I first met Mollie when Kirsten and Logan were 24 hours old. I slowly trekked my way into the NICU, gingerly moving after my c-section, and was met with one of the kindest NICU nurses ever having been assigned to my babies. She helped us bathe our children for the first time, taught us to change + dress their tiny 4 pound bodies + cheered us on as we learned to be parents. Mollie embodies kindness and love, and as I spent hours rocking in the chairs next to my children, I got to know more about her and her story over the next 11 days. We found each other on Facebook months later and since our meeting, Mollie has had weight loss surgery and I am completely and utterly inspired by not only her strength, but her vulnerability and transparency to share the tender story of weight struggles. I am absolutely elated that she is sharing her journey with us today and I know you will walk away feeling her bravery and strength too.
Mollie, thank you for sharing!
I’ll never forget the week of my Mom’s funeral in June of 2016. That whole week was life changing in many ways, but one night in particular stands out vividly. I was standing in a dressing room in Nordstrom’s. I was in the “Encore” section, the only section that had anything that might fit me in the whole store, actually one of the only places at the whole Mall of America that had sizes that I could try and squeeze into. I was trying to find something that I could wear to my Mom’s funeral that I felt comfortable in. I was going to see people who I haven’t ever met, or see people I hadn’t seen in years. I didn’t want to embarrass my family, and wanted to represent my Mom well. My Mom was always the picture of class, petite and beautiful. This was the last time, in my mind I could make her proud before we laid her to rest. I remember going thru the racks, and finding appropriate things….I couldn’t just pick out what I like, but I had to just find things that were the right size and would fit without making me look like a tent. There were very few options that were appropriate for a funeral. I tried on the clothing, nothing was fitting! I was starting to panic, my heart was racing, tears were flowing. I had to find something that night in the short 2 hour window that I was able to take away from all the other planning. I will never forget sitting on the floor of that dressing room, sobbing because only one pair of pants and one grey shirt fit in the whole department and was remotely appropriate. I hated it and it is nothing I ever would’ve “picked” out. It was just something that fit. I decided I was done that night! I was done just existing, just settling for what was.
Living as a morbidly obese person with a BMI of almost 60 meant I was in all reality, actively dying! I certainly wasn’t living! From the second I got up, till when I went back to bed every night, I was thinking about my weight. I was thinking about food, what I should or should not eat or not eat. What new diet I could try and start over tomorrow because yet again, I had binged on food the night before trying to swallow the days hurts, stresses and emotions. I was not really participating in my two young boys lives. I was existing. I never wanted to go do anything for my kids, or with coworkers because of my weight. I had gotten to the point of only having a few articles of clothing that actually fit, and I thought looked okay. It was getting to the point physically, that it was hard to move, I was winded from the simple tasks of walking into work, going upstairs, or just trying to keep up household chores. I would go into a restaurant or my kids school functions and be worried if I would fit in one of the chair options, or booths. It was MENTALLY, PHYSICALLY and EMOTIONALLY exhausting. I was actively dying. I had tried soooo many diet plans, keto, high carb, low carb, weight watchers, biggest loser, slimgenics, the list is really endless. I would lose some, and then gain back that and more every time!
I didn’t know where to turn or what to do. I had to do something, or I was going to be dead. A co-worker of mine started losing a lot of weight. She was pretty quiet about what she was doing, so one day I got the courage to ask her. She had the “VSG” or Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy” done. A newer option in weight reduction surgeries. I had heard of weight loss surgery before, but didn’t know much about all the options. I decided to go to an informational meeting in December of 2016. It was one of the hardest things I had ever had to do. I remember sitting in this room with my husband and about 100 other people. I remember sitting there thinking, how did I get here, and I’m not as big as all of them. I first had to admit to myself that yes, at 317 pounds on my 5’1 inch frame I was morbidly obese and I had to do whatever it took to save my life! I spent almost the next 9 months going thru the “steps” they make you go thru. Nutritional meetings with a dietitian, a psychologist, a bariatric doctor and finally a surgeon, I went thru these steps because I “had” to, to qualify to have the surgery. I was just really going thru the motions because I had too! All these things were put in place for a reason I found out, they were preparing you for the tool you would gain thru surgery. This tool I found out, is just that, a tool. A very helpful one, but you have to use it right and follow all the rules if you want long standing success. You have to CHANGE your whole lifestyle!
I won’t lie….it has not been easy and I was very worried about all the things I wouldn’t be able to do anymore after surgery. No drinking with meals or 30 minutes to one hour before or after meals, no straws, no carbonation, no soda, no alcohol. The first 6 months post surgery you have a very strict diet from clear liquids back to high protein, meals. They give you very strict guidelines and stages that you have to follow, to prevent any complications and have the best long term success. In reality it is a new way of living and eating for the rest of your life. You eventually will be able to eat ¾-1 cup of food three times a day, with very limited snacking if at all. It is doable!!
This surgery has not only SAVED my life, but has Given me a life I never thought was possible! For the first time in my life I’m putting myself first. My life looks very different, and has changed in many ways. It has been difficult at times, my relationships have changed, and some no longer exist. The GAINS far outweigh any losses!! This surgery was a huge decision, a very scary decision. As an RN, learning that they would be taking out 80% of my stomach was especially difficult. It is what I had to do, for me, to survive! It was like having a cancerous tumor removed, and now I have to live a different lifestyle to keep the “tumor” from coming back. A lifestyle I have come to love. I LOVE being able to walk anywhere for miles at a time without being winded. I love being active with my family. I love going on walks, and starting to run. I plan on running a 5K for my 1 year “Sleeve” anniversary in October.
I love summer, and being out in the hot weather. I love knowing what I’m going to eat everyday and planning ahead. I love being attuned to my body and listening to the signs it gives me and I know I have had enough. I eat now for nutrition, not to suffocate my emotions.
I love being able to express who I’m with my clothing choices. Not just wearing black and what fits! Its so fun to look ahead to different things and be excited about what is coming up, not dreading it because you will feel uncomfortable, or you just want to hide in the corner and hope no one sees you! I love sharing my story so I can inspire that one person like me, that feels like it is too overwhelming and there is no way out.
Almost 9 months post surgery, I have lost 137 lbs, my BP is normal and I no longer take any medications for it. My liver enzymes are normal, I had fatty liver disease. I have lost 45 inches, my cholesterol is now excellent, I’m no longer pre diabetic, and I’m getting closer to a normal BMI every day.
The non-scale victories are too numerous to list, but they make everyday worth living!! I love LIVING life, not just existing. Sometimes we have to take drastic measures to live our best life!
The biggest thing I have learned in this journey, is to trust the process and find other things to fill your bucket and that give you JOY. My faith in God has never been stronger and I find myself going to him and his words in those moments when I used to turn food to fill the voids. I know this is a lifelong journey, but with this tool I feel like I finally have a chance to be successful with a full lifestyle change. I no longer feel like someone trapped inside looking out, and wishing.
Mollie is a Registered Nurse in the NICU at St. Johns and Ridges hospital. She’s been married to Jimmie for 14 years, and mom to Liam (12) and Shane (7). At almost 45 years old, she feels like she’s starting a new beginning and finally finding out who Mollie really is. She loves being active, being out in her garden, walking and exploring the lakes, spending time with her family and fur kids, Joey and Murphy.
PPS – If you’re ever looking for a devotional on living life while in a waiting season, check out the devotional I co-authored called ‘In the Wait’!
PPPS – Check out the other contributions from this series, including What It’s Like: to experience multiple IVF cycles, raise a child with special needs, use an egg donor, be a DIY-er and home style blogger , be a NICU nurse, Live fully in singleness while still hoping for marriage, suffer with endometriosis. experience depression, start a company, have a micro preemie, lose a parent, be childless not by choice, have a spouse with a chronic illness, fund raise for fertility treatments, have a traumatic birthing experience, take a natural route with infertility, be on a reality show, go through the adoption process, have male factor infertility,be a stay at home mom, be an entertainer, be given a Down syndrome diagnosis for your child , experience multiple miscarriages, have a surrogate, experience a late pregnancy stillbirth, be a police officers wife, be a working mom andbe a breastfeeding mother. Stay tuned for many other amazing topics to come every Tuesday and Friday here!