When Adam and I learned we were pregnant with our first son, I was 19 years old. Noah was born one month (to the day) after I turned 20--just four days before his due date. We got pregnant with his precious (albeit spunky) little brother, Mason, when I was 21 years old and I delivered him 38 weeks later at 22 years old (we had said goodbye to a precious baby in between Noah and Mason at 6 weeks along). Then at 23 years old, we were overjoyed to discover we were pregnant again, this time with our daughter, Maggie. I turned 24 a few months later and then at 31 weeks along (the beginning of our 8th month), our Maggie girl passed away and was born so very still. Nine months later, at 25 years old, I was thankful and walking on eggshells when we found out we were pregnant again for the fifth time. Our Emmitt was born 38 weeks later, just 3 months shy of my 26th birthday this past December.
In case you lost track (and really, I don't blame you) we have seen that perfect little plus sign appear on a pregnancy test 5 times in 7 years, with 2 children that went to Heaven before they could come home to us, and 3 living, breathing, rambunctious little boys that I get the privilege of spending each day with.
Each pregnancy was a choice and honor for us. Each life I was allowed to carry brought a change in me. As each new pregnancy stretched and grew me as a woman, a mother and a wife, each has also just plain stretched and grown this vessel I walk around in.
Four [nearly full-term] pregnancies in 7 years--my body has gotten into the familiar cycle: INFLATE, DEFLATE, REPEAT. And it shows. I would like to think of each stretch mark and undesirable pucker as a well earned badge of motherhood merit. In choosing to have children--to grow and sustain another life--you forfeit an aspect of control and selfishness. For me, that meant having to fight the thoughts and actions of an eating disorder. Though I feel the most freedom in my own form when I am carrying a sweet babe inside, the aftermath never fails to leave me discouraged, insecure and seeking change in my body.
As warmer weather begins to blow in, I begin to feel that familiar panic that comes with it. I know that I will soon have to shed the comfort and cover of winter attire and trade it in for summer things I cannot hide behind. It is in times like these that deep rooted lies and habits by default try to make their way to the surface again. 13 years of the same thought process and routine will do that to you.
A DEAR FRIEND OF MINE ONCE DESCRIBED AN EATING DISORDER AS A DISHONEST FRIEND.
It has looked different for me in different seasons of the past 13 years--more pronounced in some, and just lurking around the corner in others. This eating disorder--this dishonest friend--disguises herself as truth and love and acceptance when really, the only language she speaks is deceit and hate and an approval dependent on the numbers on a scale.
Today I finally made a point (after a month long break) to pop in my Postnatal Rescue Workout DVD. So much of an eating disordered mentality comes with such stark black and white thinking. In the past, when someone has said I looked "healthy," I always immediately equated it with them saying "you've put on some weight." It would take no more than a comment (intended as a compliment) to send me into a tailspin. How skewed our interpretation can be when an eating disorder has wreaked havoc on our perspective of what is comfortable and healthy and good for our bodies. There was no balance--just all or nothing in one direction or the other.
I want to find a middle ground. I want to be healthy. Healthy mind and healthy body.
I got about 10 minutes into the 20 minute workout when Emmitt let me know, loud and clear, that it was time for me to nurse him again. Like, NOW, mama. So I thought, I'm laying on my side doing a bazillion of these Pilates leg lift thingys, I can just feed him at the same time. Multitasking--everybody wins. I scooted on over to his soft blanket, got him all set up and away I went lifting and lowering like there's no tomorrow. With a full tummy and his mama by his side, Emmitt drifted off to dreamy dreamland in no time. I finished up my reps (I had lost count, but I figured that burning, leg-going-to-fall-right-off feeling meant I had been working what I needed to for a good amount of time). Then I thought, I'll lay my head down too, you know, for just a second. Annnnd I'm out for the count, snuggled up with my baby in the middle of my living room just 10 minutes into my "rescue" workout. Anybody else ever fall asleep while working out? No? Just me? Awesome.
So I woke up from my little impromptu siesta still squishy around the edges with a kink in my neck and a little bit of drool dried on my cheek (Emmitt's or mine--it's anyone's guess). So hot, right? Just keepin' it real here, folks. Then I wonder, does it even count as a workout if I took a little snooze smack dab in the middle, and that snooze was longer than the whole workout? *Note to self: Don't lay down while exercising, especially next to a warm, sweet smelling little babe. Otherwise, you might not ever want to get up.
Solid effort, though, right?
Today I chose time over toning--time with my youngest son who is growing up entirely too fast. Time I didn't want to miss because I know I can never get it back. The squats and the push ups will have to wait until later and I'm ok with that. This time is just too important.
I have fought the grip of an eating disorder over half as long as I have been alive. And I am tired. I have known the all-consuming pit that an eating disorder, in it's fullest force, can keep you in. I have lived there in that pit. It is desperate and lonely and hopeless. I know the toll, the sacrifice, the head space it takes to keep it all up. I know that for me--with 3 little boys that need a full and present mother, and a husband that deserves to grow old with his wife--it comes down to what I'm willing to give up. It is either life with an eating disorder, or life with my family. Simply put, I cannot do both.
I choose my children, my beloved Adam, my God and His TRUTH. I choose life to the full.
I know that this battle is not over in a word. I know that there are days when I will feel my foot slipping back down into the muck and the mire. I know that it will take time to un-learn the mindset 13 years in the making that I have grown comfortable and accustomed to. But I serve a mighty God, and His grace is plentiful and love unconditional.
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."