“I still haven’t lost my baby weight.”
The famous words I’ve grown to hear so many women say. And I’m not talking about just women who delivered months prior, or even just a couple years. I’m talking about women who have grown children.
Even as a young girl, I believed that some women’s bodies are just not made to bounce back to form after having babies, and some are blessed to appear as if their stomachs never stretched out to Timbuktu, or some even smaller than pre-pregnancy. And, I always hoped and prayed that when it was my time, I wouldn’t be one walking around declaring that my excess weight was still from having babies.
I have now survived three pregnancies. Though they each had their differences, they all shared one common dilemma: a personal struggle with weight gain. I was an athlete my entire life: fit, quick, agile, and lean. Even to this day, exercise remains a priority. We, as a society, are trained to understand that by eating healthy and exercising, we have the ability to control our weight, or even lose some. And, then, for the first time in your life, you are doing exactly the same regime, but this time, because you are pregnant, you are gaining weight, and watching the number on the scale continuing to rise. When will it stop? Will it keep getting higher and higher? And, finally, the worst fear of them all… how could I possibly weigh the same as my husband?
People kept commenting and telling me how great I looked. Some even said how small I was relative to the number of weeks I was pregnant. It didn’t matter what people said to me. I looked in the mirror and saw a beached whale. And, worse, I walked around feeling like a large and swollen hippopotamus, and kept thinking to myself, “Is this what it would feel like if I was overweight?” I was so terribly uncomfortable.
The voice in my head returned–each pregnancy. The battle existed the entire nine months. On one hand, I kept reminding myself of how fortunate I was to be pregnant, and that gaining weight meant I was being healthy. On the other hand, I kept hearing a voice say, “You don’t need that ice cream. You are eating strawberries and gaining weight, can you imagine what you would look like if you ate ice cream?” Though I made significant steps from one pregnancy to the next, I still never fully embraced the experience.
Friends would say, “This is the only time in your life you can let go, and eat whatever you want.” My husband kept encouraging me to just exempt myself from eating healthy and working out. But, I couldn’t. What if I was one of those women who gained so much weight during pregnancy, that I would never be able to lose it? What if I allowed myself to change my eating habits because I was pregnant, but once I had the baby, I wouldn’t be able to go back to eating healthy? What if I let myself go a little bit, but had no control, and just kept eating and eating?
Pregnancy has been one of the most challenging experiences of my life. Even though I opted to do it three times, each time was just as difficult. Each time I had the same thoughts, feelings, and fears. Each time I dreaded gaining weight, and was afraid of not being able to lose it. And, now, two weeks postpartum of having my third baby, I have weight on me that I didn’t after the first two babies. You’re saying, “It’s only been two weeks!” I’m saying, “I wanted the weight off the second he came out and entered this world. Because once I was no longer carrying a baby, what extra weight was there?” I, too, realize I’m being crazy, self deprecating, and far too hard on myself. But, isn’t that who I am? And why I am where I am?
I’ll give myself a break this time. Only because I’m too tired to over analyze or obsess over it.