Sunday, September 30, 2012

Day One

 After a month long absence, I finally went back to Weight Watchers. I didn't want to go and I had a million and one excuses, but I had promised people, including myself, that I would go. I don't really have the money to spend on it, especially if I'm not even making the effort to go. Pulling into the parking lot, I had to fight the urge to turn around and leave. Thank God my friend was there to walk inside with me.
I squeezed my eyes shut as I stepped on the scale, whispering that I didn't want to know the number, and could she please just hit the "reset" button for me and tell many how many points I get each day? I still can't bring myself look at the little sticker taunting me from the book inside my purse. After weighing in, I wanted to leave, but followed my friend to our usual spot. How can I just pretend that everything is normal? I wondered if everyone was staring at me. Do they know how close I am to losing to it? My hands shaking, I dug my fingernails into my skin, blinking away tears from time to time.
I left right after the meeting, not daring to talk to--or even look at--Leader Pam and barely acknowledging my friends. Deep breaths in the parking lot, and then I drove to Target for some fresh fruit and health(ier) groceries. Unfortunately...I started crying before I made it there and had to sit in my van for a few extra minutes. When the tears wouldn't stop, I just wore my sunglasses inside. Today was one of the miraculous days were I managed to not run into anyone (or everyone) I know while shopping.
Fast forward to tonight, and I'm prepared for tomorrow. Yes, it would be nice if I was going to get more than 6 hours of sleep, but the fact is, I'm not. I don't even know if I remember the last time I did. At least my breakfast and my lunch are made for tomorrow. The Hubster teaches tomorrow night, so dinner is (almost) ready, too. I've even got most of my tracking entered. I'm ready for Day One.
I've made it through Day One before. Day One is actually pretty easy. It's Day Two...Day Ten...Day Seventeen...that are hard.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Chest Pain

There are not very many words that will get someone quicker medical care, besides “I can’t breathe,” or “My water just broke!”

I haven’t been feeling well, lately—and no, this won’t turn into another “I’m pregnant!” post…we’re done with those for sure! My tonsils are swollen. Not painful. Not red. Just swollen and making it difficult for me to swallow. I thought, at first, that it might be an allergic reaction, since, you know, I’m allergic to everything. But it didn’t go away.

On top of that, I’ve been having chest pain. A heaviness. The weight of the world crushing me, stealing air from my lungs.

I had an idea of what it might be, but scheduled an appointment, anyway.

Chest pain.

The words bring a controlled panic and an onslaught of tests. Oxygen level: Normal. Chest x-ray: Normal. EKG: Normal. A strep swab, WBC, and mono test for my swollen tonsils: All Normal.

I try to work up the courage to say the words, but she says them for me: “Could it be anxiety?”

My chest tightens more, my swollen throat closes, and tears burn my eyes as I nod, not trusting my voice. She asks what I could be anxious about and I whisper, “Everything.”

The family problems that are boiling over after simmering for 30 years.

The teenager I’ve helped raise for 13 years who suddenly tells me I have no place in her life.

The sick relative.

The husband who refuses to communicate.

The weight I can’t lose.

The time I don’t have.

The house that stays messy and the bank account that stays empty.

The schoolwork I have to excel at. Someone told me yesterday that a C is passing, but I can’t get a C. I have to get an A.

The sleepless nights, partially blamed on my baby, but the fact is that I toss and turn long after she has finally gone to bed.

I can’t breathe.  I am in a constant state of panic. Of waiting for the rug to come flying out from under me.  What’s next?

It’s too much, but it’s too hard to talk about. Even with friends I love, my first instinct is to pretend, “I’m fine.” The words are out of my mouth before I can stop them.
I’m a terrible liar.

Everything is not okay.

I am not fine.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Coming up for Air

I've been spiraling, I know. I am not going anywhere, not circling the drain. I am clawing my way up to a point where I can breathe again. (Although, there are times I get a few precious breaths and then immediately get sucked back down again...I really am trying.) I wanted to share some lightheartedness tonight.

A few days before Baby Sister was born, this video went viral. While I was in labor, we watched it several times, filling my delivery room with laughter and keeping my thoughts away from contractions. Our nurse stayed to watch the video with us and later came back to find out what it was called so that she could tell the other nurses about it. I laughed EVERY. TIME. I saw it.

My labor was induced. I didn't want it to be...I had a somewhat traumatizing induction with Little Sister, and was terrified of a repeat performance. But I'm a big girl now, and older, smarter, and wiser, I was able to control the situation and still get the birth that I wanted.

My doctor was doing rounds when we arrived at the hospital, the Hubster, my mother, my doula, and I. I was asked a million and three questions and finally admitted and allowed to roam the halls to wait for my doctor to make an appearance. Once he did, he broke my water and we wandered some more, hoping to avoid the dreaded Pitocin.
No such luck. With only three contractions on my own, I was hooked up to an IV. My wonderful nurses allowed me to continue to move and to labor how I wanted to as the contractions grew more intense. My birth team took turns rubbing my swollen feet, my back, and holding my hand while we looked at pictures of Little Sister and Little Brother when they were babies. We watched this video and arm wrestled and talked.
An exam revealed I was halfway there. Disappointed, because I thought I was surely much further along, I retreated to the bathroom to cry by myself for a little while.
And that's when things got crazy.
My mom was the one who finally dragged me back to bed so the nurse could monitor us again. Another exam showed I was progressing even further, and she went to tell the doctor I was close.
VERY close! The next contraction brought pressure and pushing. There was some chaos because there was no medical staff in my room, and when they returned--responding to my doula yelling in the hallway, there were two doctors because it was shift change. The Hubster caught her as she was born--wearing my robe backwards because there was no time to put on the gown they had brought him--and, just an hour after being told I was halfway there, I was holding my baby girl.

Oh, and she is beautiful. A head full of shocking dark hair when her older siblings were all bald as cue balls. Big, blue eyes. Pretty, red lips. It was love at first sight. For all of us.

And now, whenever I hear this song, no matter the artist, I smile, and I think of those hours in the hospital, waiting on our second miracle baby, and the joy I felt when first I saw her.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


I’m struggling to write these words. My emotions are too raw and my heart is too hurt to form sentences correctly.

I am a child again.

I didn’t have a happy childhood. I had a nice house to live in and food to eat and…I guess you would say “things,” but I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t beaten physically, but I was abused. Verbally. Emotionally.

My parents divorced when I was very young. An infant. I grew up in what they call a blended family. Only ours was a mixture of oil and water and I was the oil. Shake it all you want, you can break down the oil into tiny beads, but it will never be accepted as part of the water.

“This is our son,” my stepfather would say. “And this is Julie’s daughter.”  The words still echo in my head all these years later. Of course he wouldn’t want to lay claim to me. I’m nothing.

I was fat. Am fat. I would play outside and he would tell me the neighbors called and reporting sightings of a beached whale. And I retreated. My mother served up boneless, skinless chicken breast next to their burgers and slapped my hand with her eyes, her voice, if I dared ask for more. “Do you really need that?”

Thirty years later, I’m still causing problems. She tells me it’s not my fault, but it is. How could it not be? My words. My actions. The knowledge that so many lives would be easier if I had never been born blindsides me. This fight, this incident comes at a bad time. The onslaught of postpartum depression, surprising only because it hit me so early this time—this last time, isn’t helping.

I am a child again. Eating to fill a void that keeps expanding. Trying to ease the physical pain that feels unreal. Why does sadness hurt so much?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


I was wrong.  
I said that the number the scale showed me on Sunday was three pounds lower than the highest weight I’ve ever been.  
But I was wrong.  
I had to go digging around my past, trying to remember when it was I weighed that much. I have an issue with timelines. Was it yesterday? Ten years ago? I have no idea. I just know it happened.  
When I found the date, my lunch jumped from my stomach to my throat. My hands leapt from the keyboard as if it was scorching me. I think I actually pulled off my glasses and rubbed my eyes to make sure I wasn’t seeing things.  
I was wrong. SO wrong.
It was that moment when you’re out to eat and someone drops a tray of dishes. The whole restaurant falls silent for a moment until someone laughs quietly and someone else shouts the obligatory, “Job opening!” I heard the crash, but I’m stuck in that silent period, waiting for someone to start laughing.  
I don’t weigh three pounds less than the highest weight I’ve ever been.  I weigh two pounds more.  
Someone tell me to calm down. Tell me I’m being ridiculous to let this get to me.  Tell me it’s only two pounds.  Nothing to get worked up over. Remind me I’m already making better choices, I’m already on my way, and maybe those two pounds are already gone forever.
Someone, please start laughing.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Empty Space

I went back to Weight Watchers yesterday.

I had planned on going back the week before, but Friday rolled around with my first paycheck since Baby Sister was born and it was gone before I could blink. I wanted to go back. It’s possible I could have made it work, but I was scared. So I stayed home.

Things happened last week. Big things. Little things. The Hubster and I had an argument. I ran into a friend at the grocery store. We scheduled family pictures. I made a huge decision about my future. I shaved my legs. Things.

And while those things were happening, I realized how unhappy I am with myself. I tried to reason away another month of excuses why I shouldn’t go back to Weight Watchers, but in the end, I went.

It was bad. I told myself I wasn’t going to look at the scale right away, but habit drew my gaze to the numbers on the counter. Three pounds away from the highest weight I’ve EVER been, pregnant or not. I swallowed and told myself that it’s a good thing I didn’t wait until next week to come back. Who knows what that number might have done to me?

Taking deep breaths now, because I’ve already taken the most important step. It was a doozy.

I’m trying to be new. Trying to re-teach myself all the things I’ve forgotten in the last 11 months. Sure, I know how it works, but I don’t know how it works, or I would have been doing it by myself. And I couldn’t. Wouldn’t. Didn’t.

When I logged into the online program, I discovered all of my saved foods and recipes. It’s nice to know that all of those things have been there, waiting for me to come back. For some reason this morning, I clicked on the Weight Tracker, expecting it to show my current weight and goal line. What I didn’t expect was this:

The angry progress of my weight loss after Little Brother was born. How I hated each of those hills before they shot down into valleys, creating empty space on an ugly graph. How I hate now the piercing incline that climbs steadily for almost a year.

I can’t see it. I can’t see the gentle, downward slope that passes one goal line, one milestone after another. Some of it, I’ve done before. But never this much. It’s SO. MUCH.

I feel lost and overwhelmed. Helpless. Hopeless. Failing before I’ve even begun.

 The word echoes in my mind, not caring that I don't want to hear it.

What I wouldn’t give for a little empty space.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Just a Dream

“I thought I almost lost you.” The words were spoken quietly by Turbo Jennie. She could have been teasing, but she wasn’t. Tears sprung to my eyes.

“I guess you almost did,” I whispered. “I just thought it would be easier.”

Guilt washed over me. I felt sick. And then I woke up. Just a dream.

I haven’t really been thinking about giving up.  Just taking a break. I have a million and one excuses. And four kids. I’m not even back to work yet, and life is already so busy. I can’t even imagine what it will be like when the kids are back in school in the fall and I’m being pulled in every direction. There are nights I’d sell my soul for a shower and a glass of wine. Nights I’ve cried in relief upon seeing my bed.

I’m nursing Baby Sister and it’s going so well. With Little Brother, I had supply issues and I can’t help but wonder if dieting and exercising caused those problems. I rushed back to Weight Watchers when he was 17 days old and back to the gym when he was 7 weeks or so. Was it my fault he wasn’t getting enough to eat? Was I so concerned with myself that he might have suffered?

I waver between jumping back in, taking it easy, and taking a break. In the biggest of pictures, another year of nursing standing between me and my goal weight isn’t really that much time. I’m not sure I can go back and take it easy. Not sure I can watch my weight week after week without feeling discouraged that it’s not falling faster. I don’t mean I’ll spend the next year on my couch eating ice cream and brownies, but I’m not sure I can count calories (or Points) without making things worse for myself.   My goals seem so much further away now, as I’m reaching numbers I swore I’d never see again. It’s frustrating. It’s scary. It sucks.

I know me. I can see into my own future—I’ll spend the next 12 months riddled with anxiety that every drop I sweat during a workout will be the one that means I’ll be buying formula for Baby Sister, instead of breastfeeding like I wanted to*. I’ll spend every Sunday Morning in a Weight Watchers meeting, cheering for my friends’ losses and achievements, and crying in my car on the way home because I didn’t lose what I wanted to. In a year, I’ll maybe weigh a little less, but will it be worth the stress I’ll have caused myself?

Is it just another excuse? I know what I want, but I know what I don’t want, too. I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive, but I feel like, by making a decision either way, I’m giving up something.

So I won’t decide. I’ll do what I can. I’ll certainly TRY, but I’ll do it how I’m comfortable and in my own time. I will try really hard not to feel guilty. I will not feel guilty. I will NOT feel guilty.

*I’m absolutely not saying there’s anything wrong with formula. I have been lucky enough to be able to breastfeed my first two babies and I hope to continue to nurse Baby Sister for as long as I can. Not talking Time Magazine covers or anything, but at least a year. I don’t judge others for their personal decisions, and I would hope tonot be judged for mine.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


After Little Sister was born, The Hubster and I talked about how many more babies we wanted to have. Big Sister wasn’t yet living with us, and I wanted to have two more kids. The Hubster felt we should stop at two. I kind of agreed with him…Yes, we should have two. Two MORE.

As the years passed with no pink lines, I eventually gave up hope of ANY more, let alone TWO. And then Little Brother came along, and I was so caught up in the little miracle we created, I never dreamed of tempting fate by trying for another.

But the good Lord remembered that four letter word I’d uttered so many years before. “More.”

A few days after Little Brother’s first birthday party, I knew. The thought woke me at four in the morning, and I sent the Hubster a text to pick up a test for me, but to be quiet about it because we still had family visiting. I was awake when he got home a little after six and thrust the plastic bag at me. I quickly ripped open the box and did my business. It was another digital test, so the answer was undeniable. Pregnant. Again. I handed it to him and collapsed on our bed as he asked me, “How did this happen?” Hilarious, right? When we know the answer, but we ask the question, anyway. I wondered what we were going to do, how we were going to make it, deep down remembering all the prayers I’d whispered for MORE.

Thank God He remembered when I’d almost forgotten.

Whereas my pregnancy with Little Brother was riddled with anxiety that something would happen and I would lose the miracle I’d waited so long for, this one was much more peaceful—in the beginning, anyway. I told my mom that I was trying not to feel cocky, but I felt like it wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t meant to be. I started showing early, and had to spill the beans to suspicious co-workers at nine weeks. My news wasn’t quite greeted with the joy I felt, which was heart-wrenching. One friend asked me, “Where are you going to PUT it?” I was overwhelmed with surprised silence on more than one occasion and spent lots of time wondering who had replaced my friends with the judgmental peers I found myself surrounded with.

The nine months I spent nourishing Baby Sister were laced with complications. A strong belief that I was carrying twins was quickly dispelled by an ultrasound. A terrifying episode of Decreased Fetal Movement landed me in Labor and Delivery at 27 weeks, where I showed early signs of pre-eclampsia. The rest of my pregnancy included doctor appointments two or three times a week, with a weekly ultrasound and non-stress test. I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes (again,) gestational hypertension (again,) and ultimately induced at 39 weeks (again.) I experienced the ultimate high of childbirth with no pain medication (again) and my beautiful daughter was born on March 30th.

I knew all along that she would be my last baby. I wish I could have relished each movement and sensation a little longer. At the end, though, there was so much pain and anxiety that something would go wrong when we were so close...I just prayed to make it through each day to make her healthier and stronger. The first time I saw all of my children together, a little less than two hours after her birth, I knew my family was complete. Big Sister tried to play the stoic teenager, but couldn’t hide her excitement. Little Sister all but busted down the door to my hospital room to get inside and meet her new sibling. Even 21-month-old Little Brother had a huge smile and a cheerful “Hiiii!” for his Baby Sister.

In the years that followed Little Sister’s birth, two of my good friends had babies, got pregnant again, and had miscarriages. Each of them came to terms with their loss and felt they could be happy with just one child. I felt tremendous guilt because I never reached that point…I never felt like I could be happy with my family “as is.” Even after Little Brother was born, and I thought we were done—told people we were done, got rid of all our baby things again—I still never felt like our family was complete. I always wanted something More.

And now we have her. Welcome to the world, Baby Sister.