lighter lily love*

{all images in this post are of me last week wearing custom made feather earrings & feather in a bottle necklace from one of my blessed sponsors and new dear friend, laura at roots & feathers}

Firstly, happy Mama's Day to those who mother in all the beautiful and nurturing ways we can be mothering spirits to one another.

I begin this story with the disclaimer that I am calling the upper part of my body "lilies" not only because that is what we used to call them growing up in a household of four females but also to not draw spam or lurker-loos to this post. ; )

Anyone that knows me intimately or has been reading my blog since day one of putting myself out here in this space, knows that I am a lover of a woman's shape. I have always been drawn to it in my photography and was inspired by it in my pastel drawings. You can still find me sketching the hills and valleys, dips and skinscapes when I allow myself some quiet time to write or scribble while talking on the phone. Embracing various shapes is part of my upbringing as a Portuguese/French woman surrounded by my marmie, sisters, aunts, cousins, grannies and nieces that most always were confident in their skin no matter what size or shape.

I've shared much about my journey with my own shape here in this space. How I have always had curves and it was just so much a part of the fabric of my being. When it became a bit tender and vulnerable for me was following my fertility journey, when I saw my body shift and change and without a pregnancy or a birth to channel that acceptance. Many of my loved ones encouraged me and within my own heart, it helped to just believe that even though I didn't carry Cedar in my womb or birth him, my body grew wider, softer and went through the motions because he was so much my spirit baby. That offered comfort to me.

Many of you know that throughout our five years of trying to conceive, most of our intentions were to bring our child into our lives naturally: Herbs, meditation, tinctures, therapy, acupuncture, you name it, we poured ourselves into it. But for 5 months out of the 5 years, we tried the Western approach. I was put on clomid and HCG shots for 5 months and we did artificial insemination. Our insurance did not cover any of the costs because at the time my husband was a sexy librarian for a Catholic high school and we learned the hard way that the Catholic faith does not believe in messing with God's plan (ache. ouch. sigh). So if we didn't get pregnant naturally and needed to get out a loan for 25K, we were going to choose adoption rather than IVF because we knew we could only afford to try it once and well, our hearts needed a sure thing. ; ) At that point, we were open to whatever would bring us to our child. We have/had no judgements on any choice be it Eastern or Western but with my history, I had always noticed my body responded better to natural methods of healing. This was proven after I took clomid and the HCG shot. Suddenly, a few months after being treated, I had endometriosis. If I indeed had it before (I was never diagnosed), this medication made it 10 times worse. Suddenly, I had blood filled cysts on my ovaries, more painful cycles, I gained 15 pounds within a few months and my lilies grew from a D to a G. It was a fast transformation and it took my heart some time to catch up with it. Once we had Cedar, I put all my energy into him and tried my best to take care of each of our bodies with holistic nourishment in all forms.

Over the past few years, I began to get back, shoulder and neck pain. It hurt to walk around without a lily supporter on and if I tried to exercise, I would have to wear 2 lily supporters (thank you all for hanging in there with me and these fun words!). 5.5 years into living this way, the weight and the pain started to get so cumbersome that I did research about lily reduction.  My husband was so very supportive about me connecting with a doctor in the nearest city to just share my journey and gain some clarity, so we made an appointment with one of the top surgeons in the Pacific Northwest.

My boys and I took a trip to Seattle. They went to a really fun toy store and I went to an appointment. I remember sitting in the waiting room. Me in my layered clothes and Uggs and long dreadlocks and not at all feeling like I fit in with the rest of the women looking so put together and coiffed. But we all looked at one another, nodded, warmly smiled and felt this collective support because I know each of us were there for vulnerable reasons. When the doctor first met me in a private room, he shook my hand and said "Well you're going to be refreshing!" and at that moment, I felt he was a kindred spirit. We talked about our children and our spouses and he sat knee to knee with me in such a gentle and kind manner. I opened up with him about our fertility journey and how I responded to the hormones and of course the emotions came flowing as the story poured forth. He lightly touched my knee and I will never forget the kindness, the warmth in his eyes. "Denise, I want to reassure you that you are not alone. Many of my patients find themselves here after fertility journeys (loved that he picked up on my language). I know you never thought you'd end up here in my office but let me share with you what has happened to your body." He then went onto say that some women, those that do not respond well to synthetic hormones, can get extra tissue growth. Hence, how quickly my endometriosis spread around my reproductive organs and how my lilies grew so large, so fast and full of dense tissue rather than fat. Dense tissue is very heavy and this is where the aches and pain started for me. This is why I began to walk a bit hunched over and why the top of my shoulders have dents and bruises from the pulling. Many didn't notice my size because I chose to wear a lily supporter that was many sizes too small to pack it all in there so that it wouldn't hurt so much.

I think you know where this story is going. Walking out of his office, I felt so validated and the choice was not hard to make. The drive home when I shared it all with my husband he could see the lightness in my spirit and the freedom of sweet validation in my sing song voice. My surgery was set for a few months later and the extra tissue growth that formed from the hormones is no longer a part of my lilies and my natural form is back to the way it was pre-fertility drugs. I am now 14 days post operation and I am still healing physically but emotionally I have felt such a beautiful transformation.

Many of the loves in my life have been so poetic about this choice:  How moving to the Pacific Northwest, choosing to be a bit unplugged from the internet and being more present with my boys and my family, these lifestyle changes, shifts and choices I am making to live a year of gentleness are all connected. That it all is a metamorphosis of sorts. That I have cocooned when first moving here and now I am surfacing lighter...LIGHTER and shedding, letting go of so much that does not resonate with my heart, my body, my soul.

Its so so true. Thanks to my VERY selfless and helpful mother in-law, my dear husband and my sensitive and tender 3.5 year old, the past few weeks I have been given permission to fully REST and lay and meditate and sleep and not lift much of a finger. During this time of healing, it has all become much clearer to me. I am feeling more and more at hOMe in my skin, literally...and in my heart and I look forward to sharing much of that here in this space. I have unplugged from Facebook, from Instagram so that I can keep some things sacred, focus deeper in the present and in my close relationships and on some creative projects but I will not unplug from this space. I plan to be here more often to share this journey with you. I have needed to be quiet. I have needed this cocoon but oh how I feel an opening and inspiration is flowing. I am grateful to my readers and to my sponsors for totally going with my cocoon-y flow.

I realize the choice I made to lighten my lilies is not for everyone. I can imagine some will be disappointed in my choice and may have their own opinions about it and that is perfectly okay. I am attracted to and attract such earthy, elle-naturelle spirits. I get if it will not settle well with some. But I am in such a beautiful, solid and secure place about it (and so are my loved ones). It is human nature to project our own stories, thoughts and opinions onto others. I have compassion for all of it:  For people's reactions. For my own knowing and awareness.

I had many long emotional talks with my body before and after this procedure. We are in a good good space, my body and me. A good, tender-loving, nurturing place.

{I do feel it is important to share that my body's response to western fertility treatments is not an average or normal one.  I have never been able to take hormones (birth control pills, etc).  I am highly sensitive to it all, so know that, please...this is just my own story and it does not in any way mean it will happen to you if you are going down a similar path.  I have known many women that have been united with their children through the miracle of Western approaches and their bodies responded beautifully and were perfectly healthy.  Of course with all things fertility related, consult your healers/practitioners}