Weighty Matters

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Categories Attitude, Emotion, Mommy Issues, Perspective, Pregnancy

I’ve struggled with body image since I was a teen. I remember spending lots of time comparing myself to my peers and usually deciding that my face was ok, but my thighs were not. I thought about everything I ate and everything my friends ate. I was constantly negotiating “If I eat this cupcake then I won’t dinner eat later”, “If I eat these fries I’ll walk for an hour after work”. My attitude didn’t stop me from indulging in Cinnabon at the mall, but it did lead to intense feelings of guilt. Food still results in guilt today.

As I got older I learned how to dress for my pear shaped figure and learned what exercises would help my trouble spots, but my attitude about food and my body never changed. My miscarriages only added to my messed up attitude. Not only could my body not morph into the waif dancers frame I desired but it couldn’t grow a baby either. What good was it anyway?

I finally got pregnant and had a son. Then two more. Every time I got pregnant I’d promise myself I was going to walk everyday and only eat healthy foods. I was finally going to hear “You’re all belly” or “From behind you don’t even look pregnant”. Then morning sickness would hit and my Dr would encourage me to eat what ever I could keep down. Usually this was Yohoo and Cheetos. This approach would be fine if it stopped after the first trimester, but it never did. I just kept eating whatever I wanted and as much as I wanted. I gained over 60 pounds with all three of my boys. I lost it after W just because I was younger and active. I lost it after G because I had a raging case of PPD and couldn’t eat. I didn’t lose it after O (even after weight watchers) and I started this pregnancy 20 pounds heavier.

Now I’m 20 weeks pregnant with twins and last time I weighed I tipped the scale at over 200 pounds. I’ve read Dr. Luke’s book and I KNOW I’m supposed to be gaining large amounts of weight, but seeing that number freaked me the F*&^ out. I’m seriously losing it, friends. It probably doesn’t help that most times when I see people I know I get raised eyebrows and the “you’re getting so big” or “Wow, I can’t imagine what you’ll look like at the end”. Thanks people. Now excuse me as I drown myself in this milkshake. That said, I also have amazing friends who say things like “The bigger the belly the bigger the babies” or “You don’t look that much bigger than last week” or my favorite “You are always gorgeous pregnant”. The sad thing is I don’t really hear these compliments. They don’t circle around me as I’m frantically trying to find something to wear. They don’t ring through my head as I’m trying to figure out if I should untag a very unflattering picture of myself on Facebook. I’m trying to shake off this body/weight funk but It’s hard.

I have 2 sweet babies that are depending on me to EAT, but the bigger I get the bigger my food guilt grows. I’m back to judging everything I put in my mouth and am usually beating myself up about it at the end of the day. I’m still getting the number of calories I need and the babies are still measuring about a week ahead. Both of those are good things and in my heart I know I’ll make it thru this pregnancy and gain the appropriate amount of weight. I’ll most likely struggle the entire time, but I won’t deprive my babies. What I’m worried about is after they get here. I don’t want my early days with the twins to be overshadowed by constant self judging. I don’t want to hear the self hate that usually comes with the flabby post baby belly. I don’t want to over think everything I eat and waste time reading about stomach binders and how much a tummy tuck costs.

What I do want is to take pride in the babies I grew. I want to spend time gazing at my newest loves and not the scale. I want to say and believe that the baby weight doesn’t matter. I want to take tons of pictures of myself with all my kids and not delete them after I see them. I want to be able to dress in front of my husband and not feel embarrassed. Sigh…

Other than therapy, how do I get there? What’s your body image like post children? Did anyone else have food issues during their pregnancy?

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6 thoughts on “Weighty Matters”

  1. We HAVE to get together this summer. I don’t think I’ve ever told you that I think you’re one of the prettiest of my friends.

    I used to be this slender petite woman with a tiny figure who everyone assumed was 18. And I had all sorts of criticisms and self-doubts about how I looked. When I was pregnant, though, I felt gorgeous. I felt like my body was serving a purpose. I felt connected to my body in a way I didn’t before or since. I loved my huge belly and my bigger boobs. Then my girls were born 7 weeks early, and I was mad at my body all over again.

    I try (often unsuccessfully) to think of my new mommy shape as a battle scar. My thicker waist and droopier boobs and stretch marks are proof that I contributed to putting M and J on the earth. They’re well worth the sacrifice of not being perceived as 18 any more.

  2. You probably described how many women feel. Your honesty is brave, genuine, real. I admire that. When I see you, I think “she looks the most beautiful when she’s pregnant, how does her hair look so thick and gorgeous and her skin on her face is seriously glowing.” I think “I wish that were my belly carrying two healthy babies” and “how lucky they are going to be because their mom makes them a priority”. I think how incredibly awesome it is going to be to have 5 kids around your table and how I wish I could have one or two more smiles looking up at me at dinnertime. The weight will come off. It’s your “beauty mark” right now. I know it’s hard but try not to even think about it. It’s only a phase…this too shall pass. You’ll never again carry twins…embrace it! Live it! Own it! Hold your beautiful head of hair high :) and smile like nothing else matters. Because before you know it your mindset will change from “getting bigger with twins” to “it’s time to take care of me again” and then you’ll be able to switch that little toggle in your brain and focus on what you want to for feeling good about yourself. I know, I hit that switch last year and dropped all my extra baby weight. It just wasn’t time before that…just like where you are now. And right now I truly think you’re exceptionally gorgeous and I’m so proud of you. Now go own it, girl! :)

  3. Carrying twins, I had trouble eating towards the end. They pretty much took up all the space. I think I actually LOST weight at a couple OB appointments. Especially since you already have 3 boys (I can only imagine how crazy that must be), you need all your energy. So, eat up now while you can :)

  4. I could have written this…in fact, I did just write a similar post for my blog next week. I never felt good about how I looked during my pregnancy. But, eight months later, I can say I would do it again, and I look back at my pictures and think I was a cute pregnant lady (although I DID NOT feel that at the time). And as far as after they were born, well the weight came off pretty quickly, but my shape is completely different and I don’t particularly like that, either. But the good news is I’m so busy/sleep deprived that I don’t have the energy to fret about it anymore. :/ Sorry I’m not much help, just commiserating but just know you’re not the only one! Good luck to you.

  5. Hi Elizabeth, I feel like I could have written this post around the same time last year, when I was pregnant with my identical twin girls. I have always struggled with body image and weight issues. Before I got pregnant with my first daughter in late 2009, I finally felt like I had gotten control over those things – I was running regularly and eating pretty well and had gotten into the best shape I’d been in since I started working. I continued being active (running/walking/swimming/yoga) throughout that pregnancy, and resumed being active again a few weeks later and got into good shape again before my oldest daughter turned 1. It was so different with my twins. Once I found out (at 12 weeks) that it was twins, I got paranoid about working out too much, and (after reading Dr. Luke’s book), also worried about putting on enough weight. I started out at the top end of my healthy weight range, and felt like I had to “undo” all the work I’d been doing over the past few years to stop my chronic overeating habits. My main goal was healthy babies, so I dove into the food again. I gained the exact recommended amount of weight by the 20-week mark, then it was hard to start dialing back my eating and I gained about a total of 60 pounds by the time the twins arrived at 36 weeks (healthy, with short NICU stays to learn how to eat and gain a little weight).

    I dropped the first 30 lbs. right away after the twins were born. I tried to be active again once I got the all-clear at 6 weeks post-partum, but it felt impossible. I managed to lose a few more pounds, but then I had to go back to work and the twins weren’t sleeping through the night yet and I couldn’t take 3 kids out in one jogging stroller, so my exercise routine went out the window. I also turned to snacking as a way to keep myself awake during the day, which is a bad habit I’m still working to break. It is 10.5 months later and I am still trying to lose the last 30 lbs. I beat myself up a lot for not losing the weight yet, but frankly, most other moms of twins I have talked to over the past year or so told me that it’s a major accomplishment to make it through the pregnancy and the first year of raising twins, so I should give myself a break. We are almost at that point and it is getting a little easier (especially since they started sleeping through the night at 8 months). So I keep trying to add in more exercise and work on my eating habits, and know that as long as I keep trying, eventually I will get to where I want to be.

    Some things I will point out:
    * exercise options before babies arrive: DVDs are good (like Summer Sanders Prenatal Workout, 10 Minute Solutions Prenatal Pilates, Bar Method Prenatal), prenatal yoga classes are great, swimming is great, walking is good (until it gets uncomfortable)
    * eat as healthy as possible (I really regret falling into the “ice cream every day is ok” trap that Dr. Luke’s book seems to endorse — there should be a caveat for recovering food addicts like me)
    * line up help for when the babies arrive (so you can take naps or get out of the house for a few minutes a few times a week or have someone grocery shop or cook for you)
    * join your local moms of twins/multiples group – some totally great people who have been through it already and are great resources/supporters

    Good luck. Hold onto your own positive thoughts and feelings about being pregnant with your twins, and listen to everyone who reminds you how beautiful you are and that you are doing important work right now for your babies. As hard as it is to be patient, you will slowly have more and more opportunities to figure out ways to take care of yourself once the babies arrive.

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