I don’t even know where to start with this… But between the post title and that first line, I guess it’s best to start by reassuring everyone that nobody else is pregnant.
I’ll start with a background story. Once upon a time, while I was living in Wales, and taking birth control pills, and finding myself unable to digest anything, I went to see a nutritionist.
See, I didn’t know that it was the birth control causing my GI tract to revolt, so I was looking to what I was eating for answers. I’d already been to a doctor, who I’m pretty sure suspected food poisoning (even though the problem had been going on for years at this point), and suggested I starve myself for a few days to clean out my system. I’d already been to some weird hippie chick in the health food store, who had measured the frequency of the molecules in my fingers against those of different foods, and advised me to cut out almost all starch, plus coffee, onions, brussels sprouts, and a few other random foods that didn’t “agree” with my frequency – which I did, diligently, for three months, to no avail. I had read a few different books on IBS, one of which told me to eat only white food (processed flour, potatoes, peeled apples). I had tried exercise of all types, trying to balance my body, and of course I had, at the suggestion of several well-meaning friends, acquaintances, and professionals, tried to “just relax” – because they were just stress stomachaches, right?
I was crying hysterically one day, when my ex got out the phonebook and called an actual nutritionist – arguably, the best thing he ever did for me. A few days later, a thick envelope arrived in the mail. It was a questionnaire that would detail my entire health history, family health history, eating/sleeping/exercising/work habits. In particular, I remember having to ask my mom what her pregnancy with me was like, and what words best described my personality as a baby. (“Alert” was the first thing she came up with.) I mailed this packet back to the nutritionist, and then she called me to set up an appointment.
“If I had to guess,” she said over the phone, “I’d say your problems will be solved as soon as you stop taking birth control. But I’ll come up with a personalized nutrition plan for you, and we can meet anyway.”
The nutritionist lived way out in the country, in a quiet house at the end of a long dirt road. She had beautiful, waist-length grey hair. She offered me water with lemon, and as we sat at her big dining room table, she read to me from another big packet, this one my personalized nutrition plan.
The plan was full of suggestions: grind up raw nuts and sprinkle them in yogurt or granola, to get the health benefits without having to eat a bunch of raw nuts; drink a pint of water “upon rising” and a pint before (not with) each meal; stop taking birth control. What the plan was not full of, was rules. There was nothing saying I couldn’t have refined flour, or dairy, or red meat, or chocolate cake, if I wanted those things.
“When we refuse to listen to what our bodies want, and we deny them those things, we’re only causing additional stress on the body,” she explained. “That kind of attitude toward your body won’t make you feel better; it will make you feel worse.”
I pretty much fell in love with this woman. On her suggestion, I ordered a book called The Natural Diet Solution to PCOS and Infertility, which remains unopened in my cupboard, but which is there in case I ever need it. On her suggestion, I stopped taking birth control, and began feeling better immediately.
Since then, working where I do, I’ve met many people who fancy themselves to be nutritionists. Some of them are nutrition students trying to tell me what I should and shouldn’t eat and why; some are just well-meaning customers who want to share their awesome healthy habits with me (and then I have to tell them I really don’t like oatmeal, or broccoli, or raw nuts); some are over-protective mothers demanding to know why we don’t carry more organic food options; and nearly all of them are annoying as fuck.
Then there’s my friend Amanda – the one I ride bikes and make hypothetical pregnancy pacts with – who’s been working in a quasi-holistic doctor’s office for years, and who just finished getting her nutrition degree at the end of last year. She is not annoying at all – her attitude actually reminds me a lot of that gorgeous Welsh nutritionist I saw all those years ago: healthy habits and small substitutions, not complete lifestyle changes and self-denial.
The next step in Amanda’s path to becoming a registered dietician was to get an internship in the field. So a few months ago, I helped her edit a Statement of Purpose to apply for a placement at the local VA hospital – one of like four applicable internships in the area, and the only one that pays. Needless to say, it’s ridiculously competitive. We padded her essay with details about her experience in the field (working at that doctor’s office), her inter-personal skills (compassion, realism about people’s lifestyles), and her interest in diabetes specifically (and I am really good at writing about diabetes). She sent it off, and that was that.
This afternoon, as I was on my way out the door to go to dinner with Doug’s grandparents, I got the following text from Amanda:
I got the VA internship!!
“YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” I sent back.
A few minutes later, I was sitting in the truck riding up to Doug’s family’s neighborhood, and I realized I was shaking. And almost crying. Bursting with good news, wanting to scream it from the rooftops, but not really having anyone to tell, because it wasn’t my news and none of my people would really understand or care what it meant. I was, and am, just so amazingly, completely, undilutedly happy for my friend.
And then I wanted to cry even more, because I’d been wondering – after the marriage fiasco and the baby fiasco – whether it was even possible for me to be genuinely happy for someone else anymore.
I am so, so glad to know that it is.
And Amanda: remember this. If this internship doesn’t turn out to be exactly what you dreamed it would be; if there are days when it’s hard; if you have to work with people who are impossible to deal with… Remember this. This feeling, right now, at the moment you learned you were getting everything you’d ever wanted. Because these moments, this feeling, doesn’t come easily or often, and right now, you have it.
You go, girl.