One Year… I have lost and gained.

One year ago today I went in for my Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy. The picture above was a webcam photo, positioned just so, in attempt to hide my many chins. The smile, it was forced. Look at my eyes. Where is the joy?

I arrived at the hospital weighing about 300lbs. My pre-op diet paid off a little. 30lbs lost in 6 months. I was determined that I was not going to fail at this. I went in knowing that my life was about to change. I wasn’t nervous or apprehensive. I had my sights on living.

In this past year I have lost a lot of weight. I am proud of the weight I have dropped, proud of the sizes shed, proud to clear out my closet and proud to wear cute things. While I have lost weight, I have gained tremendously.

I have gained my sense of self. Pride I had lost years ago. I have gained friends, who I have formed bonds with that while heavier I never would have formed. I ventured to put myself “out there” and take a chance on leaving the hermit life style behind, and I was rewarded with people who both understood me and challenged me.

I have gained an understanding of food and nutrition. I have gained a desire to move. I have gained the ability to chase my kids and play with my kids. I can now not only walk up the stairs with out being winded, but I try to run up the steps every chance I get. Why? Because I CAN!

I really never imagined that at one year out, my life would have changed this much. I set my sights on realistic. initially I felt that 18 months would be the magical number that “normal” was achieved. Once I started to lose weight quickly I had it in my head that if I didn’t reach goal by 1 year, I was a failure. I now understand that “normal” is a mind set and I’m never going to have it. And goal is a goal, meant to be achieved at some point, not by a day on the calendar.

I am not at goal. I don’t know if I ever will be. I will continue to move forward, enjoying life and hoping to hit that magical number that will some how give me validation. But for now, I am simply going to omit the crappy things that have happened this year and enjoy my rainbows and unicorns moment! *glitter confetti!*

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This may not be the best photo, but it the most recent & my husband hates the head wrap. So clearly the best photo choice is the one that makes him twitch. Some things never change.

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Life is good when…

Today I had tremendous non scale victories. I wore a bathing suit, spent the day out doors, in July heat and humidity and was comfortable. I didn’t seek the shelter of the house. I enjoyed my family and my friends, with out worrying about what I looked like or what others thought of me. BUT… MOST OF ALL… I played with my kids, made memories and was that person that I had hoped surgery would help me to be. I was a mom who was able to not only keep up with her kids, but who was able to enjoy them too.

Life is good. I am blessed. These are just a few of my many blessings.

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Bari-Family

Once upon a time, a sort of big guy dated a sort of chubby girl, they got married, had babies and got obese together. The now obese wife decided that life was meant for living, and decided to have bariatric surgery to help her reach her goals of living.

A few months later, the obese wife, became a smaller version of her former self, and resembled her younger self more and more. The obese husband struggled with his emotions, trying to deal with the changes that were happening before his very eyes.

Eventually the obese husband discussed the possibilities of bariatric surgery for himself, first with his doctor then with his wife. While apprehensive to under go any form of surgery, he realized that at the rate he was going, he wouldn’t see his children graduate high school. Having lost his own father, much earlier than he should have, he decided to go forward with his plan to have weight loss surgery.

Today the obese husband has been under doctor’s care for  5 months. He went for all of his pre surgical testing, his surgeon consult and his nutritionist appointment. Today, it all became real for him, as he left the doctor’s office and the doctor said “next time I see you will be on the day of your surgery”

One month from now, he will hand in the last of his paper work and it will be submitted to the insurance company. With in the next few months we will be a bariatric family. Hopefully the changes we make in our lives now, will keep our children from struggling with obesity and poor eating habits and behaviors.

Up to this point, I was not sure he would go forward with this. In the past he has lost weight on his own.

When Kailey was born, the man was skinny!

As I have written previously, having a child with medical issues certainly contributed to both of our stress eating tendencies. It is very easy to fill the “helpless” feelings with food. I am hopeful that today marks the beginning of the changes my husband needs to live a happy life.

We're on our way... together.

 

Confessions of a bariatric foodie

First off, let me point out my blog roll and the fact that there is a WHOLE blog dedicated to being a bariatric foodie. So yeah… stealing an idea here, but simply because I am inspired and frankly, I’m a self declared foodie.

I come from a family of foodies. My family has some of its very best moments in the kitchen, creating meals for each other. My dad, my sisters, my brothers, my husband, and even me… we’re all quite adveturous, and we all have amazing palates. My husband of course is beyond a foodie. He is a chef, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. His skills have been put to good use through the years, my family has no problem using him to their full advantage.

Having had weight loss surgery did not alter my taste buds. It has altered the amount of food I can consume, it has even made me apathetic toward food on occasion, but my love of new things and my palate has not changed!

On Saturday we went over to Whole Foods and we stumbled upon a tasting of peach infused balsamic vinegar. They served it over watermelon, with a bit of fresh basil. They had me at “fresh basil” so I went ahead and gave it a try. OH MY, holy peach loveliness! I am not a peach fan. Nope, just not. But this… the heavens open, a choir sang, and my brain immediately went to the endless possibilities that this product could create.

We had friends coming over for dinner, and Saturday night friends + dinner is usually finger foods. Delicious divine finger foods, made with love!

Our favorite stand by is the grilled Angus rib-eye with caramelized onions and horseradish sauce, served on a garlic Parmesan crustini. YUM!

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Then, Kevin made an amazing chicken salad with fresh grapes, pecans, and of course the peach infused balsamic vinegar. It was amazing! Sadly, there is no awesome way to capture chicken salad. Its just sort of ugly, but here it is anyway:

Chicken salad

Finally tonight, the 4th of July, we wanted simple and delicious. There is nothing as wonderful as Caprisi Salad. NOTHING! Some fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, fresh mozzarella cheese and a drizzle of some reduced peach balsamic vinegar:

And while confessing about the glorious things we created this weekend, here is a photo of the mocha chocolate chip cake I made for our friend’s 4th of July party, it was a hit:

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I brought them to water…

and they had a blast!

I have been making an effort to get out and hike as often as possible. It usually happens on the weekend, and lately we have been busy, so my favorite place has been neglected. I normally take Ruby and head down to the lake. There is a park there that is rough terrain, wooded trails and they lead to different parts of the lake.

Ruby loves this time together, although she is not a fan of the work out. She does love the water. I have never let her run free though, because of leash laws and the fact that she would totally go home with somebody else. Anybody who had a car would be suitable. She isn’t picky. Her leash is a standard 6′ lead. She never gets to really get down and dirty in the water.

This morning Kevin surprised me and told me that his mom was coming by to watch the kids and that we were going to go for a hike! WE as in BOTH of us! Now, this is sort of a mind blowing phenomenon for multiple reasons. FIRST: Saturdays = my husband’s day to sink into the couch and watch REALLY bad TV (hello swamp people, World’s Dumbest, Cops). Second: Its July, in Georgia and its HOT AS HELL, while my hubby can work his way around a 150 degree kitchen with no problem, getting him outside in the summer is damn near impossible. Finally, its the WOODS, NATURE and there are BUGS.

I didn’t dare question it. I quickly got dressed, threw on my running shoes, threw the hair up and popped downstairs just in time for the mother in law to arrive! A quick hello, a speedy “see ya later” and we were off. Kevin, Ruby and I.

I requested a tripe to Home Depot first. I wanted to get Rubylicious a nice long rope, so that she could really enjoy the lake at the end of the trails. We found a nice, cheap, hot pink 50′ rope and a clasp. We were off and on our way. I was pretty giddy and Ruby was fairly worked up herself. She knew where we were going!

We hit the trail, and I brought Kevin on the shortest one first. We spent some time on the shore and let Ruby explore and play!

Gonna get those splashes!

Oh this is great!

Then, much to my delight, we conquered the entire hike, from one trail to the next, up hill and down, climbing down the rocks, and through the trees… my husband was happy because I was not connected to anything digital and I was thrilled because my husband was by my side! Even Ruby kept up the pace.

We came out to an area where the water is usually higher, and had an opportunity to get down on the rocks and out to the lake. It was beautiful, and blissful and for sure to be one of my favorite memories yet.

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And we all went home, happy and proud!

joy

Oh, and… I also got quite a few compliments on the shape of my uh, rear! My husband rocks.

The MOM part of VSGMOM

I am a proud, albeit often exhausted and out smarted, mother of 4 . My babies range in age from 9-3. They are so much more than words can describe. I have made mention of them here and there, more Kailey than the others, because well, she is unique unto herself and has traveled a journey of her own. So, I shall share with you a little about my babes. How my surgery has impacted or not impacted them, and how my life revolves around them. They are my “job” my passion, my hobby, my pride.

Kevin Jr. is 9 years old. He was named after his daddy, but he was also named after my brother Kevin who passed away at the young age of 16. I have never met a Kevin I didn’t like. Ever.

Kevin is a very sweet, very concerned child. He didn’t have very long as an only child, and the glory that should be only childhood was cut short when he was 9 months old and Kailey’s diagnoses came to light. He was just a babe, but it affected him. Momma was suddenly not the center of his world, Nana and Pop and Grandma and Daddy were. Momma shut down.

Kevin is needy, looking for attention and always wanting to be loved. He is both a people pleaser and a skootch. He is brilliant, really he is. This kid can get down and dirty talking politics and geography. He knows populations in random states. He loves maps and astronomy, loves family and wishes I had a better family tree to study, and sometimes he quietly thinks about things for quite a while before hitting us with the big questions that send me to google for answers.

At age 4, he got on a two wheeler bike and took off, never needing training wheels. He can skateboard, and caster board, inline skate, and do stunts with his scooter. He is amazing on these type of things. However, if you throw a ball at him, he will DUCK!

Kevin on his caster board. Only kid on the block to rock one of these.

Kevin's bike, some snot wad stole it, but still... it was as awesome as he is.

At his age he has seen far too much sadness and worry. He understands the fragility of life, and has witnessed his sister’s struggle with life enough that even when she is healthy, it weighs on his heart and his mind. He is a very good big brother, and a very darling loving little boy. (another time I will tell you of the day he painted the back door with grape jelly and broke a dozen eggs in the bay window).

Kailey is a spit fire. She has strength, will, and sassiness. She is fresh, brilliant, a go getter. Kailey doesn’t take the words “you can’t” well, and will go out of her way to prove that not only CAN she, but she WILL and she will do it better than anybody else. Kailey is my child all things techy. She can hop on the computer and read the weather radar, find games and master them, pick up angry birds and get the high score after her Daddy has played all weekend long. Kailey loves musicals and dancing. Hair Spray is one of her favorite movies.

For many years she insisted that she was a princess, and was to be called one as well. Then one day she changed her mind and said she was no longer a princess, but some day she will be a ballerina.

beautiful Kailey

Rock Star fishing woman!


Kailey’s story is long and detailed. She was not expected to live one day. Today she is eight years old and lives her life to the fullest. She has changed people’s opinions of disabled children, and she has proved time and again that she is just a typical kid who happens to be medically fragile.

Her medical issues include spina bifida (she uses a wheelchair), hydrocephalus (has a vp shunt), was born with a deformed mitral valve (she is on replacement #2 and when the room is quiet you can hear her valve tick like a clock as the blood passes through the leaflets. It’s kind of awesome), and a double outlet right ventricle (her aorta was on the wrong side). She had a unilateral cleft lip and a bilateral cleft palate. She has a very rare form of ectodermal dysplacia called Hay-Wells Syndrome (AKA AEC Syndrome).  While these things all impact her life greatly, they do not define her AT ALL. Kailey is stronger than anybody you have ever met. She is incredible. A snot wad, but incredible all the same!
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TJ is baby number 3. A major life decision. Do we try for another baby, after all of Kailey’s medical issues? Doctors assured us it was not genetic. A random mutation, and so we went forth and TJ came along!

TJ is short for Thomas John. He is not a Tommy, a Tom, a Thomas. He is a TJ. He is adorable, sweet, tough and funny! This past week he had a bunch of grown people licking their own arm pits. Why? Because he asked “Is it possible for a human being to lick their own arm pit?” and like a bunch of idiots, each time, we all tried it. Yep, go ahead, he would laugh at you, but go for it. You can. I promise.

TJ is a rough and tumble kind of kid. He can throw a ball and catch a ball, climb anything, ride anything. He is the play in the mud kind of kid that you use to see back when we were kids. He is carefree and happy as a clam. He is convinced that he is the best looking child to ever grace the face of the earth, and refers to his face as “the money maker”. We have not discouraged this behavior because well, he is handsome as can be, and it is quite funny… for now.

TJ is momma’s boy. He pledges his love for me 100 times a day. When he grows up, he wants to marry me. When I told him that was not possible, I’m already married to Daddy and he will want to go out an find a wife all his own, he told me he will never move out. He can’t stand to be away from me. For now, this idea has not been discouraged either. Someday I will be some beautiful girl’s worst nightmare. The mother who never cut the cord. Yeah, well.. too bad! I had to deal with it, somebody else can too.

TJ is all about being the cool kid. This has led to quite the debate with in the family. How long do you let the six year old call the shots? He, uh, doesn’t want to cut his hair. Like EVER. This battle will end soon, but here he is with his long hair glory:

Shaggy not for long

After a life changing move to Georgia, we decided that we had a 5 bedroom house, we were insane anyway, and what the hell! Lets have a baby!!

Enter Alison. The one and only baby to be born with colic! Came out screaming and cried for then next 4 months. I really started to question my sanity and the possibility that she would cry constantly until she was 21. I’m pretty sure that at some point in my years as a naughty child, my mother wished upon me a child who cried every single day. Somehow the universe misunderstood and I got one that cried every waking moment of every single day.

Then, one day it stopped. And she smiled! And she has not stopped smiling since! Alison is a diva. A princess, a shoe lover, an accessory queen. She is ultra girly and I’m not really sure where it comes from. For real. She loves music, loves to dance, loves to wear dresses. She loves make up and jewelry,  all things sparkly, and pretty much anything pink. At 3 years old she can identify Katy Perry by voice and sight, Ke$ha (lord help me) and Pink. She dances and dances and dances her butt off. If the room is quiet she is sure to be singing something or telling a story that ALWAYS begins with “One time…” < Yes I also think American Pie and “Once when i was in band camp”. LOL. Yep yep, that’s my baby.

Alison is home with me while the bigger kids go to school. She was born past the school cut off date and will be home with me one year more than the other kids were. I’m not disappointed by this. I love every second with her. She cracks me up. She is pushy and bossy with the other kids, but when she is home with out them, she is blissful. She is content to be the only child. She is so much fun, and I have no doubt that as she gets older, her heart will be in the arts.

The princess

It should be noted that upon sight of a camera, she will stop crying and smile instantly. Always ready to pose.

My weight loss has played a role in my children’s lives, although they may not realize it. Little Kevin has heard from his friends and his friend’s parents that his mom looks great. He realizes that I get out a lot more and together as a family we are out more often than not. Kailey is indifferent on my weight loss. She says she prefers me skinnier, but really she doesn’t care one way or the other. TJ has always thought I was super awesome and beautiful. To him, I am the same. He loves me and thats all that matters to him. Alison has become a make up enthusiast. She sees me get ready every day. She notices the simplest changes, from hair style to earrings. She tells me every time she sees me “You look buuuu-fuw momma” and she  makes me shine.

Last but not least, the fur baby. The walking partner, the hiking trail explorer, the lake lover… this is Ruby. She is my unconditional love. She is loved and adored and she loves us like no other.

Ruby getting comfy on TJ

Behaviors, Flaws, Cross Addictions R US

We have all read the facts, we have lurked the forums, we have listened to stories friends have endured. Cross addictions happen after WLS. Can’t stuff the face with food to drown  sorrow, so drink to numb the pain. Can’t eat when stressed, so  shop to make yourself feel better. Have a new body, sudden attention, and suddenly sex fills a void you never knew you had. Right? Shopping,  Drinking,  Inappropriate sexual behavior. Its out there, its discussed, its hard to come to terms with, and difficult to understand what makes us tick.

I think there are more cross addictions or behaviors than those that are commonly pointed out.  Personally I think we all deal with behavioral issues post WLS that were probably lurking under the surface pre-op. I don’t think that we were all addicted to food, but we did have behaviors that landed us in fat camp.  Now that we are post op, there are behaviors running rampant, and because they don’t make many people raise an eyebrow, we don’t pay much attention to it, or ask ourselves why.

Some people never really had a social life. As obese children, grown into obese adults, very many of our peers were wall flowers. As the pounds shed, the “normal” sized person is not only seen, but is glorified for all that they have lost. Showered with compliments “You look amazing!” “You are incredible!”, the wall flower begins to peel off the wall and is willing to throw caution to the wind. Suddenly the social butterfly, they may measure their value in the praise of others rather than for the incredible job they have done themselves. Despite all of the positive responses from friends and family, its still difficult to love themselves, unless of course, other people are telling them they are worthy. This is a COMMON behavior.

Other people shed the pounds, and suddenly find themselves surrounded by friends who are unsatisfied with parts of their life. The constant flow of discontent that they hear from their peers weighs heavy on them, and they become sympathetic and hopeful that they may be able to breathe some positivity into those friends who struggle. The savior complex is born. Poor savior is going to be emotionally drained by their friends. We are all broken and flawed. The person who hopes to save the others, has not yet begun to save themselves. This is just another behavior seen through out.

Fallen angel, first we must save ourselves.

It has been said time and again that WLS may fix your gut, but it doesn’t fix your brain. What we don’t really prepare for is all the issues losing weight reveals with in us. We had ideas that losing weight and being “normal” would suddenly fix everything. While it may fix physical health issues, and it may boost self esteem, it also reveals years and years worth of insecurities that we didn’t even know we had. What do we do to deal, when we have never had to cope with them before? What happens when our new behavior affects other people, and with out knowing it, we leave a trail of  hurt behind us?

WLS should come with a mandatory year of therapy. Really it should. And although we all seem to admit that the post op journey is a roller coaster, that we are learning more about ourselves every day, that we don’t know how to cope well with, uh.. anything… the majority of us, myself  included, do not seek therapy.

Personally, I know I SHOULD find a therapist.  I know that while my support system is phenomenal, they can not give me the tools I need to cope, nor should they be expected to. But, I struggle with the ability willingness to open up to somebody who has not lived the life. Who has not walked the path. How can somebody help me, if they have no idea of the mind blowing reality that losing 140lbs in 10 months can be. THEN… if I DID find a therapist who was a bariatric patient… would I believe that they could be objective enough, did they deal with all of their own crap?

Oh post op life, you really are a great big conundrum.

I am flawed. My friends, my support love me despite my flaws. I adore and love my friends despite their flaws. But boy oh boy, we are quite the community of flawed, scared, screwy folks. Don’t worry, come on, bring your flaws, you will be loved anyway.

As simple as a laugh…

Sometimes we get so caught up with our crazy selves, that we snowball into even crazier chaos. Such is the state of my marriage. As I wrote last week, its a struggle, and post op life has a large impact on married life. Should it be that way, not really, but it is. And its common.

Once again, I was surrounded by friends, support, love and inspiration. This time I was lucky enough to have a weekend with some of my BBGC girls here in my home.  A late night on Saturday, some girl talk, men in the other room laughing at us, laughing at ourselves. Oh, the conversations were precarious and hilarious at the same time, and much to my surprise, my husband was willing to be lured in, giggled at, and eventually he was fueling the fire.

Before I knew it, my friends were laughing, I was laughing and my husband was laughing too. LAUGHING… Together? What is this dynamic taking place? When was the last time the laughter wasn’t forced or light? This was “pee your pants” laughter.

I asked Julie tonight, when was the last time she saw Kevin and I laugh together, like that? She said “New Year’s Eve”. Wow. SIX MONTHS, nearly seven. I remember the laughter that night, it was much like the laughter last night. And last night’s laughter carried into today, and today into tonight.  And I realized…..

That man, that laugh, that good sport… he is worth the world to me. How did it get to a point of being so caught up in everything else, that we forgot to laugh?

I have a decal on the back of my truck. It says “Live, Laugh, Love” . I also have a piece on my wall that says “live, laugh, love” and another that says “family, the love of family makes life beautiful”. Simple reminders that I look at EVERY DAY, and yet, they elude me.

Live laught love, Photo credit, FrolickingDirtChild

I am blessed with friends who keep it real, while being supportive. I am blessed with family that is loving, and supportive, despite my ornery disposition. I am blessed with a husband, who in the past six months has not laughed a good hearty laugh, because his wife has been too caught up with nonsense to kick back and relax.

Today is a new chapter, as is every day. A new beginning, a chance to be better, to do better, to strive for more. A chance to put in place small goals that when attained will be rewarding spiritually and mentally.

Tomorrow, I will make sure I remember to laugh.

 

Save the Downers! Wait! Don’t!

So, a video has made its way around youtube and facebook and twitter, into the WLS circle, and like a curious kitty, I sat down to watch. The premise is “How to deal with Negative People”. We all know negative people right? Wait a minute!! We all have a negative side, don’t we? Are we androids? Are we programmed to only receive positive input? Well…. I continued to watch.

This very beautiful, very well spoken woman continued to say that initially she is attracted to negative people, they give her a project, they excite her, because she can teach them how to bring positivity into their lives.

I’m not naming the woman who did this video, nor am I sharing the post, because frankly I think that while beautifully spoken, the message is quite mean. If you try to save the “Debbie the downer” and eventually they become a “Vampire” sucking the positivity out of you, you must ditch them. Get them out of your life. They are not good enough.

Ya know, we all wake up every day not knowing what the future has in store for us. Very often, we come in contact with other people, who walk a similar path as we do, and sometimes they are looking for support. Now, it is up to you if you choose to be a supportive person or if you choose to kindly listen and excuse yourself. No judgment to be had. Sometimes, we just don’t have enough to give, to help somebody in need.

picture credit n3v3r_LOV3 @ Deviant Art

The vast majority of us with in this WLS community are here, a part of the COMMUNITY, because we both need support and have experiences to share! Isn’t that the whole point of the social network of our community? To learn, share, inspire, be inspired?

If  “DOUG” comes into our community, full of fear or questions or issues, isn’t it likely that Doug will be inundated with words of encouragement, some advice, some understanding? Some will commiserate, and others will tell him that it will get better, and if it doesn’t get better perhaps he should seek out XYZ as his next step. Doug can take this as he pleases. He didn’t come in asking to be a project, he came in a vulnerable person, struggling with an issue. He didn’t ask for saving, he asked for support and advice.

Who are we to consider another human being an “undertaking”, a “project”? Are we so superior in this life, that we can look down on the helpless souls and offer them enlightenment to become a superior human?  Isn’t trying to teach somebody to expel all negativity from their lives, unrealistic? And what of these people who invest their trust in this superior super positive, seemingly happy, has it all Mary? What happens to them, when the person who has offered to save them and bring them to higher ground, drops them like a hot potato, because they are not learning fast enough, and their negativity becomes energy sucking and toxic to the positivity guru?

This all brings me back to one of my very first posts as a blogger. When mean girls get skinny. Mean spirited, is mean spirited. Superiority complex is superiority complex be it fat or thin, be it at 18 or 58.

Suggesting to tighten your circle to those who are like minded, leaves a whole bunch of people on self appointed pedestals , looking down on people you deem inferior, picking and choosing who you will lead to greatness and the next vacant pedestal.

pic credit ded2232 devianart.com


Stop self glorifying. Stop leaving the people who need you the most, more broken than whey they put their faith in you! Tap into your humanity people! Offer a hand because its the right thing to do, not because you need a hobby. Life is too short to try to live up to other people’s expectations. Choose your support carefully.

Finally a fitting poem, found with the picture above:

You used flattery as building blocks
To build me a fine pedestal
Helped me climb the dizzying heights
Where I turned to pure crystal

And on this tall pedestal
When in pride I look around
I found other pedestals there
Statues perched above the ground

All swaying in the winds of change
That your glances brought around
Silently waiting for your steadying touch
All discreet and making no sound

Your very touch made them sparkle
Your attention shone out like a sun
And then sometimes you’d move away
When the statue was no longer fun

Other statues needed attention
Lest they fall and crash
Yet at times you pushed them hard
When you felt they were brash

I watched from tottering heights
The games you played on the ground
But because I was made of crystal now
I could not utter a protesting sound

I looked then heavenwards
For a cloud to come my way
That I may cling to it
And somehow get away

But every time the clouds did come
On me you shone your eyes
I stood shivering on the pedestal
As if I was made of ice

I wait to will myself some wings
I hope I’ll get them some day
And from your alluring gaze
I’ll simply fly away

~Siddharth Sanyal~

Relationship Before WLS

We all read about it before we go under the knife. We all wonder what exactly WLS can do to a marriage or a relationship. Why would anything change simply because my weight has changed. The answer is, first of all, so much more than your weight changes. Second of all, your new found sense of self impacts every single relationship you have, especially the one with your significant other. The following is all about my life BEFORE WLS. The After will be in another blog.

Kevin and I started dating in ’97.  After a sad break up and a whole lot of partying  a year earlier, I had packed on some pounds. I was probably wearing a size 14/16 when I started to date Kevin. Kevin was a big guy. 6’3 or so and probably about 280lbs. I would say that we were both slightly overweight, but I wouldn’t call us obese (yet).

We dated for 2 years before we got married. In those two years we did a lot of eating out, theme parks, movies, socializing. We were a typical young couple having fun and enjoying life. As our relationship evolved into a place of comfort, some pounds were packed on. It didn’t matter to either of us. When we got married in 2000, we were a cute, slightly chubby couple. We honeymooned in Disney and had no problem sitting on a plane or going on rides. We were not too big to do an amusement park. I say that, because I know so many of us in the obese community look at ads for amusement parks and wish we could fit on a ride, and spend a day or two being a big kid. Its a way of measuring ourselves. We all do it. We eyeball something and think “I’d get stuck”. At the point of our honeymoon, getting stuck was not a worry.

When we had our first child in 2002, we were both still comfortably chubby. Blissfully happy, madly in love and blessed with the sweetest little boy that ever existed (till he was bout 10 months, then the evil mastermind came out).

Not long after our 1st son was born, we were completely shocked and surprised to learn that we were expecting baby #2 and she would be due before baby #1 even turned a year old! HOLY HELL! Yeah, momma sort of freaked out. Daddy on the other hand, was challenged by a friend to lose over 100lbs by a certain date, and he immersed himself in a life style of health and fitness. I on the other hand immersed myself in life as a gestating stay at home mom. Cutting out carbs was never going to happen in MY world. NO WAY!

4 months into my pregnancy with baby #2 we learned that our precious little girl had a number of health issues and birth defects. The hardest time of our lives was about to begin, and together we would learn how to weather the storm. Our baby girl was not expected to live. Not more than a few hours at most. “Incompatible with life” is the term we heard over and over again. Our hearts broke. We learned what true despair felt like.  We had one baby who needed his happy mommy and daddy, because that was all he knew, and we grieved for the baby who grew with in, kicking and spinning just like every other baby does.

Kailey was born Feb 2003. Just 4 days short of her big brother’s 1st birthday. Nothing could have prepared us for the roller coaster that lie ahead. Kailey lived more than a day. Kailey had medical experts all around and has made medical journals. Kailey is now 8 years old, and while she is considered medically fragile, no body ever told her that. You can check out Kailey’s story at www.kaileyrose.com. While her story is a pivotal part of “OUR” story, this blog is not about our wheelchair warrior. It is about us.

Daddy lost a boat load of weight by the time Kailey was born

While Kevin lost a boat load of weight by the time Kailey was born, I started to steadily pack on the pounds. Food became a source of comfort and coping for me.

new baby, new chins

At this point, the story turns a little. As our baby fought for her life, time and again, we fought to learn how to cope, communicate and grow.  Kevin threw himself into working multiple jobs, so that I could stay home with the two little ones. Our days consisted of therapy after therapy and doctor appointment after doctor appointment. We learned to accept the hospital as a home away from home, and together we stopped caring so much about our own health and focused on the health of our children.

We had growing pains. When your heart is heavy, and what tomorrow holds in scary, you tend to lash out at the one you love the most. While nobody else in the world could understand what we were going through more than the other, we struggled to connect, afraid that sharing our sorry or fears would hurt the other more. But life fell into a rhythm and we lived day by day, thankful for our beautiful little family.

In 2005 baby #3 was born. By this time, we had relied on food to fill the dark spots within our hearts. While we rejoiced in every single day that our baby girl was alive and well, we feared that tomorrow would be the day that the floor dropped from beneath us. We put on brave faces, but behind closed doors, we were filled with fear.

Our precious #3 brought new light into our lives. He was the happiest baby alive. HUGE, but happy. Life started to even out a bit, but the two of us were offically now obese.

Happy family

Over the years, we learned to communicate again. Our relationship was strengthened by the trials we endured. Our love was multiplied by the joy of our children. Despite the fear of what tomorrow held, we had bliss. Our lives were forever changed, but we had each other and we coped in similar ways.

We no longer went out, instead we shut in. We dove into parenthood and happily played with our children in the comfort of our home. We rarely went out, for fear of leaving the children. We were tried and true attachment parents. Baby wearing, cosleeping, breast feeding attachment parenting at its finest.

In 2006 we moved from NY to Ga. Another roller coaster of emotion. Leaving behind everything we ever knew, and moving to a place where life was completely different. Kailey’s health took a turn, Children’s Health Care of Atlanta became our second home. She has spent more time there than she did in all of her years in NY.  Unhealthy eating increased, as did anxiety and sadly so did our shut in behavior.

At the end of 2007 we welcomed baby #4 into the world. The one and only girl who was born with colic! I tell ya, that child came out screaming and did not stop until she was 4 months old! She is now a very vibrant, very social, extremely happy 3 year old. But ugh, colic… just one more thing I was never prepared to deal with.

My husband has been my best friend, every step of the way. We have been to hell and back living life with a sick child. We have had greater joys than most will ever experience, because we take such joy in everything our children do and are. We are surrounded by family and friends that love us, and don’t fear that our tomorrow may effect them.

This is all important to write about, because up next, I am going to share how Weight Loss Surgery has effected our marriage, our relationship, our harmony. We are trying to find out footing. I never would have expected that dealing with a sick child could be easier on a marriage than the changes that weight loss surgery has brought on.

Stay tuned. It will take a bit of soul searching to get this next blog out, but it will come from the heart and it may hurt to own my end of things.