Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Being Pregnant with Body Issues

Y'all I'm about to break it down for you about being pregnant and having body issues AFTER struggling with infertility.  I have body issues, I've felt shame about my body since I was a teenager.  I didn't realize that would carry into my pregnancy.  I had no idea I would struggle to accept the body that carries the life I fought to carry in my womb.  I didn't realize I would look at myself in the mirror and feel disgust.  And I don't know how to deal with those feelings.  I feel shame about my body.  I feel like I will be ostracized for feeling this way because so many women struggle to even conceive.  But I think I've gained some knowledge and would like to share with you what helped me.  There could be someone else out there struggling and I'd like to share some help if needed!

Gaining weight is not easy for me and the fact that there is life growing inside me did not make that fact easier to accept.  I've gained over ten pounds and that is on top of the twenty pounds I gained going through infertility treatments.  And for me that is a hard reality.

Let's take a stroll down memory lane...I don't think there was a day in my teens that I didn't want to be thinner.  I would starve myself most days just to stay a size 7 while all my girlfriends were moaning about being "fat" in a size 3.  This made me feel huge, I don't think I even fit a size 3 and if they were fat, what was I?  HUGE??  We would pinch our skin around our tummies and grumble about the "fat" and skip meals to ensure we didn't gain pounds.

When I married my hubby I weighed 125 pounds, I slid into an unaltered size 8 wedding gown questioning why I couldn't fit the size 6.  I should have felt amazing but I was trying to figure out how to look thinner for pictures.  For years during our marriage I struggled to accept I was a size 8.  I fluctuated between 130 and 140 pounds and hated those days I was 140.  Sometimes I was so obsessed I would lay in bed for days, making myself sick over it.  I would get headaches from skipping meals just to stay under 140...some magical number in my head that meant I wasn't fat.  I would pour over photos and compare one day to another, seeing how much I'd gained or lost by the fit of my pants.  If I didn't fit my pants, I didn't eat, skipping breakfast and lunch and only eating dinner until they fit again.

Then we started infertility treatments and as the weight came on, my self esteem was left beside the scale.  My pants stopped fitting.  I stopped wearing fitted tees and shorts.  I went to leggings and oversized tees.  Over the course of three IUI's, hormone simulations, an egg retrieval and a frozen transfer, I gained 20 pounds.  And every pound felt like a brick.  

When I got my BFP I weighed 160, and I hated my body.  In my mind I should have been 20 pounds lighter, but in my mind, I should ALWAYS be lighter.  And as I've progressed through these 14 weeks, I've put on an additional 10 pounds.

So I started at 140 and now weigh 170 and I have 25 weeks to go.  And I hate my body.  I don't hate the life growing inside it but I am able to distinguish the difference.  Some people cannot.  And that is why I'm writing this post today.  I shouldn't feel ashamed about how I feel and I shouldn't be made to feel shame because I have body issues.  Some people think, why are you worried, I'm still trying to have a baby and you're freaking out over a little weight?  Why do you care what you put on when there's a life growing inside you?  Are you so vain that you worry about what you look like instead of the baby in your womb? 

I guess that answer is yes.  I am freaking out over a "little" weight.  I do care what I put on because I have always cared and that doesn't magically shut off when you get pregnant.  If you've never struggled with body issues or shame about your weight, you might not understand.  But for me, this is a lifelong issue.

When I searched this issue, I got lots of "hints" and "tips" to deal with my issue...do you know what they were?  Accept it.  Embrace it.  Love the body that is growing a life.  Know that this is temporary.
Those are the tips?  Embrace it?  Accept it?  That isn't a tip!  That's a statement.

So I wanted to give your some real tips if you are like me, if you look at yourself disgusted, even though you're growing a wonderful miracle in your womb.  Beyond "embrace it" or "accept it is temporary".


1) Reduce weigh in's to once a week at home.  I weigh myself every day and put emphasis on a number.  But guess what!  Your weight can fluctuate on the daily.  Sometimes I will weigh myself at night to see what I "packed on" during the day..then I'll hate myself as I trudge to the bed to fall asleep.  To help avoid this walk of shame, TAKE AWAY THE SCALE aside from a weekly weigh in.  This takes off (no pun intended) a giant weight from me.

2) Don't compare your pregnancy body to ANYONE else.  That means your best friend, your mother, your sister or anyone you scroll past on your Instagram feed.  Comparison is a JOY THIEF and when I see my tiny friends and their matching tiny bumps, I immediately feel shame about my own body.  So I say a kind word and I move on immediately.  Don't dwell on the pics, don't focus on how much they've gained or even lost.  Just say a kind word and go on.

3) Put up affirmations on your mirrors.  Yes y'all...affirmations!  And read them.  Repeatedly.  They really help.  Some of my favorite affirmations are those very statements I mentioned above that others use as tips.
"I will embrace my pregnant body"
"Pregnancy is temporary"
"Health comes before weight"
"I trust my body knows exactly what it's doing"

4) Make sure you are eating healthy for baby.  For the first trimester, I ate a lot of carbs because it was something that didn't make me feel sick.  I didn't suffer a lot of morning sickness, but when I felt nauseous, it seemed that saltine crackers, french fries and pasta were the only thing to really get rid of that ickiness in my tummy.  These aren't the best options for baby or mamma, but when you're battling the all day sickness that comes with pregnancy, you eat what you can.  When that nausea starts to subside, take advantage and throw in some healthy snacks.   I eat my carbs in the morning and keep the carbs light in the afternoon and evening.  I also snack on fruit in the morning and veggies in the afternoon.  I double my green veggies at dinner.

5) Finally, there is some wisdom in accepting that your body is doing what it needs to do to support a healthy baby.  That might or might not be in line with the way you want your body to look.  But trust your body.  Trust that it knows what to do for your baby.  Remember this is temporary and the life growing inside you will soon be a bundle of joy in your arms.  Focus on the impending bundle of joy and not the temporary changes going through your body.

I hope this helps someone else as much as it's helped me during this adjustment period...do you have some advice for women who struggle with body shame?  Leave a note in the comments below.