Seven years and one day ago, after what felt like a lifetime of fertility treatments and anxiety and fear that we’d never be parents, our son was born.
That moment I heard him cry in the operating room… it was, hands down, the best moment of my life. Release. Relief. Love. Amazement. Happiness. All the feelings.
For once, my body hadn’t betrayed me.
Even before infertility, I haven’t always had the best relationship with my body. Like all humans, I tend to eat my feelings when I am miserable. In my teenage years, I was miserable a lot.
So I yo-yo dieted. Gained weight, lost it. Gained more, lost some.
Infertility was hell on my already-sort-of-cracked body image. When you spend month after month trying to conceive, then use doctors and assisted reproductive techniques which STILL don’t work… with every negative pregnancy test after a transfer of “beautiful” and “perfect” embryos, you start to think, I’m a failure. My body is a failure. This is my fault. I don’t deserve to be a mom.
Cue eating all your feelings.
Owen’s birth helped me start to repair my broken body image. I lost weight with the help of running and weight watchers when he was 2, and I haven’t gained it back. But. When O was 3, we started treatments again for another child, which culminated in two miscarriages and no baby. (I thank the universe I had running to help me cope with it the second time around. Thank you, thank you, thank you.) We quit treatments 3 years ago.
I’ve spent these past 3 years working hard on my body with the idea that maybe if I got down to certain target weight, I’d finally be able to accept it and love it. I expected that once I hit that magical number, I’d look in the mirror and love what I see.
Apparently it doesn’t work that way.
Because I did hit that number a few weeks ago. Yet whenever I look in the mirror, I still see Fat Karen. Even though when I see myself in pictures, I am surprised at how slim I look.
It’s fucked up.
And I don’t want to live like this anymore. It’s too much, and been too long, and it’s time I end this war with my body, and honor all the things it HAS done in the past 39 years.
This body has run 3 marathons and I-don’t-even-know-how-many half marathons.
This body nourished our son for 37 weeks and 2 days.
This body has run and biked and hiked and swam 5,732 miles in the past 4+ years.
This body hugs and snuggles my son and is strong enough to carry all 55lbs of him up the stairs in the moments where he needs his momma and wants to pretend he’s little.
Yesterday, this body swam a little over a mile without a break.
Today, this body ran 5 miles without a break.
When I think about where I’ve been, and the heartbreak and fear we went through to bring home our son, it seems unfair to be held captive to shame about our infertility and my body’s failure to provide us with the family we had hoped for.
And I don’t want to buy into the whole cultural idea that this body isn’t enough, that I just need to lose more weight or tone my stomach more or do whatever to be different, and THEN I’ll be happy.
I am me, and I want to embrace the me I am today, stretchmarks and all.
I’m just not sure how to go about doing it.
So I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’re willing to share.
What are some of the things you do to foster a healthy body image?