Follow me on the crazy, hopeful, discouraging, funny, and ultimately successful (one way or another) path to parenthood while facing infertility.

Monday, December 28, 2015

#Microblog Mondays: Self-Acceptance



I was thinking on how Mel at Stirrup Queens said that resolutions are part of our self-help national culture. That everything needs to be focused on being better, somehow, not just feeling okay with how things are, as they are right now.

I am learning how to accept things for right now. Don't get me wrong, goals are great and I intend to set a few for 2016. However...it's arguably equally valuable to learn how to accept what is at this moment, who you are, what you look like, what your life looks like at this present moment.

It's not always an easy thing to do.

I have finally let go of any hope that I will one day be pregnant, that I will wear cute maternity clothes, that I will have a clever maternity shoot, that I will birth my child and have a story of labor and delivery (although that part always sounded a little scary).

I won't.

When we decided to donate/place our embryos, a process that has a ton of paperwork that we are still wading through, it made me realize that the dream of pregnancy was over. I had to accept it. And it was hard.

But I did it, and I am feeling quite peaceful about the whole thing. I can be a mother without rearranging my internal organs. I can be a mother and have it have absolutely nothing to do with my body. Given all our experiences, that's probably the best thing ever.

I am letting go of the guilt I feel for not pursuing induced lactation. I really wanted to do it, to have some level of the experience I felt robbed of. Except I am accepting that I can't be pregnant, and so I am accepting that my body has limitations, and one of those limitations is that it would likely be a horrorshow for me to attempt lactation. My diagnosis of PCOS can create breastfeeding issues for women who actually sustained a pregnancy and gave birth, and so faking that and tricking my body into lactating probably wouldn't result in nearly the meager supply I might have had before, and it likely would result in a whole lot more guilt and frustration.

Plus, I'd be doing more of what I've already forsworn: trying to coax my body into doing things it just does not want to do. I already have quite a bit of data that says that my body has no clue how to do anything remotely normal in the reproductive area, and I know exactly how that makes me feel. So I am letting go of that as even a possibility. I am going to formula feed, and I am okay with that. I will have a well-fed baby who gets skin-to-skin contact and fed whenever it's needed, it just won't come from my body. I won't hate my body for it because I didn't force it into doing something it in all likelihood wouldn't have anyway. I won't waste precious bonding time with my baby frustrated with pumping and low supply and all the emotional stuff that goes with that. And Bryce can feed the baby just as easily as I can, so we can both have equal bonding footing.

I accept that I am not going to pregnant, and I am not going to breastfeed, either.

I am trying really hard to accept my body. It's hard not to feel massively betrayed by its inability to conceive or sustain a pregnancy, and then again by its inability to be in any way regular after I stopped all the meds. It's also hard to realize that the wonderful, magical pound-shedding I was expecting after stopping all the injectibles and hormones that I was pumping my body full of...just didn't happen. It's been almost a year since I had any of that in me, and I did not lose hardly anything. My body just...is. Bryce wisely (or unwisely?) said once, "Well, you were in your early thirties when we started this, and now you're nearly 40. I mean, that's got to have something to do with it, too, right?" Ugh. But yes.

Now I am working on accepting my body for what it is, not what I want to wrangle it to be. I can hike and walk and do yoga and pilates, but I will never be skinny and I will always have my thick flubby midsection. I have to make peace with my jawline and my "at-risk chin" to quote Amy Sch.umer, and with the fact that I will never look at my stomach in the mirror and think, "that's amazing." What I can do is get clothes that fit me now, and do things like S.titch F.ix where I can try clothes on at home, with what I already have, and get some really nice-quality things that fit my body as is, quite nicely actually. I can aim to be strong and fit but not slender, unless my body wants to do that (it doesn't). I accept that our hobby of cooking delicious food is not going to help me lose weight. I accept that I don't want our future child to hear me saying, "God I look fat in this" or any other such ilk, because that poisons the body image of children. Bodies should be strong, and healthy, and it's okay for them to be in different shapes and sizes. (Now that I've set that up, I need to honestly apply it and believe it, for myself. I can apply it to a zillion other people but struggle mightily with my own body.)

Self-acceptance is healthy. Self-acceptance meets you where you are right now, and helps you to not always be striving forward towards a day that might never come, but here in the now. That's all we've got, right? The beautiful now.

Want to read some #Microblog Mondays that are, in actuality, micro? Go here and enjoy!

20 comments:

  1. I'm so glad to hear you reached a decision about your embryos that gave you peace. Letting go of guilt and finding acceptance, in my experience, are very difficult things to do, but they're incredibly rewarding when you do. It sounds like you're well on your way to achieving both. Best wishes to you and yours in the coming year. *hugs*

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    1. Thank you -- it's not easy, but I'm trying to let go of the guilt. And the peace, that's lovely to end the year with that decision made.

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  2. Cheering you on with this post! Accepting our bodies, both the good and the bad, is very challenging. Especially after infertility. It's taken me such a long time to come around and love my body again after all we lived through because of it. And yet, it's still amazing what it can do, despite being broken. And I'm glad your accepting your body too.

    Thanks for the beautiful reminder.

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    1. I love this, "it's still amazing what it can do, despite being broken." That's totally how I feel. Thanks for the cheers, I'm glad it resonated with you!

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  3. Wow Jess! Thank you for writing this. I really needed to read something like this right now, as I am struggling with self-acceptance. About my body and with many other things that are all created in my own head. I will likely come back to this post again and again as a reminder.
    I am so glad you are able to look ahead and put the past to rest.

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    1. You are so welcome, what a sweet comment! It is so hard to put the past at rest, but I do feel that it doesn't have to define my future. Self-acceptance is totally an ongoing process, right?

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  4. I'm ages behind on commenting, one part laziness, one part exhaustion and two parts business. I've been a bad blog friend. First of all, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Your posts throughout the Christmas season I thought were so thoughtful and uplifting, even when dealing with difficult topics. This time of year is so hard (but then again, so is the spring, and the fall, and summer isn't a cake walk, either). I want so badly for this to be your last Christmas as a family of two. Although you and Bryce, as usual, had an enviable Christmas filled with so much love and peace and happiness. Each time I see a post from you, my heart skips a beat--that this will be the post where you say you've been matched.

    However, this is not what this post is about--letting go of the guilt. There just is so much guilt associated with infertility. I think you're making the right choice about breastfeeding. I want so badly to provide Ayan with the best of everything--to make up for the fact that he is a 100% donor baby--including breastfeeding. Maybe I didn't try hard enough, but I just couldn't do it. But Jess, he is thriving. He is so happy and he's meeting his milestones. And so happy and loving. He may be a little on the big side, as formula fed babies often are, but I'd so much rather he be at the 90th percentile than the 5th percentile. And bottle feeding is so freeing. My friends who have nursed/are nursing seem exhausted by month 6 of being the sole source of food for your baby. When you bottle feed you don't have to find a private place to feed (I'm all for breastfeeding when/where needed, but I think it's easier to nurse in public than it is in front of male relatives), other people can feed the baby, which is an amazing bonding experience for them, and no pumping!! Although I believe that breastfeeding is probably best, I've kind of gone in the other direction and find the zealous insistence on breast is best to be oppressive and insulting.

    As for body image--I think this is a good exercise to go through now, because when Mystery Baby arrives, it's going to be even harder to fit in exercise and healthy eating. I've been willing myself to get out of bed early enough to go for a walk or pop in an exercise video for months now and so far, I just keep hitting the snooze button. Tiny humans take up so much physical and mental energy. Besides, you're beautiful and glowing, even without the pesky pregnancy hormones.

    This is a long and rambly comment to tell you that I've been reading, I've been willing Mystery Baby to appear sooner rather than later because I know of very few more deserving parents, and to toast to you and Bryce for how you've dealt with the pretty difficult hand you've been give thus far.

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    1. Oh, thank you! Your comment made me cry. :) I am so glad that feeding is going well with Ayan and to hear your thoughts on breastfeeding vs bottle feeding. It's such a hot button thing, which is kind of strange to me because as long as a baby is well fed and nutritionally cared for, who cares? Oh boy to the exhaustion of caring for tiny people... I'm kind of hoping that lifting that little bundle and pushing the stroller on walks will count for something... :) Thank you for your kind thoughts on the holiday posts and the hope that each post will be THE post about our match. It will happen, and the further into 2016 we get the antsier I think I might become, but for now we wait with more joy than anxiety. It sure would be nice to start the new year as parents, though... :) Thank you for your long and rambly comment and I was so happy to see an update from you, frustrations and all. Take care and Happy New Year!

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  5. Strong is the new skinny! I remember watching America's Next Top Model years ago and all of the models were supposed to do a wall sit. One of the models collapsed after less than 5 seconds, her legs shaking and I thought "whoa. Would never want to be like that." I think that the trend is definitely moving towards strong and things like CrossFit. If your body allows you to do the things that you love like yoga, hiking, etc. then it's doing a great job!

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    1. I feel like strong and functional are definitely great goals! I've been in physical therapy for my knees since the summer, and it's been great to hit a point where I can do squats pain-free. CrossFit would probably break me, and I loved Zumba but it left me with a swollen knee and ankle so I think it's a little too high-impact for me. Hiking and yoga/pilates blends seem to at least give me a chance to sweat and enjoy doing it. I have to fit more yoga in, because it really helps me slow down and center and feel more at peace, in addition to adding strength and back stretching in the mix. I can't imagine not being able to do a wall sit. Healthy and solid, I think I'm okay with that! :)

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  6. This post resonates for me deeply, as I was here once letting go of so many things.

    What I found was that in doing so, I made room for other things. Wonderful other things, and all that comes with them...(always a mix of wonderful and challenging).

    Here's to 2016, whatever it may bring and whatever we bring it.

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    1. Thank you so much, Lori! I so look forward to the room for all that is to come. We are not naive and know that parenting comes with challenges, adoptive parenting more so, but it will all be so, so worth it. I am so excited for 2016, and love that you added "whatever we bring it," because it reminds me that I am responsible for bringing happiness and peace my way, too.

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  7. Self acceptance is the first step to feel at peace with how things are. While I can't talk much on the topic, I am glad you sound at peace with yourself and as a reader of your blog, I want that for you. I want you and your little family to be happy and smile through life. Whatever way you are, you are wonderful. Please know that. Hugs and best wishes for a lovely 2016. May it bring the best.

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    1. Thank you so much, Parul! Peace with where things are now has been hard to come by, but I feel like it's easier and easier as time marches on and we get closer to the mystery date when we become parents. Thank you for your sweet thoughts!

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  8. This is such a powerful statement: "Now I am working on accepting my body for what it is, not what I want to wrangle it to be." Maybe that is my resolution: to be accepting of what is instead of trying to fit myself into something I've convince myself I need to be.

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    1. Thank you -- it's so hard not to wrangle. To always see disappointment in the mirror instead of acceptance and love. And man is it hard to realize how big a factor an older metabolism is in all this... Sigh. So, accept it is! I wish you luck in this as well!

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  9. I enjoyed reading this post and all the comments. Accepting and eradicating guilt is important and very difficult. I am pleased to read that thoughtful decisions have been made and a sense of coming to peace with same has / is following.

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    1. Thank you -- it is lovely to be in a place of peace and decisions made before we head into another realm of tough decisions to make... :) Thank you so much!

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  10. Great post. This is exactly how I feel about my body now. I've neglected it for too long, ignored it, and now I am going through some hormonal changes and it's not doing what I want it do anymore. Been there, done that and I hate that feeling. Time to get strong again! Thank you for this.

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  11. Another insightful post, Jess. It does seem that resolutions are all about improvement, but (in my experience) are always abandoned or otherwise deemed failures leaving you feeling ever crummier for not having accomplished whatever you set out to. Acceptance seems like a very worthy cause. Difficult, certainly, but well worth it even if all we can do is make progress toward it. I appreciate your thoughtful posts... they are so good for so many people in various situations. Who cares if your baby's nutrition comes from a bottle or a boob? THAT (your thoughtfulness, work toward acceptance, perspective) is what your mystery baby will really benefit from. What a lucky child he/she will be! Cheers to a new year, with the same, very acceptable and wonderful you!

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