This is the blog I’ve wanted to write for the last 9 months. About what was amazing in 2004 (and part of 2005) the little that was not amazing but that my children and I were still together and living a fairly fully functional life. While I have talked about what happened with my children and I, at my sickest,7 1/2 years ago til the present time. I’ve really never gone into detail like I would’ve liked to, when life was fairly good for all 3 of us. In the beginning of 2004, I was still working full time. Zoe was in a licensed daycare facility near our apartment, my son who was in the 5th grade went to before and after school daycare. He was also in sports, Hebrew School and Cub Scouts.
We lived though in a beautiful 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment that had also a den and underground parking that was in a nice upscale suburb with good schools near a regional park in Plymouth, Minnesota. Zoe was a very easy baby, but she was late on a lot of milestones, such as crawling, walking and talking. That was largely attributed to having a high risk pregnancy (hyperemesis gravidarum, which I also had with Zachary and it’s the same condition Kate Middleton has) and getting pregnant with her so soon after my gastric bypass in December of 2001.
While I ended up having issues with abdominal pain and vomiting post pregnancy, I just attributed to my gastric bypass. I was way too busy to do anything about it, as far as getting medical attention for myself, because I had to plan for when I’d miss days at work due to my children being sick and/or needing medical care. But Zoe did end up catching up, slowly at first. But we had a full, fun and loving life. I’ve always been a complainer about something. But I never complained about my children. They were both easy going and I found my life as a single mother compared to my friends who were married and raising children or to me, which was worse, fighting with a divorced spouse about every aspect of their kids lives, much easier than theirs. While I had all the responsibilities that go with child rearing, the choices were all mine to make and I didn’t have to share my beautiful, funny and loving kids with anyone else.
Winter of 2004, started wearing on me with all the activity, having lost 80+ lbs (part of that when still pregnant and I didn’t gain any pregnancy weight, same applied with Zachary though, due to the hyperemesis). I had been put on the year before, after Zoe’s birth, once I went back to work, put on Zoloft, because I did have a lot of stress and I had a very stressful job. 2 days after Zoe’s 1st birthday I became really sick. Intractable projectile vomiting which landed me in the hospital for 5 days. At the hospital I had my children at which was NOT the hospital I had my gastric bypass at. But it was my 1st hospitalization due to complications from my gastric bypass. I had just heard from my employer the week before that we were going to laid off in 2 months.
After I gotten out of the hospital I ended up returning to work and getting “laid off” (I technically was fired for “absenteeism” and threatened to sue my former employer which was a EVIL huge conglomerate and they were willing to settle with paying me a severance package and I was able to collect unemployment that was uncontested and be able to say that I was laid off as I was in the process of trying to start an FMLA case and they fired me a day and half after I returned to work from my hospitalization).
Also around the time of Zoe’s 1st birthday, I had met what I thought was a really nice man and it became serious. It was very intense relationship while great at first and he was great with my kids (Zachary though absolutely HATED him) and after I left my job, it left me time to be able to focus on my children, as I had been really good with money and between savings and unemployment and that I had always had a car, we could go places and do things and we had still a fairly comfortable life.
In late Spring of 2004, the kids and I went to Great Wolf Lodge in the Wisconsin Dells, just the 3 of us. And I spent the first few months of the summer of either just Zoe and I or all 3 of us, going 3 hours to southwestern Minnesota to visit my boyfriend where he lived. Zachary, because he didn’t have a great love for my boyfriend, would sometimes stay with my parents. My relationship with my boyfriend ended mid summer of 2004. While it was a blessing in disguise, I didn’t see it right away and I was fairly depressed as we had talked about getting married, it was easier to get over when my very astute 11 1/2 year old son at the time would tell me that we were better off without him because he was looking for a family to control.
To get over my breakup with my boyfriend, I decided to pick up exercise.I joined a gym and ordered “Core Secrets” off an informercial (balance ball work with weights dvd by a celebrity personal trainer, Gunnar Peterson) I figured it would be a good distraction and I had tried before I left my former employer to have a panniculectomy and it had been denied. But I for the most part was happy at being a size 9/10 in jeans and about a medium in tops, dresses and jackets. I just figured it would help to tone. NEVER in a million years did I think I’d end up loving exercise as much as I did. I’d go the gym in the mornings and Zoe would love to play with the other kids there. About 2 months after I had started, not only did I get really toned, I went down another 4 sizes and a month later, hit would be size 2/4 average, I was until late 2007.
Summer came to an end and Fall of 2004 began. Zachary was starting middle school. Zoe and I still were in ECFE, a playgroup and I still went to the gym every morning (a local YMCA). When I found that I could work out fairly intensely, I joined another gym, Lifetime (meaning I NOW belonged to TWO gyms that I worked out at both, almost everyday) and had decided to go to school to be a Certified Personal Trainer.
So I enrolled in NASM’s CPT+ course online. While I’ve talked about in other blogs about both the positives and negatives of major weight loss, I had wanted to be a trainer to help those find a love of exercise, even if they couldn’t work at an athletic level that I was able to work up to. I figured I could do adaptive and rehabilitative training for those who wanted to use exercise for stress relief or for weight loss, but didn’t necessarily want to have weight loss surgery. And I figured by sub-specializing, for people who had medical health issues or barriers, it would make it more interesting and was networking with local bariatric surgeons to do work for them as I also was writing a program to help people lose weight without having a surgical intervention.
So while I still was getting sicker, we lived a full life. Zach had less exta-curricular activities in middle school. But he had friends, I still had my friends and we as a family, went to a lot of places and did a lot of things. If you would have asked people, in 2004, or if they knew my children and I, and could see how bonded we were as a family that we’d end up apart somehow, most would tell you that they wouldn’t believe it. BUT, I was NEVER a conventional mother. And I did smoke. So I was never a part of the “Minivan Mommy Brigade”. Because I still didn’t fit in.
At my heaviest before my gastric bypass, before Zoe was born, I was an oddity but I was a VERY pro-active full time employed single mother who was present at Zach’s school, cub scouts and Hebrew School. Once I had my gastric bypass, I noticed that more mothers were at cub scout meetings. I was never a threat to another woman’s husband though. And once I got pregnant again and had Zoe, no one REALLY knew what to make of me as a mother. As a “nice” Jewish girl from an upper middle class family having, one child, never being married was an oddity, having 2 children with 2 different fathers was just unheard of.
I’d get a lot of strange questions in 2004 for different reasons. I was still getting unwanted comments about my weight, especially when I got thinner and fitter than anyone would imagine. I also got comments that were NONE of people’s business about my children. Were they mistakes? Really??? I don’t like hearing the word “mistake” now, and I’m not raising them. I would call my children my “surprise blessings” (which I still do) and when people would sometimes ask about their fathers or if I was having anymore children, I’d change the subject. BECAUSE it was NO ONE’s BUSINESS. But as personal as a question like that was, I got asked it a lot more than anyone would think.
This was just a blip or a glimpse of what life was like ten years ago for me. My children and I loved each other dearly and we were very bonded. I knew where they were at every second of every day. I was starting to build a business. But I was able to manage a household and was fairly responsible. Wasn’t perfect by any means. But my children were my world and my professional aspirations were to support a plan of being able to provide them a better life and I had all the makings for a successful business in the works, both bariatric specializing and other professional opportunities.
To go from that and having to live with the fact that I lost everything in 2008, but more importantly, abilities, is what I struggle the most. I am not trying to offend my readers, my friends and my family and those who’ve battled catastrophic circumstances. Or lose loved ones. I get it. My medical and mental health was the “natural disaster” for my family, though.
There are not many terms to describe parents who are no longer pro-actively in their children’s lives. If a mother gives up a baby for adoption, they are birth moms. If a father is absent, he’s called a deadbeat dad. And birth moms and absent fathers there are initiatives for and support. There are none for mothers like me. The only word that people use for a mother who didn’t know some of her disabilities going into parenthood and lost quite a few of them when drowning in medical and mental health issues and gives up their kids (I have sole legal custody, technically, of my 11 year old daughter and my son is an adult) to commit suicide and can’t be the absolute best person to raise their kids, if they should survive that and more medical,mental health and cognitive disability. There’s one word that I usually get called.
And that word is MONSTER.
I hope now this explains why, in 2014, while I know just how lucky I am, while I know things could be much worse, as they have been.And I don’t take anything for granted. But I NEVER did. I can’t stop being in mourning my old life, TEN years ago and I can’t believe it got to the point where I still was where I was FIVE years ago. But I am still trying, to the best of my ability to live a life that has some meaning. I just could’ve NEVER dreamed (or in my nightmares) think that while I could be a decent proactive activist, that I wouldn’t be in my children’s lives full time.