[ just the bare facts about my journey.
after this we’ll look at the deeper things.]
Most stories start at the beginning.
I’m not sure where mine began. Somewhere in the middle of high school, I suppose.
I was never a skinny bit-of-a-girl but I had muscle and athletic ability so I tried out for every sport and made it. For several years my schedule was full of soccer, basketball and volleyball.
Between each season I would gain a few pounds, start playing another sport and the weight would fall away as I began running miles a day. I wasn’t disciplined. My abilities came naturally so I didn’t try very hard to tone them, I just played.
My senior year, when I was sixteen years old, I stopped volleyball so I could focus on soccer and basketball. That spring, when the last basketball game was played, I stopped running. In a few months I had gained about ten pounds. It hit me that I needed to do something to maintain my weight, as there wouldn’t ever be another sports season.
When I was seventeen, I moved to Alaska. I was a nanny and at the house I worked in, I found a pilates book. Every afternoon during nap time, I worked out. By the end of the summer I realized that I needed to buy new clothes. My size ten’s where falling off me.
I went home with a new wardrobe of size six clothing. It took me awhile to recognize myself in pictures.
I’m not sure when it all changed. Somewhere between college and my twenties. I knew I was back in my old clothes. I kept my favorite “six” jeans and they became my “skinny jeans”. The more weight I gained, the harder I worked out and the less effect it seemed to have. I just assumed I was lazy and needed to do something really tough… like run a marathon.
I was living in New York by this time and one day mentioned, in passing, that I hadn’t had a cycle in a long time. My mom freaked. Asked how long. I flipped through my calendar, struggling to make sense of my haphazard notes. Six months?
I was at the doctor two days later, my mom asking questions and me staring in shock at the scale. Thirty pounds. When had I gained THIRTY POUNDS? I hadn’t changed anything. I still ate healthy. I still did pilates.
A thousand dollars worth of blood tests later I had words swirling through my head. poly cystic ovary syndrome. number one cause of infertility. ninety-eight percent chance of never bearing children. hormonal abnormalities.
I spent a few nights shaking. They put me on birth control pills. I took them for one month then flushed them down the toilet. Nothing, nothing could convince me to go through that roller-coaster ride of emotions again.
Instead, I cut out sugar for two months, I started running a mile a day and lost fifteen pounds. My cycles returned and I pushed everything else out of my head. I did mission work in the Unites States and overseas. With all my traveling, I almost forgot the doctors diagnosis…
Until the day I was sitting next to a man who was telling me about his dreams. Dreams that I was longing to go after with him. Dreams that included three children. I didn’t bother to explain that I always figured on being a mother to at least seven. (It’s the biblical number of completion, you know.) Instead, I carefully explained the doctor’s diagnosis. No kids.
“But you’ve been better for a long time now, right?” He said.
I nodded. True. I had been. I had kept most of the weight off. Well, give or take five pounds.
We were married three months later. The next month I had just a few spots instead of a full-blown period. Negative test. I shrugged it off until I started waking up in the middle of the night to race to the bathroom and throw up. When my pants stopped buttoning, but my weight hadn’t changed, I went back to the doctor. Blood test came back negative.
In four months I had gained the fifteen pounds plus back. The doctor had me on this medication then that one. They all left me miserable. I had a constant metallic taste in my mouth. I hated being around people. I cried myself to sleep most nights. It was impossible to find clothes that fit me. Mine wouldn’t button and the next size up fell off. I finally went to the thrift store and bought a pair of maternity jeans. They were the only thing that fit for months. I hated, hated, hated going to church. I hated wearing skirts because they accentuated my stomach that looked like I was five months pregnant. But I wasn’t.
One day I came home from the doctor’s in tears. She had yelled at me for not losing weight. I was hardly eating at the time. No sugar. No flour. No meat. No dairy. My husband took one look at me and said that we were done with the doctor. No more.
Once again I was dumping out medication. I was done.
For three months I tried to just focus on my husband. The farm. My lovely house.
Then we moved to Haiti. And in Haiti, everything changed.