Musings and Snoozes

Self care is how you take your power back

My relationship with my body has always been complicated. From my teenage years of hating the way it looked, knowing that my immune system is attacking itself on a regular basis, and feeling like it’s battered and broken, to sometimes embracing my curves, and being grateful for everything my body *can* do, all things considered. But the last few months have given me a newfound respect for my body and what it can do.

I had my third miscarriage a couple of weeks ago. The magic number 3 that now allows me to get referred to the Fertility Clinic to try and find out what’s going on. Emotionally I’m doing okay, although a little deflated in general, but physically, it’s starting to take its toll a little. The body is an amazing thing when it comes to pregnancy, not just in how it grows a mini hooman, or how something so big comes out of something so small (*shudder*), but all the tiny, subtle changes it makes from the very beginning. Consequently, three cycles of conception to miscarriage can feel like hard work, even in the few short weeks it lasts. There’s a reason that even the NHS website lists “mother’s intuition” as a symptom of both early pregnancy and early miscarriage – while I’m sure many women wouldn’t necessarily feel every little change, it seems I’m prone to *all* the symptoms in the first few weeks, and therefore know I’m pregnant a good 7-10 days before I can even take a pregnancy test. The constant nausea is the first sign, this time round followed by throwing up a couple of times, and then the absolute exhaustion kicks in. I’m used to fatigue – it’s a daily part of my autoimmune life – but this is very different, pure weariness and sleepiness, rather than physical exhaustion. Next comes the peeing every five minutes, which I always thought didn’t happen until you had an actual baby pressing on your bladder, but no, hormones do this apparently. Talking of which, the influx of hormones when you become pregnant and the subsequent loss of said hormones when you miscarry – I thought my PMS was bad, but this has been a whole new experience!

And all of this in the space of a few short weeks. It’s exhausting. But it’s also awe-inspiring. You wouldn’t think it was possible for so much to go on in such a short space of time, but the body is a very clever thing and does everything it possibly can to prepare for growing a new hooman. In an equally clever, although obviously heartbreaking way, the body is also clever enough to know when this one won’t work out, and therefore miscarries. I cannot comprehend what that would feel like at 10 weeks, at 25 weeks, at 30 weeks, and I hope I never have to experience the body’s cleverness that far along, but at this point, I am grateful for it figuring it out so quickly.

Focussing on my body is helping me through this more than I ever thought it could. Not just focussing on it making it a baby, but focussing on looking after it and being as kind as I can to it. Don’t get me wrong, this kindness includes a good hearty slab of chocolate cake every now and again (it consisted of a lot of this right after the last miscarriage), but it’s balancing that with getting moving, with exercising, with keeping an eye on what I eat and drink. With this having happened three times now, I decided it was stupid to keep cutting out caffeine or alcohol, only to then go back to it after miscarrying, and then to do it all again the next time, so I’m sticking to decaf, I’ve stopped drinking (not that I drank a lot to begin with), and I’m trying to balance my diet a bit better. I’ve gone back to the gym on a regular basis, joined a dance class, and done the one thing neither I, nor anyone who knows me, would have ever believed – started running.

And it feels amazing. Not because I’m particularly good at any of these things, but because it gives me such a sense of control amidst all the physical and mental chaos. I still run to a constant dialogue of “I’m going to die. This is bloody torture”, and I still feel like my legs might give out on me at any moment at the gym, but when I get back home and see what I’ve done and the progress I’m making, it’s worth every moment. I’m a very visual person, and if it weren’t for Fitbit, Strava, virtual races, and running groups, I can safely say I wouldn’t have even bothered starting, but aiming for goals – be it a medal, a t-shirt, or just a longer distance – works perfectly for me. Plus I’ve come across and spoken to so many people who are in my situation, or very similar, which is a big help in reminding me I’m not on my own and a great source of support when I need it.

So that’s where I am. I have an appointment at the the Fertility Clinic next month, which is keeping me positive, and in the meantime I will continue running, dancing, and sweating my way along.

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