After I had my child, like many other women, I yearned for my pre-baby body. One that could walk for miles without soreness. A body that could handle a Sunday-long cooking session or a marathon shopping day. One that wasn’t so fatigued after a brisk walk or after carrying a baby up the stairs. I could not believe how out of shape I was after pregnancy! Granted, I didn’t do much to stay in shape during those nine long months, unless you count lifting food to my face, but pregnancy gave me an excuse to eat whatever I wanted! I never dreamed I would feel so out of sorts once the baby came along. As you may have noticed, I have not been so concerned with the LOOK of my body, but the FUNCTION of it. I knew I would look different and my body would feel different, but I didn’t realize how differently it would FUNCTION.
Every mother I know has made a wish list about her body at some point in her life; wanting what you don’t have is part of being human. But wanting a different kind of body, for me, is not about slimmer hips or fuller lips, but having one that can function on a daily basis. A body that can run and jump and play with a preschooler. Or take nature walks and make multiple stops on a grocery run. I never imagined a post-baby body that would be difficult to lift out of bed each morning. Or one that would gain even more weight AFTER the baby was born. A body that does not do what my mind tells it, or completes the task only to take revenge later in the form of pain and fatigue.
For the past four years I have struggled with this body that does not function to my standards.
Have you heard the phrase “comparison is the thief of joy?” I found myself constantly comparing body functionality on social media, rather than houses, cars and vacations. I wanted to go rock climbing, kayaking, camping. I wanted to do activities with my family and have fun doing them without my body screaming at me internally. All of my joy was sucked out of me by the pain and fatigue and my comparison of myself to other moms.
Along the way I received several inaccurate diagnosis, conditions that seemed to fit, but not completely.
Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain and Fatigue Syndrome, Hypermobility. My doctors seemed to be grasping at straws, so I resolved to deal with the body I was in, since answers were not coming easily. This led to deeper depression than I have ever experienced, a hatred for myself that I had never experienced (thankfully) before. I could not understand what I had done or was doing to make my body feel the way it felt or function in this manner.
As you can imagine, these things impacted my relationships and work negatively. I always felt like I had to make an excuse as to why I could not go to an event or make plans for the weekend. I dragged myself from meeting to meeting at work each day, hoping that others in the room could not see how horrible I felt inside and out. I had resigned myself to a life of pain and fatigue. A life of chasing alternative treatment after treatment to find something, anything that helped. Finally in the fall of 2016, a new and worrisome symptom reared its ugly head, which led to doctors doing more extensive testing. This symptom, numbness in my extremities, was scary, but I will forever be grateful it happened, as it led to a diagnosis.
I am a mom. I have Lupus. I have hated my body the past four years due to its inability to function as a 33 year-old. Now I have answers and a treatment plan. I can look forward to a future with less pain and fatigue. Even now, just weeks into treatment, I have been able to celebrate small successes. Putting on my shoes and socks without pain. Remembering my to-do list without writing it down in ten different places. Sleeping through the night. I can appreciate the small things about my body now that it is getting the right care and treatment. I don’t feel like a failure anymore as a mom. I’m learning to love a body and a lifestyle that I didn’t plan for myself, but one that I can manage and find joy in. I’m a woman; therefore, I know there will still be times in my life that I wish for smaller thighs, but moving forward, I will try to hold on to what my body can do instead of focusing on how it looks.