I’m a survivor

Since having Isobel, I’ve had a bit of a love/hate/hate/hate relationship with my body. On the love side I’m so grateful that I was able to conceive naturally after being told this wasn’t possible, and I know that my body nurtured and nourished Isobel through a very healthy pregnancy to full term and a good weight. To my knowledge so far (we’re still awaiting postmortem results) Isobel was perfectly developed and formed. So by 39 weeks I was impressed with my body’s capabilities. But then of course Isobel’s little heart stopped and I can’t help but blame something in my body for failing her, and me, at the final hurdle. Hence the hate. I’ve written before how I also find it really hard to accept my stretch marks, excess weight and saggy belly without having a living baby to show for them. When out in public I have wanted to wear a sign or a tshirt saying “I have just had a baby but she died” to explain my rounded tummy in the absence of a pram to explain it for me. My old clothes still don’t fit and I’m forced to keep wearing maternity jeans as I can’t afford new clothes until my husband and I are back on full pay. So hate hate hate…

Trying to be proactive about the things I could change in the face of all I can’t, I have been doing the Couch to 5k training plan again. I did this last year and got quite in to running, doing my first and last 10k race when I was 7 weeks pregnant. This time I have found getting out and running a little to be so helpful to my mental state. Physical exhaustion feels so much better than the mental exhaustion that accompanies grief. There is a river with a tow path near our house – imagining walks there with a pram was one of the reasons we chose our house. Instead I go there alone and walk/run, dragging my grief instead of pushing a pram and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve now shed a tear along that path. I’ve come to love the swan family with the two little grey fluffy cygnets and if I don’t see them in the river I get very disappointed! 

Today I was due to run for 25 minutes, the longest to date being 20 minutes. My husband was doing the 5k Parkrun so I screwed my courage to the sticking place, got my trainers on and joined him. I honestly thought I wouldn’t be able to finish the 5k but when I managed to run for 2k before stopping, a determination to cross the finish line came over me! I didn’t care if I was last by a mile, I was going to do it. I had to walk a few times when I was completely exhausted but I slowly but surely finished the 5k in 38 minutes. I wasn’t even last! 

I cried once – when Destiny’s Child Survivor came on my ‘You can do it’ playlist. (Other similarly themed tracks are Kelly Clarkson What doesn’t kill you, Kanye West Stronger and Emimem Lose Yourself). I think listening to the lyrics about surviving and keeping going, I had a moment of being so sad that I was having to work so hard right now just to survive my life. I’d quite happily go back to my previous charmed life where I didn’t have to be a ‘survivor’ or at least the things that I had to survive were so minor and trivial! I’m getting used to having little tearful moments in public now and I really don’t care. I don’t think other people notice half of what goes on around them and even if they did it’s the least of my worries what they think of me. Why I can’t apply this logic to what they think of my belly is beyond me however. 

After the Parkrun I felt the best that I have done in the seven weeks and two days since learning that Isobel was gone. I sang in the shower! I updated my Facebook status for the first time since she died and got a ton of likes for my small achievement. Pity likes I call them but I appreciate them none the less! My better mood has persisted relatively well through the day. Endorphins I guess, as well as the psychological sense of achievement. 

I am pretty sure I’ll never be Beyoncé, but maybe with a little effort I can get back to accepting and appreciating my body. I think that would be a pretty amazing achievement. 


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