Saturday, March 20, 2010

Easter Vacay!

Apologies to those I owe emails to! We've been really hectic lately. Alaskaboy got some unexpected work, we had Aunt and Uncle Traveller visit, normal busyness plus getting ready for a plane ride with a little one. To add to the fun, yesterday, Kiddlywink puked into her stroller more puke that it should have been possible to hold in her body. Cue frantic running around trying to find something to get rid of the smell, instead of the other necessary stuff that we'd allotted to do yesterday afternoon.

All Hail, Alaskagirl! Suggester Of Nature's Miracle! We sprayed one coat on in the early evening, after using a fan to dry out the vinegar/water solution we'd tried first. A second coat was spritzed on just before bed. Hardly any smell was left this morning. We're hoping by evening it'll be dry enough to use, plus neither vomit stinky nor Nature's Miracle scented! Excellent qualities for spending time in airports with a sensitive baby nose up close and personal.

I hope to find time to blog while we're gone. Am sure there'll be stuff to talk about in the lead up to the wedding, especially after the dress fitting. {sigh} It's a bummer when you lose weight, and everything firms up, thus making certain parts, that didn't need to be, broader than they were before!

We're off to stay with Alaskaboy's parents for a few days, then to another state for Dr Kay's wedding, and back to stay with Alaskagirl, BeeMaN, DuoLoq and Browneyedgirl. Poor Browneyed girl, she's been saying for days already, "I want to see them NOW!"

IF I don't catch up with yas before then, Have a happy chocolate day! Err.. I mean, Easter.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Progress!

I know these aren't really fair comparison shots, considering the angles are so different, but I felt it was time to post a POSITIVE update.

In these two photos taken in mid-January 2010, I'm wearing a maternity swimsuit top, size XXL and the bottoms are regular plus-size, size 26W/28W. (Granted they're starting to get baggy, but they still fit. The top is also tucked into the bottoms.)
By the end of February I HAD to go out and buy a new pair of bathers. The others had reached the point of ridiculousness beyond which the next stage was falling off! In these two photos taken in early-March, I'm wearing a regular plus-size swimsuit top, size 22W and the bottoms are regular plus-size 20W/22W.

This following swimsuit is the one I wore before I got pregnant. It's a regular-sized one, US18/AU22/UK20. Again I know, not fair comparisons because the angles are different, but there are certain areas that you can slightly tell the difference. Especially my feet. LOL

These two photos were taken early-September 2009. I weighed 250+lbs. I had to have Alaskaboy's help to wriggle into the swimsuit. The suit was stretched to maximum capacity and the straps dug into my shoulders, painfully .


These two photos were taken this morning. I got the suit on unaided and easily. I weigh approx 240lbs. (A month ago I weighed 245lbs. Even though our scales went on the fritz shortly after, I know I've lost weight/inches since.) I now understand what Shauna meant, when she wrote--and I paraphrase--at such a large weight, even taking off a fair bit of weight, it really doesn't show up yet.

I've lost a whole stone, and I can barely see any changes!
Other, more important to me than weight-on-the-scale, forms of progress:
-I know I'm making progress because I'm fitting into clothes that I wore during my first trimester. And I do mean fitting. Wearing the elastic waist slacks, I can sit on the couch then bend over to tie my shoelaces up, and continue to breathe while doing so!
-My parents have also noticed a difference in the way my belly hangs while sitting on the couch and talking via Skype. (But how much of that is weight loss progress and how much is tightening up as my body readjusts from giving birth?)
-I now pool walk 1 mile in an hour and ten minutes as opposed to the hour I would take to pool walk 1 kilometre back in December.
-In February I swam freestyle non-stop, unsupported, for ten lengths of the ten yard pool, or 100yards. In December I could manage one and a half lengths of the 25 yard pool, or 37.5yards, with a noodle under my belly for support.
-In November, it took me 29 minutes to walk 1.084 miles, and I was buggered. I can now walk the same distance in 26 minutes and feel comfortably tired.
-Using the frontmost set of steps near the pool, I can walk down to our mailbox, collect the mail, then walk back up the stair--one foot in front of the other without holding onto the rails--and only slow down a little 2-3 steps from the top. I'm puffed when I get to the top, but I can walk up them without thinking about it too much.

One day I hope to get back to swimming a full kilometre, and even better my PB for that distance. But for now, I'm congratulating myself on progress as I make it. As I've learned from watching Kiddlywink, a little bit of exercise every day soon turns into big steps you couldn't even dream about when you started those first little motions. (Is quite amazing watching how her body instinctively builds up her muscles for the next stage of her physical development.)

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

So many things to talk about: Part Quattro.

For those that missed the earlier installments: Part One, Part Two and Part Three.

It was awful, laying there beside my husband, in the fragile peace we'd spent all day brokering, knowing what I was about to say would create a whole different set of discord. How to tell the man who had been far more caring of me and my feelings, more patient, more loving and more sensitive than many other husbands would ever dream of being, that despite all that wonderfulness it was, ironically, his innate honesty that was hurting me the most?

Exhausted from what we'd already been through and how late Kiddlywink had stayed up, I ended up involuntarily blurting out, "I HATE my body!" Then I spent the next five minutes dissolving into a puddle of snot. Ever cried so hard you wanted to puke? I cried so hard that when it came time to stop it was like I was a kid all over again, making that horrible "fehFEHfeh" noise when you spasmodically suck your bottom lip into your mouth and take great shuddering breaths.

Me! The advocate of loving your body and being kind to yourself, hated my own body. I loathed it. And unlike fat, which is something you're "s'posed" to be able to do something about if you don't like it, I didn't know if the things I detested would ever be fixed. Me, the great solver of problems had met a problem I couldn't solve.

This is your Too Much Information warning. I'm going to talk, in explicit detail, about the postpartum physical problems my body is going through and my feelings and mental issues on the subject. If you don't wish to continue reading, fair enough, I'll see you on a later post.

The problem with getting enough sleep, is that I could no longer ignore my postpartum trauma. Sure, I'd logically discussed it with many people, I'd even had a sobfest or seven. More importantly though, I hadn't dealt with what had happened, what was continuing to happen, and what may or may not potentially happen in the future. Now I had the energy to deal with it, but not the desire. Funny how something which seems bad at the time ends up being a catalyst for something good? Alaskaboy's elephant had been noticed, and it led us on a merry chase to where I was forced to turn around and confront my own pesky pachyderm.

For those that aren't aware let me try to explain how my body has been affected.
Over the whole area from the bottom of my bra line to the tips of my toes, I have completely altered sensation. Any of you ever worn a wetsuit? Imagine that entire area is coated in a layer of neoprene. Like when wearing a wetsuit, I can feel that something is touching me, but nothing subtler than that. If I concentrate enough I can usually figure out what's happening, but I do have to concentrate...and often it's a guess based on information I'm getting from my other senses.
Add to that the weird, numb sensation you get when a body part is not quite all the way asleep yet. My outer two toes and parts of the soles of my feet are totally numb..which makes walking fun sometimes.
Add to that difficulty differentiating temperature differences and odd sensations caused by this. e.g. Sometimes walking on cool carpet feels like the carpet is wet.
Add to that the usual post c-section stuff. Complete numbness from belly button to bottom of pubic mound, even the labia and clitoral hood are mostly numb. (Thank god the clitoris still works...mostly) Weakened abdominal muscles etc
Add to that the usual postpartum vaginal differences...dryness, thinner skin, weaker pelvic floor etc.
Add to that a ventral hernia.
Add to that loss of muscle tone and weight gain from surgical recovery.
Add to that sacroiliac joint pain and weakness.
Add to that sleep apnea.
Add to that incontinence.

All of this and I'd done everything you're supposed to do in order to have a healthy pregnancy and easy delivery! For god's sake I was in the pool working out two days before delivery! While I was busily dying!

And therein was the crux of the matter. Despite all that I was going through, I felt awful for even thinking of feeling anything other than relieved to have a healthy, happy baby and grateful that I was alive. There were plenty of women/families who had it far worse than me. Who was I to bitch and moan about what was wrong when I had so much to be thankful for?

The problem with that though is it's not only black or white thinking but also Should thinking. And Should is a bad, bad word. Why did my gratefulness and relief have to preclude those other feelings? Why would feeling those things make my gratefulness and relief any less than their true depth? Just like Alaskaboy's problem, failing to talk about it only made the issue far worse by the time we eventually got around to discussing it. He'd betrayed me by not giving me the chance to fix it and failing to be honest about what was truly going on, and I did the same to him.

By caring about what I "should" be doing or feeling, I wasn't completely honest with him the very few times we've had sex since I gave birth. By not being honest I made the situation worse. Sure I was honest about the mechanics of it all; what hurt, what was okay, when we had to stop because I couldn't go any more, what didn't do it for me any longer etc. What I wasn't honest about was how I felt.

How I died a little on the inside when he'd grimace at the taste of the milk that remains in my breasts. A double psychological wound. It's the same face Kiddlywink pulled the last time I breastfed her and my milk had finally given up the ghost. Sure there's not enough there to feed my daughter, but there's enough to make my husband find me less enjoyable. (Poor bugger tried to hid it once he was aware of the problem, but it must be awful stuff because he still reacts in subconscious ways.)
How awful it feels putting weight on my numb knees.
How painful it is to be flat on my back.
How hard it is to hold myself in any position that allows for sex to occur.
How I would have to force myself to relax and how I dreaded the way my hips would cramp in the lead up to, or even during orgasm, because I could no longer tell my muscles were fatigued.
How just about every single part of my body no longer felt his touch the way it had.
How it felt like I was a virgin all over again, every single time, and he was hung like an actual stallion.
How frustrating all of this was because even when all the stars aligned and we had time plus desire to have sex, my body failed me yet again.
How guilty I felt because he'd been so patient and understanding, trying to find ways to solve all of the problems I had told him about.
How I'd cringe on the inside every time he'd muster the courage to ask hopefully if I was in the mood.

All of this and more came pouring out that night. We got hardly any sleep because it took that long for us to sort through it all. The shoe was also on the other foot. He'd known something was wrong, but hadn't been able to get out of me what was going on. Boy, did we both feel foolish after admitting our secrets led to something good and constructive.

By opening up to each other it's allowed us to work together on our issues. It's taken weeks and several more discussions but I'm helping him find solutions to his problems, and he's helping me with mine. (Who knew that we'd find so many other places that give me that delightful shivery feeling!) Our problems aren't one hundred percent solved-- for several reasons, one of which was jealousy that the character was awake and got to see her baby straight away, I sobbed for nearly fifteen minutes because of watching a cesearean delivery on a television show the other night--but we're working on them together as a couple again. Dealing with things takes time and effort, but it's so much more rewarding than the time and energy spent on denying stuff. I wish I could remember that whenever I'm in the middle of it all. But, I guess everything does happen in its own time.

I can honestly say I don't hate my body anymore. I'm often frustrated by it, angry with it, hurt or saddened by it, but I don't hate it. And I'm trying to accept and love it. Part of that has been to find the courage to write about all of this on here. Blogging is such an important part of my recovery. But, I used the excuse that I was writing too much about pregnancy related stuff, when it's a weight loss blog, not a postpartum recovery blog.

Well? I realised this particular part of my weight loss journey does involve post partum recovery. Those that don't want to read about it won't. Just like any other subject I discuss they don't want to read. It's my blog, and I have to write about the issues I need to write about. So, I did. And I will. Am pretty sure we haven't heard the end of this saga yet. ;)

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So many things to talk about: Part Drei.

For those that missed the earlier installments: Part One and Part Two.

Anyone who's ever been stuck in a rut long enough will tell you that you don't realise how deep you've worn that sucker until you start to make your way out of it. Complete exhaustion is very similar. I didn't know how unutterably exhausted I was until I started to get a little more quality sleep. I mean, I knew it was bad--other than narcoleptics--not many people fall asleep standing up; while walking even! But I didn't know how badly it was affecting me and every aspect of my life.

I knew it was making me regret being unable to enjoy Kiddlywink as much as I could have. Not only was my body hindering me, but I was watching everything she did through a haze of bone-deep weariness. I was also contributing to my body's inability to do much by injuring myself constantly because I just didn't have my usual spatial awareness, both because of the numbness and the fatigue. And without quality sleep, my body was taking FOREVER to heal.

Despite being nowhere near my usual self, the freedom I suddenly had to actually DO stuff and the extra energy I possessed were wondrous to me. Which of course meant, as per usual, once I started to recover, I went at life like a bull at a gate. Balancing everything has always been a difficult thing for me. I'm gung-ho in several areas and neglect others. And one of the areas I'd been woefully neglecting was my husband and our relationship.

Most new parents go through a phase where they're totally focused on the child/ren, to the exclusion of all else. They don't mean to do it, it just slowly happens over time. Your conversations become about the child, the things you need to do for him/her/them, what new marvels they've done etcetera etcetera. We became so wrapped up in the wonder of our little miracle, that we forgot about the wonder of our own relationship. And like all things, without nurturing it withered and began to die.

It started with snipping and general nastiness, things we put down to our extreme tiredness. Who has time to talk stuff over when there's a free five minutes for sleeping? Next, we shifted to avoiding one another, which we justified by saying one had to be looking after Kiddlywink while the other attended to other necessary stuff. We each began to resent the other. Each felt "I" was doing more then "him/her" and "he/she" wasn't keeping up with their end of the bargain. We each began to take advantage of the other in regards to who would do what about the house--which of course we both began to resent--but blamed the other as the only one doing so, of course. Our predilections towards pedantry got way out of hand. We nitpicked on every little thing imaginable.

As I began to get more and more sleep, all of this behaviour and more started to escalate. Soon enough I had the energy to do extra around the house, which in turn allowed us both to get more sleep, which led to more awareness of our surroundings and each other. "All of a sudden" we were neck deep in shit and how no idea how we'd gotten there.

I began, of course, with trying to fix what was wrong with Alaskaboy. It's always easier to deal with someone else's problems rather than your own. Several issues were cleared up and that eased things for awhile. It even led to me airing some of my own stuff out too. But our deepest darkest shithole was still to come. The road to which was of course paved with the detritus of our biggest, long standing problem in our relationship. Communication.

Not only do Alaskaboy and I have the usual cross-family and cross-sexual communications most heterosexual couples have to deal with, but we also have cross-cultural differences as well. Some of our hugest arguments have been over the minutest of things. But sometimes it isn't so minute. In fact, it's quite the large, white elephant standing there in the middle of the room.

In my unwillingness to deal with my physical problems, because let's face it not much may actually change no matter how much I talk about the issues I have, I threw out hints and tidbits and hoped Alaskaboy would pick them up. Well, no, okay, if I'm to be as honest as I promised to be on here, I subconsciously made them subtle enough that he couldn't pick up on them. Thus, the "problem" became all about his inability to LISTEN to me and hear what I was saying. See how that works?

Everyone has behaviours they will or won't allow the other people in their life to commit. They'll let some things slide, there are some they dislike and will argue about constantly, and there are other things that are grounds for instant dismissal. It happens in every relationship, even the people we know on the most casual basis are subjected to the inner rules we all have.

After a few more weeks of better sleep I began to realise there was something "off" about the way Alaskaboy had been behaving, and I began to press him about whether everything was okay. He assured me it was, and we carried on discussing several smaller issues as they came up. And then one fateful morning, I caught him. Five years prior he'd sworn that he would never do this particular thing EVER again. Other stuff I had no problem with, but this one particular thing could be potentially hazardous to his health, so he agreed to never do it again.

He knew that this and adultery were two things that I felt strongly could be grounds for divorce. It was the first time in our marriage that I walked away thinking, "Holy shit! What do I do in this situation? How do I react?" I was completely at a loss as to what to do. I couldn't react by flinging the words I longed to at him, because they wouldn't serve any purpose except to make the situation worse. I sat on the toilet and actually contemplated divorce. I made myself go through all of the ramifications of what would happen if I expressed my rage, without regard for what was spewing out of my mouth.

He followed me into the bathroom and tried to discuss what had happened, and for the first time ever in our marriage said, "I cannot speak to you right know, leave me alone." Sure I'd slammed out of the house in a fit of melodrama during some of our earlier screaming arguments, but this I actually meant in deadly earnest. If I spoke to him right then, I would say something I would possibly regret for the rest of my life. I needed space to think. Thankfully, he gave it to me.

The hardest thing for me to realise during my sojourn to the loo, was that I could understand WHY he did what he did, which made the situation all that more agonising on my behalf. Yet another reason I couldn't go off half-cocked. While I could understand why he did what he did, my rage came from his refusal to talk to me about the problem when I'd explicitly asked him if anything was wrong.

Eventually I came out of the bathroom, and we discussed things on and off all day. (When he admitted to also doing it on the weekend prior, when I'd asked him in between the two instances to talk about what was bugging him...I was so enraged I literally saw red.) We each had to take several timeouts as the topics became closer to the meat of our problems. The discussions also highlighted how far we'd let our communication skills lapse.

Eventually I got him to understand WHY I was angry by explaining it to him thusly.
I said, "If I had a problem with my computer, that I'd known about for ages, and it was pissing me off, but I avoided telling you about it. And then eventually I went and got it fixed by The Geek Squad or whatever...How would that make you feel?"
He replied, "Livid!"
In our newfound spirit of communication, to avoid any assumptions or misunderstandings about what he meant, I asked, "Why?"
"Because you didn't give me the chance to fix it."
"EXACTLY!"

By the time we got to bed that night we'd covered a vast range of topics, and were moving perilously close to MY deep dark secret I'd been neglecting to give him a chance to fix. Yes, I realise this makes me both a hypocrite and unfair. But like him, I wasn't ready to unveil what my issue was and felt caught in a catch-22 situation.

Eventually it was crunch time, and I had to spill it, or betray everything we'd learned that day. Not to mention making a mockery of every word that came out of my own mouth. I am sometimes a hypocrite but eventually I own up to the fact and get on with the unpleasant task of dealing with it.

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