No pee stick photos today. For some reason pee stick photos were always a trigger for me so this time around I’m choosing to exercise a little self-control out of respect for those of you struggling through failed cycles. Today I am 8dp5dt and the sticks are making satisfactory progression. I am feeling a little cramping every now-and-then and this strange sort of wiggling feeling in my uterus occasionally. I felt good yesterday, little tired and a lingering headache but not bad. I was in bed and asleep by 8:30 again. I think the best thing I can do for these embryos is stay rested.
Ok, enough talk about the pee sticks and embryos. Let’s talk about Prozac and body image, shall we?
For my entire life I have struggled with a distorted body image. I distinctly remember being in kindergarten and pausing in the restroom to examine my profile in the long mirror. I did not like how my stomach stuck out and vowed to stop eating Cheese Whiz sandwiches in effort to combat it. I was five and by no stretch of the imagination overweight. What five-year old worries about weight gain? What five-year old decides to give up Cheese Whiz to lose weight?
I have struggled my entire life. I grew up with a mother who is obese. Today her knees are failing and she can’t move around without the assistance of a walker. My mom and I used to shop and garage sale together. We used to spend hours browsing through craft stores. We used to drive to Tennessee to spend and entire day roaming around Sir’s Fabrics (awesome if you sew and live in the area, by the way). All this stopped in college, though, when her knees started to fail.
Today when they visit we spend 80% of our time gathered around the dining room table talking, looking at photos, browsing websites, basically doing everything we can to enjoy one another’s company and dodge any inquires into how her knees are doing and if she has lost enough weight to have the replacement surgery. It is distressing to see. As strained as our relationship often is, she is my mother. I want nothing more than for her to be happy, healthy and able to play with her grandchild and grandcats.
Growing up with a mother who was constantly struggling with her weight had a really negative effect on my self-image and on what I considered “healthy.” As an adult I would exercise every day to the point of exhaustion. I would ration food and deprive; never did I starve or purge. I fought to be thin, terrified of what would happen to my body if I were not.
After the miscarriage my distorted body image got ten-times worse. I have photos of me nude in the bedroom, pinching my pudgy areas. Of course there were pudgy areas! I was pregnant after IVF! That happens. At 5 foot 6 inches and 135 pounds, a good bit of which is muscle, I was a far cry from fat. My fear of gaining weight would send me into full-blown panic attacks complete with sweats and shortness of breath. The fear of gaining weight kept me up at night.
I wrote about my plans to lose weight, which looking back was insulting. I was not fat. Could a little tone up been beneficial? Absolutely. Could clean eating and passing on evening dessert helped my complexion? Of course. To think I was fat, though, was incorrect.
This morning I was digging through my photo archive for a project and I found the photos of me scrutinizing my body.
It was then that it hit me: since starting the Prozac not once have I freaked out about my body.
Do I miss exercising? YES. Very, very much. But for once I realize I’m going through IVF to have a baby. I need to take care of myself in other ways. Rather than waking up early for a painful workout, I have let myself sleep. I have cut back on exercising because weight loss when you are already thin does not a baby-ready-body make. I have allowed myself to eat a little more fat, something that is critical for a baby’s development. And not once have I beat myself up about this. I know that when I’m secure with my pregnancy I will sign up for some classes specifically for pregnant women. I know that after I see that heartbeat I’ll return to my bike for long, slow rides. I know that AFTER my baby comes I can dive into rebuilding my lean, strong body.
Not once has this left me panicking And you know what? I actually look pretty darn good. Yeah, my arms are not as buff as they were and my waist is a little more soft, but my pants still fit (on non bloated days!) and I still look pretty in my dresses.
I 100% attribute this to the Prozac. Until I started on the medication I was a diet-Nazi and was not fun to dine with. Do I still have my moments? Absolutely. While in Atlanta my dear friend made a right proper Southern meal for my birthday and I felt my pulse quicken when I saw how much vegan margarine she put in everything. “Oh my God! The fat and calories! What the hell am I going to do???!!!”
You know what I did? I allowed myself a treat and it was delicious. What’s even better is that my pants still fit. Hell did not freeze over because I had one unhealthy meal. Will I eat like that all the time? Good lord, no. My digestive track cannot handle that sort of decadence. Will I allow an occasional treat? Hell yes.
I never intended for the Prozac to help with the distorted self-image. I never expected that 5 mg of a drug might give me the perfect amount of balance that I could actually see and appreciate the beautiful woman I am – even with crazy hair that is growing out and a little extra softness from too many rounds of infertility treatment. Even with a little acne from this new pregnancy. For the first time in my life I am comfortable in my own skin and damn it feels good.