What a difference a year makes.
And I’m not just talking about how I look. Oh sure, that’s a huge plus….finding pretty clothes to wear, not feeling so self-conscious in social settings, being able to move and breathe easier. But really, the big thing for me is how I feel. I am no longer obsessed with food. I don’t beat myself up every minute of every day about what I’ve eaten or how I’ve failed. I can concentrate on the important things: being with my children, having fun as a family, on doing exciting work and enjoying being with friends. It just feels so darn good.
I’ve lost exactly 140 pounds. My doctor says I’m doing great, although I am vitamin deficient. He’s putting me on a Vitamin D supplement, and I have to religiously take my other vitamins. This is pretty common; I just have to stay on top of it.
I think I’m finally getting over my health phobias stemming from the surgery’s complications. I had to go get blood drawn the other day, and I was scared to death. But I made it, and it didn’t hurt a bit. That feels like a huge triumph to me!
I have more weight to lose, but I’m not stressed about it at all. I’m enjoying where I am right now, and I know I will get there eventually. How healthy is that! I feel so normal…and that feels like heaven.
Thanks to all of you for your prayers and support; I know that has what has helped me get through!
In the blink of an eye
Michael and I just knew that our first baby was going to be a boy.
On an anniversary trip to Wilmington, we bought a little stuffed duck with a blue sailor hat.
We poured over the boys section of the baby name books, barely glancing at the other side.
We daydreamed about pee wee football and toy soldiers.
We were convinced.
When we went for the ultrasound, we just knew it would confirm what we had already figured out. At first, the baby wouldn’t cooperate, and the nurse sent me home, telling me to return that afternoon.
Michael couldn’t come back with me, so I was alone when I found out how very wrong we were.
It’s a girl.
As I stepped out into the bright sunshine outside the doctor’s office, I felt as though I couldn’t breathe. A girl. What an awesome, intimidating responsibility. Was I up for it? Could we do it? Would we survive the teen years?
Five years ago, Emma came into our lives. And I can truly say raising her has been as awesome and intimidating as I imagined it would be.
This child feels everything 1,000 percent. Her highs send you soaring and her lows, well…you better watch out.
To say she’s strong-willed is a gross understatement. She’s emotional, she’s needy and she’ll suck the life out of you at times.
She sings her heart out every chance she gets. She’s so smart, it is scary. And that face….it sends me.
This is a big year for Emma. She’s turning 5. She is finishing preschool. And she’ll start kindergarten in the fall.
There are a lot of uncertain things in her future, in our world at large.
But one thing I don’t doubt for a second.
With Emma, it will never, ever be dull.
Happy Birthday, my sweet Emma girl.
Mommy and Daddy love you.
I’ve lost 130 pounds. Woot!
As I get closer to the one year anniversary of my surgery (March 18th), my weight loss is slowing. And surprisingly, I’m okay. How could I not be….I’ve lost a whole person! Yes, I have more to lose, but I’m not obsessed with the tick of every pound on the scale because I know I’m losing at exactly the right pace. What I’m doing doesn’t feel like a diet…it’s my new way of life.
And it feels fabulous.
Some of the perks: I’m about to start shopping in the “normal” section at the department store. The smallest thing in the plus-size shop is now too big for me.
Can I get an Amen on that?????
Also, I’m not obsessed every minute of every day about what I will eat. I can ride down the street and not be taunted by every fast food window. What freedom! I find myself finally able to take in my surroundings and just enjoy life…without the constant struggle of binge eating and trying to gain control.
So, I’m okay if I only lose five pounds a month. I know I’ll get there.
Finally, I can enjoy the trip.
My son is working on a very special Christmas present for me.
You see, Eli, who is 3 years and 3 months old, still wears diapers.
I know, I know. I went through this with Emma but thankfully, she was trained right before she turned 3.
While Eli showed some interest in the last year or so, I never really worked hard at it and now here we are.
Some of my friends think I am subconsciously holding onto my baby.
My first instinct is to scoff at that notion, but then I take a closer look.
Eli still sleeps in a crib.
His room is still a nursery.
And I call him “baby” almost more than I call him by his name.
Sigh. I guess it could be true. He is my last baby. And he is so easy, so sweet. Maybe part of me doesn’t want him to grow up. Maybe I just want him to need me. Forever.
So now, despite my lack of real encouragement, Eli has decided it’s time to start using the potty.
On the surface, I am thrilled. Since he is making the decision, the process should go pretty smoothly. And Lord knows I could use the money that I spend on diapers on other, more important things.
But. My baby.
It’s bittersweet, for sure.
This Thanksgiving, I feel like my cup runneth over. God has blessed me in immeasurable ways and I wake up every day so grateful.
He has blessed me with family. Emma is almost 5 and is growing up so fast, it makes my head spin. Eli is 3 and all of the baby is gone, no matter how hard I try to hold onto it. Michael is as loving and supportive as ever.
He has blessed me with good health. I’ve lost 121 pounds. I exercise 5 days a week and I am in control of what I eat.
He has blessed me with a good job from a supportive employer.
The list goes on and on.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. May your blessings be counted and your soul be at peace.
How low will I go?
The question I get asked the most now is “How much do you want to lose?” And truly, it’s a hard question for me to answer. I don’t want to set my expectations too high and be disappointed. They say gastric patients tend to lose the weight they are going to lose in the first year…18 months tops. Can I get to 150 pounds by then? I would love to, but I don’t want to consider myself a failure if I don’t. I’ve already won as far as I’m concerned…I wake up each and every day feeling in control of what I eat, instead of that chaotic feeling I had before surgery. That feeling is priceless, and it makes what the scales say or what the size of my clothes are seem pretty trivial. Still…150 pounds sounds pretty wonderful, and I would love to settle there. We’ll see.
In the meantime, a few tidbits: First, I hardly ever get “stuck” anymore. I think I have finally learned to chew, chew and chew some more before attempting to swallow. That makes eating a much more enjoyable experience, not being so scared of what might happen.
Another thing…I’ve finally learned not to crave carbs so much. My body had already figured it out months ago…every time I ate a lot of carbs, I would have a stomach ache for the rest of the day. But somehow my mind always wanted them….I was so used to craving French fries, potato chips, etc. But now, I just don’t want them. Sure, I’ll take a bite here and there, but I’d much rather eat protein, and my body would rather have protein, too.
And…I saved the best for last. My hair is growing back! I cannot tell you how excited and relived I am. I have spiky little hairs all over the top of my hair…it’s pretty hideous looking, really, but to me, it’s the best looking hair in the world. They told me it would come back, and they were right. Woot!
I’ve lost 114 pounds. I’m in control. And my hair is growing back.
Not too shabby.
Here ya go!
Thanks to my friend Michelle in NYC for rescuing me from my computer incompetence!
The first picture was taken the morning of the surgery, hence the no make-up (Yikes!)
The second picture was when I’d lost 102 pounds, which was about a month ago.
I’m now 7 months out from surgery, and I have lost 112 pounds.
Life is real, real good
The not-so-pretty side
I know I promised pictures, but here’s the deal: I can’t figure out how to post two pictures side by side (I know….pretty lame, huh?). I don’t want to just post my “after” picture without perspective, and I don’t want to post just my “before” picture because….yuck. So….let me work on it a little longer. I promise, pictures soon!
So, I’ve now lost 110 pounds. Clothes are literally falling off of me. I couldn’t take it anymore, I had to go out and buy a few pairs of pants. Still, I refuse to spend a whole bunch of money on clothes. I hope to keep on losing!
It is so wonderful to be a size I haven’t been in about 15 years. I’d forgotten what it felt like not to be morbidly obese. Truly, the clothes and the better breathing and all that stuff is just wonderful…but it really doesn’t compare to the feeling of control that I now have. Before the surgery, I was spiraling out of control, and I was afraid for my future. Now, I have stopped the free fall, and I can’t wait to see what the future brings! Really, it’s like heaven.
But. There are some not-so-pretty sides to having had this surgery. You already know about the complications I had…and I won’t be getting over that anytime soon. I get pretty emotional when I stop to think about it…it was the most difficult time of my life, I think. But beyond that…there are other aspects of my life now that are bothering me. One…I continue to get “stuck” with my food sometimes, meaning….I eat too fast or I don’t pay attention as I chew, and the food gets stuck in my esophagus. When it happens, I have to number one, try not to panic. Number two, I have to see if it will pass on its own or if I need to throw it up. Usually, I have to vomit…and let’s face it, no one likes that. I’ve probably thrown up more in the last six months than I have in my entire life. It’s pretty brutal. Would I trade it for being heavy again? Absolutely not….but I still don’t like it. Not fun.
Another problem….my major problem right now…is hair loss. I’ve lost, in my estimation, more than half of my hair. And I didn’t have a lot of hair to begin with. This is common with gastric bypass patients….when you lose a lot of weight at once, your body thinks it is starving, and it sends all available vitamins and nutrients to your major organs and body systems. Things like hair, skin and nails miss out. I’m told my body will soon figure out that I’m not starving and will revert back to normal. I sure hope so. While I don’t think I’m losing hair anymore, what I have lost hasn’t started to grow back again, and I’m pretty self-conscious about it. Did I really come all of this way only to lose my hair? Finally, I can feel good about my appearance, but I now have this problem to contend with? I’m pretty upset if I stop and think about it…and that’s why I don’t. I have come a long way, and I refuse to let this bring me down. My body is in shock. There are consequences to that. I can deal with it. Hopefully, the hair will come back eventually. And if it doesn’t, I guess you’ll see me sporting the latest in the Raquel Welch line of real-hair wigs. Either way, I plan to be fabulous.
As my brother said: “You can always buy a wig…but you can’t buy a skinny suit.”
I have lost 101 pounds!
I was stuck at 98 pounds for about 12 days…then I was at 99 pounds for 3 days. I began to feel as though I would never hit that 100-pound mark…and I didn’t.
I sailed right past it.
I promise, I will post pictures soon. We just got a new digital camera and I need to figure out how to upload photos.
I still have a long way to go….but I feel really good about where I am now.
Happy Birthday Eli!
If you ask Eli how old he is, nine times out of ten he will say four. That pretty much sums up his goals and aspirations…he wants to be everything he sister is.
My baby boy is now three.
Three years ago, I gave birth to a 12 pound baby and I was scared to death. I worried that my inability to control my gestational diabetes would scar him for life. Now, I am relieved to find he is 100 percent normal. And all boy.
Trains, cars, trucks, planes….you name it and Eli loves to lay on the floor and play with it. He’ll spend hours going from room to room, scooting his favorite car or truck on the tile or rug. Or he’ll go to his room and shut the door in order to play with his train table. His sister sticks to me like glue even to this day; not so with Eli. He likes to play on his own, checking in with me every now and then. And he loves to play with Emma. He never minds when she makes room on his train table for her Barbies or My Little Ponys. He simply plays right along side of her, and watching them interact makes my heart sing. Eli really is a sweet-natured boy, and the hugs and kisses and “I louu yuu”’s he gives me makes me melt.
Not to say he doesn’t have a temper. He’s happy most of the time, but when’s not, everyone knows about it…his shriek will shatter your ears! The cause is usually a toy that won’t work to his liking, or, occasionally, a sister who is in his way. When he gets into trouble, he points his chin down to his chest and mumbles “Sorry.” He cries when you put him in time out, although sometimes I think he secretly likes it because it’s something else he gets to do that Emma does! Truly, he doesn’t get into trouble that often…he’s as easy going as his Daddy.
He still sleeps in his crib, and I am loathe to change that. He also still sleeps with his ratty Elmo doll, and I’m beginning to wonder if he’ll ever change that. He loves goldfish crackers and apple juice and he absolutely lives for pizza. At night, he must have Goodnight Moon and The Busy, Buzzy Bee book read to him in order to go to sleep. His heroes are Thomas the Tank Engine, Lightning McQueen and Emma, not necessarily in that order.
Happy Birthday, Eli!!! Mommy is so happy you are in our lives.
On The Cusp….
The nurse at my doctor’s office is this cute little blond gal who is so warm and friendly…I just love talking to her. She had gastric bypass several years ago and looks terrific…and she always has tons of advice for me. One of the first things she said to me at the beginning of this journey was “Take a lot of pictures…because mirrors lie and you won’t believe what the scale says.”
As the first few months went by, I really didn’t know what she meant. When I looked in the mirror, I could definitely tell I was losing weight. I read about people who’d had rapid weight loss having distorted body image, but I really felt it didn’t apply to me. I liked what I saw in mirrors.
Of course, I should have known that wouldn’t last.
I have lost 98 pounds. I can barely breathe when I contemplate that statement. It has happened so fast…and now I think my mind is having a hard time keep up. Now when I get dressed, I think my shirt makes me look big or my butt looks enormous in certain pants. But when I go out, I am bombarded with compliments. It makes me feel so good to hear people congratulate me…but I can’t reconcile their comments with what I see in the mirror. The scales tell me I am doing a great job…almost at the century mark! I’m going to have to learn to shrug off the insecurities I feel when I dress each day.
I just passed the five month mark since surgery and I had Michael take pictures. It is a rare occasion when I like a picture of myself, but I really, really like the pictures he took. As soon as I can upload them, I’ll share them with you. But I think for now on, I’ll rely on photographs to give me the true picture.
First, brief update on my health: I’ve lost 91 pounds! My goal was to lose 100 pounds by the six month mark, and I am at 91 pounds at 4 and a half months. I think I’ll make it!
Now, to my babies. Forgive me if I sound a little sad, but life as I know it with my children is changing. Of course, I’ve learned that’s what it means to be a parent…to be in a constant state of flux and learning to roll with the punches. But some changes are fantastic (sleeping through the night! Potty training!) and some changes strike fear in one’s heart (my babies are growing up and away from me).
First, Emma. She is about to enter her last year of preschool. Everything we do this year will be marked with a sense of finality…the last time she goes to the Pumpkin Patch with her class….the last time she hosts a Muffins for Mom event. And don’t even get me started on Preschool graduation…someone will have to sedate me. She can write her own name, she knows all of her letters and she has *finally* given up her nap. This last development has awarded us some one-on-one time in the afternoons, and so far, things are going well. We read and play games and “do homework”, which she loves. The child exasperates me to no end a good deal of the time. But I love her fierce spirit and she is smarter than any kid I know. She will go to school for 5 days a week for the first time this year, and I will miss her. She’s growing up more and more each day…and more and more, I am painfully aware of that fact.
Now, Eli. Since his sister will be at school every day, that will leave two days that Eli will have Mommy all to himself. Now, this isn’t totally un-chartered waters for us…for the first 9 months of his life, Emma went to preschool two days a week and he and I were on our own. But let’s face it….there isn’t much to do with a baby who still takes a morning nap….and that time we had together is pretty much a blur to me. No…this time will be special. We can go to the park and to story time at the library and we can just…be. I’m really looking forward to it. This is a change I can celebrate. Eli is such a sweetheart and being with him is so easy. Watching him discover new things is a highlight to my day.
And so it is that fall comes…and it arrives with lots of change. Change to our daily schedules….changes to my kids’ personalities and needs. As they need me a little less…..I need them so much more.
Nothing tastes like control
86 pounds gone. In four months.
The question I get asked the most is “What can you eat?” . Indeed, I have a friend who had gastric bypass two years ago and has lost all of her excess weight. She says even now, people stare at her plate, curious to see what she’s chosen for a meal. This annoys her…she’s ready to move on with life and get over the whole thing. Not me, though…I don’t mind at all if people watch me eat or ask me questions. It makes the whole experience that much more real!
So…what can I eat? Basically anything, although not everything agrees with me. The basic rule that I have to follow is protein first. If I order a cheeseburger, I don’t eat the bun; if I get a slice of pizza, you’ll find me using a fork to eat the toppings rather than eating the whole piece. It doesn’t mean I don’t eat any carbs…it just means I limit them and I eat them last, after I fill up on protein. And that’s really what is best for me….because too many carbs make my stomach hurt. And if I eat too fast or if I don’t chew my food extremely well, the food gets “stuck” and I am very uncomfortable until I can vomit (sorry…that’s perhaps more information than you wanted!). But nothing really is off limits except chewing gum (it can cause a serious blockage) or soft drinks.
Yes, soft drinks….the same drinks I’ve been addicted to most of my adult life. At my worst, I drank about a 2 liter a day of Coke or Mountain Dew. It was giving up soda that worried me the most….how could I even live without something that has always been so important to me?
I haven’t had a “drink” since March 17th. And I am perfectly fine with that. Truly, I don’t really miss them….I hardly ever think about them. Water tastes heavenly to me…and I don’t crave any other drink. How fabulous is that? Michael gave them up, too…but every once in a while he’ll take a sip of a Coke…he says it’s awful. When you’re not used to it, the carbonation tastes really weird. Devil’s drink, I say. Never again.
So eating is going well….all the foods that turned me off after the surgery are now fine…I can eat eggs and I absolutely love cheese again, thank goodness. Hamburger meat isn’t my favorite, but I can tolerate it. Chicken still gives me trouble, but it’s not the taste…it’s the texture. It’s hard to chew. I had a little bit of steak for our anniversary and it tasted divine. I feel almost normal again….except now, I have control.
And that’s the best feeling in the world!
What is that thing behind your ear?
When the complications from the surgery were mostly resolved and I was at home recuperating, I struggled with terrible nausea. I am now convinced there is no worst feeling in the world than feeling like you’re going to throw up but being unable to do so. The nausea medicine worked while I was in the hospital, but once I got home, it didn’t do much for me. The PA at the doctor’s office had me try nausea patches….and they really worked. So every three days, I dutifully replaced the patch behind my ear and nausea was no longer a problem.
One night, I decided that I was over the nausea and I could stop wearing the patch. I yanked it off and triumphantly showed it to Michael as I put it in the trash, not hurrying to replace it. “I’m fine now.” I declared.
Of course….you know what happened.
I was sick as a dog for the next two days. I wasn’t fine. I put on a new patch but it takes several hours to work and I was so miserable.
Fast forward six weeks or so. I’m still wearing a patch. I can’t bring myself to take it off. It’s purely psychological….I can’t imagine that I am still prone to nausea this far away from surgery. But I can’t bring myself to let go of the patch.
“What happens if it comes off in the shower or the pool?” Michael wants to know.
If it does, I hope I don’t notice it. I told him if he sees me without it, don’t say anything. Maybe I can be fooled for a while, and when I finally realize it, I will have been without it for days and I will realize that I really am, truly, fine.
Until then, if you see me with my patch, please…..just don’t ask.
One of the perks…..
While my kids were at camp the other day, I spent the morning going through clothes in my closet. Please know that I am not exaggerating when I say I have all sizes in my wardrobe. Some left over from high school (yikes!)….others given to me by relatives who were more successful at weight loss than I. I’ve had a couple of times over the past 15 years where I lost significant amounts of weight….but when I did, I chose not to give away my “fat clothes”. I suppose at the time I thought it was bad luck to be too confident; I didn’t want to jinx myself.
For all the good it did.
Not this time. Since I was at my heaviest before I had my surgery, I can assure you that the clothes I was wearing during that period are history. I can’t even give them away…they are too washed and worn. And I certainly can’t wear them anymore.
I’ve lost 79 pounds.
I have to read that a few times myself to let it sink in. Is it possible to have lost that much weight in barely three and a half months? Yes, I can assure you….yes. And it feels absolutely wonderful.
So no more baggy stretch pants. My capris and slacks actually have buttons at the waist (gasp!). No more too-big t-shirts and blouses. I have two big sacks of clothes to give to Fayetteville Urban Ministry.
And I hope to give them a whole lot more…….
Do I Regret It?
No. I do regret having gone through all of that pain, having to ship my kids off to their grandparents’ houses because I couldn’t care for them, and having some terrible experiences in the hospital. But no…I do not regret making the decision to have the surgery. Even with the complications, I know I came out of it in better health than I would have had I stayed on that road I was traveling. I tried everything to change things but nothing worked. I was the heaviest I had ever been, with no sign of turning things around. I took drastic steps to, I think, save my life.
Would I recommend the surgery to others? No. Not because I don’t think it would help them; I think it greatly helps the vast majority of people who decide to go through with it. But I would never try to influence someone into making that big of a decision. I’m living proof that complications are a real concern, and I would hate for someone to go through what I went through just because I told them they should do it. No, this is a decision that one has to make on their own…keeping in mind all of the pros and all of the cons.
I’ve had enough con. I’m now into enjoys the pros!
A Brief Debriefing
I absolutely cannot believe my surgery was three months ago today. Michael and I both agree…it feels more like a year ago. So much has happened in the last three months….and I’m in such a different place right now. I’ve been avoiding writing here what happened…and I really don’t know why. I’m okay now. I should be over it….and for the most part, I think I am. But I certainly will never forget it….and maybe the idea of going through all of it again on “paper” scares me a bit. It wasn’t fun.
I’ll give you the Reader’s Digest version. Remember when a week after the surgery my fever shot up and they were worried I might have an abscess and they determined that I didn’t? Well, they were wrong. I had an abscess….one that went undiagnosed for more than a week and left me in excruciating pain. Truly, I thought I was losing my mind…because I was being told I was fine. I was not fine.
So I had to go back into the hospital (trip number 3 for those keeping score)…and this time I stayed for 8 days. Again, they couldn’t get an I.V. (shocker!)…so they had to put in a central line, which was a pretty terrible experience and left me with blood in my hair for all 8 days (don’t ask)…but at least once it was done, I never had to worry about that again while I was there. They did a CT-guided drain of the abscess with me awake and very large needles and minimal pain medications…..ranks up there with one of the three worst experiences of my life. And then my lung collapsed. A chest tube had to be inserted (thank goodness they gave me wonderful pain medication for that…so great that I don’t remember anything about the procedure!). The week concluded with lots of pain….lots of fear (for a while there, my lung wasn’t getting better and all kinds of horrible solutions were being proposed to fix it….thank God the I.V. antibiotics and breathing treatments kicked in). The care I received was mediocre at best (I’m going to assume that nurses don’t go into the profession for the stellar hours and fantastic atmosphere….so my question then is why are you a nurse if you don’t want to help people?). Combine all of this with the fact that I had just had gastric bypass and was still very much trying to figure out the whole eating thing….it really was one nightmare after another.
But it’s all over now…..and now that I have vented, I shall never speak of it again. Well, that may be a bit much, but really….I’m trying not to dwell on it. It happened. It sucked. Let’s move on.
I’ve now lost 73 pounds and my clothes are hideously too big (what a delightful problem!) That’s what I would like to focus on.
Hi there. I’m back.
Yes, I am alive. No, I still haven’t finished processing what has happened over the last two and a half months. Some of it is a blur….some of it makes me really sad…..and all of it is overwhelming. But I am here now and I am much, much better.
And 71 pounds lighter.
I’ll give you all the sordid details later. Right now, I want you to know that I went to the beach this weekend….and I played with my kids.
In a bathing suit.
Yes, I am still quite heavy…and I have a long way to go. But putting on a bathing suit in public doesn’t feel so bad when you know you are on the right track. If I wasn’t on the path of losing weight, there’s no way I would swim in public. It was by no means a picnic…I still have severe anxiety about my body. But I am getting better. And that makes all the difference in the world.
Thanks to all of you who have supported me and my family. Your love and friendship means more than you know.
Well, maybe I shouldn’t use that word. It has a negative connotation, and after what I’ve been through the last several days, I am now choosing to focus on the positive. I’ve had enough negative to last quite a while, thank you very much.
So while what happened really stunk and had me really, really down, please know that the outcome has made me deliriously happy and grateful and relieved.
Here’s what went down.
I woke up Saturday morning feeling like a truck had run me down. Achy all over. Still, I figured I would be okay to stay home with Eli while Michael took Emma to her soccer game. After all, I had been getting better and better…and it was just a few hours, right? Once they were gone, I turned on a Thomas video for Eli while I took a shower, thinking that would make me feel better. When I got out, I lay in my bed under the covers to warm up. Only I couldn’t warm up. After several minutes, I was shivering so violently that I couldn’t control myself. I had the thin blanket and the bed comforter, but I felt like I had ice running through my veins. After still several more minutes, I calmed down enough to make it into the Den to check on Eli….and that’s when I started throwing up. Of course, “throwing up” is a relative term….since I had nothing in my stomach, it was just a series of dry heaves. I didn’t want to scare Eli, but I needn’t have worried….when Thomas is on, he’s in another world. When the heaving stopped, I lay on the couch with a blanket and tried to call Michael. But the soccer game was too loud and he had his hands full and he didn’t feel his phone vibrate….it was a nightmare.
I got my Mom on the phone, and I tell you, we Moms are made of special stuff. She knew exactly what to say to me to call me down…and the shivers subsided and the heaving stopped. I lay motionless on the couch and as I did, I started to feel flush. It occurred to me that I probably had a fever….and that’s when the real fear set in. Fever after surgery is never good…and they drilled us about all the complications that could happen after surgery, and most presented themselves with….fever. I was scared to death.
So the weekend was a blur of high fevers (102.6 at the highest), chills, vomiting, crying and every emotion you can think of. I called the doctor on call…and he thought it was interesting that I didn’t have any abdominal pain. He wondered out loud if I had the flu. I certainly hoped so. On Sunday, my fever was all low grade, so Michael, my Mom and I deduced that I had caught some sort of bug and there was nothing to worry about….and the on call doctor was fine with that.
Monday morning, I get up and am feeling very sick once again. Around midnight the night before, my temperature shot up to 102 again…but I was still hoping it was the flu. Michael was getting the kids dressed for preschool while I called the doctor, to see if I needed to see him or my general practitioner. I should have known something was up when the nurse put me on hold instead of having me wait for a call back. When she returned to the line, she said the words I so dreaded, “He wants you to go to the hospital. He thinks it could be an abscess.”
To say I was devastated was an understatement. I was just starting to feel somewhat normal, just about to get on with living my life….I couldn’t imagine another horrible hospital stay…or worse….another surgery. I wasn’t strong enough for that, I told Michael.
Michael, once again, was my rock. He took charge, taking the kids to school, getting my bag backed and shepherding me to the emergency room. They finally put me in a room about 11:30am…..and I had every test you can think of….three different blood cultures, a urine test, a CT scan. By 9pm, I had my answer.
It was not an abscess.
I cannot begin to describe the relief this news brought. I cried and cried…and I didn’t even care that my doctor really didn’t know what caused my fevers….he just knew that my stomach and all of it’s parts were working fine.
Thank the Lord.
So they kept me overnight and gave me antibiotics in my IV, just in case. And I came home today and I already feel 100 percent better.
I can absolutely promise you this: I will never, ever take my health for granted again. Being sick and being uncertain is the worst possible feeling in the world. I hope to never feel that vulnerable ever again.
Now, tune in tomorrow, where you get to hear about my first piece of (gasp!) solid food!
I know…try to hold your excitement….
I’ll admit it….I’m a little scared of eating real food. I’ve heard stories of food getting stuck and people panicking….when you have gastric bypass surgery, the opening to your small pouch is the size of a large pea. That means I have to chew and chew and chew in order to get that food down there. I’m sure I’ll get stuck at some point….it’s kind of a right of passage, from what I hear. But the thought makes me nervous…will I panic? Can I handle it? There’s an elixir that they recommend you have on hand at all times for this problem…something about meat tenderizer and lemon juice. I better look into it.
Not that I’m eating meats any time soon. When I first go on soft food, perhaps sometime next week, it’ll be things like eggs, soft cheeses, etc. After trying those, I’ll be able to try flaky pieces of fish and then chicken…and then several weeks down the road, beef. Apparently, many gastric patients have a hard time with meats, which makes me a little sad. I loves me some steak!
Here’s a funny thing….they want me to only introduce one food at a time so I can gauge my tolerance level. What does that remind you of? Yep, thank goodness I have years of experience of introducing solid foods to babies…..this should be a snap!
As for how I’m feeling….I’m good. I can drive now and my staples have been taken out, which was such a relief. I still have tons of stuff on my stomach from the surgical tape…the nurse said only nail polish remover works, but even with that, I scrubbed for what seemed like an hour the other night with only minimal results. Oh, well….I’m sure it will fade over time, as will my scars…which are really only 5 little strips, about an inch or two long each. No big deal.
Still not hungry, at all. Still miss food, but not to the point that I’m upset about it. I think about it, miss it a little, then shrug and move on. The no hunger part is a wonderful high…something I know will fade somewhat over time, so I’m relishing it right now!
With the staples out, I’m back to sleeping in my bed, which is wonderful…and I even slept on my stomach the other night. Really, everything physically is almost back to normal….now it’s time to explore my new life with food and rediscover the love and respect that I had lost for my body.
I can’t wait.
Wow….life is different. The word that keeps coming to me is “odd”. It’s odd that my focus isn’t on when my next meal will be. Without that to obsess about, I really don’t know what to do with myself. I feel kind of lost.
No real sign of depression. I have moments of very brief sadness, where I wonder what birthdays will be like without cake or when I’ll be able to eat my beloved spaghetti and meatsauce again. But because I’m not physically hungry whatsoever, those moments tend to go away quickly…and are now occurring less and less.
I’m ready to get back to normal. Michael is here with me this week, which is great, but I’m ready to see if I can do this on my own. He took the car to be serviced the other day and it ran later than he thought (go figure). I found myself having to feed the kids lunch, something I haven’t done yet. But I was okay. The only weird moment was when I was cutting up a leftover piece of pizza for Eli. He doesn’t like pepperoni, so I had to take those pieces off, and normally, I would just pop them into my mouth. I had to stop and think about it each time….but I wasn’t upset. I just kind of smiled ironically and moved on.
I’ve lost 16 pounds. In a week. Unbelievable, really….except, totally believeable when you consider how many calories I’m used to taking in a day and comparing it to my paltry average as of late. Still. My clothes are already feeling a little looser. Woot!
I’m on liquids for another week….which for me, consist of tomato soup made with water (I’m supposed to make it with skim milk for the protein, but I just can’t get it down), protein drinks (I settled on Ensure Creamy Milk Chocolate….still hate the vitamin-y taste, but oh well), and sugar free popsicles and jello. If all goes well at the doctor next week, I’ll start on soft foods…and that’s where the real fun begins…….
Hey there…..yes, I am alive.
I’m sorry I haven’t updated before now. I’ll be honest…this has been a lot tougher than I thought it would be. I tried to be as prepared as possible, but…I guess nothing can prepare you for such a life-changing event. But the clouds are starting to part, and the sun is starting to seep in, albeit slowly. I’ll be okay.
Here are some highlights and lowlights of my experience so far:
**I actually slept well the night before surgery and went into the hospital in a pretty good mood. Then, they had to try *seven times* before they could get my IV in. That stressed me out, just a bit.
**The hospital stay was pretty terrible. I was so uncomfortable the entire time…not really in a lot of pain…I just couldn’t really make myself feel better. The way I usually make myself feel better….eat a big meal and drink an ice cold Coke on ice, wasn’t available this time….and I couldn’t find anything to substitute it.
**Seeing my children’s faces when I came home was so wonderful….I couldn’t really hug them, but somehow, they understood. Emma has been so gentle with me, and very concerned about taking care of me.
**Recliners are the bomb…..I’ve slept in the one in our den since I have been home and it is the closest I have been to comfortable so far.
**Not being hungry is the weirdest feeling in the world. I haven’t eaten solid food in several days, and I am not hungry, not even a little bit. But my mind keeps thinking about food…and when I see people eating on television, I pay close attention. So I guess I miss the idea of eating…but eating itself, no.
**Michael is an incredible rock….he is handling everything by himself now…taking care of me, of the kids….and I couldn’t love him more.
Thank you so much to everyone for the flowers, cards, offers of child care, phone calls, etc. It is such a help to know that people are out there rooting for me….it means more than you know!
I’m a big believer in signs. You know…things happen for a reason….God has a plan….that kind of thing. When I first started considering gastric bypass surgery, I figured that I’d get some red lights early on in the process….signs that this wasn’t the way for me to go. Boy, was I wrong.
First, I worried that the money wouldn’t work out…that either my insurance wouldn’t approve it or that my out-of-pocket expenses would be out of my reach. Nope. My insurance covers everything except a $2,000 out of pocket maximum. Green light.
Then, I was up for a freelance job that I really, really wanted…and would prevent me from having the surgery until the summer. I considered it another roadblock. But I didn’t get the job…and at the time I was really upset. But now I realize, it was just another way to get on with this surgery. Green light.
Next, I was worried that my family doctor wouldn’t approve the procedure…and I needed his approval because he will be a big part of my post-op care. He seems really conservative to me, and I just thought he would throw up some red flags. Quite the contrary happened….he deemed me “the perfect candidate” for gastric bypass. Green light.
Finally, I just knew that I would flunk at least one of the battery of tests that I had to go through. A pulmonary test, an ultrasound of my legs to look for blood cots, a psych exam, blood work to check my thyroid, an EKG, a chest X-ray. I passed all of them with flying colors. Green light, Green light, green light.
I’ve prayed and researched and all I’ve come up with are positive answers….it appears I am truly meant to have this surgery.
It gives me great peace of mind.
I’ll be honest…as the surgery approaches, I’m freaking out a little. I need to keep focus and stay positive…there are so many exciting things that will happen as a result of this procedure. So here’s a partial list of what I’m looking forward to:
–Stop taking medication for diabetes and high blood pressure
–Wearing my engagement ring and wedding band again
–Shopping for new clothes
–Going for long walks with my kids
–Letting go of self-consciousness in social settings
–Not being afraid to chase career goals
–Wearing a sundress
–Taking lots and lots of pictures of me with my kids
–Being on the arm of my husband
I could go on and on and on. There’s nothing ahead but new beginnings and fresh starts.
I am so ready.
It’s all about the numbers…..
I know people say you shouldn’t focus on the numbers…it doesn’t matter what the scale says, what matters is how you feel. Being a slave to the scale is a bad thing! But I must admit….when I am losing weight, I love, love LOVE my scale. I jump out of bed in the morning, throw my clothes off and weigh first thing. Of course, it doesn’t always say what I want it to, but that’s okay….I just feel better having that daily accounting of things.
I’m going to love my scale after this surgery.
The doctors tell me I can expect to lose 30 pounds in the first month. Now, you must know…I have gained about 30 pounds since Eli was born….to take me to my highest weight ever. And this last 30 pounds has just been hideous. The extra work and embarrassment it has brought to my life is practically immeasurable. So I am so, so excited for that first month to come and go!
Having said that, I’m not sure 30 pounds gone is going to be that noticeable on me. I tend to lose weight first in my face, so maybe that’s where I will see the results. But it’s going to take a lot more than 30 pounds to make a dent in this heft, unfortunately.
At the one year mark, most gastric bypass patients have lost 75 percent of their extra weight. This is mind-boggling to me. A year from now…I’m going to be sitting pretty! Of course, there’s a lot of work and adjustment between now and then….but I must focus on that end prize.
Maybe next year, I’ll actually wear a bathing suit. In public.
It’ll be my first in about 20 years.
What To Expect
The first month after surgery will be rough. One of the most common side effects of having gastric bypass is depression. While you’re not physically hungry, your mind is trained to want to eat….for sustenance and for comfort. But eating is a precarious activity at best…and lots of adjustments have to be made.
I’ll be on a clear liquid diet for about a week. Water, chicken broth, sugar free popsicles, sugar free jello….you get the idea. Plus…I’ll need to drink at least one low carb protein shake a day. My stomach is going from the size of a football to the size of a small egg….I won’t be able to eat or drink too much at one time, or I run the risk of rupturing my sutures. (Um…ouch!!!) So I’ll have to take it slow and easy…and give a whole lot of thought to everything I put in my mouth.
After about a week, my doctor will give the okay for soft solids. Scrambled eggs, soft cheeses, tuna, cottage cheese, soups made with skim milk and without chunks. I’ll have to see what I’ll be able to tolerate…I’m told everyone is different. Every meal will be an experiment! Many people are so turned off by food that they have to force themselves to eat…and no matter how nauseated I am, I will have to eat. That’s the only way I will heal! I’ll still be on the protein shakes, plus I’ll have to take a chewable vitamin twice a day.
About a month after surgery, I’ll start to introduce other foods…..deli meats, thinly sliced….well-chewed bits of turkey and chicken, etc. The idea is stay high on the protein and low on the carbs and avoid sugars altogether…they are not tolerated well. I’ll also have to give up at this point soups, as the doctors don’t want me to drink any calories. Gone, too will be the protein shakes…so more than ever, I will have to be vigilant about my protein intake.
All in all, the first six months are a big adjustment period…finding out what I can tolerate, what works well, etc. I’ve heard stories about taste buds changing…and I’m not scared of that. Quite frankly, I need a change in that department….being turned off to soft drinks and other sugar-laden snacks sounds wonderful to me!
A lot to get used to, but lots of delightful weight loss to go with it!
Age Ain’t Nothin But A Number…..
…..but my weight is a whole lot more.
Look, I know I’m not fooling anyone. All it takes is one look at me and anybody can make a pretty good guess as to how much I weigh. But I don’t want to know what their guess is. I don’t want to discuss it. No one knows how much I weigh…not even Michael. And for some bizarre reason, I prefer it that way. Not saying it out loud makes it easier for me to bear, I suppose.
I will tell you this. I was always overweight growing up, but never really obese. I always had an extra 25 pounds or so, which, as a teenager, was hell. I couldn’t tuck my t-shirt into my jeans or wear a bathing suit and feel comfortable. I remember telling a group of friends one time that no matter how much I ate, I never went over 165….that seemed to be my body’s limit.
Boy, would I give anything for that to be true!
In order to get my insurance company to approve my gastric bypass surgery, I had to undergo a battery of tests. One of those tests was a psychological exam. Now, this was tricky for me….because I don’t think there’s any doubt that I suffer from depression…and have for many years. But I’ve always wondered….am I heavy because I am depressed…..or am I depressed because I am heavy? After a while, the lines blur and you don’t even know what happened first. Of course, I wasn’t going to “flunk” if the therapist determined I was depressed….but I guess they have to figure out if you have unrealistic expectations for the surgery. Like, “Hooray! I’m going to lose all of my weight and all of my problems will be solved!” I certainly don’t think that….but I do think some things will be easier…and I don’t think that is an unreasonable expectation.
One of the things the therapist talked about in our session was how a lot of people who lose a lot of weight have problems with perception of their own body. Meaning….I may be getting thinner, but I still think I am really heavy. She likened it to how an anorexic looks in the mirror and thinks she is fat…when the rest of the world sees her as painfully thin. Your mind just plays weird tricks on you. So even though I will be losing weight and looking better….I may still perceive myself as heavy…and may even still be depressed.
Yikes. It never occurred to me that having this surgery might introduce a whole new set of problems. And while I am still 100 percent sure it is the best thing to do for my health, I’m now thinking there’s a lot more follow-up and maintenance involved than I realized.
For now my plan of action is two-fold. My surgeon hosts a monthly support group for patients who have had the surgery…and I am definitely going. I’m the kind of person who like to talk it out…and I think it will help to be surrounded by people who are going through the same things I am going through, and by people who have been there and perhaps can offer helpful advice.
Secondly, I am going to seek out a therapist. I need to get a handle on what has caused my over-eating in the first place and how I can prevent that self-sabotage mentality for manifesting itself in other ways when over-eating is not an option. I so want this process to be a success…and…finally….I want to give myself permission to be happy.
It seems so simple….but it has alluded me all of my life.
This N That
A few tidbits: —I need a good, low-carb protein shake. This will be a huge lifeline for me for the first month after surgery. Any suggestions? I’ve tried Carnation Instant Breakfast (No Sugar Added) and Slim Fast low carb, milk chocolate flavor. Both were awful! Like, I could hardly get them down. If you have an idea, please send them right away! –Emma is so funny. She knows that Mommy is going to have surgery “to make her tummy smaller”. She talks about it all the time, asking if today is the day I’m going to the hospital. But every once in a while, she gets really sad and says “But I’ll miss you, Mommy” and “But I like your tummy!”. I’ve explained to her that I need to have some help because my tummy is not very healthy. With big eyes, she asks “How did your tummy get not healthy?”. Suddenly, it goes from a very cute conversation to one in which the answers don’t come so easily….. –The very hardest part of deciding to have this procedure is saying goodbye to carbonated drinks. Forever. Those of you who know me know that my love affair with Coke goes a long way back, and parting will not be easy. Truthfully, I’d rather drink a nice cold soft drink than eat a meal, it is that important to me. But the number one reason people gain their weight back is because they continue to drink sodas…the carbonation stretches their stomach pouch. And as much as I love the burn of a good Coke, my biggest fear in this world is going through this operation only to end of gaining the weight back. Not an option for me. So goodbye, fizzy drinks. You will be sorely missed.
Are we there yet?
I’m struggling with a lot of different emotions right now….and it helps to write it all out and work it through. On the one hand, I am so ready for surgery…..like, I wish it were tomorrow. The waiting just causes my mind to wander…and to worry. What if I have complications? What if I am in the unfortunate one percent of patients who die from this procedure? What if I lose a lot of weight…only to gain it back eventually? Please know that I’m not trying to self-sabotage here…this is just the way I operate. I always go to the worst-case scenario in my mind. Will I be in pain? Will I recover quickly? Will my kids be okay with me being gone? These are the questions that are interrupting my sleep at night. On the other hand…..think of all the wonderful possibilities. Diabetes, gone. High blood pressure, gone. The ability to walk and run and play with my children….the chance to go out into public without being so self-conscious about every little thing. Plus….a little bit of vanity here…..I haven’t worn jeans in 14 years. Dear friends….do not let me go out wearing my old acid-washed, high-waisted Gap jeans! How about a pretty sundress…..or a pair of pants without elastic in the waistband? Wow….I won’t know how to act. I’ll be able to breathe….and I’ll be able to hold my head high. Yes, the first month after surgery will be brutal…and the next several months will very, very tough as I make the necessary adjustments in my lifestyle. But the benefits…..my goodness. I can hardly stand my excitement.
I have decided to have gastric bypass surgery. It’s happening March 18th. Let’s back up a bit. Last fall, I was at my wit’s end. It had been 2 years since I had Eli and since I’d had any significant weight loss. I’d gained back all that I’d lost since giving birth…..and then some. I was tired. I was miserable. I was the heaviest I’d ever been….and I felt helpless and hopeless to change it. Michael casually mentions one day that he was told our local hospital here has an excellent weight loss surgery program and he thought perhaps I should look into it. Stopped.me.in.my.tracks. For the more than 15 years that I’ve battled this weight problem, Michael has never once initiated a conversation about it, much less made a bold suggestion such as this. He never wanted to hurt my feelings, always wanted to be supportive…so he sat in silence and watched me suffer. He was there for me when he could be, but he, too, felt helpless. It took a lot of love and courage for him finally to make this suggestion. And I took notice. I went to a seminar in December and was floored by the statistics. Ninety-five percent of people with Type 2 Diabetes who have this surgery are cured. Let me say that again…..they are cured of diabetes. I am 35 years old. I would love to live the rest of my life not worrying about test strips and fasting blood sugar numbers. That stat alone was enough to sell me….but there was more. On average, a person who has gastric bypass surgery loses 75 percent of their extra weight in the first year. For someone who has a whole lot of weight to lose, I am so there. Lots and lots of other good information was shared….and I was hooked. I’ll share that great info with you in the coming days…and I plan to document my journey here post-op…the good, the bad, the gross….you name it. Please check back often…and thanks for the support! Also..please feel free to share this website with anyone you’d like, especially if you know of someone who may be contemplating having the surgery and has questions. There’s not a lot out there in the way of personal blogs on this subject, so I’m happy to help!
Hit Me Where It Hurts
When I was a little girl, I was scared to go to bed at night, but not for the usual reasons. I didn’t fear the boogey man in the closet or under my bed….I was afraid of loneliness. In my little 5 year-old mind, I felt slighted because my Mom and Dad had each other at night, and my two brothers had each other as they shared a room. I was the only one alone…and I thought it was the worst thing in the world. I wanted a sleep mate, too. Of course, I quickly grew out of it once I became a teenager and having my own room was such a godsend in a house with two older brothers. And as an adult, I can see how silly my thought process was….no one was leaving me out. But kids think what they will and trying to reason with them is a maddening task. Now…I find myself having to explain all of this to Emma. My three and a half year old says she is lonely at night. She fights going to bed because she will miss us and she will be lonely. Pull at my heart strings! It’s like she knows exactly where to get us where it hurts. If she were just being bratty about going to bed, it would be no problem…I could deal with that and not feel bad one bit! But she’s just so pitiful….and it makes both Michael and I feel guilty. My mom, ever the realist, says Emma has just found a different way to manipulate us. And I suppose that could be true…although I’m not ready to be that cynical about it quite yet. She’s still my 3 and a half year-old little bunny…and she misses her Mommy and Daddy at night. I just want to nuzzle her close and keep her with me forever. Now…just remind me of all this when she’s a teenager and won’t even let us into her room!
Eli turns 2!
As Eli approaches his 2nd birthday, he amazes me each and every day. His love for the pacifier is almost as intense as Emma’s was….so talking has been a slow process for him (just like his sister). Still, he is letting go of the passy more and more…and his words are just flying out. “Ball!” remains his most gleeful exclamation. “Dog!” comes in at a close second. “Meh” is what he calls Emma….and I am referred to as “Meh Meh”. Oh well…what can you expect? He is with us both all day long! While he can’t say my name properly, he says a perfect “Sa-sha!!” every time he sees our dog. And he’s mastered “joose” (juice), “more” (for any and all foods) and “Da-yee!” (for Daddy). If he’s like Emma, he’ll be 2 and a half before he’s talking in sentences, and that’s okay. You can’t shut Emma up now….so I know the talking will come. Anyone who says there’s nothing to this gender-likes thing needs to come spend some time at my house. Eli is 1000% boy….he loves cars, trucks…anything with wheels will have him playing on the floor for hours. He loves trains and balls and dogs…..he is so excited when he sees Elmo or Sponge Bob on TV (don’t ask me about this last one….Michael loves the show, but I don’t let the kids watch it….still, Eli goes crazy…”Bob-Bob!!!”). He will sit and watch the movie “Cars” from beginning to end. And he flat out loves pushing the play lawn mower outside or Emma’s doll stroller inside…he just bulldozes right through anything and everything in his way, always with that cute little grin on his face. He just melts my heart. He hugs my neck no less than one hundred times a day….and he gives me a certain look and I know he just needs me to sit and cuddle with him in our chair. He eats heartily and sleeps like a dream….he truly is an easy child. I don’t know if it’s because he’s a boy or because he’s a second baby or because he’s like his Daddy. Probably all those factors combined, I suppose. I’m so glad to have Eli in our lives…he truly makes our family complete. Happy Birthday, Little Man! Meh-Meh loves you.
Love That Bling
I love jewelry. I became of age in the late 80’s and early 90’s, where it wasn’t uncommon to find me with a couple of gold chains, a couple of gold bracelets and at least 2 rings on each finger. Yeah, teenagers back then really gave Mr. T a run for his money. And while I certainly have toned down my taste in jewelry with age and wisdom, I still love a couple of nice pieces of gold or silver. So you can imagine how much it kills me that I haven’t worn my wedding rings in a long, long time. We’re talking years. It’s not by choice, believe me. Not only do I love my diamond-studded engagement ring and the two simple gold bands that surround it, I also love displaying to the world that yes, I am married and no, my children are not illegitimate. But I can’t wear them. They don’t fit. I’ve already had them sized up once, and the jeweler warned me that I better not do it again, or I would compromise the gold. So they sit. In my jewelry box. I take them out once in a while, hoping for a miracle. But they are too tight. I can’t wear them. I’ve thought about asking Michael for another one, but c’mon. Isn’t that just giving up? I don’t want to give up…I want to “fit back” into my original rings. Of all the places of your body that are affected by weight gain, you don’t think of your fingers as one of them, but trust me, it happens. And so I am ring-less. I am going to wear those rings again one day. I can’t wait.
Happy Birthday Emma!!!!!
My dear, sweet girl is three years old. This last year has flown by, with Emma giving us so much to laugh at and smile about. Her vocabulary has simply exploded….she’s one of the best talkers in her class (and I was worried about her speech at one point! Just goes to show…they do it in their own time). She becomes attached to things (her pink teddy bear, her friend’s birthday balloon, her latest class art project) and she loves those things so fiercely, it amazes me. Sad is the day we lose something she has decided she can’t live without…we hear about it non-stop! I love it when she dances in circles in the den and sings songs that she’s made up at the top of her lungs. My heart fills when she screams “Daddy!’ when her father comes home, or when she shows compassion for her baby brother (which is happening more and more, thank goodness!). You ask her where Jesus lives and she says “In my heart!”. You ask her where God lives and she says “In Heaven, with my Grandpa.” She loves going to preschool “Got to go play with my friends!” and cries on the days she doesn’t get to go. She loves to drink milk more than life itself and her favorite candy is “pink and red” (Starburst). She still has those big blue eyes that you can absolutely lose yourself in…and she indulges my every whim when it comes to her fashion (thank goodness). She and her brother are the loves of my life. And last, but certainly not least…….. Emma is potty-trained. How nice of her to give me a present for her birthday! The credit goes to Grandma, who told me I was giving Emma mixed signals by putting her in pull-ups when it was convenient for me, and diapers at night because I didn’t want a mess. Grandma came last weekend and we went cold turkey. Emma has had very few accidents…she loves the fact that she is now a Big Girl. I love the fact that I can save $30 a month on diapers! So Happy Birthday, my beautiful Emma. Mommy loves you.
The first words I spoke to my son were “I’m sorry”. There he was, in the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit, having breathing problems. I’d been unable to get my gestational diabetes under control and I felt responsible for his being there, with tubes and wires and all kinds of monitors beeping around him. Truth be told, he was way better off than the babies surrounding him in the unit….some weren’t much bigger than a fist and wouldn’t leave the hospital for weeks to come. At a robust 12 pounds, Eli’s problems were relatively minor…and I would be able to take him home quite soon. Still…no parent wants to hear that their child has to go to a different nursery, that he has to be monitored around the clock by a special team of doctors and nurses. I couldn’t get him out of there fast enough. Now, we’ve been home for almost two months and Eli is thriving. He’s finally regained his birth weight, tipping the scales at just over 13 pounds. He has these beautiful, probing eyes that penetrate deep into your soul….it seems every woman who holds him falls in love instantly. The NICU seems far away and the problems he had at birth are now a dim memory…but one thing hasn’t changed. I’m still saying I’m sorry. Second babies. You’ve heard all the stories….you’re not as frightened as you were with your first, you are more laid back as a parent once you have another child. And that’s all true, thank goodness. I’m no where near as paranoid and neurotic with Eli as I was with Emma. But what you don’t hear a lot about is the incredible guilt that comes with your second baby….guilt that you don’t have the time to hold them and rock them and gaze into their eyes like you did the first time you became a parent. It’s hard to bond with your newborn when your 21 month-old is about to take a nose dive off of the sofa onto your ceramic tile floor. You hurriedly put your infant down so that you can console your toddler for the 20th time today. You try to make the new baby gulp down his bottle as soon as possible so that you can baby-sit your first baby as she tries to get the spoon to her mouth with most of its contents intact. You lay your second born down in the stroller and give him only futile glances while taking a Mommy & Me class with your first born. You start to think: when am I going to take classes with the new baby? Am I taking as many pictures this time around? When he rolls over for the first time, will I even notice? Of course I will. The logical side of me usually prevails when the guilt threatens to take me away. I breathe a little sigh of relief when Emma goes to bed at night, thrilled that I can finally have some un-interrupted time with Eli. Sure, the house is a colossal mess and sleep deprivation is gaining on me by the minute, but who cares? Those eyes of Eli’s, I swear…..I could just melt. I’ve finally learned to appreciate my mother’s wisdom. The other day, I was lamenting to her the fact that Emma is taking up so much of my time and poor Eli is getting the short end of the stick. She calmly pointed out to me that Eli will one day be Emma’s age….and he will demand as much time, if not more, than his sister is demanding now. So while he may not get as much Mommy attention at the moment…he will soon make up for it, in spades. So help me…I look forward to that day.
Calling all princesses!
There’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to get to sleep at night, especially when you have a newborn and the opportunities to sleep are precious and few. But there I was, tossing and turning on the couch in the den, Eli sleeping soundly in the cradle beside me. I just couldn’t shut my brain off…couldn’t stop the thoughts racing through my head. And while I wish I could tell you I was contemplating some very important aspect of life and universe, I am reluctant and ashamed to admit to what I was actually so preoccupied with. Emma’s fall wardrobe. Yes, I was losing sleep over what Emma would be wearing in the coming months. I might as well go ahead and tell you that ever since her birth some 20 months ago, I have wasted an inordinate amount of time sorting through her outfits, planning on what she would wear to important events, making sure she doesn’t repeat an outfit too soon, etc. My favorite past times these days revolve around sorting through her closet, matching various tops and bottoms, weeding out clothes that I have deemed no longer worth her wearing. Every chance I get, I dash off to the local childrens’ boutiques….so much so that they all know me by name and are usually licking their chops before I can even get into the door. Whenever I take Emma anywhere, I immediately size up what the other little girls are wearing, making sure that my girl is tops. On the rare occasion that my child isn’t the best dressed, I leave in a wrecked state, my day ruined, my outlook bleak. How could this have happened….did I not plan properly? How can I prevent this from happening again? And so the vicious cycle goes. The first step to solving a problem is being able to admit you have one. I am so already there….and I have the credit card bills to prove it. I know it’s ridiculous to put so much stock in something so trivial as toddler fashions….if I devoted even half as much time to actual worthy causes, I would help solve the world’s energy crisis, I’m sure. In order to understand such insanity, you must first know from where it comes. I have come up with two answers. The first is pretty simple….I am an extremely competitive person, and that’s what made me so good at my job. Television news is a cut throat business, and I learned early to always strive to be on top, to be ahead. It drove me day in and day out…and now, I have all that same inclination, but nothing to do with it. So of course, I apply that competitive energy to my child, and not only to what she is wearing. I want my child to walk first, talk first, to know her ABC’s and 123’s way before everyone else. Success, to me, is being first and being the best, and that is very much how I approach my new job, parenting. Pray for me. The second reason is a bit more complicated. How to summarize in a couple of paragraphs? I could write volumes about my childhood and how it has affected my life as an adult, but I’ll sum it up this way: I was an overweight, unattractive little girl with stringy hair and ill-fitting clothes. While my mom couldn’t have done anything to help all of my freckles and awkwardness, I feel sure she could have at least kept me from wearing the hideous outfits that adorn every school picture, every memory. And I’m not just talking dated clothes from the 70’s that make us all cringe…I’m talking mis-matched tops & bottoms, hideous stripes and polka dots, embarrassing combinations that would have made Steve Eurkell look like Calvin Klein. Now don’t get me wrong…I love my mom dearly. She just….didn’t get it. And why should she….she grew up with 4 brothers, a tomboy who liked to climb trees…she was never one to dress up and play girly-girl. Me, on the other hand…that’s all I wanted to do. I was obsessed with Cindy Brady, desperately wanting her curly pigtails and plaid dresses with patent-leather shoes. I longed to be elected Class Princess, and be able to wear a long gown to my school’s homecoming dance. Laces and bows, skirts and dresses….those were the things that made me happy, but my Mom had no idea what to do with them. And boy…do the pictures show it….sad, desperate attempts on my part at being a girly-girl were mostly met with complete and utter failure. Sigh. I weep. And so it is that I heap all of my un-met expectations on my daughter. That’s really what all of us parents do, isn’t it? We try to make them into something they are not, they grow up resenting it and rebelling against it…we become locked in a battle that lasts well into their teens and early adult hood. Hopefully, there is some healing by the time they get married and start to have their own family…and that’s when the vicious cycle starts all over again. I wish I could say I plan to break that cycle…and believe me, the logical, more sensible side of me wants to, needs to. I should just sit back and let Emma tell me what kind of person she wants to be, and then I should help her accordingly. If she wants to be a tomboy, fine. A girly-girl, great. As long as she’s happy and healthy, that’s all that matters, right? Right. I’ll let you in on a little secret. Emma loves to try on her clothes…..she’ll stand at her closet and point and grunt until I take down her winter coats (she has 3 going into this season…is that enough?) or her raincoat (is it wrong to spend $30 on a raincoat for a toddler?) or her dresses (too many to count). She tries them on, one by one, and runs to the full-length mirror, twirling around so she can see how she looks. It’s usually a battle to get her to put her clothes away, she’s so happy to play dress-up. The heart simply bursts.