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Our parenting journey that started through domestic infant adoption
When Mr. Fit and I first started this blog, we planned to focus on our domestic adoption journey, issues around infertility, and (we hoped!) our experience with parenting. But lately, I’ve had another topic on my mind. Like, a lot. And that’s body image. I have a lot to say, and a lot to unpack, and I hope you’ll find it enjoyable or interesting or maybe even helpful as I add body image to the list of topics we like to explore here.
I’ve already shared a lot about my efforts to lose weight and get healthy (part of my 80 til 40 goal–remember that old thing?). Depending on when you’re reading this, there might even still be a weight loss ticker over on my side bar. When Ladybug first became part of our lives, I was determined to keep weight loss and fitness as a high priority. And, for a while, I succeeded. I faithfully continued my running schedule, even when I was totally sleep deprived. I diligently logged my calories, eating mostly food I had cooked from scratch from our CSA veggies. But I didn’t really lose weight.
Then I went back to work, and everything changed. Keeping up my running schedule became impossible. Cooking became much more difficult. The CSA bounty disappeared in the fall. And in the winter, we were beaten down by a steady stream of daycare germs. Staying healthy felt like a pipe dream.
Still, I wanted to lose weight. I was still working with my nutritionist, but I found it harder and harder to keep up with the daily habits of exercising, tracking calories, and packing all of my food for the day so I could stay within my 1,300 calorie/day goal. Since the main point of seeing the nutritionist was to lose weight, I found myself “cramming” for my appointments with her–being pretty lax with my exercise, tracking, and healthy eating until a few weeks before an appointment, and then being really strict and hoping it would show on the scale. And sometimes it did. But I felt plagued by a constant, nagging sense of failure.
Then, this happened. And everyone, I mean everyone, was posting about it on Facebook, with tag lines like, “Just a reminder to all of my friends–you’re more beautiful than you think!” And I watched it, and it bothered me. I mean, I get it. We all get hung up on our negative body image from time to time, but others aren’t nearly as focused on our negative traits as we are. True. But, still, it bothered me. And I couldn’t figure out why. Until a friend posted this response. And something clicked.
Then, another friend posted this, and something else clicked. And I could tell that something was shifting inside me, but I still couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
Then I received this email, and something snapped.
And all of the cumulative stress of years (and I do mean YEARS, like 30 of them) of believing I had to be thin and pretty, and all the disappointment and strain of the YEARS (probably at least 15 of them) during which I felt I was falling short in some way just kind of bubbled up and exploded into a series of giant epiphanies:
So, as you can see, this is turning into a big topic, one I hope to explore a lot more in the future. And I think it’s tied into a lot of what we already write about here. Body image is often one of the early casualties of infertility. As a parent, it can be challenging to prioritize my own wellness and health. And I want to teach my daughter that SHE IS ALREADY OKAY, no matter how beautiful she is.
Thanks for coming with me on this new journey.
I have never been much of a joiner. I’m more of a one-on-one, small group kind of girl. Maybe it’s because, in spite of my outgoing personality, I’m really an introvert at heart. Or maybe it’s because there’s always that one person in a group who is a little more difficult or dramatic or just rubs me the wrong way. Or maybe I’m still traumatized from all those times I got picked last in gym class. Whatever the reason, being part of the group has never really worked for me.
At least, not until I experienced infertility.
I arrived at parenthood late. In my first marriage, when I was in my (supposedly) prime child bearing years, the time and circumstances just never seemed right for adding to our family. It wasn’t until I went through a divorce and experienced a deep sadness about the possibility of never remarrying, never having children, that I realized how much I wanted to be a mom. Someday. For the time being, I was content to enjoy my freedom and to throw all of my energy into my friendships and my career.
I remarried at the age of 35. I felt young. So I was surprised at my routine checkup to have my doctor tell me that I’d “better not waste any time” if we planned to have children. I didn’t want to get pregnant too soon, but I was worried that it might take a long time to conceive. So we agreed to wait just a few months before jumping on the TTC train.
Two-and-a-half years, one unsuccessful pregnancy, countless invasive tests, two adoption agencies, and many thousands of dollars later, we met our daughter for the first time.
Believe me, I know how lucky we are. In retrospect, our journey was short and relatively uncomplicated. But while it was going on, I felt like it would never end. I can’t even count the number of times I wanted to give up. I have a wonderful husband and warm, supportive family and friends, but even surrounded by love, I felt alone.
Just as I was reaching a real low point, Mr. Fit and I attended a conference organized by Resolve of New England. And I realized just how valuable joining can be. At the time we attended the conference, I was not “out” about my experience with infertility and pregnancy loss. I had shared my experience with my close family and friends, but when I was around people outside of my close inner circle, I grew to dread the inevitable questions about our family building plans. I knew they were well-intentioned, but they kick-started a battle inside me. What should I say? How much should I tell them? If I open up, will I get hurt? What will their response be? Will I be judged? Do I really want everyone to know?
At the Resolve conference, all of those questions evaporated. I was surrounded by people who got it. I could share my experiences without fear, feeling safe that I wouldn’t be judged. That conference was about more than the incredible sessions we attended, the friends we met, the information we hoarded. For me, that conference marked the moment I joined this incredible community, embraced with compassion and acceptance. Sitting in the crowded hotel ballroom, I was overcome with tears.
For once, they were happy tears. I no longer felt alone.
I did, right? What? That was, like, two month ago? Sorry about that, guys.
Things have been a little nuts over here. Ladybug just changed schools, I’m changing jobs, and, oh yeah, our baby girl turned one. ONE!! Change is what we do over here at Fit to Parent, and we don’t always do it gracefully.
Since our entire routine has been up-ended, and since we won’t settle into a new routine until I start my new job next month, I have given myself permission to take a break from trying to eat well and exercise. And you know what I’ve noticed? I feel a lot more relaxed. Like, a lot. Way more relaxed than I should feel, given that I’ve basically turned our lives upside down. Again.
I was sharing this epiphany with a friend of mine today. She asked if I’ve discovered that I’m actually still eating okay, just without stressing out about it. Alas, the answer to that is no. I’m really not eating okay. I’m not making my morning smoothies, I’m not packing my lunch. I’m eating a lot of meals out, and when my coworker brought cupcakes to a meeting today to celebrate my last week at work, I ate two! But I think I’m starting to see ways to get back to eating better without adding all the stress back into my routine. Fingers crossed.
In the meantime, I’m doing all the transitional things. Cleaning out my office. Turning my projects over to team members. Setting up my new workspace. Corresponding with my new colleagues. Feeling nervous about letting go of the familiar. Getting excited about starting a new adventure. And trying not to stress too much along the way.
There are about a million reasons why I haven’t been writing lately. For starters, I’ve been having some trouble finding my voice now that our story has changed. Katie wrote a post recently about not knowing exactly where she fits in now, and I feel much the same way, except on a much smaller scale, since I don’t have nearly the readership and reach that she does. But even though practically no one reads this blog, I still feel like I don’t know how to write or what to share sometimes.
But even if I weren’t struggling with knowing what and how to write, I’ve just been so freaking busy. Busy and sick. Sick, sick, and sick again. Buried in the logistics of the daily routine, and frankly, feeling like I kind of suck at it. Not at the parenting piece, so much, but at the logistics. I just feel so behind and so buried all of the time, and I’ve been running out of steam every day before my long list of daily tasks is anywhere close to done.
This post, from Ask Moxie (GREAT blog for all you parents out there), came through my feed the day AFTER I hit my wall and realized that, perhaps, the plan we had put in place for my daily routine was simply not doable. You know, getting out the door by 7:15 for daycare drop-off, working 8-5 with no break in order to get my long days in, making sure not to be late for daycare pickup, getting home around 6, tending to Ladybug’s dinner-bath-book-bed routine, and after all that, tackling of a bunch of stuff around the house before bed. Just saying it out loud made me realize I had set my expectations way too high. And maybe, just maybe, the fact that I can’t seem to make it through that insane routine from beginning to end without collapsing doesn’t mean that I’m a failure at life. Thanks, Ask Moxie, for reassuring me on that one.
Ten months into this whole parenting gig, we’re reexamining our daily routines and expectations and trying to make adjustments to address areas where we need to shift responsibilities, ask for help, or just let some things go. And when I feel completely overwhelmed and stressed and disappointed in myself, I find comfort in this adorable face.
I don’t know how to write about this New Year’s without sounding like a giant cliche. 2012 was the year that brought us our Ladybug. The year we became parents. One year ago, I was filled with a strange mix of hope and resignation, not knowing what the future would hold. Today, I am grateful, exhausted, overwhelmed, excited, and maybe a little bit terrified about the year ahead. And so, so in love with our little family.
A look back at some 2012 highs and lows:
Between general holiday stress/laxness and being sick off and on for practically the entire month of December, I’ve back slid on some of my personal goals. So I’m recommitting for the New Year to:
Wishing you all a wonderful 2013!
Time has been flying by around here. Life is full–too full–and we’re often scrambling to keep up with the day-to-day logistics and all the big changes. Blogging has definitely fallen by the wayside.
Today, all three of us are being forced to slow down. Head cold season is in full swing, and we are all suffering. We have declared today a sick day and are taking a break from all of our responsibilities except eating, drinking fluids, cuddling, and napping. And blogging, apparently.
Over the past few months, I have said goodbye to my beloved dog. I have temporarily let go of my treasured early morning running and yoga regimen in favor of more sleep and long walks across campus with my laptop or around the neighborhood with Ladybug in a stroller. I’m taking two steps forward and one (or sometimes three) steps back with my weight loss efforts. But I’m not giving up. I’m learning to be more flexible, to make adjustments, to ask for help, to hang onto what really matters and let go of the rest.
And I have fallen in love with my husband and daughter and our new, challenging, chaotic life again and again and again.
My up front admission: it’s been hard letting go of some of Pre-Ladybug life. I miss sharing daily morning coffee time with Ms. Fit. We used to spend about an hour together on weekdays and longer on weekends. I miss being able to cook the food we eat on the night we eat it. And man, I miss sleeping longer than 90 minutes without being woken, or waking from being conditioned to.
We’re handling these days better than a lot of our friends though, and our friends’ friends. The Facebook tells us so. And in-person, mutual friends of real life people tell us so too. Mostly we’ve learned that we don’t share a fanaticism for extolling and complaining about the commitment and rigors of being new parents. To their credit, most of these people who have newbies are only a little more than half our age, so we’ve got a little life on them.
After all, Ladybug is a blessing, right? Especially for couples like us. We’re going through the same, rough experiences as these other couples. And some days really are difficult. But because it took an approval process involving more money, paperwork and travel than a lovely trip to bed, and because we’re older, and already through and past more of life’s and our own crap, maybe there’s also a little more appreciation… even during the parts of this new life that ask so very much of new parents.
Of course… it’s still hard sometimes. But no matter how hard it is, the worst times all boil down to the same thing: moments when I can’t grasp Ladybug’s needs. Sometimes I understand her needs and can’t meet them, and that’s a whole different thing. She can cry and cry and I understand… because I know where I stand. It’s when I don’t know what’s wrong (and especially when I only think I do) that instead of keeping my perspective, I can feel like she’s refusing to cooperate, or simply rejecting me. That’s not what’s going on of course. She’s not rejecting me, but it’s difficult and it feels personal.
Thankfully we’re a team over here in the Fit household, and if the negative junk builds up too much, we can call for backup and a fresh dose of self-esteem to step in and help out.
I’d also like to mention that I don’t miss everything about Pre-Ladybug life. We’re eating healthier and exercising more.So that’s a new, good thing. Decompressing about our respective work days has become a more focused ritual, to cover what we can in the brief times we have. That’s an example of a ritual that’s changed, but hasn’t been lost. And then there are other, formerly daily indulgences that have become rare, but also more treasurable when they can be experienced. And finally, there’s the to-do list. We’ve tried to get lean and mean when it comes to that. Everything’s still on there (actually, more), but the SOMEDAY list has become our Never Actually HAS To Happen list, and we prioritize accordingly, letting more things fall to that status and being okay with it.
How have you or how did you level out your newborn experiences?
A few weeks ago, I hit an energy wall. It started with my running. In my 5K training, I did a few 3 mile runs. And I did them, if not easily, competently. So when my first 3-mile run of my 10K training rolled around, I was pretty confident that it would be no big deal. Then I got on the treadmill, and I just couldn’t keep going. I chalked it up to a bad day, tried again the next day, and the same thing happened. After about a mile, I hit a wall.
A couple of days later, I hit another wall while I was putting Ladybug to bed. She goes to bed around 6:30 or 7, and once she’s asleep, Mr. Fit and I eat dinner and take care of all of our evening chores to get us ready for the next day. Ladybug was a little restless, so I sat down in the glider for a minute, hoping she would settle down to sleep. The next thing I knew, Mr. Fit was shaking me awake for dinner.
When I first went back to work, I was getting up around 5:15am to get my running and yoga in before the day started. Lately, although my alarm goes off at the same time it always has, I’m lucky if I can drag myself out of bed by 6, which leaves no time for exercise.
Everything was going so well, and now it’s been over a week since I’ve had the energy to do any exercise at all. What happened?
In my exhausted state, I have a few theories.
For starters, I wasn’t nearly as tired while I was on maternity leave. I mean, I was tired, but generally, I had control over how low key or hectic my day would be. So, when my energy was low, my day was pretty mellow. Now that I’m back at work, I no longer have that luxury. The day brings what it brings, and I have to do my best to meet it, no matter how tired I feel.
Also, when I first returned to work, Ladybug was sleeping great. Many nights, we would put her down before dinner and not hear from her until the next morning. Most other nights, she would wake up once for a feeding, and then go right back to sleep. Mr. Fit and I have been trading off nights, so the usual pattern was that we would each get a couple of nights in a row of full sleep, with a few mildly interrupted nights sprinkled in. Totally doable. Lately, Ladybug hasn’t been sleeping well at all. She’s up multiple times, and it’s not always clear what she needs. Even after a feeding, she often doesn’t go back to sleep. And I can’t remember the last time she slept through the night.
Finally, on my nutritionist-approved eating plan, I’m eating less than I’m used to. About 300 calories per day less. And while I haven’t felt overly hungry, I can’t help but wonder if those extra snacks were helping me get through the day.
So what can I do? I don’t want to start eating more. I’m finally starting to drop some weight, and I’d like to keep that up. I don’t want to stop exercising (or, more accurately, I want to start again as soon as possible). Ladybug’s sleep habits are largely out of my control. And I can’t stop working.
Before Ladybug started sleeping through the night, Mr. Fit and I used to split the night instead of trading off. That way, we each got at least 4 good hours of sleep every night. We’re going to go back to that tonight to see if it helps. Beyond that, I’m at a loss.
I feel like these posts are getting a little redundant. My eating is going well, but as always, I am really struggling with my exercise routine. Even when I sleep through the night (either because Ladybug does, or because it’s Mr. Fit’s night), it’s really hard to get up at 5am to exercise. My week days are long, and Ladybug and I have to be out the door by 7:15am. She and I get home between 5:30 and 6, and I don’t have much downtime in the evenings before I collapse into bed between 8 and 9. Add to that mix one or two seriously interrupted nights, and I guess it’s no surprise that one morning, I think I actually fell asleep during one of my walk intervals. Another morning, I had to take almost my entire run at a super slow pace. And today, I completely quit after 5 minutes. It just wasn’t happening.
Also, remember how I’m supposed to be doing yoga on my off days? Well, this past week, yoga has turned into an extra 45 minutes of sleep in the morning. And while I’m sure I need it, it’s not doing my lower back and my aching joints any favors.
The good news is, I’m losing weight (finally!!), but I’m feeling kind of discouraged about how hard this all feels. And it doesn’t help that today’s run was a major bummer. Tomorrow’s another day, and I’m going to try again in the morning.
Anyway, on to this week’s stats:
Welcome, current and new readers! I am Ms. Fit, and Mr. Fit and I share this blog to talk about our journey through domestic infant adoption. You can read about our history here.
Right now, we are happily parenting our nearly-6-month-old Ladybug, who came into our lives suddenly and without warning when she was two days old. We are figuring things out as we go along, and we share our victories and foibles here.
On today’s schedule: big laundry catch-up and massive CSA cookfest. I’m going to write more about our CSA and our cooking routine soon!
What are you all doing with your Saturday?