So it seems I’ve started most of my recent posts with an apology lately! Even though, when I first set out on this journey, I made a point of noting that I am somewhat rubbish and may go for weeks without posting anything, sometimes it still feels like I should be posting more often.
However, this blog was also set up primarily to share my Slimming World journey with people and to inspire people with Slimming World friendly recipes.
It’s fair to say that since getting pregnant I haven’t been the best at sticking to the Slimming World plan of eating. There are, of course, good and bad days, and those who are members of Slimming World will hopefully know that this is one of the very few healthy eating plans which is actually still perfectly safe to follow whilst pregnant. But sadly it doesn’t account for cravings, tiredness or an extreme lack of willpower!
And the last thing I want to do is to sabotage any of your weight loss journeys by posting things that are not Slimming World friendly.
Being completely honest, I have now regained about half of the weight I originally lost. I HATE this fact. But I’m also quite prepared to admit that much of it is my own doing. Yes, I’m sure some of it is due to the natural progression of my pregnancy – what most people refer to as ‘baby weight’. But I am neither so naive nor deceptive as to claim that my eating habits haven’t been at least partly (or even mostly) responsible.
I’m proud that I have managed not to regain everything that I originally lost. As it stands, I’ve still lost around 2.5st from where I started and am generally managing to keep that off. I’m also proud that I have still been attending group regularly, and still make an effort to make Slimming World meals as often as possible (when tiredness, forgetfulness, cravings and/or lack of willpower don’t get the better of me).
But it’s true that my ‘bump in the road’ on my Slimming World journey is a very literal and very real bump on my body too.
With all that said, the important point I want to make is this: I would change NOTHING.
My husband and I tried for two years to get pregnant, and I can honestly say that that particular journey was one of the hardest things I have ever had to deal with. I also have no doubt in my mind that my weight loss with Slimming World was one of the things that eventually helped us to conceive.
Not only was it hard to deal with personally and emotionally, but also socially.
As women we are taught from a young age that women have babies. It’s socially accepted as being part of our job, our reason for being. It is, quite simply, in the majority of cases, expected of us.
So what happens when, for some reason, a woman can’t conceive? Or, God forbid, as in my sister’s case, chooses NOT to have children?
In my personal experience, we are somehow made to feel less of a woman. We are somehow broken or faulty. Amazingly, we are made to feel that we have done something wrong. That we’ve made a mistake, or we’re just not trying hard enough.
(N.B. I want to point out at this point that I’m definitely NOT referring to my husband here, without whose support I’m not sure I would have coped!)
Then are those people who don’t know the struggle we’re dealing with, but who can’t help but comment on our lack of children. The comments I received during those two years were very much part of the struggle. Adding another layer of ‘things to deal with’ on top of my own emotional and health issues. Comments ranging from ‘don’t you want children then?’ to ‘Well, you really shouldn’t waste any time at your age’ definitely did not help.
And yet it also seems socially unacceptable to talk about fertility issues. Despite the fact that the people who make these comments are essentially talking about your sex life, it’s somehow ‘not the done thing’ to actually respond. The mere mention of fertility issues to someone who has never experienced them seems to make people uncomfortable, or at best you’re then faced with platitudes of ‘oh well, it’ll happen soon’, which somehow seem to make you feel worse. It’s incredibly isolating.
I KNOW that people did not mean to upset me when they cooed ‘you’re next!’ when I held my friend’s baby. I KNOW that the people who asked after our plans for children were trying to be friendly and were genuinely just curious and making conversation. But it didn’t stop it being hard. Especially when they didn’t want to hear the answer, or when they quickly changed the subject when I mentioned we were struggling.
I wanted to share this particular part of my journey with you, because it wasn’t until my own struggles that I realised how many women are affected by infertility, or at least problems conceiving. And I know from various conversations and forums that there are other women following the Slimming World plan and trying to lose weight to help them conceive.
In my case, one of the hardest parts of this journey was the distinct lack of help from the NHS. As a result of my weight, despite losing 4.5st, I was told I wasn’t eligible for help with our fertility issues. In our area you have to have a BMI of 35 or less even to get an initial appointment.
I was distraught. I could understand having this kind of criteria before treatments such as IVF, as I know it could affect the success of the treatment. But to be told that they wouldn’t even conduct any investigations beyond the initial blood tests, or provide any kind of advice or support, was utterly devastating.
In the end it was almost entirely by accident that they discovered I was also suffering from endometriosis. Something that only came to light after multiple hospital admissions for extreme abdominal pain. It seemed absurd to me that I had to be in so much pain for them to actually do anything to help.
Spookily my husband and I had just started to talk about our other options, such as adoption, just one month before we eventually fell pregnant. We both agreed we weren’t quite ready to give up trying naturally just yet, so I decided to try out the ‘Fertility Friend’ mobile app to help. I cannot recommend it highly enough for obvious reasons!
So to those who are struggling, I can only say this: do not give up hope. Do not think you are alone in this. Once I did start to share my experiences with friends I found others who had been struggling so much longer than I had. Stories of six years, or the scariest – 13 years – of trying, and of loss, before eventually getting their longed-for child. It was upsetting, but also somehow reassuring. This is not as unusual as you may think. Other people are struggling with this too. You can talk to them, to me, to us. By God it hurts and it is hard. But you are not alone. And I hope and pray that one day you will get your bump too.
But also to those who have never struggled, I pray you will take something from this too. You never know the struggles that happen behind closed doors. With weight loss, with fertility, with bullying – with any number of things. And whilst whatever comments you make may be made in love, please think carefully about what you say.
And finally I want to say this. Break the silence. Talk about your issues. Share with the people you love. I know it’s hard and scary and upsetting. But trust me, it will help you through. Whether we’re talking fertility, weight loss, bullying or anything else, I cannot help but think our journeys are so much easier when we support eachother.
It’s why IMAGE Therapy is such an important part of the Slimming World plan. It’s why so many Facebook groups and forums such as Mumsnet exist. We need support. Whatever your struggle – you don’t have to go through this alone. We all need a little help to overcome our bumps in the road.