juanita waterfront for our first stroll with the bambinos.  We walked around and laughed about how I looked like a woman pushing newborn twins while seven months pregnant.

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The following day, my sister Erin and I returned to the park for a concert for babies.  This sounds ridiculous for two-week-old newborns to attend, but it was irresistible to me; sunshine, water, my first “mommy” activity, and the bliss of taking the babies out of the house.

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It’s strange that my stomach looks smaller in just one day, but that’s how it was — virtually every day it shrank smaller and smaller.  Elastic, I tell you.

By the six-week mark I looked less pregnant and more generally out of shape, like a passerby might think, do a few sit-ups, why don’t you?

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This was shortly before I got the all-clear to start exercising, but even since then I haven’t burst into action.  The insane calorie-burn of breastfeeding has done all the work, leaving me with ten pounds to work off on my own.  (I’m not going to lose those for a while, however, because things need to stay a little heavier with two babies counting on me as their food source.)

My exercise now consists of stroller walks and the Tracy Anderson Post-Pregnancy DVD.  This involves about three thousand crunches, and half as many leg-lifts.  I exaggerate, but only slightly.  I’m doing it as often as I can during nap-time, and already I feel more held together.  I also seriously considered buying that corset-like band, but never got around to it and figured it wouldn’t help that much anyway.

Here’s the thing: I wish I was very mother-earth, all zen, walking around saying, “it’s just a body! I got to participate in the miracle of life!  Who cares?”  But the truth is I’ve never met a woman who didn’t want to return to her pre-baby body.  For some people, things fall right back into place, but for most of us we’re left with various parts that aren’t exactly how we’d like them.

Here I am about three weeks ago, fourteen weeks after giving birth.

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I am not delusional — I realize I basically look like I did before I had the twins.  But let’s be real: I’m wearing leggings that cinch me in and a hoodie that zips me all together.  It’s DIY Spanx.  Things are not as they were…my body hasn’t sunk like the Titanic, but it’s also not sailing into New York as good as new either.  Would you like an example of good as new?

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Ridiculous, no?  Awesome, yes?

She gave birth four days before me.  There I go perpetuating the pressure on women to snap back…hardly.  Kate is not women’s standard; she’s our dream, and there’s a difference.

I don’t think my body will ever be the same, and that’s okay.  I have stretch marks, a scar, and — this is what I remind myself — two healthy babies.  If that’s what I lay at the altar of my vanity, so be it.  Rather than striving for the body I had, I’m moving toward the body that’s awaiting me: new, different, a little flawed, but beautiful.

After all, on days when I’m not feeling quite Kate Middleton-esque, I’ve figured out a way to hide that tummy, and it beats the hell out of Spanx.

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They’re Here!

It is with uncontainable joy that I announce the arrival of Arden Charlotte Reph and Henry Warren Reph, born Friday, July 26.

Yes, that was a month ago.  We’ve been a little busy.  Meanwhile, happy one month birthday, Henry and Arden!

We chose Henry’s name because we have loved it since early in our marriage.  Henry’s middle name, Warren, honors my father, a hugely important person in our lives.  Arden’s name came to us through a woman Mike met a couple of years ago, and he came home and told me that he loved that name — it was feminine and strong, with the bonus of being unusual.  Charlotte honors my maternal grandmother, whom I love very much.

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I can’t wait to share their birth story, but I’m already surprised at how little their birth story matters to me in comparison to who they are to me.  I thought their birth would be everything, but it’s a very small thing when weighed against the tremendous, overwhelming experience of falling in love with them every moment since.  Their birth was important, but their lives far more so.  I’m excited to write about their lives.

But let’s look at them again.

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You may notice their size discrepancy…most people do.  Arden was born at 7 lbs 14 oz, and Henry was born at 5 lbs 13 oz — nearly a two-pound spread.  This was most unexpected as their pre-birth measurements had them at about equal weights.  Thankfully, both weighed more than the average twin (5 lbs 5 oz) and both were wonderfully healthy at birth.

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We did have one complication: Henry didn’t eat much by mouth, so he had to be in the NICU for an unbearably long seventeen days.  We went home with Arden after five days (she was never in the NICU), and leaving the hospital without Henry was the most heartbreaking experience of our lives.  We spent every single day with him, arriving at 9AM with Arden in tow, and staying until 10PM.  They wouldn’t let us spend the night because they couldn’t have Arden there, otherwise we would have.

The babies are 17 days old in these pictures, because they were taken on the most glorious day — going home day!  We practically danced down the hall; I had to restrain myself from breaking into a sprint with my free-at-last baby boy.

Not that I forgot about my sweet baby girl…

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We have been loving life at home, adjusting to the beautiful chaos that is life with twins.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

This is our family.  We are happier than we have any right to be, and we give God the glory.

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The Nursery Reveal!

Creating a nursery for twins is a unique challenge made even trickier when the babies are opposite sexes.  We waited until we found out the babies were a girl and a boy before designing their nursery, and we quickly nixed the idea of trying to make the room half pink and half blue.  It sounded like some sort of mish-mash nightmare.

After a little time on Pinterest, I decided the best approach would be a really clean, modern nursery, because of the need for two cribs (and double the clothes) and the fact that the room was fairly small.

Here is a picture of the room when it was a rarely used guest bedroom:

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The furniture, thanks to my in-loves, was gorgeous, but oversized for the space, and the color on the walls was a garish Seahawks green.  Incredibly, this room was used as a nursery for twin boys by the previous tenants, which is the only reason we can assume it was painted such a color (the photo doesn’t capture the brightness adequately).

I am not a designer by any means, and am often paralyzed when it comes to decorating, but I put my heart into making a room for the babies that conveys my love for them.  It really was a joy to create.

I enlisted the help of my friend Meredith, who works as an interior designer, to map out a floor plan that would allow for two cribs, one changing table, and a rocking chair.  I sent her the measurements of the room and the furniture we thought we were going to purchase and she created a floor plan to make it fit.

Then we got to work.  When I say we, I mean Mike.

We purchased the paint (no VOC for baby breathing safety) and he painted the entire room white, including the ceiling, because we needed a fresh canvas.  Then he, our dear friend Greg, and my father-in-love taped the walls with precision to ensure our stripes were going to be crisp and perfectly even.  They did a fabulous job.

Our color scheme was yellow, gray and white.  Gender neutral, baby friendly, and just happy.  I wanted a really happy room for the babies, and I think we nailed it.

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We chose simple, modern cribs in a soft gray color to contrast the bright wall and yellow and white chevron rug.  They are from Wal-Mart, if you can believe it, and are highly rated and made from sustainable, non-toxic pine wood.  After hours of searching, they were the best cribs at the best price — and they look exactly how I’d hoped.

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After an extensive search, I found the rocking chair from a company called NurseryWorks, as it was the only rocking chair I could find that wasn’t frumpy, old-fashioned, or incredibly 90’s (think gliders with bad fabric).  I could see using this chair in other areas of our home after we no longer need a nursery (but let’s not get ahead of ourselves as the thought of that makes this pregnant woman want to cry already).

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The curtains were generously handmade by Meredith, who is phenomenally talented at sewing.  She even added a layer of blackout fabric to the curtains so I can get the room as dark as possible for naps.  She brought several gray swatches and we chose a shade that matched the cribs, but had lots of white detail to keep the room from becoming too dark.

The little pouf is from Restoration Hardware Baby and Child and is one of my favorite parts of the room.  It’s both whimsical and highly practical as a footrest while sitting in the rocker.

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My mom gave us these adorable switch plates for the outlets that she found on Etsy; it’s hard to see here, but they have giraffes and elephants on them.

And there’s a Jonathan Adler ceramic giraffe nightlight: to die for.

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We found the changing table on Craigslist, and I’d still like to swap out the knobs on the doors for something a little more substantial.  We’ll see if I get to that in the next couple of days before the babies arrive.  If not, I don’t think they’ll mind.

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I loved organizing the changing table supplies — little bins with diapers lined up, a bin with diaper cream, ointment, etc, and tons of wipes.  The cabinet underneath has all the backup supplies and refills.  It also has a healthy stock of something I’m super excited about: cloth diapers.  YES — I am going to try to cloth diaper the babies.  A fellow twin mom from EMOMs gave me hers which is why I have the confidence to go for it; she did it without a problem, and she saved me about $600 by giving me hers (they’re $25 a piece).  Proof I’m not insane: we are not starting the cloth diapers until after at least a month (Mike maintains he’s not doing it at all, but we’ll see who wins that battle of the wills).

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I love the giraffe changing pad cover.  Giraffes are my animal association, meaning they’re the animal I most resemble.  I also happen to like them more than any other animal, which helps.

Please note the space-age camera mounted to the wall.  This takes baby monitoring to an entirely obsessive level, but it’s a level this new mom needs.  We can watch the babies sleep on our iPad and can move the camera by touching the screen.  It’s super Jetsons, and we owe Rach and Phil for the idea — they’ve been using theirs for over a year with Lillian.

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My sister, Sam, graciously made the framed artwork of animals from an idea she found on Pinterest.  Each animal is made up of the letters that spell its name.  My in-loves gave us the beautiful gray piece of art that uses the alphabet to make a little poem about how much we love the babies.


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You may be wondering where all of their clothes are hiding since we don’t have a dresser.  That was intentional, due to the size of the room.  Instead, I bought a unit with pink and blue drawers to keep inside the closet to organize all of their clothes.  There’s a drawer each for jammies, sleepsacks, socks, hats, onesies, etc., and open cubbies for swaddle blankets and burp cloths.

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The hanging storage on top keeps their day-to-day outfits, since I think it’s impractical to fold or hang tiny baby clothes when I’ll be doing laundry so frequently.  This way I can just tuck them into their cubbies (based on size of clothes) and grab what I need.

The two bins on the shelf hold all of their carriers (Mobys, Ergos, Baby Bjorns) and the Boppy is stored up there as well.

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The other side of the closet has their hamper and a few hanging outfits, as well as hanging storage for clothes that are six months and beyond.  Up top, it also has the enormous My Breast Friend for Twins.

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Confession: I often sit in the rocking chair and picture what it will be like when the babies are in their cribs, or in my arms.  It’s such a delightful room, so full of the hope and anticipation of babies on the way.

Now there’s only two things the room is missing:  the babies!

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