• Pregnancy and Body Image

    Date: 2013.10.03 | Category: Baby, Family, Health, Life, Me, Norah, Pregnancy, Sarah, Style | Tags:

    I have never been mistaken for being thin, and most of my life I’ve fought long, hard, guilty battles about my weight and body image – a battle I still continue to face today. The difference is, at one point I finally realized that I am who I am and I have to love the person I am now as much as the person I want to be.

    Pregnancy plays into all those insecurities about weight gain. I think almost all pregnant women are insecure about gaining weight, but being overweight to begin with makes it doubly hard. When I was pregnant with my first baby, I had visions of my belly transforming into a perfectly round little bump that shouted, “I’m going to have a baby!” Instead, it got kind of big, oblong and never round. It screamed, “I’ve had too many donuts!” It wasn’t until I was about eight months pregnant that I looked pregnant and not just overindulgent.

    To that end, when Kelly offered to do maternity photos as a gift to me when I was pregnant with Sarah, I turned her down. I hated how I looked and felt like I wasn’t the beautiful, glowing pregnant woman I had imagined myself to be. My boobs were huge, my belly was huge and misshapen and I just felt like I looked gross.

    Plus, when you’re pregnant, people love to comment on your size and touch your stomach. For someone who has always tried to hide both my size and my stomach, I did not take well to those things the first time around.

    After I gave birth to Sarah, I immediately tried to start dieting hard core. No one told me that doing this would mean my milk supply would virtually dry up to nothing. A couple of days of decreased milk supply and Google research later, I learned that I had to embrace eating to create plenty of milk and provide for the health of my own baby. And while all I wanted to do was “get the weight off right now” at the time, I continued to eat until I was full and tried to mostly stay away from bad foods (though, oh man, ice cream!)

    With time and patience and a year’s worth of breastfeeding, the weight came off on its own accord and I ended up weighing five pounds less than my starting pregnancy weight.

    When I found out I was pregnant the second time, I was determined to keep my established exercise routine up and not gain as much weight as I did during my first pregnancy. This hope was quickly dashed when I started having heart skips. That meant any exercising outside of walking was off the table. Still though, I persisted in walking for a while. Then my ligaments and my nerves started causing severe pain and it hurt to be on my feet for more than 5 – 10 minutes. I wasn’t put on bed rest, but there was no more walking around the neighborhood either. At first I let it get me down, but then, just as before, I realized I had to embrace the gain for the health of my baby. I chugged along and didn’t let it bother me (except for that one time at the OB’s office).

    In the end, I ended up gaining about three more pounds than I did the first time around. But it’s ok, because I know, just like last time, that I can and will get it off again.

    I regretted not having any maternity pictures with Sarah, even with my low self image at the time. So this time, I asked Kelly if she would snap a few of me with Sarah. These were taken SIX DAYS before I gave birth to Norah bean. Yes, I’m huge like the sun, but I love that I have these moments captured with Sarah who loved to kiss sister in my belly. I bravely posed for these photos and wanted to show Sarah that it’s great to be happy no matter your size and shape (especially when there is a little sister as the outcome). And Sarah responded in kind with love and hugs for mommy and Sister. Having photos to remember those moments by are way more important than trying to pretend like I wasn’t nine months pregnant and hiding from the camera.

    Here I sit now 12 days post partum. I finally got the courage to step on the scale. (Note to new moms: Do NOT step on the scale the same day you give birth, you will be horrified to see that your body does not immediately drop a ton of weight, or even the full weight of the baby. It’s depressing. Don’t do it. Trust me on this one.)

    At any rate, I stepped on the scale. I am officially down 18 pounds. And while that is a huge relief to see, that means the easy part is over. It’s those remaining 20 pounds that love to cling to my hips, my boobs and my belly. But this time, I’m not scared. I’m going to breastfeed, and as soon as I’m released to resume “normal activity” again post c-section, I’m going to put that stroller to the test and work up to getting back on the spin bike at the gym.

    To show you how brave I’m feeling right now, here is a photo of me tonight, 12 days post partum. Yes, there is a lot of toning that needs to happen. But most women don’t snap back like rubber bands after having a baby. I’m here to tell you that’s ok. It takes time. And, after all, look at that sweet little baby I have as my reward.