Monday, June 19, 2017

no, I'm just fat

My body has been through a whole hell of lot these past few years. I've had weeks where I've gained 10 lbs and others where I've lost 15. 4 pregnancies in 3 years with lots of emotional highs and lows will do that to you. Sometimes I'd have an "I don't give a fuck" attitude, and I'd fill the void with ice cream and wine. Other times I was so depressed I could barely keep a bite of food down. Pregnancy loss does a number on your self esteem, especially when it comes to your body image.

I was raised to believe that my weight was equated to my worth. Like most women, I've struggled with body issues and self love. Society's unrealistic expectations of how a women's body should look hasn't helped, either. It's funny, women that I think are thin and beautiful still complain about their body. It's like we're all programmed to believe we are never enough.

Since having Faye, I've been working really hard to get back to feeling *good*. I want to feel like me again, and I want to have more energy to do all the things I want to do. Maybe I'll never be that skinny mom at the pool in her teeny tiny bikini, but I want to feel good in my own skin again. I want this hatred of my body and weight to go away.

I'm also the mother of a little girl now and she is going to see my relationship with my body. 

After 4 months of hard work, I've finally made it back to my pre-Faye weight. I still have a ways to go before I'm at my post-Grace weight, but I'm getting there. (And yes, sadly that is how I gauge my weight now.)

We went out to dinner with some friends on Saturday and I finally fit into a dress I wore on our honeymoon. It was still probably way too tight to wear, but I was so excited that I could actually get it on that I didn't care. I decided to go with it, and when I came downstairs, James recognized the dress right away and said I looked just like his bride. I was feeling good. Really good.

After dinner, my friend's daughter came up to me and started touching my stomach. She told me that it looked puffy and then asked, "Is there a baby in there?"

"No, I'm just fat."

My response just fell out of my mouth so fast I didn't even register what I was saying. I was sad and angry and embarrassed and all I could think was -- well, kids say what everyone else must be thinking. I was upset I ever put that stupid dress on and I left hating my body again.

I woke up the next morning still thinking about it. But instead of feeling embarrassed that I looked fat, I was embarrassed with how I handled the entire situation.

I read an article a long time ago written by a mom with a daughter who has a rare skin disease. I remember her saying how sad and isolating it felt to see other parents rush their kids away whenever they'd catch them staring at her daughter. She gave some great advice in that article that I've carried with me as a parent -- she said to teach your children to celebrate differences. To address the difference head-on and not shy away from it. When it came to her daughter's skin disease, she suggested telling kids something like, "Skin can come in all different colors. Isn't that cool?"

Her advice has impacted me so much that I've used it several times with Joe. I was at a restaurant with him about a year ago and a man in a wheel chair with no legs came in. Joe didn't say anything, but he stared at him trying to make sense of it. I leaned over and told him that some people have legs, and some people don't. I said, "It's pretty cool he gets to ride in a wheel chair that goes really really fast, isn't it? It's kind of like his own race car." I remember Joe's eyes getting really big and a huge smile came across his face. Joe is pretty much infatuated with anything that goes fast. The man in the wheel chair must have overheard our conversation, because he gave me a nod and smiled.

So then why, when a child's innocent comment was directed at me, did that mother's advice get thrown out the window? Why on earth did I use that atrocious word -- fat. This little girl was only 5 years old... she shouldn't have to feel the pressures of fat and skinny yet. Why didn't I take the opportunity to explain to her that women's bodies come in all different shapes and sizes? That even women with "puffy" bellies are beautiful. That it's okay to look different.

Instead, I let my own insecurities get in the way.

I have seriously been beating myself up about this since Saturday. I keep replaying the whole scenario over and over again in my head, coming up with all the responses I should have said instead.

I am the mother of a little girl now.
She is going to see my relationship with my body.
She is going to hear how I answer those kinds of questions.
It will be my job to teach her that her weight doesn't equate to her worth.

Can I do this?






Saturday, June 3, 2017

untitled 66 photos

I was attempting to organize my millions of photos during my lunch hour on Friday and came across an untitled folder on my desktop. I opened it up and there they were...the maternity photos we took when I was pregnant with Grace. It was right there among my folders titled Faye's Maternity Pictures, Faye's Newborn Pictures and Joe's First Birthday.

"Untitled 66 photos"

She deserves more than that. She means more to me than that. I renamed the folder "Grace's Maternity Pictures," moved it over to my external hard drive and just sat there with a pit in my stomach. And then it me. June 4th. She should be turning one.

It's not like I completely forgot about her due date, but I haven't exactly been sitting around anticipating it like I did last year. I remember having the realization back in May that the day was approaching, but I sort of just shoved it in the back of mind. And honestly, I've been busy. I've been adjusting to being a full-time working mom of two. Faye still isn't sleeping through the night, and I've been working hard trying to meal plan lunches and dinners for the week. I don't know, I've just been...preoccupied. But that's not an excuse. Actually, the fact that I feel like I have to somehow justify it breaks my heart.

It's my responsibility to keep Grace's spirit alive. If I'm not thinking about her, nobody is. And today I just feel sad. Really really sad. Sad that no one else is thinking about her on what would have been her 1st birthday. Sad that I don't get to post pictures of her and her smash cake. Sad that June 4th crept up on me without me realizing it. Sad that my photos of her will never go beyond my 1 folder now titled "Grace's Maternity Pictures."

I felt like I needed to do something to feel her close to me again, so I desperately started looking for other photos to add to her album. I added random quotes about grief that I have saved to my desktop, the picture of her footprints I had taken after we lost her and pictures of Joe touching my belly. I even dug and found the random pictures of rainbows I've taken over the past couple of years. I know it probably sounds silly, but it gave me some peace. Grace has a folder of memories now, too.

I don't think I will ever stop thinking about her, but I guess it's inevitable that as time passes, I will think of her less often. Some days though, like today, still hit me like a ton of bricks no matter how many days have passed. 

I know that I have enough love in my heart for all of my babies, here and in heaven. I know that. And I know that thinking about Grace less often doesn't mean I love her any less. But today, on what should be her 1st birthday, I wish so badly that she were here so I could give all my love to only her.


Happy birthday, sweet girl.