Now, let’s pause for a moment and think about how incredible this step is. It wasn’t until recently I discovered that I have polystistic ovarian syndrome and that’s probably the reason why I took me over a year of not not trying to get pregnant with my first. I was 23 and ahead of many, many of my friends who weren’t even contemplating children so I didn’t have that many friends to discuss the experience with. The reality was I hated the way I looked before I even got pregnant but thought for sure this would “fix” that. Yeah, that just didn’t happen. I felt too guilty to admit that I was embarrassed of how I felt because I was supposed to be basking in the glow of my motherhood. As my already large clothes stopped fitting and the scale started tipping, I fell into dispair. I was working two jobs and going to school full time so I was left with little time to take care of me. As a result, I only have a handful of pictures of me while pregnant and absolutely none with my belly actually exposed. I remember seeing these red steaks form on my growing belly and feeling helpless and hopeless that I’d ever feel attractive again. I was mortified when my then 4-year old nephew saw my belly and gasped. Very sweetly he asked me what happened and wanted to make sure I was ok because he thought I had been attacked by a cat and got scratched up. The stares were what I had the most difficult time with so I kept myself covered up unless I was around family and friends, which was rare even then.
Why explain all of this? Well, because I don’t want anyone to feel alone or guilty for feeling their feelings. Our expectations for ourselves or those that are put on us are challenging to deal with when they are not met. Our challenges are all different but what I learned from this is the importance of sharing so that no one has to go through it alone. Loneliness makes it easy to believe our fears because it’s the only voice we hear creating doubt in our heads. The circumstances we all face a unique but we all know the feelings we feel.
We don’t get do-overs but…
I had to go through what I went through to get to where I am today. If I could have given myself advice, it would have been:
1. You don’t have to go through this alone just because you can. Being strong sometimes means admitting weakness.
2. Take time for yourself. There’s no prize for running yourself ragged. Your health is just as important as everyone else’s and that might mean putting yourself first even when others don’t.
3. Take pictures! This one kills me. Not seeing pictures makes me feel like it was a time I want to forget and that’s just not it at all. What was happening in my life shouldn’t have an impact on my kids. They deserve happier memories than that.
Moral of the story:
My son is now 9 years old and I finally am taking actual steps to feel comfortable in my own skin. It has taken me that long and that’s ok. Up next, we go to step 2. I hope you join me on this trip down memory lane.