Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Squishy or Sharp: The Lap Band and Your Family

She Didn't Get It From Me!

My 7 year old daughter has weighed 40 pounds for about a year. She's slender and sleek with long legs and thighs that are already almost as long as mine, has a beautiful face on a perfect head set atop a long elegant neck and if I didn't love her so much I'd hate her. That's how beautiful she is. She doesn't care about food, except for steak and sweets, and she can still wear some of her shorts from when she was 2.

She can use her toes to scratch her face like a cat, can cross her legs and twist the top leg around her calf and basically doesn't know the limitations of being chubby. She loves to dress up in costumes (and she looks great in them,) wants to be a pop star, and is waiting for her "hourglass" (as she calls her grown-up figure) to arrive. She fully expects to be flexible and supple all of her life, and I hope for her sake that she will be. She is about as close to perfect as one can be and is pretty unaffected by it, though people stop her to tell her how pretty she is all the time.

From the Sublime to the Ridiculous

Cut to her mama, recently banded, eating protein for all she's worth and weighing herself daily while praying out loud to see a drop in weight. I'm wearing clothes that either are too big or way too little (been shopping in the closet where every size is available.) I'm having trouble looking put together, and some days I look positively wan if I let me food supplies run low and eat too little. We're quite a pair. She, who has yet to face a lump, bulge or crease -- and I, who spends time every day making sure my bra bulge isn't showing. She loves me, truly loves me, just like I am. in a way that no one in my life ever has. If I ask her how I look, no matter how I look, she always answers, "beautiful." (Well, sometimes she says, "Very beautiful.") She thinks I look great just like I am, and I love her for her starry eyed devotion.

A Big Mama is Better Than No Mama!

When I decided I wanted to investigate the Lap Band two years ago, she really didn't understand why I wanted one. As these two years have passed, and our society being what it is, she understands that I want to lose weight and I think she mostly understands why. We've had a lot of talks about losing weight, and she has been super concerned. "I don't want you to change," she says. "Can it hurt you?" she asks. "You're my only mama, please don't have an operation," was the one that really got to me. She was worried about the surgery itself hurting me, and I don't blame her. I showed her the videos on the Realize Band web page and that helped her understand the procedure better and calmed her fears.

Change is Hard

We cuddle every night while we watch tv, and  she and the dog always choose me over my husband because, let's face it, I'm more comfortable to lay on. Good and squishy. She puts her head on my chest and pats my tummy, and says, " I love you, Mom," and it really does go straight to the heart. Several times, she tried to talk me out of the surgery, and I had to talk to her an explain the health ramifications if I don't lose weight. I also told her if I lost 50 pounds I'd go swimming with her. I asked her if she wouldn't love to climb up mountains together when we visit her grandma in Asheville, NC. Of course, all of this sounds great to her... but she still had reservations.  Before I went into the operating room she told me to tell the surgeon she still wanted me to be squishy, not sharp, when she hugs me.

Two months post-op she still doesn't want me to change. I think this is common, and I think a lot of family members feel this way, not just the kids. Expect your kids to miss things about how you were before. Don't be surprised if you husband suddenly starts to get jealous. And don't be surprised if you meet with resistance and sabotage. Change is scary and it makes moms who have lost a lot of weight do unpredictable things. They jump up off the couch and make everyone clean the garage. They decide yard work isn't so bad. They stop cooking that gooey hamburger casserole that kids love because they say no human should eat so much fat at one sitting. In short, they get more responsible and that can be a drag for the family.

Keep Connected and Reassure Your Family

So I think its good to talk to your children and spouse about the benefits of the surgery to your health. Emphasize the physical capabilities you'll regain. Paint a mental picture of your family sharing activities that weren't possible before weight loss. And have a little mercy when it comes to changing things everyone likes. Rework the hamburger casserole recipe so its safe to eat and keep serving it. Act happy. Be happy. Help your loved ones embrace the change you're going through, because their support is crucial, and their happiness magnifies yours.  If you get too sharp to cuddle your kids, get a pillow off your bed, put it on your tummy and let them lay on that. There are lots of things your family liked about your before lap band self, and with a little sensitivity and a sense of humor, you can keep everyone happy while you transition from squishy to sharp.

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mamawood said...

ive had some fears about telling my 3 live-in step-chilren that i will be banded soon. they are already going through watching their mother lose her battle with cancer and here i am putting myself at risk with surgery. i'm just not sure they can take it.

i also think my husband is scared that me changing will make him have to change - no more late night bowls of cereal, no more lavish lasagna with ooey gooey cheese.

i like your insights. i really think they will help me in the days to come.

fifilaroach said...

Try to concentrate on your own need for the surgery. You are obviously a loving step-mom and wife. Sometimes our concern for the other people in our lives takes us off track when its time to do something for ourselves. Maybe you could talk to them all together, show them some info on the band (there's lots on the internet) and emphasize how great it will be when you reach your goal. Your husband can still have late night cereal, and you can sit next to him with your instant breakfast! Thanks for a nice comment,