Going through this chapter in my life has (as anyone who’s been through the challenges of trying to start a family will agree) left its indelible imprint on me. I look at my life differently. I look at ME differently.
Body image is one fucked up beast in our society, is it not? I remember thinking of a friend saying years ago about how she had to lose weight before she could get pregnant, and after gaining 50 pounds myself after my divorce 10 years ago (losing 20 of that then gaining it back when my father died), all I could think about this year was “maybe I don’t deserve to be a mother if I’m this fat.”
Finding that balance between accepting my body at whatever shape it is today and also striving to get stronger and healthier can be quite a doozy. I often feel that if I embrace who I am today physically, that it is like saying it’s okay to give up on the idea of losing weight, etc. I know I’m not the only one who deals with this kind of distortion and confusion. It reminds me of the concept of energy – you’ve got to use it to get more of it, and when it comes to body acceptance, you’ve got to tell yourself you’re beautiful just as you are in order to encourage the kind of healthy behaviors and results you want.
Check this awesome piece out:
Watching Myself Evolve
The other day I was walking home from the grocery store, iPod in my ears, grooving to Madonna and thinking about the many adventures of my life. Thinking about all those nights out dancing at clubs, free and full of confidence. Thinking about the travel adventures, from hitchhiking at 17 to my first solo roadtrip at 18 and solo international journeys to Paris at 25 and Zihuatanejo at 34. Thinking about all the crazy places I lived, from my first junky apartment in Goose Hollow with the $20 thrift store sofa, to the high rise overlooking the city lights, to the room rented in the ‘burbs with the gal who wouldn’t let me share her phone line because her boyfriend might call from jail, to the big house in the ‘hood with the German Shep named Stonewall, to the favorite pad overlooking the Space needle, to my uncle’s attic on a mattress with my dog, to buying my very own home where I’ve now lived for just under 10 years. Thinking about the friends I’ve had, the fellas along the way, the aunties who’ve looked after me where family members fell short. Thinking about the jobs I’ve had, the careers I’ve pursued, and the small businesses I’ve started, from portrait photographer, to chocolatier and dessert maven, to my current role as recruiting consultant and career coach. Thinking about my evolving relationship with my body, from my many years in my youth as a dancer, to the gym rat doing everything from step class to weights to yoga, to the solo gal on the elliptical and the bike path, to the current state of Giant Question Mark to where I want to go next.
To where I want to go Next.
And I freeze.
Not in a bad way. More in a “holy cow I’m 41 and look at the amazing life I’ve had and how crazy it is to be at this stage.” I brought it up with my husband at breakfast the other day, and he knew what I meant. We’re exactly where we’re supposed to be, and the happiness level is fucking sky high.
Next is beckoning.
Even with the struggles of family-building, we are strong, we are blissful, we know that our family is coming, because we are open to MANY possibilities.
Plugging Away & Learning More Each Day
And so we keep plugging away as the days go by. Today was the last day of the oh-so-ironic birth control pill regimen. Lupron subcutaneous injections are in process (no pain, the needle is so small I can’t figure out where to put the bandaid), starting me out in the first week with hot flashes and nausea (gee thanks for the menopause preview!), and here in week two the mood swings are kicking in…oh joy! But so far they’re not as bad as Bravelle from earlier this summer. Sunday will be the last day for those shots, and then I get a 2 day reprieve before starting Delestrogen intramuscular which should be just super dooper. Nothing like a nice shot to the arse every 3 days. But hey, in 3 weeks we’ll do the ultrasound, hand over all our hard-earned cash, and cross our fingers and toes that all of this has not been in vain.
So while that happens we talk about parenting things – staying super minimalist with what we acquire, learning about things like EC and brainstorming how I’ll prep my business for baby. The more I put a few ideas together, the less stressed I get about the latter in particular. Being that I have been successfully self-employed for over 3 years now, and that it currently has me as the primary breadwinner (my husband’s job offers us health and retirement benefits, along with that awesome food discount!), this has been heavy on my mind since I know as a new mama things could go many different ways. But I love that we have a Growing Seeds super-eco daycare/preschool just 2 blocks away from us if our little one we adopt ends up being of the non-infant age when we bring her home, so that she can get a couple days a week of social interaction while Mama gets some work done, yeah!
Yes, going from 0 to 2 kiddos in 2 years time will be wild! 🙂
And finally, the books have piled up a bit – from the funny to the informative to the “agency recommended” and more, I think I have 10-12 books that I’ve spent varying levels of time with, all bought either used or swapped online, as follows:
- Belly Laughs – Jenny McCarthy, no matter what you think about her, is a riot in this intro-to-pregnancy book. It’s a very quick read and, perfect for me, has none of that “baby dust” foo foo talk in it.
- Be Prepared (see image above) – I picked this up at New Seasons for my husband so he’d have something from a man’s perspective (and because he has this red flannel shirt, LOL), but I keep stealing it away from him as it’s so damn practical and pee-your-pants funny. Some of it is a bit out of date (do people still have VCRs to worry about kids stuffing food into?), and some is a bit too stereotypical (references to watching the game on TV which I’ve yet to see my husband do), but overall it’s frickin’ hilarious and insanely useful for the weird stuff that comes up for new parents.
- Your Baby & Child – This is the most encyclopedia-like and the one I’ve read the least of. I got this early on and decided when the infertility issues were made clear, I’d wait til an actual baby was in my tummy or on it’s way to us. Yup, didn’t want to jinx it. Funny eh?
- Green Babies, Sage Moms – I was so looking forward to it, but realized quickly this is all the obvious stuff for a gal as already eco as myself. Organic, cloth, homemade, chemical-free, yadda yadda yadda – all great info but none of it was stuff I didn’t already know. Good for “pale” green parents who want to go a few shades deeper.
- Bebe Day by Day – My recently pregnant (new mama now) friend recommended Pamela Druckerman’s book Bringing up Bebe, but I couldn’t find it used so I got this 300 Tips follow-up and LOVE it. Very sensible advice for those of us who do not hold our child up like Simba towards the heaven as some rare miracle, and who believe, like Dan & I do, that you can love and nurture your kids without making them your entire universe. As Druckerman says, “The French have managed to be involved without becoming obsessive. They assume that even good parents aren’t at the constant service of their children, and that there’s no need to feel guilty about this.”
- Teach Your Baby to Sign – I overheard a few dads talking about how much they love this book at a tech lunch and immediately grabbed it. Haven’t read it yet but I’m all for ease of communication!
- I’m Chocolate, You’re Vanilla – Just got this the other day and can’t wait to start reading this. Adopting an Ethiopian child, and highly conscious of both the overt racism and microaggressions in our society, we both really want to go into this family adventure as prepared as we can be. We are fortunate to live in a fairly diverse neighborhood in Portland, which otherwise is known for it’s “whiteness”, but having grown up in a very white suburb and heard the subtle (and not-so-subtle) racist comments over the years, I’m incredibly protective already of my little girl and want to do right by her in how I guide her along.
- Raising Adopted Children – This is a great book that I’m about halfway through now. Some of the sections are about domestic adoption for folks adopting from a pregnant mom, and some are about adopting older kids, but for the most part it’s a phenomenal all-around book that pulls no punches about the challenges of adoption, while also being a beautiful support for those of us who believe that family has nothing to do with DNA and everything to do with love and support.
- The Complete Organic Pregnancy – Received via swap around the time I found out my odds were less than 1% of getting preggers with my own eggs, I’m waiting to read this when I get my BFP (big fat positive, the acronyms are insane in infertility-land!).
“Being a mother is an attitude, not a biological relation.”
― Robert A. Heinlein