This month, I want to get a little personal and share some stories about myself and my journey to embracing my plus size self. In order for this story to make sense, you’ll need a little perspective. I need to take you back to the morning of Tuesday, August 5, 2014. I had been waiting for this day for, well, all my life. I was having a baby! After a LONG and complicated pregnancy, me, my husband, and mom welcomed the most perfect little being into the world at 12:02pm.
She was every bit as perfect as every other mom thinks their baby is the first time they see them. The joy that fills you up so completely is really hard to describe and you have to be a mother to get it, but I felt all of those things. I had done it! I was a mother. She was perfect! I got to see her briefly before they whisked her off to the NICU for all of the “just to be sure” testing they do when babies aren’t full term. Avery was born at 36 weeks, just shy of the cut off. But I was prepared for that, and my mom, husband, and wonderful doctors assured me that she was fine, it was just routine. Little did anyone ever realize that is was me who was in danger.
About 18 hours after I had delivered this beautiful baby, my body tried to die. I suffered what is clinically known as an Amniotic Fluid Embolism, a rare obstetric emergency that results in sudden shortness of breath, excess fluid in the lungs, extreme low blood pressure, failure of the heart to effectively pump blood, life-threatening problems with blood clotting, Rapid heart rate, seizures, and coma. I was immediately taken to the ICU and stayed there for the next 5 days. I was given 4 units of blood to compensate for my extreme blood loss, and was on a machine which breathed for me for the next 4 days.
For anyone who thinks love can’t save your life, I am here to share that it was nothing but love that saved mine. Over the 4-5 days where the doctors couldn’t tell my family whether or not I would survive this terrible thing that had happened to me, I was silently willing myself to live for my child’s sake. I don’t remember it, but my doctors allowed her to come be with me in the ICU everyday. I am told that when she was there, a noticeable physiological change happened to my body.I dreamt of her a lot (or I think they were dreams). I was so drugged up, that it is possible what I recall as dreams are actually mini memories and I remember feeling the strongest urge to live. On day 5, I turned the corner. My body was responding to the medicine, prayers, and my insistence to make it and finally, on day 6, I was able to be transferred to a step down unit. I finally got to hold my girl!!
On day 11, I was at home, resting and recovering. I had learned to walk again, and I could finally get to the job at hand… taking care of a newborn. (check out this amazing picture of me and Avery Jade taken about a week after I got home by my friend Tosha at Addie Kay Photography, don’t we look great?)
The next several weeks were difficult, but I always felt this overwhelming sense of gratitude. I decided in those early days back at home to internalize that feeling and be happy with this body that had worked so incredibly hard for me in the days before. Up until I got pregnant, I struggled, like so many women, with body image. It’s been a LONG time since I fit the mold that the popular media wants to put women in, and even then, I wasn’t confident. Over the past 2 years, I have learned to really love and appreciate the body that I have. Is it the body I aspire to? No, it’s not, but I have to give a great deal of credit to this shell that houses my soul because it has done amazing things. It carried and nurtured a baby and it worked like hell to keep me here with my precious family.
How could I not love this body? Even in spite of what TV and magazines and all the pretty blogs I read tell me? Today I am confident in my size 18 body. I no longer make excuses to not go out, or not get dressed up, or not be present in pictures with my family. My confidence doesn’t blind me to the fact that I need to loose weight, but it does allows me to find joy in the everyday, where ever I currently happen to be, instead of beating myself up for where I wish I were. In the days leading up to Valentine’s Day, I want to challenge every woman to do ONE thing that reminds you of how amazing you are and tell me what you plan to do so I can help hold you accountable. I promise it will make you feel alive, and your friends, family, and children will love you so much more for loving yourself. I can’t wait to hear your plans…I have something BIG up my sleeve so stay tuned!