Monday, May 14, 2012

My Mom - Her life and battle with weight

I wanted to write this post yesterday, but I was caught in a lack of motivation due to a merry-go-round that consisted of being in the bathroom due to possible food poisoning (we’re never going to that place again!), feeling fine and eating a little something, then feeling terrible and running back to the bathroom.  All while being distracted by at least 10 episodes of Grey’s Anatomy. 
My grandma has said that my mom was never a small child/young adult.  She met my dad as teenagers.  She was a cashier at a grocery store and he was a bag boy.  They married right out of high school.  I am not certain, but I believe her wedding dress to be a size 8 or 10.  They tried to get pregnant and did get pregnant several times; however, they all ended in miscarriage.  I imagine as the grief grew, so did her weight.  12 years after they married, and only 7 months into her pregnancy, a little 3lbs, 6oz baby girl came into the world.  (That would be me) Within 3 years, there were 2 more babies!  (Although these would be 9 and 10 pound babies – SwimSis and my brother) Life was stressful with 3 kids ages 3 and under.  She never said anything, never complained, always put everyone else first.  But she knew she wanted to change, to be thinner.  

Myself, my madre, my tia
Here is when the diets started!  I am pretty sure she tried everything in the book.  Smoothies, soups, restricting this, counting that, etc.  When I was in elementary school, she started Jenny Craig.  My sister and I would go with her to her appointments and do our homework in the waiting area, listen to the pop-y 90s music on the radio, and drink their fancy water.  On weekday nights, we would go walking with her (or biking, or we would play at a nearby playground).  When we started on the swim team, she would walk around the school while us kids were at practice.  She was around sizes 4 I think.  When I was  a 5th grader, she was smaller than I was!  

Oh 80s.  Those glasses are rockin'!
Then, she started getting sick.  Really sick.  My parents never told us directly what was wrong with her (unless I forgot, and I don’t think I would have).  Instead of going on walks/bike rides, we were staying inside watching TV, with the curtains shut so as to not give her migraines.  Spending time with mom consisted of getting her another cool wash cloth for her forehead or emptying her puke bucket.  And trips to Jenny Craig were replaced by trips to the doctor’s office for chemo treatments.  Near the end of her sickness, I found a pamphlet on my parent’s dresser – Ovarian Cancer.  The sickness now had a name.   Through it all, she remained a pillar of strength.
Soon, but not too soon, the cancer was gone.  She was no longer sick, but she was no longer the person she was before cancer.  Some weight had crept back on her, she did not resume her walks or Jenny Craig.  Bad food found its way back yet again.  About a year later – just after their 25th wedding anniversary, my parents found out they were pregnant again.  It had been 10 years since their last baby!  Not a mistake, but a surprise.  And in the light of recent events – even a miracle!  Nearly 7 months later (at 44 years old nonetheless!), another 3 lb baby girl born premature (Yes, that would be TeenSwimSis) Now with 1 teenager, 2 pre-teens and one preemie in the N.I.C.U., things were stressful.  We ate out a lot, finances got tighter, but we still got that package of cookies – even if they were from Aldi!  

She's on the right.  Wow, that hair has some height!  One of the lower weights.
Over the next couple of years, her weight fluctuated often, lower in good times, higher in stressful times like a house fire when I was in 10th grade.  We were staying at my grandma’s, then at a hotel, then at a rental house, at the hotel again, and eventually back at our house after it was repaired.  Once myself and SwimSis were in college, she was able to focus on herself a little bit more.  I’d say around 2007 was when she started getting things back together to focus on her health.  She walked around town or went to the gym to use the treadmill/track almost daily.  She watched what she ate (I would say she was too restrictive!) and made sure TeenSwimSis ate well and exercised too. 
Then, on Halloween morning 2010, I was sleeping on a friend’s couch after a night of heavy drinking when I got a phone call.  My mom had had a stroke – which turned out to be a brain aneurysm.  She was rushed to the hospital, but they decided they would fly her to the big city.  I knew I couldn’t drive the 5 hour difference, so I flew.  Being surrounded by strangers (and not having to actually be the one focusing on getting there) was much better than driving alone.  I got to the hospital 12 or so hours later.  For the next day I held her hand and told everything I had wanted to tell her.  I told her that I weighed 253 – down from 290!  I had lost that much and I was going to lose much more.  I told her how great she was and all of the places we would go and all the adventures we would have, if she would just get better.  But it was not meant to be.  After a day, brain scans showed little and then no brain activity.
This shining light in my life went out on 11/01/10, but it still lives through her organs and tissues that were donated.  The last 2 years have been a struggle for all of us.  I put back on most of the weight I had lost – I was back up to 280 earlier this year.  My sisters have gained weight as well.  But SwimSis and I are doing something about it!  We joined the Y and are attempting to eat healthier.  I even signed us up for a 5K next month!  My mom would definitely be proud – and if she were still with us, she would be run/walking it right by our sides. (The day before she passed, she had gotten to a smaller size – purchased several pairs of size 4 pants/capris!).
Like my mom, I try not to let my emotions get in the way of what I have to do in life, which is a fault.  Even though we weren’t super close, I know she pegged me as the independent one.  The one who she could count on to be brainy, responsible, and to get things done while she was looking after my troublemaker siblings and the baby.  While most parents told their children they could come home if they needed to after college, my mom told me that wasn’t an option.  And I’m grateful for it.  I moved to a new city 5 hours away, made mistakes, made friends, missed my family and grew closer to them all at once.  I’m not on this journey to get healthy just for me, it’s for her and the person she wanted/wants me to be. 
“And I love you more than anything in the world.  Love, your baby girl.” - Sugarland

I hope everyone had a great mother's day yesterday.  Keep loving on your mama while you can.  Don't ever take her for granted!

Road Trip!

At SwimTot's baptism

Back when TeenSwimSis was a little younger

The 'Rents

Me and My Mommy - 2007

 And just because she would be mad that I put these pics of her up here, here is an embarrassing one of me!

Oh yes.  Me at 13.  Acne, wild eyebrows, no ounce of femininity!  haha That would be an ALMOST 3 month old TeenSwimSis.  TeenSwimSis is 13 now.  That girl doesn't know how good she has it in the looks dept!  I nailed the whole awkward teenager thing!

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