As I attempted to zip up my size 16 bridesmaid dress, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and barely recognized the person looking back.
6 months prior I had ordered the dress 2 sizes too big in hopes of being pregnant. Yet I wasn’t pregnant and was barely able to squeeze myself into a dress I would have been swimming in a year earlier.
To an outsider it may have appeared to be about my weight but my ever widening waistline was merely a side effect of my pain. I was broken physically, mentally and emotionally and had no idea how to recover.
10 months earlier I found out I was expecting my first child. My husband and I were going to be parents! Our joy was short lived as only a few weeks into the pregnancy I started bleeding. The weeks following were full of tests, misdiagnosis and more tests.
The day that we heard the heartbeat was the same day I was rushed into emergency surgery where I lost both my baby and one of my fallopian tubes due to an ectopic pregnancy.
It marked the beginning of the end for the person I used to be.
6 months later, after 2 IUI cycles, I suffered an early miscarriage. I couldn’t comprehend why I was unable to have a successful pregnancy.
I placed the blame on myself.
What was the point of taking care of my body if my body couldn’t take care of the delicate life forming inside it. I gave up.
My days consisted of numbing my pain through my actions.
Binge watching Netflix while polishing off pints of ice cream. I was even past the point of getting a bowl, there was no need.
Numbing myself with drinking. While I tried to keep it together as much as I could during the week, on weekends it was a free for all.
Laying in bed for hours reading whatever non-thought provoking book or magazine I had on my nightstand. Or just laying in bed staring at the ceiling.
All of it had caught up to me and the dam broke when I tried on that dress.
How had I let myself fall so far? More importantly, how in the world was I going to get the old me back?
I knew my life couldn’t continue on the path that it was on. I needed to take steps to change but didn’t know where to begin. Yet I knew I had to start somewhere.
Channeling My Energy
My unhealthy actions provided a temporary band-aid to my pain but there was only so much Chunky Monkey could do. I needed to find a healthy release for my pain.
While I have had a gym membership for years, I couldn’t muster up the energy to actually go. The few times I did, I ended up spending 20 minutes on a treadmill and calling it a day.
I kept hearing about Orangetheory Fitness and decided to sign up for an introductory session.
After just one class, I was hooked.
I had a way to physically let out my emotions. For one hour per day, I felt in control. All the anger and sadness that consumed me was now channeled into running faster or lifting heavier.
It helped that all of the treadmills and weight stations faced mirrors.
There was no escaping from myself. There were times emotions would well up inside me as I worked out and I would catch my own eye. Rather than turn away, I would stare and mentally tell myself to keep going. It was truly that simple and that difficult.
My first week of Orangetheory, I remember struggling to perform a push-up from my knees. My coach saw me and told me to “keep my head up”. I knew she was referring to my form yet it resonated on a deeper level.
For too long I had been leading my life with my head down. No more.
Seeking Professional Help
I thought I could fight through the pain on my own and I tried for months to do just that. Until I broke down in a restaurant and had to step outside to compose myself. It was that moment I realized I needed outside help.
Looking for a therapist was not something I ever saw myself doing but it was key component for me to receive the proper tools to navigate my loss.
It was also extremely helpful for me to talk to someone and not feel as though I was burdening them.
While my family and friends were supportive, I felt bad continually bringing up my pain. It also wasn’t fair to them as they weren’t equipped to provide ongoing support for what I was going through.
Given that my visits to my therapist were for the sole reason of working through all that I was feeling, I had no guilt. I could let everything out without fear of judgment. Those few months of visits were invaluable and taught me how to cope with my feelings.
Expressing Myself Through Writing
When I found out I was pregnant, I started writing to my unborn child. As the pregnancy took a turn for the worse I continued to write, telling them how much I already loved them and how I was praying for a miracle.
After my surgery, I stopped writing.
It took a long time for me to write again. When I did it came from a place I had not anticipated.
While I expressed sadness over their loss and mourning the fact that I would never get to meet them, there was also thankfulness. I was thankful for the profound impact they had on me during the short time they were a part of me. I knew I was meant to be a mom. Prior to becoming pregnant I wasn’t completely sure.
The pain has lessened over time but resurfaces especially during certain times of the year such as their due date or the date of the surgery. I find myself turning to writing in these moments. I often find that I am able to express myself more candidly through my writing than I can through talking. It also offers me the opportunity to reflect on where I have been and the progress that has been made.
I don’t think I will ever truly understand the “why” of what happened. What I am starting to understand is how my experience can have meaning in my life and the life of others.
If it wasn’t for the loss of my pregnancies my husband and I would not be adopting. We will soon be parents to a child who would have never come into our lives if not for what we have been through. We have experienced heartbreaking loss but are looking forward to having our hearts grow with our new addition.
I always wanted to be a writer but life always seemed to get in the way. I never found myself having the time to dedicate to writing but now I am fueled by a purpose I never knew existed.
Many people have endured similar experiences yet feel alone because it isn’t openly discussed. If I can help even one person through their pain then I know my journey has meaning.
It has been about 8 months since I reached my breaking point and started taking actionable steps to heal. During that time I have finally come to realize that I am never going to be the old me and that is to be expected.
We learn, we grow, we celebrate, we grieve and ultimately we change. It took me a long time to figure out how to deal with the trajectory my life took in a way that made me stronger rather than weakened me but I finally got there. One day at a time.