April 26, 2013


My mom arrived yesterday morning and we promptly took a 2+ mile walk to get lunch, but also, to try and get Baby moving. We'd been hoping he'd stay put until Mom arrived (she wants to be there at the hospital when he's born, not exactly easy when you live in separate time zones, so she booked a flight right before my due date [tomorrow, the 27th] and hoped for the best), and now that she's here, we're anxious to get him out so she can have a lot of time with him.

And as for the rest of the family, most of them are waiting to hear when Baby finally decides to show up, and then they'll book flights to come visit. It's just too tough for my sisters to get away from work and life responsibilities - plus, my brother is still in school until June and really shouldn't be missing too many days.

My dad, on the other hand, is an entirely different case.

The original plan was for one of my sisters to drive out with my dad, whose short- and long-term health problems require that they have a car here. He spoke with a partner facility for the dialysis unit he visits, and arranged to be seen his regular three times per week while out here. We even found a hotel right near the unit so he could get his treatments, then come home immediately to rest before coming into the city and visiting us and the baby.

This week, though, it really hit him how hard all of this would be.

He's exhausted walking from the house to the car. Climbing the four front steps takes everything out of him. He struggles with maintaining his blood sugar levels, even with his medications, and his skin (especially his hands) is covered in cuts and sores that are at a high risk of infection if he's not exceptionally careful and mindful of keeping them clean and bandaged.

A few days ago, he brought up an idea, and yesterday afternoon he called and announced he'd made a final decision.

My dad won't be coming to Chicago to meet his first grandchild.

To say that I'm devastated is absolutely an understatement. Baby will only be a newborn for so long, and my dad is going to miss it entirely. And it's not because he doesn't want to be there. It's because he can't.

And the thing is, it's not Chicago that has much to do with it at all. He's offered to pay to fly us all out to Connecticut in a little while when everything is settled, since the cost of us going there would be the same as him coming here with all the special help he would need, the hotel, etc. But even if we go to Connecticut, my dad's health (particularly the neuropathy and the wounds/possible infections) will get in the way of him interacting with Baby.

My dad can't hold his own grandchildren.

And that kills me, because this is almost entirely a result of choices.

Diabetes and heart problems run in the family, but lifestyle certainly also contributed. My dad is sick because he chose inactivity instead of breaking a sweat for a few minutes a day. He's sick because he chose not to make healthy food choices - even after the doctors all advised him on what to eat that would be best for his diabetes, kidneys, and heart.

It's about quality of life, he always said. The eating plans that resulted from years of mistreating his body were miserable, for sure. And he defined the best way to spend his days as eating what he wanted, regardless of doctors' suggested orders.

And it made him sicker.

Even knowing for nine months that a baby was on the way, my dad did nothing to try and improve the status quo. Instead, he got sicker. The wounds got worse. He even lost several fingers. And now, the situation is bad to the point where he can barely leave the house, let alone travel to visit his grandson.

I can only speak for myself, but personally, I've never eaten anything so good that I'd sacrifice a body part for it. And I'd definitely never choose food over time with a family member, especially in this sort of particular instance.

But my dad did.

And I'm just absolutely completely devastated.

It's especially hard, I think, because I weigh myself every morning, and I never feel anything but guilt. I've tried to be 75/25 with making good food choices, but still, I've gained a lot of weight with this pregnancy; even though I know a few of the pounds are Baby and the rest will come off with my abundance of determination and my dedication to hard work, it's still so tough to see the numbers staring back at me.

Because when I see those numbers, I see my dad, and how limited he is. How he used to play football and basketball and did track and field, but now the lack of sensation in his legs makes it hard to stand, let alone walk. How he got depressed at a few different points in his life, and how he allowed food to fill those voids. And now, he's no longer in complete control of his body, and what he can control, he chooses not to - depression, as I and so many others can attest to, is a horrible vicious circle.

I cry fairly often these days, especially when looking at my body in the mirror and recognizing how hard I am going to have to work to get back down to a comfortable weight, then continue on to a reasonable long-term goal weight. Matt is endlessly loving and reassuring, and I couldn't have a better or stronger support system than I do with him. He knows I am struggling a great deal, not only through his own experiences with obesity, but through seeing how upset I get when I get updates on my dad's condition. His promise to help me stay focused and to work right along side me as I get back into shape means the world to me, and I offer the exact same to him. He's done an incredible job of maintaining his nearly 100 pound weight loss throughout the pregnancy, an honest struggle when statistics show a good number of partners tend to gain weight as the expectant mother does. As our son grows older, I know we'll be positive healthy influences on him, not only through our individual actions but through the example of our relationship - helping one another through hard times, leaning on each other and pushing forward together when we both struggle.

Matt and I have many things in common, which is part of what makes us such a great team. It's not just interests, but ideas and viewpoints, and that makes for a partnership that's incredibly satisfying on many levels. What I've appreciated so much lately, though, is our mutual agreement that we don't want our relationship with our son - the strength, the quality, or the duration - to be affected by food choices. We haven't met this little boy yet, but we already love him immensely. And we'd give anything for him - so abandoning bad habits and poor food choices seems like, well, a small loss.


Frickin' Fabulous at 40 said...

We're all waiting on pins and needles to hear when Nugget makes his grand entrance! I pray for a wonderful birth experience for you and a great visit with your mom. I'm so sorry to hear about your dad. It must be so hard to have to be a witness to the situation when you just want to shake some sense into him. We know we can't make someone want to do it. Just focus on all of the amazing moments and cherish it all.

A said...

My heart breaks for you.

My dad died 6 months before I got pregnant. My mom died 6 months after our daughter was born. Both from a life of not taking care of themselves. I was very very close with my dad and not close at all with my mom. The only pictures I have of my mom and my daughter is with tubes helping my mom breathe. And of course I have no pictures of my daughter and my dad. I spent a lot of time having a broken heart and being furious at them for their choices. My daughter is 7 now...I am 80 lbs lighter and working on more. I will NOT repeat the pattern.

My best to you, Matt and Baby.

Unknown said...

I can so relate to you! I just lost my dad in january and I feel/felt the same about his choices. I was/am mad because he didnt do anything but at the same time can understand and relate about how hard it is and overwhelming it feels. Im pregnant too. 20 weeks. I found out two days after he passed away. All I can say is holding him or not spend every second you can with your dad after the baby comes. It'll mean the world at some point. Big hugs I know how hard that is!

Anonymous said...

Oh Mary, I am so sorry. This is such a heart-felt post - really beautifully written. It's too bad really, but we all know that we can't do for others what they won't do for themselves. ((( hugs ))) My dad passed away and never met my two youngest kids - that was sad for me so many times. I so wanted them to know him and him to know them, but it wasn't meant to be.
Try to enjoy this time being pregnant and just do your best to be healthy, despite the weight gain. When I had our kids, they weighed us the very next day in the hospital, which I thought was mean, but it surprised me that me, the slow-loser, lost 25/35 lbs. the day after delivery! It actually encouraged me! It happened w/ all three pregnancies.

Miss Carrie Ann said...

This reminds me if a letter I wrote to my dad on my blog. http://2chinsarenotbetterthanone.blogspot.com/2012/07/dear-dad.html?m=1

Taryn said...

So sorry to hear that your dads condition has deteriorated to a point that he's likely going to miss out on he newborn period. I hope at least you can Skype with his so he can see baby is all his newborn squishiness. sending love and prayers to you

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your dad. I know it's incredibly tough. My dad made it to the hospital when I was having Rea, but couldn't really interact much because the waiting room was a bit of a walk from my delivery room, and he was on so much oxygen. By the time I had her, he couldn't even make it to the NICU to see her because he was so worn out.

While his bad choices weren't really food related, they were also choices...smoking was his greatest downfall. He died back in February, right after we celebrated his and Reagan's (first) birthdays. She was born the day before his birthday. I was and continue to be devastated that she would have to grow up without him, and that he never really could have that chance to chase her around and play with her like a real grandfather.

It's so hard because younger people like you and I have all the knowledge that they didn't growing up, and that we know what choices should be made. It's nearly impossible not to expect our parents to also use that knowledge...and so hard to understand when they don't.

I'm sorry your dad won't make it to your birth-day. But as you mentioned, the only thing you can do is be so determined not to pass the same legacy down for your son. That's what I remind myself of when I have moment of weakness with my weight loss...I want to be around for the birth and birthdays of all of my grandchildren some day.

Sarah said...

I'm so sorry honey! That is very hard, but it sounds like your dad really loves you and your family. I'm sure he is just as hurt... And hindsight is 20/20. Do you think he'd go back and change his poor choices if he could?

Hugs & love to you! Praying baby & mom are safe & healthy!


Amy said...

It must be incredibly difficult to know that nothing that you say or do can change how your father has chosen to live his life. But at least you can make the choice to make healthy living a priority for your new family.

Baby tomorrowish!!! Eeep...good luck.

Connie said...

Powerful post. Your comments about your father absolutely hit home with me. This is a struggle, no question, but not one that we have to lose. I needed to remember that today. Needed to remember what matters. Needed to remember I have a choice!

The last days of pregnancy are so difficult. Your body is really no longer your own, and that is truly difficult to deal with. Don't let feelings of guilt in...you have nothing to feel guilty about! You are putting your baby first, and as much as we hate it, gaining weight during pregnancy is healthy. Your body will rebound...it really will.

I am excited for you and this very special time in your life! Although it may not all be happening exactly how you want it to, in the end, when he is here, you won't be able to think about anything else but the joy of having him with you!

timothy said...

so sorry darlin i do understand , when my dad was 28 he had a heart attack he was a chain smoker ate badly etc etc he died when he was 36 leaving a 10 year old orphan bevause he chose NOT to change. made me feel really unloved for a long time. but it's not really a reflection of love it's what addicts do and it sucks! enjoy the rest of your family and just resolve NOT to make the same bad choices he did, you'll never let your baby feel that kind of pain and that'll make you an wonderful mother!

Sarah said...

I'm sorry, Mary. :(

My mother has diabetes, and it has completely robbed her of any kind of life, other than sitting on the couch watching TV. My dad, who has his own issues, has to do everything around the house. It breaks my heart to see what they're going through, especially since they live four hours away and I can't go over there every weekend to help with housework and yard work.

My mother was a big reason I decided to take charge of my health. I do NOT want to end up like that. When my A1C came back as 6.1 (normal, but edging toward pre-diabetes), I started losing weight. I'm eager to get new numbers this summer to see if it's improved any.

Diabetes is very scary. I'm sorry your dad is so ill and that it's affecting his relationship with his grandson already. :(