I’ve always hated my thighs.
In high school, jeans shopping was a complete nightmare. I know what you’re thinking, “Isn’t it always?” or “Wouldn’t we all rather stick our heads into the yawning mouths of lions or alligators or piranhas than shop for jeans?” To which the answer is a resounding YES. Yes, we certainly would. Hell, wouldn’t we all rather stick our heads into the ASSES of these animals, if it meant we’d get out of jeans shopping ever again? I’ll let you answer that last question on your own.
I cringe when I think about the multitude of shopping trips needed, hours long, to find a single pair of jeans that I thought I looked not-like-a-lumbering-mastodon in. My mom patiently (or fake patiently) sat there while the sales lady brought me pair after pair after pair. I didn’t want jeans that were too tight, because then people would see how big these thighs were, but jeans that were too baggy made them look even bigger. The Flabby Flank Conundrum.
It was also the mid 90’s and our entire generation was wearing everything ultra-baggy. When you only wear jeans and hoodies in a size XL, because, for some reason, THAT is what is cool, even though you really fit into a size S or M, you don’t really learn what kind of clothing is most flattering for your body. I was essentially plucking random jeans off the shelves and hoping they magically fit. It was like trying to find a tactful and well informed politically inspired status update on Facebook. Highly unlikely no matter how hard you search. My thighs are still hard to squeeze into many normal-person sized pants, but now I can usually spot jeans with a size 10 thigh hole and a size 6 waist without shedding too many tears. In high school I hyperfocused on the sheer bulk of my two trunks; I realize now that it doesn’t really matter how big my thighs are.
Except when it does.
Yesterday I went running, in shorts. Cute little blue and yellow running shorts with a white stripe down each side. And about 1/2 mile in, the ensuing chafing reminded me why I never run in these. You don’t have to deal with this crap when you’re primarily a winter runner, like I am. Rub. Rub. Rub. Rub. Rub. Raw. Raw. Ouch. I have a good friend who would get embarrassed when her thighs would “clap” (and cheer her on!) really loudly while she was running. I was embarrassed that there was no way that would EVER happen to me – since that would require them to be separate entities. In the past I might have cursed the chafing and my thick thighs, but now I chalk it up to simply choosing the wrong garment. I should have worn the ridiculous looking spandex.
No matter how much you hate a body part, there becomes a point where you know it isn’t going to get that much better. No matter how toned I get or how much weight I lose, my thighs are always going to rub together. So, I have to let it go and honor my physical and mental health by remembering to stick to my Three Guiding Principles.
1. Work on Creating A Positive Self-Image
My thighness isn’t going away. It’s genetics. And, since I want to be happiest of happies, I’m going to work very hard on not caring about my damn thighs because I have approximately 93472 million more important things to care about. I will look like a complete buffoon in spandex in order to think less (thus care less) about what I look like. This is the runner’s paradox.
2. Work on Fitness
These thighs look better the more toned they are. The stronger they are the better I feel. These thighs have squatted me through stress-relieving yoga during my depressing battle with infertility, squatted me through prenatal yoga, even with the additional pounds from Baby Grouch, and accidentally trained me for a marathon. They’ve taken me from point A to point B my entire life and I need to appreciate them by taking care of them. So, I will continue to run and squat and thoroughly tire them out. This aging, post-baby body demands it.
3. Be Gluttonous
Just not every second of every day. I will eat leafy greens, and fruity fruits, organic grains and beany beans, but I am not willing to give up on what makes me happy and balanced and fun. I do not want to be the boob sipping soda water and munching on carrots at girls weekend. I do not want to be the one who can’t agree to go to a restaurant until I’ve ensured they offer grilled chicken and zucchini. Bor-ing. I will be as healthy and fit as I can be, whilst indulging, on a somewhat regular basis, in mounds of nachos. And pizza. And most definitely, wine.
How do you bow to your thighness?
Pregnancy preparedness: Things you’ll want to do before you get knocked up – in no particular order.
1. Start telling strangers in line at the grocery store and strangers you’re connected with on social media that you are pregnant and that you are planning to formula feed. Take notes when they give you loads of valuable advice about infant feeding.
2. Stare at your naked self in the mirror and pinch the flabbiest part of your belly. Sneer at it in disgust. Then, try to imagine that your flabby belly will never again be this toned. Pat your (soon to be thought of as toned) flab and tell it you’ll miss it.
3. Google childbirth worst-case scenarios. Develop extreme anxiety. PANIC.
4. Stock up on your favorite seasonal treats, since you don’t know what will be available when you crave it most. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT eat your Thin Mints. You will need them later. TRUST ME. Scavange boxes from your friends and family if you can.
5. Drink copious amounts of vino. You’re really gonna miss this stuff.
6. Attend a natural childbirthing class and ask questions like, “What is the herbal equivalent to an epidural?” and, “How many six packs do I need to drink to help my milk come in?”
7. Keep a box of tissues in your purse at all times. When you want to be pregnant, everyone else around you will become pregnant. Teenagers, nuns, your eccentric uncle. EVERYONE.
8. Go to yoga. You’ll need the core strength to sustain a healthy pregnancy, delivery, and recovery. You’ll need the breathing exercises to offset the breast-feeding advice, childbirth horror stories and immaculate conceptions going on all around you.
9. Kegels. Yes, you need to do them. Start ’em now. Do them in the car, do them at work, do them when you empty the dishwasher. You’d better get used to multi-tasking.
10. Drink more wine. Relish it.
11. Research baby products and read each and every review. Buy fifteen books reviewing the products and then buy three more books reviewing the reviews. Create an elaborate wish list. Go register for products and get so annoyed with the process that you just scan the first two items on each shelf. (*Note – those choices will work out just fine). Pass along books along to the nearest pregnant sap.
12. Sex it up. If you’re struggling with conception, sex will quickly turn into a chore you have to complete in between laundry and online banking. Once you get pregnant, your husband will worry about poking the baby. Right after having the baby, you’ll worry about breaking your pelvis. When the baby is older, you’ll both choose sleep over sex. It’ll be a couple years before you’re both in the mood (and that’s when you’ll start trying for your next baby).
13. Read up on the importance of infant schedules and sleep training. Try to do 100 pull ups, walk across hot coals, and hold your breath for 4 minutes under water. These three tasks will better prepare you for the inevitable realization that carefully planned schedules and techniques won’t work out for you in any way, shape or form.
14. Start slathering on the cocoa butter. If it doesn’t prevent stretch marks, it’ll at least smell like coconuts and make you think of the beach. Once you’re pregnant, keep using it but know that you’ll feel less like a Hawaiian Tropics girl and more like a beached whale.
15. Start spending time with other people’s kids. Their whining, incessant chatter, tantrum throwing and disgusting drooling will prepare you for what is to come. Let me remind you that evolution has programmed us to love our own so much more than our neighbor’s. Don’t be afraid, your own will be amazing. A science refresher is always valuable.
16. Relax. Because we all know that unlike ovulation, balanced hormones or healthy uterine linings, this is the true key to conceiving.
Any other advice for those who want to be parents?
Ok, I’m going to be a little boasty, braggy, hippity hoppity. I can’t help it, I just might explode – this week has been sort of amazing. I have had a lot of horribly dark weeks, and this one is shiny and bright and remarkably different than those.
FRIDAY: I am starting a support program for students on the Autism Spectrum at the high school I work in – we will be piloting it, starting in September. A local news channel interviewed me last week, along with a parent and student in the program, and ran a segment about the program on the 5 o’clock news. Bonus: My excessive facial hair was not overly noticable, even with the high def cameras.
SATURDAY: A record number of views today on my Accidental Marathoner post made my day! I also got a piece of “fan mail” in the form of a message on my fb page from someone who had enjoyed the post. The message said this:
Congratulations on your achievement! Besides it being your own personal achievement, you’ve inspired countless others you’ll never know. This is … a great thing in light of ALL the events of the past week. 4 of my children will run in the Illinois Marathon this coming Saturday (the first for all of them!). I shared your Accidental Marathoner blog with them….truly inspiring, very much the truth, they agreed. I just wanted you to know that what you write makes a difference.
Um, can you say BEST EMAIL EVER?!
SUNDAY: I ran my first marathon. Despite not running for two years before having my baby, and running the race 7 months post-baby (the point being: I did not feel NEARLY as strong as I think I should feel before running a marathon), I decided to just go for it. I had a great experience, and my time beautifully corresponded with the whole reason I ran the marathon in the first place.
MONDAY: Our news story aired a second time, on the local news channel’s morning program. I could also walk down the stairs pretty comfortably – something I was not anticipating after the 26.37 miler the day before.
TUESDAY: Baby Grouch got her 2nd tooth. I know I had nothing to do with this, but I sort of feel like I do because I MADE HER (Double bonus: I MADE A BABY – still pretty excited about that).
WEDNESDAY: I thought Saturday went well, but today I was completely overwhelemed with the number of views, replies and comments on my post in honor of Infertility Awareness Week. This far surpassed my previous record on Saturday of most views on a post. I had a lot of people share the Top 10 list, and there were so many women who said that this hit the nail on the head, that it said what they felt, but were often too afraid to say. It is sort of amazing when you realize you aren’t alone, and there are so many others who understand you.
THURSDAY: I dropped the cap to my water bottle, but then immediately caught it ON MY SHIN before it hit the floor and I lifted my leg up to return said cap to my hand. Clumsy and yet SO coordinated at the same time.
And ALSO, I got my first piece of hate mail! It was very exciting and occurred in the form of another blogger posting about how my Infertility Awareness Post pissed her off. HAH! She didn’t actually point out much that she didn’t like about it, other than a) my agressive tone (absolutely guilty as charged, that was the idea) and b) when I said infertiles didn’t want to hear pregnant people complaining about their whaleish pregnant bodies. Her huffiness made more sense when I noticed she had JUST written a post about how horribly whaleish she’s feeling because she’s got a big pregnant body (I’m paraphrasing here). I get it. Other side of the coin and all that. I’m not offended that she got offended. Plus, the fact that she hated it helped me raise awareness even more, so I thank her for helping me accomplish my goal.
Perhaps I was linked into her post an effort to draw more readers to her blog. If that’s the case, I guess the joke’s on her, because I’m really a half-assed blogger and I don’t have that many readers! She must think I care deeply about my readership numbers since she felt the need to point out to me that she wouldn’t have bothered complaining about my post publically if she had noticed ahead of time that I wasn’t a “big time blogger”.
FRIDAY: A few months ago I entered my infertility story (the nice one, not the bitchy one) into a writing contest. And guess what? I won a $400 prize package – money towards a vacation destination and also money towards future services at the fertility center that hosted the contest. Maybe enjoying a free weekend away will make my husband less annoyed that my face is constantly shoved into my computer keyboard.
I also utilized the word “fanfaron” which came in my word-a-day email this week. I never remember to practice those words.
Ok, I’m done. I’ll be humble again, now that I got that out.
For all you jealous types, don’t worry, I’m sure next week I’ll get rear ended, drop my cell phone in the toilet and my cat will pee all over the living room carpet. Because, that’s how life works.
In honor of Infertility Awareness Week – here’s a Top 10 list for what some of y’all should shut the fuck up about.
1. Complaints about your body during pregnancy. Swollen feet? Fat ass? Whaleish proportions? Shut the fuck up, you’re pregnant. You have a tiny head and tiny feet poking you in the ribs and wedged between your organs. That’s how you’re supposed to feel.
2. Complaints about what you can’t eat while pregnant. Can’t eat sushi? Can’t eat goat cheese? Can’t eat salami? Shut the fuck up before we shove this seaweed wrapped, cheese slathered salami up your ass. Have you heard the saying you can’t have your cake and eat it too? Maybe not, seeing how you’re devouring that cake….
3. Complaints about what you can’t do while pregnant. Can’t go on a rollercoaster? Can’t go on a trampoline? Can’t skydive? Shut the fuck up, we can’t have a baby.
4. Complaints about your kids. Up all night? Have picky eaters? Sick of them crying over broken toys? Sick of them crying over sharing toys? Sick of them crying over the fact that you made them wear pants? Shut the fuck up, that’s how kids act.
5. Questions about when we’ll have kids. When do we think we’ll have kids? Are we planning on ever having kids? Hm, let’s see, we thought about 3 years ago, but now we don’t know if we ever will be able to, THANKS FOR ASKING. Shut the fuck up with your ignorant questions.
6. Complaints about how your pregnancy/children is affecting your sex life. Really? Try forcing your spouse to have sex with you when they have a temperature of 103 and a raging sinus infection, because it is cycle day 15 and you don’t “waste a cycle”. Or try having to drive to Ohio because it’s cycle day 15 and your spouse is out of town for work and you don’t want to “waste a cycle”. Then you can talk to us about your crappy sex life. Shut the fuck up, we can’t wait to not HAVE to have sex.
7. Gushing about how your prenatal vitamins made your hair and nails grow. “Prenatal vitamins made my hair so lush and my nails so long” you say. Yea, shut the fuck up. We’ve been on them for 3 years and our split ends have split ends and our nails are stubs (but maybe that is from our anxious chewing?)
8. Complaints about all of your doctor appointments/procedures. Really? Because some of us are spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on medications and procedures. We’re spending time at the doctor 4 days out of the month, on dates we can’t plan ahead, and often have to leave work or cancel plans to check on our follicle size. We’re getting probed, we’re stabbing ourselves with needles, we’re nauseous because of the meds we’re taking. The end result of this is usually bad news with a pitying look from a nurse, instead of getting to hear a heartbeat or see our baby’s toes on ultrasound. Shut the fuck up about your doctor visits and procedures.
9. Advice about how to get pregnant. Relax? Stop trying and it will happen? Utilize the missionary position? Drink herbal tea? Trust in God’s plan? Chart our temperatures? Shut the fuck up with your witchcraft and wives tales. We’re working with our reproductive endocrinologists, thank you very much, because this is a biological problem, not a fairy-tale dilemma.
10. Complaints about not being able to drink because you’re pregnant. Ok, actually, that one we get. We totally get that.
Did I miss anything?
So, my husband and I have been trying to have a child for about 3 1/2 years. The first year we were just not “not trying”. We figured it would happen within about a year – give or take and weren’t too worried. To be honest, I was slightly nervous (read: terrified) at the thought of having kids, so I wasn’t in a huge rush. After the year passed, we decided to officially “try”. I’d had plenty of time to digest the reality of what children would bring to our life, and I was definitely ready. “Trying” involved using ovulation predictor kits, and then when those were inconclusive, trying to have sex at least every other day (we actually did a pretty good job with this 😉 ). But, in the end, there was nothing to show for all of that hard work, and after a second year had passed, we realized we needed a little more help. Clearly, we should have realized we needed some intervention earlier, but we had naively thought that it would just happen, eventually.
We started fertility treatments, since it turned out that I have PCOS, and was likely not ovulating on my own at all. And so began our “new normal”.
The new normal involved counting cycle days, and taking medications like Clomid, Metformin, Prometrium, Follistim and Ovidrel (the last two being injectable hormones – so I was giving myself shots 5-7 days per month). The new normal meant having to use up precious sick days (will I have any left for maternity leave?), since internal ultrasounds were needed 2-3 times per month to check my ovaries and the progress of my follicles. Sometimes these doctor visits could be done at a local facility, and other times we would have to make the hour-long commute for doctor appointments there. It seemed many appointments ended up needing to be done on Saturdays, which meant spending a couple of hours in the car for a 20 minute appointment, since the local office wasn’t open on the weekend.
The new normal meant not being able to make plans for weekends or breaks, or having to cancel them, because I couldn’t be out of town if an ultrasound was needed. It meant, at times, bringing along my zippered case of injectable meds, and heading to a bathroom stall between the hours of 6 and 8 pm to give myself a shot.
The new normal meant the continuous development of ovarian cysts, from the follicle stimulating hormones I was injecting into my abdomen. These were incredibly disappointing as I would have to skip a month before we could try again, lest my ovaries become hyperstimulated (which can potentially lead to permanent infertility). The cysts also meant I was often unable to run, something I very much enjoy and use as a stress reliever; it was feared my fallopian tube could twist due to the excessive weight of the ovary, potentially leading to the loss of that ovary.
The new normal meant going in for lab work, a few times each month. One of the medications I was on resulted in me not starting a period as I normally would, so this included a blood draw at the end of a cycle, to determine if I was pregnant. I got used to the pitying tone of the lab worker telling me, sorry, not pregnant.
As the months passed, the new normal became diminished hope and increasing frustration. The new normal was a cloud of blackness, with days here and there where grey poked through. Staying positive was a constant effort. And, sometimes I just didn’t have the energy.
The new normal meant tears of anger and frustration at every announcement of a child-to-be. As one would expect, everyone around me started getting pregnant. Or, at least that’s how it felt. My friend’s announcements would leave me full of joy and excitment for them, while simultaneously feeling like I’d been literally punched in the gut and even more hopeless and frustrated than before. After anyone who told me they were pregnant in the last year and a half, I typically cried the entire way home after hearing the news. A little too much self-pitying, I knew, but the frustration and anger usually escaped. And how dare some of those people COMPLAIN about pregnancy symptoms, or things they couldn’t do as a result of being pregnant? I was certainly not understanding or sympathetic to those complaints (I’m still not, really). I was sometimes a little bit mean.
The new normal meant having timed intercourse on certain days of the month, for the sole purpose of conceiving a child. This takes a bit of the fun out of the process, let me tell you. And, while we were generally lucky, this meant having to drive out of town to meet my husband where he was, if he had to travel out of town for work, on “cycle day 15 and 16”, or whatever days the doctor told us were the days to try. Only once did I have to take a sick day, in order to drive 5 hours, into Ohio, to have sex with my husband that night and the next morning, and then immediately turn around to make the 5 hour return trip.
I’d see the baby pictures posted at the fertility center, no doubt supposed to be an inspiration, and literally wondered if those babies were actually the result of anything that happened in that office. I was pretty convinced they were ALL in-vitro babies, and all of the time and energy we were putting in was in vain. Were they trying to get as much money from us as possible, knowing we would have to do in-vitro in the end anyway?
The new normal meant wondering what would happen if my husband and I couldn’t have children. Ever since we met, he had talked about wanting a kids, and that this was something he felt was needed to lead a happy and fulfilling life. The scariest thought ever, “Will my husband and I make it if we can’t have children?” This was by far the worst part of the entire process. Even though I never once doubted his love for me, I seriously began to wonder if he would be able to stay with me and live a childless life, or if he did, if he would be truly happy.
Two days after Christmas, I called to get the results from the lab, as I had done many times before. The lab worker said, “Well, you’re numbers look good”. Being my skeptical self, I wondered what the hell they were looking at, I didn’t care about all of my numbers, I only cared about the HCG – and she hadn’t specifically said THOSE numbers looked good, or, for that matter, what “good” meant. She then added, “You’re pregnant”. My jaw dropped, and my eyes popped out as I turned to look at my husband, who was sitting right next to me, listening in, in disbelief. I literally could not speak anymore and can’t remember if I just hung up on the lady or if I handed the phone to my husband to finish the conversation. After hanging up, we had the longest hug ever, and I cried (at least this time I could blame it on the hormones). I guess that trip to Ohio was worth it, after all.
The new normal became cautious optimism.
While there were a few scares early on, overall, this conception impaired blogger appears to be a pregnancy viking. Finally, the second trimester has begun, and the new normal is sharing the good news, having an even greater sense of relief and excitement. And, also becoming slightly afraid of stepping on the bathroom scale.
While I am fully aware that my sleep deprivation is only going to get worse, I’m very much looking forward to the new normal, about 6 months from now.