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.