I don’t think a single day has gone by in the last 30 years where I haven’t stressed about my body. I’ve been 300 pounds, I’ve been 150 pounds- and every number in between. Since having baby Lucy at the end of November, I think about my regain a thousand times throughout the day. It gives me panic attacks, it messes with my depression, and can even send me manic.
Last month my therapist told me I needed to see an eating disorder specialist. It didn’t make sense to me. It DOESN’T make sense to me.When I think about eating disorders I immediately think of underweight girls- definitely not a category I fit into. She tried to find a provider who takes my insurance, but it hasn’t been easy. I was kind of relieved that it bought me some extra time. She put in a ton of work over the course of two weeks, and finally came up with a list of three names. Last monday she handed me the list and asked me to contact someone to schedule. I left her office, and put the list on my passenger seat. There it has stayed for the last five days, untouched.
Now I have really dug myself a hole. I have to face my therapist Monday morning and tell her I didn’t try to follow through, after all of the work she put in. Today being Saturday, I can’t even really slap together a last ditch effort without revealing that I waited too long. Do I lie? No, Lying only makes things worse. I have to bite the bullet and be honest that I wasted her time. It’s just another thing to be anxious about.
It doesn’t feel like I belong in this kind of treatment. If anything, I SHOULD be restricting myself to lose my remaining 27 pounds of baby weight. I wonder what the other people in the waiting room will look at me and think. I wonder if the therapist will take a look at my case and decide I don’t need to be seen. I’m embarrassed to present myself to this kind of therapy, and I don’t feel deserving of help. A big girl isn’t going to fit in with the other clientele. I don’t even know if I’ll be able to walk into that office, I know I’m going to be eyed and judged harshly.
I don’t want to go. I don’t think I fit in. I don’t think I’m deserving of this kind of attention or help. I don’t want to face any of this. Part of me is even thinking of no-showing my regular therapy appointment on Monday, I just don’t want to admit that I dropped the ball. That’s a lot of “don’ts.” I have one “do.” I DO want to set a good, healthy example for my kids.
I worry that I will mess up my kids. I don’t want them to go through everything I did as an obese child, but I also don’t want to raise them to obsess about their weight. Neither scenario is healthy, but both are anxiously playing in my head. Constantly. How can I help them when I can’t even help myself?
I’ve always carried so much guilt with food. Guilt when I diet, and stress about staying within my calorie goals. Guilt when I binge, and stress about going astronomically over my calorie goals. I don’t want the kids to think this way, or be weighed down with the negativity that I feel every time I eat.
This treatment is so awkward. I still don’t understand how someone who is mathematically, medically overweight would need to see an eating disorder specialist. I’m anxious, and dreading every part of this.
Getting these words out of my chest and into writing has already brought some clarity. Time to put on my mom jeans and get over myself. I took some time between proofreading to run out to my car and grab the list. I emailed one provider. At least it’s a start. I don’t want the kids to fear food like I do. I don’t want to put that on them. I still don’t feel like I categorically should be in this kind of therapy, but I’ll take any help in keeping my kids healthy.
The weeks before my birthday gave me so much anxiety. I mourned that the ‘exciting’ stuff of my 20’s were behind me- getting married, having kids, etc. – and I felt I had nothing good to look forward to. My self confidence has been shot since having Lucy. Postpartum body doesn’t make me feel very good, and I’m obsessing about the number on the scale. Planning to go out seemed like a labor intensive task on its own. I didn’t have anything to wear, needed a sitter for four kids, I hadn’t drank in about 18 months and didn’t know how alcohol would make me feel, and I carried a lot of guilt over leaving my 2 month old with my mom for a couple of hours. I was dreading the whole thing.
At the same time, I genuinely felt like I needed a break from the kids. Only a couple of hours, not all night. I forced myself to get excited. I put on my ‘going out’ boots, eyelashes, and the bravest smile I could muster. Twenty ten years old, ( you know, the number that comes after twenty nine..) and this was the best it was gonna get.
I actually got a little nervous when my ride came to pick me up. It was my last chance to cancel, but as I opened the front door to leave my sister ran toward me with a gift bag and a big old hug. How could I turn away from that? I opened the car door to find two of my long, lost friends. All of a sudden I felt a change in my chest. I was excited! I was happy.
For a while now I have wanted to build a friendship with a friend of my sister. This girl is awesome, hilarious, and we actually see eachother for most big events and holidays. When we invited her out it was 50/50. Does she know me well enough to come? Are we close enough to count as friends? My social anxiety gave my little spurts of heart palpitations. Seeing this girl in the car shot a lightning bolt of happiness through me, and I started to feel less guilty about leaving the kids. I genuinely felt like I needed to spend my mama-self care time on strengthening our friendship. I want more friends, specifically someone who makes me laugh as much as her. She is a breath of fresh air from my little gremlins at home. I truly feel that having more friends like her will round me out as a person, and make me feel like more than just a mother.
As expected, alcohol didn’t go over well. It just tastes so bad! How do people get it down? I literally ordered three drinks and only took a couple sips of each. I really AM getting old. No more falling down drunk for me! It was still so nice to sit down at the hookah bar, relax, and spend time with adults. My sister and brother in law bring me so much comfort, and make me feel incredibly loved. The two friends that came out kept things interesting, and I got to catch up on new gossip. I love hearing about the exciting lives of people without kids. (I’m not kidding.) They have the best stories. By 11:00 these wild and crazy kids were exhausted, so we headed home.. I think in the club world most people are just leaving their house at this time. (insert face palm) Still, I was more than happy to be heading toward my bed and some Tylenol.. And of course some baby snuggles!
I woke up that morning by turning twentyten. I mourned my younger days, and the things I’d missed out on in my 20’s by having my kids young. I harboured negativity. I was irritated with my husband for not taking time off of work to spend the day with me. I was annoyed that the kids made birthday cake pops, and left chocolate all over my stove. I dreaded going out, and wondered if my favorite boots would pinch my toes. I was overwhelmed with the thought of getting ready with all four kids running around, and then rounding them up to get in the car. I’d sum it up in three words :Anxious. Irritated. Overwhelmed.
Crawling into bed that night, things had changed for me. My husband (who had been sleeping when my brother in law dropped me off) sleepily gazed at the clock and noticed it was a few minutes past midnight. “It’s not your birthday anymore, you can relax again.” We both kind of laughed. I was pretty silly about this whole twentyten thing. I’m thirty. It’s dumb to think that the fun stuff is behind me. Sure, I won’t be a princess on my wedding day again, nor that glowing mama holding her new born baby, or even the kind of girl who can stay out past midnight. Those things are gone, yet fondly remembered. The fun things to come outweigh the past anyways! I get to watch my four babies and beautiful niece grow up. I’ll get to see my girls dressed as princesses, and give them all of my attention. In many years- and i do mean MANY years- I’ll hopefully be a glowing NANA holding my newborn grandchild. I won’t be the center of attention anymore, but that’s okay. I’ll be the one pointing the spotlight at the girls when it’s their time. I, of course, was disappointed my husband didn’t get to come out with us, but the silver lining was that I could focus on my friendships and try to put my mama/wife pot on the back burner. We spend plenty of time together anyways. The chocolate on my stove? It actually came off quite easily, and in the end my kids had made me birthday cake pops. They really do love me. The older kids helped out with the younger girls so I could get ready. It was such a relief, and I actually felt pretty for the first time in a very long while. And no, my boots did not pinch my toes, they just made me feel pretty sexy. If I had to sum it up in three words: Relieved. Comfortable. Accepting.
So, This is thirty? I can take this. I can handle this. I can own this. I am 30, and I’m going to try my best to make it my best chapter ever. Luckily I have the biggest and best team supporting me than ever before. I’ve got this.
I’m struggling to find myself outside of motherhood. Trust me, being a mom will always be my favorite role, but I’m really starting to miss the other parts of myself. For a long time I’ve had fleeting thoughts about what I could accomplish without a double stroller and a purse full of car snacks, but I try to shove them into the back of my brain and block them out. Now those thoughts are creeping to the forefront and are hard to ignore.
I didn’t enjoy the person I was before motherhood. It’s been 10 years since I got pregnant with Jacen, so we are basically talking about a teenage me. Back in those days I felt isolated and unloved. I had one good friend and clung to her, but always felt alone. I thought becoming a mom would change those feelings, that I’d always have someone to look after and love. It’s true, from the moment I saw two lines on that pregnancy test I had someone to love and adore, but it didn’t make my lonely feelings go away. I still had to work on myself. When I say I want to be more than a mother, I certainly do not mean that I want to go back in time to the days before babies. I don’t want to be that girl again, and I’d rather not repeat all that hard work I’ve put into bettering myself. I just really feel like there has to be more to life than cleaning up legos and watching the Paw Patrol Christmas special for the millionth time.
Maybe it’s just January cabin fever kicking in. Maybe my depression is less controlled than I thought. Either way, I find myself watching the clock and waiting for Mike to get home. I long for conversation without baby talk, but when there are adults around I can only talk about the kids. I don’t do anything without them. Sometimes they are the only people I see for days at a time. I have nothing interesting to say, no new stories that don’t include them. My world is starting to feel very small, and I am feeling like a very uninteresting person.
Everyone wants to solve my problem by reminding my to take time away from the kids. Self care.That’s easier said than done. Even when I do have time away from them, I can’t shut off my mom brain. If I’m on that once-in-a-blue-moon solo trip to the store, I instinctively navigate to the fruit snacks and clearance baby clothes. When I get home I realize I forgot the tampons that I ran out for in the first place, but the kids are stocked for a long, cold winter. Self care ends up feeling forced. I’m hyper aware of the time limit I have, what other things are on my to-do list, and the guilt of having an exhausted husband take the kids after a long day of work. In the words of Jerry Smith, “Have you ever tried to relax? It’s a paradox!” It’s never alone time when the kids are always on your mind. The more you try to forget, the more you think about them.
I miss having hobbies. I was never any good at figure skating when I was young, (even when I was competing) but as an adult I like skating laps. When Jacen and Arielle started school, I could go to the rink on my days off. I had the ice to myself on weekdays, and I could re-learn how to skate without judgmental eyes. Ice skating was one of the many skills I rediscovered after my weight loss, but I was only able to go for a few months before finding out I was pregnant with Anna. My doctor told me the pregnancy was too high risk, and skating needed to be put on hold. I hoped to resume after baby, but trustworthy babysitters are hard to find and the rink is way too cold for an infant.
These days I don’t even get out to the gym. I had to cancel my YMCA membership last Christmas because Anna melted down in the babysitting room, so now working out has become ‘mommy and me’ time. I asked for a cheap gym membership for Christmas this year, but instead Mike got me an exercise bike for the living room. It seemed logical- no need for childcare, no reason to leave the house. In reality it’s just more time staring at the same walls I feel closing in on me. It’s more baby talk. It’s more time splitting my focus between the task at hand and keeping my littles alive. It’s taking things slow, being patient, and multitasking. No wonder the scale isn’t moving. For a few years there my fitness journey was part of my personality. Now it’s merged with motherhood, and I can’t decide if I even enjoy it anymore.
Last weekend I cleaned out my workspace, and ended up donating a ton of yarn I’ll never get to use. It isn’t easy to crochet with a toddler on your lap, and the last time I tried, Anna pulled out an hour worth of stitches in about thirty seconds. I tidied books I haven’t been able to read, fabric longing to be sewn, even seasonal crafts I haven’t been able to sit down and complete with the older kids. What a waste.
I’m not an ice skater. I’m not a gym rat. I’m not a hooker, (person who can crochet, get your mind out of the gutter!) I’m not a bookworm, not a crafter. Hell, I’m not even ‘the girl with the eyelashes’ anymore. I’m just a mama.
This weekend I turn 30. We’re planning on going to a piano bar- my first time out since the summer of 2018. I’ve been thinking about it all week. I only own sweatpants, and I threw out my tackle box full of makeup a few years ago. What the heck do I wear? Do I remember how to put get my eyelashes on? More importantly, What in the world do I talk about? I ONLY have stories about the kids. Fingers crossed no one asks me, “what’s new” because the only response I have is “Lucy is sleeping through the night.” Oh, and the thought of meeting a new person? “Tell me about yourself.” uhhhhhhh, I have kids? What else is there?
Unfortunately my husband is working the night we are going out. My mom is going to take the kids in the evening, but I still have to get ready with all four of them home. I’ll be taking my shower with Anna splashing in the tub at my feet. There will be fingerprints and smudge marks in my nail polish. I won’t be taking the double stroller on a last minute run for makeup or an eyebrow wax, so who knows if I’ll even feel pretty. Honestly, it’s a gamble if I’ll even make it out the door.
Mike wants to take a vacation, a second honeymoon. Something all inclusive, so we can sit on the beach and drink. Somewhere 21+, no kids allowed. That seems like years away considering Lucy is only two months old. On a smaller scale, I just want to sit down and watch Frozen 2. I haven’t even made the attempt yet because I love Frozen too much to watch it unfocused, while Anna begs me to switch back to Spongebob. Oh, just watch it when the kids go to bed? I haven’t heard that one before! Just kidding, I hear it every day. My kids all go to bed at 8:30. I fall asleep at 8:35. It doesn’t matter if I’m lying in bed, sitting on the couch or standing. Most nights Anna is still standing at the babygate whining to stay up a little later. I can’t hear her, I’m snoozin’. An honest break from being a parent is just impossible while they’re this young. Not for one movie, not for a trip to the store, not for a vacation. Guess we will reevaluate when Lucy starts kindergarten in five years.
I love being a mom, I promise I do. I just feel like every day I lose a bit of my own personality, and morph into a sitcom housewife. I want to have a thing- a hobby, and interest. Something. I’m not looking to ditch my kids and go out EVERY night. I just want to go out for my birthday and feel that I’m interesting enough to hold a conversation. To be honest, I even love the double stroller.. And walking with my sister and our side by side strollers? Literally the cutest thing ever. But there was a time where we spent our days taking spontaneous trips, clothes shopping without crossing to the kids’ side, and even doing shots in the parking lot before a concert. Now we whisper when we want to curse. Who are we? Who the heck am I?
Over the summer I wrote a post called “I’m Back, Baby!” and you know what? I really tried to be back. I really tried. In said post I shared that someone in my life had used my blog posts against me. They took my very real, very vulnerable recounts of my worst mental health moments and tried to make me out to be a bad mother. I wanted so badly to overcome it. I wanted to prove them wrong, rise above, and keep doing what I loved. I couldn’t. At that time I just wasn’t strong enough.
Next month I turn 30. That’s 30 years of a whole lot of crap that I’ve lived through. Really dark stuff, really difficult stuff. I’ve felt really terrible about myself but the one thing I always felt like I had going for me was that I was a good mom. Having someone cherry pick my worst moments and represent me as a horrible mother got in my head. I started to believe them. My depression worsened, and I questioned our choice of having another baby. I started spiraling out, needing validation from others for even the most simple of tasks. I chased sleep to escape my own thoughts and quiet my anxieties. I canceled plans consistently and isolated myself from the people I love. I latched on to my husband and prayed he would face my battles for me. I couldn’t blog. I couldn’t think. I could barely even survive.
I only had so much energy, and when it was gone there was no finding more. I prioritized the kids. I tried to keep the family areas clean and food in their bellies.I neglected myself because there was just nothing left to fuel my body. All the gas was used up on the kids. I stopped showering every day. I didn’t exercise. I went so long without leaving the house that my car battery had to be jumped before I could drive it postpartum. I frequently walked into my office/work space, got overwhelmed and walked away crying. My desk was no longer a place of creating and healing, but a place I dumped the things I didn’t want to deal with – both physical clutter and my own feelings.
The negative repercussions of my blog posts have died down. My children have reconfirmed how much we love each other, and that (in their opinion at least) I AM a good mother. Really, their opinions are the only ones I care about anyways. I gave birth to baby Lucy on November 27th, and my health complications started to resolve almost instantly. The miracle workers at Women’s Behavioral health have helped me come back into good mental health. I’m back in counseling, seeing an eating disorder specialist, taking my meds and (hopefully) back to blogging.
As we come up on two months postpartum, I’ve made a lot of progress in taking care of myself. I’m back to showering, working out and trying to stay on top of the chores – but seriously a family of 6 makes a whole lot of laundry. I’m not a god. Yesterday I walked into my work space and those familiar overwhelming feelings came flooding back. For the first time in months I didn’t turn away and ignore them. It was time to face the mess, and take back my space.
Self care has become a little misunderstood. It’s trendy to grab some Starbucks and an expensive face mask and tell everyone on snapchat you’re taking care of yourself. (Not that there’s anything wrong with those things if they give you the boost you need.) Self care doesn’t need to cost a thing. It comes in many forms, and sometimes it isn’t easy. Sometimes it isn’t relaxing. Sometimes it isn’t fun.
My self care this week was taking back my space. It was difficult, it was time consuming. It was hard work, especially with the kids calling “mamaaaaa” every three seconds. Most of all, it was necessary. Clearing out the clutter has lifted me up and renewed my spirit. I have more confidence in myself, more pride in my home, and my desire for writing has already come back.
My bipolar disorder makes maintaining consistency very difficult. Having four children seems to make maintaining a routine impossible. Between the two it feels almost impossible to keep blogging, but I do this for myself. Writing is my self care, and a way to manage all of the emotions that come with parenting and mental illness. As a perk, my readers give me motivation and validation. Hearing stories about others relating to my journey makes me feel a little more normal, and gives me a boost of self worth. I look forward to the posts my future holds, and continuing to bond with my readers. Just know I’m trying my best over here, and I’m thinking about you all even when blogging is impossible.
This pregnancy has not been easy. It seems our medical complications have grown with each child. The stress has really affected my energy, mental health and weight. Most of all, I struggle with my binge eating every minute of every day.
My activity level has been limited due to an abdominal hernia and a torn ligament in my belly. The baby and I both have cardiac issues, so working out has been a real struggle. Ideally we would balance the limited activity with a healthy diet but there’s something in my brain that just won’t let that happen.
My friends and family are some of the sweetest people on the planet, but don’t realize how detrimental they can be to my eating habits. If I crave something once, my husband will continue to buy it a million times to surprise me. Everytime he goes to the supermarket, he picks me up a donut and raids the bakery. Considering carbs and sugar have always been my drug of choice, the sweets have really been dangerous to keep in the house. I had been so strong against them for almost three years, but once I opened the door for one, the bingeing came flooding back.
I struggle every single day with my desire to eat- pregnant or not. On a normal day, I have the support to restrict my eating and be healthy. As a pregnant woman, people think eating is the healthy choice. It means they like to offer food whenever they can, and it’s almost never anything healthy. When I have support, I can say no to temptation. When temptation is offered to me, I struggle to stay away.
The old ‘eating for two’ thing is completely wrong. Doctors today suggest that a woman of average weight only needs to gain about 25 pounds during their pregnancy. Most of that number is the weight of the baby, placenta, and extra fluid. In the beginning 25 pounds didn’t seem so bad, but as the number on the scale creeps up so does my anxiety. Am I gaining healthy baby weight, or am I gaining carbohydrate fat?
It is almost never a good idea to start a weight loss diet during pregnancy- unless a doctor directs you otherwise. In my case, I have brought up my weight at every visit, and my doctor has shot down every calorie-reduced idea I’ve had. He tells me to try and reach for healthier options when I’m hungry, but not to count calories and drive myself crazy.. The truth is, NOT counting drives me even crazier.
I’m losing sleep over my weight gain, and my self confidence has plummeted. I’m only seven months along, and fall comfort food has already started appearing on our dinner plates. I’m mentally preparing for the holidays and our family’s “birthday season.” I struggle to plan events knowing that there will be an abundance of food. Attending events is a daunting thought. Today is Jacen’s birthday, and I’m already stressing my food choices for the night. I want to enjoy this time of year, but my issues with food stand in the way.
‘Do as I say, not as I do’ has been ringing in my ears lately. I know what changes I need to make, but can’t seem to physically follow through with them. I wake up every morning with the best intentions of turning things around, but fall flat rather quickly. It’s so easy to make the excuse, “I’m pregnant, it’s a craving. I’m allowed to eat it.” No one is going to tell a pregnant woman to stop eating, but it’s something I really need to hear.
I’m fighting the battle today. I fought it yesterday, I’ll have to fight it tomorrow. Repeat for the rest of my life. Food will always be there- it’s necessary to stay alive. It’s one of the only drugs that an addict can’t quit completely, and must use daily in moderation. It makes recovery all the more difficult.
My goal today is to be mindful. I want to try and be in tune with my body and hunger cues. I want to focus on baby Lucy, and constantly remind myself that my decisions affect the health of both me and her. I want to eat for nourishment and not for enjoyment – this is sure to be a challenge when Jacen’s birthday cake comes out. It’s only 9 AM, still plenty of time to make today a good day. I’ve had rough days lately, but can not change the past. I can only focus on making today as healthy as possible.
Stand with me. Make healthy choices today, and let’s feel better about tomorrow.
This pregnancy has been exhausting. Baby Lucy and I each have a couple of medical problems, and they take a toll on my energy (mental and physical.) Yesterday I canceled my plans to get things done around the house, but still wasn’t able to get everything done on my to-do list. I spent a good chunk of the day sick, and had to take it easy.
Anna woke up at the crack of dawn this morning. Before I even opened my eyes, I realized that my throat was on fire. The acid from yesterday’s morning (but really all day-) sickness had burned my throat. My body felt heavy, and getting out of bed seemed impossible. My mind started forming a list of everything I needed to get done today, including my rollover tasks from yesterday. It seemed like I had a marathon of errands accumulating. A marathon that I would have to complete with sandbags of anxiety, depression and physical exhaustion slowing me down. The weight of the world was on my shoulders.. And also in my womb, on my swollen feet, in my head and in my heart. Things felt dark and gloomy.
As I got Anna set up with breakfast, I spied a new Amazon Prime package on my counter. I got a little flutter of excitement and intrigue. I couldn’t remember what I had ordered, so it was going to be like Christmas morning.
There was a pair of maternity pants inside and a note that said, “ A gift for you: These were the ONLY pants I was comfortable in! I hope these bring you some comfort while you grow that beautiful baby! We love you Auntie!”
Happy tears stung my eyes. My sister. My beautiful soul of a sister, had taken time out of her day for me. She was thinking of me. She was empathetic to my problems. She took time to think of a solution that might help. She spent her hard earned money. She put together the sweetest note. I was on her mind, and she made me feel loved.
Her package was more than just an item. It was validation that my problems were real. Someone had experienced the same discomfort, and tried to ease that pain for me. It was the sentiment of being loved, being thought of, and being worthy. Reading her note made me happier than I’ve been in quite a while, and I’m so glad she is in my life. I wish everyone had a person like her. The world would be a better place.
You could be that person today. You could be like my sister. Maybe there’s a compliment you could pay to someone who’s down. Maybe pop a note in the mail to a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Maybe it’s just a phone call to tell someone you love them. Maybe it’s just a thoughtful text. Be like my sister today. Make the world better. You can do it!
I woke up with anxiety. Things got loud. I had a million thoughts going through my mind, and a very long to-do list forming. Old Kate would have gotten out of bed with her head and wheels spinning, wasting a whole lot of energy without actually getting much done. I’m not that girl anymore.
I bit the bullet and immediately canceled my plans for the day. I needed time and peace to take care of things at home. My sister immediately texted back with an “lol you beat me to the cancellation punch” kind of text. I instantly felt the weight on my shoulders lift, and things seemed a lot more manageable.
The noise in my brain settled a bit. All of a sudden I was amused by listening to Mike and the three dogs snoring. Their breathing came together in a kind of harmony, almost like a song. I laughed a little on the inside. Instead of getting out of bed and ferociously tackling my list, I laid in bed. I read for a while, then started writing this post. All the while silently smiling at the four snorers. What was this that I was feeling? Oh yes, peace.
There’s a reason flight attendants tell you to “secure your own oxygen before assisting others.” You have to be alive and breathing before you can take care of everyone else. That’s self care. That’s preparing yourself to be the best helper you can be. In the long run self care benefits not only you, but everyone around you. It’s a ripple effect of peace.
Canceling my plans today was my oxygen. I’m now ready to get the house put together and finish painting the nursery. I’m ready to tackle laundry (we may or may not be out of clean towels at the moment) and I feel better prepared to handle whatever tantrums my terrible two year old throws at me.
I’ve set myself up for success today by prioritizing the important tasks. I found relief in minimizing, and peace in a slower day. What can you do this morning to give yourself the best day possible? What stressors can you drop to make your day less crazy? Secure your oxygen. Breathe. Make today a good day.