A Love Letter to Myself on Valentine’s Day

You have seen it asked time and time again, “What is your favorite thing about yourself?” We get physical and talk about our legs or our eyes, and we get emotional and talk about our kind hearts and our senses of humor. But, in these last few years, with 2017 being president of the UNfan club, I have found it difficult to love much about myself. 

Weight has always been an issue for me. And when I say “always,” I can remember watching what I ate and not feeling comfortable in a bathing suit before middle school. I have tried every diet you can think of and had about the same success, or lack there of, with each. But, in truth, my weight never affected my spirit.

That is until my weight was possibly interfering with my fertility. 

When we went our first six months without conceiving back in 2013 / 2014, my doctor ran some labs and put me on a low carb diet due to my poly cystic ovaries. My sweet husband dieted with me for moral support but my body continued to interfere.  It was clear to me from that moment on that my body, and my body alone, was the only thing standing in our way of our dreams of having a family. And that fact, the fact that my weight was not just affecting me personally and how I looked in a swim suit, but it was also hurting my husband’s hopes and dreams of having a family, really stung. 

But then, we got pregnant. I was not sick for one day during the pregnancy and carried that sweet boy to term as if I was made to be pregnant. I loved literally every single second of pregnancy. I also loved myself more in those 40 weeks than I ever remember loving myself. 

The struggles of self love that I had dealt with for years seemed to be fixed by my ability to carry our baby.

But, then it came time to deliver him. And while he was absolutely perfect, my body let me down again and in a real big way. I faced complication after complication and incurred medical bill after medical bill. After thirteen blood transfusions and a four month outpatient stay with home health, it was as if all the love I’d stored up for myself over the last 40 weeks drained out of my body with each pint of blood that I lost. 

But then, the being a mama part came really naturally to me. And I was back to loving every single second, even the many seconds in the middle of the night. I was not in the best shape and my body had been through the ringer, but it made the most perfect baby boy in the world. I cared less about weight and cared more about strength. And for that I was grateful. 

But then 2017 happened. My body went into labor and my cervix fully dilated just shy of twenty weeks with our second son. Medically, its called Incompetent Cervix. Mentally, its called my body let me down again.

Someone recently told me their birth story and mentioned that their body was made to give birth. Yeah, well … clearly mine is not. 

I cannot even begin to write nor am I physically able to tell you how much I have struggled with that fact this year. Because my body not only stayed my husband’s dreams of having a baby early on in our parenthood journey, but this time my body had caused my husband’s son to die. Unbearable. 

It has only taken a few therapists, several priests, my entire family, some really close friends, and my dear husband telling me every day for nearly 365 days that it was not my nor my body’s fault for me to get to a point to be able to put these feelings into real words. It is as if the constant verbal reminder to love myself by those who love me the most has forced me into a loving relationship with myself. If they can all love me anyway, even so, and because of 2017, then damnit, I can love the body that gives me life. 

So, that is why I am here today.

I am here today to tell you that in 2018 and on my sweet Theo’s first birthday in Heaven, I have made the commitment to love myself. I am pouring my heart out to you for accountability and in positive memory of my sweet baby Theo gone too soon. I am not the skinniest, the funniest, the prettiest, the wealthiest, or even the most eloquent. But, I love myself for my cheekbones. I love myself for my extremely tender and easily breakable heart. I love myself for my deep desire to celebrate all the things. I love myself because my husband loves me. I love myself because my sweet baby boy loves me more than Elmo. I love myself because I know that God loves me not despite it all but because of it all. And I love myself because I owe it to my baby in Heaven. 

So, Happy Valentine’s Day to me. I love you. Eat the chocolate. 

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