I Dunno. Looks Like She May Have Just Had A Baby

Four days before learning I was pregnant. 164

Besides the loneliness, no byproduct of Covid has been as common as the extra pounds gained during quarantine, the “Covid 19,” as my husband jokingly calls his. I have struggled to find a healthy balance with food and exercise throughout most of my adult life. I’m either counting every calorie and morsel of food or eating like I have just been voted off of the Survivor Island. Through the years, I have kept three benchmarks of weight: my wedding weight (which came from eating no more than 1400 calories daily and taking two fitness classes daily), my pre-pregnancy weight, and, currently, my marathon weight (which came from running twenty-five miles weekly).
In any picture of me in my adult life, I can tell you what I weighed when the picture was taken. I can tell you whether I was in a healthy, unhealthy, or between phase. Why is it that a person who is usually so sensible wastes brain storage on such useless knowledge?

Fenway April 2015 167


When news came that we would be returning to in-person learning, my first concern was my coworkers seeing me ten pounds heavier than I left them. When I made a move to a new school, one I had taught at years earlier, before I became pregnant, I was terrified of returning to the building twenty-five pounds heavier than I left it. My fears regarding returning to the real world after quarantine and injuries are based on people noticing my weight gain.
I am currently up thirteen pounds from my marathon weight.
I nursed a knee back to health.
Two spots on the bone of my right foot were reshaped.
My Achilles tendon was patched and reconnected.
I spent six weeks on the couch with my foot in a cast, allowing healing to take place.
I survived the physical healing and the mental stress that comes from pain, isolation, and feeling useless.
Yet I return to work worried about seeing coworkers who remembered me a thin(ner).

Presenting to teachers and Facebook executives 172

After six weeks of recovery, I returned to school to meet my students, eager to Get to know them and settle into routines after two school years of upheaval. Very few students asked me about my injury. I overheard two students inquiring about me.
“Why was she out of school?” one asked.
“I dunno. Looks like she might have just had a baby,” pondered the other.
Maybe they’ve just come to assume that every woman out of work for an extended period is on maternity leave. Perhaps they believed that my soft tummy was indicative of someone who had recently given birth instead of someone who had been nursing an injury. Regardless of the assumption, my heart stopped. Joke’s on them; I’m too old to have a baby, but they didn’t know that.

Last weekend- same amount as I weighed at eight months pregnant

Why do we do this to ourselves?
Why do we attach so much of our self-worth to the size of our pants?
Why do I include any current weights in my memories? How does that make memory better or worse?
How do I end the cycle and realize I am so much more than my weight or my pace?

Look at Me Go!

If Banjo could discuss our current relationship

It’s been eight weeks since I had surgery to fix two bone spurs and a torn Achilles tendon. It feels like it was years ago and a blink at the same time. It’s been eight weeks of books, bad TV, and sitting around. Getting injured during a pandemic means more time by myself than I’ve ever spent. It’s reassuring that I can do so but makes me fearful to return to work and real life. Because I’ve always been awkward in social situations and tend to avoid them, the pandemic and the injury were not terrible for me.


Two weeks ago, I was cleared to begin putting weight on my foot. After six weeks on crutches, this was a huge step! While I was afraid of overdoing it and causing more damage, my foot is kind enough to let me know exactly when it is done, almost like flipping a switch.
Eager to get back to normal, I’ve been doing my exercises every day. Since I’ve been fighting this injury for seven months, I’m familiar with which moves increase strength and flexibility. While being unable to run, I focused on yoga, earning my 200-hour yoga certification. Resuming physical therapy is strange and humbling.

My body can do some things as nothing happens but flat out refuses to do something I never considered difficult. For example, I couldn’t step on my tiptoes. After a few days, I could stand on tiptoes using both feet, but my right foot refused to lift independently.

This week, I attempted a twenty-minute yoga session via the Peloton app. Downward dog, considered a resting pose, made my legs burn. It felt good to stretch. Banjo was disappointed that I laid my mat in his prime morning sunbeam, disrupting peak napping.

Through this entire process, Mike has been patient and amazing. He took care of Michael, me, and the house. He took Michael to practice baseball a few times a week, walked Banjo, and took care of every household chore. As I’m starting to get stronger, our exchange has become a mantra, “Look at me go!” followed by “Look at you go!”

I can stumble to the kitchen to get my own Cheerios.
“Look at me go!”
“Look at you go!”
I can get upstairs to bed on my feet instead of crawling.
“Look at me go!”
“Look at you go!”
I can walk around the block.
“Look at me go!”
“Look at you go!”

I have big plans as I continue to recover. They begin small, such as walking Banjo. I’m going to complete the virtual Boston Marathon, even if I had to walk it solo as I did for the NYC Marathon. I contacted Rhode Races to get my comp code for volunteering at the Newport Marathon. I will be signing up for next year’s Narragansett Half-Marathon.

Be prepared for many more cries of, “Look at me go!”

Jingles and Signs

I admitted that these past few weeks have been challenging in terms of emotional well-being. Six weeks sitting on my butt is not helpful to someone who stays busy to keep mind and body from getting bored. 

If you’re not following Awesomely Luuvie on social media, you need to stop everything and do so right now. She frequently discusses mental health. Her quote about keeping busy as an avoidance technique resonates with me. She understands why I feel like I cannot just sit, which is what I’ve done for the past six weeks.

I have been trying to keep my mind as occupied as possible, reading books and watching so much television. This week, I had the meltdown that has been brewing. While I’ve been watching mindless movies, The Starling came through after a rom-com finished. I got sucked in, resulting in sobs. Between these sobs, I realized that I had not yet received the sign from my mom I usually get whenever I’m having a rough time. This made me feel even more alone. 

When Michael came home from school, he was doing something he never does. He was singing commercial jingles. All afternoon, he sang the jingles to Nestle Crunch and a few other products. When Mike asked him why he was doing it, Michael explained that he “just felt like it.” It hit me that my mom used to do this all the time. She’d often do so in public, which embarrassed me to no end. I called my sister, who agreed, “I can hear her saying ‘you wanted a sign. Here’s your sign, asshole.'”

I went to bed assuming that I had my small, passive-aggressive sign that my mom was not going to make me sit on the couch recovering for eight weeks by myself. The following morning, while scrolling Facebook, I noticed something in the background of a post by a local consignment shop. It was a ceramic Christmas tree like the one my mom had when I was growing up. I’ve looked for one for years, able to find one similar, but not exactly like the one of my youth. I immediately called the story, gushing about how much finding this means to me. The owner listened, explaining that she enjoyed this part of the job, and she would put the tree aside until my husband could pick it up that evening. When I called Mike to tell him, he offered to pick it up at lunch.

Eleven years after losing my mom, it does not get easier. I wonder what her relationship with Michael would be like. When I was pregnant, I called her every afternoon to update what he had been doing in my tummy during the day. When he was an infant, she would be perfectly content staying on the phone listening to Michael drink his bottles. Eleven years later, wondering remains between reminders that she will look out for me when I need her. 

Week Five Reflections

If I can be honest, I am fully aware of my need to only post positively on social media. I have never mentioned the death of a loved one, accidents, or illnesses. Call me old-fashioned, but I believe in delivering such news person to person. That being said, I am always thankful when others post about the passing of people close to them so I can attend arrangements and pay my respects. So this is a weird double standard I’ve created for myself. 

Anyway, I’ve been trying to be positive and keep things in perspective, but it is hard. I’ve spent five weeks sitting on my butt, watching documentaries, mind-numbing movies, rewatching my favorite TV series, and reading books. I’ve cleaned the photos from my phone and spent an embarrassing amount of time on my phone. I’ve attempted upper body exercises while watching reruns.

Here are my biggest takeaways:

We will be back!
  • I need to get dressed each day, which was challenging initially, but I feel better when I do so.
  • I need to make myself go outside, which is also challenging, but my mental health benefits from sitting outside rather than on the couch in the living room. I ordered an outdoor swing, which Mike put together last weekend, and make myself get out there, even when I think I’m content on the couch watching Friends reruns (again).
  • People who check in on me are excellent. I fall into a funk, but people reach out, which makes my day.
  • When I fall into my funks, I genuinely fear that I have forgotten how to be social. I also fear that people have completely forgotten about me. When much of your social interactions involve physical activity, getting injured just as we returned to normal after Covid fosters more loneliness. While I fear that I will never return to the level of activity from which I was once capable, my mind also creates a fear that I will never return to the social interactions that were crucial to achieving milestones pre-injury. (Does that make any sense? TLDR: I’m afraid that my running and NP friends have forgotten me or will not at all care when I can resume activities.)
  • As the weeks go by, I need to let go of things that used to seem important. Mike and Liam have been amazing. But since everything falls on them, not everything gets done. And that is okay, even if the entertainment stand is covered in dust.
  • Progress is progress. In the past five weeks, I’ve gone through two casts and a boot. Progress is happening, and it is mine to observe. Seemingly simple tasks, such as taking a shower or going upstairs, are now victories. I need to recognize and celebrate them.
  • Diet is so important to health. I’d been eating as healthily as I can but miscalculated how many calories sedentary me required by 200 a day, resulting in even more weight gain. I’m up twenty-five pounds from my marathon weight and look forward to being active again and getting rid of the extra weight, which will further aid recovery.

In the past five weeks, I’ve seen a lot of progress, even if it comes in the form of moving my foot side to side. There will be a lot more progress in the next few weeks and months!