TrimHealthyMama©, for many of us, does more than help us lose weight. It can also help us heal body and emotional trauma. For me, it was trauma around the birth of my preemie.
My youngest (of 7 kids) baby will be 20 months old this month. He wears 12 month size clothing. That’s because his adjusted age is 16 months. He was born at 27 weeks after a scary, all-too-short pregnancy. Weighing 2 pounds, he easily fit in one hand. His diaper was smaller than a debit card.
He (we) spent 11 weeks in the NICU learning to breathe, regulate body temperature, and eat without suffocating.
It was the most terrifying, stressful time of my life.
Just in recent months have I felt that I’m getting back to my old self. In some ways, I’ll never be the same.
My pregnancy and son’s birth triggered every emotion you can name: from shock and disbelief (when my body threatened miscarriage several times during the pregnancy) to bliss when I managed to stay pregnant one more day or when he experienced an important milestone, to numbness to rage to grief at the loss of a healthy pregnancy and normal postpartum experience, and everything inbetween.
The nightmares have finally stopped, but I still have flashbacks. Something will trigger a memory of that time: the sharp, astringent smell of hand sanitizer (that bathed the nurses’s hands). A long corridor (that I walked from the elevator to the locked NICU doors). A picture of a full-term, fat newborn (grief, jealousy, shame…).
As a writer, I would love nothing more than to write my experiences down in a book. So far, however, I’ve been unable to write more than a page without becoming overwhelmed by emotions that I don’t want to revisit. I did, however, blog during that time. It helped keep me sane. Those posts are collected on this page on my other blog if you’re interested in reading them: a preemie story.
My son is healthy. He has no long-term health problems (at least that we can tell yet) resulting from his prematurity. He’s tiny, but following his own growth curve. I rarely think about his frightening entry into the world unless I examine the scars on his body from PICC lines and IVs that pierced his fragile skin in those early weeks.
What does all of this have to do with TrimHealthyMama©?
My pregnancy left me feeling totally out of control of my body. And to a lesser extent, my life.
Weeks in, I thought I was miscarrying, and that experience happened a few more times, leaving me in constant fear of losing my son. At 18 weeks, my amniotic sac broke. My son survived months in my womb with no measurable amniotic fluid, a condition known as PPROM. While my other pregnancies had been routine to the point of boring, with 5 of my babies being born at home, but this one was everything but. I could no longer trust my body to do what it had done so well.
Even breastfeeding, which was something I loved so much I volunteered as a La Leche League leader for several years, betrayed me. The stress on my body of the bed rest, C-section and NICU experience made me struggle mightily with what had come so easily before. The anger I felt at struggling to pump enough milk for my preemie who so desperately needed it, despite waking every 3 hours to do so, was overwhelming.
I came to TrimHealthyMama after trying unsuccessfully to lose the last of the baby weight. I had never had trouble getting rid of it before, usually by 9 months I was fitting into my old clothing. Not this time. Bed rest and stress had taken its toll on me. I was puffy, tired and way too “fluffy” for my liking. I wanted to like my appearance again. I also didn’t want to put my milk supply (that I had worked so hard to safeguard) in jeopardy!
TrimHealthyMama did more than help me lose weight easily without the stress of counting calories. It also allowed me to gain control over my body again, and for that I am so very grateful. This has been part of my healing process. Now only do I look better than I did before my 7th pregnancy, I am healthier overall. I no longer struggle with daily late-afternoon cravings for sugar.
(Note: not surprisingly, I had intense donut cravings after my son was born and stopped by Dunkin’ Donuts almost every day, a habit I had not had before. One day I realized why: a donut smells very similar to a newborn baby. Sounds nutty, but it’s true. My preemie didn’t have this newborn smell because of his C-section birth. Not to mention, I wasn’t even allowed to hold him at first. I was literally trying to stuff myself with those familiar feelings.)
I have willpower I didn’t have around sweets now. I’m experiencing peri-menopausal symptoms, but they are very mild thanks to my healthy diet.
As a self-confessed birth junkie, I know how birth can impact a woman’s inner life. Birth is important and has emotional repercussions that reverberate into her happiness and relationships for the rest of her life. I suspect that for some, getting healthy after a frightening birth is part of the healing process.
How has TrimHealthyMama helped you in ways that go beyond mere weight loss? I would love to hear in the comments…