Read more from this inspiring lady, Sophie Main, on her blog:
I have never faced great trials … never been diagnosed with serious illness … I have never buried my child .. I have no great trial that I have had to shown strength and courage to rise against and conquer. I have struggled daily with the ordinary trials most women come across. Doubt, self loathing, depression … the list goes on. Each day I fight this and each day I keep going.
Just like each and every person out there … I struggle with my weight, with how I look, with what I eat, with how I parent. I refuse, however, to let that struggle define me. I am fierce. And it is the times that I struggle the most … that I forget that. The frustrations of social media is that it only captures the perfect in someones life. The perfect gourmet meal, the perfect outfit, the perfect happy snap of children. Or else it captures the heroism. The amazing moments when ordinary people do extraordinary things. The before and after weight loss picture … the near death experience… what about the perfectly ordinary moments? what about the celebrations of everyday life? We have created this culture of always looking for the next best thing …we are so busy focusing on tomorrow that we are missing out on today. So busy focusing on what we can be tomorrow, how we can be anything … we never see ourselves now.
I was terribly guilty of this.
I just had an incredibly difficult pregnancy with twins. I do not do pregnancy well anyways so with the twins … every problem was multiplied. I normally get severe hyperemesis that generally goes around 20 weeks gestation. With this pregnancy it wasn’t as severe by lasted the entire pregnancy. I was dehydrated and severely anaemic. By 30 weeks, I could not walk more than about 20m before I had to stop. I had incredibly low blood pressure and often fainted or passed out … dizziness and vertigo were my constant companions. By 32 weeks, I began vomitting blood that no one was really willing to stand up and say what was causing it. I was hospitalised countless times. By 34 weeks, I was hospitalised til the babies came out. At 34 and 4 days, my body was in so much distress that I went into labour and they couldn’t stop it so I had a c section to get the babies out. I was weak, I was exhausted and I was petrified. They came out and were rushed into special care. They were a good size and were breathing and only needed to be helped along instead of intubated. As I was in Recovery, I began bleeding heavily. I was haemorrhaging and needed to be taken back into theatre to fix it. My twins were 12 hours old when I was able to meet them. 4 days later, my wound from my c section split open. This was from doing too much. Walking too much, standing up and down … trying to be as active in our twins lives as I could. It felt like a white hot knife cutting me. Another surgery to close it. I was still vomitting blood which all the Dr’s told me would stop once I had the twins. I couldn’t eat anything. No pain meds nothing. And I was too scared to say what was happening because I knew they would keep me away from he twins to rest. I lost almost 21kgs in the first 12 days. My stomach lining was ripped and needed to be repaired. Another surgery .. keyhole this time. I was much better .. I stopped vomitting blood. I came home with my twins. The 2nd day home, my 17 month old fell back off a chair and I knee jerked reacted to stop him hitting his head. I felt a rip then went to lay down. I woke an hour later in the worst pain of my life. Something was wrong. An ambulance ride, an x ray or 2 … I had an unusual amount of gas in my chest cavity but the Drs assured me it was from the keyhole surgery a few days before. I was put into the surgical ward to be monitored overnight. No one saw that my stomach had perforated. No one believe me when I said I couldn’t stand the pain. I spent the entire night, unable to move, frozen in fear, paralysed by pain, unable to speak, to move, to sit back. Perched on the edge of my bed, only able to whisper the word “Help" over and over again. Finally, the next morning the new drs came in and said I needed surgery so they could check. I just needed to lay down so they could give me general anaesthetic … I couldn’t move. Pain medication … top notch … took an hour of constantly being administer every 5 minutes for 1 minute before I could lay back enough to knock me out. Days passed before I woke up again. I had drains and tubes coming out everywhere. Such was the damage of the tear. In the 12 or so hours, the stomach was open, blood, bile and acid was leaking into my chest cavity. I burnt my organs, my lungs … I was in such pain. I hadn’t seen my newborn twins in days. I just left them with my mum. I got to see them in hospital although wish I didn’t because they had to leave and that felt like my heart being ripped from my chest. I recovered. A day or two then I came home. To Premature newborn twins. On a 3 hour feeding schedule. Never mind Recovery or healing … I had to be a mum.
I've skipped over some details but you get the point … I had a hard time. But you know what? Did I rest? Did I take it easy? Did I give myself time to get over the trauma I just experienced? No … I compared myself to other woman. Woman who breastfed, woman who were out with their children doing activities, women I saw only a snap shot of their lives’ through social media. Over the next 5 months, I consistently gained weight til I was about 20 kilos HEAVIER than I was when I had the twins … I wasn’t eating perfectly but I sure as hell wasn’t eating to pack on that much weight. So what did I do? Did I have patience with my poor body? Did I love me into good health? No …. I compared it to other womens … other mum who had birth who bounced back and looked amazing. I hated myself … called myself fat and ugly … shamed myself into exercising way before my body was ready to. Did I once stop to think that my body was so low on everything, it thought it was being starved? That it was holding onto every little thing because it was so depleted? I was having blood tests still and after 2 blood transfusions and 4 iron infusions I was still anaemic. Still my body needed help. But did I give it help? No! I hated on myself so much that I thought if I kept the house clean, it would be ok. That if I did 100 things with the other kids it would be ok. That if I was so amazing at all these other things, put all these other pressure on myself … no one would look closely at me and the absolute mess I was in.
One night, the twins just tag teamed me all night and after 5 months of little sleep, one night of no sleep absolutely did me in. My husband was getting dressed for work and I said to him in such an eerily calm voice that he shouldn’t go to work today. That I was scared that I would go to sleep and never wake up again. Or that wanted to shut the twins up. In whatever way it took. In a clear state of mind, I would never hurt my twins, or my other kids … but I wasn’t in a clear state of mind and I was so scared that I would hurt them I begged my husband not to leave me alone with them. I cant even explain that day. I spent the entire day crying and my beautiful husband recognised that I needed some professional help.
I look back at this and I cringe. I cringe at my behaviour. As I write this, I see what happened with a completely different frame of mind … I went through one hell of a ride. And instead of recognising that … I spent my time looking at women in completely different situations than me .. judging them to be doing better at life than me. I hated on myself. I put ridiculous pressure on myself … I drove myself into a ridiculous state of crazy. Instead of showing love and patience like I needed, I became my own harshest critic. I ripped myself, my self esteem, everything to absolute shreds. I thank God for that horrible day. Because of that fall, I now stand tall today. I have a long way to go but I know the answer is not through harsh comparisons of virtual strangers. It is not through competing with other mums. It is through loving myself and recognising that we are all fighting a fight, a battle. By showing patience and love to me, I can more easily show it to others. By seeing my own battle, I can now see others. And we are warriors, beautiful warriors in a war the world is fighting with us.
By sharing my darkest moment, I hope to shine light on yours. Stop comparing, stop competing, just live. In the moment, in the ordinary. Find your heroism in the mundane. Stop searching for your big moment and just live. Really live like you’ve never lived before. The big moment will find you. Let go of all the bullshit. Let go of how the world tells you to be. To conform. Stand out. Shine. We are in this life together. We are all fighting together. If we stood together and simply recognised this … we would be unstoppable. Unstoppable in our battles. We need just stand together.
So I’m standing with you … will you stand with me?
Follow along or share your story on Facebook or Instagram. #beautifulwarriors
Six months ago we came up with a concept of "warriors" as a theme for a photoshoot for Sunbella because, let's be honest; you need to have courage to carry a parasol (regardless of how stylish it is) and it is essentially a shield that can prevent some skin cancer battles.