Thursday, February 27, 2014

A New Beginning, and Other Cliches

Ahh, finally after a near two year hiatus, I am resurrecting the old blog. There are many things I've wanted to write since my last post yet the desire was never strong enough to put pen to to keys. But now, now there is a real and definite reason that I must start doing this again. My life has changed in the most epic way possible - my first child arrived 11 months ago to this day. Stepping into the role of mother has been everything I ever thought it would be and I adore every minute...well, almost every minute. I am thankful every day that I was blessed with such a beautiful and curious and social little girl, Estlin Luna. You wouldn't think it's possible, but I love her more and more every single day.

But a part of me was forever changed and lost somewhere along the way between finding out I was pregnant and actually bringing her into the world. And I have struggled for 11 months to get that part back. I'm beginning to feel like that's impossible.

Our bodies change in so many ways during pregnancy and after. I knew all this but still, the results can be astounding. The stretching of skin, like claw marks along my sides and belly. The aches and pains and pressure and bloating and heartburn. My fingers went completely numb for the last few months of pregnancy, a distraction I could never find relief from that affected every single thing I did during the day. And the weight. Oh, the weight. I told myself in the beginning, I'd gain the average amount and stay healthy and strong. But the last month or so, I just lost control. I didn't feel like moving and all I wanted was to eat. The two combined don't bring about good results. It was ok, though, because I'd get my shape back after giving birth with healthy eating and exercise. How hard could it be?

It has been one of the hardest struggles of my life.

I see myself in pictures or catch my reflection in the mirror and I don't recognize that person. I never struggled with my weight. I was so skinny growing up and in high school, I probably looked somewhat UNhealthy. In college I had a bit of fluctuation, but that was all the late night Taco Bell and Jimmy John's while studying and being on my own for the first time without my mom telling me that one shouldn't consume ice cream every single evening while catching up on Lost. But I never got "heavy" just got rid of that slightly emaciated look. After college, in Portland, OR, I was the most fit I've ever been. I ate like crap; I literally had at least one meal out a day, Thai food for dinner every night, and don't get me started on the expansion of the ice cream addiction. However, I was constantly moving. I was one of the thousands of bicycle commuters that fill Portland's streets and if I wasn't on my bike, I was walking. I didn't own a car, so if I was going anywhere, I was using my body to get there. I see pictures of myself from then and think, "Yes, that's me. That's the me I remember being." I'm embarrassed for even my husband to see me undress. That's an awfully sad place to be in.

I've been trying lots of different things. For one, they say the weight will fall off of you if you breast feed. Not for me. Breast milk has been Estlin's main source of sustenance since day one yet I've struggled to get back to normal. I was walking all the time, but the weather got in the way. I started going to the gym, sweating hard for an hour several days a week. I quit carbs. I quit sugar (kind of; oh sugar, you demon of sweetness). Nothing worked. And since I'm an all or nothing kind of girl, if I didn't see results in a few weeks, I'd give up or give in to temptation. I have very little self control when it comes to cupcakes and Indian take aways. I can always be convinced to cheat just a little. But a few little cheats in one week is enough to halt any improvement from occurring. I thought for sure by the time Estlin was one, I'd be back in all my normal clothes and feeling great.

Here we are, 11 months post-partum and I still wear baggy maternity clothes because I'm ashamed of my still pregnant-looking belly. I'd die if anyone asked me when the baby is due. Oh, the baby? You mean my one year old? Yeah...

So I can give up and give in and admit defeat and say, "Whatever, I'm a mother, I should look different and I should be proud of my body for creating a child and I shouldn't be ashamed of the evidence of that that I still bear." But I'm not happy. I don't like what I see and I want to change it.

Last week, I won a spot to participate for free in this weight loss program designed specifically for mothers struggling with their leftover baby bellies. It's called MuTu (short for mummy tummy) and it's being run in conjunction with Slimpod, which is like hypnobirthing but for weight loss. I had to promise to commit and give it my all and I am now accountable to this amazing opportunity I've been given for free. I know how easy it is to cheat and give in, so I'm going to blog about my progress in order to keep myself accountable to everyone around me. I also want to do this because for the longest time I felt like I was the only one going through this struggle, that none of my friends or family members had any trouble with their weight after giving birth. I know this isn't true. I know we all have improvements we want to make and struggles we need encouragement over. So I want to be the example., I want to admit publicly that I am struggling and that I'm unhappy with myself and I'm ready to change and maybe by doing that, I can encourage someone else to take that first step also.

One of my hugest struggles with the weight, is that it is a constant reminder of the experience I had giving birth to Estlin. For those that are close to me, they already know this story and know this struggle. I feel I have not been able to heal emotionally  from the loss of my desired birth experience because I have never gotten my physical self back. This will be one of my main goals. If I can find the old me under these layers of extra weight and skin, I might then be able to forgive this body for not doing what it was supposed to do. Another step will be to tell that story here publicly. I'm not sure yet when I'll be ready to do that, but hopefully soon. I need to let go of this pain  before I can ever heal.

So, here goes. I hope my friends and family will follow me on this journey and keep the encouragement coming and in turn, I will work hard to reach the goals I have put before me.