Sunday, May 31, 2015

Don't go chasing waterfalls...

"Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used to..."

Or, on second thought, chase away!

When I was heavy, I was used to my seat belt digging into my hips when I drove. I was used to my having to sit in a table and not a booth as it was too hard to get into a booth. I adapted to being winded and avoiding my reflection in mirrors and store windows. I got used to shopping just for accessories as shopping for clothes was no fun. It was what it was and I did not think much about it.

As of this morning, I am 70 pounds lighter than I have been in YEARS. I can drive comfortably. I can sit wherever I choose. I can run and climb and shop for whatever I want. I can even chase waterfalls, if I want to.

Gary and I celebrated our five year wedding anniversary this past weekend. We went into Center City, Philadelphia and walked for miles and miles. We had dinner out and laughed and reminisced and enjoyed being together. We took a Segway tour which was so much fun, I wonder why it took me 41 years to take one. We shopped, we ate, we smiled, we relaxed. We even slept in!

The Segway machines have a weight limit. That is not what prevented me from riding one in the past, but it would have had I known. You need to be able to use your body to steer the machine and I definitely know that I could not have done it when I was overweight. I zipped around Old City like I was on fire and enjoyed the entire 2 hours of the tour. It was just terrific. It was liberating and exhilarating and Gary said that every time I passed him by, I had a giant smile on my face.

This morning, we meet some of our family at Ringing Rocks State Park. We climbed rocks and steep terrain and hiked all over.  We all took turns making sure Miranda didn't stumble (too much!). At the end, we were rewarded with a waterfall. A waterfall that I would have never seen in the past as there is no way I could have kept up. I would have had to stay behind.

The world is open to me again in the way that it used to be. I have a freedom that I had lost for quite some time. It's new to me and I am still testing it out, but so far, I love it. I feel like the girl I was when I first learned to drive. Or when I went away to college. So much is new to me. I am new to me. 

I was holding myself back from doing so much before. And I did not even know it! Well that is over now. I have many more waterfalls in my future.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Bounce, come on, bounce

On Friday, we went on an adventure. Using a Groupon I purchased months before, my mom, Miranda and I went went to BounceU. Basically, everything is inflatable, everything is loud, and everything is fun. Miranda loved it. My mom loved it. And I was able to keep up.

I realized early on that I was not winded. I was not embarrassed when we went "wheeee" down the big slide and my shirt rode up a bit in the back. I was not embarrassed by my size - in fact, I was not even aware of my size. I was totally in the moment, watching my daughter and her gram giggle with delight. It was an exhausting hour and a half, but a super fun one and I can't wait to go back.

A morning like that was the kind of morning that I did not even know I was missing when Allie died. If it makes any sense, though, I feel like she was there with us in spirit. Not because I saw a butterfly or a particular reminder of her, just because she is woven into the fabric of who we are.

This morning, we had a Skype call with M. It was not a scheduled call, but we received an email on Thursday that some of her extended family was going to be in town this weekend and she wanted to introduce them to Miranda. It was, to us, a fair request, so we complied. Miranda was an absolute doll on the call and I think it made M's day. She is always going to have ties to our daughter and I see no reason to try to make those ties strained or any more complicated than they already are. Miranda blew her kisses at the end and hugged the iPad and we were all smiling when the call ended. I think we are going to be able to make this open adoption thing work - even if by the terms that we have to discover along the way.

In between bouncing and Skyping, I got an interesting offer. Effective very soon, I am going to be a Weight Loss Coach! I am going to be able to take the tools and knowledge and support and help others achieve their goals. It's 10-15 hours a week and I could not be more flattered or excited! This new role is one I feel so ready to play. With the proper training, I think I could be a force to be reckoned with! To be able to help others by sharing my journey? Well that is just about as good as it gets, as far as I am concerned.

I spent so much of my life being angry and sad and resenting the things I could not change. Now I am trying to truly accept those things and make the best of them. Losing Allie has taught me more about myself than I ever thought possible. Raising Miranda has taught me even more. I am bouncing all over the place...and for the first time in a long time, really enjoying the ride.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Why now?

I posted a picture of my before and during (not after...yet!) weight loss on Facebook last week and I got so many positive comments and "likes" that I kind of felt like a rock star. I also got a few personal messages of accolades. One of which was very simple. My friend asked, "What got it to stick this time?". It was a very good question.

This time I am not losing weight for anyone other than me. For me to be happy with myself. For me to be able to keep up with my daughter. For me to be able to grow old with my husband. For me to be able to look in the mirror and be proud of the person looking back at me.

In the past I dieted to get thin. Now I am dieting to get healthy. Another person I know who recently started the same plan, remarked to me that she is not calling this a "diet". She is calling it a "food routine". I think that is brilliant. Diets fail - routines do not!

I still have a long way to go. Once I get the rest of the weight off, I have to maintain it. That has always been the hardest part for me. But with my food coach and the support network that I have, I feel like it is different this time. This time I am making my struggle public, too - in the hopes that creates another layer of accountability.

This morning, Miranda and I drew flowers on the driveway in chalk. Then we played in the grass with sticks. Afterwards, I pushed her around in her toy car. Just normal outdoor play on a gorgeous Spring day. But on this day, I was not winded. I was wheezing. I was just a mom, playing with her daughter, and being happy.

All I want is to be happy. And to raise a happy girl. And to have a happy family. Losing this weight is just a part of it, but it's a big part of it for me.

I never lost the weight I gained when I was pregnant with Allie. I tried, but failed several times. I think it was safer to hide behind that weight. I did not want to feel good. I did not want to even look good. My body had failed me and it (and I) deserved to be miserable.

I finally understand that my body did not fail me. Nor did I fail my baby. Life just got in the way as it does sometimes. Things that are beyond our control took place. I did the best that I could and then some. It just wasn't enough.

I often think of Miranda as our second chance at a family and for that, I am forever grateful. And will make every effort to be forever happy.

So that's why now...

Monday, May 11, 2015

This End Up

I was so excited for Mother's Day this year. I felt like Miranda was beginning to understand the concept a bit and I was finally in a groove of feeling like I really am a mom and that I deserved a day to celebrate it. I have gone back and forth over the years with this issue - am I a mom or am I not a mom - but after years of flip-flopping, it seems to have finally settled in my brain that I am!

And then Mother's Day arrived. From the moment I opened my eyes, I knew it was gonna be one of those days. A day when my longing for Allie surpassed any other emotions. And on days like that, I just have to feel it in order to get through it.

The day before, we went to the annual tree planting ceremony that our hospital hosts. We stood around with other families while they read poems and planted a new tree for the babies that were born still the year before. It is sad and bittersweet and also so important to us that we see year after year that we are not alone.

On the days when I wake up sad, it's not that I feel sorry for myself. That used to be it. Now I feel sorry for Miranda - for the sister she never knew. For Allie's cousins that will never get to play with her. For Allie's aunts and uncles and grandparents who never even got to see her face and see how much she looked like the children they are raising. I just feel sorry in general.

By mid-afternoon, I started to snap out of it. Gary suggested we go out to dinner and get out of my head and just enjoy what was left of the day. And we did. By the time we got home, I was better.

May 11, 2011. My due date. 
May 11, 2015. Just another day.

I guess no matter how much time passes, the grief and sorry is still there. The trick for me is to talk about it, to lean on others, and to enjoy everything else that I can. 

I have a great life. I really do. Gary and I are celebrating 5 years of marriage at the end of the month. Me, who exhausted every dating site possible, is actually married and has been for 5 years? That deserves something!! My daughters are my everything. Miranda is the missing piece of our family that we did not even know was missing. My freelance job is going well and for the first time in my life, I really enjoy the work I am doing. And I am down over 60 pounds since January. So I am physically mirroring my emotional state. Most days, anyway.

There is no right or wrong way to handle grief -that is a lesson in and of itself. I just have to remember that when I am down, I will inevitably be up again.

I have a fantastic support system and I am forever grateful. I am forever grateful for so many things. And once the fog clears and I can see again, that is one of the first things I remember.




Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Love

I love the way she looks at me.

I love how we are her whole world.

She doesn't quite understand yet that she is ours, too.

We have found the balance of love and loss and love more now than we ever thought possible.

Are we the lucky ones or is she? Does it matter?

I love the way she looks at me.

A Letter to My First Daughter

My Dearest Allie, It’s been a while since I have written to you. I find it easier to write about you than it is to write to you. ...