On a Different Kind of Body Image Issue

It seems I have some body image issues.  I’m not talking about the I’m too skinny/too fat/hate my nose/butt/legs kind of body image issues.  I’m talking about the kind of body image issues that arise when your body doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do.

It started, of course, with the infertility.  There I was, doing everything I could to make a baby, and my body just wouldn’t cooperate.  It seemed that my body was incapable of doing the very thing it was designed to do.  Meanwhile, people all around me were just magically pregnant.  It took us years of trying, surgery, pills, injections, and 4 IUIs to get pregnant with the girls.

Eventually, though, all our hard work paid off, and my body agreed to cooperate and carry two baby girls.  With each passing day, my anger at my body faded into the background.  Things were going great!  Every day I expected a problem, and every day passed without a sign of a problem.  My girls were growing and healthy, my cervix was long and closed.  I was taking care of myself and even starting to enjoy this pregnancy.

Then, along came gestational diabetes, and all of those rotten feelings about my body came back.  Once again, I find myself standing on the outside.  While all the other pregnant women I know get to eat what they want when they want…not so for me.  I have to eat certain things at certain times.  I can’t just eat whenever I’m hungry.  I have to wait two hours after each meal to check my glucose, and only then can I have a snack.  Could I have a bowl of ice cream?  Sure.  Half a cup.  And the choice to eat that ice cream is the choice to not eat something more filling and that has real nutritive value for my girls.  Once again, I feel like my body is failing to do the very thing it was designed to do.  I was a failure at getting pregnant, and now I feel like a failure at being pregnant.

And, of course, along with the gestational diabetes comes the advice.  Just like with infertility, everyone is quick to tell me just what it is they think I need to do.  I’ve had some very helpful conversations with people who have had gestational diabetes, but I also have an inbox full of advice from people who have never been pregnant, never had gestational diabetes, and certainly don’t understand the complexities of dealing with gestational diabetes while eating enough to keep me and my girls healthy.  It feels like infertility all over again.

On top of all that, it’s looking more and more like I’ll be the lucky recipient of a c-section for the birth of my girls.  Having multiples combined with the gestational diabetes just makes the likelihood of a c-section extremely high.  It’s something that I really don’t want.  I understand that women do it all the time.  In fact, something like 40% of births in the US are c-section.  Still, I’m not a fan of having major abdominal surgery, and I really, really want to give birth.  I would like to give my body the chance to do what it’s supposed to do.  I’m not giving up hope completely on the chance of a vaginal birth, but it’s looking less and less likely at this point.

I’m sad.

I’m tired and angry.

And I’m really frustrated with my body.

What I want right now is to drown my sorrows in a gigantic brownie sundae.

What I want right now is to snuggle my girls.

What I don’t need right now is anymore advice from people who don’t know anything about gestational diabetes.

What I don’t need is people e-mailing me telling me how much worse their problems are than mine.

What I don’t need is to be told to be grateful that I’m pregnant.  If you know me at all, you know how much this pregnancy means to me.

Instead, what I need is to find a way to deal with the shortcomings of my own body.

I need to stop putting so much pressure on myself to fix things I have no control over.

I need to find a way to be at peace with my body.

Comments

  1. Oh, Erin, this is all so frustrating. It seems so cruel that it’s always something. Like shouldn’t years of struggling with infertility mean that now that you’re finally pregnant, it should be awesome and full of rainbows and unicorns (and many pints of ice cream) from start to finish? But it doesn’t work that way and now you’re stuck with this annoying condition.

    I do think you’re dealing with it so well, though. You’re doing what needs to be done. You’re putting your girls’ needs first, and making choices that are best for all of you. You know the risk of c-section (and I totally feel you on that–I am really really REALLY hoping to avoid that myself, though I have no specific reason to think that I would have one other than the high national rate you mentioned), and you are informing yourself and surrounding yourself with advocates who will hopefully work with you to make every attempt to have the birth experience that you are hoping for. I assume that the new OB is supportive of your desire to try for a vaginal birth?

    And hey, you still have that nice long cervix and your girls are still growing and healthy! Your body is at least able to do SOMETHING right.

  2. Nothing to say, but hugs and prayers for you!

  3. I certainly don’t have any advice for you, but just wanted to say I’m sorry you’re feeling this way. Your body is doing amazing things! And, for what it’s worth (I know: not what you want to hear, but in an effort to maybe ease your mind?) – I had a C and it really wasn’t so bad. While I was definitely ready to go home, it was nice to have the extra time in the hospital to recover with helpful nurses around 24/7. 🙂 Good luck!

  4. What I don’t need is people e-mailing me telling me how much worse their problems are than mine.

    Can you block email accounts? I feel like you should be able to, so that after receiving one ‘I know better than you even though I’ve never been there’ or ‘You think you’ve got problems?’ email, you can hit a button and never have to deal with those people again. I can understand people wanting to give advice or help when they’ve been there, or share links about things they’ve heard, because most people do want to help in some way, but sometimes they’re just jerks. Yes, I said it.

    I am sorry you are feeling so down.

  5. I won’t even pretend to say I sympathize, as there is no shared experience from a guy’s perspective. I do know my sister, who just had a baby, had to be on bed rest for a month and had to have a C-section, and I can only imagine the stress all that caused. If anything, though, I appreciate how you shared your worries with all of us. It was insight that’s usually hard to get.

  6. I’m sorry you’re feeling so sad right now. Your body has let you down. Your girls are really lucky to have a mom who fights so hard for them. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that your body will surprise you and the stars will align and you’ll get to deliver the girls vaginally.

  7. I’m sorry honey 🙁 It sucks. *hugs*

  8. Keep your chin up 🙂 ::hugs::

  9. Aw, I totally feel for you. I’m so sorry you have to deal with this; you don’t deserve it. Praying that things will work themselves out!

  10. *big hug!*

    I am so sorry Erin. I have never dealt with any of the things you have, but I do know what it is like to have your body be different and not do what it is supposed to do. It is one of the most frustrating things in the world.

    I will be praying for you and Ted.

  11. Erin, I experienced a lot of the feelings you share here during my own bout with infertility. It seemed like everyone around me was getting magically pregnant too, and while I tried my hardest to be happy for them, I mostly felt sorry for myself. It was without a doubt the lowest time of my life. It’s also part of the reason I’m not planning on trying to have another baby because I can’t put myself through all of that again. Now, I’m struggling with that a little again, because my two closest mom friends are pregnant with baby #2. I can be genuinely happy for them because I have my daughter, but it rekindles for me a little bit of that “left behind”/failure feeling I had when I was trying to get pregnant, although I’m so grateful for my daughter and ultimately feel that I am at peace with my decision not to try for #2. Just sometimes I wrestle with whether we should try again and then I think about the first time around and I just can’t do it, even though the result of that was so wonderful.

    Anyway. I know none of this helps you out…I just wanted to share and let you know that I think you’re very courageous in sharing these feelings with the world. You have every right to feel exactly how you feel. Pregnancy, even when it’s complication-free, is a long journey filled with lows and highs, and hopefully, in the end, the highs will outweigh the lows. I hope that you get the birth story that you want (I have a friend who gave birth to twins vaginally and hope you get to also) and think you have every right to push for that outcome, but however it ends up, I hope you and the girls are healthy and happy. 🙂 Sending hugs from Texas…

  12. Oh gosh Erin, I don’t even have words to empathise on how frustrating that must be.. all I hope for is that the next few months pass by quickly so that you can relish holding your baby girls, which will hopefully make the pregnancy disappointments feel a million years away.

    I do hope you get a chance to have your births the way you want them – I’m guessing you probably won’t know that until the very end of your pregnancy/labour stage? Big hugs and high fives from me. xx

  13. We’re all thinking about you, and rooting for you. You’re doing more with your body than I’ll ever do with mine! You should be sooooo proud of how well you’ve fared considering everything you’ve gone through.

    I’ve got my fingers crossed for NO c-section.

  14. So I tried to just write HUGS but it said my comment was too short so I’m only writing all this to say: HUGS!

  15. God this sucks. I have no idea what you are going through and I won’t pretend to be able to relate with this. However, I had some health issues a while back and I remember feeling so frustrated with my body. I felt broken and completely out of control. The only thing I wanted to hear anyone say was, “This is not your fault and you are doing the best that you can do.” Instead I got people trying to tell me to change my eating, stress levels, exercise, etc. which just made me feel like my health problems were the result of something I was doing wrong.

    So I will say this. You are doing the best you can. You are NOT broken and this is not your fault. You are doing an amazing job and are already a wonderful mother. We are all here for you. (((HUGS)))

  16. Erin, I certainly can (if not understand, then) imagine your frustration. And I don’t want to sound like I want to give you advice or make you feel better, but I wanted to share with you that my sister had all the same problems as you did (minus having TWO babies, but only one)…. it took her months to get pregnant (also IVF), she had gestational diabetes and she ended up having a c-section.

    I understand that all of this is not what you “asked for” from your body. Why would it not cooperate?
    But in the end, when you have your two girls – whichever way – you’ll forget about all the hassle and frustration. I know it so easily said right now, but I am very hopeful that this will be true for you.

    {hugs}

  17. Ah honey, hang in there. Sending hugs your way!

    xox

  18. I’m sorry that your body issues are coming back again. And I don’t have any advice for you since I haven’t gone through any of this. Thinking ‘no C-section’ thoughts for you!!

  19. Aw Erin, I’m sorry you’re feeling this way. You’ve had a crap road of it, that’s for sure, getting hit with more struggles than one person should have, but you’ve handled it with a lot of grace and dignity.
    I hope you don’t end up with a c-section if you don’t have to–I did, and I wasn’t prepared for it, and it kind of hurt me for a good while (I’m better now)–but if you do it’s not because you failed!
    If you ever want some real life feedback on what a section can be like though, to prepare you in-case, I’m happy to chat about it.

  20. I wrote you an email about my birth/c-section experience but I just don’t have the writing skills for it to not come off as one of THOSE emails. I figured I would play it safe & just not send it.
    Go buy your girls something cute/cool/awesome because no matter how they come out of you they are going to be cute/cool/awesome!

  21. Theresa says:

    I am so sorry that you are feeling so sad and upset with your body. It sucks that things just can’t seem to go along smoothly for you. I know you are doing everything possible to keep your girls healthy and growing. You are a phenominal mother. I understand your want for a vaginal birth. I never was able to due to complications with every one of my pregnancies. Sometimes when I talk to other mothers I feel like I missed something because I have no labor stories. But I have something much better. I have 3 healthy children that may not have been that way if I had a vaginal birth. Despite what they would like us to think pregnancy does not follow a set script. When you see your beautiful daughters it will make all of this crap you have been through worth it. I am thinking of you and keeping you and your daughters in my prayers.

  22. Sigh. I’m sorry, Erin. E-HUGS!

  23. I’m sorry things are tough right now. Your willpower is amazing. I wish I could have a little bit of your willpower. I can’t relate, but I can relate to being angry with your body.

    My best friend had he daughter Monday after 2 months of bed rest, high blood pressure, daily blood thinner injections, weekly hospital tests, and a tough delivery. It’s frustrating that some people can break all the rules and have a “perfect” pregnancy and others that follow all the rules and then some and still get stuck with bumps.

    You’re in my thoughts.

  24. I am so so sorry! I wish I could be filled with Harry Potter-like magic to make a delicious brownie sundae with no sugar so you could eat it and spit food in the face of all those people who think they know your body and your problems better than you!

  25. Thinking of you, the girls and sending positive prayers and vibes for you all. xoxox

  26. Erin, that was just a lovely and raw post. I so admire you for being able to put those feelings out there for us, especially when strangers haven’t been being so kind.

    It sounds like you’ve already made some of these connections, but if you’d like to talk to someone else who has gone through gestational diabetes, I can put you in touch with a friend of mine. She gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy about two months ago and I’m sure she’d love to share her experience. Just DM/email me if you’re interested.

    Nothing but good thoughts for you and your little ladies!

  27. I really don’t have the words for this, but I can just imagine how you feel. I think my body issues are a huge contributor to my anxiety about trying to conceive (we’re not there yet)- I don’t quite feel I can trust my body to handle such grave responsibility.

    I’m sorry people are rude and insensitive! But it won’t be long before you do have your girls to cuddle 🙂

  28. Love you. That’s all.

  29. As someone who is on the outside looking in, I think you’re really good at being pregnant. You are a mom who is doing everything in her power to make sure her girls are born healthy – including sacrificing brownie sundaes and reconciling yourself to the possibility of a c-section when it is not what you envisioned for you and your family. I have to say I have a lot of admiration for you – as you know I always have – but even more so now that I have seen you go through such difficult struggles with grace and humor and honesty. I know we aren’t quite as close as we used to be, but I am really grateful that I still know some of what’s going on in your life and will hopefully still be able to be there for you as a friend no matter what you are going through in life. Much love to you, Ted, and the girls.

  30. I thought I was reading about myself when I read your blog. I was surfing the net to see if someone with gestational diabetes could eat a cupcake, since I have been craving them all day. I am 28 weeks preg with twins (one of each) after my 4th IVF and we used a donor egg. I was put on bed rest 5 weeks ago and the Dr. is hoping I make till 31. I found out 3 weeks ago I have gestational diabetes and have dreams of chocolate cake and pizza on a regular basis. I also have to have a c-section. I just keep thinking it will all be worth it in the end and I will be sure to remind the babies of what I had to go through to bring them into this world. Keep positive thoughts!! 🙂

  31. Feeling like your body has failed to do what it’s designed to do is how I feel everyday with regular old type 1 diabetes. At least yours goes away when you have the baby. Having a baby with type 1 diabetes is really hard too, but I think the website diabeticmommy.com is supposed to cover all types of pregnancy and diabetes, so you might want to check it out. I haven’t been to it but it could be helpful since you’re not as familiar with diabetes as someone who lives with it chronically.

    I also laughed a little when you said that you hated when people who doesn’t understand gestational diabetes give you advice. Pretty much *everyone* with diabetes has when someone without diabetes gives advice, so I have all the sympathy for you. Most of the time, I just smile and nod.

    I suppose all I can say is, at least when it is all over, the gestational diabetes will be finished and you’ll have two baby girls on the other end!

  32. Oh, one more thing: Your BODY failed you… YOU DID NOTHING WRONG. That’s what I tell myself all the time when I have high blood sugar or something goes wrong. The DIABETES is doing this, NOT YOU. You are NOT your illness.

  33. Stupid body. Seriously. It really needs to give you a break. But you are a rockin’ Mama that is so excited to see her girls whatever happens along the way and that is what counts.

  34. I’m sorry you have to deal with this! 🙁 And I say be a smartass to anyone who tries to tell you what to do who doesn’t have a medical degree.

  35. I am so sorry! I don’t have any great advice for you. Just sending positive thoughts your way. I am struggling with letting go of what’s out of my control right now as well. I’m 12 days past due, and am supposed to be induced on Tuesday regardless of whether there’s a medical need. I feel so against it because I feel like my body should know what it’s doing and want the opportunity to go naturally. Trying to let go of that and accept that things may not go how I want them to. And people keep saying “once your little girl is in your arms, it won’t matter how she got there.” But it does to me – the process is important to me.

    So it’s okay to be disappointed, upset, even angry. But the acceptance part is so tough!

  36. I can’t even beging to imagine what this all must be like for you. I know your body isn’t behaving the way you’d like it to, but one thing is for sure: You are already an amazing mother.

  37. i can’t believe that people are telling you to be grateful and trying to give you advice about gestational diabetes when they don’t know what they are talking about. i’m very sorry to hear that, erin. try and keep your head up (in your stylish new glasses.) maybe you feel like a failure at getting pregnant and at being pregnant, but one thing i know you won’t feel like a failure at is being a mom! i’m sure your girls will know how much you love them and how lucky they are to have such a wonderful mom!
    screw people’s unsolicited advice. you know what is best for you!
    much love and hugs to you!

  38. Sending you big hugs and nothing but love from OH.

  39. I can only imagine how frustrating this is for you. My husband and I are trying for our first and of course, everyone is super fast to comment and give advice even though we haven’t asked for any. I’m fairly certain we know where babies come from and how they’re made, and the next person that has something to say about it will get an ovulation test jammed in their ear. I digress. It can be really hard to let go and realize that you don’t have control over something. It’s my body, I fuel it, I live in it, cetainly I should have something to say about this catasterous calamity, but, I don’t. The universe is the driver of this baby train, and so far I’m not a big fan of the universe. It always seems like it’s the people that TRULY want something that go through hell to get it. Just know that this is temporary, before you know it the girls will be in your arms and you won’t have to worry about gestational diabetes or C-sections anymore. Hang in there, we’re rooting for you!

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