When I contracted Lyme around 1997, I blew up like a balloon. I went from being an average sized young woman to an unhealthy 200+ pound porker in what seemed like a few months. It killed my self esteem and confused me. I wouldn't get a Lyme diagnosis for another 11 years, so all I knew was that I was too tired to work off the mysterious weight, and no matter what I ate, I only got bigger. On top of that, I felt like crap, was taunted about my size, deemed a heifer by guys, and that hurt.
Fast forward to 2003. I had my first serious full blown Lyme attack, which paralyzed my legs and arms and put me in the hospital for weeks. I was misdiagnosed as having Guillain Barre Syndrome, given some serious doses of IVIG, and after I left the hospital, I did some physical therapy.
Looking back, I realize the IVIG must have killed a lot of the Lyme bugs, because I slowly felt better. I had a new outlook: I was given another chance at life, and I was going to be as healthy and happy as could be. Exercising was slow at first and sometimes really painful, but I became so obsessed with feeling and looking great, that eventually I was running, lifting weights, and doing pilates like all of the women I had previously loved to hate.
The picture of my mom and me (above) was taken in 2005 when I was at my "healthy" peak. I vowed that I would work hard to maintain this for the rest of my life. I'd gone from a size 20 to a loose size 4. It took over two years, but I did it the right way and it was worth it.
Then that bastard Lyme came back into my life as quickly as it left. Over the past 5 years, I haven't put all the weight back on, but I am about 25-30 pounds heavier due to inactivity. Now, on a good day, I change out of my yoga pants, put on jeans, and go to the grocery store. If I'm feeling stellar, I can walk at a pace of 3.0 on the treadmill for 15 to sometimes 30 minutes, but I pay for it later.
Here's the issue:
I'm ok with the slow gain. I understand why it's happening, and I have tried hard to be kind to myself. Physically, I just haven't been able to move around like I did in the past. Someday, I will be in full remission, and I will run my little heart out until I get that runner's high I miss so much. I won't be ashamed to go out in public, see my friends, or have that fear in the back of my mind that everyone is noticing how much weight I've put on.
But now I'm pregnant. In addition to the slow gain, I have the fast gain. As ridiculous as it sounds, I always pictured myself as the "fit" mommy to be, in great shape with a big round belly and no other flab. Yeah, I know. That rarely happens, even with people that don't have a chronic illness. I also happen to be the queen of high, unrealistic expectations when it comes to setting goals for myself.
And that leads us to the point of today's post: disappointment mixed with a little bit of irrationality. I'm feelin' it.
It happens to the best of us, but we can't let it keep us down.
When we are chronically sick, we are at higher risk of being depressed, feeling trapped, and isolated. Add the insane, unpredictable hormones of pregnancy and it's a recipe for disaster.
If you're pregnant and you find yourself hating the way to look, feel, waddle, jiggle, or what have you, it's pretty normal (from what I've read). I've even Googled, "I hate being pregnant," just to see if I'm the only bad mommy on the planet, and it turns out I'm not. Go ahead, try it. Some of the women who post on the forums are hilarious, and when you're having a "just shoot me" moment because your pants won't zipper, it helps so much to know you're not alone.
And when that evil, irrational Lyme/hormone voice starts chirping in your ear, please do yourself a favor and tell it to shut up. Seriously, whatever you do, don't listen to it. Instead, do something that makes you happy*. Browse for cute baby stuff online, watch a funny movie, or read an inspiring book.
During tough times we need love and understanding, and it means a whole lot more when it comes directly from ourselves.
Now on to the hard part: practicing what I preach...
*Note: Based on a recent experience, avoid relaxing baths when you're hating on your thighs/butt/gut. Wait until you're feeling strong enough to truly accept those new curves. Otherwise, you'll feel like a manatee in a kiddie pool. If you have one of those sweet jacuzzi bathtubs you can sink all the way into, it's all good. Just remember to invite me over so I can use it when you're finished!
I am a mother and writer with Chronic Lyme, on the road to acceptance and recovery. I was bitten in 1996, diagnosed 2008. I am living proof that it is possible to live meaningfully and have happy, healthy children while battling this terrible disease.