My oldest, Parker, is five years old, which means I found out I was pregnant for the first time, about six years ago. Wow - that’s shocking. Six years ago we had zero children… ZERO, but two dogs who we affectionately called our “babies.” ( I laugh at myself for that now.) I honestly don’t even know what I did with my days - maybe I had free time. Fast forward, and life as I knew it changed dramatically, and during the interim, a lot has “gone down.” To sum it up, I’ve had three babies and three surgeries, which is a lot for one body to go through in that amount of time. But, let’s back up a bit.
After Parker was born, in 2011, four weeks to the day, I was taken to the hospital in the middle of the night. We had no idea what was happening, but I had shooting pain from the right side of my abdomen, fever had set in, and I was about as nauseous as I’d ever been in my whole life. I called my parents at 2:30 a.m., my Dad answered the phone and all I said was “I need help, can you come over?” He said, “yes, I’ll get dressed now.” The conversation was less than 20 seconds long, and they were at our doorstep within 25 minutes. Twelve hours after that, I was recovering from appendectomy surgery. It was a total whirlwind, but what happened after that is what was particularly intense.
Since Parker was our first and only, I felt the need to be Superwoman. I wanted to prove to myself, and the world, that I could “have it all.” Even I roll my eyes at myself now, but it’s true. I was a nervous wreck most of the time trying to keep up with every little thing: the house had to be spotless, I needed to lose the baby weight, the dogs needed to feel adored, and I had to be every bit the rock star at work that I once was. In my head, I had created impossible expectations for myself, which made me sick. Because I was trying to attain these unachievable goals, I ran myself ragged and a month after the emergency appendectomy, I caught pneumonia. After that I had a six-month struggle between pneumonia and bronchitis. I was sick all the time, constantly on steroids and antibiotics. In the end, we discovered that I needed to have sinus surgery (surgery #2). It certainly wasn’t ideal, but it was necessary. That recovery was about fifty times worse than either labor or the appendectomy, but then things got a little better.
However, it wasn't long after all that when I got pregnant with Charlotte, and Cooper was born just 18 months after her. Neither of those pregnancies came with major issues, but they both had their own little complications here and there. The biggest "event", was that my body sort of gave out on me, which is pretty big. I had some serious issues with prolapse that had made it incredibly difficult for me to be able to function normally on a day-to-day basis. I did my best to hide it, but I was in serious pain and discomfort most of the time. Surgery really scared me at first, but it didn’t take much before I realized it was necessary (surgery #3). So, I went back under the knife in November, three months ago.
With so much going on the very first thing I let go of was cooking. I’ve made jokes about it before, but I really dropped cooking altogether - for a while. We had gotten in the terrible (and terribly expensive) habit of eating out - every meal. In the morning it was a bagel and coffee at Starbucks, for lunch we had a sandwich and chips, and for dinner - whew… cheeseburgers or pizza three nights a week with a pinch of Chinese or pasta thrown in for good measure. Also, I was completely addicted to Diet Coke - the entirety of what I was consuming on a daily basis was chemicals and processed foods. God forbid I eat an apple. We justified it all because we were busy - too busy to do the grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning up afterwards. We kept telling ourselves, “this is just a phase, it’s not who we really are and it’ll pass,” but it didn’t pass. Years later we've been stuck in the same bad routines, doing serious damage to our bodies.
About a month ago (mid-January), I thought I had been through all of the bad, and things were going to start getting better, but they took a turn for the worse… again. I started getting very nauseous - four to five days a week. Most of the time it was just nausea, but there were also moments of extreme pain in the middle of my abdomen. This went on for about two or three weeks, and it was my rock bottom. I couldn’t believe that after all the pregnancies, surgery, and pain… I was still sick. I had never felt so disheartened, and I told my husband, “I’m done! I’m done feeling sick all the time. I’m only 33 years old, and don’t want this for my life.”
Armed with my new resolve, I went to see a new kind of doctor - she had a legitimate medical degree, but she also supports holistic medicine. Her mission is to get to the route of the problem and solve it for good, BINGO! When I walked in the door, I had no idea that my diet was doing so much harm to my body. I knew I wasn't healthy, but I didn’t think I was making myself sick, when, in fact, that’s exactly what was happening. After a thorough appointment, she determined that I was likely having gallbladder issues, and the only permanent fix was to radically change my diet and lifestyle, for good.
After some back-and-forth on what diet to choose, I’ve committed to going Paleo (as best as I can). I used to scoff at the Paleo folk for being “too good for dairy and carbs,” but now I’m a believer. I know it’s what’s best for my body, and I can feel the difference. When I eat real food, I feel energized, and when I don’t… I DON’T. So now I'm making smoothies in the mornings, even with hempseeds (so fancy), and cooking a healthy lunch and dinner. It's a ton of work, but, truthfully, I've never felt better - aside from being just a tiny bit starving, but I'm still adjusting.
For years I gave myself every excuse in the book because I was afraid of changing my lifestyle. Change IS scary, but I came to a point, a low one, where I realized this cycle of bad behavior had to stop. God gave me this one body and this one life, and I want to make the most of it. So I decided to give my fear of change, of trying, of failing, of everything up to Him - it's too much for me anyway. My body image, diet, and health have been the biggest thorn in my side for as long as I can remember. We all have our cross to bear, and I wanted to take a minute and share mine.
I never thought I'd be writing about anything related to health and wellness; I mean "what do I have to offer the health community?" Then again, maybe, it will help someone out there see I struggled and decided to give it a go. I'm going to have some missteps here and there, but it's time to take the plunge and just start. Here goes!
L&L Tip - When you start a big life change, take baby steps and be kind to yourself.
I'd love to say that I made the switch to Paleo seamlessly, but I didn’t. I tested the limits on my diet at first, but every time I went too far, nausea and pain came right back. What I did do was learn. Now I'm listening to my body, and I'm aware that when I eat fatty, processed or sugar-filled food, it's going to make me feel bad. One of the best things I've been able to do is be kind to myself; setbacks are totally normal.