I have been so many shapes and sizes, and each one has served its season well. At times my body was to carry me through new experiences, and at other times it’s housed my babies.
It grew two humans at once.
It has been a safe haven and a place of warmth and comfort.
I’ve celebrated and appreciated what my body has done and each purpose it has served.
In 2015, as my twins began to crawl and my older kids gained more and more independence, I made myself a promise… that I would get stronger than I had ever been before. It was the least I could do for a body that had been through a war, and had been left bruised and mushy.
But this journey has taken time.
I think what people don’t talk about is the time it takes to rehabilitate our bodies after pregnancy. Think about everything that has to change and go exactly right to grow that little person. Your body is stretched, and shifted, and pulled and ripped.
Give it time to heal.
Appreciate every season.
Define your own personal goal that best thanks your body and celebrates what it has created and the journey it has taken you on.
I was inspired to create this video after receiving a DM from a twin mom who’s babies are 18 months old and she was feeling frustrated with her fitness goal progress. My body has been on a long journey for five years and just recently I am hitting my strength goals that I set for myself when my twins began to crawl.
Bringing home twins was probably one of the most intimidating experiences of my life. Firstly I was terrified of the hormonal and physical toll I was likely to experience. For example, when my daughter was born postpartum knocked me off my feet. From inconsolable crying to torrential night sweats and almost hourly epsom salt baths, I felt like I had been in a traumatic battle. So needless to say I was terrified of the twin postpartum phase and the hormonal changes times two.
Secondly, I was petrified of bringing home and caring for two tiny babies and one needy toddler. I imagined so many scenarios that ended in me locking myself in the bathroom or taking off down the street half dressed and hysterical. Luckily for me, my imagination made things out to be a lot worse than it was. Do not get me wrong it was a difficult transition, and there were many moments where it was overwhelming and I was on the verge of hysterics. However, as a second time mom I knew what was likely coming my way and this time I was ready for all the ups and downs of postpartum and was well equipped.. The following list I would like to think is what made those first few months tolerable at their worst, and may I dare say wonderful at its best. I am hoping other moms-to-be, twin moms or not will find this list helpful to them as well.
Mom Friends: someone who you can turn to, who at that exact moment is also experiencing what you are as well. For me it was a neighbour whose son was born two weeks after the twins. We quickly bonded over life as second time moms. From weekly walks to long coffee chats she was my life line during those precious and sleep deprived months. I was fortunate that I didn’t have to look far for a mom pal, but I definitely suggest connecting with other moms through facebook groups, local early years centres or even through apps that are available specifically to connect moms.
Smash + Tess Rompers: I lived in these! So comfortable, flattering, loose in all the right places, perfect for breastfeeding and dare I say pretty cute too. The last thing I wanted to think about postpartum was what I was going to wear. Being able to pull this romper out and put it on within seconds made it a huge win in my books.
Native Deodorant: as I mentioned above, postpartum sweat is real, and so is postpartum smell! For me this deodorant not only worked amazingly well, but it also is aluminum free, cruelty free and paraben free, so I felt safe wearing it around the little ones
Sleep Consultant: this is probably my number one recommendation for twin moms-to be. When I found out I was expecting twins I connected with another twin mom who just had twin boys. She recommended a sleep consultant that she had hired who not only assisted with forming a sleep plan for twins, but also provided overnight sleep support – aka stayed up all night with the babies while you and your spouse slept! Obviously this is not an affordable option for everyone, but for us it was life changing. As you can imagine as a pumping mom I was functioning on very little sleep, as was my husband who was up every few hours feeding one of the twins as well. The ability to have a trusted person in our home looking after and feeding our twins twice a week allowed us to recharge and emerge as functional human beings again.
Swaddle and Sound Machine: these were both life savers for us in ensuring our twins fell asleep and stayed asleep, and were recommended by our sleep consultant. With my first child, who hated being swaddled we used terrible velcro swaddles that she would always manage to break out of. We also gave up so easily on swaddling her because she would protest. We also had a sound machine that would turn off just as she was entering into her next sleep cycle, and would wake up. To remedy this with our twins we used the “Swaddle Up” zip up swaddle and used an inexpensive sound machine with a continuous play function we bought on Amazon.
Snap n Go Double Stroller: I used this baby until the bitter end, when I literally thought it was going to collapse under the weight of the twins. Although this stroller is not the easiest to maneuver and I would not recommend taking it for long trail walks, it was amazing for quick trips into the mall or grocery store. Being able to keep the babies in their infant car seats while quickly snapping them in was invaluable. A bonus, I was able to score one from a second-hand store and definitely got my money’s worth.
Swing and Bouncy Seat: having numerous places to put the twins down was essential, especially when I was solo. From swings, bouncy seats, baby loungers, rockers, you name it we had it at some point. Every baby is different and instead of buying two of everything I bought a few things and then assessed whether it was worth it to buy a second. My house often looked like a baby amusement park at this stage.
Homemade Frozen Meals: easy, delicious and fast. That is all you need when you are home, exhausted and hungry! I enlisted my mom to make a bunch of healthy meals that we could freeze and eat without worry.
Diaper Stockpile: especially for twins, you will not believe how many diapers you will go through. Disposable or reusable, stock up in advance! Our family threw us a diaper party and the amount of time and money we saved was such a gift.
Couch: This was a tip that I learned from the Nesting Story blog and probably one of my favourite nursery design decisions ever. I initially intended on purchasing an oversized glider for the twins room but quickly decided that even though it would allow me to sit with both twins, my husband would have no place to sit. Nesting Story showed me how a loveseat sized couch was perfect for not only allowing two people to sit and feed the babies, but also allows a place for one baby to lie down (supervised and within reach) while feeding the other baby. The couch is still used today by us to cuddle, read stories and lounge on while watching the twins play.
Honourable Mentions: good quality double breast pump, tons of activities to keep any older siblings busy, dry shampoo (this is how I often “washed” my hair), adult diapers for those post-birth days/weeks, and a huge water bottle – stay hydrated and combat all the water loss.
Fallon Melander is a thirty-something wife, reformed lawyer and mother to twins plus one. As a survivor of anxiety and depression, she hopes that by sharing her story she can help to inspire and bring others together.
Ultrasound Technician “Yes, everything is okay… times two.”
Me: “Ummm, excuse me.”
Yes, this is how my twin journey began. It was quite a surprise and one I will never forget. I realize all twin/multiples pregnancies begin their journey in many different ways and each and every one are truly unique, but mine was the classic Hollywood portrayal of stunned parents-to-be who at 12-weeks-pregnant have just found out that they are expecting not one but two babies.
Fast forward to the end of my pregnancy and I had NO idea how I was going to handle taking care of two babies at the same time. See, I was not a rookie mom, a few years earlier I had given birth to a daughter who was the star of our lives, but also demanded a lot of our attention. To be honest I wasn’t even sure if we could have handled bringing another baby into our family without losing our minds. I felt like I was still emerging from the new mom fog and I am ashamed to admit it but I may have googled “how to know if you should have another baby” one too many times. Alas, when we finally decided to give it a shot it didn’t even cross my mind that it could be a double shot.
So you can imagine how unprepared I felt. From things like strollers, car seats, bassinets and high chairs we needed to either buy new items or in the case of my car we had to upgrade to something larger that would fit three car seats safely. The economic impact alone of having two babies at once was a hard pill to swallow, and still is. But I can tell you the emotional and physical impacts for me were even harder. Extreme nausea, fatigue, joint pain and swelling combined with anxiety, fear, anger and panic kept me up all hours of the night. I read every book, joined every twin mom group and scoured the internet for all the information. But as prepared as I may have been the deep seed of the unknown began to weigh me down. That is until those babies were born. I did not have an “aha” moment during my pregnancy nor did I find a sense of calm. It wasn’t until those two babies were in my face with their perfect little round faces and tiny little bodies did I see the true miracle that was twins.
I hope to share my birth story and personal twin journey with you all soon but I really wanted to share my true side of finding out and processing a twin pregnancy and beyond. I hope this provides any of you who may be beginning your multiples journey or those in the midst of it some comfort that it is not all rainbows and butterflies. That fear and anxiety is okay and you are not alone. It does get better and it does get easier in other ways. Reach out to other twin mamas for support, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and know you are stronger than you think.
In celebrating Nesting Story’s new website and the addition of it’s contributors, I wanted to share the 7 most pivotal moments that got Nesting Story to where it is today. It’s had some unexpected twists, very exciting turns, and I wouldn’t change a thing…
#7: Feeling like I needed to create something that was mine.
I think entrepreneurs are cut from a certain cloth. We are idea people, who no matter how many times say we are going to take a step back, end up waking up the next morning with five new ideas. It’s in us, the urge to create something from nothing.
I’ve always had this sense, but it became impossible to ignore once I had my first two babies. So, I began dabbling in creative outlets, hoping that one day it would turn into a full-fledged business. I had Etsy shops where I created and sold hand made headbands and mobiles. I created a baby concierge service, which never quite made it past the planning stages, and eventually landed on an Interior Design and mural painting business, with a focus on children’s spaces. So in 2013, Nesting Story was officially born.
This little business began to thrive, and it felt great putting my Interior Design and fine arts skillset to use. But it came to a halt when I had the surprise of a lifetime… twins! I was pregnant with twins, and had terrible pregnancy sickness to accompany it. My days of climbing a ladder to paint were officially on pause…
#6: Craving connection during an isolating twin pregnancy.
My twin pregnancy brought me to my knees. Although our twins thrived, my body struggled through the entire process. I would black out after climbing stairs, my hips were in constant agony and I even lost my vision at the end. On top of this I had two older kids that needed me.
Many days were spent laying on the sofa, with a pillow between my knees, beds for my kids made on the ground, feeding them bowls of Cheerios while watching a movie.
It’s amazing how alone you can feel when you are surrounded by so much support. I longed for connection with other parents of multiples. I didn’t know one person with twins. So family members began connecting me via email with twin parents they knew. I was shocked by the negative emails I was receiving from them, with the over-arching tone being “your life is over.”
I wouldn’t accept it. I began scouring the Internet for twin-mom bloggers, who hadn’t lost their identity, but came up short. It was this longing, as well as some encouragement from friends to switch Nesting Story over to a parenting blog…
#5: Sharing my twin pregnancy story and finding my tribe.
When the dust settled, and my twins were around six months old, I began to blog. I shared everything, from what it’s really like to be pregnant with twins, to the depression I experienced during my twin pregnancy.
It was during my twin pregnancy and birth series that I started to gain some traction. With the help of my twin mom Facebook group, we got the posts out into the world and more and more mothers began to resonate with it.
I found my voice with writing and shared every gritty detail, but always ended on an inspiring or solution-based note. The last thing I wanted to do was scare other moms like the emails that were sent to me had done. Besides, although I was in the trenches, I was able to find my voice and was slowly rehabilitating my (new) body…
#4: Hitting a viral nerve.
Going viral is not a natural or normal human experience. Anyone who has experienced going viral can probably agree that it is a bit of an out-of-body journey with a roller coaster of emotions that follow. Although it can bring some incredible opportunities, it can also throw your life off course. Here is my story.
In 2015 I had been pretty pumped about the fact that I was finally falling into a rhythm with my early morning workout routine and could actually see my body coming back after having my four kids, (including twins). I knew that my body would forever be changed. I had a few followers expecting twins that I wanted to share my body after baby story with.
So, after a finishing dinner with a big glass of wine I sat down and began to write. I laughed with my husband that I probably shouldn’t be blogging because I was a little buzzed. I cranked my music and began. It poured out of me. I enjoyed going through my pregnancy photos and finally felt balzy enough to throw in those postpartum photos I once felt so ashamed about. After only an hour and a half, (record time), I finished and went to bed, waiting for the morning to hit publish.
Over the next day I could see the post was resonating with everyone, not just moms expecting twins. My website traffic was slowly climbing and the comments were pouring in. “Cool,” I thought to myself, “my post had legs.” Over the weekend I watched the numbers climb. I mentioned to some family that one of my posts was going viral, “oh that’s nice,” they replied, not knowing what was about to happen.
Within days, Nesting Story reached just under two-million page views. The crazy viral numbers started to level out and slowly decline. Then came the press. For the next couple weeks I averaged four interviews a day, (on the phone and reporters in our home). I was featured on media outlets like People magazine and Fit Pregnancy. It felt like a dream.
As the buzz tapered, so did my energy. I had to find my footing again and figure out what was next. I hadn’t even monetized my blog yet…
#3: How do I turn this into a business?
I sometimes look back at when I went viral and think, “that woman had no idea what she was doing.” Okay, in terms of storytelling, the old me knew what I was doing. In fact, I am kind of jealous of the filter-free Joanna. I’ve definitely found time, growth and my kids getting older have made me more filtered. But what I meant was, I had no idea how to turn a blog into a business. Here I was on the heels of a media storm, basically holding a golden ticket and I had not idea how to cash it in.
I began calling PR agencies and after some negative encounters, (and what felt like Pretty Woman moments, “big mistake, huge!”), I decided to go to a blogger conference. So I snagged a ticket, and booked a flight to Scottsdale Arizona and attended my first Mom 2.0 Summit, a conference for bloggers.
Finally being plugging into a blogging community was everything. I no longer felt like a lone wolf. I created friendships and learned faster than I could take notes. Then on one fateful day, after a lovely lunch conversation with a fellow blogger, she said “I’d like to introduce you to someone. This is Baby Center.” My jaw dropped, I felt like I was in the presence of blogger royalty.
This chance encounter with the Baby Center team was a huge moment on my journey. They ended up adding me as a contributor, and through them I was able to get my first paid gig and learn how to work with brands.
Brand partnerships soon followed on Nesting Story and I was able to start making an income. My dream of creating my own company from scratch was coming true. I continued to share my story on my blog, but I began to feel like writing and photos was limiting some of the stories I wanted to tell…
#2: I guess I’m also a video creator.
I could have continued telling my story on my blog, but some needed extra explanation and visuals. I really wanted to give my twin mom audience a nursery tour and show them how I fed my babies, without help during the night, from day one. “Could I film it?” I wondered. I decided to give video and YouTube a try. I had already slapped a few videos up on YouTube, what’s one more? Besides, I could embed it in a blog post so that it can actually be viewed.
So, I invited a friend over and asked her to film me in my twins’ nursery with my phone. After a couple failed attempts with cranky babies, I swapped my twins out for dolls and I was off to the races. That video now has almost 100,000 views.
I enjoyed creating that video so much, I thought I’d try sharing a “day in the life.” I was able to capture my day on my phone and edit it together. Success!
I dabbled with video here and there over the next year, and slowly I gained 5,000 subscribers. I would do this thing where I’d film myself casually, talking to the camera, and then show my day. It wasn’t until that year’s Mom 2.0 Summit that I was told by someone that I was really good at vlogging. “What was vlogging?” I thought. I had so much to learn, and apparently some YouTube to watch.
I was soon after introduced to Kin Community Canada, being told that it would be a great fit for me. After some adjustments to my videos and my channel, they signed me. I didn’t realize that Kin would not only become a huge stepping stone for my career, but would also feel like family. It was also through Kin where I met my “work wife” AmandaMuse. Together we have created videos, a business, and spoken at events.
Over the next few years Nesting Story transformed, and grew with me. I began to share more about me, and a little less about my kids. I began to share more lifestyle, home, DIY projects and wellness content which all made my heart sing. But something was nagging me. I didn’t want to abandon the twin community that meant so much to me. I wanted to pay it forward and help other new bloggers the way Baby Center helped me. And I didn’t want my blog to fade into the background, being overshadowed by video…
#1: It’s come full circle.
By late 2018 I began saying something out loud to a few of my closest people, “I want to add contributors to my blog.”
“You’ve wanted to do that for years.” They’d say.
I had. I had been saying it for years. I had held back out of fear. Fear because I didn’t know if anyone would want to write for Nesting Story, fear because I didn’t know how it would all work. But it was time. I also had an incredible team by this point who I knew would help make it happen.
So we put out a call, and boy did you deliver! We had a huge response. I was so excited to pick our final contributors and I am even more excited to share their stories. So, who are Nesting Story’s contributors? Some are twin moms, some are new moms, one isn’t a mom but is a master of minimalism. One specializes in makeup, while another one specializes in Interior Design. But the common thread is each of them speak from an honest and inspirational place which I am sure is going to resonate with all of you. I’m sure as our contributors own platforms grow, they will move on and we will be ready to add the next wave of writers.
I see this point of Nesting Story as a full circle moment. I am able to continue telling my story and do what I love, but I am also excited to share the spotlight with new writers and budding bloggers. I am exciting to work behind the scenes on some other projects including ebooks, an ecourse, a shop and lots more.
I don’t know entirely what’s down the road for Nesting Story, and after some of my surprising twists and turns I’ve stopped trying to predict the future. Right now I am going to celebrate this new launch and just breathe it all in.
I love my body. I love that it has carried four babies, two of them being twins. I love that it has birthed my children. I love that it has scars and stretch marks and dimples. It has many and it is the road map of my life. When you really think about it, a woman’s body is incredible and can do incredible things.
But lately… lately I have been letting it down.
Before twins I always had a negative relationship with my body. I got angry when it wouldn’t shed pounds. I covered it up because to me it wasn’t ideal. I starved it and overtrained it and cursed it when it didn’t perform.
During my twin pregnancy everything was stripped away, and my one job was to grow and incubate my babies. I felt my body stretch, my hips seperate, and my heart race. But despite the pain my girls thrived. My body did it’s job.
During those days as I lay on the sofa with a pillow between my knees I made myself a promise. I promised to thank it. I promised to care for it and treat it the way it deserved. That meant losing the weight I purposely put on during my pregnancy, feeding it the right foods and strengthening it. But above all, I would rehabilitate my body with love.
I did. I followed through with my promise. It was a journey but I kept my promise.
Last year I had a couple of life events that shook me. I was stressed and started to reach for food as comfort. I overate at every meal and every snack. I gave myself constant stomach aches, (which is really risky for me because in the previous year I suffered from Diverticulitis), but in the moment while I ate I felt numb and numb felt good.
Besides, a trend was building that was telling me that curvy was good. That adding on some extra weight and embracing it was actually the kind thing to do for my body. Or at least, that was how I was interpreting it.
But I didn’t feel good.
So I’d try to be mindful of my portions and ramp up my exercise and then it would fall apart.
I began posting on Instagram, along with almost everyone else, photos of my curvier body and how I was embracing my curves and buying new clothes to fit the new me.
But I didn’t feel good.
I was out of breath, was getting light-headed often, I had a sore back, and felt lethargic. So I’d try again with a new goal of caring for my body better, (which for my small 5’2″ frame meant shedding some of those pounds), and I shared this goal of health online. The response? Some positive, but I also received some blowback because the goal I was after wasn’t popular. This threw me and once again, and I stopped.
Was it guilt that I felt? I’m not sure, but I felt like I was doing something wrong.
But I didn’t feel good.
In January I turned 36, and I started to notice my body felt stiff. Really stiff. I initially joked that it was just my age, but 36? Really?
So, a few weeks ago I decided to be really honest with myself and step on a scale. Yes, a scale, which in my opinion, can be a great tool for some if used properly. My jaw dropped. I couldn’t believe what I had done to myself. What about the promise?
Enough was enough. It was time to make positive changes for my health and make sure I protected what I knew was right. I went through my social media and unfollowed anyone who I felt was making me second guess my goal. It wasn’t anyone else’s fault that I had lost sight of my goal of health, but it was making me second guess myself.
I’ve made sure that what I was doing to move more was on my terms and left me feeling satisfied and proud. I am working out every morning. Sometimes it’s ten minutes of stretches and abs. Other days I hop on my treadmill and run while watching Netflix.
I am taking my time to pre-cook my meals days in advance, and slow down and enjoy every bite and today my gut health is better than ever. Don’t worry, I am enjoying indulging on our weekly date night and here and there. But not everyday.
Today I am choosing love. I am choosing health.
I have lost seven pounds, and plan to shed more.
I’m happy and I feel good. I’m climbing the stairs without getting winded and my body feels more flexible.
I think some really great things are coming out of the current body positivity movement. But somehow along the way balance was lost and a bizarre version of reverse body-shaming has begun. I fell victim to this trend and I am 36.
I worry about my three daughters entering a world where the conversation is so one-sided. I want them to love their body at all stages of their life. I want them to know that we are all different and our relationship with our bodies is a personal one.
I want them to treat their bodies the way they deserve to be treated. I want the goal of health to be important to them.
You can be curvy and be healthy. You can love yourself and still chase a goal.
Body positivity should be a movement based on knowing yourself, accepting other people’s choices and cheering each other on. Body positivity should be about listening to your body and knowing when it is in a season of grief, healing, growing another life, rehabilitation or renewal. Body positivity should be about knowing the difference between embracing health and settling into a body that may not be thriving.
Above all, body positivity should be about supporting each other, knowing that what may work for one person may not work for another. That one person may need a strategy or a diet to battle inflammation or digestive issues, and that a scale can be a great tool for one person, but a torment for another. Body positivity should be about erasing judgement and saying I support you and your journey towards health.
I am choosing what’s right for me. I am choosing to chase health, and happiness.
I will be documenting my journey on Instagram and I’d like you to join the conversation and follow along there.