Oh Baby, Where Art Thou? Chapter 2

Editor’s note: Amanda Senal is chronicling her and her husband’s journey to adopting a child for TC Jewfolk. You can read the first chapter here

The journey to get healthy enough to try to conceive a child began in the fall of 2011. You see, I work with children, many of whom were born with congenital and/or developmental disabilities. Working with this population, I knew that in my body’s current state, yes I could possibly get pregnant and carry to term; however, I also knew that my current body was nowhere near healthy, and I did not want to exponentially increase any risk factors for my future baby. I needed to make some serious changes. I was not willing to bring a life into this body riddled with an eating disorder, sleep issues, depression, anxiety, and chronic back pain.

So the first thing I did was seek treatment for my lifelong binge eating disorder in late October. My current body weight was more than 100 pounds over the recommended weight for my 5-foot, 7-inch frame, and I felt like food was controlling my life and every waking moment in it. So I started working a program that I felt would work best for my needs. One of the scariest parts of this step, was that I was honestly afraid that my fat was literally holding my body together, and that if I lost weight, my spine would actually crumble against gravity. It was absolutely ludicrous, but honestly what was going on in my head. Luckily for me, this was not the case.

After about a year, I had lost around 60 pounds, and was physically feeling much better. So I started the arduous process of weaning off seven different prescription medications. Four of these medications were prescription pain pills for an old back injury from 2008 that never fully recovered, and three medications were for sleep, depression,

Before and after: The author at her heaviest (left) in 2011 and, at right, in 2015.

Before and after: The author at her heaviest (left) in 2011 and, at right, in 2015.

and anxiety. I sat down with my doctor and made a plan. Only one of the seven medications could be stopped cold turkey. That was the easy one. From there, we made a plan to alternate between the pain meds and mental health meds. Each one took anywhere from 8 weeks to 4 months to wean off. I thought the pain medication would be the hardest, but I was completely wrong. The pain meds were easy! Dealing with the mood swings on the other hand, as I weaned off the meds that altered my brain chemistry, was absolute hell. Fortunately, during this year I also lost another 40 pounds and learned how to run. Running was not something I had ever done in my life, nor did I ever think it would be possible at my weight. It took me an entire year to go through a 12-week “Couch to 5K” training program, but I did it! And running became my new and healthy way to manage my stress and anxiety.

Finally, in the spring of 2014, my doctor gave me permission to stop my birth control. I was off all medications that could pose a known threat to a developing fetus! I was only 10 pounds away from my goal weight, and continued to work on recovery for my eating disorder. So then I was confronted with another unfounded, ridiculous fear. I had been on birth control for 15 years. What if my body didn’t know how to produce the right female hormones? What if my uterus couldn’t work on its own? What if I never menstruated again? What if I started menstruating and never stopped?

None of these things happened, thank goodness! But I quickly remembered why I had been put on the pill at such a young age. Absolute agony for 8 days out of the month. Oh the pain and agony. But I reminded myself why this was a good thing, gritted my teeth, and pressed forward. Because I had finally arrived at a point of health that I had never been at before, my body was given the all clear by my doctor to carry the sacred life of our future child! And so the second leg of our journey began…