Real talk, life is hard lately. I would much rather blog about fun things, but God is placing it on my heart to uncover some of the more difficult emotions right now. Josiah and I want another baby but I still haven’t gotten my period back from giving birth to James over a year ago. Maybe it is the fact that I am still pumping twice a day, but I’m barely producing any milk at this point, and I find it hard to believe that that’s what holding my body back from cycling again.
James seems lonely these days. Now that he is much more interactive and wants to play and explore all day it is hard to watch him playing in the living room by himself while I’m washing dishes or preparing a meal in the kitchen. We want him to have a companion. I wouldn’t say that Josiah and I were quite ready to have children when we did, we were very newlywed and very much figuring life out, but I completely trust God’s timing and if it wasn’t for James we wouldn’t be back home in Central New York surrounded by both of our families and closest friends.
The thought of being pregnant again sounds equally exciting and nerve wrecking. James was born 5 weeks early and we were very fortunate that he was only in the NICU for a short amount of time and was able to overcome his initial health challenges quite quickly. It’s hard not to blame myself for his premature birth. I came into the pregnancy with a history of eating disorders, exercise addiction, and as a result hypothalamic amenorrhea. I was on a journey of recovery when I got pregnant, and was completely shocked that my body had made it to a place of healing in which I was able to carry a baby.
What I have learned from past experience with recovery is that physical healing comes before emotional healing and while my body may have been physically ready to endure pregnancy, emotionally I still had and currently have a lot of work to do. We were down in Texas when I found out I was pregnant and had not yet established myself with any doctors. We found a really good OBGYN, the only fault was that he did not know my health history. At one of our first appointments he gave me the go ahead to “run a marathon” while pregnant if I really wanted to. Let’s just say, I do better at listening to others than listening to my body.
When I was working with Robyn from The Real Life RD to recover from hypothalamic amenorrhea, her plan required me to do little to no exercise, and eat as much as I possibly could. I listened to her advice and followed the plan. When my OBGYN in Texas told me that I could “run a marathon” if I wanted, I listened to him as well. I started going out for long, vigorous bike rides, pressed “play” on my Jillian Michael’s DVD’s as she led me through high intensity sweat sessions, and streamed my favorite YouTube workouts, all of which I had given up in order to become pregnant. Hey, if the doctor told me I could, what harm could it do?
I feel guilty for not eating enough while pregnant. I definitely let my eating disorder brain take over. I developed a fear of gaining “too much” weight while pregnant which ultimately led me to gain too little. My appetite changed while I was pregnant, and certain foods that I used to love didn’t sound appealing anymore, I still felt hungry but I wouldn’t always eat. I compared my food intake to Josiah’s, now I look back and think, why? It wasn’t like he was growing a tiny human inside of him so why did it matter if I ate more than him?
We were going through a lot of big changes at the time. Josiah was interviewing for a job back in CNY, so there was a possible move from Texas to New York on the horizon. I felt unsettled in terms of my own career plans, as I was in the midst of figuring out a career path when I found out I was pregnant. We didn’t know where we were going to live so it was impossible to start preparing for the arrival of our baby. Not to mention the fact that we had only been married a month, had just started doing life together, and now had a baby coming in 9 months. I don’t handle uncertainty well.
Uncertain times in my life have led to unhealthy behaviors. I first developed anorexia in 5th grade. Life was changing, I had just started middle school, my classmates and I were on the verge of puberty, and I was fearful of the road ahead. Maybe it was because I wasn’t ready to “grow up” or face any of the changes that were on the horizon. I’m still not entirely sure all of the factors at play when I developed that initial eating disorder. What I do know is 15 years later I’m still on the battleground.
Going back to my pregnancy, I have learned through research and re-reading all of my hypothalamic amenorrhea resources that intense exercise paired with too little weight gain during pregnancy are two major risk factors for pre-mature birth. So the guilt that I carry feels legitimate. I know that I cannot take back time, I just hope and pray that if God blesses me with another pregnancy, I can set aside my selfish sinful ways and focus entirely and completely on the health and growth of that precious little baby.
This story feels vulnerable to share, these thoughts are coming from a place that I never expose to others. My intention with sharing is to not only work through this healing process myself but to hopefully lift up anyone else who may be struggling with an emotional battle themselves. I’ve been waiting what feels like an eternity for a finish line to appear from this race that I’ve been running with eating disorders among other demons. I haven’t seen it yet, and I’m not sure it even exists. But to know that help is out there, that there are people going through these hardships with you, and to keep yourself grounded in your love of God above anything else followed by close connections with those that love and support you. That is what matters. I regret not reaching out in the times that I’ve needed help. I am afraid to share areas of brokenness in my life because I do not want people to treat me like I am fragile, or feel like I can’t be a good wife to my husband or mother to my son, or to be a shoulder to lean on to a friend in need. We all have our battles, and will never have the strength to overcome them ourselves.
If you are currently carrying a load that feels to heavy, consider lifting your burdens up to God. He can carry all things in the palm of His hands. Dear God I have missed a very important aspect of recovery all of these years and that is You. Jesus you died to take away my sins and I have sinned horribly in my sense of pride and self worth. You have determined my worth and it has nothing to do with what my body looks like. Controlling my appearance does not grant me control over my life. I lift my life up to you Lord, please use me as a vessel to lift up and encourage those around me. Help me to share Your goodness with others so that none of us have to remain in a place of isolated suffering. Thank you Jesus for saving my life and the lives of those around me. I want to trust in You and only You Lord because I cannot do this alone. Thank you God for you you are and the work you have accomplished. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.