When I was asked to be a part of ‘We are the face of motherhood: A series on Postpartum Depression‘ organised by the amazing Jamie from Mommy in Flats I panicked a little. It was a no-brainer really, of course I will always say a big fat yes to raising awareness and ending the stigma surrounding postpartum/postnatal depression and anxiety but I got a little nervous that I wouldn’t have much to say because I realised suddenly that things were good. Things were finally feeling really, really good. In fact, I considered that perhaps I had bested the beast once and for all, and that I wouldn’t be lost in the darkness again. Ha! Life loves to remind me that when you have kids you don’t get to be in control of something like that, so after a while of living in blissful ignorance I got the sharp reminder that I needed and out came my post.
I have pretty much always been a big girl, but I will not always be a big girl.
I have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), some pretty unfortunate genes and a condition called ‘Lazy-emotional-eateritis’ (it’s a thing). The combination of those three things kind of suck.
A lot of people out there say things like ‘You can’t be beautiful and big’ or ‘You are fat you should be ashamed’.
Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
I know a lot of bigger girls who are stunning – fat don’t crack remember. I know a lot of big girls who are confident. There is nothing wrong with this. In fact I think it’s amazing! Every woman deserves to feel beautiful and confident.
As a larger lady I see a lot of discrimination towards my fellow plus sized people. Sometimes it’s from a place of concern, sometimes disgust. Majority of the time they simply don’t understand.
They don’t understand that it’s just so ridiculously easy to eat away your emotions. They don’t understand how genes really can sway it. They don’t understand that sometimes we look in the mirror with such disgust and self loathing that we want to eat because that’s what we’re used to, it’s comforting. On the same token they don’t understand how we could look in the mirror at our big bad selves and think ‘Damn, I look good today’. They don’t understand that medical conditions really can cause weight gain no matter how much you watch what you eat and how often you go to the gym. They don’t understand that you can get to a point that you really just don’t care anymore so you don’t bother trying to change it.
It’s ok that people don’t understand. They don’t have to. They just need to be respectful. They need to respect that everyone is on their own journey. You’re not doing us any favours pointing out that we have cankles, or a bunch of chins, or ass dimples for days. We know. We really, really know. All you’re doing is making us want to sob, or stay at home forever where no one can see us, or shove our faces into a piece of cake to feel better (that’s not logical, we know).
We appreciate that you care but it’s not something that you can change for us. It’s similar to quitting smoking – we have to do it in our own time, when we are truly ready. It’s horrible, but there it is.
I decided it’s my time. It’s my time to turn my life around because I am not healthy and I’m not okay with living this way anymore. Seven weeks ago I underwent a Sleeve Gasterectomy. A lot of people didn’t agree with it. A lot of people consider it the easy way out. And as with being overweight a lot of people just didn’t understand.
That’s ok because I didn’t do it for them. I did it for me and I did it for my family. It’s not easy. It’s damn hard. The pre-op diet is hard, the surgery and recovery is hard, the rest of my life will be hard because I will have to work with the sleeve to get myself healthy. It’s a tool, not a miracle fix. I’m open about it, I’m always happy to talk honestly about it. The more people that understand the better.
We don’t need to be this way. We don’t need to live our lives judging harshly and discriminating. You wouldn’t know by looking at me what I’ve been through to change my life. We don’t know what is happening behind closed doors.
I know it’s unrealistic to expect no judgement, it is human to judge. But I just wish we could also try some understanding, some patience and some love.
A cruel comment can be like an extra hand holding someone under water, seconds from drowning. But a compliment?
There is a new ‘repost this’ status going around Facebook. It basically says that women who are fortunate enough to fall pregnant shouldn’t be complaining about the aches and pains that come hand in hand with most pregnancies.
Well I’m #sorrynotsorry but I have to say that I think that is an absolute load of garbage.
I make no apologies for my many, many complaints.
I complained about the nausea, the sleepless nights, the crippling pelvic pain, the fact that I needed crutches, the fact that I needed help from my husband just to turn in bed or dress myself. I complained that Symphisis Pubis Disfunction is so debilitating, so soul crushing that it makes you wonder why you keep getting yourself in this position. Actually I’m seven months post partum and I still complain about SPD.
I complained about having to inject myself with insulin and prick my finger multiple times a day, I complained that I couldn’t give enough attention to my other children, I complained about migraines, I complained about how my anxiety got worse and worse the further along I got. I complained about how much I was complaining. I exhausted myself and others around me.
I complained with every pregnancy because I am just not good at it. In fact I hate it.
And apart from it probably (definitely) being really annoying to listen to, it’s ok. It’s ok for me to not have enjoyed that journey and to be honest about it. My experience and vents are in no way belittling anyone else’s journey.
My pregnancies were hard for me, just as your struggles are hard for you. I feel for you. I empathise with you. I care for you. I hope for you. Our struggles and journies are ours, and no one, and nothing, can take away from how important they are to each of us.
We aren’t in competition with each other. There isn’t a giant pie chart showing who has it worse. It’s all relative. There is no reason we can’t be there for each other. Can’t we whinge at each other and sympathise without it taking away from our own struggles? I suppose that may be too much to ask, but isn’t it worth a shot?
Please don’t confuse my complaints with being ungrateful. I am grateful for all that I have complained about because it gave me three beautiful little boys who I love more than I could ever explain.
So I’ve been wanting to write about this topic for a while but have been struggling to find the right words to get it going. It’s something that is so close to me I really don’t want to do it a disservice by messing this up.
Being pregnant these days is a completely different experience to what it was for our parents. They started solids early – farex of course, now we know it’s best to start at around 6 months and we know that farex is as nutritious as cardboard. We know that rear facing is the safest way for our babes to ride. We jump online and ask ‘what is this rash? Can you see two lines? Is this a bite mark?’.
It’s totally different. We spend so much time asking other mothers for advice that I do sometimes wonder if we’ve quashed the ability to trust our own intuition. On the plus side of course, you have many different women who have been through things similar to yourself, who can offer advice, and comfort, experience and support.
It is the latter thought that brings me to the whole point of this post. When I fell pregnant with my first in 2012 I scoured the internet for any sort of advice about breastfeeding, gender specific symptoms, morning sickness and everything else that you question when your womb has been invaded. I found a lot of answers, but what I really wanted was conversation about all these things. I wanted to be able to talk to other women who were feeling the same things that I was. The doubt, anxiety, nervousness, excitement, joy and pure fear that I was feeling. I wanted to know that I wasn’t alone. That’s when I found my due group.
Due in December 2012 (now fondly known as DID) was my home. The women in this Facebook group quickly became my friends. We would speak about everything pregnancy related with no judgement (and I mean everything). We would support each other through things completely unrelated to pregnancy. We would have huge conversations about absolutely nothing at all.
When I was 30 weeks pregnant bub decided he would try to escape early and I was transferred from my small country hospital in Bega, NSW to Canberra. Thankfully my labour was stopped, but I had to remain in Canberra, staying with my parents and hubby had to continue working at home three hours away, until the little ratbag arrived nearly nine weeks later.
It was an extremely scary and stressful time and those beautiful, beautiful ladies were there for me, reassuring me, keeping me positive and distracted the whole time. Not only that, they all pitched in to send me a gorgeous bunch of flowers and a hamper full of goodies. That was the moment they transformed from ‘imaginary’ online friends, to family. These women, scattered around Australia, cared for me as I cared for them. It was almost unfathomable to me that people who didn’t even ‘know’ me, could be so completely and utterly selfless.
I’m still in DID. Our conversations have changed over the years from ‘how do I know if my waters have broken or if I just wet myself?’, to ‘my baby won’t stop chucking and screaming, help!’, to ‘any toilet training tips?’, and now ‘when should I be starting the school enrollment process?’.
People have come and gone and come back again, we’ve shared laughs, we’ve shared advice, we’ve shared our lives. We’ve supported each other’s businesses and career choices. We’ve sent gifts and received gifts. We’ve kept each other sane and sent love when people felt as though they’d lost their sanity.
I think we have all met at least one other group member now and are hoping to organise a whole group catch-up one day.
I have new due groups from each of my other children and I love them all, there is something extra special about your very first one though. There is a bond formed when you band together and support each other through a truly life changing experience. Genuine, lifelong friendships are made.
I will never be able to express just how special these women are to me. They have pulled me up so many times when I’ve fallen and I’m sure they’ll pull me up again.